https://youtu.be/1uKb98Re0FI - R8P Podcast Version
This Is My Molestation Story.
It happened once. At the tender age of nine years old. But even now as a young adult, it is still one of my most vivid and painful childhood memories. Once was enough to do the intended damage. Seriously, how dare this 'sorry excuse of a man' take my innocence? I was just a child. I did not deserve that.
I remember the day as if it was just yesterday. It was a usual, typical school day. I headed out with my pure innocence and child-like zeal ready to learn the day's lesson and spend time with my school friends. I would often get taken to school by this man. My mother knew him well enough to trust that he would take me there safely. He took me there safely on every occasion and therefore, I trusted him. Until, one morning, everything changed-- for the worst. While in transit, he became a strange man; totally transformed into a being I could recognize. He was different. He was inappropriate and devilish. He whispered things like " you are my girlfriend, yah grow nice, mi wah you come home to mi lata". To my absolute shock, I froze. From whispering sweet empty nothings, he advanced to touching my nine year old body in a way that it hasn't been touched by any grown before. It felt wrong. It felt disgusting. I felt violated. In the moment, I could not scream. I did not cry.
I did not resist. I did not fight back. I figure he was way bigger in body mass and way stronger than ten of me combined. I just allowed it to happen. I froze in the moment and remain frozen for the rest of the day. I recall not being able to fully function. I was present in body at school but my mind was stuck on the traumatic event that just took place. I remember isolating myself. I went from being playful and talkative with friends to withdrawn and silent. This man, I trusted, molested me. He took my innocence; without my permission. I could not at all comprehend the why. The audacity he also had to instruct me to come to his house after school and not to tell my mom. Mark you, this was a man in his late 30's. I was only 9. Please make it make sense.
Later in the day, I went straight home. I waited on my mom to get in from work and I reported what happened. I believe she confronted him the next day about it and that was that. He was no longer trusted to take me to school. He went by scotch free. No jail time. No justice. Meanwhile, I had to now become friends with my trauma. For over 15 years, it was all a repressed memory. That was my way of coping. I was now operating in survival mode. I put it all the way at the back of my mind in an effort to forget that any of it happened at all. It also did not help that this man lived in close proximity to me and therefore I lived in constant anxiety. Interestedly, I think the trauma forced me to confront certain realities. It was the perfect impetus for an existential crisis. I believe that this was where my quest for truth began. I became a seeker of truth. I wanted to know the reason for my existence, why things are the way that there are and the point of it all.
My awareness of the inherent evil of man heightened and I now lived within the realms of trying to come to terms with the duality of good and evil, light and darkness, wrong and right. An internal conversation and conflict on morality ensued. I had this sense of a world that was unseen and of a Being that was transcendent who was responsible for my breath. There began, my theological journey. I knew from early that I had to come into existence for a reason that was far greater than myself. But even with this revelation; my heart became cold. I resented God. I denied his existence with my lips (not heart). I wanted nothing to do with a God who allowed my molestation to happen.
God pursued and did not relent. I remember strange, random occurrences of going about my business and I would be encountered with the gospel. This good news of how this Jesus died on a cross for my sins. He took my place and bear the weight of it all on a wooden stake so that I could come into right fellowship and be reconciled to God. I resisted or so I thought but the seed was planted. It was at a youth convention, at 15, where I finally surrendered. I was completely and utterly convinced of my need for a savior and the gravity of my sin. But more than that, I was totally captivated and in awe of God's great love for me.
It was no surprise that I went to Seminary. It was there, I sat a grief management course and at the age of 24, was the first time I openly shared about this traumatic event. Once again, this took place when I was nine and having had to recall the memory at 24, I cried like a baby. I cried uncontrollable. And, it was in that moment that I recognized that I was bitterly grieving the loss of my innocence. But after crying, it crystal clear that I needed that release. It was the first time I ever cried about it. Yes, that is right. It took me all of 15 years.
If you are battling depression, anxiety, trauma as a result of an event that took place whether as a adult or as a child; I want to remind you that you are not alone. I want you to know that healing is possible. I want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I want you to know that God is still writing your story and it is beautiful. It may not even look or feel that way in this present moment and season but may I encourage you that "those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy" and that " God gives beauty for ashes" and that "he will wipe every tears from your eyes". I want you to know that your existence matters and you radiate with such divine essence. You are imago dei; made and molded in God's image. I also want you to know that you are loved and treasured and absolutely adored. Your story, my friend, is far from over.
As for me, my faith played a major role in helping me to navigate such a painful journey. I have had to do feel my feelings; all of it. Sit with it and allow myself to grieve. Was it unpleasant? Yes. But was it necessary? Absolutely! I also had to forgive. That was hard. I wanted this child molester to pay for his crimes. I wanted justice! But in my case, that did not happen. I have had to let go of my need for revenge. I really hated this man. Praying helped a great deal. I have had to pour my heart out to God. I recall in one of those prayer sessions asking, "if you are the God who makes us whole then why do I have a broken soul?" The truth is, our brokenness is welcomed by God and what is the point of hiding ourselves from him? He is all-knowing anyway. A broken and a contrite heart will not be despised. Reading and mediating on the psalms is definitely recommended. These writings serves as a reminder that God is not intimidated by our honesty. We can be real and raw. Lastly, sharing my story with those closest to me has helped tremendously in providing both emotional and spiritual support. We are not wired to carry our burdens alone. We are created for community. I strongly recommend connecting and being vulnerable about your trauma with those people in your life who feel safe; who feel like home. Those who are for you and proven themselves to be trustworthy.
God of the traumatized,
I pray for those dealing with the remnants of trauma, and have had to endure abuse of any kind, I pray for their healing and restoration. You are the balm in Gilead and the only One who has the capacity to make us fully well and fully whole. I pray perfect peace over their minds that will be stayed on you. For the brokenhearted, be close and near. For those dealing with unforgiveness, grant the divine ability to forgive and release. I pray for those with doubts and with fears, that you will meet them where they are. Show up in ways that only You can. Do the impossible. Break the chains. Set the captives free.
In Jesus' name,
- Isheika Richards