When I wrote out my story, I had no idea if I would publish it or not. I've written my story out numerous times, most ended up being deleted or torn up which was quite cathartic at the time. But I sat with this one. I raked over it again and again trying to decide in my mind if it was wise to share it publicly.
Yesterday I posted my story titled "It'll hurt but it will heal" not believing that many would read it. Almost 300 people did; breaking a new record for my little blog. You can read it here: "It'll hurt but it will heal"
I had anticipated that there would be those who would disagree and find it distasteful and, perhaps, even shameful my being so bold in naming the places that hurt me. I knew there was a risk that it would offend and I knew there was a risk that it would eventually reach the ears of those leaders whom it described. I had not anticipated that it would reach them so soon, nor did I anticipate or prepare myself for how I might handle them contacting me.
Some of my abusers made contact last night for the first time in almost 4 years. The intention of their message, it seemed, was not to ask for forgiveness or empathize, but to (in their own way) attempt to discredit my experience; refusing once again to acknowledge the damage done.
Their contact took me back to a place and a state I have been trying to leave for the past 4 years. I felt cornered, vulnerable, and under attack again. I once again felt like the victim that I was under them. Their very words bringing a whirlwind of pain and memories I had long since forgotten, making it all feel as fresh as the day I left. Though I was and am a victim of their abuse, I will not cower in the corner again. I am not the girl that I was and I will not have my voice taken away again.
When a person commits a crime of a sexual nature, they are put on a sex offenders list that everyone might be aware of their crimes and the harmful acts that they are capable of. No one in their right mind would ever condemn a victim of sexual abuse for speaking out and her speaking out leading to her offender being labeled as such; no one except the offender perhaps. But when one commits acts of spiritual abuse, more often than not, the victims are shamed (most times) right out of the church for attempting to disgrace or dishonor a "man (or woman) of God".
Friends, victims of whatever abuse have every right to speak up and should never have their voices taken away. The very reason I wrote and shared my story was so that others may find their voices in it; that maybe through reading and seeing their church named or their school named or their organization named that they may find the courage to speak out and take a stand against their own abuse.
You can't discredit someone's personal experience no matter how hard you try. You weren't there for every moment of it. You didn't hear every word spoken. And you certainly didn't feel what they felt. Their experience is valid because it is their experience. Whether pain or abuse was intended has very little to do with the pain or abuse that was felt. And pain that is felt cannot be talked away or discredited anymore than it can be unfelt.
When those people contacted me last night, regret and panic poured into my system. I wished I had never written or shared my story. The vividness of my pain and the memories it awakened made me deeply regret having made myself so vulnerable, but they are not who I was writing to and they are not who I am writing to now. It is not for the abusers that I share these very personal and intimate details of my story, but for the abused and for those who are living amongst abuse. I wrote these things and will continue to write so that what was hidden may be touched by the light. It's for the hope of redemption. For our hope of the restoration of all things.
I named my story "It'll hurt but it will heal" and it's hurting so...it must be healing.
I want to thank every single person who has commented or contacted me, showering me with praise and affection. I want to thank all those who have, in turn, shared their stories with me and who have made their time and their heart available to me. Your words and affirmations and support make the telling worth it and I'm so thankful for all the support of those willing to journey with me through this.
To read more about dealing with victims of spiritual abuse read: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/what-not-say-someone-who-has-been-hurt-church