Monday, 29 April 2013

Beauty for Ashes

Tonight at re:generation church’s evening service, one of my dearest friends gave an incredibly moving talk and shared a very personal testimony about how she was sexually abused as a child by a family friend and had never told anyone, including her mum, up until last week.

I was really moved by her testimony and inspired by her courage to be vulnerable and to share such a personal and hurtful story. God really spoke to me and ministered to me tonight about many of the tragic and hurtful things that have happened in my past and, after my friend had prayed with me, He really prompted me again (I have been avoiding it for a couple of months now) to share two particular parts of my story on here (one today and one later this week).

I have been extremely reluctant to put either of these stories from my past on paper, but I have seen (both first hand and from watching others share) the power of being vulnerable and opening up about your past hurts and I really feel that it is time to allow God to use my testimony in this way now. So here goes…

I grew up in a Christian home and one of the values that I held in high regard was saving myself for marriage (being a virgin). When I went to university, I still adhered to this principle. I steered dangerously close to the line in secondary school (high school) and at university, but pretty much the one thing I was adamant about was that I wanted to ‘save myself’ for my husband one day.

While I was at university, I became good friends with a guy there who was clearly hurting from many different situations and had a tendency to hurt others (like my friend said tonight: “hurting people hurt people”). He was the most ‘dangerous’ person I had ever been close to and in a weird way that really attracted me.

We became good friends and eventually started ‘hooking up’ (not sleeping together). He always pushed for more, but I made my beliefs very clear to him and said that it was not an option for me.

One night, we went out drinking with some other friends and all got rather drunk (as was usual for us at university). One of the other guys that was there was an old friend/flame of mine who was particularly drunk. In his drunken state, he kissed me. I did not bother getting cross because of how very drunk he was and just helped him back to our table downstairs.

Unfortunately, this guy that I had been hooking up with saw this happen and became very angry and jealous. He pulled me back upstairs, through the student union, up to were the offices were (and no people) and started shouting at me. I tried to explain what had happened, but before I knew what was happening, he pinned me down and started pulling my clothes off and forcing himself on me.

It was over before I really had a chance to realise what had happened. When he was done with me, he pinned me up against the wall, kissed me aggressively and said “look what you made me do! This is your fault for making me jealous!”. Then pushed me away from him and told me to get dressed, before storming off and leaving me there by myself.

I felt dirty, empty and totally broken. It was one of the worst nights of my life- one that I will never fully forget and one that I kept to myself for a very long time. But I don’t feel the pain of it the same way as before. I really brought this to God and through prayer and mentoring, He has really brought me healing. It now feels like it was somebody else’s life. Like it was something that I saw in a film- a vivid memory, but without out the singe of pain.

God has taken that pain and the extreme shame and He has also helped me to forgive this man of what he did to me that night and for everything that followed. I tried to forget this by drinking, going into other relationships and just keeping busy/distracted, but it didn’t work. It was only 7/8 years after the event, once I had allowed God in, that I began to receive healing from all of the pain that came with this.

All I can say is, if you have been in a situation where you have been sexually or violently assaulted or abused, it is not your fault and please do not keep it to yourself! If you do not deal with it, it will come back to haunt you and eventually your own family until you finally face it- just the other day, a friend told me about a friend of hers whose wife committed suicide after having to testify in court about a choir master who sexually abused her when she was at school. She could not handle dealing with it after hiding it and suppressing the emotions for all those years. Do not allow someone else to have that kind of power over you! Get prayer, see a therapist, speak to someone you can trust and who can help you, but don’t let it get to a stage where it destroys your life and there is nothing that anyone can do to help you anymore.

I really hope that this testimony will help someone somewhere to come to terms with what has happened to them, or inspire someone to speak up about their own experience, or even just make someone aware of the pain that a friend or family member may be going through.

I know that God has given me healing, so that I can share my testimony with others and touch their lives. I pray for emotional healing and strength for anyone who has been affected by sexual or physical abuse and pray that God will really minister to you and bring healing.


Ronell x

Organisations that support rape victims:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” {Isaiah 61v1-3}

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