HOW I OVERCAME SEXUAL ABUSE AND TRAUMA, A VICTOR’S STORY
This is a powerful testimony about a Sterling Harris Ministry partner who overcame sexual abuse and trauma. It is so amazing, and answers various questions that so many of us want to know like: Why do bad things happen to good people? Is everything that has happened to me God’s Will for my life? Why evil happens in our lives? This testimony will answer so many of these burning questions in the form of an inspirational real life experience about the Love and Power of God and the healing through Jesus Christ by the power of Holy Spirit!
How I Overcame Sexual Abuse and Trauma, a Victor’s Story
I am loved, and I am a cherished and treasured daughter of The One True King because my identity is in Christ Jesus. I am righteous, I am redeemed, and I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. The perpetrator was my friend’s father who abused me for about an 18-month period of time that started when I was 8 years old. Even though my repeated abuse was severely traumatizing, I never sought help. As is common with many perpetrators, he used verbal and emotional manipulation as well as threatening and coercing me into silence. I stayed silent by burying my pain and locking it away into the deepest recesses of my being. I pretended it never happened by rewriting history in my mind about the events, thus deceiving myself. I continued to do this for well over 30 years. I have found self-deception to be the worst kind of deception because you don’t even realize you’re being deceived.
I found myself using survival techniques and defense and coping mechanisms to escape the pain that my body and heart felt but my young mind could not process. These instinctive survival mechanisms were never meant to be used long term, but through fear, shame, and unworthiness, I ended up unknowingly adopting fear based personality traits. For example, as I worked through my deliverance process, I realized several negative behavior patterns that stemmed from my abuse that I had not previously realized. The fear of intimacy which affected how I interacted with those closest to me became detrimental in my relationships. The trauma gave me the impression that I could not trust anyone, and that I was not safe even with people I love. I felt I was unworthy of love because shamefully and unknowingly, at the core of my being, I felt dirty for the things that had happened to me.
This fear of intimacy made it hard for me to connect on an intimate level with my own children. Though I was physically present, I kept them at an emotional arm’s length. I had no trouble meeting their needs, being involved in their lives, and being a supportive mother. However, when it came to letting them in on my feelings and being vulnerable about my thoughts and emotions, it made me very uncomfortable. I also had physical hang ups that I never realized why I did, but I could see the distance it was putting between my kids and me. I have a physical reaction to people coming at me or getting too close to my face because at aged 18, my rapist kept getting in my face to try and kiss me. I would hide my face in pillows of the couch and almost suffocate myself to keep him from my face and mouth. I now know where that fear of things coming at my face developed. That might not sound like a big deal to some, but anyone with kids knows there are body parts that come flying at you all the time, and kids have little to no awareness of personal space until later in their development.
I was at a loss of why I had all of these issues until I began processing through my traumas with godly counsel, and putting my trauma before God and allowing The Holy Spirit to show me and my counselor these patterns of behavior and how they connected. I have learned we are all a summation of our life experiences; meaning our perceptions, beliefs, and the rules we have for ourselves are based on our life impressions, some known and some unknown. I wanted to share these examples with you to give you a window into two of these patterns so that it might aid you in breaking free of any stronghold that you may be experiencing. I want to encourage you to ask God to bring to your mind any strongholds you may have that are robbing you of your peace, and then as He does, release them over to Him through prayer and ask Him to show you how to change your way of thinking. This process has helped me tremendously, and God has spoken to me in a lot of ways through dreams, other people, His Word, and that inward knowing that have all helped me find healing.
There came a point on this journey when I realized that being angry and allowing the feelings of being a victim to rest on my heart and in my mind, were doing nothing but holding me back. The truth is, by not battling those thoughts and feelings with my spiritual truths and standing on the WORD of God, I was allowing those things inside my heart to bind and isolate me. By my lack of actions, I was unknowingly perpetuating the damage it caused, the pain that would overwhelm me, and the bondage that kept me paralyzed. When I Finally came to terms with that knowledge, life became a series of choices as opposed to allowing myself to stay bound up and tossed around in the sea of doubt, fear, and unworthiness.
I have learned 5 truths along this journey of discovery of repressed traumatic memories and being offended by God and many others in my life. One, is the importance of heeding God’s direction to take dominion over all living things on the earth. Two, is God’s Will is NOT for evil, and although everything does happen for a reason, it is NOT by His Will but by the enemy and his immense hate for us and the free will choices of others . Three, it is the devil who comes to steal, kill and destroy, NOT God. Four, is that forgiveness is about me being free and not about accepting the other person’s wrongdoing. Forgiveness is a spiritual force of true freedom when done by faith rooted in God’s love for and in us. Five, is God’s Will is for us to come to Him for Healing because He never left me or you. He enters into our trauma with us.
In Genesis 1:28, God first blessed Adam and Eve, and “God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it, have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” So from the very beginning, God told us to take dominion over every living thing. It was His plan for us to live in the paradise of the garden, but they chose to sin against God (that free will choice He gave from the very beginning) by going outside of His will for their lives. This choice set the course for every bit of evil that comes in the form of all sin, all sickness, and all disease that was unleashed on the earth. Hence the importance of taking dominion and subduing all the living things on the earth even to this very day. God is telling us to go out and share His love and His WORD with the world. By doing these very things, we help others experience God and the love of Jesus that helps people to be better able to choose good because their will and desires fall into alignment to God’s will that He shows us through His WORD.
Along this journey of healing, The Lord brought to my spirit that I needed More Power! More power to: let go of the hurts caused by my trauma, stop hating myself for the reactions of my body to the abuse, not seeking help by an outcry to someone, releasing the resentment and unforgiveness I was carrying, and to stop holding onto the resurfaced memories in the hopes that they were not true. Attaining more power spiritually halted the need to try to gain my power back in the worldly sense, and this allowed me to put the resurfaced memories into perspective that though it was all fresh to my mind, it was not a fresh experience. I needed More Power to receive the blessings God has for me, my calling in life, to move from hurt to healing, and to ask for and Receive the Spiritual Gifts I need to accomplish all of this. Asking for Spiritual Gifts and More Power has been paramount in being moved out of the valley of despair into claiming and receiving my healing.
As I was praising and worshipping at Upper Room Dallas on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I knew I needed to pray for more power, as well as asking for more forgiveness. God made it very clear to me that I must choose to open my hands for Him to help me. He was showing me that an open hand through trusting in Him was required to receive more power, and that opening my hand also meant letting go of my pain by giving forgiveness to the very man who had repeatedly abused me. It has taken me longer than I would like to admit and through many battles in my mind, but I finally did this in prayer, in praise, and in thanksgiving that day. When I prayed this: “More God, More! More power, more spiritual gifts, more healing! More of YOU, GOD- less of me!!” As I sang and prayed this, I felt the strong and reassuring hand of my best friend on my shoulder, and just by resting in the anointing of our friendship, I knew my God appointed person was praying in agreement with me. Just as he removed his hand from my shoulder, the words to the song; which I had never heard, changed to exactly the words I had been singing to God in my head. That was an immediate double confirmation of what I was praying, and it was Awesome!! As an additional confirmation, I later found out that God had put it on my best friend’s heart to pray for almost the exact things I was praying for in my heart! God is so loving and awesome!
I have discovered so much in this process about the power of free will choice. God shows us so many ways and by so many different experiences the path of His will for our lives; which does not include evil. If we will choose to trust in Him and follow Him, we will learn that resting in Him and His will to love and prosper us in our lives. This is the best path for us, and it results in the true healing we all seek whether we realize it or not. This process allows us to experience our Father and come to rely on Him as our sole source and supplier. I had been keeping God as a resource because I was too bound in fear from my past. I had to come to the realization and acceptance that God’s will for me is to prosper me and never cause me harm. I mediated on Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” and rested in His will to help me overcome the horror that had happened to me due to evil choices people in my life made that hurt me. GOD did NOT HURT ME. What God did was to keep His covenant with His people that gives them the free will choice to choose good and prosperous things or to choose evil and damaging things. No, God did NOT hurt me. He simply waited for me and beckoned me to come to Him so that He could heal me from the inside out and to deliver me victorious from my abuse and trauma. He set the healing I needed into existence thousands of years ago with the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Through the stripes of Jesus, I was already healed, but I needed to claim my healing in order to allow myself to receive what had already been freely given to me as a child of God.
Along this journey of resurfaced memories, I realized that God was not to blame for what had happened to me. As I pressed into The Lord and got deeper into the WORD of God, I could then understand that because God already knew what would happen to me; therefore, His heart was broken for me first. He never left me or loved me less, in fact, I know Him as the good and perfect Daddy He is, that He loved me even more. Matthew 18:6 tells me that God will deal with anyone who hurts His children. He knows exactly how to deal with the shortcomings of each person because He knows what each of us need, even when we are in the depths of our sin.
I had been praying for God to gently break me in my fight against all the memories that were resurfacing as well as my need to run from the knowledge of what had happened to me so that I could finally emerge on the other side of my pain. It took me relying on my faith to trust in the process and dig deep in my soul to forgive. I utilized the tools I had learned from Sterling Harris Ministries on how to perform a forgiveness purge as well as many other concepts in truth. Because forgiveness is a process not a one time event, it has taken many forgiveness purges led by Holy Spirit to finally get to a place of letting go of my resentments that were binding me just as tight, if not even tighter than the actual events themselves. I still to this very day continue to practice forgiveness purges praying “Holy Spirit, bring to my heart and mind who and what I need to forgive, not questioning but being open minded to forgive. Before I began these forgiveness purges, I had been so hurt and offended that I began to wallow around in my hurt and wear it like a badge of victimized honor that only served to bound me up even tighter. The only thing my resentment accomplished was to hold God back in what He’s been trying to give me, and that was complete healing. Sadly, I had been blocking my own healing, and that is a sin. I asked for forgiveness of that sin, too. I also asked for more power, giving more of my sin and hurt over to God. He was good to His WORD…I got my healing! He is so incredibly loving!
During the church service that day, we did an exercise in thanksgiving. Surprisingly, there was a verse in the bible that had been holding me back in receiving my healing for quite some time. God had the preacher, Michael, share it that day in his sermon…so right on time! 1 Thessalonian 5:16-18 says that we are to “Rejoice always, Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” These three verses had actually built up a greater offense towards God in my life. I kept thinking, “If God only wants to prosper me and He loves me, then why did He allow the free will choice to cause me so much pain and damage?” And on top of allowing it, He wants me to thank Him because that’s His will for my life?!? That was so confusing and offensive to me. What I realized in church that day was just the difference that one 2 letter word made for me. Understanding the use of the word, IN, was the catalyst that knocked down the hardened and angry walls around my heart.
What I now understand, is that God is saying for us to praise him IN the midst of the pain and thank Him because that is what allows Him to work all things out for our good. He is not asking us to praise Him and to thank Him FOR the evil that free will choice can bring into our lives as it hurts Him, too. What He is doing is letting us know that He loves us, and He will fight our battles for us. I read a couple verse back to verses 14 and 15, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for ourselves and for all.” Again the importance of subduing and taking dominion over all thing by spreading God’s love and His WORD. When we do this, the hearts of the people in the world change, and we begin to choose good and love each other and treat each other in kindness; which prospers us all.
During this exercise, I just started thanking God for everything He wants for me and everything He is doing for me. Once I turned my thoughts and life to thanksgiving, it truly opened up the path of healing and prosperity. And, at the same time, I was receiving More Power! After we yelled out our list of thanksgiving, the mic was opened for people to go up and testify what they were thankful for, and the first three people up there spoke to me so directly that I had to leave the room. The first person that spoke shared that she had been struggling with understanding that even while she was being hurt by someone, Jesus was in the room with her. She had been praying for and asking to know where Jesus was when she was being hurt, and she learned that He was right there on the floor with her. I got chills all over my body when she said that. I, too had been praying for that answer. God showed me that when I was being abused as an innocent child on the floor of the closet, He was right there with me. He cried and held me all the while a man used his free will choice that would hurt me and bind me for almost four decades to come.
And again, when I was 18 and being brutally raped by an acquaintance, Jesus held my head in his lap. He showed me that He bore my pain and fears WITH me. Jesus was comforting me and holding me, and He put my head in His lap so that I could relax my mind enough to yield to the demands of my rapist so that it would finally end. It was only then that I could understand where God was when I needed Him. I learned that my Daddy in Heaven loved me enough to hold me, to again send His son for me to calm me and love me in my darkest hours. He does this even still, and He does this for all of us. His heart broke with me- for me, and His heart even broke for the men that turned their backs on God by using their free will choice to hurt me. As if that was not enough, God was not mad at me for how I reacted, how much I ran and even that I was mad at Him. He also loved me enough to allow me to ask Him, in an accusatory way that does not make me feel proud, where He was. Instead, He showed me, forgave me my hostility and anger at Him, and that He has been imploring me to cast all my care on Him. For those reasons, 1 Peter 5: 5-11 has become so powerful for me.
God put this on my heart to share now so that we may have an understanding of what God experiences everyday. Through the choices and actions of mankind, God experiences rape, molestation, abuse, murder, hurtful words being spoken over His children, and all sorts of evil. When I came to the realization that God was with me, I realized even more, the awesomeness of His love. He is with everyone of us, all the time. That means that He is experiencing positive and negative things everyday with us, and His heart breaks for us even before these traumatic experiences happen. He also in the same way, celebrates with us everyday: our passions, births, love, giving, relationship, justice, and all other victories in our lives. So everyday God has chosen to personally enter into our experiences no matter the amount of good or evil that we choose.
Although this part of my testimony is very personal, I have come to realize that it is not something that should cause me shame. During the church service that day, I had an experience that was somewhat confusing at the time, and it initially made me feel embarrassed. As I was praising and worshipping God in my prayer language, I felt some intense feelings of warmth and awareness across the private and intimate areas of my body. As I was experiencing this, I was trying to come to an understanding of what was truly happening. That is when I started to feel bad about myself. It was then that I sat down and started praying about the experience, and I asked God to forgive me for having inappropriate feelings in my body, especially during church. HE let me know that there was nothing I needed to seek forgiveness about. It was then that God let me know what I was experiencing was healing in a physical form to parts of my body that had been so wounded and damaged by my sexual abuse. It was a very surreal experience, but I trusted what I was learning, released my fear, and let Holy Spirit overtake me so that I fully received my healing.
I know it is intimate and sounds strange, but this was something that I didn’t even realize how much I needed until it happened. John 10:10 tells us that the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and so even years after the actual abuse, I was still trapped in the fear and concern about my body and the damage that was done to it. That intimate healing He gave me, set me free of the shame, doubt, unworthiness, and the embarrassment of future intimacy with the Godly man He has set aside for me. God cares so much for us all that He delights in every last detail concerning us, and He proved this to me exceedingly and abundantly by giving my body absolute healing even though it had been physically healed years ago. God was attentive to my physical healing as much as He was attentive to the healing of my spirit, mind, heart, and emotions. His will is always to take care of us and cause us no harm, but we must lean into Him and trust Him. In other words, to choose to allow Him to take care of us, and until we do, He patiently waits for us to seek Him and allow Him.
On my drive home the very next day, I began listening to a cd from Kenneth Copeland Ministries that I had been holding onto for a few months. On the cd, he was talking about not being controlled by fear. It was then that I realized that letting go of the fear I was living in, was how I would be able to be completely healed from my abusive past. God’s WORD is very clear that we are not to fear, but to instead put our trust in Him and that He will contend with those who hurt His children. All of that finally became clear to me, and I realized that it’s not my job to be worried or offended about the things that trouble me or things that have hurt me. God cares for His children, and if we will Choose to give it to Him and let Him, He’ll do the mending. My job is just to trust Him at His word, stay obedient and focused on Him, and to get out of His way so that I stop blocking my own healing and blessings. Again, all of the lessons that were coming at me were saying and showing me the same thing; that my healing has already come!! Praise God!
The journey of discovery and healing has been long, not something I even welcomed, as well as full of desert and valley situations. God has reminded me that there will be times that will hurt me as I continue to understand what has happened to me. But, I have the ultimate healer in my Daddy, and I have the same power that rose Jesus from the grave alive and inside of me. I am reminded of my free will choice to press into Him and reside in my healing as I stay safely tucked up under His wing. Thank You, LORD!!!
Signed a cherished and treasured daughter of The One True KING!