Whispersfrommyheart's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘childhood sexual assault

I was 28 years old with two children, ages one and two, and five months pregnant with my third when I met with a counselor. I needed courage to leave my abusive husband and thought I could find some there.

Counselor: “Tell me about your childhood.”
Me: (Thinking what does my childhood have to do with anything?) “Well, it was a childhood. You know… normal.”
Counselor: “It was happy??
Me: “I don’t know. It was… norm… (a dam of memories breaks open in my mind)… wait, no, that’s not right.”
Counselor: “What isn’t right”?
Me: “My childhood. It wasn’t normal. I was mo… (there is a flood of emotions rising to the surface)… I was mol… (I am having trouble saying the word. My throat is closing off my words. Tears are choking me). I was molested”!

As that realization tumbled to the forefront of my mind, I felt as though my life shattered into a million tiny pieces. Each shard stabbing me with it’s truth. As the details began spilling out, my soul felt like it was being ripped apart. The pain was excruciating. Unbearable.

I don’t know how long I cried, but when I calmed down he asked…

Counselor: “How have you handled all of that”?

The truth is, most of us don’t know how to “handle” what we’ve been through. We’ve turned to food, sex, drugs, alcohol, self harm — other avenues to dull the pain. We don’t want to feel that kind of pain so we stuff it further and further down by any other thing that makes us feel better.

The other part of the truth is, this: We can’t heal unless we allow the reality of abuse, and the pain, to rise to the surface. To be validated. To be known. To be released.

No matter how painful it is, facing our past needs to be done in order to heal. Mine pounced on me while looking for an ounce of courage. I’m glad it did because today, the pain is no more.

What God has done for me, he WILL do for you!

Many nights, throughout my life, were filled with deep sorrow, hours of shed tears, and my mouth open in silent screams. I didn’t know how to verbalize what I felt inside. Dead. Betrayed. Hurt. Shattered. Alone. Desperate. Needy. Just tears and silent screams. I don’t remember saying too much, except, “Oh, God.” But, God still heard me, and understood. It was during this time I wrote the following:

Whispers in the Dark
The darkest, quietness of night
In stillness as you lay;
The only sound or rhythm heard
Are words your mouth can’t say.

The tears that burn your sleepy eyes
A fist in anger clenched;
The cry that asks “Why me, Oh Lord?”
The soul, in anguish drenched.

And though it can’t be verbalized
Into a single word;
A whisper’s heard with every beat
Your heart is being heard.

God hears you, Beloved. Even though you think he has ignored you. Even when you think he doesn’t care. But wait, if you listen long enough, you can hear it. In the stillest, quietness of night, the heart will whisper the tale of its journey to its Creator. And, there in the darkness…God is whispering back.

Excerpt from, “Whispers From My Heart – Emotional and Spiritual Healing from Childhood Sexual Assault.

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On January 28th, Casting Crowns will release their newest album, #Thrive (See video below).

As I watch the promotion of their album, and the “month of giving” on their Facebook Page (here), I began to wonder, “How can we thrive in life if we live in brokenness”?

We all face brokenness at one time or another in our lives, but for those who have lived through childhood sexual assault, brokenness becomes a way of life. The norm. Many times, just the thought of living outside the realm of “broken” is scary. It’s all we know. But, if we choose to move forward, is it possible to actually thrive while still in the state of brokenness?

I believe so.

Thrive is defined as:

to grow strongly and vigorously, to do well; prosper.

Growing Stronger:
In order to grow stronger one must be willing to seek healing. As long as the past continues to control the present, becoming strong isn’t possible.

When I first began my journey to healing, I could barely speak of my rape and molestation without breaking down. My past would suffocate my words and choke them off in my throat. As I allowed God into those broken areas, something marvelous began to happen. The intensity of the pain began to lessen. I could talk about my past easier than before. Today, as I look back, my past does not hold the same emotions it once did. I am able to speak to a group of women without breaking down. Oh sure, I still get choked up every now and again, but it does not cripple me. I have grown much stronger than I was on day one.

Growing stronger doesn’t mean you aren’t going to have bad days. You will. Growing stronger means, on those bad days, you work through the emotions — cry, journal, pray, talk with your counselor, etc. You aren’t content to stay and wallow in your pain.

During the early period of my healing it was tough. My emotions were out of whack, to the point I could barely function. I viewed myself as an empty shell then. My counselor encouraged me to begin writing down what I felt. She told me to be honest; don’t hold back but to write down everything that came to mind about my abuse (she also encouraged me to find a hiding place so my thoughts were kept private — I encourage you to do the same). I followed her advice. One look at my old journals will tell you what stage I was in. There are a lot of angry entries. Hateful entries. “Why me?” entries. But, there are entries that show improvement. Entries of forgiveness… hope… encouragement. Growing stronger meant, I didn’t remain in my anger, or hatred. I worked through them to forgiveness. I worked through “Why me?” to hope. And finally, to encouragement.

To Do Well:
Part of healing is being broken. Broken enough to allow those emotions to come forward. To seek God, and seek wholeness from him.

This journey to healing isn’t a quick trip. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Time and a willingness to continue forward is a sign of doing well. Sure, you’ll have setbacks, everyone does, but those setbacks don’t hold us back.

Do you remember this quote?

it doesn’t matter how many times you fall .. what matters is how many times you stand up, shake it off, and moving forward .- Unknown

It’s true.

You can hit the dust 1,000 times, but as long as you get back up, dust off, and take another step forward, you are doing well. You are moving forward. God isn’t looking at how many times you’ve stepped backwards. He isn’t worried that you fell. He is interested in you getting up… He’s cheering you on. He is beside you, whispering in your ear, You can do it! I believe in you!

Thrive

3 John 1:2 says,
Our beloved, I pray for you that you will prosper in all things and be well, just as your soul prospers (ABPE).

God wants us to do well. He wants us to thrive.

In order to thrive, we need to know who we are in Christ Jesus. We can’t understand who God says we are if we aren’t reading his word. Our soul prospers as the word permeates our insides and changes us. Changes our hearts, our minds, our thought process, and our actions.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Cris Corzine, counsels sexual abuse survivors every day. She believes in teaching her clients about their spiritual identity.“Because knowing who we are in Christ is the key to victorious living.” “My favorite scripture for all time” Cris relates, “is 2 Cor 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (NIV).”

We are righteous because of Christ. Accept it. Embrace it.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Each time we allow God into those areas of our heart that are wounded and hurting, we heal. As we heal, we grow. As we grow, we get stronger. As we get stronger we begin to #Thrive…

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Award winning poet and author, Cheryl A. Thompson, has been a single mother to Trey, Charlie and Brett since October of 1989. Through the trials of her childhood, and the struggles of single-parenthood, Cheryl has learned the importance of a heart attitude toward life and God, and how that attitude impacts a person’s soul and their relationship with God. She is a 1983 graduate of Christ For the Nations, Institute, in Dallas, Texas, and a 2012 graduate of Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Kentucky. Cheryl has been published in the FaithWriters quarterly book, FaithWriters online magazine, and a contributing writer for the Christ For the Nations—60 Years of Service coffee table book released in October of 2009. She has published articles in Heart Magazine 2012 and WHOA Women Magazine 2013. Her first book, Whispers From My Heart – Emotional and Spiritual Healing from Childhood Sexual Assault, was published in November 2009.

Courtesy of ShutterStock

Courtesy of ShutterStock

“It’s in the past, get over it.”

How many times have you heard that?

Exactly what is meant by “get over it”?

Do they mean:
Stop being so needy?
Quit crying?
Act normal?
Quit being a drama queen.
Stop rehashing the same old story?

Throughout my journey to heal people quoted that exact phrase to me. People, who did not understand the process of healing. Well meaning people who didn’t understand why I couldn’t let go the past. They didn’t understand the underlying issues associated with sexual abuse. I was accused of being a drama queen. Of loving attention. I heard, “It happened such a long time ago, Cheryl, you just need to let it go now.”

They were well-meaning, but they were wrong.

Most of the time, when I heard those words, I became angry. Angry because, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t “get over” what happened. I couldn’t flip a switch to turn off the internal roller coaster. I tried to get better by reading self-help books– I devoured them. I tried talking to myself positively and ended up berating myself for not believing. I did bible studies only to believe God must intend pain and suffering for my life. I did everything I knew in order to “get over” the years of rape and molestation. Yet, my pain and anguish of yesterday still ruled my today’s.

I couldn’t “Get Over It.”

For the longest time I felt as though something was mentally wrong with me. I thought, “I must have some kind of psychological problem, and that is why I can’t “get over” my abuse.” How many times have we told ourselves that very thing? That has to be the reason, right? Otherwise, I would be strong enough to overcome… wouldn’t I?

Isn’t that what we are taught?

Ignore it, it will go away.
The past doesn’t matter, it’s over.
Don’t talk about it, it just brings up bad memories.
The past is just that; past. It’s over, don’t dwell on it.

Those phrases almost sound like good logic. And there are plenty who talk a good game, but you know what? The past doesn’t stay in the past. It resurrects itself in the present. The past creates problems now. It oozes into your relationships, and spills out into every aspect of your life. In reality, your childhood trauma not only affects you, but it affects everyone around you. Maybe that is the real reason we’re told to “get over it.” If Childhood Sexual Assault stayed in the past, where it belonged, those of us who have been abused would lead happier, more productive lives. But the past doesn’t stay buried, does it? The pain of childhood rape and molestation does not understand it should not show up in the here and now.

You can’t just “Get Over It.”

Childhood Sexual Assault is not an illness one recovers from quickly. There isn’t a prescription we can take to clear it up. We can’t wash it away with a few scented baths. We can’t talk ourselves out of the pain. We can mask it, we can cover it over and think we have healed, but unless we experience true healing, our past will continue to affect us. It isn’t easy to just “Get Over It.” It takes real healing, not to “get over it,” but to overcome every single issue of Childhood Sexual Assault.

Healing is a journey — a series of small steps — lasting years. A journey designed to uncover every issue affecting our lives, and one that must be walked out day by day. One step at a time. One issue at a time. One layer at a time. Peeling back each layer and inviting God to deal with the wound.

My hope, through the things I post here on Whispers, is that those who have never been assaulted at any time in your life, will find an understanding into the heart of the one who has. Maybe a post will help you understand your sister, your mother, your friend, your neighbor or your co-worker. Maybe you will have more patience when you hear their story for the one thousandth time. Maybe, by reading this blog, you will find more compassion for the struggles and set backs those who are overcoming sexual abuse face. If nothing else, maybe the words, “It’s in the past, get over it,” will never be said again.

Cheryl Thompson is an award-winning poet, and author, and single mom to Trey, Charlie, and Brett, and “Gammy” to Dillinger. She’s got a few degrees, but most of her learning came from very difficult seasons in her childhood, and adulthood. Through it all, Cheryl learned an importance for keeping a heart tender for God. She is a freelance writer and blogger, who has been published in the FaithWriters quarterly book, FaithWriters online magazine, the 2009 Christ For the Nations—60 Years of Service coffee table book. She has published articles in Heart Magazine 2012 and WHOA Women Magazine 2013. Cheryl’s first book, Whispers From My Heart – Emotional and Spiritual Healing from Childhood Sexual Assault, was published in November 2009 and awarded the Christian Choice Book Award 2010.

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I was on a rampage last night.
I had read an article stating the American Psychiatric Association was going to re-define pedophilia as a sexual orientation.
I saw red.
I wanted to blast the APA.

Then today I read this:

“APA stands firmly behind efforts to criminally prosecute those who sexually abuse and exploit children and adolescents. We also support continued efforts to develop treatments for those with pedophilic disorder with the goal of preventing future acts of abuse.”

You can read the entire article here:

I made a huge mistake.
I let my emotions take over instead of researching it totally.
I let my anger rise up and wanted to lash out.

Especially when I read things like this: An Italian Appeals court reverses a 5-year prison sentence against a 60-year old pedophile because the 11-year old girl professes to love him. They were found in bed together, naked, at his seaside cottage. What makes this worse is, the child is from a disadvantaged background and the man, who works for social services took her in.

The Italian court will further victimize this girl if they allow this man to go free.

Then I read this: Where a convicted pedophile has YET to serve out one day of his 43-year sentence due to a rare bond that allows him to remain free while the case is tried on appeal, which could take years. Meanwhile, the victim lives in fear and the father anguishes.

And then there is this one: where a judge gives such a lenient sentence for a convicted pedophile, even after the judge heard letters from the girls and how the abuse affected them.

I don’t understand this.
It boggles my mind.
Not to mention what it does to those kids who were brave enough to break the silence in spite of their fear.

What kind of message do we send the victims when Judges are lenient? Or worse, when they ignore the abuse altogether?

I know eventually there will be a judgement seat where all sins are judged righteously. There will be no political correctness; no media spins; no threats, just God requiring of every man and woman an account of their lives. Then true justice will be served.

Until then we must speak up.
We need to take the power away from those who abuse little children.
The silence must be broken.

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Boy, it’s hot!
Are we there yet?
I’m thirsty.
The sand is burning my toes!
It’s really hot.
And, I’m really thirsty… and hungry.
Why can’t we go back?
I want to go back!
We should have never come!

The children of Israel had witnessed miracle after miracle in the few short weeks since they left the confines of their prison. The land of Egypt. Pharaoh. Forced labor. Cruel taskmasters.

God showed them his might and power. His strength. He had parted the red sea. He went before them in a cloud by day, and a column of fire by night. In this time, he had provided them and all of their livestock with enough water to keep them hydrated. God went over and beyond what was necessary while leading the children of Israel around in the desert for forty years.

And yet, they grumbled.
They weren’t satisfied.
They were hot.
They were tired.
They wanted a Big Gulp.
Well, okay, there weren’t any 7-Eleven’s back then, but they were thirsty.
They wanted to go back to Egypt.

Wait.
Why would they want to go back to a place of slavery? A place of turmoil and hard, cruel labor? A place of sadness? Where taskmasters beat them for any and all reasons? It certainly couldn’t be for the pots of meat they said they missed. Ok, well, maybe the did miss the onions and the leeks… they didn’t have a garden in the desert. And, Safeway wasn’t even a thought in anyone’s mind at this point.

They grumbled and complained.
They weren’t satisfied.
On a trip that should have only taken them ten days, they wondered for forty years. Round and round and round they go…

Why?

Why wouldn’t they make a straight B-Line to their land of Promise? Why drag over a million people through the desert sands?

Deuteronomy 8:2 tells us:
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way these 40 years in the desert, to humble and test you in order to make known what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (ISV)

Ew.
We have the privileged of hind-sight for the Israelites.
I’m pretty sure they flunked that test.
With flying colors.

Egypt, and its paganistic way, was revealed to be deeply ingrained within the heart of the children of Israel. It’s idol worship — as evidenced by Aaron making the golden calf so they could “worship” a god they could see, even while Moses was on the Mountain receiving the ten commandments. You can read the account in Exodus 32.

The children of Israel may have left the land of Egypt, but Egypt did not leave them.

The bible goes on to tells us an entire generation perished in the desert because of their disobedience (See Numbers 32:13 – the NIV states: until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone). They were not allowed to enter the Promise Land. Only those born in the desert, save a few (See Numbers 32:12), were allowed to cross the Jordan. They grouched and complained that Moses had drug them away from Egypt… the entire forty years. They held on to their idols… they complained… they demanded to go back to Egypt…

They couldn’t let go.

I liken the prison of Childhood Sexual Assault to the slavery of the Children of Israel in the land of Egypt. CSA is cruel, harsh, and demanding to the one who is enslaved by it. It becomes ingrained in the heart of its captive. A parameter of what is known. A way of life. Those of us who are survivors learn to adapt to our surroundings.

Once we begin to walk away from our cruel taskmaster, and believe me, God wants us to walk out, everything that once was taught to us as normal or acceptable must be released. God will deliberately take us through our own desert in order to reveal all that is in our hearts. We cannot allow even a remnant of ground for our former taskmaster to gain another foothold.

We must let go.

The length of our journey depends on us. Our attitude. Our reluctance to let go. Our idols.

What did we pick up along the way?
Fear?
Low-self esteem?
Anger?
Hatred?
Bitterness?
Pornography?
Identity issues?
Sexual Promiscuity?
Prostitution?
Or, the fear of the opposite sex?
The list could go on.

What idols do we trust in more than God?
Self?
Ritual?
Jujitsu?
Revenge?
Religious practices?
Christian books?
Whatever we insert into the place of God becomes an idol to us.

When God begins to work on our hearts, to reveal everything we hold on to and trust in, our job is to let go. Let it go.

It hurts.
I’m afraid.
I don’t want to re-live that nightmare.
I don’t want to cry.

But, in letting go you become free. There is an entire land flowing with milk and honey on the other side of this desert…

I don’t want to let go of my anger.
I don’t want to release my bitterness.
I want to hold on to revenge…
I’d rather stab him in the eyes…

It’s hot.
I’m thirsty.
I wanna go back.

Let the children of Israel be a lesson to you.
Don’t be like them.
Don’t hold on to the past so tightly that you can’t enter into your Promised Land.

It’s going to be hard.
It’s going to be tough.
It might take you longer than a few years to get there, but with each step forward, you will get there.

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Do you think God speaks to us through dreams?

If he does, then why can’t we remember most of them?

Scientific research tells us why we can recall some of our dreams, but, it doesn’t clue us in to whether God uses dreams to speak to our hearts.

There are very few dreams I can remember with great detail. I recall bits and pieces of a few others, but most of my dreams are lost in oblivion once I wake up. However, there is one dream, even today, that I can recall as if I just dreamed it last night.

I had a bystander’s view of myself looking into a mirror.

Webworms—what I call Silk-worms—had nested in my hair. They had spun their silken webs; so much so, my hair was no longer visible.   I ran to the bathroom and hung my head over the tub. I grabbed a comb in one hand and the shower head in the other in an attempt to rake and rinse the worms, and their webs, out. But, as I combed, I smashed the worms.  I kept trying, and trying, but, the more I tried, the worse my hair became. The worms kept multiplying, and the more they multiplied, the nastier my hair became. I became frustrated with the sticky, gooey, matted mess that covered my beautiful blonde hair.  I couldn’t see it at all, just the nasty, dark smelly mess from the worms. I put down the comb and began to let the water run over my hair. As I rinsed, the water in the tub began to fill up. As I looked, the water began to turn dark and murky. Bits and pieces of Webworms and shreds of silken web floated on top of the water. I kept letting the water flow over my hair until all of the worms and their webs were gone from my hair, and the water became clear.

For a long time I did not know what this dream meant. It weighed on my heart for months. And then, late one summer day, as I walked along the Tunnel Hill Bike Trail in Vienna, Illinois, God ordained an object lesson for me.

I came across a young Oak tree web worms were just beginning to take over. There were several silken nests spread throughout the branches. I began to think about how destructive these insects were to a healthy tree. The caterpillars had spun their webs and enclosed the tips of the branches. Inside of the web, they feasted on the foliage of the tree. When they ran out of food in one web, they encased another branch and continued eating. Webworms have been known to cover an entire tree making it unsightly. The beauty of the tree can no longer be seen or appreciated because it is hidden. The worms have also been known to strip all the foliage off of a tree within a few weeks, and once they strip one tree, they move on to the next. According to the experts, while their attacks defoliate a tree, the damage is not significant, as the foliage will return the following year.

I pondered that little Oak as I walked. As I thought about it, God suddenly reminded me of the dream. Immediately, I understood the correlation between the assault of the silk worms on that young Oak and the spiritual assault that had taken place in my own life.

Just like the caterpillar’s webs covering the beauty of that little Oak tree, so, too, the lies of sexual assault covered me. There were webs of lust and confusion weaved throughout my childhood. A web of unworthiness embedded into my heart, and webs of emotional, and psychological, lies hiding my true identity. The real me—a redeemed, blood bought daughter of the Most High God—was there, but I was undetectable beneath the webs that had been so carefully woven to conceal me.

I understood my feeble attempts to “fix” what was wrong in my life—represented by the comb in my hand—added to the gunk that was already there. Each time I tried to comb the Silkworms out, I made a bigger mess. The moment I applied just water—representing the work of the Holy Spirit—the worms washed out, and the webs were gone.

The difference between real life and my dream is that the foliage eaten by the Silkworms will return the next year (unless disease hits the tree), but when the true beauty of a life, redeemed by Christ, is hidden beneath the tangled webs of the enemy’s assault, sometimes it can take a lifetime before the beauty of that life can emerge.

Be blessed and walk in truth today!