A few months ago, Charity took a risk and trusted us with her story in one of our group meetings.
I say “risk” because of the nature of her experience. Her story left us without words. For writers, that’s rare.
She has shared the story with her family. Its posted here to give her a broader platform in offering empathy, understanding and hope to others.
Charity’s story…First Steps After Sexual Abuse
I don’t remember asking my mom to teach me to walk. In fact I don’t remember much about the process – stand, stumble, fall, repeat.
You take walking for granted – at least I did until I ran into an old college friend who now lives her life seated in a wheel chair. Shortly after graduation, she was struck down by a disease of some sort; it took the strength out of her legs. She’s being taught how to walk all over again. It’s painful, frustrating and at times she feels defeat.
I was on my knees in prayer one day when all those thoughts came running through my mind.
I paused my prayer and through a tearful smile I said, “I get it.”
When What’s Supposed to Be, Isn’t
You see there are certain things in life that are meant to be natural – we are to learn them before we realize we are learning and they should stick with us our whole lives – like walking. But sometimes an injury, disease or catastrophic event comes and causes what’s supposed to be, to cease from being.
My legs were never the problem – in fact to look at me you might never know that I was injured as little girl but I was. While away from my home one day an older man in my life did things that should never be done to little girls; that was my catastrophic event.
I couldn’t process what had happened to me at the time, in fact it wasn’t until years later when a similar event took place during my college years that the first event came even back to my memory.
The Girl Who Was No More
It left me crippled, by fear, pain, doubt even hate. The girl who once could – was no more. I lashed out at people, saw things that weren’t there and because violently ill when someone would touch me.
I no longer knew what I was supposed to know.
I truly can’t remember the day I realized the depth of the despair I was in. I had done my best to hide it.
I pretended my faith was stable.
I said the right words but they were empty, untrue.
I rebelled – to search out strength – to rely on myself – the only one who wouldn’t let me down.
I would prop myself up so no one could see the extent of my injuries I wasn’t moving but at least I was standing; so I thought. Years late, those closest to me have informed me how wrong I was – they knew of my struggle – they wanted to help but I kept them away.
The Road to Healing
I’m not sure how or when my road to healing began. I do know recovery takes time – like learning to walk.
It’s not just about your legs regaining strength it’s about the entire body – every muscle needs time and attention for it to be able to function the way it was created to function.
The same is true after you face abuse – abuse of any kind. There is a moment of nothingness – just pain – but after that moment, however long or short it is – the healing process begins.
No 3-Step Plan for Healing
I wish I had a 3 step plan I could lay out – saying here is “how to healing in 7 days” but there isn’t one that I know of. So here are some things I’ve done through the years.
1. Assess the injury – Admit what happen really happened. I had such a hard time doing that – It affected me even if I didn’t want to admit it to myself or to others.
2. Exam the effect – I’m injured and now something is off balance – how is it affecting me, my relationships, my health, my finances, my job…
3. See the coping mechanism – What am I doing to ease, hide, and minimize the pain? Is it healing me or causing more injury?
4. Choose your prescription – How can I get help? For most seeing a Pastor, Counselor or Doctor is the best course of action and should be the first. They are the professionals – If I broke my leg, I wouldn’t just sit there and think of all the things I should have done to avoid breaking my leg. I’d get help – stop the pain and heal the injury.
5. There is no shame in asking for help.
6. Also sharing your story, as much or as little as you want or need to, with trusted family and friends. When you share a secret – it loses it’s power – it haunts you less and now you have someone who can help with the healing and you never know it help them with healing a hurt too.
The Healing Continues
I’m not done healing yet – there are still days when I get sick to my stomach from the memories but I now know the quickest way to quell that storm – Forgiveness.
I forgive those who abused me – I’m not saying it didn’t happen – I’m not saying it’s okay. I’m just putting them, the memories and hurt into Jesus’ nail scarred hands asking Him to teach me all I need to know to walk again.
APPLICATION: Do you know someone who could benefit from reading this? Please pass it on and leave a comment for Charity below. Thank you.
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