I am a 32-year-old female, married, and working as a part-time nurse. Presently, my relationship with God is confusing. I don't know if that has to do with the abuse I endured, or because of family dynamics. But the Lord is constantly gracious to me and drawing me back to Himself. Currently, my ministry is with middle school and high school aged girls. This is the time when one's faith should become rooted before their faith is challenged in college.
When I went through what I went through, I felt alone, dirty, like it was all my fault, and that I deserved it. No victim of abuse should have to feel that way for years and years before s(he) realizes that those are lies the enemy holds over them. I want each person who has been through this to know that they are not alone, and that God's love and grace is way bigger and better able to cover you than the wickedness and evil of human beings.
I was seven or eight years old, living in Oman with my family at the time. The man who abused me was my dad's age, and he would come and visit his sister who lived in the same apartment as us on the weekends. When my mom and his sister were in the kitchen cooking, I would be in the living room watching television. He would often come and join me, pretending to watch as well. He would close one of the doors, obstructing others from seeing him, but leave the other door open so that he could hear if someone was coming. While we watched television, he would touch me inappropriately all over. I was too young to remember what thoughts I was having during this time. I don't know if I was more scared, liked the attention, or what it was. My own father was always very strict, never sympathetic with me, and didn't understand me. This man was the complete opposite of my dad and showed me affection in some of the ways I craved from my own father.
Because he gained my parents' trust, they left me alone with him several times, and the inappropriate touching continued to happen. His sister trusted him too and they would never have guessed that he was doing this to me.
We moved to a different apartment when I was 11 years old. My parents were working full time, so there were many instances when I was home alone. My little sister, who was six years old at the time, had finally joined my family, as she was being taken care of by my grandparents before then.
This next incident happened 2 months before I got my first period. The phone rang, and it was my abuser on the other line. When I picked up, he asked if my parents were home. When I said no, he said, "Okay, I will come over." I proceeded to tell him how my parents told me I can't open the door for anyone when they were gone. But he wouldn't listen to me and came over anyway. I was 11 at this point, so I had a better understanding that this was wrong.
When my six-year-old little sister heard his voice at the door, she opened the door excitedly. He then sat on the floor with her, playing with some toys. At some point during this, he managed to convince her to look out the window at something and pulled me onto his lap, forcing me to kiss him.
THEN, he wanted to take us to his sister's apartment. He bribed my six-year-old sister, telling her that he had even better toys at their house.
So we go over there, and while my sister played with the toys, he took me into another room, and that was the first time that he raped me. I remember it hurt so bad. Later that day, when I went to pee, I remember that also hurt so bad.
When we came out into the living room, I saw my little sister still sitting there playing with her toys. I wanted so desperately to tell her what had just happened, but I stood frozen watching her, her innocence still intact. And that was the last time. I told him no, and I made it very clear that I didn't want anything to do with him. He must have realized I was old enough to know what he was doing, so he stopped.
I didn't think anybody would believe me if I told them. I figured people would make me look really bad for allowing him to do it.
I was 13 or 14 when I finally told a friend. She told me how there was a man in her assembly who was trying to molest her, but he got caught by her mother. The first person I told was this girl. And yes, she did believe me, but when I asked her not to tell anybody, she went and told her dad who was an elder, who then told my dad, who was also an elder. My mom came and talked to me once my father told her what he just learned. I told her without specifics what happened. And that was when she told me that she had also been through the same thing. Although they believed me, things just went on normally as though nothing had happened. The only thing that changed was that I never went back to their home alone, without my family.
This man even attended my wedding where he had the audacity to come and kiss my cheek.
An additional offense occurred when I was 14 years old. My dad's uncle would touch me inappropriately when I would weigh myself on the weighing scale in the hallway, while his own daughters were in the other room. My family later attended a parade where they stood in the front, while he and I stood behind them. He took my hands and started swinging them around. I thought it was a fatherly affectionate thing to do, until he took my hands and made me touch his genital area.
1. Given that I was exposed to sexual activity at the age of 7 or 8, this obviously peaked my curiosity about sexual matters.
2. I developed a lot of built-up anger and resentment towards my dad and was mad that my parents weren't more on my side. If something bad were to happen to me, I didn't have the confidence that they would back me up.
3. I struggled in the workplace and struggled at school, because I could not make myself motivated enough to learn things that would add to my value, because my value was diminished.
4. I felt dirty. I was masturbating a lot and always asking God to please take this addiction away from me, and it wouldn't go away. Many times I would find myself waking up and masturbating, and I didn't know how to handle it. I didn't know what to do with it.
5. I went to India, and I felt like I was constantly looking for attention, so I got into a relationship with a Hindu man--he was kind and gave me everything that my dad wouldn't give me.
6. With my husband--he was abused as well--it affected our intimacy in terms of not knowing what intimacy was for in the first place. We didn't know how God meant for it to be for a man and a wife. I think, initially, it was a way for us to let out all of that pent-up curiosity. It took us a LONG time to understand that sex is more than that.
I shouldn't have to feel this way all these years later.
The one verse that really encouraged me (I know that this is very cliché) was Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you..." This was a great comfort to me, especially when I wanted to take my own life.
My only comfort is that He sees the big picture, no matter what happened in my past. He has it all under control, and He's got it.
For anybody going through this, keep your eyes on Him. Never trust people. He is the only one who will never let you down, no matter how bad things look.
Family members and church leaders: You have a responsibility to protect your girls and boys from being abused. This happens with boys as well.
The leaders in our assemblies feel this issue is not their business because it's not their family. But it IS their business because this is the church family. It should be their job to address issues that affect the spiritual life of the flock. Paul addressed raw issues like this; he didn't say, "This is their issue, it's their life,'' which is the attitude I see of elders in the church today. Why be an elder if you can't take up that responsibility?
Parents: I think it is very important that you believe and back up your kids, rather than worry about your status in society and what others think of you, because eternity is what counts, and what God thinks of you is what matters more than anybody else. If you care more about what people think than what God thinks, you have got to reevaluate your faith.