The author of today’s blog is one of the most courageous women I’ve ever known. Greatest courage comes in facing our greatest fear and trauma. She does this. She is also a woman of incredible faith. Deepest faith is birthed in dark struggles where believing is almost impossible, yet believing is all we have. Where light is not present, yet Light is all we hold on to. You will hear this in her writing.
Faith, I’ve concluded, is a very different thing than we have been led to believe. It is the struggle, not the certainty. It is not knowing, yet daring to believe. It is not seeing or feeling God, yet crying out to Him whether in pain, or grief or anger, or all of these at once.
In the survivors of horror and their struggle, I have encountered Jesus like no where else in the world. He really does dwell with the brokenhearted. It is an honour to be able to share this woman’s story with you.
This blog is a personal journal entry that she shared with me a while ago. I was so moved by it, I offered to share it with the public if ever she would be comfortable doing so. With deep appreciation for her vulnerability, I invite you to to a sacred glimpse inside her story and struggle.
This is the life of a sex abuse survivor in religious community.
TRIGGER WARNING: Do not read further if you are sensitive to rape and sexual violence testimony. The following post is a very personal heart cry from a survivor.
She is the wife of the gentleman who wrote “What I Wish You Knew About Childhood Sexual Abuse (A Husband’s Perspective”
Where were you, Jesus, when I was seven – a little girl, innocent and sweet- who found herself in a dungeon of darkness with evil men? Where were you when I was playdough in the hands of evil? What were you thinking when they took every last shred of my dignity and innocence? Where were you when there were hands all over me – pinching, feeling, slapping, manipulating? Where were you when I tried to get away from the pain, and one of my captors got angry and shoved himself into every possible place on my body? Where were you when my body gave up – gave in to the manipulation of hands and voices – and my spirit gave up too? Where were you when they mocked me? Where were you when they told me I was their “girl” – that this is what I was made for? Where were you when I believed them…what else was I supposed to believe, Jesus?
I cried out to You the whole time! I kept saying, “Help me, Jesus. Help me!” And in my little girl mind, You didn’t come. I was alone with evil. I was completely powerless. I was in the hands of evil, and completely at the mercy of evil – and there was none.
Only pain with a horrible mix of pleasure. Mocking laughter. Blood. Evil hands. Body parts. Out of place limbs. Darkness. Vulture eyes.
Three or four grown men.
And little seven year old me.
You told me once, God, that you were there when that happened. I desperately want to believe that. You told me you protected me – that you kept it from getting worse. I want to believe that.
But I don’t feel it. And I wish, Jesus, that I could see the scene in my mind with You in it. Right now, I can’t. It’s just me – alone – with evil men. Is it asking too much, Jesus, to ask you to revise that scene with the Truth?
I’m sorry if I’m asking for a sign out of unbelief.
5 hours later: In my mind, I’m about 7-12 years old. A little girl with no voice. In my body, I’m about 60. I am SO old. So tired. So weak. So much pain.
But the calendar says I’m 27.
I feel like I’m dying. Is this what it feels like to be alive? To feel?
I didn’t know I was so tired. My poor body.
I feel awful for that little girl. She’s kept pressing on all these years.
Now she’s breaking. But is it safe to break?
I don’t know.
Now she’s a mom and a wife. Is it okay to break when she’s a mom and wife?
After years of holding in the pain, I am afraid that if I begin to cry, I will never stop. It’s hard for people to grasp the kind of terror that leaves a person so damaged that they cannot remember how it feels to be safe, loved, innocent and free.
As I mopped the floor, my tears mingled with the mop water. I was crying to hard I had to lean over a chair to catch my breath…
“God, I’m too scared to live, and I’m too scared to die (emotionally). All these years I have tried to control my life, because I remember how it felt to be out of control and be completely at the mercy of evil hands. And there was none, even though I cried out to You as a little seven year old girl.
You’ve told me You were there…but where? Where, God? How can I live today if I don’t know where you were then? It’s not safe. But it’s not safe to keep trying to control everything either. I’m hurting myself and my family.
I’m stuck God. Stuck between the reality of a broken world where there is no safe place and what I know in my head.
I’m waiting, God. Waiting for You to reframe that trauma for me with You in the picture. I’m holding on, God. Those rainbows You sent mean something. They were not complete rainbows, just partial.
I will hold on to the little faith I have and I will wait for You.”
~ the warrior child ~
EDIT: There is speculation out there that these men were not Anabaptist. They were, and they are. And today they are all in conservative Anabaptist leadership. Two are ministers. One is in other leadership, and would be too revealing to disclose. Not one of them has ever taken ownership, apologized, or faced legal consequences.
Having read the blog, remember the very courageous young woman who lived this story. It is hard to stomach. Hard to read. But it is a story of courage, resilience and faith, first and foremost. The author is still a conservative Anabaptist. More importantly, she is a woman who loves Jesus and knows Him more personally than many who never needed to struggle through her ‘hell’ and try to find His love for her in spite of her suffering.
Let’s honour her in this story, and lift up Jesus.
~ 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.
(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)
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 email@example.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.