Bonnie’s Family Secret Exposed

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My story began at the age of 4. I did not understand what was going on and I did not quite know how to explain what had happened. I was left in the care of a mentally ill uncle who exposed himself to me. I don’t remember a lot of my childhood after that incident but I felt like that was the beginning of the secrets I would have to hide and experience alone.

In my happier memories, I enjoyed a close relationship with my father. Unfortunately I only got to spent weekends and summers with him and his parents until I was about nine years old. When I was nine, my mother’s boyfriend moved in with us. Her boyfriend was controlling and demeaning. They would fight and most of the arguments were about me. Often I was beaten and I did not even know why. I felt like I could do nothing right.

One day my mother’s boyfriend convinced her to leave me alone with him while she went out. He called me to his room and told me if I did not do what he wanted, he would tell my mother and make her beat me. I complied because I was afraid, and again I did not understand what was going on. I always felt like my mother and I were in a brutal battle.Like many parents in her situation, she probably felt rejected by her lover. As a result she directed her anger and disappointment at me as though I had cheated on her with her boyfriend. I didn’t know what to do so I carried my secret alone.

I wish that my story ended there but when I was eleven my mother asked a neighbor to take me to the drug store to pick up medication for my newborn sister. He agreed, but, while we waited for the pharmacy to complete the order he took me to a very dark stretch of highway and raped me. We returned home as though nothing happened. I had another ugly little secret. During this whole time I was not allowed to speak to or visit my father or grandparents. At the age of twelve years old we moved to Denver, Colorado. I packed with me all of my secrets.

Fast forward twelve years. I was in search of love because I believed I had never been loved. People said they loved me but it never felt like what I perceived love to be.  Everyone was talking about how much Jesus loved me. My curiosity was piqued and at the age of twenty-four I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. In search of an answer I asked Him to help me understand what had happened in my life and why I felt the way I did. I had prayed to die many times because life seemed too difficult to handle. I had not met many who had experienced what I had experienced because most people don’t talk about it.

In the Bible there is a story about a girl named Tamar who was raped by her brother (2 Samuel 13). When I read it I remember being amazed that it happened that long ago. I felt sincerely relieved. I thought maybe God does know what I’m going through. I was absolutely amazed and thankful. I felt I could tell God all about it and hopefully He would understand and make it all go away, but it did not go away. It has been a battle I would not wish on the worst person I could think of. I have learned that sexual assault is prevalent in my family and in many others. It is shameful that no one will talk about it, and that many suffer in silence with secrets too heavy to bear alone.

Sexual abuse is cruel and hard to take. I believe the bigger tragedy is what happens after the abuse. Often the abuse is a secret and a person feels so much shame and hurt. How does a victim tell somebody that she has been sexually assaulted without recognizing there is something wrong with her? Or without thinking that she has done something wrong?

I firmly believe if a person receives love, support and encouragement, she can survive this very difficult situation. But remember it’s a secret. So who can you go to? I am not suggesting you tell the whole world what has happened to you because many people cannot understand. And just because you tell people does not mean they will receive what you say. You may be ridiculed, or rejected by the people you love dearly. I know of a woman who has been married forty years and has never told her husband she was molested. Sharing the secret can be that difficult. It’s a secret the devil has used to destroy many lives.

How do I get through my struggle everyday? As I mentioned I accepted the Lord Jesus as my Savior and that has been the most rewarding thing in life for me. Because of my relationship with Jesus, I was able to truly forgive those who abused me. I forgave myself because I believed I had done something wrong. And I forgave my father who I believe if he had been there this would not have happened. I had to forgive God because I did not understand why He would allow this to happen to me. The hard part was forgiving my mother who has not accepted her responsibility in this. My relationship with God also allows me to pray and receive guidance from Him. I needed Him to tell me who I could go to to share my secret because I needed their love, support and encouragement to survive sexual abuse.

I often asked God why I was chosen for this. He still has not answered. My journey has been hard and long but I’m still standing. I have many difficult days. But my God has promised me peace in the midst of my storms and I thank Him for that. If nothing else I hope my story will help someone struggling with this secret trust God to walk her through the healing process.

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