“Jesus called a little child to him and stood the child before his ·followers [disciples]. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you must ·change [or turn from your sins; convert; L turn] and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. The greatest person in the kingdom of heaven [L therefore] is the one who makes himself humble [and becomes] like this [little] child.
“[L And] Whoever ·accepts [welcomes; receives] a child ·in my name [C as a representative or follower of Jesus] ·accepts [welcomes; receives] me [C indicates concern for the lowly; children had low social status]. If someone causes one of these little children who believes in me to ·sin [lose faith; stumble], it would be better for that person to have a ·large stone [large millstone; L millstone of a donkey] tied around the neck and be ·drowned [L thrown] in the [L depths of the] sea. ·How terrible for [L Woe to] ·the people of the world [L the world] because of ·the things that cause them to sin [temptations to sin; L stumbling blocks]. ·Such things will happen [L It is necessary for stumbling blocks to come], but ·how terrible for [L woe to] the one ·who causes them to happen [L through whom the stumbling block comes]!” Matthew 18:2-8
TRIGGER WARNING: Some descriptive abuse that I experienced mentioned along with the emotions I felt.
Is it morbid of me to think of the death of my abuser? How he died, and his last moments before he breathed his last? He was working alone in the woods, cutting down trees, something he’d been doing as a profession for years, when a second tree got knocked down and he was pinned underneath them. Did he encounter the Lord? Did he feel remorse for the things he had done to us little girls? Did he repent and ask God to save Him? Was he able to cry out for help or did he die instantly? Did he confess to what he’d done after all the lies of what he told people about me?
A month before his death, I begged God to help me forgive him. I begged God to help me through the pain and fear of seeing him as I drove through certain towns. I begged God to help me through the panic attacks and debilitating thoughts of what he could do to another little girl – an unknowing victim, someone else he groomed to trust and feel safe with him. I begged God and I felt Him lift that oppressive fear off of me… so a month later, when I learned of his death, I couldn’t help but feel like God was telling me that He’s got me – not that He caused the death to take place, but that God was going to use it for the good in my life. I no longer had to fear seeing him or him hurting another little girl.
I wasn’t without panic attacks and anxiety and PTSD, but I was able to be present for my child whom I’d just recently become pregnant with. I put all of my energy into learning and becoming the best I could be for her. I didn’t dwell on the death of my abuser… in fact I struggled with it feeling real. It was a couple years later that I began wishing I’d gone to his funeral or found it in the paper when it had happened. I began to search for records of it here and there and would attempt to find it every couple years. I didn’t find anything. I knew logically that he was dead. I wouldn’t have been told he was dead if he wasn’t.
Then, as I was searching for something completely unrelated, I found it. It’s since been taken down which is bazaar to me to me… did I actually find it? lol I wish I had taken a screen shot of it… but I know I saw it. I had to have read it about 20 times that week, just wrapping my mind around it. Around that same time, I also found court motions that were made by him as I began the process of pressing charges against him. He’d requested to have contact with me on two separate occasions. He had requested to have my counseling and school records. All were denied. What was he attempting to gain from that?
Was he seeking to discredit me more than he’d already done by saying he never told me he loved me, that he only had sex with me a couple of times, and that it was an awful mistake… an oops? As if he didn’t make very calculated decisions to burst through my boundaries, instill fear, and convince me that he was safe. I didn’t want him to touch me, or even look at me, and yet somehow he was able to have sex with me ‘only a couple times’ without even saying I love you? The claims he was suggesting about me in saying such lies… the suggestion regarding my character that I could have ever, would have ever gotten close to him in any way without the lies he told me, without gaining my trust, without instilling doubt in my instincts, without exploiting and manipulating my vulnerabilities and emotions.
My heart aches that the voice of my sister was distorted because of the lies… her attempts at telling me that no matter what I did, I wasn’t responsible fell on piled up lies. I thought I loved this man. I was so confused because my instincts told me it was all wrong, but my eyes saw something different, and my mind convinced me of other things. My tears didn’t matter to him… he didn’t force me down… but he continued to pursue me despite my evident fear of having sex. Even kissing him was something he had to work for and he noted as much to me once, noting that he got me to watch porn with him before I allowed him to even kiss him. This was noted while I still hadn’t kissed him. It took him 6 months of daily pursuit to break down my barriers and push me to finally give in to him. He wasn’t phased by the trembling, the fear, the crying that I wasn’t ready. He told me it would be okay.
Lies. So many lies. It’s astounding how the mind can believe things that don’t line up with reality. How I began to believe I had asked for it, how I began to believe that I was promiscuous and looked at sex casually and indiscriminately, how I began to believe I was not to be trusted. When you’re told enough times as a child that something real isn’t, the only rational thing to do is to believe what you’re being told and to no longer trust yourself. And that’s what I did…
I was a teenager… trying to find out who I was in the midst of all this. I think I understand now why God says it’s better to be thrown into the sea than to cause a little one to lose their faith, stumble, or sin. Here I am, 32 years old, and I’m still hearing the lies I’ve been believing and realizing how it’s effected certain areas of my life. It wasn’t just sex, and certainly not a couple of times. It was brainwashing my whole being, training my young mind to not trust myself, or at least to trust my abuser more than myself. The perpetuation of this from others around me due to the distorted perception I had, led me to believe these lies well into my adulthood… and no one around me realized I was hearing their words through that filter of lies. It doesn’t matter what I did… but it mattered to me because I didn’t do what he was saying I did. What he did to me mattered because it showed that I wasn’t doing what he said I was. I wasn’t who he was saying I was. It mattered. I wish I heard her and I wish I knew how to voice what I was struggling with. Instead, I began to believe she believed I played my part in what happened to me. I was accused by others that I did play a part – that he was wrong, but so was I. This accusation would be internalized and I began to believe that I should have controlled how it all happened.
Having a teenage daughter now, I see her struggles with being as vocal as she’d like, even with my encouragement to speak up. It’s validating to my own experience and has led to me keeping her a little closer until she feels brave enough to do so. One day she was at the mailbox and was struggling to get it open. An onlooker noticed and offered to help. My daughter was too afraid to say no thank you or to run and didn’t do so until the other person told her she’d have to ask her mom for help. I was watching, giving her an opportunity to handle it as I’ve taught her, and when she came running through the door, she said she was so scared because she wanted to run but was afraid of being rude and she didn’t like that. She didn’t like that she wasn’t able. That her fear had that much power to stop her from listening to what she knew.
My younger daughter, coming up to her teen years, is a little more vocal but I’ve found that because of her age, some adults don’t listen. One woman pulled over near our mailbox to ask her for directions and my daughter told her that she isn’t allowed to talk to strangers twice yet the woman continued to insist that she help her. I was observing from close by, but not close enough that I felt comfortable to allow her to continue to talk to the person I couldn’t see in the car, and when she didn’t walk away on her own, I called out to her and she ran home. When she came to me, she told me what had happened and said she was scared to run because the woman kept insisting, even though she also knew she should run because she didn’t know her. If these two girls, who I’ve taught about personal safety and being careful around certain people, struggle with finding the words, how much more for a young girl who was never taught such things.
Each of them saw how easily it would be for them to be put in a position of doing something they didn’t want and being led to do it based on their youth and fears of speaking out. Each experience teaching me that I couldn’t control what was happening to me. I needed an adult to speak out for me. I’m thankful someone finally did…. and I’m glad I’m aware so I can protect my children from ever experiencing the things I did. I am thankful that despite what happened to me, God used it for good and gave me an understanding of what I internalized so I can help them understand themselves.
The other day, my teenager said to me, “I’ve never hoped to be an adult sooner than the time it will take to get there because I know I will be an adult longer than I am a child.” It blessed my heart. I want her childhood to be just that – a childhood. Knowing adult things in a child’s body and mind steals away from a childhood and changed me. I didn’t grow up too soon, my growth was stunted and despite becoming an adult, I still was so young in much of my thinking… and believing falsehoods only magnified that.
I suppose I’ve derailed a bit…. lol God doesn’t forsake the little ones who’ve been led to lose faith, stumble, or sin. He’s been with me every step of the way and now I see Him working in the lives of my children. I’m so thankful that I wasn’t left to figure things out on my own after what my abuser did to me and that God’s guiding me as I work out what’s truth and what’s lies. I’m so thankful that despite what lies others might have believed or what I thought others have believed about me, it doesn’t change reality. The truth doesn’t change based on what we believe. The truth just is and the truth of who I am is only found in God’s view of me because He sees me as I truly am. Woe to the man who abused us girls for causing us to sin… but God is bigger than what the abuser did. Amen to that.