Garden Gate Ranch is here to help women recover from sexual violation and help educate our community to genuinely see what is happening in our own backyard. Please join the fight with us #ForTheLoveOfEachOne. Here are their stories.

 

Growing up, my family was very dysfunctional. Divorce and adultery were common, and – sadly – so was incest. Sexual abuse began when I was four. By the time I was 12, I had been sexually abused by multiple family members, and was having intercourse with my (adopted) father.

 

Looking back, I never really thought of myself as being abused because it was the only life I’d ever known, and I thought it was normal. However, as I got older, I began to realize this wasn’t happening to my friends. Also, as I got older, I wasn’t as easy for my father to manipulate, so our sexual encounters became less frequent which was a relief for me.

 

However, when I was sixteen, my dad drugged me. While I was knocked out, he and three other men took pornographic pictures of me doing all types of acts with these men. They were only shown from the chest down, so their identity was unknown, but my identity was obvious. With these pictures my dad blackmailed me into doing whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.

 

So, for the next seven months, I was blindfolded and forced to have sex with different men on a nightly basis. During this time my coping mechanism was dissociation. When the men were violating me, I would imagine I was somewhere else. Also, every morning before going to high school, I would look at myself in the mirror and tell myself that I was okay and that I could make it through another day.

 

The nightly encounters continued until I realized I was three months pregnant. My dad tried to get me to have an abortion, but I refused. Once my pregnancy was known, the men never came around again.

Of course, I had no idea who the father of the baby was, but I ended up going out of state to have the baby (long story) and put it up for adoption.

 

Once I moved back home, my life began to fall apart as I made a lot of bad decisions trying to find someone who would care for me and love me for me. I was desperate for love, and my dad had taught me that I had to have sex with men for them to like me, so that’s what I did. Of course, it gained me nothing but a bad reputation. Finally, I graduated, moved into my own place, and tried to put my abusive life behind me.

 

Even in the midst of all I was going through, God was working in my life. During high school I crossed paths with a Christian family and they befriended me. Over the course of a few years, I realized that I was lost in sin and needed a Savior. I accepted Christ the summer after I graduated.

 

I wish that I could say that all my issues went away and everything was great. My life did change a lot as I grew spiritually. But, during this time I never dealt with all that had happened to me, and I didn’t realize how emotionally dysfunctional I was.

 

Over the course of the next decade, my life was like someone with a split personality. There was one side of me that was a solid Christian in that I went to church multiple times a week, read my Bible, prayed, went to bible studies, etc. However, there was another side of me that was still like a sexual robot…like an unpaid prostitute whenever a guy came onto me. It wasn’t that I was looking for anything sexual, but I didn’t know how to say no if the situation presented itself.

 

I was like a functional, dysfunctional person. There was one side of me who had a good job, nice car, great friends, etc., but there was another side of me that would just sabotage my life by making bad decisions. Looking back, I now realize that instability and emotional turmoil were my comfort zones.

Also, my entire life was based around what people thought of me. I felt like I had to perform perfectly for people to accept me.

 

Thankfully, I reached a point where I knew I needed professional help. I found a great Christian counselor who began to work with me. Over the course of a few years he helped me to change the negative self-talk that was a regular part of my life. I was constantly telling myself that I was worthless, a failure, good-for-nothing, etc. Over time, I began to replace those lies with positive thoughts.

 

Prior to counseling, I had regular dreams that I was being chased and terrified. But, as I healed, I found myself confronting the attacker in my dreams, and eventually the bad dreams stopped. I also dealt with the memories that still had a grip on me and affected my sense of self-worth. These memories ceased to affect me once I dealt with them.

 

However, the greatest part of my healing process was when I began to truly realize who I am in Christ. Even though I was saved, the foundational truths of what Christ had really done for me were in my head, but not my in heart.  As I healed, these truths began to permeate my heart and it was like a light came on in my emotional darkness. My sense of self-worth and confidence began to soar.

 

Today, all of my confidence, self-worth, and sense of significance comes from who I am in Christ – and nothing can take that from me. I no longer need the approval of another person to feel good about myself. I know that God created me, Jesus died and rose for me, and I am a person of worth just because I exist and am created in His image.

 

There are times when I wish that I’d have had better family relationships growing up, but I am thankful to the Lord for his faithfulness through it all, and for where he’s brought me in life.

 

Lisa T

Survivor of sex trafficking

Victor in Christ Jesus