Ron Rice.We affectionately called him “Uncle Ron”. A name I thought about every day for years. I will never forget the day in high school when I heard his name and it changed my life forever. I was sitting in my English class and I was 17 years old. Someone said randomly “Did you hear about that pervert that was arrested downtown for trying to kidnap that kid? Apparently they found all kinds of pictures of naked boys in his attic. He was a Boy Scout leader named Ron Rice”. I asked if they were sure of the name. When they said they were I went to my teacher and told her I had to leave. She didn’t ask why but just allowed me to go. I signed out and went to the one person I felt I could confide in. You see- I had been one of his victims six years earlier.
As I drove to my church to see my youth pastor my head was spinning. I went in and told him that I had to talk with him. Obviously he knew it was serious since it was in the middle of the school day and I was not one to skip class. As I told him what had happened to me so many years before he stopped me and we called my mom at her work. She left work and came so I could tell her for the first time. We cried together and she told me it would be alright.
We went to the police station where they took my statement and told me if they needed me then they would contact me. I was assured they had enough information to put him away for a long time without my testimony. The last I heard he did get jail time but I’m not sure if he is out now. A scary statistic is that 60% of abusers are out on parole.
It all started on an overnight campout. I won’t go into details but he justified it by saying that if we loved each other then what he was doing was alright. I was never raped but was definitely molested. He also used the classic “We can’t tell anyone about this”. This went on from the time I was 11 until I was almost 12.
But, from that time forward there was not a day that went by where I did not think about him and what happened over that year. I tried to stuff it down and forget about it but at night it would haunt me. Probably why I prayed that God would kill me. I never told anyone because I thought it was relatively minor what had happened and I had really agreed to him doing it. So, really it was my fault right?
Obviously my youth pastor suggested that I get counseling but I told him I was alright. And, the truth is I felt alright. My parents never asked me about it. My dad never really even acknowledged it had happened. Which was fine with me at the time. I didn’t feel like reliving it rather just putting it behind me. I’m sure he and my mom wondered if they could have done something different that would have prevented it. But, the reality is that pedophiles will find a way to victimize.
I continued to live with this secret for years after telling my youth pastor. I told some of my college roommates but still never really addressed the pain that it had caused. I fought bouts of depression but never once attributed it to what happened to me when I was 11. It wasn’t until I was working with my former youth pastor that I decided to deal with it. This was in my mid 20’s.
I was working as a youth pastor at the church he was pastoring. I asked him to give me the counseling that I should have had 8 years earlier. He was happy to help me and we met for several weeks. I finally got to the point where I could let go of the guilt and the idea that I had allowed this to happen. I didn’t deserve what had happened to me and I could not have stopped it. I also had to learn to see the value I had and that I was not a lesser person because of that experience. I had to let go trying to prove my worth to myself and to truly embrace what I have to offer others.
I don’t remember the first day that I didn’t think about Ron Rice. But, it was several days before I finally realized that I hadn’t thought about him. Soon, days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and eventually it really did become a distant memory. I knew that I had been healed and freed. Now, I never think about it except when I want to help others.
So, why now? Because I know that this is not something addressed in the church. I was trained in ministry- youth ministry- and was never given any tips on how to deal with this issue. I served in ministry and cannot think of a time when this was ever addressed head on. There would be the occasional “healing” groups offered by various churches on random nights. But, I didn’t want a support group. I wanted someone to really talk about this and how to move forward with healing.
The national statistics say that 1 in 3 girls will be sexually abused before they are 18 and 1 in 6 boys. So, just with the friends that I have on fb that would mean approximately 100 of us have experienced something similar. If it hasn’t happened to you then you definitely know someone it has happened to-whether you know it or not. And chances are that some of our kids will experience this! That last statement sends shivers down my spine and makes my blood boil.
This obviously affects enough people that it needs to be addressed frankly and head on. Acting like it’s not there doesn’t mean kids aren’t being sexually abused everyday and it doesn’t help the ones who have already experienced and have lived with it for days, weeks or years. We can’t flinch, or be embarrassed. But, as with everything we must exhibit compassion and humility. Most people are like me- not looking for sympathy but just for the pain to go away. They want to quit feeling ashamed for something they had no control over.
One day Karin asked me why I was so passionate about ending modern day slavery and childhood sex trade. Well, this is why! Children are helpless and they are made to feel they have no choice. They have no one to intervene and to bring justice for them. I know the pain and isolation. I know the prayers for God’s wrath to be brought down. If someone were to touch my children I would want to go Law Abiding Citizen on them.
I want to encourage you if you have been a victim of childhood sexual abuse to confide in someone. You can be healed and not carry that around anymore. You don’t have to think about it and you can forget the name that haunts you. I want you to hear the words that I have heard that you didn’t deserve it, you couldn’t have stopped it and it’s not your fault. You can let go of this and move forward. There is healing available to you.
Now, I want to address any abusers that might have stumbled upon my post. Turn yourself in. The children you are hurting do not deserve what you are doing to them. Pray for God’s grace and face the consequences of what you have done. Be assured that though you may receive God’s grace there is judgement awaiting you here on earth.
If you are a counselor and would like to leave some links for people to look up then please do so in the comment section. If you are a victim of abuse then I would love for you to find the healing and freedom you deserve. If you want to share your story then know this is a safe place.