Dealing With Childhood Sexual Abuse

Part 1

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.

Part 2

I was 11 years old and going through middle school. On top of the normal things taking place such as liking girls, learning to socialize and just dealing with the hierarchy- I was having to process what was happening during the Scout trips as well. I was alone in this process or at least that’s what I believed. This was the 1980’s and there was no where for a kid to turn in those days. If you think people don’t talk about it now it was really off limits back then.  I wasn’t that into church and didn’t really have any adults that I felt like cared enough about me to share this with.

My dad traveled during the week and we didn’t talk that much about important things when he was home. My mom and I were close but I didn’t want to “ruin” the relationship we had by making her think that I had done something wrong. So, I decided that it was no big deal and that I could just forget about it. My family has a long history of living in denial and I was glad to carry on that legacy.

There were two things that came from me hiding this secret and trying to sort through it on my own. The first one is easy to figure out- depression. I slept a lot during my early teenage years. My parents chalked it up to puberty. There was nothing physically wrong with me and there was nothing that they could pinpoint that would make me depressed. Again, this was the 80’s and doctors didn’t diagnose kids with very much back then. Just the normal “it will pass with time” type advise. Eventually, I did learn to “shake it off” during the day but the darkness would always return at night. I would lay in bed at night wishing I could go back and make it all stop. I would never have gone into that tent. I sure wouldn’t have gone back.

As I mentioned in my prior post this is something that has marked most of my life. I felt “less than” other people. Middle school and junior high would have been brutal enough for me without this happening. This only added to an already insecure middle school kid’s fragile self esteem. I was bullied a ton for various reasons- they must have sensed the weakness and insecurity and it felt like their full bullying attention was aimed at me.

I saw the bullying that I received as re-enforcement that I deserved what had happened to me. This type of thinking was obviously circular and self-defeating. It only lead me to stay in my depression longer. One of the most annoying questions I would receive from people was “Why are you so quiet?” But, I knew that if I had told my friends that I would have been marred for the rest of my middle school and high school career. Reputations follow you throughout and I definitely did not want to be seen as “that kid that got molested” for the next 6 years.

The second thing that happened is that it made me question my sexual identity. Not a good thing when you are in middle school and surrounded by good ole boys in the south who already were threatening to beat you up. It was a real “fear” of mine that if I was allowing this to happen then maybe I wanted it to happen. I spent many nights wondering if I was ever going to feel normal again. I worried that maybe I couldn’t carry on a normal relationship with a girl.

I know many teenagers struggle with their sexual identity in middle school and high school. I have heard the stories and the pain. The world we live in today encourages teenagers to explore every possibility and to not be shackled by traditional relationship ideals. This creates a lot of confusion with no clear direction. But, add to it an abusive encounter right as you are beginning that part of your life and it’s a wonder that I am in a happy, healthy marriage with Karin going on 11 years.

Being brutally honest- I wondered if maybe I was gay because of this experience. I want to be clear- I don’t think that Ron Rice was gay and that’s why he did this. He was a mentally ill individual who molested and raped innocent children. It had nothing to do with his sexual identity. But, I couldn’t have comprehended this at 11 and it did leave me with many questions. But, ultimately I always went back to the fact that I was not turned on by other guys. I was indeed attracted to girls. But, I still had to wrestle with why I was allowing this to happen. Did I enjoy it? Was I just curious? Was I that desperate for an adult to tell me they love me?

All of those questions haunted me until I finally got counseling. I was able to build a healthy relationship with adult mentors. I was able to have a healthy relationship with my dad. I was able to talk with him about important issues and have meaningful conversations. I finally let go of the shame and guilt of what had happened to me and was able to begin walking in confidence. As I mentioned before I began to see my worth and what I had to offer people. I was able to finally accept the grace that I had told so many others about.

I want to end this post with a song from Matthew West called Family Tree:

You didn’t ask for this
Nobody ever would
Caught in the middle of this dysfunction
It’s your sad reality
It’s your messed up family tree
And all your left with all these questions

Are you gonna be like your father was and his father was?
Do you have to carry what they’ve handed down?

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

I have a dream for you
It’s better than where you’ve been
It’s bigger than your imagination
You’re gonna find real love
And you’re gonna hold your kids
You’ll change the course of generations

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

Cause you’re my child
You’re my chosen
You are loved
You are loved

And I will restore
All that was broken
You are loved
You are loved

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re brining new life to your family tree now
Yes you are
You are

No, this will be your legacy
This will be your destiny
Yesterday did not define you
No, this will be your legacy
This will be your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re brining new life to your family tree now 

This was not my legacy and it’s not yours either. “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy– to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more. Amen!” Jude: 24-25

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3 Responses to Dealing With Childhood Sexual Abuse

  1. Brian Whitaker says:

    You and me both, Brian, you and me both.

  2. Rebekah says:

    Thanks for opening up, B.
    Sharing this with some folks I know that can relate….will look up the song, too, since I’ve never heard it.

  3. Dawn says:

    Brian, thanks for sharing your story. I remember this
    horrible event. I was good friends with a member of the Rice
    family. Ron Rice passed away today.

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