With the release of Rachel Denhollander’s book What Is A Girl Worth?, she has been on the circuit speaking openly about the abuse she suffered while under the “care” of Larry Nasser. I have been following her and her journey as I am in the process of dealing with my own abuse, and the effect it still has on my life today. Rachel was on CBS This Morning a few days ago, and there was something she said in the course of this interview that resonated with me.
The interviewer read this quote from her book: “If you can’t prove it, don’t speak up because it will cost you everything.” She responded, “That’s a lesson every sexual assault survivor knows. We watch how sexual assault is discussed when it comes up in the political sphere, when it comes up with a prominent sports figure, and we see what people say about the survivors. We see how they rally around the person who’s been the abuser, and we know it’s not safe to speak up.”
I have acknowledged the abuse done to me for decades. I have admitted openly since the summer of 1985 what happened to me. Thankfully, my parents believed me. There were many in my life, however, that either didn’t or told me not to keep making such a big deal out of it. There were even some who spoke sympathy to my abuser. That fall, I started a new school where I was ridiculed and bullied for sharing my trauma. I learned quickly that I would not be believed, so why tell the truth? That nine year old little girl took that to heart, even lying to myself that I didn’t need to deal with it. And there I remained…held captive by the lie that if I didn’t think about it, it wouldn’t affect me.
I am now a 43 year old woman, still dealing with the pain of a nine year old girl who is struggling to feel worth and to accept that she is valued. As many abuse survivors experience, I went on to allow others to manipulate and abuse me out of fear of being rejected. Recovery has led me to face the lies that I have believed about myself; that I am unworthy of love, that I don’t deserve to be valued, that I am worthless and ugly. Digging down to the roots of these beliefs and seeing how the abuse and neglect I have experienced contributed to how I see myself has been one of the most difficult parts of my recovery. The hardest part of the Serenity Prayer for me to accept has been, “accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.” I have spent a lifetime hiding from my pain, avoiding it at all costs. I want to crawl into my DADDY’S lap and not deal with it, but He is lovingly whispering to that little girl that the only way to healing is through the pain. He promises to hold me. He promises to get me through. He promises that I am not and will never be alone.
I can only hope that He will one day use this to speak hope and life and peace to others. That one day, I will walk in freedom and healing and someone will look at me and have hope that the same is possible for them.