Once my mom and dad decided to get back together, my mom packed us three kids up and moved us to Southern California where my dad was living at the time. We moved into an apartment in Goleta California. We only lived there for a short time before moving into Santa Barbara. We spent a great deal of time with family while we lived in SB. I have Aunts and Uncles and a bunch of cousins there. One of my aunts had several kids and we spent a lot of time there because she would babysit us while my parents either worked or went out.
The girls were always really mean to my sister and I. I really hated being there. If it weren’t for my cousin Taavi (names have been changed) I wouldn’t have anything good to say about that particular group of cousins. Taavi was about 4 years older than I. He had a paper route and he used to rescue me by taking me with him most everywhere he went. He would also take me to get ice cream when he got paid. I considered him my favorite cousin.
I didn’t know it at the time, but he was grooming me. Once things started happening it happened every time I was there and when we would spend the night there because the other girls and I didn’t get along my aunt would put me in bed with my cousin Taavi. This made it real easy for him. I was only ten years old when my innocence was stolen from me. I didn’t even know what that meant until years later.
This was only the beginning of the sexual abuse I would fall victim to for the next seven years. It was almost as though I had a neon sign that hung over my head that said, “abuse me.” My cousin wasn’t the only one. He was just the first. I’m not going to dwell on the abuse but I will say that by the time I was 16 there had been five different abusers some family some not.
I’m sure I don’t have to say how much damage was done to my childhood. The only thing I know for sure is God had a plan for my life. I did struggle with a great deal of depression, anxiety, and self image and self esteem issues. There were many times I had thought about killing myself but I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving my younger siblings behind. Much of my teenage years were spent wishing I had never been born.
But GOD… had a plan, He would somehow turn everything around to bring glory to Himself and to heal others. I’m still a work in progress and sometimes the Lord still has to remind me it is a part of my testimony and for His glory. I have often asked Him how all the abuse could possibly bring Him honor and glory. I’ve often wondered if it was worth it. All the confusion, and hurt, mistrust, insecurity, everything… How could anything good possibly come from that?
Well… Someday, someone will hear my story and know that they will be able to make it through with God’s help.
I have a friend who is young enough to be my daughter who has suffered a lot of the same things I have. one day she came over and burst into tears for no apparent reason. Usually, she was happy go lucky and such a kidder. She always makes me smile, but on this day she was broken. As she began to share everything she had been dealing with it was like I was listening to my own story.
I heard her talk about the abuse and how it has interfered with her recovery. I sat with her and comforted her and before we were done she had said she was glad that she was able to tell me and I didn’t judge her. At that moment I realized that everything I had gone through as child was worth it. It was worth it because I could empathize with this young lady and we could talk about how it wouldn’t always feel like this and how God would heal her and he would use her to reach others for Christ’s sake.
I KNOW MY REDEEMER LIVES!!
Romans 8:28 (NLT)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.