Opening our mouths

“Silence is often the loudest voice.”

It’s one of my favorite quotes, and it applies to so many situations.

But not this one.

For 16 years, I’ve kept my mouth shut, barely whispering out of the corners of it to a few trusted people.

The first time I had sex, when I was 16 years old, I was raped by a trusted friend of the family.

The aftermath that ensued was much more damaging and painful than the experience itself. Since that day, I’ve suffered from shock, guilt, stress, and grief. I’ve watched, almost as a spectator, as the internalization of the trauma spilled out of me quietly, poisoning relationships, killing my joy, and ravishing my mind.

Of course, this was Satan’s intent. He’s been a pretty happy camper the last 16 years, I’m sure.

Recently, I started processing the event therapeutically as a 32 year-old woman and examined my responses to it thoroughly. I realized I’d barely skimmed the surface of the issue until now, even though I thought I’d handled it well and that the case was closed. I found myself digging deeper, so deep that at times, I felt despaired by the overwhelming task of climbing out of the abyss I found myself in.

From the moment it happened to me, I refused to tell my mom. I love her. I wanted to protect her from the pain of knowing and from herself, because I know how much she loves me, and I was afraid she’d wind up in prison if she knew about it. I’m pretty sure she would have. A few weeks ago, I finally spoke the truth about it to her. And because she’s grown so much as a person the past few years herself, she handled it beautifully. It turned out that my greatest fear—her knowing—turned out to be the final key that unlocked the doors to my own spiritual and emotional freedom.

Of course, Satan knew this, and that’s why he whispered to me, day after day, that she must never know. Now that I’ve chosen to speak and to let God do whatever He wants to as a result, Evil no longer controls my decisions. It doesn’t determine my course any longer. The blinders are off. The road is open. The light has come in.

And in a strange turn of events, a week after opening up to my mom, I learned that a friend of mine who is connected to the man who raped me was repeatedly sexually abused as a child. By whom? A trusted friend of the family. This friend told me that “with trust comes great power.”

And sometimes, when we choose to silence the voices telling us to shut up about it all and to keep burying it inside ourselves, God has the freedom to do great things. We give Him back the power when we let go of controlling who knows about our painful pasts.

My friend hasn’t told his family yet about his experience, but he asked me to share it anonymously via my blog today. His story echoes the quiet death that so many of us have died. But it’s also the beginning of the resurrection of a life someone else destroyed.

Maybe by letting our voices be heard, someone else will remove his hands from his mouth and start talking. And start healing.

My friend’s story

I have to warn you that what you are about to read will upset you. Read it when you have some time to clear your head, or curse, or cry. I have to tell you a few things that I am not capable of speaking out loud. I’ve tried and it seems impossible. Somehow typing it and hitting the send button is much easier.

In my search for pictures at Mom’s house, I have come across many of me as a child. I have little to no memory of my childhood. More disturbing is that I don’t even recognize the kid in the pictures. I have always struggled, and when I was younger, I just assumed that no one remembered their childhood, and it was normal. But the recent efforts to recall that kid in those pictures has spun me off into a place that I have been a few times in my life. It is my greatest struggle known by only a couple of people.  

I was sexually abused as a child by *Rick. The details are more than you want to hear and more than I can type. I don’t know how it started or how old I was. I don’t know how many times, but it was often and for years. I have spent my life protecting the people I love. Our family’s income, the home we grew up in, my siblings, my friends. I don’t know how my childhood friends ever met him. I don’t know how other kids ended up in his home or at the lake. But once they were, they were at risk, and so I kept going. I remember being asked to go as a “lifeguard” to make sure everyone was safe. I remember being convinced that if I got erect then I was enjoying it because if I wasn’t, then it simply wouldn’t happen. I remember how heavy his leg was laying across me. I have never dated a woman who slept in my bed and at some point didn’t feel like I had cheated on her or that she was fat. What I can’t explain is that there are moments still when I can’t have skin touching me or a leg across me. I sleep on my back with my arms crossed over my chest like I’m dead. It may be unrelated, but every time a woman laughs about it, I picture what I must have looked like with my skinny little arms and body lying in his bed trying not to move, trying not to wake him. If I try to remember the countless good things in my childhood, the weight of a leg on me takes over my thoughts.  

The struggles come in large waves. I’ve spent long periods of time with little to no pain. At the end of each wave, I foolishly assume that the periods of general happiness are here forever, and that now I am older and all is well. That has proven wrong every time and is doing so again. As an adult, I methodically planned his death on a couple of occasions. In one case an argument with a girlfriend may have saved his life. The struggle isn’t sadness but hate. I struggle with good and evil.  

God doesn’t need to show himself to me for me to believe. The devil has, and if there is a devil, then there is a God. I don’t hear voices or see ghosts; I’m not a crazy person. I do have an overwhelming desire to see him die. I want it to be me that he sees last on this earth. I want to hand him over for judgment.  

The birth of my son should have curbed me, and did for years, but today it is different. He is becoming a little boy. I see his innocence and vulnerability. Seeing him as he gets a little older is feeding an anger that I thought was gone. It is a little different this time. I picture someone hurting my son rather than me, and how I feel scares me. He asked me a few weeks ago what would happen if someone hurt him. He was probably talking about kids on the playground, but the answer that came out of my mouth was, “Dad will find them and kill them, and you will be okay”.  

The loss of Dad may be the worst part. Forgive what I’m about to say. I looked forward to his death. I wanted him to leave this earth knowing nothing of what had happened. It would have destroyed him. I felt like I had accomplished something by protecting him all the way to the end. Since his death I now hope the good Lord does me the favor of protecting him from it as well.  

I’ve spoken with my priest and broke down for two hours. He is the only man who has ever heard the words. It was the only time I’d ever said any of them. Father is a good man, but I think I overwhelmed him. I don’t know where to turn. I’m becoming a person that I thought I had defeated.
I consume books. Lately I have read several that have to do with brain development. That has opened up another world of anger. The idea that his actions help to shape who I am and how I act is very hard for me. I could type for hours so I will just simply stop. You’ve likely heard enough for one day. I’m sorry to burden you with this, but I do not know where to turn or what to do and am being consumed.

I’m praying that today you will cry out to God for my friend, and maybe for yourself, too. Keeping it quiet will kill you. Letting God slowly but surely speak to your heart and then open your mouth will salvage your faith and maybe someone else’s life. Trust me.




6 thoughts on “Opening our mouths

  1. Jerra says:

    Kudos to you for finally being in a place that you can speak this truth to everyone, not just a selected few. I love you, my dear friend. And I’m so thankful your mom responded to your telling her the story exactly the way you needed her to. I will be praying for your friend.


    1. bethany says:

      Thanks JQ. Thanks for being there for me all these years and not judging me for all my crazy mistakes and ups and downs. I love you back. And thank you for praying for him.


  2. Henry Petty (@HenryBlazer) says:

    I was completely floored when I read this – how powerful and how strong you are for revealing this. I’m moved deeply. Congratulations on finally getting this out and letting it go. Also, I’m so sorry that you and your friend both endured such abuse. Rape is the most heinous acts anyone can do to another human being.

    While this is nothing compared to anything you endured, I was bullied physically and verbally at my previous work place. It got so bad, that I was literally scared for my life at one point. Management wouldn’t do anything about it, and they were let go shortly after I left. My last day there was a tough one, because I could choose to “get back” at him for what he had done without the consequence of losing my job. What did I do? I left a small note in his work locker that simply said, “I forgive you.” I believe he just threw the note away, but it moved me so deeply and I could finally “let go”. It still resonates with me today, nearly 4 years later. I brought this story to our Men of Faith Bible study group and they told me that forgiveness is really for yourself and so you can allow yourself to be fulfilled and to let it go. I honestly don’t know if I could forgive someone who did these acts to me that were done to you, but I still wanted to share that with you.
    I invite you and your friend to read & discern Psalm 139, which I believe will be helpful. May the Peace of the Lord be with you and your friend, always.


    1. bethany says:

      Thanks Henry–and those feelings and things you experienced are really similar to the feelings I’ve felt in a lot of ways. And forgiveness is crucial. “Without forgiveness, there’s no future.” -Desmond Tutu


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