Today across the globe women are speaking up and sharing their stories of sexual abuse, assault, and violation. The hashtag #metoo has given a voice to women to share their secret pain and shame. We at Redeemed Girl stand with these women. Today’s guest contributor on our blog is a woman who can identify with the pain but also knows the healing and victory which are possible with Jesus. Michelle Price is a new member of the Redeemed Girl team, and I pray her testimony is an encouragement to anyone who has experienced sexual abuse and empowers them to find freedom. – Marian Jordan Ellis

When I was growing up, I thought shame, insecurity, and hiding were what every little girl experienced. I didn’t know how broken my childhood was until I watched true freedom and innocence in my daughter. You see, I am one of the millions of women who experienced sexual abuse as a child.  Today, as a mom, one of the sweetest things for me is to watch the interaction my daughter has with her Dad, whom she affectionately calls Fluffy Bear.  I watch the innocent way she longs for his attention, validation, and assurance.  She eagerly performs a new dance for him, dramatically reads her latest “book” to him, and fiercely cheers on his favorite team. I am so thankful that so much of my broken childhood was redeemed simply by watching the pure and precious relationship between the two of them.

For years I ignored the significance of the loss I felt in losing my innocence as a little girl. I did not know the purity my daughter experiences. Instead, I thought I was never good enough. I felt dirty. And I never once felt “normal.”  Outwardly, I looked like every other young woman, but inwardly I held a secret-one that drove such a deep root of shame and inadequacy in my soul that I began to live my life out of that sick identity.  The secret I was afraid to utter was that I was sexually abused.  I never wanted to be a poster child for abuse. I didn’t want to share the pain with the world.  I didn’t want to be vulnerable.  I did, however, desire healing and wholeness. I tired of being broken and wounded. I desired redemption and restoration.

I was redeemed by the grace of Jesus Christ when I was twenty-five years old. Finally, I came to the end of myself.  I sought all the remedies the world could offer but none of them numbed the pain I felt inside. When I heard the Gospel, I handed the reigns of my life over to Jesus. He not only forgave my sin, but He also began a process of healing me from the inside out. The amazing thing about a relationship with God was that I could no longer hide and pretend that everything was okay.  I was NOT fine. I was heartbroken and so deeply wounded but He was making me new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor. 5:17

As a new creation, the Bible said I was loved and accepted by my Heavenly Father. Yes, I was a child of God, but I did not fully believe that I was new.  Even after my salvation experience, I lived with the lie that I would not ever be pure. I believed the lie that I would always be damaged goods.  This lie played out in the way I viewed myself and in my marriage.

The first year of our marriage we found out we were expecting our first child.  Pregnancy was not at all in our plan, but it absolutely was the Lord’s. Marriage and motherhood caused me to face the insecurity and shame I tried to hide for decades.  I thought that if I shoved the pain down far enough and pretended long enough, then it would all somehow go away. Ignoring my pain did not make it go away. Instead, it delayed the inevitable need to address it. The unhealed wound affected my whole life. My childhood sexual abuse trauma was not only hurting me; it was killing my very new marriage and hurting my precious, godly husband.

I was anxious and scared all the time. I wanted to control everything in my life. I thought if I didn’t have control then I couldn’t protect myself.  Memories that I buried for years began to surface.  I am a fiercely independent person, and I was crippled by the pain of what I was uncovering. This was one of the most challenging times in my adult life.

At this point, I was finally ready to deal with my wounds. I was ready to ask for help. I wanted to be whole. For me, the decision meant finding a strong support system at my church and an amazing Christian counselor. Through counseling, I grieved the loss of my childhood. It took every bit of courage I had to continue to seek help.  Help that would eventually bring freedom, hope, and healing into my life. Healing that I thought was never possible. I learned complete dependence on the Lord and humility in asking for help.

Through this healing process, I learned to replace the lies I believed about myself with God’s truth:

From Shame to Purity

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5

From Betrayal to Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

From Bondage to Freedom

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

From Despair to Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3

I spoke these truths out loud. I wrote the verses on notecards. I prayed scripture and asked God to change my thoughts. I struggled even saying the words “sexual abuse;” I carried so much shame because of it. Therefore, Psalm 34:5 became my go-to verse, which reminded me to look to God and He would take away my shame.  When shame crowded my mind, I chose to look to Jesus and remember that He defined me and declared me completely pure.  Scripture reminded me that shame was a lie and guilt was not mine to carry. I recited these truth over and over until they became etched in my heart and mind.

Do not underestimate the power of prayer. We can’t walk through healing alone. I enlisted a group of mature believers who could pray for me and hold me accountable. This accountability kept me from stopping the healing process when it became too difficult. These people loved me and wanted to see me freed from the pain of sexual abuse. These believers prayers sustained me when I tried to quit. Their prayers held me up when I grew weary.

During this time, I learned so much about who God is. I learned that I could trust Him and His goodness.  I clung to prayer and memorizing scripture. It was crucial for me to renew my mind and thinking.

My season of healing and transformation taught me that Jesus never left me.  Most importantly, the Lord revealed to me that my abuse was not my identity.  He declared through His Word that I was dearly loved and accepted and I began to believe it. I found hope in His promises, and I came to believe healing was possible.  This hope has given me great purpose and a heart to share all that God has done in my life.  I want to help others find healing, comfort and the courage to deal with their pain.

I am so very grateful for the life I have now.  Almost fifteen years of marriage and three children later, my husband and I enjoy a beautiful life. Not a perfect life, but one that I did not think was possible. A life that I pray glorifies God and shines a light on His healing power. I pray it points people to Jesus.  I am so grateful for a God who is in the business of redemption and restoration, He has redeemed my childhood and continues to make all things new.

I’ve heard that “1 out of 4 women are victims of sexual abuse.” Perhaps you are reading this, and you identify with my story. Maybe you still wrestle with shame, insecurity, and pain from your past.  I am here to tell you that you do not have to walk around wounded and ashamed. The same Jesus who healed and restored me can do that for you.

Do not allow shame to silence your voice.

Do not let insecurity steal your God-given identity.

Do not hide what happened to you.

I want to encourage you to reach out to a trusted friend and share your story. I challenge you to take the steps of healing. I promise you this … Jesus is a great Healer, and He will be with you every step of the way.

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