When I reflect on my experiences after being raped and the depth of my hopelessness and despair, my heart breaks at the thought of anyone else finding themselves in a similar situation. That very thought is why I want to share my story. I tried unsuccessfully to keep it a secret and deal with my emotions on my own. They proved to be more than I could handle alone. When I finally started to accept and process my rape, I found comfort and healing in reading the accounts of other rape survivors. Reading their honest and painful accounts helped me through my journey of healing. Knowing I was not alone, that others had similar experiences, and similar reactions gave me hope.
My reactions to my rape were not perfect. I am not perfect. My story is not perfect. It is brutally honest. Raw. I lived in shock, disbelief and denial for over six months. I made a mess of things, trying to “fix” my circumstances. If I had it to do over again I would not have taken matters into my own hands and tried to “fix” things and I would have reported the rape. I wish I had immediately seen it for what it was. I hope through my vulnerability you find encouragement and hope. In the end, however, my story really isn’t about just me. It is about finding hope and healing through the miracle of forgiveness and experiencing God’s relentless and overwhelming love.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV).”
My story of healing is a miracle from God. He gave me the gift of forgiveness and compassion through this experience. Forgiveness has led to my freedom. I rarely think about the rape now. I still cry when I tell someone about it. I have had some restless and tearful nights as I have revisited this chapter of my life. However, I consider it worth it if sharing my story encourages one other person. If you have been a victim of rape, seek help. Don’t face this alone. God put us in a world with billions of people so we can live our lives together in community, encouraging one another. Go to your pastor. Find a Christian counselor, preferably one who specializes in sexual abuse. While all the support I received gave me the strength to press on and process the emotions I felt because of my rape, it wasn’t until I went to God with it that I experienced healing. Take it to God. He can and He will answer your prayers. I am living proof of that!
For those of you who are facing hopelessness, regardless of its cause, know that God is in the business of restoring hope! If He could restore it in my life, He can restore it in yours too! My pastor challenged us to write down one word and pick a theme verse for this year. My word is: “Encouragement.” God laid Isaiah 61:1-7 immediately on my heart, because it vividly explains how God restores hope. This year I plan to loudly proclaim “the year of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:2a NIV),” because God can: ” heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners…comfort all who mourn, rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage (Isaiah 61:1-4 NIV).” No matter the devastation in your life, the wreckage, the ruins – God can restore hope! This is my prayer for you. This is the year of hope; of God’s favor!