I was the 1 in 5.
I was the 1 in 5.

Disclaimer: This post is to help someone else. I am OK. The incident took place more than 20 years ago. The people closest to me know and have been supportive. I don’t readily share every element of my testimony because “church folk” can’t handle it. If you go to my church, please don’t pull me aside to “counsel” me about this siutation. It makes me extremely uncomfortable. We are all “wounded healers” in some form or fashion. I just choose to be transparent to help others through my testimony. Stay calm, and share with someone if you think this will help them.

This week I found myself in an extremely eerie and uncomfortable situation. I took my children out for lunch to a place we go to regularly, but this time was different. My abuser was there.

Years ago I was sexually abused by a non-blood related, close member of my family. That person is no longer part of my family, but we share one family member in common. I choose not to be specific about the person or our common family member as to protect my family’s privacy, but I alerted my family to the abuse shortly after it happened and all are aware of the incident.

As a result of the shared family member, our paths have crossed a few times over the years. In each case, I had time to prepare myself to be face-to-face with my abuser. To make matters worse, my abuser never understood the extreme damage the abuse did to my mental, emotional and spiritual being, so he felt it proper to constantly speak to me as if I had anything positive to say to him. I don’t know why I expected him to understand the damage he caused me. He is an abuser after all. Needless to say, no matter the amount of emotional and spiritual preparation I did to face my abuser during those few times, it didn’t make it any easier to stand face-to-face with the person who violated me. Every time I see this person, I’m filled with anger. Mainly because this person thinks he has the right to interact with me after all the destruction he’s brought into my life. After therapy and spiritual counseling, the effects of the abuse are still present in my life. I constantly worry about the safety of my children, and now having a beautiful daughter, I am constantly worried about how I’m going to protect her moving forward as a single mother. The National Center for Victims of Crime report that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.

So, when I saw my abuser walk through the door, I rushed my children to a corner and hid. God forbid he saw us and tried to speak me – or worse interact with my children. I couldn’t leave the establishment because my son was hungry and if I left without his food, he would have had an emotional breakdown. So, I grabbed my children and prayed he wouldn’t see us. As I saw him turn the corner, I thought to myself, “Good, let’s hurry up and get into the restaurant so he doesn’t see us.” However, there was a line to enter, and we had to wait. As I peaked around the corner, I saw him again standing in front of another vendor. I immediately turned around so my back faced him and started praying again that he wouldn’t see us. As I stood in the line, which seemed like the longest 15 minutes of my life, I realized that seeing him turned me right back into that fearful little girl who was powerless to defend herself. However, this time the little girl was 35 years old with children of her own. After years of working through the hurt and pain and rebuilding my self-esteem and sense of self-worth and sanctity, seeing my abuser still brought me back to that place. My skin crawled at the thought of him touching me.

That’s when I changed my self-talk and reminded myself of who I was.

“Wait a minute,” I said to myself. “You are not a little girl. You’re a woman. You are not powerless. You’re powerful. You are not out-of-control. You have the control.” I started to combat all of the negative thoughts and feelings that tried to strip me again of my power and dignity. In that moment, I knew that if he did see me and come over, I could handle it. I would let him know that I am not the defenseless and powerless little girl he preyed on. I had the power and control now.

You are powerful.

Thankfully, my abuser never saw me, or if he did, he didn’t come over. But, the situation reminded me that there are other girls and women who come face-to-face with their abusers every day and feel helpless to do anything about it. I just want to remind those women that you are powerful. Do not think that your abuser still has the control. You have the control and power over what happens to your body now. If you are a young girl and you are forced to see or live with your abuser, tell someone who is in a position of power to do something about it. Do not be afraid, and please don’t believe the lie that it’s your fault.

I know abuse strips you of your self-worth and makes you feel like you’re nothing. But, that is a lie from the pit of hell. You are a child of God and God loves you so much that He sent His only son to die for you (John 3:16). If you’re still struggling with your self-esteem and worth, allow God to show you who you really are and who He created you to be. There will be times when you feel negative emotions, but we are more than our emotions, and we have the power to conquer them.

Parents, protect your children and be selective of who you let around them. You are supposed to be your child’s number one advocate. Parenthood is gift from God, and He holds us accountable for our children. Let’s all walk worthy of that calling.

If you’re in an abusive situation, please call the National Domestic Abuse hotline for help today!

1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

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