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This beautiful platform, A Deeper Story, launched a book. Did you know that?

Last year I wrote the post, “The Sexy Wife I Can’t Be” only to read your amazing, difficult, painful comments, and realize I needed to write a book addressing this very raw, real need. Nearly a year later, the book is LIVE.

Here it is:

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I would SO appreciate your prayers, as the book launches. I’m feeling awfully naked. I definitely share my story, as raw as I ever had, within its pages. And I talk about our marriage and sex. Can’t get more vulnerable than that.

I crowdfunded this book, and one of the bonus chapters resulting from that was this: your questions and my answers. The following are four very common and painful questions about sexual abuse (and healing) that I answered in the book.

Question 1: I’ve been told that my virginity is the most precious part of me, but I lost it through someone else violating me. So am I no longer precious?

First, what happened to you was not your fault. Someone stole from you, violating your body and your trust, damaging your soul. You are not damaged goods. God redeems even sexual abuse. He cleanses us. Your virginity isn’t the most precious part of you; your soul is, the place where Jesus lives.

Question 2: What is your response to people who say things like “That happened a long time ago. Why can’t you just get over it?”

I’d ask a question back. When has someone you loved died? How long did it take you to “get over” that loss? Most of the time people who say that insensitive comment are either:

  1. Completely oblivious to the trauma and devastation of sexual abuse, and are simply uncomfortable when you bring it up. This is their way of shutting you down.
  2. Stressed that you brought it up because they have their own issues of abuse and are too afraid to admit to the pain.
  3. Some people truly believe that sexual abuse causes no lasting damage.

Counselor Lucille Zimmerman asserts, “Sometimes Christians are quick to expect victims to heal in a hurry. Victims are preached at, given pat answers, and expected to forgive and forget. But just as Nehemiah had to acknowledge the extent of the damage before he could begin repairing the walls around Jerusalem, survivors need to take many long steps before they heal.”  Zimmerman, Lucille Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2013) 52.

Comments like these can derail you, make you feel very small, and push you further back on your journey of healing. When they happen, instead of seeing the comment as an indictment against you, see it as an indication of the other person’s warped perspective.

In other words, it’s not about you; it’s about them. Reframing their question in your mind will also help. Something like, They may think it’s simple to get over sexual abuse, but they don’t understand the process. I’m choosing today to be grateful at the amount of healing I’ve had. I’m further along than I was two years ago. I’m more resilient. I have more empathy for people. And I’m becoming healthier.

 

Question 3: My spouse takes it personally when I can’t drum up the interest or desire. I so desperately want to be close, but resentment has built up on both sides.

This is an extremely common problem, one that I experience frequently. What helps us is talking about our pain—Patrick sharing how he feels (rejection), and me sharing how hard it is to be healthy sexually. If we stuff our resentment, it gets ugly—then explodes. If you’ve gotten to the point that you can’t talk about it, consider couple’s therapy where you have a safe place to share your anxiety and sadness in the presence of a mediator.

 

Question 4: My question is how do you get over sexual abuse when a pastor held a gun at you using scriptures?

You get over it the same way others get over it—except that you have a difficult road of healing in terms of your relationship with God. I wish the church were a place of safety and protection. It should be. But often it’s not. Pastors, youth pastors, Christian spouses, priests are not immune to this sin. Like all sexual abusers, they use their power to demean and conquer, but they cloak that power using Christian words and threatening damnation if someone talks. Honestly, I think this is one of the hardest forms of sexual abuse to recover from because it skews the sacred.

And within the church, folks don’t tend to like to know the truth. They’d rather villainize the victim and protect the perpetrator.

I was shocked when I started uncovering widespread sexual abuse in closed religious communities like the Amish. I ached when I read about a prominent local church covering up a sexual abuse scandal. The church has faltered. It should be a place of truth, light and honesty—but for many it’s become the place where shame birthed and no one believed their story.

Often churches demonize victims, tell them to keep things silent. It’s wrong. And it causes many people to walk away from the very faith that could offer healing. One document may help you as you process this, entitled A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ.

It’s my sincere prayer that my story and words would bring healing for many, but I’ll be grateful for this: if you read these words and no longer feel like you’re the only one on this earth who still struggles with this.

I still struggle.

You are not alone.

 

To find out more about Not Marked, click here.

 

 

19 comments

  1. Kalen Rowe

    Thank-You SO much for being able to share something so personal because you saw the need in others, that touches my heart deeply. I am also glad you addressed the issue of church related victims as I see the church as being a sacred place, but unfortunately this holy environment has assaults launched from the inside as well as the outside because we live in a broken and fallen world. I absolutely hate stealing and this is by far the worst form because the perpetrator robs you of (what seems like) your very essence. I am grateful for you and your bravery as well as your commitment to helping others.

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    • Karen, thank you. I think it would be VERY hard to heal from abuse that happens within the church. How do you see God after something like that happens?

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  2. I’m so grateful that you’re doing the hard, vulnerable, terrifying work of honesty here. So many of us struggle alone with the implications to past abuse, and your words are a light shining in a dark room. Thank you (and your husband too!) for your bravery.

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    • I sure hope so because, oh my goodness, this has been a hard week for me.

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      • Brene Brown talks about getting “vulnerability hangovers,” which might be the aptest term ever for that queasy, knee-knocking impulse to hide after we’ve shared something deeply important. If that’s what this time is for you, then you have my whole-hearted empathy and an extra big “Brava!” for the work that you’re doing.

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        • Thank you Bethany. It does indeed feel that way. I need some rest.

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  3. I’ll begin by thanking you for your bravery and your steadfastness with this horrifically difficult topic. And then. . . I sorta want to change the topic, you know? Give you a break here. Like . . . how are you going to reward yourself for the intensity of getting this book launched? Have you got a getaway planned? Can you and the family go to a sappy, happy movie this weekend? How is your daughter doing? I’ve loved the last few pictures I’ve seen of you, I guess from the IF Gathering? You look amazingly relaxed and lovely. I’m deep breathing for you over here, asking God to hold your arms up as you face into every thing that this book release and promotion stirs up inside you. Lots of love to you and yours.

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  4. I love your answer to #4. Having to reclaim personal sexuality through a mire of bad theology is the worst kind of struggle. It is reality bending and painful. Once on the other side, the freedom is unimaginable. I still struggle. I often bite my tongue when Holy Spirit whispers, “Forgive them, they know not what they do. They have their own spiritual millstones.”

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  5. So good about the forgive them line, Rebecca.

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  6. SG

    Questions that still remain un-answered even after years of therapy. I wanted a break from the personal work. I have grieved the loss of my
    virginity not only from sexual abuse, but also due to surgery after medical issues. Sexual abuse is not fully who I am, the idea of “just get over it” now has become the problem of the person saying the words and not my problem. Is my being single a running away from dealing with the work of allowing someone close? As for church, I must be one of the few who has not felt abused by church. Church has been a safe haven.

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    • So well stated, SG, about it being their problem!

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  7. God bless you for your vulnerability and willingness to share your story! I pray that it will be a source of healing for many people.

    “They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.” Psalm 34:5 NKJV

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    • Great verse, Hellen. I appreciate your kind words.

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  8. Anne

    Thank you for sharing this post. Haven’t read the book but the 4 questions were so helpful. Nobody ever told me that my most precious place is my soul. This truth has helped greatly because I wonder what the man I meet in the future will say when I tell him. And that makes all sorts of crazy thoughts come up. And yes, healing is so hard. I still struggle too. It sucks when the church hides all the ugly abuse and condemn the victim. Sometimes I find myself questioning if I will know when I am fully healed. I’m sick of being scarred but I don’t know how much more I have to go on this healing journey. Though I’m so much better than 6 years ago, anything can trigger the past. It’s still hard to confide in people because the pain makes me fearful of trusting people. :/ But I must testify that God brought me out of the hell that I was in and placed me in a church full of grace and full of Jesus. :) Stay strong in the Lord! :)

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    • My husband was amazing and continues to be very, very sweet. I’m sure he hurts because of what I went through. I’m grateful you’ve walked through so much, and I pray you’ll see just how much you’ve grown.

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  9. Wendy

    Thank you. Our stories have many similarities and I’m blessed to have a husband that has spent the last 12 years supporting me as best as he’s been able. As we’ve both learned more and as I’ve remembered more, it’s helped greatly. But it’s hard and often we feel alone in the fight. And I feel such shame for my inability to enjoy sex. But I keep taking one step after the other, trusting that God is working and moving as long as I’m pursuing healing. But reading this today is timely, as I’ve just started addressing an especially difficult aspect of my abuse. Thank you for caring enough for those of us out there, like you, to share your most vulnerable realities. I’m going to buy the book now, I know it will be a blessing for both my husband and myself! Praying that your journey of healing will continue to fully restore the true identity of who God intended you to be, that he would restore unto you 10 fold what the enemy took, and that you’ll see the incredible fruit that he reaps through your sacrifice of love in telling your story. Thank you for giving us all a voice.

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    • Yes, one step in front of the other, but it’s a difficult journey. I so hear you.

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