This is the very first time I have publicly referred to my sexual assault as a rape- It feels uncomfortable. Uncomfortably freeing.
I am going to get real and raw with you all in a way I never have before because I recognize this is the appropriate time to do so. For years I was bound by shame, guilt, self-hatred, fear, bitterness, unforgiveness, and genuine sorrow. I've gone through a long stripping process. A process of allowing God to painfully expose and peel off layer after layer of brokenness until He had a blank slate upon which He could rebuild.
This post will not be the story of my rape. That is a deeper story that is set to be shared at another time. Rather, this is an outline of how I moved from being stuck in the mindset of a rape victim to that of a daughter restored by the most high God.
I want to start off by saying that I Am Here, and that alone is proof that we serve a mighty God. My rape, and what followed, did not take me out. I survived my sexual assault. I survived the depression, anxiety, and battle with suicidal thoughts. I overcame my borderline functioning alcoholism. I stand with my head held high. I stand with my feet firmly planted. I stand with full knowledge of my value and worth. I stand certain of my purpose. I have hope and I operate with a spirit of joy. I have a future, and God gives me more and more glimpses into it each day. I have moved from a place of surviving to thriving and it is truly well with my soul.
My rapist was someone I knew. We shared conversations, meals, and hugs. We ran in the same circles. We went to the same events. We had many of the same friends. Every interaction we had with one another was positive. He had walked me home after nights out, no problem. He had helped me fend off aggressive guys in social settings. He had never done or said anything to me or around me that would make me feel unsafe. I had no reason to doubt his character. His chameleon game was strong. He blended in well. He meshed with the rest of us. He was a wolf in the finest sheep's clothing. He knew how to create a facade of normality and safety. He was a fraud who would change the course of my life for eternity.
My rape was-- well, traumatic to say the least. Not in the sense that it was especially violent or especially vulgar, though the act of rape in and of itself is both no matter whom it is committed by or how it is committed. My personal trauma was rooted in the betrayal of the act itself and the person it was committed by. Again, I knew him, or at least I thought I did. He had stood up for me when other men had made moves far less aggressive and violent towards me. So to have him perpetrate this act against me made me question everything- my judgement, his motives, my culpability, and whether anyone could ever be completely trusted (among a long list of dozens of other things).
Talk about the emotional toll rape takes on a person. I was so many things, but broken is the most accurate descriptor. Everything about me was broken- my heart, my mind, my way of existing in this world. I couldn't trust. I couldn't cope. I couldn't function. I couldn't think. From that moment on, I only saw myself through the lens of my rape. I felt I had no other identity than that of victim. I believed I no longer had value or worth because I was damaged. I thought I would never be wanted because I had been violated. I believed I had no future because my hope and faith had been shattered. An act that occurred on one day over a span of a few hours wrecked my life in the most tragic way.
My rape went unreported and my rapist went on with his life. I allowed the stigma of rape to silence me. I allowed the fear of the shame and blame I knew society would place me to keep me quiet. It's my largest regret. And so I suffered in silence by myself. The anguish I lived in was a prison. My rape was the peak of a mountain of unhealed traumas that had left me wounded. Rape on top of an abusive relationship on top of insecurity on top of daddy issues. This was the straw that broke the camels back. This was the straw that sent the anxiety, depression, and suicide contemplation surging.
I lived with unforgiveness, somehow convinced that denying my rapist the luxury of my forgiveness was causing him the same pain I felt, when really it was just keeping me entrapped in misery. I lived with confusion because the nature of my rape was so foggy to me... I was heavily intoxicated and barely able to walk or form a coherent sentence, let alone consent to a sexual act. My memories of the event were so choppy and surreal, yet I remembered enough to know I didn't want what happened to me and hadn't consented to it. I lived with shame, feeling responsible for my rape in so many ways and hating myself for ending up as that girl in that position who had that happen to her. I lived with anger towards God for what happened to me. I felt He hadn't protected me and had abandoned me, and I couldn't understand how a God who loved me would cause that to happen to me.
I saw absolutely no way for anything positive to manifest out of this situation. I saw no way for me to ever experience joy again. I was tired of waking up with an ache in my heart so great I thought my heart would literally explode from the inside out. It breaks my heart to say, but I would literally pray for God to take my life each day, and when I found that I had awoken each day, I would sob out of anger and bitterness towards God.
I resolved to take my own life. Not because I wanted to die, but because dying was the only way I thought the pain would cease. I knew how it would occur and roughly when it would occur. I had written a letter to my mom trying my best to explain everything. I had found what seemed to be the only solution to my problem-
Somewhere in the midst of all of that I had enough sense to reach out to God one more time. I gave Him an ultimatum (so I don't know how much sense I really had). I told Him that if I was meant to be here He needed to give me a clear sign that my future, my life held more than misery and sorrow. That night God showed me a glimpse of my future in a dream. I'm not yet at liberty to share the specifics of that dream, but what I can say is that I had joy and purpose. I had a family and a ministry. I had peace and prosperity. I had all the things I thought my rape had disqualified me from having. I never thought I would be wanted. I never thought I would be worthy. I never thought I would be happy. And yet, God was showing me a future in which I was the recipient of all His promises.
Today I stand before you, a woman who is-
How did I get to this place?
By reaching a place of desperation and realizing that God was the only one qualified to handle the mess brewing within my head and heart. And the moment I decided to open the door of my heart and invite the Holy Spirit in, things started to change for me. God took me through a long process, and that process became my key to freedom.
- Highlighting the pain
- Eliminating the source of the pain
- Adopting new way of thinking and living
It took a lot of laying out and crying before God. Acknowledging that I was hurting internally rather than trying to mask it with substances and spiritualism. Allowing God to expose those dark places. Giving Him permission to uproot all the dead stuff growing within me. Then there was a lot of prayer, bible study, writing, reflecting, and working through all of what I felt and all of what had happened to me. Some of this was done alone. Some of this was done by working with a professional. Some of this was done by connecting with women who had conquered what I was trying to conquer. Then I had to begin embracing the truth of God. I had to stop believing the lies of Satan that said I was worthless and useless and purposeless, and adopt the Word of God which said I was whole and clean and valuable and purpose-filled.
Here is how I know I have healed:
1. I have forgiven my rapist
2. I can talk openly about the experience
3. I want to help other women heal
In all of this, as painful as it has been, I understand that there was in fact purpose in my pain. I understand that God did not author my pain, but rather allowed it in order to serve a greater good. Sure, my suffering was great. I struggled. I lost a lot.
But oh how much I have gained....
I have peace. I have joy. I have hope. I have confidence. I have vision. I have stability. I have healthy and loving relationships in my life. I have a mentorship program committed to helping other women gain the same mental and emotional freedom I am so blessed to walk in now.
After rape, I have a life 1000 times better than the life I had before it. But it is only because of God's unconditional love, redemptive grace, and restorative power.
I need you to know there is nothing exclusive about the joy and peace I have today- it's for everyone. The blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross for our sins, inequities, and ailments doesn't apply to some and not others. His grace and mercy isn't reserved for elite Christians. His blood was shed for all of us and his restoration and redemption is for all of us. However, God will not force Himself or His will on us. We have to give Him permission to begin the work within us. But I promise you that as scary and unsettling as it might feel to take that first step, it'll be the best decision you ever make.
Imagine you, six months from now with genuine joy and peace, versus the facade of joy and peace you try to portray on social media. Imagine feeling good about who you are inside and out, versus the never-ending feeling of self-hate you carry. Imagine feeling hopeful about the future God has in store for you, versus the hopelessness that overwhelms your mind. Imagine a complete 360-degree change in your life, versus doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same results. Imagine living your best life, the life God wants for you and has set-aside for you, if only you would take that first step.
I am here for anyone who wants or needs support as they process through their own trauma.
Know that I love y'all!