Robin has been going to The Ridge since 2010. She went to Guatemala last year with one our mission groups, she has served as a volunteer in youth ministry and been in many of the women’s Growth Groups such as, Battle Field of the Mind, The Lord’s Table and Prayer. She’s a blessing to all who know her and serves as a resource and encouragement to women who have endured verbal and sexual abuse. Today she shares her story. She writes:
“I grew up in the late 1950’s into the 1960’s to 1970’s in Austin. I was the oldest child and the only daughter. I have 3 younger brothers. When I was little, like 2-4 years of age, my mother took us to the “Skyview Baptist Church”. I remember many details about that church, what the baptismal looked like, the children’s song I learned and some of the projects we made in Sunday School. I actually still have one of those ‘projects’ today. As mom had more and more children, it just got hard for her to get us all to church. My father rarely if ever went to church with us. I grew up the ‘strong one’ in the family, always looking out for my younger brother’s. Mom was more and more overwhelmed with her life, 4 children in 6 years and an overbearing, unsupportive and downright mean husband.
Dad never liked any of mom’s friends and he was very anti-social. All of our extended family lived 6 hours away. We had no grand-parents, aunts, uncles or cousin round us. Once we moved out to the country, the isolation grew even more problematic. The abuse had already started by then however.
I don’t remember what events lead up to the 1st memory I have of any sexual abuse, but I was somewhere between 5 and 7 years old. What I remember was an episode of my father kissing my neck, ‘fingering’ me, massaging my breasts. Oddly enough, I didn’t have any breasts at that age! We were in my bedroom. I just looked up at the ceiling. I felt shocked, perplexed, confused, conflicted, and frozen. I felt it was’ wrong’ but this was my dad-he wouldn’t want to do anything bad to me would he? And didn’t some of it feel good? Conflicted. I just froze. I didn’t say anything or do anything. I couldn’t tell him NO. I was already painfully aware of the punishment he was capable of dishing out. One of my first memories of his ability to punish involved an incident when he hit my mother in the face, knocking her to the floor. To escape the fight I scooted under the couch. That’s pretty small! Maybe 2 or 3.
What I remember next was absolute avoidance of my dad. I would never allow myself to be alone with him.
I matured early. I started growing breasts around 9 or 10. My father began to show me more and more unwanted sexual attention. Grabbing at my breasts, my crouch and butt anytime he got near me. He used ugly, demeaning language to describe my body. He was very verbal about how he felt about women. He would say that women who were raped were probably “asking for it” because they wore a short skirt. I always objected to the grabbing but I became louder and angrier as I got older. I would yell at him telling him to stop, that I didn’t like it. My mother tried to keep the peace by telling me that “he didn’t mean it that way”. REALLY!!! How else does one interpret the grabbing of ones breasts against your will? My mother would not be my protector. My isolation and vulnerability seemed complete. I felt more and more ugly, dirty, guilty, shameful, without value, worthless. I just wanted to die.
My father used to say that I was so worthless that I “wasn’t worth the powder to blow my own brains out with.” That’s pretty worthless. If my own parents, those who should love me the most could think so little of me, then I truly was worthless.
It was physically and emotionally dangerous to be vulnerable, emotional, laugh too loud or cry at my house. If we laughed too loud at the dinner table we got smacked. If we even started to whimper, dad would grab us and tell us that if we didn’t stop, he would give us “something to cry about.” So by my early teens, I quit feeling, laughing much or crying and I didn’t cry for another 20 years-AT ALL. I walled off a portion of my heart. I encased it in cement to keep it from being hurt & crushed anymore that it already had been.
When I was 11, mom took us to Vacation Bible School one summer, to “get us out from under her feet”. There I heard about a God that loved me. OMG! Who thought I had value. Not only did he love me, but he loved me enough to die for me! I accepted Christ as my Savior that summer. I had been forgiven, washed clean. I finally felt loved.
My new faith kept me out of a lot of the common trouble that other victims of sexual abuse historically get into; promiscuity, prostitution, pornography, rebellion, drugs/alcohol, teen pregnancy, suicide. I attended church regularly and read my bible. I loved God and his word and tried to be obedient to it but it was a legalistic, black and white, dogmatic faith. I trusted God—but it was with only half of my heart. There was still a part of my heart that remained ‘walled off’ encased in stone, broken, crushed, dysfunctional. I was unable or unwilling to fully and completely trust God enough to allow him into my heart and life. Therefore, I was not able to enjoy complete healing.
I did get counseling in my mid 30’s, individual and group therapy which helped a lot. I never really realized the extent of the destruction that had taken place in my heart and mind because of the abuse I suffered. The biggest fatality of my upbringing was my inability to TRUST. Impossible to have a healthy marriage or friendships without it and it deeply affected my spiritual life. It is very hard to give God all of your heart, when you don’t “fully” trust.
The opposite of trust is trying to control everything with your own resources, mind and strength. Praise God he never gave up on me and never quit pursuing me. When my life, the one I tenaciously held control of, fell completely apart, I hit bottom. I reached up and He was still there, waiting for me. This time I gave Him all of my heart, every corner, dark, ugly place. I invited him into my heat and then I allowed the Holy Spirit, unhindered to begin to heal me. This time He and I developed a real relationship. I didn’t just have a ‘religion’ I had a relationship with a champion, a friend, a protector. I was finally safe. He has set me free!! Not from every bad habit I have but he has set my heart free. That’s all he really cares about anyway. And the growing of that relationship has brought healing, recovery, renewal, revival, redemption, reconciliation and a recycling, not only to my life but also to that of my family. Am I perfect? Not a chance but my family and I have real HOPE. Hope of living what Jesus called “the abundant life” and having joy to the fullest.
I cry every day now and I love it!! I cry out of joy, at home, in my car listening to KLOVE radio. I even cry in front of my children. They are still surprised by it but I’m not.
This healing is available to everyone. God doesn’t care where you have been just where you’re going. Please don’t wait another second to give ALL of your heart to Jesus so that He can love and heal you! Your peace, joy and happiness and that of your spouse, children, friends and coworkers depend on it.
“The Courage to Heal, a guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse” by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, 1988
“Breaking Free, Making Liberty in Christ a Reality in Life” by Beth Moore 2000
“From Ashes to Glory, the Pathway to Healing from Sexual Abuse” Barbara A. Smith 2007″