I remember it like it was yesterday. “How can I look younger? What if people think I’m the mom here? What if people think I’m the wife here? How can I make sure people know I’m the daughter? I’ll have to make sure they hear me say ‘dad.” These thoughts flooded my 10-year-old brain as I strolled down the boardwalk of Myrtle Beach with my dad and two younger siblings.
Initially, when I began this series I was going to address the effects of sexual abuse on my view of God, my view of others, and my view of self. However, I quickly realized the intricate connection between those three views. I have decided to approach this series more from a developmental perspective detailing how those views changed through the years.
At ten years old, I no longer viewed myself as a
child. Soon after the abuse began, my imaginative play diminished. I completely lost my ability to connect with Barbie dolls or stuffed animals. I could still play sports and board games, but anything that required the use of my imagination failed to culminate.
When my abuser stole my innocence, he ended my childhood. The transition into adolescence is often tumultuous followed by the excitement of entering independence and the freedom of adulthood; however, the ongoing sexual abuse disrupted those transitions and thrusted me too soon into an adult world. When I looked in the mirror, I saw my ten-year-old physique reflected; but on the inside, the child had disappeared.
When I think about those thoughts that raced through my mind as I walked down the boardwalk at Myrtle Beach, I grieve for that little girl who feared people would think these two kids, seven and nine years old, were her children. I grieve for the little girl who believed it was normal for a child to be in a sexual relationship with a grown man. I grieve for the little girl who believed no one could rescue her from her abuser.
Today, I see how God is continuing to work in and through each detail of my life. I see how He uses each of my experiences to educate others. Adults, if you recognize that a child suddenly stops engaging in imaginative play, have a conversation about sexual abuse. Create the environment and dialogue where a child will experience the safety and security necessary to take the bold step of disclosure. It could certainly be normal childhood development where imaginative play is no longer “cool,” but is that a risk you are willing to take? There is no harm that can come from having an age appropriate discussion about body safety and sexual abuse. Take that step.
A few months ago, I took my first step in the realm of poetry and I think it is worth sharing here as it exposes what it is like when innocence is stolen.
Come to my room, my dear
You have nothing to fear
It’s our time together
Please, let me float like a feather
Through the air, with the wind
I can’t get away, I’m pinned
What is happening? I don’t understand
Don’t worry my dear, this is all planned
What happened in your bed
Where my mother laid her head
Took what was mine
When I was just nine
No more teddy bears
Or rocking chairs
My life was changed forever
When you decided to sever
My safety and trust
Now I’m filled with fear and disgust
No words, just silence
I must prevent his violence
Hear what my eyes are saying
On the inside, I’m decaying
Perfect on the outside
Please, someone find where I hide.