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Message From A Survivor

justice

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I was sexually assaulted as a nine-year-old little girl, and it was the most traumatic experience I’ve ever had to face. Even now, so many years later, those words still bear pain. But that experience, though terrible, had a profound effect on my walk with God.

Afraid of what the consequences might be if I told, I kept silent for seven years. My lips were sealed by a false sense of shame and fear of what the effect would be on my family and me if I told. I convinced myself that if I hid those dark memories, perhaps they wouldn’t be able to hurt me.

The opposite was true, however. Hiding it away was a terrible mistake. I allowed what had happened to me as a little girl to become darkened in my own mind and influenced by my own interpretations. Like so many women who are victims of this type of crime, I began to believe that I was somehow to blame. It was like a festering wound inside my heart that never healed, that became bigger and more difficult to bear as time went on. I took on my own shoulders the guilt and shame that should have been the perpetrator’s.

Finally I unburdened myself to my family. However, revealing what happened to me, out loud, was very difficult. Bringing a secret to light that had been hidden away so long was no easy task. It forced me to delve into shameful and ugly memories, reliving and remembering things that I would’ve rather kept hidden away in the dark. It’s not easy to face the disturbing images and unsettling memories of a sexual assault.

Despite the pain, though, I’m very grateful that I told when I did. Being honest released a heavy burden from my heart and set me free from those chains.

If you’ve been a victim of sexual assault, I earnestly encourage you to not keep the truth hidden. You were not meant to bear that secret alone! I can’t even begin to describe the relief that comes from finally letting go of this terrible secret you’ve been trying to cope with on your own.

Telling gives you a chance to fully confront what happened and work through the effects of the assault. Because this secret is like a festering wound that has not healed properly. It has to be cut open in order to clean out the infection and the contamination poisoning your body and soul. Painful, but ultimately healing.

Speaking out also allows the chance for others to minister and counsel you. In my case, I still struggled with feelings of guilt and shame, as if I were to blame for what happened, but now I was able to seek the help of my parents, a counselor, and other spiritual leaders in order to deal with those feelings. I’m thankful to have a family that rallied around me with full support during this time. I feel deeply for any girl wounded at the hands of another, who then suffers a second heartbreak when doubted by her loved ones.

After I told, I began to fear what the outcome would be. I was afraid that my testimony would be discredited and that the man who hurt me would never be held accountable for his actions. However, God’s love overwhelmingly conquered every doubt and fear that challenged me. Through His word, He revealed to me how important justice is to Him and that He takes up the case of the innocent.

If you’ve been disbelieved or let down by the justice system, know that the story doesn’t end there. Understand that God is your witness. He knows exactly what was done to you – and you can be sure that He will testify on your behalf in that last day. You may have been denied justice in this life, but God will surely take up your case in eternity. Entrust yourself to Him who judges justly.

In revealing what happened to me and in the months following, I was not spurred on by anger or a desire for revenge. Rather, God gave me eyes to see that the man who hurt me should have my full compassion as he is lost and in a self-destructive pattern of sin. I prayed fervently that God would use the justice system to confront him with the seriousness of his crime. I prayed, and still do pray, that he would repent of what he did and seek the forgiveness of God and man.

I wanted the perpetrator to understand that the worst that he could do to me had been used by God to bring about immeasurable blessing. God brought good from his evil act. I tried to put that into words in a letter that was read at his sentencing: you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good. In order to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen)

My walk with God changed significantly throughout this time. My faith was challenged in ways that it had never been before. I learned to trust my Savior implicitly. If He could somehow bring beauty from the ashes of this trial, then He could surely be trusted with all of my future, whatever may come. I had a chance to see suffering as a tool that God uses to bring forth everlasting good. There truly is no situation so awful that God cannot turn it into something beautiful. Even something so awful as a sexual assault.

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