I’ve seen a campaign going around social media where men and women write two simple words as their status, symbolizing their own experience with sexual abuse and assault.
When I first read that this was something people were doing, I honestly rolled my eyes and thought it was pointless. “Just another chain status created for likes and shares.” I thought this until I realized that the people posting the statuses were people I loved. People who I never would’ve guessed had gone through something so painful. People who had experienced the same thing I had. And they were willing to talk about it. Was I?
When I was in high school, I was sexually assaulted by someone I trusted. I spent much of my life after the incident living in shame and regret because some tiny part of my heart felt responsible. I lived in this shame and pursued healing in ways that harmed me rather than actually stitching the wound back together. I was broken but I pretended (and really wanted) to be fine with it. After all, it was partially my fault for putting myself in that situation anyway, right?
About a month ago I was at a party with some friends. It was one of the first weekends back and I was so excited to FINALLY spend some time just laughing, dancing, and socializing with my people again. We walked into a crowded room and amidst the chaos, I felt someone’s unwelcome hands groping me. I pulled away, only to feel them, once again, welcome themselves into my personal space and flashbacks of that night in high school flashed into my mind.
I felt frustrated. I had voluntarily gone to this party and I had voluntarily come into this crowded room so wasn’t this my fault again? Was I even allowed to feel angry? Why was I reminded of past pain? Why did I feel so powerless?
I still don’t have the answers to these questions.
I don’t know why women, men, or children blame themselves for someone else’s selfishness, but I do understand it. I understand because I’ve been there. I understand feeling powerless and helpless when someone else’s strength overpowers your own. I understand carrying the weight those “what if” questions and not knowing how to handle them alone. “What if I hadn’t gone?” “What if I would’ve fought back?” “What if?” I get it.
But I also know now that sharing struggles with other vulnerable people opens doors, windows, and floodgates into the struggles of living in this fallen world. I am not alone in this struggle. YOU are not alone. You NEVER have to be victimized, regardless of who or what is hurting you.
I know that Jesus is a healer who can take every burden, every regret, every feeling of shame and helplessness. I know that He is the only healing power that can bring redemption. Jesus knows shame. He knows abandonment. He is a healer.
He is the same God who says, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;” (Jeremiah 31:3).
Please, sweet friend, remember that you are not to blame for any type of abuse in relationship, friendship, or in any other circumstance. This doesn’t matter if you are a small woman, a strong man, or vice versa. You deserve healing. You were chosen for redemption in Christ. You were chosen to be holy and without blame before Him in love. (Ephesians 1:4) You were chosen for freedom from these dirty, binding, suffocating, chains. Pray for healing for your heart, pray for the healing of those around you, and pray for your abuser. Forgiveness will bring a type of freedom that you never could imagine existing.
So let me respond to the statuses circulating around Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Let me respond to those who may feel as if they’re going through what feels like a lonely fight. It doesn’t have to be lonely anymore.