I can remember sitting in a women's group hearing the testimony of another woman thinking to myself, "How did she know my story?" As she described the abuse she endured, I became uncomfortable in my seat. Part of me wanted to run out of the meeting and the other part of me felt slightly relieved to know that I was not alone. I had buried the sexual abuse that I had been subjected to and acted as though it had never happened. I often told myself that if I didn't remember it, then it didn't happen. That thinking, unfortunately, did more damage than good both mentally and emotionally.
Since I buried it, I never dealt with it and because I had never dealt with it, I didn't have the opportunity to heal from it.
As I sat there in that moment listening to this fearless woman, tears began to fall from my eyes. I sobbed for the duration of her testimony. I wanted to one day be brave enough to tell my story and help others just as she did.
Let’s fast forward three years later and here I am. Healed and ready to help other women like you overcome your past. I want to be the first to say that it was not an overnight process (and it was not easy!) With God, it was possible.
One way I overcame abuse was by writing. Early on, God gifted me with the ability to articulate my feelings in the form of storytelling. As a child, I would write short stories and perform them in front of my classmates. In high school, while involved in an abusive relationship, I began to write poetry as a means of self-expression. For years after that, I struggled to find my voice as my passion for writing fell to the wayside. I was too consumed with the toxicity of the unhealthy relationships I found myself in to focus on what I knew God had placed in my heart to do (write).
It wasn't until I saw a counselor who gave me a journal that I began writing again. This time, it was different. I wrote diary style. I wrote open letters to God pleading with Him to save me. When I yielded my situation, the unhealthy relationship, and my will to Him – He did just that; He saved me. I made a promise to God that if He saved me, I would remember what He did for me and make it my business to help others too. God was faithful to redeem me and I have remained faithful to my promise to Him.
I joined the domestic violence ministry at my church, this time as a servant assisting women inside the church and in the community with resources, support and education on sexual and domestic violence. Since then, I have written a novel that contains some very intimate details of my own personal situations. From teenage pregnancy, single parenthood, abusive relationships, to restoration by the one true living God, you will be encouraged to know that you are not alone. You can and you will make it out of this stronger, wiser, and better equipped to assist the next person you encounter who needs deliverance in these areas and who needs the God who delivered you.
Where do you start? The first step is acknowledging what happened to you. Whether it was in the form of physical, sexual, emotional, mental, or financial abuse you must recognize it for what it is. No excuses made for the abuser. No excuses for yourself. It happened and now you must deal with it so you can be healed. If you stay in the phase of recognizing and not dealing it with it, you will become stuck. Literally stuck in the moment that it happened.
Dealing with it takes a lot and there may be many days you feel pain from talking about it (maybe even shame or embarrassment). The fact is, you have to talk to someone you can trust. You don't want to run around telling everyone and expose yourself to the enemy. Though some may be opposed to it, confiding in a counselor can be very therapeutic. Having the support of a nonjudgmental, outside perspective can make all the difference. Beware of those who may try to blame you for the abuse, "Oh, if you hadn't worn that short dress..."
No, domestic violence is never okay!
As you deal with what happened, go to God in prayer. In His word and through prayer, you will receive your healing. He is the only way to experience true healing.
The Bible makes it clear in Psalm 107:20, "He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." Again, in Psalm 147:3 "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
You can heal from the pain of your past. Recognize it (don't try to bury it like I did), deal with it (seek wise counsel), and heal (seek the Lord through prayer and the reading of his word).
God is able to heal you. Are you willing to cast your burdens on Him?
Whit Devereaux is a domestic violence survivor, author, and blogger. As the mother of two, she enjoys taking family vacations and spending quality time with her daughters. She is an advocate for families of children with special needs and works with underserved individuals to get access to quality health care. Her desire is to inspire, educate and empower those who are in abusive relationships to be free and enter into a personal relationship with our Father in Heaven.
Read more and connect with Whit at https://www.whitdevereaux.com/