I’d like to share a story of what I used to consider, and what some people may consider a painful story of sexual and physical abuse. Not to receive pity, but to testify my story of how I have recognized and received God’s love. What has happened to me in my past doesn’t define me, God has brought me along his path to bring me to where I am today, with him in my heart. It’s so heavy on my heart today to get it out of my system what’s happened to me and share my story. And to stop feeling afraid of what people would think, or being ashamed of what has happened to me, because I’m not ashamed.
I have spent so much time over thinking what people would say or how they would treat me differently if they knew what happened, but didn’t actually understand my story. I feel as if I can share my story because at this point in my life I have a clear understanding that God has brought me on this difficult path to bring the light to my life. I don’t want anyone to ever feel bad for me, or look at what I don’t have. I want people to see that my life is beautiful because of the experiences and abuse I have endured. I’m grateful for my struggle, and my story. Even though I didn’t always understand why, I understand now God knew I could handle anything that came in my way.
My relationship with God has changed many times. I have felt the most intense confusion, and the most vivid understandings. However, my relationship with God has grown, and continues to grow each and everyday. I have realized the Lord is always with me, even through the abuse, even when I wanted to end my life.
One day I accepted God’s gift of salvation, he completely changed my outlook and helped me understand forgiveness. Before that day, I had lived with doubt, shame, confusion and anger. Now I live with the light of hope and understanding in my heart. There was a time where I doubted God’s love for me. I thought maybe I had already made too many mistakes to be worthy of his love.
You could say I doubted that he even existed. I was lost, alone, hurting, and angry with God. I was living my life waiting for my circumstances to be good before I gave my heart to God. I felt as if things are still bad in my life, he must not exist. At such a young age I was confused by God and how to live my life with him in it. I know now looking back at the darkest moments of my past, God was calling me to him, but I was scared and didn’t understand what I needed to do.
Through God’s grace, I have completely overcome the nightmare I almost let overcome me. When I was a teenager I was sexually abused. The ordeal made me doubt there was a God or at least one that was loving. I would say to myself,
“If there is a loving God, why doesn’t he love me? Why would he allow this to happen to me?”
Not by a stranger, not by an acquaintance. But by my very own father. Not once, but often. Not for days,weeks, but for months.
I was a pretty good kid, yeah, I got into typical teenager trouble, but I was a straight A student and I helped around my house more than most kids. So I didn’t understand why me. My father had abused my mother for years, he had gotten into trouble with the law and put drugs before his family. And I still forgave him and gave him the chance to be a good father when I left my mother and siblings and moved in with him. He was alone, and claimed to be sorry for what he had put my mother through. I was just trying to do the right thing, I just believed family deserves second, or maybe a lot of second chances.
I moved in with him to a new area with no friends, family or anyone to go to. I was trapped. He eventually made me his prisoner. I felt like it was All because I forgave someone who created me, someone who’s purpose in life was to love me. I didn’t understand how this could happen to me. I asked God every question known to man. I screamed, bargained, and pleaded with him. I cried myself to sleep every night.
“What am I suppose to believe? What am I suppose to have faith in? That God’s going to fix this? How am I going to go on with my life? That this is his will?”
These were my thoughts because I didn’t know what else to think. A Lot of the time I didn’t want to think about God. “What good has believing in God done for me?” This was my mindset. I distracted myself with a few friends, who I believe God sent to me in my time of need. But I never told them anything that was going on. I wanted to think I didn’t have or need God in my life but I could never shake the feeling that there was something or someone out there holding me together.
I would go from begging God to make the abuse stop to being so mad at him for allowing it to continue. I would pray before I went to bed
“please don’t let him give me any pills, please don’t let him come in here tonight.” To after saying “I hate you, how can you let this happen to me.”
But each night it was the same routine. For 5 months. At times I even believed I would experience a miracle. My father would sit with me and apologize and promise it wouldn’t happen again. But each time I did not experience a miracle. More often I thought, to God
“I thought you finally were answering my prayers. Why is this happening to me, again? Maybe if I could figure out a reason, maybe just maybe, I could take the abuse better.”
Thoughts came in and out of my mind like
“If there truly is a God, how did this fit in his plans for me? How do I believe in God when this is happening to me?”
I would cry out and pray, “Lord I am alone and afraid, I am so afraid please help me. I’m waiting God. Tell me. Please. What am I suppose to do next? I really need your help, Lord. Help me through this; I have no one to turn to. I am so scared and ashamed.” I started to believe maybe his plan was to let this man kill me. I started accepting that. Maybe the end of all the abuse is when he finally ends my life.
At times I would drive home from school, looking forward to that being my last day of existence. But then I would break into tears and ask God
“Is this what you want from me? Is this my life?”
I doubted my own negative thoughts. I would ask God continuously to show me a sign that he was real and that he did love me. God showed me a sign every time, but I was so full of anger or perhaps too young to recognize them as anything more than coincidences.
Each night when I was physically fighting this grown man off of me, breaking glass over his head, jumping out of 2 floor Windows, getting bloody noses and black eyes I would think, maybe he will hurt me enough to get someone’s attention. I had one friend, who I had met at this new school. He talked to me all the time. He had no idea what I was going through, because I tried to hide it, but he gave me hope that whatever I was going through wasn’t normal and I didn’t deserve it.
He encouraged me to sneak a 1 hour drive down to my moms to see my family once or twice a week then hurry back before my father got home. It saved me. My mother saw the bruises and broken lips, black eyes, strangle marks on my neck. She alerted CPS.
Unfortunately the way the system worked, they just showed up at my school for a few weeks documenting my injuries, hounding me with questions and taking uncomfortable pictures of all of my abuse related injuries. I was scared. I asked God,
“In order to save myself, does this mean this man has to go to jail? Will everyone know what happened? Will my baby brothers’ and sister hate their lives knowing all of this information? Will anyone even believe me.”
I had been manipulated by my father that no one would save me, no one would believe me. I was disgusting and telling anyone would just ruin my life.
One day at school I had a class in child development. In class we were getting babies to take home to take care of. I just thought to myself how I want children one day, and I wanted a family. The negative feelings of not being able to move forward with my life seemed to go away temporarily. I imagined falling in love and having a wedding on a tropical island. Feelings I never thought I would have again after being abused. I felt happy. Hopeful. I thanked God for reinstating me with my hopes that I will have a happy life one day.
However, abuse was still happening and my life was worse than ever. That night was worse than any other night. I vaguely remember after being drugged with something. But towards the end of the night fighting this man off of me I managed to escape through my broken bedroom window and began to run down the street. I was covered in blood, bloody nose, scratches from the glass all up and down my back. I was screaming. Someone came outside and saw me, my father ran after me, I screamed please call 911, he told the people who came outside I had just gotten into a fight with my boyfriend and everything was ok.
I was sitting in my room. Waiting for the police to come, or for him to kill me. I told God
“I don’t care anymore.”
But Nothing happened. He never came back. And the police never came. He put a bat through my car windshield so I knew i couldn’t drive anywhere, and he confiscated my phone every night at 8pm. I was just a prisoner.
The next day I woke up to a note, he apologized before he left for work and left me his keys to his car to get to school. The note said we would talk later tonight. I was empty. I blankly drove to school and saw my friend he asked me what happened to me and I immediately started crying.
He brought me to the nurse and called my mom. In my 16 years of life my mother never took a “sick day” at work. She happened to stay home with a stomach ache that day. I called her. Asked her to come get me. She was there in a hour. No questions. I grabbed a backpack full of stuff and left for good.
I was tortured my father calling freaking out about me leaving for about 2 weeks. I was angry with myself for not telling my mom, or anyone at all about the abuse, but I couldn’t dare. But no one understood my fear of him, my need for him to not call me or come near me. He threatened me that if I ever told, great harm would come to me, his exact words were
“If I am going to jail it will be worth it.”
I felt very alone. But I was happy I was away from him. I was free in a way. I just wanted the pain, shame, and humiliation to stop. I just wanted him to leave me alone. I had to go to another new school, and I was mortified. When I saw my 16 year old self in the mirror all I could see was pain, anger, disgust, shame, and maybe even hatred. My brother hated me for hating my father. He told me I was a spoiled brat and shouldn’t be ignoring him and screaming at him on the phone to leave me alone. I promised my father I wouldn’t tell anyone as long as he left me alone and never hurt my younger siblings. He wouldn’t leave me alone. One day my brother and my cousin were screaming at me for refusing to speak to my father on the phone when he called 13 times in a row.
I was locked in the bathroom crying while they were banging on the door with the ringing phone. I was ready to end my life to not have to ruin theirs. But then I also heard a different, more tender voice saying,
“Stacia, I love you. I have plans for you. It’s going to be okay.”
It was as if this other voice was pleading. But I was to the point that there was no turning back. My state of mind was to go through with it. I began to get angry and emotional. Did I truly want to die? If this was the only way to end the pain, then yes. So, with one last question for God, I asked him to show me a sign. I asked for an indication that he was indeed real, and that this abuse would stop and stop soon. I told God to make it immediate and make it a sign that I would recognize. The sign didn’t come. I waited for what seemed like for an eternity, but in reality was just a few minutes.
“I knew it,”
“God truly is a fraud.”
Just as I started with the negative thoughts my 6 year old brother came running in the house yelling and crying from a skinned knee. He needed me to help him fix his “boo-boo”. In the bathroom. I needed to get out. It didn’t take much for me to gather myself up and help him. My happiness and purpose on earth. To love and take care of the small people around me who need me. To this day I am grateful for this sign. God instantly reminded me exactly what I needed to hear, why not to give up. The crazy thing is, the grace of God was for this 6 year old to fall off of his bike to save my life? I am very thankful now, but right after that, I was very overwhelmed.
That night I confessed everything to my 13 year old brother and my 18 year old cousin. I felt worse, but better. They were devastated. My brother was broken. I could see it. I could feel it. They told my mom and we went forth with going to the authorities where he was arrested shortly after. God placed a handful of loving new friends in my life. None of which knew anything about me. He gave me a clean slate. To start over. No explanations. Each night I would feel an ache and an intense warmth deep within me. What was this feeling? The fear was vanishing. Something I never imagined happening.
On Tuesdays and Thursday’s I would go pick up my sister from her Catholic pre-school. I would walk in and every time a strong voice full of love and peace echoed in my head,
“I died for you, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Now come to me. Do not be afraid.”
I felt God’s presence, his gentleness and his love. I was free. I didn’t know how. But I was free. I had fun, I laughed, I sang songs again. I still cried all night; but because I got to the point where I didn’t believe that I could experience God’s love ever again. But I was experiencing it and noticing it in every part of my day.
All that pain, anger, hatred, and shame were leaving me. God had to break me down so he could move in. Then I could start a new life with him in my heart. To this day I still sense that still small voice speak to my heart, telling me,
“I know my plans for you Stacia. This isn’t the end, but the beginning. Your best days are still yet to come.”
My life wasn’t perfect. My life was actually turned upside down because of what I had told the police and my family. My mother was heartbroken and scared. But Hope lightened my heart. I recognized I had been blessed with some sort of miracle a private encounter deep within my heart with the Lord. Whatever God had done within my soul, my entire outlook was different, changed in a divine instant.
Though the pain of the truth didn’t seem to stop hurting the people around me. But God took that pain away from me. I still allowed what had happened to me to stay in the back of my head, like it was a part of me. A deep dark secret that was part of who I am. Something that would never go away. The nightmares I experience still to this day can break me down. But they are just a reminder of how far I have come with God in my heart. I have been able to love, to accept love and to live a happy life.
3 years ago, 6 years after the abuse was over I was in church. The message was about forgiveness. All I could hear was forgive forgive forgive. I was so confused. I couldn’t focus. I asked my boyfriend, does this mean I am supposed to forgive him? I prayed to God,
“please tell me what this means. Is this what is holding me back in my life? Am I doing the wrong thing? Please help me I want to do what you want me to do.”
I couldn’t concentrate. It was so heavy on my heart what I was supposed to do to be able to move even further in my life and on Gods path. My boyfriend told someone who was at the church session that I needed to speak to someone. This woman sat with me. She sat and listened to me, then prayed with me for an hour. I left her with an understanding that what had happened to me was not my sin.
This “forgiveness” message God had instilled in me just attacked me. God told me to Forgive myself. That I am not fighting this battle alone. Forgive myself for not believing in him during my struggles. Forgive my abuser, and pray that he finds the Lord, and never hurts anyone else again. The list of things he brought to my heart to let go, to give to him was endless. I listened. I let everything go as gave it all to God that day. My life hasn’t been the same since. I still struggle occasionally with bad memories, but that is all I have. God took all the pain away from my heart when I decided to give it to him.
I have found myself getting upset and ashamed for my past a lot more recently. But God keeps telling me and showing me “look around” I love everyone in my life. I am loved more than I ever thought imaginable by people I would have never met if I hadn’t gone through what I have gone through. My experience doesn’t define me. What defines me is that no matter how many times I doubted God’s plans for me, I never gave up on him. And the joy I have in my life now, makes me go weeks without even remembering I ever even experienced such pain. God never took away anything from me. He just removed things from my life to make room for better. I believe it. I believe in God. I am so thankful for a heart full of faith in knowing God is with me. It is evident to me that I can endure all things, through Christ who strengthens me.
I am sharing such a deep personal part of my life not for anyone to feel sorry for me. Instead, I want this to be known. If you do not have a personal relationship with God because of circumstances in your life, doubts about God’s love or even his existence, you’ve got it all wrong, just like I did. God loved me so much, he helped me through the horrifying abuse. He was there each and every time I called his name, even when I screamed his name. He was the one who sent my best friends to me, without reaching out to them each and every sad day. He was that beautiful butterfly that landed on my windshield and brought a grin to my face the day I sat in the car crying. God was always listening, talking, and walking right along side of me. He never stopped. He never left me. In fact, he was just as real as the nightmare that became a part of my life.
I believe God spent a lot of time with me throughout those months of abuse because, in fact, he did love me so. I used to think, this abuse happened to me so my siblings didn’t have to face these pains. But my abuse wasn’t a punishment or a compromise. I understand how some people, like some of my family members for example can think,
“how could he have been there with you, why would he allow you to go through all that abuse, why did it last so long?”
Sometimes God allows us to go through terrible trials like these to expose himself to us. Through them he reveals to us how much we need him, so that we will call upon him. Another purpose is so we can be a testimony and a comfort to others in the future. Who better to testify to others than someone who has gone through similar circumstances? Those people who have suffered can relate to others who are suffering. Listening to other peoples testimonies the past few years at church was my favorite part. I understand what they are feeling and going through in their journey to having a relationship with God. I understand that people have overcome way more difficult battles than I have, and God is still with all of us. Maybe by sharing my own testimony and sharing how God changed my life and my circumstances I can bring comfort to someone else the way I have felt hearing others’ testimonies.
There is no sin that God won’t forgive. And there is no circumstance too big for God to help us through. God will always help us get through our trials. Sometimes it’s not as quickly as we would like, or the way we would like it to happen, but God knows what he is doing. I have learned that that “God’s delay is not God’s denial.” Everything he does is to prepare us for our destiny, God’s plan. We just need to trust in him.
If you are struggling in any area of your life. Or if you’re not struggling, but do not know the Lord personally, I encourage you; next time you feel him calling you, don’t be afraid. Take that walk of faith. The fear is nothing compared to the amazing experience as to when you give your life to Christ. Once you comprehend his love and grace, it’s easier to love others. It’s also easier to let them love you, and most of all, it’s easier to love yourself.