Today I was challenged. What if there is one person who needs to hear my specific story in order to survive? Some stories are harder to tell than others, but that is a really good reason to tell them anyway.
The devil never tires of taking something good and twisting it to bring evil on humanity. Take sex, for instance.
Growing up, from time to time, I would hear stories of abuse, rape, family incest. I didn’t know anyone personally who claimed to be a victim because, well, me and my friends, we were normal kids, with normal families. Stories of sexual trauma were not normal.
To demonstrate what happens in the mind of a child who is abused and molested I will tell you my story.
I grew up as the eldest child of very young parents. Farming was my Dad’s profession, and I loved our farm life. I loved being around animals, having kittens to tame, and being in the barn at milking time. But it was a struggle for my Dad to earn a living on the farm and he sometimes had to hire help.
Danny was our hired man when I was around five years old. He was handsome and personable and paid attention to me. I didn’t know he was a parolee – that was how Dad was able to afford him. He began to pay attention to me, to joke and talk to me while he was working. I enjoyed the attention. I didn’t begin to feel uncomfortable around him until he started setting me on his lap and feeling around under my clothing. I had no knowledge of sex at that age but even to me, that did not seem right. And yet, he was there in the places that I loved to play and hang out.
I remember the day it all came to a head. He had suggested that we play farm and do what animals did. I didn’t know how to say no to a grown up. I also didn’t know what animals did, but it sounded dangerous to me. I kept walking around the granary trying to keep away from him. I knew that animals were usually hard to catch and that was how I intended to play the game.
My anxiety grew until I finally got out the door and ran to my Dad. He was standing at the farm gas pump, gassing up the tractor and I think I recall grabbing his leg and holding on. I don’t remember what I told him but it must have been sufficient for him to get the picture. The only other memory I have of that day is seeing a patrol car with lights flashing in our yard by the barn, from the safety of the house. There was no more Danny to worry about, and my world was safe once more. No words were ever spoken of this in my hearing. It became as though it had never happened. It was an incident.
Many years later while listening to another person’s story, and still feeling that it only happened to other people, the memory flashed into focus. It was a shock to realize that I had indeed been molested as a child. Having never processed it (and at four or five years old I’m not sure I could have processed it) I needed to know more. Who else had any memory of what had happened? Mom and Dad only knew their part of the incident and it was then that I found out about Danny being on parole. He should never have been around children.
I decided that the part of the story that I would make important, was the fact that I was believed and rescued, without hesitation. The rest of my childhood was happy. I was in church regularly with my family, taught about God’s love and made a decision to believe and follow Jesus at camp one year. I eventually went to a church university where I met my husband. We raised our family of two girls and were actively serving the Lord at every opportunity.
But lest you minimize the importance of one sexual incident, especially when it is the first exposure to sexual feelings, I will tell you that there was damage done. From that point on through the rest of my life the feelings of anxiety, confusion and dread have been linked with the feeling of sexual arousal. It was not that it was difficult to have a normal sexual relationship with my husband – I realized there was no need for negative feelings with him. The evil twist was that I had to imagine situations of anxiety, dread, being used, and coercion in order to be aroused. These imaginations were wrong and I knew that, but they were exciting and almost necessary in order to perform.
What had been stolen from me was the goodness and freedom of sex with a loving, committed partner. I see this same sad thing happening in our culture today. Stories of sexual abuse and violence are mainstream entertainment. Many in our culture, men and women, clamour “me too” at the same time as they consume a steady diet of literature and media that wallows in sexual perversion and objectification of individuals. It would be very hard for a young person to escape being influenced by this contamination of what God intended to be a pure and holy relationship. It is sad, and needs to be redeemed. It’s one more example of why we need saving. Yes, we do.