There I was again sitting in another office, to tell my story of how someone violated me. By the age 15, I had confessed to people about different encounters whether it was abuse- verbally or physically. People didn’t believe me, or maybe they did and decided that the last thing they wanted was to get involved. Nevertheless, here I am in a police station telling them of how two guys I knew had sexually assaulted me. I went because I had to although I had already had it in my heart that no one would believe me. My clothes were taken in for evidence, and I was interviewed. I watch the young men being brought in in handcuffs to be questioned-still didn’t give me any hope that this would end in justice. And sure, enough I was right. After leaving the police station, I never heard about it again. I sometimes wonder who decided that- my parents or the police.
Recently, all of these thoughts rush back as I read about the Olympians who suffered for years under one man's abuse. As I learned how they were hushed by those they trusted when they tried to open up about it. And though I am grateful to be healed today there is still a scar on my soul that can become irritated when I hear of another woman who is going through this.
Thank God that many of us have encountered freedom through Christ that so many of these women have yet to be offered. After justice has been served, there is still so much healing that needs to take place.
I know for those of us reading this, we may never encounter any of the 100s of women that were abused by that particular doctor. That doesn’t mean that we shrug our shoulders and forget that right next to us, behind us, in our workplace, our connect groups and our communities there are women just like them.
“One in six women will experience
attempted or completed rape, in their lifetime.”
For some us we may have had an encountered with women who have shared their story with us, it saddens us. However, we may not have been equipped to act past our empathy.
Today, I hope to offer you four avenues to reach out to women who are victims of sexual assault:
1. Don’t be a pushover. Depending on the stage of where each woman is. She may not be able to talk about what she’s dealing with. Some people can go into anxiety attacks recalling their scenarios. Most women have PTSD after being sexually assaulted.
Did you know that....
94% of women who are raped experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during the two weeks following the rape.
30% of women report symptoms of PTSD 9 months after the rape.
33% of women who are raped contemplate suicide.
13% of women who are raped attempt suicide.
Approximately 70% of rape or sexual assault victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than for any other violent crime.
So, what can you do? This question leads me to the second avenue.
2. Just be a friend. Be a friend with no agenda, be kind as well as authentic. There are trust issues that run deep, and the first sign showing that you can’t be trusted the person will build a wall. Pure friendships are healing to the soul The word says, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.”- Proverb 27:9 Showing love, hanging out, being patient with them and loving them for who they are can be a breath of fresh air. An authentic relationship can help to open doors that will allow a woman to speak freely of what has happened to her.
3. Don’t push Jesus, share Jesus. Following Jesus isn’t a sales pitch. And pushing him on people can sort of be harassing. In the four gospels, Jesus was an example to all by the way he lived, the way he fearlessly served God. He offered people a chance to follow and believe. You must be a living example of Christ, and you must lead in love. When people see how you handle things differently- your response will cause them to ask you questions, and then you can testify of his goodness. Your testimony of his goodness has the ability to change people’s hearts and create a desire to follow him.
4. Believe them. Who are we to tell someone their perception of something isn’t accurate. So if there comes a time where someone opens up to you about sexual, physical or mental abuse believe them. As people of God, it is up to us to not judge. So, trust in their words and offer them whatever help you can, even if it’s just going to the precinct as moral support.
The reality is this; these four avenues may not work for everyone, I speak on what has encouraged me to succumb my fears and to embrace my freedom. You can be the one who places another sister on her journey toward healing.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
I love you fearlessly.