What Every Girl Needs To Know After Rape or Sexual Abuse
Editor’s Note: Today, Emilee Mills shares her story. She can be reached at emills[at]harding.edu. If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, I strongly recommend “Rid Me Of My Disgrace.” If there is something at the back of your head telling you that what happened to you didn’t count, please strongly consider reading Rid Me Of My Disgrace. Much love. – Lauren
“If you say no, but they force you anyways, it’s not your fault and it’s never okay.”
How many times have so many of us heard that line? It’s the truth. You said no. You made your intentions clear. The other person needs to respect you and that boundary you’ve set.
We all know this is true, but it instantly becomes harder to believe when it happens to you.
The first time I was assaulted, I was 16. I had grown up with him, he was my best friend. I was supposed to be able to trust him. When he pulled into a shady place and told me to get out of the car despite my pleas to leave, I was terrified. What was happening? I got out of the car and he proceeded to do things to me that I had never experienced. I was too afraid to lose him as a friend and too shocked to say anything. I knew he, being much stronger than me, could hurt me if I said no. He didn’t stop until I realized we would be almost thirty minutes late for my curfew.
I had been struggling with an addiction to pornography and masturbation before this happened. I convinced myself that I had asked for this to happen because of my lustful desires and thinking. That is a lie, but one I fully believed.
I was never the same. I was scarred by it. I told myself I would never allow myself to be in that kind of situation again. I would always say no with all the confidence I could muster.
A few months later, I met an incredible Christian guy and it wasn’t long until we were dating. I found out quickly that wasn’t so incredible. He went to my best friend at the time and questioned her about the night with my ex-best guy friend. He didn’t let down until she had caved in and told him. Only a week went by and the abuse started.
I was 19. Not a child anymore, but not yet an adult. I was madly in love with him, but things had become very dark. The abuse was at the all time worst, but he always apologized, seemed sincere, and showered me with affection or gifts. I could see past the slapping, name calling and manipulation. I never thought I could see past assault.
I loved him. I didn’t understand how he could do this to me. We were alone in his house. We were watching a movie in his room. Mistake. For months he had manipulated me into being physical with him, but I had genuinely said no. I wanted to watch the movie and just hang out. He wanted more. He hated being told no.
I had never seen such anger and aggression in his eyes as I did when he leaned up and said, “If you won’t give it, I guess I will just take it.” He tried. He started ripping my clothes. I fought back and won. My parents didn’t know. They were already in bed when I got home. I didn’t talk to him for a month.
And I had no self worth or value left. Twice, I had been taken advantage of. Twice, my trust and love had been betrayed. I felt as though nothing was left. I was used, damaged, ugly and wounded. I couldn’t love myself. How could anyone else? I was broken.
I would love to tell you that I broke up with him and never saw him again. I would love to tell you that I told someone and they helped me talk to my parents. I’d also love to tell you that they helped me get therapy. I would love to tell you that I’m doing great with that these days.
But, I can’t.
We dated until that September after I had left for college in Arkansas, twelve hours from home. From that distance, God allowed me to see all that was wrong and provided the support and strength to break it off. Was it easy? No way. But, it was absolutely the right thing.
It took me over a year to tell anyone what happened that night. I was ashamed. I truly believed it was my fault. I took on a lot of guilt and responsibility for something that someone else had done do me. Something that he knew was wrong.
I finally did talk to a friend. I did finally get counseling. And I finally did tell my mom.
Am I still struggling with this? Yes. I battle nightmares and had a therapist prescribe medication because I woke up every night shaking, sweating and crying. Every single day I have to fight the distrust issues that I have with men. I have to remind myself that no matter what, it wasn’t my fault, even though I still struggle with pornography to this day. I didn’t deserve this to happen because of my “lust.” I didn’t deserve this to happen because I was being disobedient to God. The truth is one man chose to hurt me and we have both suffered the consequences.
This is what I want every girl and woman; young and old to know:
It is NOT your fault. Good men don’t take without permission.
Nothing you could ever do could ever make you deserve something like rape to happen to you. Nothing.
It is okay if it takes time to open up about it. Rape and assault are traumatic. Every person responds differently.
If you have a friend or loved one who has been raped, be there for them, but don’t make the situation worse by forcing them to do something they are not ready for.
Friends and family want to help. If they are safe, let them. Counselors are there to help you too. They won’t judge you.
If your friend has been raped, be a good listener and believe what they say. If the victim feels as though you don’t believe them, it causes greater issues.
It is okay to feel a wide range of emotions.
Don’t assume it won’t happen to you. Take precautions and set good boundaries to protect yourself.
But most of all, you are still beautiful, worth it, loveable, and valued even after you are raped.
Papa God was sad to see His precious daughter taken advantage of, but He loves me still. When I was assaulted, I had lost all self worth and value. I was stripped of my own confidence and strength. By the grace and love of God, I am learning how to love myself and allow Him to restore me. It’s been a long journey, but I know that God has great plans for me despite the terrible things that have happened.
No matter what, you are still worthy of love, valued by the King and have purpose in His kingdom. Your life doesn’t end after rape. It certainly changes – but we can allow God to use that change to teach, help, and encourage others. You can be healed, you can be loved, and you can be used by Him.
In fact, you already are.
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