We were into the last day of our 2nd annual youth camp, ReDream. It was 2 o'clock in the morning as I sat on my bunk watching Amelia sleep. I wondered how anybody in the world could defile such a beautiful creation. My heart was heavy.
I had just got done listening to a woman give her life testimony about how from age 4 until far into her adult years, she was sexually abused. At first it was the teenaged neighbor boys that would play with her but tell her not to tell anyone. Slowly it progressed so far to her being raped as she sold her body working as a prostitute in Seattle.
Jessica shared the statistic that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually abused by age 18. Here we were sitting among a group of 70+ students and I thought to myself, "I know I'm that statistic. Who else is?"
I've spent the last ten years of my life learning to own the truth that I'm not defined by what was done to me as a child. Also, my trust in people, specifically men, should not be tainted by what my father did to me. Instead, I am defined by the truths that I am valuable, that I can trust again, and that Jesus loves and forgives. Therefore, I need to love and forgive. I am 23 years old and finally being able to put to words the restoration that has occurred in my heart as I heal from being sexually abused. It has taken lots of time and tears to get to this point. But praise God that I'm a better person because of my tragedy. Just like our gracious guest speaker, Jessica.
I am writing this very openly because I am tired of the silence. How many of our ReDreamers came out about abuse in their life in just that one weekend? More than anyone could realize, I'm sure. Why have they had to hide for so long? How many more are still alone in silence? My heart broke that night because many victims don't know how to talk about what was done to them or what is still being done. Sometimes, like Jessica and myself, they are so young that they don't realize that the actions done to them were wrong. People assume that all of the prostitutes on 82nd are there because they want to be. The harsh reality is that many of the people in sex trafficking are forced into it. Once they are in it, the appeal of money or fear of leaving overwhelms them so much that they stay. And many of these people (pimps and prostitutes) were sexually abused themselves before even being in the industry!
What we have is a terrible cycle that needs to end. Jessica was first raped at 4 years old. My niece, Aivie, is almost 4. Can you feel the weight of that? I was molested younger than that! My sweet Amelia is almost one! What kind of person does these things to precious little lives? It's people who are in desperate need of a Savior. These people are so broken and hurting. They are only doing what was done to them. But somewhere along the line, there needs to be change. For my family, it started ten years ago when I gave my life to Christ. Amelia (and our future children) will grow up in a family where we follow Jesus and we love each other well. We will create the safest home possible. But even this won't be the 100% fix all, we know. Jessica had a safe, lovely home life when it all started. But you never know what kind of people will enter your life nor can you know the events that will cause hurt in a person's life. We can't protect Amelia from everything in the world. What we can do is entrust her and her siblings lives to the Lord knowing that He is the ultimate Protector. And continue to do our best!
I'm overwhelmed as I realize the magnitude of this injustice. I've wondered what I can do to make a difference. I figured dialogue is a good place to start. I'm opening up so that other victims will know that they are NOT alone. I'm choosing to be open about my healing so that people know healing IS a possible reality. I want victims to know that there are ways out of the darkness. It is too large of a group for me to think that my words could do much. But if not for the entire population, maybe for that one teenaged girl, I'm choosing to not be silent anymore.
Read Jessica's story here: http://sexmoneyherdofchildren.wordpress.com/
An organization that is getting involved: http://www.compassionconnect.com/abolitionnow.html