I am an incest survivor. I was molested by my father throughout my childhood.
Sexual abuse is incomprehensible to a child, and as unpredictable. One moment you are watching cartoons. The next your father has exposed himself. The earth may as well have opened beneath your feet.
I believed I was protecting my father’s sanity by enduring his sexual assaults. I thought that he would lose his mind, if he realized the horror he was inflicting on me.
Though I managed to avoid his assaults by my teens, my father’s rage filled the house during those years.
We were raised good Catholic children. My mother and grandmother were amazing women of faith. But the abuse cost me my own faith.
By the time I reached college, I was proclaiming my atheism to anyone who would listen. I refused to kneel to a God who would allow innocent suffering. As far as I was concerned, He was the one responsible for my abuse.
Despite that, God called me to the law. Once licensed, I found myself praying regularly. While I continued to deny God’s existence, I asked Him for courage. I asked that He protect the clients against my shortcomings.
And I was successful in the legal profession. I made partner at a private firm. Later, in a corporate setting, I supervised law offices and oversaw litigation nationwide.
Relying on workaholism to cope, I staggered on with the scars of my abuse. Low self-esteem, perfectionism, anxiety, depression, PTSD, relationship difficulties, and the rest.
Then, about 20 years ago, a Christian friend asked me to brunch. Only she wanted to attend Sunday service first.
The sermon was on the biblical heroine Ruth, a long-time favorite of mine. The lyrics to one of the songs, He Knows My Name, pierced my heart:
“I have a Father
He calls me His own
He’ll never leave me
No matter where I go
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call”
Suddenly, I could see clearly that Christ had been with me all those times I thought I was abandoned and alone.
By the altar call, I was sobbing so hard I could not go forward. My shirt was drenched. I have not been the same since.
God does not fully heal all abuse victims – no matter the extent of their faith. He did not fully heal me. But He does sustain me. That has made all the difference.
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