One in every five women and one in every seven men will be raped in his/her lifetime and 70% of these experiences are unreported. Many people suffer in silence while the devil whispers lies to them: You are all alone, God has singled you out, No one understands you, You are damaged goods, Your life is not worth living, or You are unworthy of love. But if you have been violated in this way, the truth is that you are not alone (1 Corinthians 10:13). God is faithful. He sees you, loves you and longs to draw you near and bring healing and restoration into your life (Philippians 4:13).
If you have been violated, the truth is that you are not alone. God is faithful. He sees you, loves you and longs to draw you near and bring healing and restoration into your life.
Today we were privileged to hear the stories of three amazing young believers who have experienced God’s faithfulness to restore their hearts and minds after being victims of sexual assault.
At age 15, Danica attended a friend’s family party and the two girls went out for a quick walk while it was still light. They sat down outside in a green belt area, when two guys walked past and then returned from behind and kidnapped both girls at knifepoint. The girls were taken to a sheltered area and assaulted or about 45 minutes. In the midst of this traumatic experience, Danica felt that God spoke to her, not with words but with a feeling. She was overcome with reassurance and knew that everything was going to be okay. He directed her to take note of and memorize everything she could see - the location, what the assailants were wearing, the description of the knife, etc.
Meanwhile, her friend’s parents were worried that the girls hadn’t returned, so they began to circle the neighborhood to search for them. When they were finally released, they walked down the hill and were immediately found. Danica told her friend’s parents everything that had happened and the police were summoned. Within a couple of months, the two men were found and charged. About a year later, there was a trial and the men were convicted and sentenced to 50 years to life.
Michaela was violated for the first time at 18 months old by a neighbor when she was permitted to stay the night. Though she doesn’t remember it, she knew something wrong had happened and told her parents, who took her to the hospital, but because she was unable to name a time and place, the man (a repeat offender) was not convicted. At the age of 14, Michaela had a get together with friends at her own house while her parents were away. One boy whom she had not known earlier stayed later than everyone else and he assaulted her. Michaela didn’t tell anyone until she was 18 when she told her mom, who prayed with her, comforted her, and encouraged her to tell the police and press charges, but she didn’t feel comfortable doing so at the time. Then Michaela was assaulted a third time at the age of 19 years old while she was working at a pool as an Assistant Manager. She had returned to the pool around 9PM to pick up an item she had forgotten when she heard a cry for help in a nearby alley. Without hesitating, she ran over to the alley to help, when she saw a man approaching with a knife. Another man grabbed her and she was assaulted by several men and severely beaten. When the assault was over, she stumbled out and was spotted by several people who called the police and her parents and she was taken to the hospital. Even then, Michaela reported the physical assault, but did not reveal the sexual assault until years later. The assailants were never apprehended.
When Kevin was seven years old and in the second grade, he had just moved to a new school, where an older student took him behind a building and sexually assaulted him. Kevin didn’t have any friends at this new school in whom he could confide. This happened a second time soon after when the older student took Kevin into a bathroom stall and assaulted him there.
At such a young age, Kevin didn’t really realize the severity of what had happened to him. It wasn’t until a few years later when his peers were joking and making sexual innuendos that he realized they were joking about something that had actually happened to him. He immediately felt worthless, trashed, abused, and lost every ounce of self-esteem he possessed.
The Bible says that we are made in the image of God and that we have the ability to have a relationship with God and to demonstrate His power, love, compassion, and creativity. The devil knows that we are God’s image-bearers on earth, so while He is unable to defeat God, he chooses to fight us; his aim is to scar us so much that we will hate ourselves and destroy ourselves.
Guilt is, I did something wrong, while shame is I am something wrong. The devil wants you to feel shame so that you will voluntarily self-destruct the image of God in your life and put His light in you under a bushel. Sometimes we do things to ourselves to shame ourselves, but sometimes external things are the causes of our feelings of shame.
The Battle After the Trauma
Feeling God’s presence in the midst of her trauma was extremely helpful to her. Because she was aware of His presence and guidance, she never experienced the shame or guilt that many victims feel. However, some of the regular teenage social anxiety that she already had was heightened by the assault. Danica went to counseling and was diagnosed with PTSD. Certain situations can make her feel panicked, but she has learned strategies for coping with her feelings and calming herself.
Looking back, she can see many things in her life prior to the assault that prepared her for the experience. Though she does not mean to say that God caused the trauma, she can see people, music, and surroundings that she was able to use as a blanket of comfort through her trauma. He has taken everything into account and been faithful to her.
When Michaela was raped at 14, she began to think that God had forsaken her, that she’d done something wrong, that she wasn’t worthy of His love. She began to have issues with self esteem, depression, cutting, and social anxiety. After the third assault, these feelings intensified. She convinced herself that her traumatic experiences were her own fault and that something was really wrong with her.
She felt angry and abandoned, so she acted out in different ways, partying with men, acting totally out of character, trying to earn love any way she could. She didn’t think anyone good would want her as “damaged goods,” so she sought out relationships that brought negative attention and misunderstood what affection really is, using sexuality because she didn’t think she could be loved for who she is.
When Kevin realized what had happened to him, he fell into depression and his self worth was destroyed. Engaging in relationships was nearly impossible. He thought that he was trash, wasted, no good. He became a compulsive liar to try and fit in with the various groups of peers around him. He felt he could never tell anyone what had happened to him, that he was all alone, and that no one would ever understand that he was going through. He was so low and alone at one point that he even tried to commit suicide.
The devil wants you to believe that you are less than who God made you to be. If he can cheapen your own view of who you are, maybe you will live down to that expectation and destroy yourself. This can be accomplished with a drastic event like rape, or with small experiences, a little bit at a time. If you don’t believe you are worthy of God’s promises, you won’t be willing to receive the amazing gifts He offers to you. The ultimate hammer of destruction he can dole out to you is suicide - a complete destruction of God’s image-bearer on earth.
If you have experienced sexual assault, don’t allow the the devil to put lies in your head that you are worthless or that your traumatic experience is your own fault (I shouldn’t have gone there, I shouldn’t have done that.) The truth of the matter is that someone else did something evil and sinful to you. That person is in the wrong and it’s not your fault.
You need to understand your worth in God’s eyes, that He loves you and has a future and a hope for you. He can take your pain, forgive any wrongdoing you have done, and empower to live the life He’s created for you to live.
God’s Victory Through Our Trials
Danica has experienced God’s healing and restoration after her trauma. She is now realizing a lifelong dream of training animals at Sea World. She loves her job and has connected with a whole new family of people surrounding her.
Michaela is now happily married for over a year. God brought into her life a godly man who truly loves her for her spirit and mind.
Kevin did not tell anyone about his assault until he was 27-years-old when the Lord called him to release the burden that was not his to carry. He finally told his wife what had happened, and the presence of God came over him. God’s power was restored in his life and he is now walking in God’s identity for him.
If you are carrying a heavy burden of any kind, God wants to restore your identity and relationship with Him. He loves you! Proclaim victory in your life today; God can break the chains that bind you.
If you have done wrong to others, if you are actively sinning and have not been caught, our prayer is that the Holy Spirit would convict you and that you would be found out or at least seek help from somebody. Just because man doesn’t know the secrets doesn’t mean that God doesn’t know.
Whatever you have done, or whatever has been done to you, God can set you free from the pain. Surrender your burdens to him.
Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you 1 Peter 5:7.
Myths and Facts about Rape:
Love desires to please others at the expense of self, but lust desires to please self at the expense of others. Love wants to give, but lust wants to get.
MYTH: Rape is sex.
FACT: Rape is as an act of violence that is about power, not sex.
MYTH: Most rapists only rape one time.
FACT: Most rapists rape again, and again, and again - until they are caught.
MYTH: Women incite men to rape.
FACT: Research has found that the vast majority of rapes are planned.