LaKeisha Rainey Collins: Beauty for Ashes Column
Broken by sexual abuse? Here's some real advice on how
to truly recover
Blog by Lakeisha Rainey Collins
Posted July 10, 2017
I connected with a college student who’d been
raped by a love-interest on their first official date.
Prior to that, I consoled a young girl who became a
victim of molestation at the hands of her mother’s
boyfriend.


Another time, I received an email from a twenty-
something young woman who had to fight off her
stepfather to prevent him from forcefully using her
to fulfill his lustful desires. I have even counseled a
woman well into her fifties who still suffers with
depression from being used as a sex slave to her
own father and many of his acquaintances as he
watched.


My heart always aches so terribly as I listen to and
read about such awful ordeals, and I think about
the many women – including myself – who share
these same experiences.
Credit: Getty/E+/SensorSpot
According to a 2005 survey conducted by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 1 out of 3
American women are the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
RAINN (Rape,
Abuse & Incest National Network) reports that every 2 minutes, someone is sexually assaulted.  A
startling 17.7 million American women have experienced some form of sexual abuse and, sadly, that
number continues to grow.

It’s such a sad statistic.

Sexual abuse is a horrible act that’s been happening since Bible times.  I’m sure you probably recall
the story of Tamar and Amnon in 2 Samuel 13.

I’ll briefly refresh your memory.

Tamar was the beautiful, virgin daughter of King David. Scripture recounts that her half-brother
Amnon was so “in love” with her that it made him sick with desire.  Ill-advised by his cousin Jonadab,
he pretended to be sick and requested that Tamar come to serve him.  He summoned her to his
bedside, where he satisfied the lust of his flesh and raped her, although she begged him not to.  As if
raping her was not bad enough, he then had her thrown and locked out of his room, and ended up
hating her more than he had supposedly loved her.

Tamar, who just moments prior to entering her brother’s room, was a pure woman that, I imagine, was
happy and full of life, had, in a matter of minutes, exited as a woman feeling like her life was over,
carrying shame and disgrace that was forced upon her by the evil actions of Amnon.  2 Samuel 13:20
says that she ended up living as a desolate woman.

How incredibly sad is that? His actions ruined her life.

Unfortunately, it still happens every single day – some girl’s or woman’s life is interrupted by the
horror of sexual abuse, and although she has done nothing wrong, she is left bearing the weight of
unwanted pain, shame, and guilt of being violated.

As someone who experienced molestation between the ages of 5-7 and miraculously escaped a
would-be rape in my early twenties, I understand the effects such a trauma can have on your psyche
and self-esteem.

My abuser would whisper in my ear every single time he released himself on me, “This is what girls
are made for…to make guys like me feel good.”

Although I was very young, I knew it didn’t seem right that someone should “feel good” at the expense
of causing another pain – physically and emotionally.  Back then, I had no real clue about what he
was doing to me, but once enlightened, I remember feeling so ashamed, dirty, and guilty for
letting
him do those disgusting things to me.

I internalized the offense and blamed myself.

I remember during my middle school years, being the girl that would let the boys grab my breasts and
my behind. That was the type of attention I associated with being a good girl, the kind that made the
boys happy. I’ll never forget the time I was at a school dance. I was in the 7th grade. For whatever
reason, the most popular boy in school decided to dance with me. I thought I had made it to heaven,
so I figured I’d give him some moves he’d never forget. Silly me. While gyrating provocatively on him,
a crowd of boys began to surround me. The next thing I recall, I was on the floor with countless hands
all over my body, under my shirt, and in my pants. Again, I blamed myself. I should’ve never been
dancing like that.

Even when I stared into the raging eyes of my then boyfriend as he held me down and ordered me to
make him “feel good,” I put the blame on my own shoulders for
letting it happen.  I mean, I never
should’ve went back to his place if I didn’t want to have sex.

I just kept
letting this kind of stuff happen to me, because no one can do anything to us unless we
allow them to, right?

I never told anyone about any of those incidents, and for years, I felt worthless, stupid, trashy, and
depressed.

Sexual abuse affects every woman differently; however, I think it’s safe to say that the emotions
attached to the pain of that cruelty are heavy and challenging to overcome. For me, it stripped me of
the pure definition of beauty and tainted my perception self-worth.  All I could ever see of myself was a
used up, worthless piece of flesh, only good for one thing.

It’s so easy to get lost in that pain and shame. I wish I’d had someone to tell me that none of it was my
fault and that I wasn’t damaged goods just because others had selfishly decided to use me for their
own twisted satisfaction. But I am so very thankful for the power of God’s love. It is all I had and is truly
what lifted me.

If you find yourself struggling to overcome the pain and emotional damage of sexual abuse, you
should know three things:

    1. You are not what happened to you. You may have been victimized, but you are not a victim
    and neither are you defined by the heinous acts of your offender.  You are God’s masterpiece
    (Ephesians 2:10), created in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27).  Your identity is found in
    Christ alone, not in circumstances. You absolutely do not have to carry that shame as a scarlet
    letter.

    2. It is not your fault. You are not responsible for the actions of others, and nothing you said,
    wore, did, or didn’t do caused it to happen. You didn’t let anyone abuse you; the act was forced
    upon you and you had no control over it. You have zero blame. You are innocent.  You did
    nothing wrong. (See Deuteronomy 22:25-27)

    3. You will recover. Your life doesn’t end where your pain begins. One minute at a time, one day
    at a time, one week at a time, you will bounce back.  You’re much more resilient that you think.
    Find strength in the promise spoken in Jeremiah 30:17 NLT, "But I will restore you to health and
    heal your wounds, declares the Lord..."

Consider these practical tips in helping to recover emotionally:

  • Counseling. Connect with a Christian counselor, ministry leader, or someone you trust. Open
    up to them about how you’re feeling and accept their help in working through your emotions.
    (Pray first and allow the Lord to lead you to the right person).

  • Support Groups. If you’re open to connecting with others who have similar experiences, a
    support group is a great option. You can feel a sense of community and gain strength from
    those who have been where you are. It will help in not feeling alone.

  • Journaling. If you’re an introvert like me and are uncomfortable expressing your deepest
    thoughts and feelings to others, grab a journal and write it out. Pour your heart on its pages
    and release your emotions so that they don’t build up within you.

  • Prayer & Meditation. Sometimes, you can’t find the words to speak how you feel.  In those
    times, you can sit before the Lord and He will listen to the cries of your heart and understand
    the unspoken words of your falling tears. He will minister to you through His word.

  • Forgiveness. I know. It’s hard. You don’t want to do it. You don’t think they deserve it. They
    hurt you. They broke you, and you’re left to pick up the pieces. They’ve shown no remorse.
    They say you’re lying. I know, sis; trust me, I know. Forgiveness is not a gift to your abuser or
    an excuse for their sick behavior. It’s for your heart and for your freedom.

Though painful and absolutely horrible to experience, sexual abuse does not take away who God
created you to be. It may strip you of trust, self-esteem, peace, and the vitality of your life (Only
temporarily, because God will fully restore!), but you are still beautiful, still valuable, still worthy, and
still whole.

One last thing, don’t be afraid to report sexual offenses to proper authorities. And if your daughter,
sister, friend, or any young lady confides in you about abuse, value her enough to look into it;
ignoring it teaches her to keep silent.


Read last week's blog: Don't view yourself as inferior

LaKeisha Rainey Collins is an Mobile, Alabama-based wife, mom of three boys and one girl, Founder
of Beauty for Ashes, Inc. and author of two books --
Beautiful Me and My Baby Has Wings. Learn
more about her
here.
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