In no particular order, here are ten things I’ve dealt with in the aftermath of being raped as a five-year-old:
- I have believed I have no worth, other than to be used for someone else’s pleasure. I’m thankful this has faded quite a bit, and Jesus has healed me of so much. Still, it lingers. I can easily feel used in so many different areas of my life.
- I have been extremely afraid of the dark, of sleep, of storms, of scary situations, of seedy areas of town.
- I get sick to my stomach when I’m around someone I perceive to be a perpetrator. This actually served me well when I was younger and ran into folks like this. It made me freak out and run away.
- And yet, I seem to be a magnet for people like this. And if I don’t initially perceive the danger, I can tend to trust folks who are predatory (not necessarily sexually, but anyone who is bent on relational destruction).
- I’ve turned the abuse I received into an excuse to abuse myself. If you could live inside my head a bit, you’d see how relentlessly I chastise myself. I’m learning, slowly, that this is not normal or good behavior. Once my hubby said, “I would never treat you the way you treat yourself.” I sensed God ask me, “Would you treat your best friend the way you treat yourself?” I had to answer NO, which meant I realized I’d been abusing myself.
- I have believed the lie that I am how I look. How I appear to others and myself is the most important thing. I only have worth if I appear pretty. As I grow older, thankfully, I’m seeing how destructive this is. And since beauty fades with age (outer beauty, that is), I’m learning to let go if this ridiculous notion. I want to have a heart that’s beautiful, anyway.
- I pray for my kids that they’l never, ever, ever have to go through what I went through.
- As I mentioned in this article about the marriage bed, I’ve had a hard time connecting myself in the moment with sex.
- I don’t view the world with rose colored glasses. Very quickly a bad day can plunge me into an Anne of Green Gables-like depths of despair. While God has healed so much, I still tend to fall rapidly when bad things happen.
- I’ve learned to pray for my abusers, which has given me a lot of freedom. Usually those who have been abused abuse others, so I’m guessing those boys were also abused. And if they carry that secret with them, they must be carrying a lot of raging shame. Lord, please heal them.
So now you know what a mess I am. And yet, so much healing has taken place. Astounding healing. I am whole. I am alive. I am free. I still carry scars. The mark is faded, but it’s still there. And, hopefully, I see the mark not as a sad story of abuse, but as a testimony of how outrageous God’s rescuing love is.