I'm a male in my 20s and currently in grad school. I would like to say my relationship with God is solid, although definitely not as consistent as I would like it to be, particularly in a college environment where my beliefs are constantly questioned. It can be easy to give in to doubt, but God has been faithful in refreshing my faith. I'm also relatively active in a local nondenominational Christian community.
In the Indian culture, topics such as sex are almost always taboo, and so the discussion of sexual abuse, particularly within an assembly setting, is essentially considered unfathomable. Even if an incident was brought forward, I fear many would simply try to push it under the rug in order to avoid drama and not tarnish family reputations. I want to present my story, not as an attack on the Indian community, nor to demean those who label themselves "Brethren," but rather to join my fellow sexually abused brothers and sisters in Christ and beseech our communities to understand that the issue of sexual abuse is not limited to only those who are unbelievers, or part of other denominations, but very present within our assemblies. I pray my story, along with those of others, encourages our community to wake up and realize we cannot expect these abhorrent occurrences to go away or be prevented by simply not talking about them.
I was younger than ten when I was sexually abused. I was visiting a relative's home, and my parents let me hang out alone with one of their much older sons in his bedroom. He forced me to engage in touching him very inappropriately, and then threatened me not to tell anyone. I was so shocked, and so afraid, that I eventually began feeling like my own mind was disconnected from my own body.
After the incident, I mostly remember just feeling numb. I never told my parents or any other family members about what happened, not only because of the possible reactions, but because I was ashamed of myself and afraid of the drama that would ensue. Ultimately, I didn't think anyone would really believe me anyway.
It wouldn't be until I was in college that I told a close friend about what happened. My friend was Indian, as well, and was completely shocked. My friend could hardly imagine that kind of thing happening in our community.
It's strange, but keeping that memory to myself for over 15 years almost made me gaslight myself on the incident. I began to doubt that it really happened and thought maybe it was just an extremely vivid dream, or maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought it was. Then I'd happen to see my abuser in person, and the memories sharply flooded back.
Although there were never any further offenses on the level of what happened in that room so many years ago, I still feel like I have to be on guard whenever I happen to see this relative, particularly due to an incident a few years ago where he "accidentally" put his hands on my leg while riding in the same vehicle to a family function.
I've dealt with many bouts of anxiety and panic attacks, as well as having an extremely hard time trusting others ever since the incident. I had an extremely hard time trusting older men outside of my immediate family growing up, and often found myself preferring to be alone, even though deep inside I strongly wanted to cultivate healthy relationships with others.
I never truly forgave my abuser until a few years ago. I was convicted that I could live my life not forgiving another person for years, when Christ forgave those who were in that very moment torturing Him to death. God has been faithful and good and given me more than enough resources and connections to help me grow and heal from that incident. I will always bear the scars from the memory of what happened, but I continue to trust that God can use even the deepest of wounds for an ultimate good.