As an adult I understand she was living in her own terror, being brutally beaten by my father, threatened if disobedient. Growing up on an isolated farm, I made it my job to protect my five younger siblings from the violence in front of their eyes. But I could not protect them nor myself. I carried into adult life what I learned during childhood. No one would protect me. I had to do whatever necessary to maintain peace. And above all, pretend everything looks good on the outside - maintain dark secrets. In response to childhood sexual abuse and abandonment, I became a people-pleaser. Feelings of worthlessness overwhelmed me to the point I could not tell a store assistant what I needed. I made poor choices. I tried to be good enough - to be perfect - without success. In my late teens I trusted Jesus as my Savior and learned that He, "makes all things new," so I put the past in a closet and closed the door.
Over the years I'd seek counseling for fringe issues. They ranged in skill from lay counselors to church counselors to one self-proclaimed who hung a shingle out front. But NONE of them were trained in sexual abuse and trauma so could not discern the source of the pain nor how to help me. I struggled with depression, nightmares and suicidal thoughts. Like a volcano, I would periodically spew out to release some of the infection brewing deep inside the closed closet door. God in His great love for me, brought into my path a licensed therapist, trained in trauma and abuse, who immediately discerned my need. It was time to open the closet door. Thus began my healing journey. My therapist helped me beyond description!
I participated in a support group where I recall an ah-haw moment - "that's why I do that!" The Wildflowers series also brought immeasurable healing. These women were compassionate, understanding and showed unconditional love. It is said that we are wounded in relationship and we are healed in relationship.
God has shown Himself to be absolutely miraculous in my life. Because of His healing work within me I've gone from worthlessness to having purpose. I now experience the wonder and joy of life. He is using my past to assist others in finding freedom for their future - God uses all things for good.
Years ago being pregnant outside of marriage was shameful. I learned that my maternal grandmother told my mother she knew a doctor that could "take care of" the pregnancy. While some would say a child shouldn't be born into a violent, abusive situation, I am grateful my mother chose life for me.
"We can't choose what people do to us, but we can chose how we respond to it."
"You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring about His purpose." Gen.50:20
When I was a child, I used to go to a hill on my farm every night and pray something like this: God, if you can hear me, please take me away. Take me with you so that I do not have to feel. I cannot take this pain any longer. I hurt God. I know my mom does not mean to make me hurt so badly. Last night, God, I was able to stop the pain a little, by thinking about you, and then I did not have to think about what was happening. But God, I do not know what I have done. Why does she do that? Why does she let other people do it to me? This morning, God, I could not look at myself in the mirror. God, if you can hear me, please stop my life. Please take me so that my mom and dad can get a new daughter that they can be happy with. They do not want me. I was just a mistake.
I plead to God for years to follow as my life went from years of childhood sexual abuse and torture, to years of self abuse, addictions, bad relationships, and horrible life mismanagement. I did not want to be at church because I had so much guilt and shame.
I came to _ Church with a simple plea - Help me. Little did I realize that my life was about to embark on a healing journey that I never imagined. I attended the Wildflowers group in January not knowing what to expect. I am usually not a committed person, so I thought I would just go for awhile, but I could not stop.
Wildflowers put my life back together. In those videos I saw how sexual abuse can take the hearts of beautiful people. I was no longer alone. The videos and the discussion that I experienced taught me that I was worthwhile, and that Jesus Christ had a purpose in my life. Lastly, I learned that I had a place in this world and that it is possible to be healed. God did not leave me when I was abused as I thought. Over and over I heard His voice during group saying, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Thank you for the freedom to live my life. I am no longer angry. I no longer have nightmares. I no longer abuse myself. I get excited to be in God’s presence with other Christians.
I especially want to thank Gloria and Kathleen for all their efforts in making this ministry possible. Christ has shown himself through both of them so much by the countless hours they have poured their hearts -into helping us with the pain of sexual abuse. They taught us to feel that pain, identify it, and work with it within the healing arms of Jesus Christ. And once one gets through the pain – there is only one thing to say, “Praise be to Jesus Christ.”
When I was two weeks old I was wrapped in a blanket, put in a box and put on the street as you would trash. It was discovered that the biological mother had worn a tight girdle while pregnant which caused me some problems at birth. She didn't want her rich friends to know she had been stepping out on her invalid husband.
December of 1991, I had a memory that changed my life forever. For a couple months I was seeing a counselor for something not related to abuse. She had been telling me I had all the trademarks of a person who had been sexually assaulted. I denied it could have ever happened to me. I was raised in a Christian home with adoptive parents who loved me. They could never hurt me or let anyone else hurt me. They were pillars in the community - respected by everyone.
That Christmas everything came crashing down. I have memories of being sexually abused by every male family member except one. This set me up for dozens of others to abuse me, which caused me to want to be in a cocoon. As the years passed I felt so alone, ugly, abandoned, worthless and very ashamed. Even though I knew God was always with me.
My counselor suggested an Omaha support group (now Restored Hearts.) They were going thru a small book, "When Trust Is Lost." Through the book and support group I realized I was not alone. There were a lot of people who had been abused. Later I realized that the cocoon was God's arms around me. He had let the bad things happen because men and women made bad choices, but God knew He could use the bad for good.
Because of the abuse, one of the hardest areas of my life I have is the SHAME I feel. Most of my life I felt I could not do anything right. I have always thought everybody was better than me. Going through "Into the Wildflowers" took more than one layer of shame off. Even though I still feel shame some of the time, I know God does not see shame when He looks down on me. He sees a beautiful butterfly that He created. Even now at the age I am, I'm still learning there are areas of my life that God is still working on. It has taken years for me to realize the depth of God's love for me. Going through "Into the Wildflowers" was just one more way to help me see myself as the beautiful butterfly God has made me to be. God loves us just as we are. Like the butterfly, we eventually have to come out of the cocoon and trust God that He will help us see ourselves as He sees us.
I also know, that I know, that when I get to heaven all of the bad stuff will be gone and I will be a more beautiful butterfly than I am now.
I don't know what my life was like when I was young. To this day I don't remember much. I do remember my father molesting me. He would bring other men over so they could molest me too. My mother knew what was going on, but chose to ignore it. She taught me to bury all the hurt and the pain. She taught me not to cry and pretend that everything was fine when it really wasn't. As a result, I have a hard time trusting people. It's hard to let people get close to me. I'm afraid to ask for help when I need it. Only a few people know what happened to me.
I sought help because my life was a mess. I had anger issues. I would be fine one minute and the next I would explode over the smallest things. It was suggested that I try theophostic prayer ministry (TPM.) That's when the memories started to surface. God helped the little girl inside of me who was in soo much pain. With God's help I was able to forgive my father.
I heard about SOSA - Survivors of Sexual Abuse ( now Restored Hearts) and started to attend their meetings. It was such a comfort to find others who have the same experiences I had. It's such a comfort to find women who are going through the same struggles you are. I went to SOSA for over a year. With TPM, SOSA and God I was able to get through the hurt and pain of my childhood. Recently there was a sermon on forgiveness and I was able to forgive my mother for the role she played in my abuse.
II always longed to have close, intimate relationships with my family and friends. I never knew why those relationships remained so superficial and could never figure out what to do to change that. I never felt adequate or acceptable and was scared to death that others would see the truth of those inadequacies and just how unacceptable I really was. To cover up, I became a perfectionist, seeking to control every aspect of my world. Despite all the exhaustive physical and emotional energy I put into these, I still never felt like I was good enough.
was emotionally alone. Having learned early in life that emotions in general were unacceptable, my feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness and rejection were always ignored and pushed down. Even feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction were not allowed to surface. My life was a grey mess. To numb myself, I pursued addictions to sugar and chocolate, which in turn contributed to health problems. So went my secret, unhappy life.
During grad school in my early 40's, I heard a social issues presentation on the effects of sexual abuse on women who have been abused. I sat there almost in shock as the instructor went through the "list of effects" and for the first time admitted, "Oh my God, that's me! That's what's 'wrong' with me." That day I learned that what had happened to me as a child was not 'just kids messing around.' I had been sexually abused.
I immediately joined a support group and began seeing a counselor. Over the years, as I learned more about what defines sexual abuse and its varying levels of severity, I came to realize that not only had I been sexually abused by the neighborhood bully prior to starting elementary school, but I had also been violated by an uncle at an even earlier age and sexually intimidated by another uncle when a teenager. These incidences, which I felt should have been no big deal, had affected my entire life. My ability to trust others was totally broken. My fear of intimacy had caused me to put up high, thick walls to keep others out. My desire to hide in perfectionism and an addictive lifestyle had further alienated me from the very people I wanted to be in relationship with. And worst of all, it had affected my willingness to trust God in my heart of hearts.
Through the years, God has graciously used personal counseling, support groups, and spiritual transformational groups to move me past the shame of my past, to be able to accept myself, in all my imperfections and experience God's love for me in ways I never thought possible. I've grown in my ability to trust others, to use appropriate boundaries when I need to, and let go of perfectionism and addictions. And, best of all, I've learned to really trust my God and experience a deeper level of intimacy in my relationship with Him.