From Victim To Victor And Loved To Wholeness
From the time I was born, there has been an attack on my identity, self-image, and worth. Growing up we didn’t have affirmations. If you were thriving in an area you would get acknowledged for it, but there was no encouragement to help you get there. It was just expected of you. Not being affirmed in who I was caused me to look for that validation elsewhere. I wanted to be like any and everyone who seemed to be liked and accepted.
Never did I consider the repercussions that could come with that. Like many women, I grew up with daddy issues that later resulted in poor decision making. I didn’t witness my mother being properly loved nor did I have any examples or standards to weigh my choices against. My daddy didn’t walk out on us, but his decisions in a life forced him to be away. The majority of my father’s life was spent in jail and on drugs. His absence forced my mother to play his position and hers. Having a mom who had to work but also wanted and needed her “me time” caused me to spend more time at my cousin’s house.
The very house that robbed me of my innocence. I’m not saying I was completely innocent because the bible declares we” were born in sin and shaped in iniquity” Psalm 51:5. We do not learn sin but we can be taught how to operate in it. My mother thought she was sending me over there for care but little did she know my normal visits and babysitting sessions turned into full-blown molestation sessions.
When the molestation began I was 6 and he was 12. He would take turns on my cousins and me. One by one he’d call us in the room. Some days he would ask “what do you want to do ?-” “Do you want to get on top or do you want me to do it from behind” .”Do you want to start off with it in your mouth”. I can still picture the way the room was set up. Before every session, he would select a porno for us to watch to get our mind and body stimulated.
There were times where my body would flinch and he would caress my hip bones with his fingertips while singing a soft tune. I wanted to tell my mom what was going on but I remember her telling me and my siblings “if someone touches you, ill be in jail cause imma kill them”. My dad was already gone and the last thing I needed was for my mom to be locked up too. I decided I would leave hints in hopes she would be able to tell something was wrong.
One day in particular he ejaculated on my skirt and underwear. I purposely left my skirt in the hallway, directly in front of my mom’s door. During that time I was ignorant of the fact that it would eventually dry up and appear as a stain. I was a child so why would my mom think it was semen. If anything she probably thought I spilled something on my clothes because …..well that’s what children do.
Years and years went by and no one never knew I was being molested, except the ones who were being molested too. It was like we were in a pact. Anytime I would bring it up to them they would get upset and tell me “that did not happen”! I don’t know if they were trying to protect their brother’s image or if they had suppressed it to the point they really believed it did not happen. I knew it was wrong and something he could get in trouble for, but my young mind was not fully capable of processing what was happening. It was not until I became an adult where I then realized I had been violated.
I was open and exposed to a life my young body and mind were not mentally and physically prepared for. My desire and hunger for sexual pleasure grew drastically. At times I could not control myself. Every chance I got to masturbate or hump something or someone I did just that. I remember going to my boy cousin’s house who happened to live in the same apartment building as us. We would be upstairs in his room “playing”. There were several kids in the building who would come over and join us. Each of us would take turns humping and feeling on one another.
Some days I would be on girls, other days I’d be on boys’ family included. The lust in me knew no limits or boundaries. The thing I found interesting is none of the adults ever came to check on us. No one ever came to see why we were meeting. I guess they figured we were just being kids.
My sexual encounters as a child eventually lead to porn addiction. My addiction shifted from me being pleasured to witnessing others be pleasured. It wasn’t just the image of sex that had me hooked and ensnared, it was the sound and faces of the women on the screen. I battled with an intense porn addiction from the age of 6 up until the age of 19; and even sometime after that, I fell back into the very traps lust set before me.
I would wait for the adults in my house to go to bed and turn on porn. Me sneaking and watching it lead to my younger siblings and cousins being exposed to it. There were nights I could not rest until I turned on a porno and got that release. Every moment that I was left alone, it was all I desired and thought about. I looked forward to the times my household would leave because I would be free to masturbate and enjoy the sounds at a high level. Not only did we have adult channels in our cable plan, but there were also DVDs and VCR tapes around the house available at my fingertips which made it easier for me to feed my addiction.
I wasn’t introduced to sex in a sacred way. I was taught “when your body gets this feeling and your panties get wet that means you ready to have sex”. Porn to me was just people following what their body wanted and to me that was normal. I didn’t see how the enemy was twisting my perspective and preparing me for the bait that awaited me.
By the time I reached my freshman year in college, I had gone completely boy crazy.
I was so obsessed with dating and having somebody. Anybody who showed me more love and attention than what I got from my father was worthy of me in my eyes. I had no standard or scale to measure and weigh them by. I took and accepted anything that felt close to love. I was just happy somebody wanted me. Along with my college experience came clubbing and drinking. I had never stepped foot in a club prior to my 19th birthday. I had been to house parties prior to that but that’s as close as it got. Being introduced to club life was the beginning of my self-destruction. The nightclub became my second home.
I would attend the club 3-4 times a week, even on school nights. All the attention I began to receive from men caused me to compromise my self worth and dignity. My dresses got shorter by the days and I began to wear less clothing. There were times I even wore lingerie outside to the club, something I previously judged other women for. I thought they were disgusting for doing so, yet I craved the attention they received. I saw the way my boyfriend at the time looked at them. I thought they were someone he wanted me to be like. Truth be told it was the wrong type of attention and it caused me to send out the wrong message while attracting the wrong type of men.
One night, in particular, I went to my friend’s house after the club. I was so drunk that all I could do was lay in one spot. I eventually passed out on her couch. As I was asleep, I could overhear the guys who were standing next to me talking about how “gone” I was. I thought they were going to clown me or laugh it off but that was not the case. One of them who happened to be a mutual friend attempted to finger me. I was wearing this black and white dress that barely covered my cheeks so there wasn’t much clothing he had to fight through. I clenched my legs as hard as I could and turned on my stomach making it harder for him to gain access in that way. Shortly after his failed attempt, my friend’s brother attempted to do the same thing.
I don’t know if he thought it was just the boy I was rejected, and he would have better luck or what. I knew in my heart I would not be able to physically fight them off if they tried to gang up on me, however, I was conscious enough to know what was going on. Thank god for my ex-boyfriend’s mom who happened to come downstairs during the commotion. It could have gone another way. Considering the fact that I was like family to them, I was extremely thrown off by his actions. What’s crazy about it all is the strangers I was around never tried to take advantage of me, it was always those closest to me. You know the ones you expect to protect you from perpetrators.
At the time I could not see how the enemy was planting the seed of distrust which later produced trauma. I had been violated by those I trusted the most and it caused me to have more trust for strangers. It got to a point where I was leaving the club and functions with COMPLETE strangers trusting them to return me home. As if rape or sex trafficking wasn’t a possibility. Many nights I legit don’t remember getting home. It was a complete blur. Not only was I intoxicated but the drivers were as well. No one was sober enough to be attentive to the road and its surroundings. I’m convinced it was nothing but the grace of God. I was not even saved then, yet and still, he was still looking out for me, protecting me from dangers unseen.
I went from meeting people at the club to meeting people online. Myspace was very popular at the time. Most of the men I linked up with, I didn’t know anything about them except their name if they were even being honest about that. I trusted them enough to go to their houses and at times I would hook up with them. Although I had been violated in the past, it was never my desire to sleep around with men. Molestation causes two different responses: you either become terrified of sex and intimacy or you become promiscuous. I was skating the line of them both. I never allowed them to penetrate me but I was willing to kiss and perform oral sex on them.
For the longest time I did not want to face reality, I ran from it. I ran until I got tired of running. After seeing a picture of me passed out on the concrete at a pool party, I realized I needed help. It took him shinning his light on the darkest parts of life for me to see I was sick and in need of the great physician. I so used to fill my life with temporary void fillers. I didn’t realize my soul was searching for something of substance. I’m reminded of the Samaritan woman who kept sleeping with all these different men and Jesus told her when you drink from the living well you’ll never thirst again. Minus the loss of loved ones I thought I was living my best life and no one else could convince me otherwise. Living to me was turning up and enjoying life.
Truth is I was just existing. I thought I was living until I encountered the one who gives and breathes life. It was one of those Of Keisha Cole moments for me “loooove never knew what I was missing”. They say you don’t know what you’re missing until you receive it. Christ Jesus was my missing puzzle piece. He came and resurrected me from the dead (life of sin). I was broken and there was NO HOPE for me. The people around me wanted to help me but they didn’t have the answers. I don’t have any special formula for how I came out. I didn’t follow some man-made instructions.
I didn’t go see a life coach, therapist, or psychiatrist( I’m not against those by the way). It was Jesus and Jesus Christ alone. Psalms 107: 2 declares “Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy”. I had no strength to get out or make it. In fact, may night I asked the Lord to take my life! I wished and hoped for death. Life wasn’t worth living to me until I encountered Christ. There is absolutely nothing that can get me to go back to that old lifeless life.
3 years into salvation I met the man I would later marry. I had always desired to get married and do things the right way. Let’s just say my family and friends’ decisions was my birth control. My mom would always tell me “don’t have sex they just gone get you pregnant and leave” Two fears, in particular, kept me from giving up my virginity: the fear of getting pregnant and the pain of the first time.
Every story I heard was “I ended up pregnant or man that first time is the worse”. You see I thought that’s all it was until my wedding night came. My husband and I attempted to have intercourse and the hidden little girl in me showed up. The moment his penis met the surface of my inner parts, I pushed him off. I flinched and tensed up at every attempt. He stopped and asked if I was okay. I told him yes it’s just my first time and I’m a bit nervous.
He and I both thought it was just nerves so we decided to go purchase wine. Well… that didn’t go so well. During our next series of attempts, I kicked and screamed as if he was violating me. But this was a man well within his legal rights “the woman’s body no longer is her own”. Not only was I emotional, but I was also drunk which intensified everything I was already feeling. After several attempts, I realized my issue was bigger than the fear of pain and pregnancy. This was my childhood trauma showing up letting me know she and I had unfinished business. It was almost as if the little girl in me was fighting back, something I did not do before. We attempted counseling, sat with other couples, tried four play and etc..
Nothing seemed to work. For 8 months my marriage went without any penetration. Eventually, my husband grew weary. He felt like a rapist and was not comfortable trying again. He decided it was best we split and get an annulment since we had not consummated our marriage. I went back to my mom’s house and he moved out of state.
I now had to face my mother and tell her the secret I withheld and suppressed for many years. I never once told anyone. “MOM I was molested by our cousin”. My mom in complete shock asked, “why I never said something she would have hurt him”! My response was “because of that reason right there”. Not only did I fear my mom would end up in prison but I was afraid of the fallout my confession would or could cause.
You see that was a common thing for me, afraid of the consequences my truth may bring. I avoided confrontation at all costs. My trauma and experiences were so far embedded in me that by the time I was able to take inventory it was too late. My family had an issue with confrontation. No one never really knew how to address problems and disagreements. Most disagreements resulted in fist and verbal fights. How would his mother take this?
Would I be called a liar? Would I be attacked for revealing “family secrets”? Were there any other victims? Did someone molest him? Is this what got him here? No victim should fear being told, “that didn’t happen”. It takes a lot of courage to come out and tell what was done to you especially from those who are supposed to protect you. In my case it wasn’t so much that I expected him to protect me, it was the fact that the family loved and respected him.
I know the things I’m sharing are enough to make people feel sorry or bad for me but I’m not sharing this because I want sympathy. I want my sisters to know you can and will OVERCOME. Yes, you may have been a victim but that is something you can’t control. You are only responsible for the way you respond to trauma and pain. You have two options in life:
1. let it take your life or let it make you in life. Every situation I have endured has worked out for my good. I didn’t see it that way at first. I thought God was giving me reasons to not live. There were times I thought I was going to die because of the physical pain I was able to feel. It literally felt like weights were sitting on my chest causing me to lose circulation to my heart.
Although I enjoyed the attention and sympathy the pain got me, nothing compares to freedom. Many times we think the power comes from holding on to the pain and allowing the villain to feel our wrath. But true power relies on FORGIVENESS. I used to hate hearing “forgiveness is for you and not them”. I didn’t understand the meaning behind it until I CHOSE to let it all go. We go to bed angry and upset to the point we can not sleep.
Meanwhile, the one who caused the offense or pain is sleeping like a baby. I remember one night, in particular, I was up meditating on the betrayal I had experienced in my marriage and the Holy Spirit ministered to me and said “you’re losing sleep and they are snoring”. It wasn’t that he didn’t understand my pain, he was concerned about me healing and moving forward. He doesn’t expect you to have the strength he just needs your permission to come in so he can mend and make you whole. Will you let him?