Tuesday, June 16, 2015

She Matters: J'Layne's Story

This post is a part of She Matters: The Mended Heart Project, a project to bring awareness to stories of overcoming sexual abuse through grace and redemption and an attempt to give survivors a voice. To check out more on this project, see the original post here

I am so privileged to introduce J'Layne to you. Her story speaks volumes to the widespread impact of rape and abuse and to the redemptive power of the church. As I have briefly gotten to know J'Layne via the internet over the last few months, I can assure you that she is funny, wise, and passionate. She has overcome in incredible ways. I am so grateful for her willingness to share her story and I pray you'll be encouraged by it. If you'd like to read more of J'Layne's work, check out her blog, J'Layne Changed. Feel free to send her some encouragement in the comments. Let's cheer on her bravery! 

Meet J'Layne:

This is the story of the sexual abuse I suffered ten years ago. I still can’t believe that this kind of thing happened to me- the girl who grew up so sheltered, waited so long to date, to have her first kiss, whose worst fear was disappointing her parents.

He was a friend of my friends. He was in their Christian worship band. He liked me from the very start of joining our friend group. He was tall, muscular, broad, and handsome. Very funny and witty. In fact, he knew all the right words to say. He took me around his family; his kind and loving mom and his spunky and extroverted fifteen year old sister. His dad was in and out, because he worked overseas. Being with him and around his family was so easy, so comfortable. It felt so right. After six months of dating, I knew he was going to be my husband, someday soon- just as soon as my student teaching was over, and I was a college graduate.

One evening, after a family celebration dinner- his dad was home for a while from his assignment- his parents went to bed. We were in their living room watching a movie. He began kissing me, which I naturally didn’t mind him doing at all. Things progressed pretty quickly, and I began to feel uncomfortable. I told him to stop, but he just held me down, and continued to do as he pleased with my body. It was so confusing because I knew where boundaries were being crossed, and they were not what I believed were healthy before marriage. Yet, these physiological impulses being forced on me felt very pleasurable. The disconnect between my mind, spirit, and body was so loud, clamoring from every shadow of my being. I began to cry. I asked him repeatedly to stop, but he continued to use brute strength to keep me pinned where he wanted me. In the next breath, he was kissing me on the mouth again- it nauseated me. He just laid on top of me while I cried and cried, gasping for breath and struggling to break free.

Through my tears, I asked him, “Why did you stop when I told you no? I wasn’t ready for that.” He simply replied, “You know, you’re cleaner down there than any other girl I know.” It was as if my reality had torn wide open into a sinkhole the size of the Grand Canyon. Who was this man, sitting on this couch with me? The one who professed to be a believer, a worshipper of Christ, a virgin? He then casually said, “Don’t bother telling anyone, my parents still think I’m waiting for marriage.”

The fallout from that single evening had a monumental effect on me. Not only did I most certainly tell my mom, I broke up with him as soon as I could muster up the courage to do so. His mother called me and accused me of cheating on him- that I must have found someone better if I was breaking up with him. It was horrifying. I could not bring myself to tell his mother about his sins against me- it wasn’t my place- but it really hurt to know that she believed I was capable of the thing she was accusing me of.

I became instantly distrustful of everyone outside my immediate family, withdrew from friend groups and just wanted to be alone all the time. The guilt and shame I felt were overwhelming and heartbreaking. I just knew I could never be loved or called lovely ever again- especially because of the way my body betrayed my emotions that night. How could I have physically felt pleasure when emotionally I was terrified and disgusted?

I lost all of my friends.

I spent the next year with just my mom and dad, and sometimes my brother. I didn’t want to be around anyone, didn’t want to talk to anyone. I just wanted to be isolated and safe. After a year, I began going to a biblical counselor.

A few months later, a girl from church invited me to “Sunday Lunch” at her friend’s apartment. I was terrified to go, but at the strong urging of my counselor, I pushed through and went anyway. And guess what? People were kind, friendly, relaxed, shared their stories with me, and let me sit and eat quietly and talk to hardly anyone. Every week, I went to that Sunday Lunch group. For over 2 years, I went, until it got so big that we had to start hanging out in smaller groups, because no one’s house was big enough to fit all of us! The Lord used his body to heal mine. Community with the commonality of Christ is what rescued me from fear of man and the desire to isolate and defend. Being with like minded individuals, and sharing our lives with one another, and ways the Lord revealed his character to us, the attributes of who he is- that made all the difference.

Ten years later, as I reflect back on this community, I have to say that we’ve had some times. I’ve gone on mission trips with these people, stood up for them in their weddings, been there for the births of their babies- all because of the commonality we have of being redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus.

And here’s the thing: nothing we experience as a result of sin or this broken world is God’s fault. He can’t be anything but loving. He doesn’t lie, and His word says that he is love. He is incapable of doing anything unloving to His children. He used the heartache of the sin which was perpetrated upon me to restore me. To take me beyond my original understanding of who he is, and what the Gospel actually is. The good news of Jesus is that we have been redeemed, not by any actions we have done to earn such a redemption, but given freely by the blood of Jesus as a gift to stand in Christ’s righteousness before God. I don’t have to clean myself up or get rid of hurts before I stand before Him. Christ has got all of that mess covered. That is the good news that sets all of mankind free.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing such a difficult thing. I pray that your testimony will bless someone else in a similar situation.