#METOO – It happened when I was 14. He was a deacon of the church I grew up in and still attended regularly. He was well known in the community. He assisted in church and was at some youth group activities. He tried to rape me with my grandmother and his wife in another room of the house. I fought like hell to get away from him as he was literally trying to rip my clothes off of my body. He touched me in places that weren’t for him to touch. His saliva still wet on my shirt after I finally got away from him by literally digging my nails into his hand with every bit of my might. I had never even kissed a boy, yet this grown man in less than 10 minutes tried to take every bit of my innocence away.
I spoke up and told my mom and my grandma only because my grandma heard him scream as I was running away from him and she made me call my mom. From the police to the church, I felt like they made him the victim and I was the perpetrator. His wife said I was lying and that her husband was an honorable man that would never do anything like that. The police and church both asked what I did to provoke it. I felt dirty like something was wrong with me. I started thinking that it was my fault, like somehow or someway I caused it. I stopped going to church for a long time because they still allowed him to attend there. Apparently being a high up deacon at the church somehow made him not accountable for his actions and it made him immune to any repercussions. The 14 year old girl who loved church and was in everything from youth group and Sunday School to Bible Drill and Choir who felt like church was a safe haven and place where she could go to worship God now felt it was a place of pain, destruction, abandonment and lies. I already felt like I didn’t have a voice from the bullying I experienced growing up and this made me close off myself even more from the world. I felt like no one cared to listen. I didn’t matter. This experience caused deep self-hatred for many years and made me resent churches. It took me years to go back to one. This wasn’t my only experience being sexually assaulted or harrassed, but it is the one that had the most impact on me.
I share my story because I want other women to not feel so alone because it can feel really lonely . Here are 3 things I learned from being sexually assaulted:
1.) It is not your fault. Do not let anyone (including yourself) try to turn it around on you. Your body is the body God gave you and someone forcing access to it is them in the wrong. You did not “deserve” what happened to you. You are not to blame.
2.) Your experience can help others (and the process can help you begin to heal yourself). For years after feeling like it was my fault, I refused to talk about it. I hid it deep within me praying and wishing it would just “be erased” from the timeline of my life. It didn’t go away. Not sharing it made it embed even deeper within me and led to depression and self-hatred. When I decided to finally speak up, I found that I was not alone and sharing my story and the release it gave me led to me creating platforms to help other women share their stories (from bullying to sexual assault to overcoming divorce and illness). Everything I have gone through in my life has prepared me for what I am doing now with the #IAmSimplyBeautiful Movement and Fearless Poets.
3. There is life on the other side. In that moment, you may have felt like your life was over and you just wanted to die or for everything to just go away, but you still have your life. Life will continue on. Sometimes you may have to pause and that is okay, but know that this is not the end of your story. God is not done with you yet.
Please #Share this because someone you know needs this and if it is you, know that whether or not you are ready to share your story at this moment in your life, your story matters and YOU matter. You are enough just as you are. I turned my mess into my message and so can you. You are stronger than you know and you are simply beautiful just as you are. Period. Your story is still being written…
#IAmSimplyBeautiful #SexualAssault #SelfLove #YouAreEnough #NotYourFault