I am a female, currently 16 years old and in the 11th grade from the Brethren community.
The reason I decided to share my story is because I feel like this is the perfect way to help others who have been in the same place as me. Those of us who have been there have felt alone and like no one was there to help us--this is something that you don't have to cope with alone. God is there for you. My and others' stories may also help victims of abuse realize that there is a way to overcome this.
I was nine years old when I was sexually abused, and it wasn't a member of my church, but a visiting evangelist. This evangelist and his brother stayed at my house, since they were visiting our church. I vividly remember that he was in his room, and my mom told me to give him a cup of tea. I went in to give it to him, but he closed the door once I entered, and that's when he started touching me in areas he shouldn't have. I knew it was wrong, so I left, and he let me go. I had to go back into his room to collect the cup, and he did it again. This time, he did it for longer, but I was so small and didn't know what to do. Surprisingly, he let me go again. Only in later years did it start to hit me, but immediately after that incident, I just completely shut it out.
My emotions that day were calm, yet confused. While it was happening, thoughts such as, "I shouldn't be here, I need to get out" ran through my mind. I never did anything about it, because I thought it was just something small and didn't realize what the consequences would be for me. Later, when I was about 14 years old, it started to hit me, and I recalled the incident.
I told my sister and my mom about it when I was 11 and planned to tell no one else. I told them this happened when I was nine, who it was, and what he did. When I told my mom and my sister, my sister believed me. The authorities were not involved--I only spoke up after the evangelist died. We went to his funeral, and I remembered the man in the casket being the one who had sexually abused me in my childhood.
Nothing was done about the situation at the time I told my sister and mom, and there was no cover up. Even if I did know to speak up when it all happened, I know that it would have been discussed and then covered up, since I belong to a shame culture. When I was 16 years old, my two sisters formally reported the incident, but there was nothing left to be done since the perpetrator was dead.
There were no other instances of sexual abuse that occurred.
The abuse started to affect me when I was 14 years old. This was because my sister admitted to me that she was also abused for a very long time by someone in the church. After she told me, I had very bad nightmares that summer and couldn't eat or sleep well. I never told the rest of my family, but they all knew by the time I was 15. When I reminded my parents about what happened to me, one didn't believe me, and the other laughed, saying I didn't know what I was talking about. That was the one time I cried after many years. I felt so alone because my own parents didn't even believe me. So, I prayed and eventually forgave them, but it still hurts. I turned 16 in May this year, and we went on a trip to India. On the way there, I had terrible nightmares of being gang-raped. I contacted my sister, explaining what happened. She explained that I might be going through PTSD. I could not sleep alone that night and no longer felt safe, because the man that abused me was Indian. I didn't even feel safe around my own family. They asked if I wanted to go to counseling, but I denied it, saying that I could go through this without it.
The affects of my abuse are still there. I still get flashbacks and nightmares, but they don't affect me as badly, because I realized that while this will be with me for my entire life, it is something that I can overcome with Jesus. My story has taught me to be strong and to turn to God for many things that I can't handle.
My relationship with God is great. I feel like I can totally lean on Him through everything and pray to Him anywhere, anytime. I am trying to get closer to God and read my Bible more often during tough times.
For the people out there that have been through the same thing, please remember to be strong and always fight until the end. If nobody believes you, you are not alone. Remember to keep your boundaries with people, and if you are exposed to something bad, ask God for guidance and seek help with other people who will help you. Something that I myself have taken away from my past is that, since my parents didn't believe me and the man that abused me is already dead, I can do nothing but let it go.
God is the ultimate judge, and remember that He judges everyone for their sins. This person was an evangelist, a "man of God." He will get his consequences. If justice is not served here on earth, just remember that God will always take care of it. Even if you have to wait for the longest time, it is worth the wait when God works. His timing is always perfect.