I was abused as a child.
Please don’t call any government agencies. Just hear me out. I wasn’t physically or sexually abused. My abuse was verbal and emotional — very much both of those.
My perpetrators? My two older brothers. I don’t think they “meant” to abuse me. I honestly don’t know their intentions; many years later, they don’t even know. I guess it just seemed like what they were “supposed” to do at the time, and they went with it.
If my abuse was wrong, my parents would have stepped in, right?
Of course, that would have required my dad to actually get involved with my life and for my mom to acknowledge that all her children were not, in fact, perfect. Since neither of those things was going to happen, my abuse was left unchecked.
From the earliest time I can remember until I was almost done with college, my two brothers verbally and emotionally abused me.
My earliest memories of my brothers include such regular statements hurled toward me:
“Go drink poison and die!”
“You’re a waste of space!”
“You’re such a girl!”
“No one will ever love you!”
“You were a mistake, an accident — Mom and Dad didn’t even want to have you! Now they’re just stuck with you!”
“You’re a fat piece of crap!”
These days, this would be enough to get child services involved. But when I was growing up, child services only looked for physical signs of abuse. My brothers’ words, though harsh, never left a physical mark on me; instead, the mark of their words was left inward.
These words — they buried deep inside me for many years, festering and taking root. At the end of high school, it all came crashing down. Seventeen years of abuse will do that, I guess.
I went into major depression and tried to take my life countless times.
I felt worthless, broken.
I knew I was an accident, a burden, and an outcast.
I was fat.
I was the wrong gender.
And I was an abomination.
By some miracle, God saved me. He brought me into new life through His Son, Jesus. My conversion was truly a surprise as I was in my darkest and deepest moment of depression when I accepted Christ.
Scars on your soul are not always taken away without the consequences being left behind, unfortunately. I envy those people who had radical conversions and never seemed to struggle again with their past mistakes. Though I was saved, I was still neck-deep in crap.
It wasn’t until the end of college that I finally confronted my past abuse. A good friend and a counselor both had to walk me through the process of accepting my abuse, confronting my abuse, and forgiving my abusers.
Even then, the healing process was far from over. These pains had shaped everything about my life for over twenty years. My whole life was built on my brothers’ words to me. That wasn’t about to be undone in one conversation.
Years of counseling, hours of prayer, and countless conversations have led me closer and closer to healing. I still struggle with my past abuse. I still have to forgive my brothers and parents for what they did or didn’t do.
I have to remind myself that my abuse does not define me — Christ defines me.
Some days it’s easy. Some days it isn’t. But each day is a new chance to let Christ work in my life.
If you were abused, please tell someone around you that you can trust. It’s difficult — but Christ is with you. I’m sure of it.
Did you experience abuse growing up: verbal, emotional, or otherwise? Have you healed from your past abuse, or do you still suffer from the after-effects? Feel free to share as much or as little of your abuse story in this safe space.
* Photo courtesy Steve Hammond, Creative Commons.