My Sexual Abuse Story and How I Forgave My Abuser

Today’s topic is a rather heavy one. But sadly one that happens too often.

My story is in no way unique. In fact it’s been said that on average one in five girls will become a victim of sexual abuse by age 17 and one in nine boys by age 17. Every eight minuets, child protective services is contacted to report child abuse. In which many cases the calls are related to sexual abuse.

It’s easy to get lost in all of the numbers and statistics. But I thought I’d share what it feels like to be one of them, how it has effected me as an adult, and how I forgave my abuser.

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I was about eight years old. My family and I had just moved to a town next to Yokota Air Force Base in Japan. My parents were in no way affiliated with the military but my dad had just taken a position at a church in the area.

By reading the last few sentences, you may think that we were a close-knit family that loved traveling together… But sadly that was not the case.

Life at home was not the happiest or safest…

There’s too much to put in this one blog… And to be completely honest I don’t believe I’m quite ready to write about everything that was happening at home just yet…

Not too long after we moved to the area a new couple started attending our church. They were both very friendly and it didn’t take long for them to win everyone’s hearts. The lady was very musically talented and had even performed for a Sony recording as a pianist for a well-known orchestra in Japan. She eventually became our church pianist.

I actually liked piano at the time. I wasn’t amazing but I was as good as any nine-year old kid could be…. of course there are the 3 year old viral pianists that are absolutely insane…. I definitely wasn’t that good. I might have been playing an advanced version of “chopsticks” at this point.

I was excited for lessons. My teacher before had to move due to a military transfer. So I was glad that I didn’t have to quit.

I would eventually take lessons from her for about 4 years…

But I didn’t know at the time that these would be some of the worst years of my life.

She had an extreme fascination for kids and started to offer free piano lessons to any parents in our church that would accept. This should have been a red flag considering that she required the parents to know that lessons were blocked for 45 min but could last anywhere up to an hour and half and no adults were allowed to disrupt (be around) during the lessons. (There was one time that my mother sat in on a lesson. I’ll get to that later, but my teacher was furious). It should have also been a red flag that she had never actually taught piano before. Although she was considered professional, she had never taught piano lessons nor had any interest in teaching adults.

My first few “lessons” with her I honestly don’t remember that much. I say lessons in quotations because it mostly involved talking and not really any constructive criticism or training. She talked a lot. We talked a lot. Looking back, nothing about this “relationship” was appropriate. There is no reason that a 30+ year old woman should require to be alone with a 9 year old girl for “privacy” so they could be “friends” or because she was “just like her own daughter” (if you’re wondering, no, she didn’t have a daughter. She had a son that was taken away to live with her mother when he was a year old. This DEFINITELY should have been a red flag.)

I began to trust her. We talked about my life at home. I told her some of the things that were happening… I trusted her…

Then it happened… I froze… I wasn’t sure what was happening…

I just remember that I felt completely disgusted after our “lesson”

I trusted her…

The next few months I did everything I could to stop the “lessons”. I was too scared to tell my dad because of how he might react. He was always angry and often reacted in physical violence when things upset him. I told my mother in hopes she would listen. She was not as angry as my dad… Maybe she would listen…

When I told her, her first reaction was that I was “trying to get out of practice”. But I kept describing some of the things that were happening. After a few weeks she decided that she was going to “listen” to me.

I thought, “FINALLY I can get out of this! Someone believes me!”. My mom’s solution to this was that she would sit in on one of my lessons to see if something would happen….

At least it was something….

Of course my “teacher” was mad that she was there.

But nothing happened… The one time I actually hoped something bad would happen…

Nothing…

After the lesson I was told to stop “lying” about what was happening…

…You’re whining Joy…

…See she didn’t touch you…

…nothing happened to you…

…you’re making this up…

When my teacher realized that she had completely fooled my parents, she asked to have lessons every day.

No I’m not kidding… Every… Single… Day…

Thankfully due to scheduling conflict, this did not happen. However, my lessons were increased to two times a week.

Yes two times a week…

And it happened EVERY time.

She became more bold with her actions and started giving me “love pats/spankings” in public when she would see me at church. If you’re not familiar with this practice, this is when an adult pats/spanks a child on the behind as a “cute” gesture. She would also grope me and say she was “hugging” me.

She would even try to control what types of clothes I would wear to my lessons.  Mostly clothes that were easier for “access”.

I wasn’t even wearing a training bra yet when this first started…

Yes, I was a pre pubescent CHILD.

I remember after I started to go through puberty, she told me that my bras were “sexy” and that she liked them…

The sexual abuse continued to get worse. She was no longer just violating me over the clothes anymore…

I’m not going to add anymore detail to this… I can’t… This is a part of my life that I don’t want to revisit…

But you know that ringing sound that you hear after a gunshot or a car crash….

That’s the sound I heard for about the next 4 years…

I wanted to die…

I didn’t care how…

I just wanted it all to end…

A few years past. At this point I was completely numb, confused, and thought that I was a disgusting object… I HATED myself…

The only way I can describe how I felt is physically sick…

She and her husband were eventually asked to leave our church due to other reasons. She had been interested in a leadership/deacon position in our church but was denied the position. After a few ugly conversations with my dad (who was the pastor at the time), she and her husband left the community.

I can’t tell you how relieved I was. Although my self-esteem was below the dirt, I didn’t have anymore “lessons” to attend with her.

I remember seeing her a few years later in a grocery store. I was about 15 at the time. I was so angry when I saw her. I hated her. Just the way she looked at me made me feel sick. I was with my family but I still cringed when she started a conversation with my mom.

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Reflecting as an adult.

I often had nightmares about what happened, but for the most part I tried to keep all of my thoughts tucked away when I was awake.

Sometimes when things happen to you, you try to bury them. You try to forget. You don’t want to remember any of it. And sometimes it works. For a little while…

Seth and I had been married for almost three years. I had just quit my flight attendant job with Delta and I was finally able to stay home more with Seth. I had been so used to being gone about 20 days out of the month and I was constantly busy. I rarely had any time to myself. After starting a job that didn’t require me to be gone so often. I had more time to think, and it felt like too much time…

I remember one afternoon, I was cooking in the kitchen. Seth came up behind me and playfully slapped my behind. He had done it many times before, it never bothered me…

Until I had a flashback… I started yelling at him, shouting, I lost all control. He was so confused and apologized if he had hurt me. I continued to yell and told him to leave me alone…

That night after I had calmed down he asked me if I was ok. I started crying… I didn’t know if I was ok. This had never happened before. I loved Seth. He had never done anything even close to being physically abusive.

The next few days I was extremely jumpy. The next few weeks I stayed extremely distant.

I also stayed extremely angry…

There were no amount of sweet things Seth could do to help me be calm. He would complement me and I would make accusations, He would try to hug me and I would pull away…

As long as I stayed busy at work I was fine. Anything to keep my mind busy and avoid what was going on inside of me.

Our relationship became strained and he was completely exhausted.

After a few months of trying everything he could, he asked if we could talk about everything that was happening.

I didn’t want to listen. I didn’t want to admit who I was becoming, but I didn’t like who I was becoming either.

He convinced me to get help and I agreed so long as he went with me. I started seeing a counselor to talk about my past.

It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. I had never told anyone besides Seth in detail of what had happened. I was terrified but strangely the experience was freeing.

I went to several more counseling sessions and started an exercise that my counselor had instructed me to start.

I knew I had to let her go I also knew I had to forgive her…

It’s difficult to forgive someone who you don’t have warm fuzzy feelings toward. And it’s definitely hard to forgive an abuser. It also doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to forgive and heal.

It does not make anything that they did or said ok. It simply means that you are releasing the pain that they caused you and you choose to fight the bitterness that can grow in your heart.

Forgiveness is not given because the person deserves it. But YOU deserve to be free. You deserve to be happy, enjoy life, and be the best version of yourself you can possibly be. And if you are with someone who genuinely cares for you, there is nothing more they could want for you. They want you to be happy.

My exercise took several months. I was to write a letter to her addressing how I felt, my anger, my frustration, what she did, and how what she did effected me as a grown woman. There was no way I would be able to send her the letter, I lost all contact with her after I was 15. But I wrote as if she was standing in front of me.

Some days I couldn’t write anything. But the more I wrote, the memories became less and less painful. I also began to pray for her every time I would write. I would ask God to help me forgive and to heal me from my pain. I would also ask that God would heal whatever was broken inside of her heart and that she would seek recovery.

This was allowing me to process my thoughts as an adult rather than as a child. I’ll spare you all of the Psychological jargon, but basically when a child goes through a traumatic experience the human mind will process the event with an adolescent mind. The event will stay in your mind as you processed it when you were a child unless the event is revisited as an adult. It will allow you to mentally gain more control of your thoughts about the traumatic experience.

When I finished writing, I took several days to reread the letter. I asked God for strength to help me let go and the letter was destroyed.

There are some days I still have flashbacks and I do still have nightmares. But I can honestly say I am at peace. When the bad memories happen, I know that I am safe. I have also learned that it’s ok to let those that truly care about you to support you when you don’t feel strong.

I can honestly say that I forgive her for what happened. Yes, it still hurts. But I believe that God has had a calling over my life all along. It doesn’t make any of what happened ok, but I know that God loves me and has put people in my life that want to see me succeed.

I am Happy.

A word to those who have experienced sexual abuse…

I am sorry if this was hard for you to read or if it brought back any hurtful memories. I just want to say that nothing that happened to you was ok. You didn’t deserve what happened to you and your abuser has absolutely no reason in which they can justify their actions. What they did was wrong and inhumane. You didn’t ask for this. I know you didn’t. I believe you.

If you have gotten help. I want to say that I am so proud of you! It’s hard, I know. It hurts, it’s terrifying, you might feel vulnerable, and afraid. But you’re doing this for you and there is nothing more brave than that. You are a fighter, you are strong, and you will never give up. I believe in you. You can do this!

If you have never told anyone what happened. Maybe you’re afraid someone will judge you or take advantage of you again. I want you to know that it’s ok to be scared. What happened to you was real and the fear you have is a legitimate fear. But I also want to let you know that there is freedom. It may take a while. It might take months or even years, but that’s ok. The best thing you can do for yourself is start your journey. You will start to feel again, you will be able to breathe again, and you will start to see hope. Please don’t give up. I know its painful. But you deserve to be happy.

A word to parents and caregivers…

I understand there are things that happen beyond our reach. I don’t believe there are parents that truly love their children that would ever wish harm for their kids. However, if your child or any child ever trusts you enough to tell you that they are being sexually abused, please do not dismiss their cries for help. 90% of all child sexual abuse victims are abused by people they know. This means family members, teachers, coaches, religious leaders, and friends. Some signs for children that are being abused are: constant wetting the bed past potty training age (loss of control), fear of eye contact, excessive fear of appropriate physical touch (hugging, hand shakes, high fives), increased explicit language in vocabulary, and promiscuous behavior before puberty. If your child tells you about any type of sexual misconduct that is happening, remove them from that situation IMMEDIATELY until further investigation can be conducted. I understand that kids can often make up stories but a child’s safety is nothing to take a risk with.  Also if a child is describing explicit behavior that is happening to them at such a young age, chances are they are telling you this because it is. Your child’s safety is more important than how people will perceive you at their school, church, or how your boyfriend/girlfriend thinks of you.

Teach your kids how to report something that happens. Rather it be to them or another kid. They need to know that you are a safe adult and that you would understand and take action should the worst ever happen. I understand that parents want to keep their kids as innocent as possible. But innocence is not the same as  ignorance. It could be the difference to your child being hurt. There is no need to describe explicit details to a child, however they need to know that there are “bad people” out there that target kids.

I know this might have been hard to read and even harder for some others that may have experienced something similar. I would like to thank you for reading my story. I truly believe that everything in life happens for a reason. God will either work with you in difficult times (when I was going through counseling) or work through you when you allow Him to use even the worst of situations.

Thank you again for reading my story. I hope you were in some way blessed.

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The Child Help National Child Abuse Hotline

1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

Child abuse reporting hotlines per state in the US.

http://www.nccafv.org/child_abuse_reporting_numbers_co.htm

UK

https://www.gov.uk/report-child-abuse

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36 comments

  1. Hello Joy!
    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us! My sister and I are just now beginning to try and start our process of healing! We have been silent about our abuse for so many years and holding it in is affecting our adult life more than I ever thought it would! Reading your story and seeing how brave is incredible and I hope we are able to be as strong as you!

    Like

    1. Hi,
      Thank you for reading my story. Healing is a long process for sure. Hoping that you and your sister are able to find peace and courage.

      Thank you again!
      Joy

      Like

  2. Hi! Thank you so much for sharing your story! I came across your blog through a reblog.

    I’ve been deliberating for years about how to share my own story of sexual abuse and I am still unable to work up the courage to voice my story.
    I grew up on the mission field in Europe, spent more than half my life in the church, and undeniably experienced my fair share of spiritual abuse. Those years had huge roles in shaping me into an incredibly bitter individual. In the recent years, I have been trying to climb out of that hole of self pity, but everything considered, it is so difficult to really be at peace with my past.

    It is encouraging to read your path to forgiveness and inner peace (I’ve been reading your other posts as well) and I hope that one day I can get to that stage. I hope that I am also one day able to articulate my story to encourage others through their struggles. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Emily,
      Thank you for sharing. I’m very sorry you had to go through what you did. It’s so sad to know the church community has been in so much pain and often wants to hide it.

      And as far as sharing your story, my therapist puts it this way.
      “Sometimes we carry things that hurt. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, etc. But each one of those will one day be a gem you can share with someone else who is also hurting. And that gem will be more valuable in its time. For now just polish it and when you are ready it will shine.”

      And the same goes for you. Your jewels will be ready in time. But for now, it’s ok to take time for yourself to heal.
      Much love,
      Joy

      Like

    1. Hi,
      I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I hope you have been able to find a good therapist/counselor. Mine has completely changed my life.
      Much love,
      Joy

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so impowering! I love that you mentioned how you when’t to therapy some christian believe when you pray things magically begins to happen not realizing that it sometimes take time,because God wants us to grow as we go an that God often uses people to help us through. Thank you for sharing your story ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi,
      Yes it is sad that it is unfortunately taught in many churches that we are not to get help for any abuse or trauma. I personally believe that God would want us to seek help for any brokenness. He cares for our mental health just as much for our physical.
      Thanks again for your comment!
      Joy

      Like

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story; it must have been painful, but like you said by writing about you can move past the pain. I like how you said that the abuser doesn’t deserve the forgiveness but you need to forgive them to be free. I never experienced sexual abuse but I found out someone I knew as a child did and I knew this person’s abusers. It is extremely upsetting to think that this child and many others had to experience such horrific sexual abuse at the hands of people they knew. It hurts that this person can’t function as an adult due to the abuse, but I think it took a lot of courage for you to learn how to forgive and used what happened to spread awareness and help others who were who abused like you. Again thank you for sharing your story and I am sorry you had to go through such trauma as a child
    Dave

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your comment. I am so sorry to hear about your friend. It is definitely not an easy thing to go through. And unfortunately some scars never heal.
      Thanks again for your kind thoughts,
      Joy

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is one of the most powerful things I have read. As open as I am about my past when it comes to my mental illness,I am not sure I could ever share that part of my life. I have only shared my story with parents and my best friend. You’re an amazing writer. To share this… I can’t imagine. I would love to reblog this on my site. I have many bloggers that it would help to share your powerful story.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Beautifully written Joy. You are now at the beginning of becoming a freed woman. I am so happy for you. This story is one of sadness, pain, denial, rejection, truth, life, love, acceptance, forgiveness, and finally…. FREEDOM. It took great courage to write this. You are a courageous woman. Many of us have tremendous emotional, psychological, and physical hurts in our lives that we have endured i the past. Most cant even think about it without feeling the pain again. Some can come to a place of acceptance and overcome the monster with forgiveness. I believe I have come to that place in my late 50s. Yes , It took me much longer to overcome my hurtful childhood. Thank you for stepping up and speaking for all of the people who cant speak just now. This will certainly give them courage to overcome the monster hidden in their lives. God bless all you do..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks Joy for sharing this story. It brings back many memories I wish Ido not have. I feel I have forgiven my abuser but it all comes back so real. I do know that Jesus is the only reason I can go on. When I was 13 I tried to take my own life but Jesus kept me through that night and HE continues to keep me. Perhaps things will never be in this life as it should but I am not where I once was. I blamed myself not the abuser and then I turned into an abuser, much to my shame. It is such a twisted thing to happen to any person. I try to reach out to others and let them know Jesus is the Great Healer. I don’t know when I will be completely healed but I’m pretty sure it will be when I get Home to Heaven. I love you Joy. When your family stayed with us I knew something was wrong, I prayed instead of asking and have continued to pray for you and the family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading my post. It means a lot to me to know others care❤️ thank you for also sharing part of your story as well. It’s not easy to reflect on things that hurt because it feels like they just happened. I am so thankful for Gods grace. I am also thankful that God can redeem even the most heartbreaking circumstances and use them for His good. God bless you❤️Love, Joy

      Like

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