“Mom, when you were growing up, did you ever have bullies?” asked my first-grader.
“You know, sweetie, I did.”
“What did they make fun of you for?”
“Well, the lunches I packed and the clothes I wore. Some of my friends always bought the school lunch, and they made fun of me because I was always bringing leftovers. My clothes weren’t new and trendy like theirs.”
“Oh. What did you do?”
“Over time, we weren’t friends anymore. I liked my clothes; they were comfortable. My family at the time couldn’t afford for me to buy lunches everyday. Plus, I liked eating leftovers. Waiting in line at school took too long.”
“Mom, can I play outside now?”
Isn’t that the way it is? When we’re younger, our peers pick out the silliest things to nitpick and browbeat another in order to make themselves fell superior, dominant, in control, secure, powerful.
Take another look at the image above. Childhood bullying looks a lot like the broken tricycle padlocked to a post.
So can childhood sexual abuse.
Symbolically, some of you may see the tricycle representing your innocence, your joy, your ability to have fun and be free to explore the wide and wild adventure that childhood brings.
Some of you may not see a tricycle, but rather your dreams and pursuits locked up not only by your actual perpetrator, but also by co-perpetrators and naysayers.
A co-perpetrator are people in your life who failed to assist you during the sexual abuse or during the recovery. Their actions may have been an active participation in the abuse, but not necessarily the actual abuser.
Or a co-perpetrator can be understood as those, who through inactivity, unsuccessfully stood up to stop the abuse or neglected to help you in getting help following the healing process.
Even within current relationships, unfortunately, people will play a similar role.
As you become more vocal with others about your healing journey, oppositional relationships will emerge, acting as a road block to your growth. Why?
Again, I am not a professional. I’m simply an average gal who’s forging ahead, one step at a time, in her healing journey.
It seems to me that, co-perpetrator or not, talking about our healing journey stirs the pot in others’ lives.
Whether we like it or not, we’re not the only ones carrying around extensive traumatic burdens; they’re simply packaged differently than ours.
Regardless of the trauma and woundedness, the detractors come. Usually couching judgment or criticism as advice.
“What you need to do is forgive and forget.”
As if it were that simple. Forgiveness is a must. Jesus commands us to forgive; after all, how can we, who’ve been forgiven, fail to forgive another? Forgetting, on the other hand, isn’t exactly possible. Remembering no more, is. There’s a difference.
“You should never tell your husband what happened to you, because that image will be, forever, stuck in his head.”
That’s a bully.
Bullies want to shut you up and will use whatever strength or influence they have to frighten you. Including the misuse of scripture or Christian sayings, like forgive and forget.
Know that there is a vested interest for them in you keeping silent. Your silence allows them to live in denial of their need to heal, to face the truth.
I’ve said this before, but speaking out makes others uncomfortable. And for good reason.
Sexual abuse is a challenging subject to broach. Yet, it seems to me through my own personal experience that the uncomfortable stirrings within the hearer have less to do with the topic, but rather the inward, untreated sorrows tucked in the dark corners of the soul.
Jesus says, “And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free” (Jn. 8.32).
He’s talking of Himself here. Only Jesus can set us free. It’s true; He’s the truth.
All the same, healing requires work, speaking up, and remaining silent no longer.
Your speaking out may look quite different than mine. Just because you begin a healing journey, it doesn’t mean that you start a blog and tell the entire wired-world.
Maybe it means contacting your caring pastor at church or a counselor who specializes in working with abuse survivors or your spouse.
Our ultimate enemy is the Father of Lies. His primary goal is to manipulate those who believe in Jesus and pull them away from The Truth.
Our enemy will use whatever means at his disposal to shut you up so that he can laugh at you while you fester in pain, because he knows that once you start speaking up and seeking The Truth, you will find healing and he will be unable to have influence over you anymore.
Satan is the Bully of all bullies.
Look back at the picture, again. See the chain and how it’s fastened together by the bully’s padlock?
Jesus is the key.
He reproduces innocence; He brings joy; He generates the kind of childlike fun and freedom to live and sing and dance and explore the wide and wild adventure that healing brings.
What’s your next step?
How are you being bullied in your healing journey? What areas of this healing journey are you still hanging onto out of fear, shame, or pain? Consider The Truth to set you free. Ask the Lord how He’d like you to speak out and then do it. He will be with you with each breath you take.
Join me on the healing journey.
Subscribe to She Dares to Voice and have the next leg of the journey delivered right to your inbox.