Blog

Healing the Wounds of Sexual Abuse: Jenny’s Story

Woman sitting on bed, head down
Picture: Marcel Nuernberger, CC BY-NC 2.0

Some stories are worth repeating. In 2012 ‘Jenny’ contacted me after watching Andy Sorenson describe his childhood sexual abuse on this blog. I published her story then and it struck a chord with many. It’s time it was heard again, especially for the many of you who have since joined this community. Please note that Jenny’s story is graphic in places. But it is a story of hope and healing too. 

***

I grew up in a large, dysfunctional home. Apparently both of my parents were having affairs—I’m told that my father used the front lounge room for romantic trysts with his girlfriend and my mother used the kitchen for those with her boyfriend. After much fighting, they split up when I was 3 or 4. My memories of that time are of fear, hunger and feeling cold.

As my eight siblings and I grew up, our uncle started appearing on the scene. I remember one occasion when he took us to the local heath, supposedly to play cricket. I can remember lying underneath him and him rubbing himself against me in a strange manner. I remember feeling that this was OK as he must like me.

I used to play outside in the street and one day our local insurance man came by. He took me away in his car and I remember entering a park, climbing a tree, and seeing him standing at the bottom of the tree looking up at me. I don’t remember anything more, other than getting back home again. I believe God wiped the memories of this further abuse from my already troubled young mind.

Abuse, Brokenness and a Cry for Help

Girl leaning against a mirror

Picture: Emily Mucha, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

I cannot remember if it was before this time or afterwards that my brother came into my bedroom and forced me to perform oral sex on him. I would have been no more than 8 or 9 years old. I also remember my mother’s boyfriend touching me in places he shouldn’t have.

As a result of these experiences, I developed the idea that people would love me if I was attractive. So, my appearance became very important to me. Later on I also started experimenting sexually with another of my brothers, believing this was the way to gain love.

I called out to God many times during my childhood years, especially when my older brother found out what had been happening with my brother and threatened to reveal it to my mother. I thought there was no answer to those prayers back then but, looking back, I think there had been. I eventually told my mother what had been happening, and believe this was God’s way of strengthening me to not let anyone have such control over me again.

By 1988 I was 36 years old, onto my second marriage (the first one bad, the second very good) with two small children. My life was going OK, although I didn’t always manage the children well. Sometimes I got angry and threw things; once or twice I smacked the children hard. I was still obsessed with my looks to the exclusion of almost everything else.

A Journey Of Restoration Begins

Woman in hoodie walking on beach

In an effort to regain my figure after having my kids I embarked on a health crusade and joined a gym. And it was there that I met a lovely Christian lady named Michelle. Michelle told me that Jesus loved me and I broke down in tears. To hear that I was loved was all I’d ever longed to hear.

I got home, knelt at my bed and cried out to Him. And it felt like His arms were wrapped around me, drawing me close. Everything looked brighter, sunnier, clearer and more hopeful then. Everything started to make sense.

But I was still obsessed with my looks. I still wanted to be loved and accepted by others and I still experienced strong feelings of rejection whenever I didn’t feel this love and acceptance. I would become resentful, hitting out at people, and reject anyone who was appearing to reject me, without understanding why.

My husband and I moved to country Western Australia and there I joined a local theatre group. Aha! Here was fame, acceptance and approval! I got attention in the theatre scene alright, but not the good kind. I started ‘playing around’ with other cast members. Feeling like a hypocrite I backslid from church. My marriage began to suffer.

I fell to my knees again and experienced God’s gracious forgiveness. But my struggles with self-worth continued.

Our business later went into bankruptcy and our beautiful house and property were sold to pay the bank. Then, just as we were starting to crawl back financially, my wonderful husband suddenly died from a coronary artery thrombosis. I moved to Perth to recover.

Desperate for affection again, I turned to the internet to fulfil my relational hunger, joining several ‘Christian’ dating sites. To my horror, not many men on these sites were godly and certainly none compared with my husband. I even travelled to England to meet one of them.

I returned to Perth heartbroken from this trip, with little left mentally, emotionally or spiritually. But it was here that my life took an amazing turn.

Healing Love

Girl at a window in morning sun

I asked the prayer ministry team at my church to pray for me. They felt I needed more than they could offer and so referred me to the Ellel healing ministry in Northam, Western Australia. There I attend a weekend seminar on the Father Heart of God with Ken Symington.

Over the course of the weekend I began to realise just how broken and hurt I had been. I started to understand where my hurt and disappointment had come from—from emotionally and physically absent parents—and how satan has used that to disrupt my life. I began to truly understand that I am not condemned—by God or even the people I thought I needed to impress—and I began to forgive all who I felt had failed me in my life and upbringing.

This was the start of a brand new life for me. It was as if I had clambered up onto my Father’s lap, cuddled into Him, and knew—truly knew—that my heavenly Father loved me, no matter what. He really, really loved me. I didn’t need to be or do anything more.

My story is a painful one, yet God has brought good things out of it. I wonder if I would ever have turned to God for help if my life had been easier. I have a heart for those messed up from sexual abuse, especially children caught in sex trafficking, and have empathy for those who get caught up in illicit relationships. The role of a father in a family is so important.

The following scriptures played an important part in my healing:

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope… If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

If you resonate with my story, seek this healing that God offers. Don’t just wait for it to happen—search for it. Contact a well-established healing centre such as Elijah House or Ellel Ministries. But more than anything else, seek a deeper relationship with the One who heals. I am continually amazed at God’s never-ending grace and mercy.

If You Need to Talk

I’m aware that stories like Jenny’s can open significant wounds for readers. If you need to talk to someone after reading this, here are some trustworthy starting points:

US: New Hope 714 639-4673
UK: Premier Lifeline 08456 52 52 52
AU: Salvos Care Line 1300 36 36 22

Please Share This With a Friend

More from Blog, On Spirituality and Change, , , , .
Religion Blogs
  • Have to start anonymously

    In the midst of healing. Good days, drastic days. Negative and positive aspects to this journey. The Holy Spirit revealing strongholds that need breaking – strongholds since childhood. Oral sexual assault when still in the crib from a man with a mental illness. That man my father. Tricky concept to grasp that my heavenly Father loves me. My body reacts with a jolt and sometimes an accompanying groan to the words ‘Father’, ‘Abba Father’, ‘Daddy’, ‘Papa’ – God working on this with me. Obviously these words come up a lot at church and when others are praying! Can’t quite get that vocab flowing out in my praying yet, but very occasionally I manage to utter such words to God. 

    Thank Jesus for a beautiful friend willing to journey in prayer with me on this overly silenced issue. I tell her everything, almost, and she still hugs me and utters that she loves me. Thank God she has as silly a sense of humor as I do! There is some relief in laughter and she is a fountain of funniness!

    Silliness is a welcome hiding place for me, but silence and shame has been my main game. Not much of a game, but it rhymed with shame, so I used it! I even feel vulnerable writing this anonymously and am not sure if I will press ‘send’ or ‘delete’! This is the first time I have shared publicly about this childhood abuse stuff. Such overused terminology ‘childhood abuse’ don’t you think? Does it have any impact or real meaning or does it just sound like a term used almost as a plea for sympathy or something? Could it become a swear word or a tease like the word ‘spastic’? Just wondering!

    Anyway, on a positive and less ridiculous note, the Holy Spirit is bringing new visions for my life. For the first time in my life I think I feel a sense of purpose – something I just couldn’t feel or grasp before, even though I have been a Christian for many years and heard oodles of preaching on ‘purpose’ – so healing must be happening. But some days, like today and like yesterday, I feel lost and trapped and like I am never going to find freedom. Still, I will fight for freedom, for myself, and for others – by the grace of God. Like Paul and the thorn in his side, where I am weak, God’s strength is able to take over because it is ALL that I have.

    As for my thought life? Totally unchildproofed. Totally unchurchproofed. Totally ‘screwed’! And so His grace being all that I need IS all that I need and all I can hold onto. So thankful that I can lay even this a the cross of Jesus.

    So should I thank God for this crazy, abusive, loving-hating father of mine, now dead? If it weren’t for him, I may never have realised my need for my heavenly daddy. There I said it. Jolt. Spare a prayer – falling…

    • Wow, this is quite something that you’ve shared. I’m so glad that a) you’re handling this with God’s strength (can you imagine trying to do it alone?), b) you have the help others, like that close friend of yours, and c) you’re finding that sense of purpose is starting to come. Thank God for that! He really does hold you close, love you, care for you and have great dreams for you.

      Apart from your friends, I hope you are receiving professional help too. I think this is essential.

      Thanks for sharing. Perhaps your breaking your silence will help someone else do the same and seek the help they need.

    • Wow, this is quite something that you’ve shared. I’m so glad that a) you’re handling this with God’s strength (can you imagine trying to do it alone?), b) you have the help others, like that close friend of yours, and c) you’re finding that sense of purpose is starting to come. Thank God for that! He really does hold you close, love you, care for you and have great dreams for you.

      Apart from your friends, I hope you are receiving professional help too. I think this is essential.

      Thanks for sharing. Perhaps your breaking your silence will help someone else do the same and seek the help they need.

      • Sariah, daughter of the King

        Thanks Sheridan,
        Breaking the silence threw me deeper into it for a day. It increased my feelings of vulnerability about a thousand fold! But I know that I am to share it and this is my start. I also know that hiding this stuff doesn’t heal it. Am SO hoping God can, and I know that knowing His love for me and allowing myslef to feel that is a big part of it. Perhaps the only part that matters really, because if I don’t know that in my heart, how can I share His love with others? A ‘head knowledge’ only, just doesn’t cut it.
        So, my heart is in circumcision mode! That cuts it!
        Wondering what you consider ‘professional’ help to mean. Clinical Psychologists? Saw one many years ago when the sexual components to the physical abuse I knew about first surfaced after my father died. Continued with it long enough until I felt I could stay alive without it, so it was certainly very helpful. I couldn’t bring myself to do some of what the guy wanted me to do to desensitize myself to sounds etc. – like destroy my favourite food, the mango, by slurping on it!!!! So I gave up on it because I didn’t feel like I was progressing, it was expensive and I was able to stay alive without it. I thought survival mode was as good as it could get. Didn’t even realise that was all I was in until recently, as I can function okay, hold down a job, look like an almost normal family, hold creative interests etc., enjoy lots of parts of life.
        Have only recently discovered the spiritual bondage attached to it and the need for deliverance, the power of a new name given in prayer (Sariah), fresh vision, words, writing new songs (which in itself is new to me) etc. Loving that part of the healing process and love the rawness and realness of two naive friends praying together on this and having to rely on the Holy Spirit and Word of God for guidance. The issue I raised came up at a Christian Conference (Colour Sisterhood) when I had taken enough time out of ‘life’ to listen to God. I work in the health field and have the sense that (despite functioning on the surface and being able to hold it together on most public occasions) when I stop long enough and get down to the nitty gritty of it, I am just too far gone and there is too much deep hurt and a complicated history for text book answers to have much effect in the amount of years left to live here! I would be in therapy forever or dulled on pills! So much other stuff surfacing also. Feel like I am in a washing machine. This to me seems more productive than a million ‘professional’ counselling sessions, BUT does carry with it the threat of co-dependance on my beautiful friend, I guess. Gotta be careful, but know that God has put us together and that His vision for our lives at this point is that we are headed in the same ministry direction. So I shall choose not to fear. I also choose to only rely on Jesus for this. I dare not ‘trust the sweetest frame…’
        As for trying to do this stuff without God? Not a chance.Tried actively exploring it once alone with God without someone else present (when I was feeling strong and brave) and it just did not feel safe at all! Trying to deal with abuse without God = escapism, and I have done a lot of that in my life. The pro to that? Creativity blossoms!!! Dreams are endless. Now I dream with the Creator, and I let Him put dreams in me. Much healthier.
        Apologies for my wordiness. It is late, I am sleep deprived, and my kids are wanting me to come to bed.
        Thank you so much for your encouragement and for reaffirming God’s love for me. May our Daddy fill your writings and speaking engagements, big and small. (I thought I could write ‘Daddy’ without a jolt and I enjoyed 2 seconds of freedom! Ignoring the convulsion like gripping on my abdomen and the heavy weight on the back of my neck. I don’t care about that. Daddy loves us.
         

  • This was sent to me privately. I post it with the sender’s permission:

    I also was a victim. A completely different story to this one, but still very real. Thank God, most of the time it has very little impact on me, possibly for two reasons. The abuse ran from when I was eleven to fourteen years and I met both God and my husband when I was fifteen, who have both loved me deeply. Also, I remember slowly coming to the realisation that my whole life was ahead of me and that I had to choose not to live as a victim. Even though I was sexually abused for three years, I’ve had 50 years of not being abused. Thinking that way is one big choice I have.

    What happens in childhood has a massive impact on who we become, and I can’t pretend my abuse didn’t happen or has had no impact on who I am. But I can and do live happily in spite of it. I’ve grown through it.