Things We Believe After We’ve Been Raped
Editor’s Note: I decided to publish Erin’s submission because she outlines the thoughts that go through our head when we’ve been raped or taken advantage of sexually. I encourage you to get a piece of paper and write down the thoughts that have gone through your mind, and face them. Find a verse or a truth that disproves the lie, and write it down next to it, and read through your list – over and over and over. Erin Taylor blogs at mserintaylor.wordpress.com and tweets at @tayloree. – Lauren
“Where was God in all of this?” I whispered tearfully across a wooden desk. Wide eyed, I looked to the pastor sitting across the desk from me. He looked at me as if my tear filled eyes were windows straight into my soul. The pause was enough to make me believe my assumption was true. God left me and was punishing me. My sin was too much for Him. In my failure to be perfect, He’d had enough and walked away, just like everyone else. I would have given up on me if I were Him. After all, what kind of God lets an innocent girl be abused for years?
The pastor finally opened his mouth and said, “What did you expect? Jesus on a white horse, riding up to rescue you? Where did you want Him to be?”
My mind reeled. What was my expectation? Did I have one? My heart searched back through the years marked with pain at the hands of several different abusers. I saw it all beginning at the hands of a peer at just 16. I saw the moments in cars marked with manipulation, fear and secrecy. My mind cringed at the first time I was raped. Flipping through countless memories of unwanted sexual acts, a rape at the hands of a stranger at a party, the boyfriends that used my abuse as an excuse to do what they wished. My brokenness was an excuse to hide theirs. Physical, emotional and sexual abuse filled my mind. I saw my desperation and constant compromise. I could not figure out where He was in it all.
Snapping back to reality, I looked into his kind eyes and said, “I dunno. A white horse would have been nice. I just wanted Him to do something. I wanted him to make it stop.”
Body shaking, I cried deep sobs of grief. It was so unfair. Did that boy know that he would damage me so? Did he know that the pain would change my perception of reality? Did he know that for his selfish pleasure I would pay the price of years rebuilding my life? My heart seethed with anger. I couldn’t understand how someone could do such a thing while the other party lay there helpless, sobbing.
The aftermath was unbearable. The trauma was like an earthquake, shaking me to the very core of my existence. Fragmenting the assumed firm foundation in Christ that had been built in my childhood. What I once believed to be true, was questioned and doubted. I experienced first hand the sin of the world and the sickening way that the enemy can steal, kill and destroy without mercy.
Planted in my heart from the repeated moments of being used were lies that wormed their way into my heart.
“You want this. It’s your fault. What were you wearing? If you weren’t a people pleaser, then you would have never experienced this. You are a temptress. You are the woman that the Bible warns about. Hide your beauty so no one can see you. There is a sign on your forehead that says abuse me. This will never end. This is what you were made for. You are worthless after all, dirty and damaged. The type of man you dreamed about wouldn’t look twice at you, so do this for him and then maybe you will be loved. Settle for this. God is mad at you. This is a consequence.”
The lies pulled me into a pit of darkness surrounded by the rubble of a life that finally collapsed.
Unable to hide or pretend anymore, depression assailed me and death teased and taunted me. I felt abandoned and left to die amidst damage. I knew that I was searching for a way to make my heart whole. And I ran full speed towards anything that had the potential to give me worth. In the moment that my virginity was stolen from me, I believed that my value was gone. What once made me worth something was forcibly ripped from my hands.
My solution to the trauma was to get a man to affirm my worth. I believed I was worthless – and who else could give me my worth back other than the very creature who stole it from me? One dysfunctional relationship after another I wound up on the bottom of the pit, rejected and more battered than I was when I started. But no matter what I did I could not fix it. My heart longed to go back to the innocent girl I once was.
Handing me a tissue, the pastor looked at me. I curled up in the chair as if being smaller would hide my shame.
He said, “Erin, think about this verse:
“Do you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you agree that your body is a temple? Because your body is a temple and the Holy Spirit dwells within you, when you were raped, He was raped. Every moment of abuse you experienced, He experienced. He was not standing in the corner, He did not turn His head. He felt every inappropriate touch with you. He experienced it all. He never left you.”
Those words washed over me like a tidal wave of healing water. Something inside my heart broke and He came rushing in. He knew. God knew it. God knew my pain. Better than anyone else because He lived it with me, He felt it with me. His heart broke with mine. A scripture that once left me feeling condemned, and inadequate, set me free.
Jesus knew. Jesus saw every crack, broken piece of my foundation and heart. He knew about the earthquake of abuse that shook my very existence and left me hopeless. He knew the words people said that hurt me more, in attempt to comfort, but crumbled a new layer of my broken heart. I didn’t have to explain or describe nor did I have to hide it any longer.
What did I learn? That the aftermath of abuse is messy. There is no formula to the healing process, as much as I wish there was. It is a day by day process and it is okay to grieve and feel the pain. Pretending fixes nothing. Authenticity with the people that God places in our lives often are His hands washing our feet. He longs to set us free because we were bought for a price. Not because we earned it, but because He loves us apart from our experiences and choices. He wants us to know He was there through it all, hurting with us. He is for us, not against us. He says to us,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. I will build you up again, and you Virgin Israel, will be rebuilt. Again you will take up your timbrels and go out to dance with the joyful” Isaiah 31: 3-4
Sweet sister, I don’t know what you experienced. It might be nothing like my story. Maybe abuse is something that is foreign to you or maybe you are living through it now. But regardless of the type of pain, problem or hurt, He knows and He is rebuilding you. The rubble you sit in is not too much for Him and you will return to joy and dance again with the joyful. Remember He did not stand there like a bystander watching you go through the pain, not interfering out of passivity. No, He lives in you and the God of the universe felt it all, just as you did.
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