Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sexual Abuse: A girl's journey to finding her voice

This. This is a hard one. A post that makes it hard for me to swallow. Hard to breathe. Hard to be vulnerable and share from a place of STILL healing rather than being completely healed. A place where I can't say that after all of these years, I am not still in the trenches, dealing with the aftermath of a war in which for so long I felt my only choice was defeat. For deep down I was damaged goods and had somehow deserved such a status even if it was one that I had only given to myself. So here I am sharing from a place of transparency rather than expertise and that is HARD for me in and of itself.

It started small. As a young girl, in the form of unwanted touches in-between the halls. Unbuttoning my blouse somehow so slyly in a classroom full of people and yet no one saw. And yet I said nothing. I had had a crush on him so maybe I had asked for it? Because I liked him. I meekly tried to ask him to stop and he did not. My voice didn't matter. At that moment, my innocence felt taken from me.

Then there was the supervisor. The one that was more than twice my age. But he didn't really mean what I thought he meant right? He worked with children and everyone TRUSTED him. I trusted him. He told me that he "wanted to know...what boys and girls are supposed to do" as he cornered me all alone. Had I asked for this again? I didn't want to make waves but felt as though I needed to speak out for other kids' sake. If he was saying these things to me, was he saying them to other girls? Younger girls? I told my boss and felt like a fool. I still had to awkwardly work with him. I ended up leaving one of my first jobs as a teenager.

At the age of 17, I was raped. When I confided in someone close, I was told that "That's what happens when you put yourself in bad situations". For years, in my mind, I believed them. It was my fault. And I had lost my voice.

My ill attempt at facing the situation (after a few self-destructive paths) was deciding I would never be a victim again. I was self-sustaining, tough, and trusted no one. I became a master at hiding my heart. I also had a very skewed perspective of who I was as a girl/ woman outside of being a sex object. Those lines were very blurred for quite some time. For awhile, I swung from being what I felt like men wanted me to be to being a complete man hater and not even allowing the opposite sex to open the door for me.  I was never going to let it happen again. I was never going to lose my voice again. I would just speak LOUDER and STRONGER and FIGHT HARDER. I. I. I.  All by my awesome self-sufficient self. Because if I would have just done a, b, c, and wouldn't have happened once. Let alone the next time and the next and the... I tried to protect myslef and heal on my own.

The thing is, we can't do it on our own. Too often sexual abuse is something we chalk up as a norm for girls. Every one of us know of someone who has been abused or harassed in some way and so if it's normal it must be ok. If I've learned anything, it is that it is NOT ok. But it's not about woman power and banning together and burning our bras together and man bashing.

It's about coming to the feet of Jesus, in our brokenness, in our despair, in our desperation, in our cocoon that we have spent years and years and years building around ourselves for protection one thread at a time. Maybe. Just maybe, we can allow God to strip away each thread of false strength. Each self- built bandage and let the healing really begin. At our core. Because deep down out of that suffocating cocoon, comes forth life. Beauty. And Freedom.

So here I am, by the grace of Jesus, getting one wing out at a time, for my husband, for my little girls, and for me.


  1. I love all that you have to say, Leah! Thank you for writing so purely about something so raw, you're amazing!

  2. Jesus heals all. Giving you a virtual hug and sending up my love to you dear. How wonderful of you to share your amazing strength and voice!