News

A Journey Through Sexual Abuse: Part One

 
BY:DEBBY STEPHENS

Debby Stephens, a woman of faith and courage, uses her gifts of speaking and encouragement to uplift and inspire audiences to persevere in the midst of pain and loss. Debby, a certified life coach, is active in her community, particularly working with causes benefiting women and higher education. She serves on the board of trustees at her alma mater, Cedarville University. As past president of Cedarville’s Women for Scholarship, she helped plan and execute fundraising events benefitting student scholarships. Debby is also president of the executive committee for the Safe Harbor House in Springfield, Ohio, a transition house that helps give vulnerable women a new beginning.

Just the words sexual abuse offers a well of different emotions for different people. Some want to turn the other way and pretend this isn’t happening. Others have a strong sense of justice for the victims. Then there are those who have been victims and survivors of sexual abuse. I use the words victims and survivors because many have struggled through the pain of this journey. Others remain imprisoned by the pain and debris that has been left as a result of being abused sexually as a child.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Abuse can come in many forms, emotional, physical, neglect, sexual…. When sexual abuse occurs some of the other facets of abuse may be present as well.

Let me begin with a definition of sexual abuse. Dan Allender in his book, “The Wounded Heart,” gives us a glimpse of what sexual abuse looks like:

“Sexual abuse is any contact or interaction (visual, verbal, or psychological) between a child/adolescent and an adult when the child/adolescent is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or any other person.”

One out of every three to four women will be sexually abused by the time they reach the age of 18. One out of every five to seven males will be sexually abused by the time they are 18 as well. These are not just statistics; they are real children who have no voice. Sexual abuse most often occurs within a trusted relationship. This only adds to the pain of being sexually abused. When you trust someone you don’t expect him or her to hurt you. You trust they will protect you from harm.

I will focus on sexual abuse throughout this month. We cannot keep our heads in the sand and pretend this isn’t an issue in society. Just go back and read the statistics. Remember when the issue of sexual abuse came out in the Catholic Church? I do, it was the headline for the week on most major news magazines. As well discussed for months publically.

You may wonder why I am interested in the topic of sexual abuse. I am one of the faces of sexual abuse. I am one of the voices that were never heard. I hope by the end of this journey you will see the hope and healing I have experienced. Sexual abuse is not a death sentence.

I have very few memories of my childhood. I don’t remember having friends, playing outside in the summers. What I remember is my parents were divorced and I was an only child. My mother had no choice but to work full time to provide for us. I was very fortunate to have maternal grandparents that were always there for me. I spent every weekend with my grandparents and any other time I was able. They were my stability. I did see my dad most Sunday afternoons. Joint custody wasn’t an option when I was growing up. This gives you a picture of what my early years were like.

Things changed when I was twelve. My mother had been dating a man who had custody of his five children. (This was most unusual in the late 60’s) When I was twelve they decided to marry. I instantly went from a family of 2 to a family of 8. Despite the excitement of having siblings I soon realized this wasn’t going to be all I thought. Both my mom and step-dad worked full-time, leaving the six of us home alone most of the time after school. My three stepbrothers were older than I. It was during times our parents were gone that my stepbrothers sexually abused me. I was very afraid, afraid to tell, afraid of what would happen the next time my parents were gone. I lived with fear as my companion for many years. It is not my intent to go into details because I don’t think that is necessary. What is necessary are the feelings I had during that period of my life and how I came full circle in my healing.

Think about a twelve-year-old girl. I am all of a sudden pushed into a large family. Then add to those elements the fact that this girl of twelve was being sexually abused while her parents were gone. I clearly remember the bedroom door was closed with my stepbrother against the door. Where could I go? How could I escape? I didn’t dare make a sound, I was too afraid. When it was over life went on as if nothing happened. Except in my heart there was a very wounded, scared little girl. A girl trying to make sense of what was happening to her. The fear always loomed after school, would today be the day? Or on the weekends if my parents would go out for the evening, would this be the evening? These were the thoughts that went through my mind during this time of being abused sexually. A world of fear is where I lived. I was only one and there were five of them, I was out numbered. What choices did I have?

The story does not end here. I will continue sharing my story with you throughout the rest of this month. Let me leave you with a take away, something to remember if you have been through sexual abuse.

THERE IS HOPE. THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

About the writer:

Debby Stephens, a woman of faith and courage, uses her gifts of speaking and encouragement to uplift and inspire audiences to persevere in the midst of pain and loss. Debby, a certified life coach, is active in her community, particularly working with causes benefiting women and higher education. She serves on the board of trustees at her alma mater, Cedarville University. As past president of Cedarville’s Women for Scholarship, she helped plan and execute fundraising events benefitting student scholarships. Debby is also president of the executive committee for the Safe Harbor House in Springfield, Ohio, a transition house that helps give vulnerable women a new beginning.

Now Airing

Love Worth Finding

Side Tile Ads

Focus On The Family News

Ministry of the Month

 

Renewing Your Mind

Celebrating 20 Years

Verse Of The Day

A daily word of exultation.
  • “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

 

Contact

Radio AM 860

240 Central Avenue

Oak Hill, WV 25901

Phone: (304) 465-0534

Fax: (304) 465-1486