How the Truth set me free after Rape
Three months after I’d moved abroad after finishing high school, I found myself one night in a hotel room with a man. He was on top of me, forcing himself on me whilst I was powerless and unable to move. Although I was barely awake, the monotone mechanical noise he made as he forced himself on me and his sharp beard bruising my naked skin would become haunting memories that’d stay in my mind for years.
Earlier that night, I hadn’t even got a clue what sex was in practice. And suddenly I was there – naked, exposed, almost unconscious whilst someone did that to me, and I couldn’t fight back.
The following weeks, I was completely disassociated; I didn’t understand what had happened to me apart from that a man had undressed me, and then forced himself on me when I was incapable of fighting back. All my emotions were frozen – I didn’t feel anything – I was a zombie, struggling to function at work and with my daily routines. I learnt afterwards through therapy that my whole existence was in shock – my body and mind were responding to a traumatic event.
A few days later, a friend said the words I feared to hear: you were raped. When this reality struck, it over-powered me as if someone had poured a bucket of ice cold water on me, drowning me with overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame. Could I have done something to prevent it from happening? Did I not say ‘no’ loud enough? Did he do it to me because I asked for it?
For me as a believing Christian, who had grown up always promising myself not to make love with someone until I married and always dreamed of having a loving husband and children, the rape became a destructive catalyst for most of my young adult life. I kept telling myself that I was not worthy of joy and love anymore and eventually this thought process developed into a truth setting my life agenda.
My female beauty, self-worth, and body became a barren desert. A few years later, I had fallen into a destructive life of alcohol, self-harm, an eating disorder, a destructive relationship and several affairs with men. I was desperate for attention and for being approved – to silence the pain temporarily by binge-drinking and giving myself to men, with a constant feeling of being useless, unlovable and something for people to use.
My body became both my weapon for survival and my worst enemy. I became the nightmare that I could never have imagined existed in me and the worst version of myself.
Throughout these almost nine years, I could always hear a persistent voice within me – saying “open your eyes.” I knew who it was – I knew it was my Saviour, Jesus Christ. He was calling my name from the cross, He was calling my name so that I could turn around from my destructive life and turn to Him and His redemptive power and resurrection over evil.
But, I was scared. I was scared of leaving the shadow that I’d lived my life in since the rape because it meant that I would have to face everything – the rape, the eating disorder and the bad relationships. I knew I was living a lie, a life in darkness. I knew that if I turned to Him, everything would transpire and float up to the surface and I would realize what a huge failure I was – and how could I ever forgive myself for everything? I was not brave enough. The thick cloud that clouded my vision and that acted as a protective wall would fall and I would stand there helpless.
Two years ago, I moved back to the city where the rape happened. Within a couple of weeks after I’d arrived, things started to happen – I was thrown into a deep depression, deeper than it had ever been. I felt a pain within me that was more painful than any earthly pain can be. I felt like I was burning up inside, not my bodily organs but my soul – as if I now was in a deep pit filled with lions that devoured me.
I knew that it was God speaking to me, and that no one but God could heal those weeping and mourning wounds that had awoken. I started reading texts by Christian mystics and church fathers, especially Saint John of the Cross’ Dark Night of the Soul whose suffering and love and longing for Christ made such sense to me – it helped me identify my feelings, my hurt and how the pain was shouting for Christ.
Speaking to my therapist started to make me see my life differently – I have realized that my self-worth is not defined by what happened that night over eight years ago. Counseling and most of all my Christian faith have taught me that nothing can defile me. Nothing can make me filthy. Nothing can make me unlovable. Nothing can take my dignity away. Nothing can take my worth away. Because I am a daughter of God, the Eternal King and Creator whose creation cannot be defiled. And because there is restoration in Christ – and a complete forgiveness for all our sins if we turn to Him and repent.
I have realized after two years of therapy and almost nine years of heavy suffering that there was always a Light present in my life – I didn’t choose it in the beginning because I felt unworthy and afraid. But it was there. And now that I have turned to it, I know that it is Christ. And I have never had such hope, such joy and gladness in my life as I have now – I have flourished through the suffering – I have experienced the darkness; therefore, I know that there is also Light.
Jesus said to his disciples: “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). The truth of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and the world’s Saviour has set me free from my past; through my suffering and wounds, I have been brought closer to Him, and His Light and Love have set me free from guilt, feelings of stains or defilement. Because, dear reader – there IS no stain – there IS no shame – there IS no defilement in those in whose hearts where God dwells.
I know now, with my heart placed in Jesus Christ’s tender hands that I am without anxiety and fear, because He is always with me and always has been, even that night when I was raped and felt as if my life and dignity were taken away from me. Now, I know that I am worthy of having a loving husband and children, now more than ever. I have seen sides of me that I have never seen before – the deep sorrows have extended my knowledge of my own soul. Therefore, I also know deeper joy, friendliness and love. I love more and stronger.
P.S. You are enough.