There are times when she returns to the farm in her dreams. She is once again locked in the basement listening for the sound of people walking about her knowing if she hears that sound she only has a few moments before someone is coming down to retrieve her….to do other things.
Although she looks like a very capable and stubborn 40-something now, but she keeps a secret. She experiences nightmares so terrifying that she awakens with a start, sweating, shaking and disoriented in the middle of the night.
There are times when she re-lives being given the special treats she loved by a man….but then there was more he did. There is confusion. The seven-year-old submits because she is unable say no.
Although she looks like a very capable and stubborn 40-something now, she keeps a secret. She is still terrified of trusting, because it so often meant getting tricked and assaulted.
There are times when she re-lives being an eleven-year-old, and Felix is still holding her down and doing whatever he chooses. She is still hearing his voice, and feeling his hot breath on her face and his cruel hands hurting her as he held roughly….but there was more he did.
She may seem to be a capable and stubborn 40-something now, but she keeps a secret. There are far too many times she still feels herself being violated.
I was just a child when the abuse took place, but I never forgot. Never.
I knew no comfort. My survival depended on being as quiet and invisible as possible. My worth was non-existent, except for…..
Then there were voices that that told me what happened was my fault. I’m still aching inside wanting desperately to shed the sign that I was once sure was branded on my forehead: “Damaged Goods.”
I try to imagine what life could have been like for me. I even get a glimpse from time to time of the person locked inside. I’ll tell you a little secret about her. She has this delightful way with animals and sick children. They gravitate to her as if she is one of them. I think she longs for the innocence of childhood that was stolen so long ago. And adults, well lets just say she can make their blood pressure rise– but when they look, really look, they can see her if they will take a chance to get past her think wall she’s built to protect herself.
To say that trauma has affected me mentally, physically and spiritually would be an understatement. It is extremely hard to recover from its effects. Recent advancements in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), however, have demonstrated the neuroplasticity of even the lower brain, proving physiologically—that healing, though clearly challenging, is possible.
But how can you help?
You don’t need an advanced degree in medicine or psychology to be there for someone who is suffering. The awareness alone of how survivors are haunted by flashbacks and are trying to avoid certain triggers can help you respond with sincerity and compassion.
Here are some examples of things that are usually helpful (if done with sincerity):
● “I’m sorry.”
● “If you ever feel like talking, I am here to listen.”
● “I care about you.”
● “How can I be of help?”
● Don’t betray confidence.
Most importantly. Don’t feel like you have to know the answers. Don’t be afraid to just be there and say:
● “I don’t know what to say.”
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Would you please be so kind and sign the following petition asking all professing Christians to better address the subject of sexual abuse?
A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.).