I grew up in a wonderful/Godly Christian home.  My parents were saved shortly after they were married.  I also grew up in a wonderful Bible-believing and teaching church from the time that I was born until I graduated from high school.  I was saved at age 6.  I also grew up in a Christian school from Christian school until I graduated from high school in 1986.  I then, went away to college.  I graduated from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia where I received my B.S. Degree in Elementary and Middle School Education.
So, everything looked good from all outward appearances.  But, I began being sexually abused by two older male cousins from the time I was age 6 until I was age 14.  I was raped by a teenage boy in my neighborhood on one occasion at approximately 8 years old.  Then, I was sexually assaulted by two teenage boys from my church and school on a church-sponsored AWANA trip to Stone Mountain when I was in the 3rd grade(9 years old).  I was also physically beaten/assaulted by my 1st grade teacher throughout the school year in front of my peers & classmates.
I kept everything that happened to me a secret from everyone in my life.  I believed that I was a very “bad” little girl, and I must have wanted these things to happen to me or I must have “asked” for them to happen.  I believed that I “held the keys” to destroying my family if anyone ever found out.
But, sexual abuse is NEVER the victim’s fault!  It is always the perpetrator’s fault regardless of the situation or circumstances.  No one ever has the right to lay a hand on anyone without their permission…

I also believed that since I “walked” into situations with some of these individuals, knowing what would happen, that I should have “known better” or that I caused it to happen and therefore, my abuse was all my fault.

As a result of my abuse, I suffered tremendous emotional and physical pain.  My pain manifested itself through “boundary issues..”  I tended to push myself on various people(adults) in my life.  And, when they backed away, I felt even more like “worthless/damaged goods.”  I felt like I needed to “prove myself” to others in order for them to like me or love me.  I believed that I needed to “please” the people in my life in order for them to like me, love me or even want me around.  So, when they backed away, I was very confused.

I also had NO self-esteem or self-worth.  And, as a result, I allowed many of my peers and classmates to mock me, bully me and constantly make fun of me.  I didn’t know how to stop it or even how to stand up to them.  So, these behaviors continued to go on for many years.

I began telling myself that God made me ugly, dirty and completely worthless.  And, I also believed that when God made me, that I was the only person He created, on the planet, to feel such extreme internal and emotional pain……”This was my BURDEN-TO-BEAR..”

But, I had no idea how to ever begin to tell anyone what I was feeling.  There just were no words to describe it nor any “language” to explain it.  I believed that I was completely “STUCK..”  I also had no idea that ALL of the pain that I was feeling and the “BAD FEELINGS” that I had about myself was connected to all of my abuse and trauma that I had experienced and endured for so many years.

Many times, survivors turn to drugs, alcohol, unhealthy relationships and many other types of unhealthy behaviors as a means of “coping” with all of the pain and feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem.  But, my “DRUG OF CHOICE,” was “FOOD..”  I became a “food addict.”  I gained an enormous amount of weight over the years while I was growing up.  This was my way of “numbing” all of the pain that I was feeling.  And, it was also a means of “coping” with the mockery from my peers along with many other stressful situations in my life.  Most of the time, it really did not help, it was only a “temporary high..”

But, when I was a senior in high school, God, in a sense, “Blew the Whistle” in my life….I finally shared my secret with someone that I thought I could trust.  This person was someone that I believed would never tell my secret to anyone, much less, my family.  I did not think that anyone, especially my parents and family would ever believe me if I told or if they found out.  It was never my intention for anyone to ever know my secrets.

But, God knew that I could no longer live with the secrecy, shame, fear, guilt and pain that I had carried and endured for so many years. While I was in college, I began my healing process.  Then, after I graduated from college, I thought that things were much better and that I was healed.  I thought that I could move on to a “new and different” phase of my life.  But, satan was still attacking me and continuing to tell me a lot of lies about myself that he wanted me to believe.  I fell into a very deep and severe depression.  I was thinking more about dying than I was about living.

I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital at this point.  And, while I was there, and in the midst of my confusion, God gave me a wonderful verse….

Deuteronomy 30:19 “I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursings, CHOOSE LIFE…….so you can live!”
I consider this to be my point of surrender and the point where God rescued me…..God’s purpose is not for us to live defeated lives in our dysfunctional behaviors and our “stinkin’ thinking..”  I have had to choose to never allow satan to steal another second of my life or my joy.  I am learning what truly living the “abundant life” really means in my life.  That is His(God’s) ultimate purpose for me and my life here on earth.
As a continuation of my healing process, I have lost 120-lbs!  This has been a huge and very significant part of my healing process as well.  I am so thankful that through it all, and because of God’s healing power, grace, love and mercy in my life, that God has completely transformed my pain into a passion to speak up and speak out, to have a voice and to share my story….I hope to help others whom are suffering through the same circumstances that I have.  I have a passion to make a difference in someone else’s life.

Most of all, I am thankful that I can say that through God’s grace, mercy and healing in my life, that I am healed, whole & free!
Lastly, I was walking one more, listening to my ipod.  I was listening to a song by the Christian group “AVALON..”  There is a phrase in one of their songs that I love, and it says, “Your Life, In Christ, Can be….The greatest story ever told….”

We all have a story to tell about our lives.  We have all experienced pain in some way.  But, when we allow God to reach down inside of us, to the core of our beings, where our pain, wounds and scars reside, and allow God to heal us deep down, our lives, in Christ, really can be…..The Greatest Story Ever Told….

Thank you for letting me share!