Very thankful for this candid piece from an anonymous writer.

I am a survivor of sexual violence. I now work closely with other survivors. I didn’t seek out a job where I would do this type of work, but I wouldn’t exactly call it an accident that I’m doing this type of work, either. It is difficult, gut-wrenching work, and it is a constant reminder of our broken, fallen world. It is also extremely important work, and I believe that what I do makes a difference.

This is what I believe.

I believe that God can forgive even the most heinous acts of violence, but I believe that asking survivors to fast-forward to forgiving their assailants is asking too much. 

I understand that most of the time, we will never know exactly what happened in these cases. Often, the survivor does not remember, from trauma or incapacitation, or from both. I believe that God knows, and God cares, and God weeps.

I believe that prevention education works. I also believe that humans are fallible.

I believe that the criminal justice system, and believing reporters, and trauma-informed investigations are so very important. But I also believe that none of those things will erase the violence that happened and the pain that it caused.

I have read so many Christian narratives addressed to survivors of sexual violence, urging them to forgive themselves, and to remind them that it wasn’t their fault. I don’t know what that message is supposed to accomplish, other than to introduce survivors to the idea that someone is thinking they might be at fault in some way, or to tell them that there’s something within themselves that they need to forgive. I find this to be misguided at best.

I believe that no matter what the outcome of a human-made judicial proceeding is, nobody wins in cases of sexual violence. Once the violence has happened, everybody loses. Nobody wins.

Nobody wins.

No body wins.

But love wins, in the end.

We are promised a new Jerusalem.

Waiting for a new Jerusalem can feel like waiting for justice, which can feel like an eternity.

But I can see glimpses of that new creation sometimes, when I see healing and a reprieve from pain.

I can see a shadow of grace and forgiveness, and yes, even a new creation in a loving partner and husband, who is imperfect, but who perfectly loves me. He is beyond Billy Joel’s definition of “An Innocent Man,” and he has helped pick up the pieces of me, and we have created an us, and holding onto the us is difficult and beautiful and worthy.

I can feel relief and healing in my body, which was violated, and in my mind, which was maybe more injured than my body. That mind and that body have overcome odds to create and birth two beautiful babies, and nurture them through childhood. This is the kind of healing that I could not have imagined at the time that I was subjected to violence. It is not perfect healing, and my body and mind carry the scars of that violence with me, but in the scars, there is strength, and in the strength, there is new life. This is just a foretaste of the new Jerusalem.

I can hear other survivors’ stories and know that we are loved, despite what we have been told about our bodies and our minds and our souls. I believe that even in this broken world, there is hope. 

These foretastes of the new Jerusalem are a gift, and I realize that gift might not look the same to everyone. I am so grateful for these gifts of hope and love, to feel less alone in the world that waits.

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you are in danger call 911 or reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1­-800-799-7233. You can find their website here.