Category Archives: Childhood Sexual Abuse

Those Wretched Intrusions!

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I want to talk about something that every survivor of child abuse, and especially every survivor of childhood sexual abuse struggles with, and that is flashbacks. Anyone who has PTSD wrestles with flashbacks. Soldiers who’ve come back from battle often have PTSD, and one of the symptoms of PTSD is flashbacks.

My dictionary defines a flashback as: a sudden and disturbing vivid memory of an event in the past, typically as the result of psychological trauma. 

I have flashbacks on a daily basis. For me ~ and I think they’re different for each person because each person is a unique individual ~ they are distinctly sexual, and very distressing and disconcerting. Basically they consist of body parts having sex, and everytime they happen I feel like a wave of filth has just washed through my mind. When it happens I feel compelled to shake my head in an effort to jiggle it out of my head to make it go away. Doing that doesn’t work very well, but I can’t just do nothing. I also say to myself, “I cast that thought down in the Name of Jesus,” which I got from a passage in 2 Corinthians,

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ… 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, ASV (American Standard Version).

Over the years my main way of dealing with them has been to spend time reading my Bible, plus I listen to the Bible on tape while I sleep. I figure exposing myself to God’s Word in every possible way has to help because the Bible talks about the Word having a cleansing affect,

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. ~ Ephesians 5:25-26, NLT. 

The Bible also speaks of being successful if you keep God’s Word before you all the time,

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. ~ Joshua 1:8, NIV.

And aside from all that, I just love God’s Word. It’s been my favorite book in the whole world for many years.

However, I find it painfully interesting that since I started working on this post the flashbacks have gotten worse ~ more vivid, more frequent, and more intrusive ~ than they’ve ever been. It’s almost like the devil knows, or my mind knows, that in bringing the problem out into the open its days are numbered.

I hope that’s true!! I would dearly love to be free of this cursed plague!!

So I submit my mind to God, and to the purifying blood of Christ my Lord in the hope of freedom and eternal life!

Thank You Jesus for Your cleansing blood!! I love You so!!

The Continuing Saga of the Monster’s Death

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It’s been five or six days since Harry’s death, and I’ve had some time to cogitate on what that means for me. You wouldn’t think there’d be any meaning at all when someone dies who had pretty much no relationship with me, but he had a hugely destructive influence on my childhood, so regardless of whether there was any current relationship, it’s going to mean something to me when he dies. The problem is to figure out what that is.

The first conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m taking too much responsibility on myself for whether Harry accepted the gift of God’s grace. While Jesus commanded us to preach the Gospel to every creature, ultimately the responsibility for making the seeds of the Gospel bear fruit is God’s problem,

Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. ~ Mark 16:14-15, NKJV.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: it will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. ~ Isaiah 55:10-11, NIV.

I love this passage from Isaiah. It says so many things to me. It tells me that God’s Word is alive, and that God will always make His Word bear fruit. It also says that God always keeps His promises ~ that He can always be depended upon to do what He says He’ll do, and He’ll always be faithful to keep His Word. In addition it says that God loves His Word ~ at least it says that to me. He loves it enough, and cares about it enough, that He will work to protect it and make sure it comes to fruition anytime it’s spoken.

So if I’m worried that I should be doing more to make sure that Harry makes it into Heaven, I’m worrying way too much. If nothing else, the decision was made the moment he died. Once he’s gone, there’s nothing more any human being can do to influence Harry’s decision, or God’s judgment about Harry’s destination. Plus a friend reminded me a couple of days ago that when someone ends up in Hell, they’re there because that’s where they want to be.

I guess I have a hard time believing anyone would actually want to be in Hell, because I know a little of what Hell is like, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, not even my worst enemy.

All that aside, I’m feeling bereft. I never had what most people would call a father. Certainly Harry wasn’t a father to me, and I never felt loved by my stepdad either. He tried, but I think maybe the damage done by the time he came around was so extensive that he couldn’t get beyond it to relate to me as he would to any “normal” person.

So, as I said, I feel bereft, regardless of the fact that Harry wasn’t in my life, and hadn’t been since he left when he and my mother got divorced when I was ten. It’s strange, because he was never a father to me, yet now that he’s gone, I miss him like he was, though what I’m missing may be the hope that he would become a father to me.

I’ve been hunting for a surrogate father my whole life, and everytime I thought I’d found one, something would happen and he’d go away. I finally gave up looking. I can sort of see why it’s not good to trust in an earthly substitute, but sometimes you need a pair of physical ears to talk to, and a pair of physical arms to give you a hug, and sometimes you need them to be male ears and arms ~ and I could never find that, not anywhere. It turned out to be impossible.

As I was talking with McT about this today, he got me thinking about the few times I saw Harry after the divorce. I can probably count them on one hand. There were two before my stepdad adopted my sister and me so we’d have his last name. Then there was a gap of twenty years or more, until I was about thirty-three. I hadn’t had any memories yet, and my Aunt Priscilla, Harry’s sister, suggested I visit him in West Virginia where he lived with his second wife. I hadn’t seen him in at least twenty years, and the first thing he did after I got there was take me out and buy me five pairs of underwear.

At the time I wasn’t sure how I felt about that gift, but it didn’t feel as truly weird, perverted, and inappropriate as it has since come to feel. When I told McT about it today, immediately his face got all scrunched up, and he said that it was a really inappropriate gift for a father to give his daughter.

I stayed with Harry and Elizabeth for a week, and all I remember about that time, aside from the underwear gift, was that Harry and Elizabeth argued a lot, and it was all about me. All these years I thought it was because she was jealous of me, but as McT and I were talking about it today, it came to me that they were arguing because she was telling him that his underwear gift was bizarre and wrong, and he was arguing back because he couldn’t understand what she was saying. To him, giving your daughter underwear was a perfectly natural thing to do.

EEeeewwwww!!!!

I know someone whose father gave her a red bra for her sixteenth birthday, which I always thought was really wrong. It’s strange how I couldn’t see that Harry’s gift of underwear to me was just as strange until I saw McT’s reaction. I guess I was too close to it to be able to see how weird it was, but now I get it really well!

Like I said above, EEeeeeewwwwww!!! Now it gives me the creeps! Back then it made me feel a little strange, but I had no idea why, because I’d had no memory of being abused by anyone, much less by Harry. In fact, I had no memory at all of the first ten years of my life. Those years were a huge blank for me. Since then God has been filling in the void with substance, though sometimes I’ve found myself wishing those years had stayed empty, because not knowing at times feels better than knowing.

And interestingly, it was after I got home from that visit that I had my first abuse memories, and they were perfectly awful ~ and I was in a therapy appointment with McT when they came out.

The only other meeting with Harry that I remember was a short one. I don’t remember when it happened, except that it was about thirty years ago ~ in the nineties, I think. The only thing I remember about it was that it ended in a fist-bump. Fist-bumps have only been popular in the last two or three years, and when he gave me one thirty years ago, I perceived it as him rejecting me and pushing me away. It felt incredibly off-putting. Now, I think, it’s supposed to be sign that someone is cool. Maybe that’s how he meant it, I don’t know, but that’s not how I took it. So maybe I misread his signal to me in that instance. Maybe I need to ask for his forgiveness.

So now I’m left with what to do with all I’ve discovered, and the first thing I know I must do is forgive. Always forgive. Forgiving has become foundational to who I am, and it’s not hard to forgive Harry, or anyone else who’s hurt me. The only one I have a problem forgiving is myself, though that’s getting easier as well, thank God.

This has been a really long post, I know, but this is a difficult topic, so I hope everyone will read the whole thing all the way through. Mostly, I want to give glory to God for helping me to think everything through with the proper insight, and for helping me to see Harry through the eyes of Jesus ~ as God sees him.

I know Jesus loves Harry as much as He loves me, or anyone else, so I have no right to hold unforgiveness or hatred against him, so I choose to bless him, and I wish peace and healing towards him.

I hope and pray he accepted God’s gift of salvation before he died! Glory to God for the cross!!

Easier Said Than Done

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There have been a few times in my life where I was desperate for guidance from God, and when I asked for it, He gave me the answer right then. Let me explain.

The first ten years of my life are virtually blank. I remember essentially nothing from those years, and not much more from the years following. As a consequence I spent a lot of time trying to understand what had happened to me during those blank years, and I also had many well-meaning Christians telling me that I shouldn’t be doing that, that I should just put the past behind me,

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. ~ Isaiah 43:18, NIV.

But I also had a lot of therapists telling me that those empty years weren’t empty at all, but rather were years I had repressed because the events that had occurred during that time were so traumatic that I couldn’t handle the emotional and/or physical impact of what had happened. And how many of you know that putting the past behind you is a whole lot easier said than done?

So who do I believe ~ all those well-meaning Christians, or the therapists who supposedly understand how memory works?

Something that happened back in the mid-1990’s, in the midst of being bombarded by input from both sides, helped me decide to follow God rather than either side, although ideas from the therapists ended up being closer to what God showed me.

What happened was this: I was receiving soaking prayer from a married couple on periodic Sunday afternoons, but everyone who knew I was doing this told me I shouldn’t be doing it because I should be putting the past behind me, as the above-quoted verse says.

Because I’d been hearing this so frequently from everyone around me for such a long time, I finally cried out to God on my way home from that afternoon’s prayer session, and asked Him if I was following the right course. Should I be trying to find out what had happened to me? I only wanted to follow what He wanted me to do!

As I was praying and asking my questions of God, this thought came into my mind: The most tightly-held-onto past is the past that’s been repressed.

I knew that had to be from God because there was no way I could have thought it up myself. And what I took from that incredibly logical thought was that in order for me to let go of my past and put it behind me, I had to remember it and accept that it was a part of who I am. Only then would I be able move past it and let it go.

The reason I say I had to not only remember, but also accept what I was remembering, is that the things I was remembering were so awful that I was having a hard time accepting that the people I was supposed to be able to trust were the same people who had betrayed that trust in such horrific ways. I had to accept that these terrible, evil things were a part of my story, and that the people I had depended on for my most basic needs had abused the trust I had placed in them. It was a hard pill to swallow, and it took me a long time to do it, at least partly because it also meant forgiving those who had hurt me.

I believe every person who has been the victim of child abuse and/or childhood sexual abuse must go through this process if they’ve repressed the memories of the abuse. No one wants to believe that the people they must depend on for their most basic needs would betray the trust that’s been placed in them in such appalling and egregious ways, but unfortunately it does happen. And when it does, the destruction to the life of the victim is far-reaching.

It’s been my personal experience that the only thing that can bring real and long-lasting healing is inviting God into the situation. Therapy can only take you so far on its own before it loses its ability to effect change unless God’s presence is sought in the healing process. Obviously that is my opinion, and opinions are not facts, but it’s an opinion based on hard personal experience.

Even if you never forgot or repressed the memories of the abuse you were subjected to, you still must go through this process, because, as I did, you will probably feel a need to deny that those who were supposed to love and care for you did the exact opposite, and abused you. You will probably also feel the need to blame yourself, as I did. Well, let me tell you, categorically, it was not your fault. It was not my fault either. It took me a very long time to be able to believe that, but now I really do know beyond a shadow of a doubt. It was not my fault. It was entirely my father’s fault. It was also my mother’s fault because she didn’t protect me from my father. But above all else, it was not my fault.

It was not my fault, and it was not your fault either. Know that of a surety.