Editors Note: The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Tropolitan or its staff members.
Trending across all social media platforms this month was the 10-year challenge. I tend to ignore such things, but as this one gained traction, I started to think back on what my life was like 10 years ago. For starters, 10 years ago I was 11 years old.
I was in sixth grade, and school and soccer took up most of my time. Beyond the usual awkwardness of middle school, there are some especially painful memories I would rather not revisit. Because when I was 11 years old, I was persistently harassed and groped against my will. It was humiliating and damaging in the most intimate and cruel way.
For years, I owned some of the blame in each situation. Because I didn’t physically fight off the person, I thought I was responsible and therefore guilty. I never told anyone about what happened; I just continued to struggle in the coming years with my identity, my worth, and how to reconcile the past with my current struggles.
At the time, I wasn’t a Christian, and my view of the church was that of good people with clean pasts and unscathed stories. I wasn’t about to confide in these seemingly picture-perfect people about the issues I was facing. Perhaps that was simply the naivety of my youth before realizing everyone else has problems, too, or perhaps it’s because far too often church-goers try to act like everything’s perfect when underneath the guise, it never is.
Little did I know, Jesus himself said that he did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. When I came across that verse a few years later at the age of 14, it literally changed my life and flipped my world upside down. It exposed the truth of how the church is in fact filled to the brim with broken people like me.
Not only that, but Jesus treated women with the utmost regard and respect during an age when a woman’s testimony wasn’t even considered credible in a court of law. His example sets the standard by which all men ought to treat women – as equally worthy and valuable human beings.
God used this newfound biblical knowledge to call me to himself. Thus, began my redemption story. Bit by bit, as I uncovered more truth from the Bible about identity, sin and justice, it was only a matter of time before I faced my past with a renewed perspective.
It wasn’t until I was 18 that I had the courage to speak out about my experiences. I know that what I experienced was far less serious than what many women encounter in their lives, and I in no way want to undermine the severity of their trauma, but at the same time these situations still left deep scars on my life.
When I opened up to a friend, she referred me to some older Christian women who were able to counsel me through the situation and helped me differentiate what was true from what was a lie.
Those scars from 10 years ago, left unannounced and hidden in the dark, seemed to grow worse with time. But when I faced my fears, spoke out and ultimately received counseling, I found healing in my faith and by being honest and speaking openly. The burden I had been carrying alone was suddenly much lighter as those women gathered around and helped me. I urge other people with similar experiences to seek counsel, no matter how long ago or how recently the abuse took place.
Ten years ago, I was violated in the most humiliating of ways. But today, I tell my story unashamedly, to give other people hope. There is hope for healing. There is peace in Jesus. There is a Light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how big or how small your burdens and no matter how badly you’re currently struggling.
Editor’s note: Troy students have access to free counseling through the Student Counseling Center on College Dr. Call 334-670-3700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.