Why is it that new grief resurrects old grief in our soul. As a survivor of child sexual abuse I am no stranger to sadness. I had to fight though the fog of depression, in order for one foot to step in front of the next. Years later, a trial that ushers in grief just opens the flood gates to that past grief that I feel has been processed, grieved, and tucked away. All I can pray is God, please take this cup. Please don’t let it overflow, overrun and flood my heart, my spirit and into my whole life. Take this cup and let me stand in your strength to know that there is no trial that You and I can’t manage. Help usher me through the darkness to the light, and not linger in doubt, confusion or sadness. Please Lord give me light, take the weight of sorrow and give me peace, your kind of peace that passes all understanding and says that I can do ALL things through You Christ Jesus, who strengthens me.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
I remember the first time I tried to tell about my sexual abuse. The torment was horrendous trying to figure out what to say and who to tell. I labored over not knowing the words to use to describe what he was doing to me, words an 8 year old doesn't even have in their vocabulary. The abuse started at age 3, so by age 8 the iron walls of the silent prison were inescapable. I just knew I wanted it to stop but it never did. The force and threats to tell no one were seared in my little mind. The consequences of harm to my mother if I told loomed over my little head. Witnessing the daily abuse was too much to endure, so causing her more grief was unconscionable. So for 14 years the silent cries for help would stay choked in my throat, like vile ready to spew at any time. We, survivors of child sexual abuse, don't know how to cry for help. Fear chokes us daily, when the secret, the deep dark secret of our abuse stays trapped churning between our mind, our heart, our stomach, our tongue and our lips, riddled with fear of the devastating consequences of it traveling past our lips. Some real, some imagined, but always the absolute worse plays over and over in our minds.
I tried twice in elementary school, telling my 3rd grade teacher I had taken a bottle of medicine and I was going to go to sleep forever, then my 4th grade teacher, sharing shocking news that my classmate Michael had raped me on walk home from school. My parents were called in, the verdict was that I was a very dramatic child who watched too many soap operas was the conclusion. Finally when I told a friend in 10th grade, she said my grandfather is doing it to me too. My fourth disclosure was the nail in the coffin, when I told my mother after a suicidal binge night, first taking 64 sleeping pills washed down with a bottle of vodka straight. I woke up covered in my vomit and horrified that I had failed, tried to jump off the Talmadge Bridge, lacking courage to let go of the beam, I found myself driving 90 miles an hour over the Talmadge Bridge on the wrong side of the road. Disclosing to my mother the next morning, after 10 hours of trying to kill myself was the worst day of my life. I would have rather died than to than tell her. Before the sun set I was banished from her life, given a trash bag and 10 minutes to pack my belongings, and that day died emotionally. I was 17 years old. Many years later I would get one breath of disclosure from my mother that said "when you were 3 you said some really strange things about your private parts." She saw the look on my face and never repeated it again.
I am vulnerable in sharing openly for one reason and one reason only. That perhaps my words can help another. I am honored to be the founder of VOICE Today, an organization that ministers hope and healing to victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation. During a recent support group, our discussion question was "WHAT DO WE, AS SURVIVORS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE NEED OR WANT FROM PEOPLE?" I share these answers in hopes that those that love and support a survivor of child sexual abuse can better understand our struggles.
- We want to be heard, really heard and to have our feelings taken into consideration.
- We want to be accepted, even if you don’t understand. We don’t want pity, we don’t want what we divulge swept under the rug.
- We want to belong – we have felt as outsiders most of our lives.
- Do NOT say, “you just have to move on,” “get over it,” “God has healed you,” Are you still……?”
- We feel dirty and do not know how to clean ourselves up.
- We need support; we should not have to walk this alone.
- We need you to appreciate the effort it takes us to do something that may be easy for others, but is out of our comfort zone.
- We need you to be patient; we have a lot to process.
- We need you to be educated because the effects are not only emotional, but physiological too.
- We need to be willing to be present and show compassion.
- We need you to be honest. If this is not a conversation you can handle, say so in love.
- We need to be believed by our family, not ostracized as if we are the bad apple.
- We need to never hear the words, "Why didn't you tell?"
- We need you to stand in the gap with us, fight in our justice system for victim's rights.
- We need you to support the cause of child sexual abuse prevention and healing.
- We need to hear the word, "You were a child, the abuse was not your fault, you have NOTHING to be ashamed of now."
I have passed "need" but I do truly "want" for my Mother to believe me and not spend the rest of my life questioning me, my integrity, my truth. I don't now if I will ever have that gift, but I praise God above for my healing and that I can live my life in truth an honesty for me.
If you are a survivor of child sexual abuse VOICE Today is here to help you. Please consider attending a support group or a weekend healing retreat. Some information is listed below, and you can always call 678.578.4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you love a survivor of child sexual abuse, please read the 12 statements above again and support them with compassion and love.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Great is Thy Faithfulness...
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Sometimes it is difficult to truly feel love, especially steadfast love. What does that mean anyway? Steadfast love? Well steadfast by definition means unwavering, fixed, resolute, never changing. Our love of ourselves may be inconsistent, but God’s love for us never changes. The love and acceptance of others may be contingent on mood, or pain, or actions, but not God’s love. Even better than being steadfast, His mercies are never ending. Mercy means compassion, or a pardon for wrongful actions. God has a never ending supply of mercy for us, even when we fail, even when we disappoint, even when we turn away from God, He is still pouring out His steadfast love and mercy on us. And each of these blessings we can count on a fresh, new portion every morning, not dependent on how much we needed yesterday, but today we are guaranteed not only a sufficient supply, but abundant, never ceasing, never ending supply. Today is a new day, with new challenges, with new opportunities to please God, to do Kingdom work, and to follow the greatest commandment. When Jesus as asked what was the greatest commandment, he answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” found in Luke 10:27. I am challenged, to live out this commandment. I am constantly challenged by my flesh, by selfishness, even by unresolved pain in my life, by hurts, by old wounds that sometimes feel healed, but then a word or an action can pull the scab right off and before I know it, those wounds are bleeding again. But the good news today, is great is the faithfulness of God, pouring out His endless steadfast love, mercy and faithfulness on me, to bring a deeper level of hope and healing into those hurts. I challenge you today to live like YOU are loved with an everlasting, steadfast love, emerged in all the mercy needed for today and revel in the faithfulness of our God, being thankful for our fresh portion this morning for yesterdays hurts and today’s challenges.