Remember the saying, “I’ve got a secret”. For some of us, we hid a very ugly secret that we didn’t dare share.
Like most sex abuse victims, we kept the abuse a secret most of our lives, a secret that turned our hearts bitter and angry, a secret that introduced shame into our lives and hearts. As rape and child sexual abuse survivors, we lost our voices, and most of us couldn’t speak to let anyone to know. The violence inflicted on us began to grow and take root in our spirit filling us with rage, hate, fear, and bitterness. In actuality, we lived locked for years behind prison gates, alone.
As a sexual abuse survivor, I have compassion for all who are hurt by sexual violent crimes. I understand the betrayal, loss, outrage, and despair that comes with sexual violence.
I think about two stories in the Bible that tell about two different women who were raped and never heard from again. Dinah) was raped by royalty, Tamar, by her half brother. What I find so interesting is that their fathers, (Jacob and King David), both knew about the rape of each girl and didn’t handle it appropriately. Death occurred in both cases. Nevertheless, their voices are lost never to be heard from again.
The healing process for me was like discovering a new person. Healing doesn’t happen in the same way for everyone. For me it required counseling, emptying myself of all anger, shame, guilt, and hate, each release critical to my healing. For me, I also needed to forgive to complete the healing of the mind, body and soul. Because the tragedy of sexual abuse was such an inward violation, I needed to first forgive in order to free myself. I found forgivenes was critical to regaining a strong voice, yet the journey of forgiveness was not easy.
Healing requires dedication and a desire. Healing is a process, and it hurts because sometimes as survivors, we feel as though we are losing ourselves. But, what we actually lose in the healing process is what should never have been ours in the first place: rage, hate, fear, bitterness, shame, self harm. Healing frees us to emerge from the locked prison doors, to reclaim our lives, and to begin again. Restored and free.
Darlene J Harris
Author, And He Restoreth My Soul