In the past few weeks I’ve posted blogs written by my friends and readers. These were writings shared with me that I found helpful and thought the public may benefit from, so I asked each of them for permission to post what they wrote to me.
I have a few more that I’m hoping to share but still need permission, and several lined up that have granted permission. Some choose to be anonymous while others are comfortable using their names. I respect the wishes of each individual. Some of those sharing I’ve interacted with for years, some I just ‘met’ recently.
Today’s blog is the voice of an Anabaptist husband. It is powerful, tender, touching, challenging… It is a call for understanding and compassion, and awareness of the incredible damage done to children (for life) when they are sexually assaulted. In his wife’s case, as you will read, she was raped in childhood.
While the following is an incredible read, please be aware that the content may be triggering for trauma survivors and those who feel deeply what they read. This is not all bad, as facing triggers is part of the healing process for many. And for non-survivors, it creates deep understanding of the victims’ suffering. Each reader should be aware of what you can tolerate.
I get the feeling that people think childhood sexual abuse is not as bad as it is painted – that there are few long term effects.
But I know that’s not true.
I know, because I am married to a survivor of childhood rape.
I know what it’s like to get married but not be able to have sex because grown men decided to rape and abuse my beautiful bride when she was a little girl.
I know what it’s like to lay my hands on my wife of nearly 3 months and beg God to heal her vaginismus – and see Him do so instantly.
I know what it’s like to have her burst into tears in the middle of sex because something triggered a memory of the rape – and for this to be somewhat a “normal” occurrence.
I know what it’s like to hold my wife in my arms, and as she shakes with grief and anguish, hear her ask, “What did I ever do to deserve that kind of cruelty?”
I know what’s it’s like to pull the covers up over her head as she curls up in a fetal position – trying to protect herself as yet another flashback appears out of nowhere.
I know what it’s like to lead my wife in prayer – hundreds of times – to forgive the “Christian” men who did this horrific evil to her.
I know what it’s like to see her disassociate while giving birth, and wonder if I was going to lose her.
I know what it’s like to call my boss to say that I will be an hour or two late for work because it is not safe to leave my wife at home alone.
I know what it’s like to get home from work and meet a teary eyed wife with many hard questions, and after much listening, discussion, and prayer, realize that the house looks worse than when I left in the morning.
I know what it’s like to hear our chiropractor tell me that my wife regularly visits the office with her back, neck, pelvis, hips and ribs out of place – and “she walks like nothing is wrong” because her body is still in shock from trauma that happened 20 years ago.
Don’t tell me that sexual abuse doesn’t affect people in real ways. Don’t tell me that forgiveness takes care of the pain.
I know better.
Spare me all the usual idiotic things said about abuse. The little girl who is now my wife did not ask for it. She was not dressed immodestly. Yes, she said “no”. (She even cried out to Jesus to help her!) No, it’s not something she can “just get over”. No, she’s not bitter or unforgiving. And no, it’s not just “all in her head.”
Furthermore, please stop saying ignorant things about the beautiful concept of forgiveness. She has forgiven these men more times than we both can count, but flashbacks still come. Memories are real and cannot be controlled. Forgiveness does not mean she (actually, “we”) stop paying for the consequences of the sin done to her.
These men are not “brothers in the Lord”. You cannot do this kind of evil and be a Christian. It is the opposite of everything Jesus is. Jesus implies that anything less than death is mercy for an offender. And there are days when only the mercy of God keeps me from taking justice in my own hands.
If all of this surprises you, you’ve never sat close enough to hear a victim speak. You’ve never listened without judgement. Contrary to what you may think, abuse victims are not looking for attention. They just want to be heard and seen as people whose pain and voice matters.
I know, because I am married to one.
If you want to see a victim of sexual abuse blossom and heal, you have to be a safe person. Listen instead of trying to “fix” them. Do not put healing on a timeline. The broken parts of them are not something you can fix anyway. Just love them like Jesus loves. Lay down your life like Christ laid His down.
Believe me, it works.
I know, because I am the husband of a childhood rape survivor.
Tomorrow the blog will be from this gentleman’s wife, sharing some deep soul musing and struggles. Those who dare to enter the raw struggle of the soul are especially misunderstood in church.
Observation has taught me that those who wrestle most have deepest faith. It takes no faith to speak of, when life is a breeze and everything makes sense. But when nothing makes sense, we either run, or we enter into an intimate struggle.
It is in this wrestling with God, in struggling for answers, in asking the hard questions that we draw most near to Him. It is in this wrestling, like Jacob did in the night. (And as I type this, I recall a talk I did some years ago that was recorded that some who fear the struggle may find encouraging: Invitation to Wrestle with God).
When you read her blog tomorrow, remember this. She is a woman of incredible faith who has inspired me, challenged me and encouraged me. She is a warrior. She is a child. She is an outstanding woman of God.
Remember the victims! Remember Haiti! Pray for their redemption and healing.
Pray for the church, for eyes to be opened, for truth and justice with mercy to matter again. For an awakening to the depth of depravity we have allowed in church so that genuine repentance will rise out of this darkness, and children will be protected.
Pray for Jeriah and CAM, to truly, completely come clean and repent, without self-preservation driving the process. What is money in light of the wellbeing of children? What is humanitarian aid with the misrepresentation of Jesus, and without the protection of children? Pray that these realities would sink deeply into the leaders of CAM.
~ T ~
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief. It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.
NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.
Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.
If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.