Shame. The type of deep-seated shame that infiltrates every thought and emotion, severely impeding your ability to function as a “normal” human being.
Shame triggered by sexual abuse.
I am one who lived my life buried in shame. I was abused for several years, beginning at age 13. While being abused by one man, I was raped by another. Two men that I knew personally. I told no one.
I spent 18 years trapped in a silent prison. I hoped that if I kept my secrets buried, maybe the effects would eventually just “go away.” I didn’t understand that it wasn’t my fault. Over time it caused more issues than I care to admit, including an eating disorder, and almost dissolving my marriage. Last year, it almost took my life. Suddenly, I needed to make a choice – face my past or lose my future.
I am far from alone. Stories of sexual abuse and assault have been flooding the news. Statistics on the frequency of attacks in Canada are staggeringly high, and most cases remain unreported. However, I am proud to say that I am a success story. I was given a second chance at life, and this time I wanted to REALLY live!
I began counseling. I had the opportunity to share my story in front of my church. When the shame was exposed, and the support of those around me came flooding in, the monsters began to flee. When I opened up to those I trusted, I was not rejected, I was loved deeper.
I began to understand that abuse frequently occurs with people in a position of trust, and that does not make it okay. I have been able to forgive these men. Forgiveness allowed me to release the bitterness in my heart, and continue moving forward.
I know I am doing as well as I am because of the massive support I am blessed with in my life. Sadly, there are so many others who are suffering, and feel they have nowhere to turn, or are too scared to speak up.
Please know you are not alone, that there are people who want to help you. Understand that it is not your fault. You are so valuable, and you deserve a future free of your past shame. Reach out for help.
Healing will not happen overnight, but it is attainable. YOU are worth it!
Renee Card is a pastoral team member at River City Vineyard who plans to start a sexual assault support group. For more information, contact her at 519-383-8463 or email [email protected]