In this blog post, a woman from our community responds with her own story to one of the heaviest issues we’ve addressed in the past six weeks (or really ever) at Awakening Church: sexual abuse. She bravely shares her story with our community with the hope that we may journey with her from pain to healing, that we may experience with her the power of the Resurrection, and that we may understand with her that because of God’s work we are healed and whole and new. If your story also involves sexual abuse, hear this now: we hurt with you, we love you, and we are here for you. And if your story does not involve sexual abuse, hear this woman’s story (knowing it is also the story of many others) in order to grieve with her, rejoice with her, and come alongside her as the body of Christ. – Alicia McClintic
As I sit now to write, a flood of emotions, flashbacks, and tears fill my being. What I’m going to share comes from the deepest and darkest parts of my soul. I never thought anyone would ever be reading the secrets I had grasped so tightly.
I sat at Awakening a few Sundays ago, unaware of the work God was beginning in my life. A life that I had so heavily guarded, barricaded like the walls of Jericho, would soon come crashing down, brick by brick. As Christina and Ryan spoke about sex and sexual abuse, I couldn’t help but think back to what happened when I was fifteen. I was a sophomore in high school; a naïve young girl who did not know much about what the world could do to a person. I befriended the wrong people, dated a “bad boy”, and did not pay attention to the decisions I was making. My life mimicked the typical, cliché teenager from a 1980’s movie. Amidst all this, I was practically drowning in an eating disorder. No one really knew me; sadly, I didn’t really know myself. The girl who I wanted to be was nothing but a speck in the rearview mirror. The life I wanted and yearned for seemed beyond reach. My life came to a devastating halt when this “bad boy” decided that, because I wouldn’t put out, he would take matters into his own hands. I will not share the graphic details but, in short, he took advantage of me. I was now a victim of sexual assault. I had no words and still don’t. Like most people who fall victim to this crime, I had never felt so much betrayal and emotional pain. I started to believe the lie that I actually deserved this; that I was to blame for what happened. I was the one to be held responsible. For years, I carried this shame and regret.
I’m fighting back tears now – tears of anger, shame, and sorrow for my old self. As a fifteen-year-old girl, I was unaware of the amount of love and grace that was available to me. Jesus had already forgiven my assaulter. He’d already cleansed me, made me pure, as white as snow. The one thing I still had not been able to comprehend is why. Why me? What would come of this nightmare? Truthfully, I do not have all the answers and wish that I did. I wish that I could tell you this no longer affects me but it does. And yet, there is hope. There is a light at the end of this seemingly dark tunnel.
Jesus has brought healing to my soul unlike anything I have ever experienced. I now know that I am not marked by my past decisions or the past decisions of others, but by the love of Christ. As easy as that statement sounds, it took so many years, therapy sessions, and tears to get to this realization. As I have recovered from my eating disorder and forgiven my assaulter, I actually thank Jesus for taking me into deep waters. In the years since this occurred, my dependence on Jesus has deepened. I’ve become grounded in truth and love continues to fill me up.
Many victims of sexual abuse find themselves reacting the same way I did. If this is you, please get help, whatever that may look like. Know that you are not to blame. No one deserves this sort of abuse. My heart breaks for you. I’ve been there. I didn’t share this with anyone for six years. I held on to this secret so tightly that I thought it would have never seen the light of day. Truthfully, it only made matters worse; it only hurt me more in the long run. Friends, remember that you are not far from restoration. God has created a new spirit within me and He longs to do the same for you. Today I am free. What once held me captive has now been released to the only One capable of healing us. I am no longer chained to the stigma of sexual assault. I am a new creation. I am free to live the life that God has given me.
Interested in submitting a piece you’ve written or becoming a regular contributor to the Awakening blog? Email Alicia McClintic at firstname.lastname@example.org