Another Story of Abuse

These days, either you’ll feel defeated as a woman, or you’ll feel empowered to be one. With the #metoo movement comes the uncovering of thousands of sexual abuse and sexual assault cases that would’ve been left under the rug if it were not for the courage of those who spoke up. And the men, for their part, have resisted, undermined, trivialized all these stories. Some have even done a classic “Adam” and blamed the ruin of their lives to these women.

And with the surfacing of a sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, women from all over the country (the world!) are finding reason to fight harder, as the abuse of men have shown itself to know no bounds.

Perhaps it is too much to ask for understanding or empathy. For not many can relate to a sexual assault survivor, unless you were one yourself.

And that is why we tell our stories. If not to help you feel empathy, then to understand that this is real. Much too common in fact.

Too often, these stories spring alongside misogynistic behaviors, a sense of entitlement and a position of authority. While there may be exceptions, abusers do follow a pattern.

The victims, on the other hand, have sort of a pattern too. In the aftermath of the abuse, no matter the extent it reached, it is the same. The feelings of hurt, trauma, guilt…all the same, all terrible. Then, we jump to the next stage which is to try to deny it to ourselves or if it’s a loved one, justify it (“Maybe he didn’t mean to do it?”). Next, we grapple with the damage it left behind. Fears that lead to emotional, mental and physical dysfunctions that make simple things suddenly complicated, much too challenging.

Perhaps, if but just one of the thousands, you read one story and truly empathize with that, truly help bear the weight that an abused carries even for just a moment, that will help lessen the absurdity that is our world today.

My story began when I was about four years old. My abuser was a male teenage relative. We were swimming together in a pool when he sat himself by the pool stairs and called me to him. Then, he pulled me to him and started rubbing his penis on me. I was four but I knew he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. I tried to get away from him, but he pulled me closer. From then on, I tried to avoid being left alone with him. I never once mentioned this to him, or to anyone else in the family for I feared no one would believe me and as a four-year old, it wasn’t clear to me what just happened. All I know was that I felt violated, though I had no words to articulate that then.

The second abuse happened much later, when I was in my mid-twenties, in the hands of a close male relative. He would lay down next to me in my bed, hug me with his arm purposely on my breast. He embraced me so tight that I could not move much. I pretended to be asleep and was annoyed at being bothered from my slumber. This happened many times in the course of many years. I did not tell him until about a couple of years ago. I tried to be as direct and as straightforward as I could, and tried to communicate the abuse as I recognized it to be, as well as letting him know that I had forgiven him. Our relationship was spared.

Yet, I will never know if it ever registered in his mind that that was abuse. He was defensive, as expected, saying that he meant no malice. Yet, to a woman, an inappropriate touch is obvious and can never be excused. If it made me feel uncomfortable and violated, there’s not much else your intent or lack thereof can do anything to make me feel otherwise. It just has to stop.

I share my story not to “ruin” the lives of my abusers, but to pinpoint just how common it is, in fact even occurring the hands of a relative or someone the victim knows, and that sometimes, men do not know how to draw the line. Must women tell them? Well, then we are telling you now and you are not in a position to make excuses or to not listen.

I have children and everyday, I find myself distraught at how corrupted this world is, and how I’m ever going to let them go out in the world. Statistics show that 1 in 5 girls, and 1 in 20 boys are victims of sexual abuse. How can a parent possibly rest? Yet, I know that I cannot possibly shield them forever. So I educate them. As much as I can and as much as their young minds can comprehend. I’ve taught them that private parts remain private, and that nobody can touch them. If a stranger attempts to do so, he or she must swat their hand and immediately tell Mommy or Daddy. I have taught them that strangers will sometimes lie to them, telling them that they or Mommy or Daddy will be harmed if they do say anything, but I told them that they must not believe that. Of course, I teach them to not go with strangers, to always make sure bathroom doors are locked when they’re inside using it, and to always dress and undress in private.

This is a time when the predators have been unmasked and while it is a good thing, I also know that these are dangerous times.  As a woman once a victim of sexual abuse, and now a mother and a woman who believes in social justice, I will continue the fight in my own way. We get up, we learn, we try to protect what’s ours, and we continue to stand up for what is right and we will never allow the wrong to be normalized.

When A Good God Allows Rape – A Review

This Holy Week, I read the book of one of the Momma bloggers that I’ve been following, Joy Mendoza of www.teachwithjoy.com, When A Good God Allows Rape.

IMG_6237-croppedI had been wanting to read this book for quite some time because while I was blown away by her testimony, there’s a question I’ve long been asking God.

As Christians, we are taught that we will experience adversity, trials, challenges. Jesus Himself said it, “In this world, you will have trouble…”. In reading the book of Job where God allowed His faithful follower to experience trials from Satan himself, I couldn’t help but feel fear. Why would He allow such horrible things to happen to one of His own? This is a common question of both believers and unbelievers. And in my journey with God, I have asked Him this many times.

As I came to terms with the reality of sin existing in this world, how man’s own freewill have allowed for both love willfully given, and evil willfully chosen, I find myself needing to trust someone higher than me for the welfare of my family. The verses that became my weapon were:

If He gave His own son for us, won’t he also give us everything else?

Take heart! For I have overcome the world.

Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Now, my next question and which lead to me to read this book: In the face of adversity, do we have the grace to face it? Or will we be broken completely?

Joy’s recount of her life’s journey, beginning with her “insulated” childhood of sweet innocence, and then the horrifying experience of her own home being broken into and she, at 15 years old, experiencing rape seven times by seven different men, scared me to my knees. As a woman and as a mother, I truly felt fear creep up inside.

Which is why I decided to continue reading. I wanted to know how this story ends, how she can possibly say, “What Satan meant for harm, God meant for good.”

And as I read through her story, I experienced a familiar sense of peace. That thankfully, our journey, no matter how painful the stumbling blocks, doesn’t in pain. God has said this to me several times: Hope in ME for I am sovereign, and I love you.

Joy’s story tells of God’s grace that began from her family being Christian ministers, that was palpable even during the rape (“Somehow, amidst the repulsive acts he committed against me, I was able to separate myself from my physical body. In the depths of my soul–as though embraced by an inexplicable calm–my one comforting thought was that Jesus was with me.”), and followed her through all the days and years after.

Now, Joy is happily married to a God-fearing man with five children, and she ministers to abused women, as well as wives and moms. Her blog is widely followed due to her honest voice in it. The effect of the rape, intended to be most damaging turned for good and went beyond the victims’ lives. As their family decided to forgive and pray together, their faith in the Lord renewed, their community of believers stood behind them, and they were able to empathize and minister to even more people within and beyond their sphere of influence.

This book helped me validate some answers that I found in my talks with God. It helped me put my own tragedies into perspective as well. When I was turned away by my own family, when our son was born prematurely, when my husband and I go through marital conflicts, a ray of hope shines through knowing full well that God is with me, with us. And what worse thing can we possibly fear than NOT having God with us at all?

Fact is, sin remains to be a part of this world we are a part of. It’s a part of it because free will can allow for it to be chosen. While sin can hurt even “good” people, it doesn’t mean these people will be forever bound by it, because we have Someone who can lift us up and help us rise above victoriously. Choosing to forgive, to surrender to God’s healing, to hope again…God will find many ways for life for life to be rebuilt, renewed, restored to brand-new.

There is a bigger picture to consider and hope lies in the fact that God sent His only son to die for us–isn’t that enough evidence that there is a bigger, higher, more important purpose for us than just being trampled by our pain and hurts?

Healing, redemption, victory–all miracles that a good God will ensure for His own. Consider what Paul said, No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I highly recommend this book for those questioning God, and for those who know Him. Take your questions to Him and allow Him to answer. Our journey with God is worth every question, every honest conversation, every effort to know Him more.

I praise You God for Joy, her testimony and her family. May You be glorified always!

When A Good God Allows Rape can be bought at OMF Literature. 

This is not a paid solicited post. Just a book review bought about curiosity by and the author’s personal faith journey 🙂