I was born in 1950 in a small town in southeast Iowa. Back then, you didn’t have to worry so much about people snatching your kids off the streets. We didn’t even have malls, so that wasn’t a problem either. I grew up with five siblings, a mother, and a father. Life was “normal” for a while.
My mother was not an affectionate person and hugs and “I love you’s” were not the norm. With so many kids she was unable to cope with the task of raising us all. I was sent over to my aunt and uncle’s acreage to spend four out of every seven days of the week with them. My aunt and uncle also cared for my widowed grandmother. Aunt Helen was my father’s sister and married Uncle Orval in her late 30’s.
I didn’t understand marriage relationships then, but this one must have had some flaws —as many marriages do. As early as age five, I remember Uncle Orval taking me out to the garage or chicken house and “touching me” because he “loved” me. It was supposed to be our little secret because he said no one would understand why he “loved” me so much. I trusted him. He would “touch” me in places no one ever had before and it felt very uncomfortable. This went on for another year, and then I told him I wanted to tell my Aunt Helen. He got very angry with me. It scared me because I had never seen him get angry like that before. He told me not to tell —that she wouldn’t believe me and that she would get mad at me and not let me come over any more. I loved my Aunt Helen and grandmother, so I didn’t want to be separated from them. He had betrayed the trust and love I gave him.
The “touching” progressed over that time frame to what I came to know as sexual intercourse. I hated it but I loved and cared for my uncle. I was so confused by my feelings —I didn’t want to be alone with him, but at the same time, wanted to be with him. This emotional and physical torment went on for another year.
One day, when I came home from grade school for lunch, I found my mother crying uncontrollably in the kitchen. Lunch was not ready and she couldn’t tell me what was wrong. I got something to eat and went back to school. It wasn’t until later that afternoon that I found out my dad had been hit with a 100,000 volt power line while working on a metal building. It literally blew off the bottoms of his feet and severely burned many areas on his body.
My father was in the hospital for six months. He finally came home, but the electrical jolt to his system changed his personality. He could no longer work, as cancer appeared and then ravaged his body. He spent his last days in a hospital bed at home and passed away eight months later when I was eight years old.
Our family had to go on “ADC” – Aid to Dependent Children – which was the precursor to the current welfare system of today. This was a shameful position to be in within our community, and we were thought of as “poor white trash.” My siblings and I had to get jobs such as walking beans, mowing, babysitting, etc., just to help with the family financial situation. We all grew up fast —understanding the finances of living hit home early for us. It was during this time that I decided to tell my mother what was going on with my uncle and the sex. When she heard, she just looked at me in disbelief and said that I was probably over exaggerating the situation. She kept sending me back.
This sexual assault continued until I was 16 and a half, when I was finally able to get a driver’s license and a real job. I felt betrayed by everyone I had trusted. No one believed me nor offered any help, nor was my uncle held accountable for what he had done. No one wanted to make waves in the family or community.
This molestation and betrayal impacted my ability to get along with other people. I learned early —and quite well— how to manipulate and use people to get what I wanted. This skill taught me what to say, how to act, and how to be perceived by others in order to get what I wanted and go where I wanted to go in my life. There was no remorse or guilt for my wrong doing —I had learned that it was totally acceptable to do whatever was necessary because I was looking out for myself. God, however, had different plans! Praise God for His mercy and grace which He freely gives to all who ask!
It was close to 30 years later when God placed a persistent co-worker in my life. He kept talking about Jesus and how He could change my life. I had heard of Jesus, but I was doing just fine taking care of myself and would trust no one ever again!
This persistent young man was on fire for Jesus. He sent an evangelism team to my home. (How he got my address I’ll never know.) The team showed up at my door one Thursday evening and asked to share the Gospel. Why I opened the door and let them in, I know now to be the hand of God moving. They entered my home and shared Jesus’ virgin birth, perfect sinless life, death and resurrection —all done just for me. Jesus died to pay for everyone’s sins —yours and mine included. I still remember the two questions they asked me: First, “If you were to die tonight, do you think you would go to heaven?” I said: “Yeah, I think so.” Then they asked, “If you were to die tonight and God were to say to you: ‘Why should I let you into my Heaven?’ what would you say?” I’ll never forget my answer. I said: “I didn’t like people very much, but I treated my animals very well and He should let me in for that reason.” Bless their hearts; they didn’t laugh! And as it turns out, that was the night that God chose for me to be saved!
What has the journey been like since then? It has been AMAZING! God began to work by healing my broken and tormented soul. Then, He showed me my sin of hurting other people because I had been hurt. He proved Himself faithful and quite capable of such a total soul healing that He taught me how to be vulnerable without concern for future hurts by other people. He has drawn me closer to Him than I ever could have imagined.
He can heal your broken spirit and soul, too. Does this happen miraculously in a few seconds? It could. But more often than not, God works with us by peeling back the layers of hurt one at a time and replacing them with His peace, His contentment, a love of others, and a deep abiding trust in His power to restore, protect, and grow us. My life is peaceful and there is a deep contentment in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He alone has changed my life and He alone gets the glory, praise, and honor for doing so.
Won’t you trust Jesus with your spirit and soul? If you have been molested, trafficked or sold into slavery, ask God to rescue you. He alone has the power to change your circumstances. Cry out to Him now. Grasp His life-line and live. Truly, live. Jesus loves you more than any human being ever could. I guarantee you —God never betrays a trust placed in Him.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault or trafficked and need someone to talk to, please feel free to contact Garden Gate Ranch by phone at 515.393.8400 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the near future, Garden Gate Ranch will be launching a sexual abuse support group for women in need of safe community, encouragement, and healing. For more information on participating in this group or with any questions, please email email@example.com.