Today, we welcome Dawn Scott Jones, author of When a Woman You Love Was Abused.
I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I want to tell my story because I’m hopeful that by doing so, others can draw from the insights I’ve gained and find help and comfort in knowing that they’re not alone. Indeed we’re not alone:
· One in three girls have encountered sexual abuse. For boys, the generally accepted statistic is one-in-six.
· Ninety percent of victims know their abuser. Commonly reported abusers are fathers, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers. Other abusers are babysitters, teachers and neighbors.
Until recently, I couldn’t have told you how deeply I was affected by sexual abuse, but years later I’ve come to know that abuse is not over, even when it’s over.
Although I don’t have total recall, I have vivid memories of the sexual molestation I encountered. Behind the curtain of love and security given in my childhood home, lurked a monster—a sexual predator. I wish I’d never known about him, but bit-by-bit the drape was pulled back until finally I met the monster.
He was my dad by day, but something else by night. One evening I went to bed with the innocence of a child and the next morning I awakened with intense shame. My father, my childhood hero, had become my abuser. The one I looked to for protection, security, and love was the one stripping it from me. My innocence was stolen—my sense of worth, shattered. Is this all I’m made for? For the next several years I questioned my value, my abilities, and my worth. I tried to ignore my past by stuffing my emotions and minimizing my pain. I denied the impact of sexual abuse.
But soon my body told on me; Panic attacks, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance, began to plague me. Anger erupted at the slightest perceived threat. Trust issues and intimacy fears surfaced in relationships. I was unraveling at the seams of my soul. Although sexual abuse had been over for years, it wasn’t over at all. I was still a victim caught in its grip.
Many survivors find themselves in a similar vice-grip. They tend to minimize or dismiss the trauma of their abuse by reasoning, “It’s in the past.” Or “ It wasn’t that bad.”
Reality is often too devastating and overwhelming to face, so they suppress their abusive past, hoping that the residue of trauma will disappear with the passing of time.
The psychological imprint abuse leaves on its victims, however, is massive. Soul-wounds like these don’t just somehow mysteriously fade away when abuse ends. On the contrary, only when abuse is over, can a survivor start to process the event and thaw out from her emotionally frozen state. Often, this is years later.
If you, or someone you know is suffering with the aftermath of abuse, it’s not uncommon—in fact, it’s expected. Survivors question if they’ll ever find peace. Haunting memories lurk on the peripheral of their mind and they wonder how long they can evade them. They desire wholeness, but doubt it’s possible.
Well, the hope of healing and overcoming is alive. Survivors can experience a healing journey and find freedom after abuse. It’s an exhilarating and excruciatingly painful pathway, but Jesus will walk with anyone who calls on his name.
Next week, in Part 2, we will explore what it means to find healing from S.A.
Dawn Scott Jones