**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.
Let me introduce you to Kaylyn. Many of the stories I've been blessed to share on this platform come from women I barely know or have met a handful of times. This story is different. Kaylyn is one of my closest friends. Watching God transform her heart and her story has been a real-life journey, one I feel privileged to share in. Kaylyn is wise, beautiful, compassionate, and bold. Check out how she uses her voice on her YouTube channel here.
To my abusers,
I don’t know how to begin this.
I spent years telling myself that I forgave you, but the person that really needed forgiveness was me. I beat myself silent with the “I could haves” and “I should haves,” because I knew that would be everyone’s response if I told them what happened. So I lived with the shame.
Someone looked me in the eyes and told me that the fault was all yours. Still, I continued to cling to the fact that I had already made peace with the idea that it was my fault. If I’m being honest, I think I used that as an excuse to hide behind and avoid dealing with what you did to me. It was easier to just forgive you than to come to terms with what it meant to be sexually abused. In that “forgiveness,” however, I never mourned what I lost because of you.
I lost my trust and belief that a man can be good, respectful, have integrity, or think of me as their equal. I became bitter.
I lost my belief in most people and their desire to stand up for those who are abused. I have encountered only a select few who have felt righteous anger on my behalf. I’ve had to mourn the reactions of disbelief from those I love.
I lost the innocence of being able to fall in love with someone because I automatically believe the worst in them. I believe that men see me as an object of pleasure rather than a human being worthy of respect. Because of this, there is a constant uneasiness when I am around any man, especially if there is no one else around.
I’ve lost any peace of mind when it comes to being physical with my future husband. I get anxiety when I think about having sex. I’m mad that I have to tell him why I’m scared and why I can’t just enjoy something that was designed to be good. I’m frustrated for him, that he’s going to have to continuously fight to help take down my walls.
I struggle with the idea that there is someone of character out there for me, and if there is, that I will push him away because my walls are too high and too difficult to break down.
I come with baggage and I’m not apologetic for that, but you should be.
Despite all of that, however, God has brought beauty from my ashes. He has made a beautiful whole, picture out of my broken pieces.
He has shown me my worth.
I know that I am valued beyond measure and deserve respect. Because of this, I have learned to fight intensely for myself because I refuse to be considered someone’s inferior, an object they can use. I have become strong, stronger than I’ve ever felt. God is good and it’s his goodness, overwhelming grace, and relentless pursuit of me that fuels me to stand taller and to not back down when fighting for what I believe in.
He makes me brave.
Brave enough to forgive you.
What you did was traumatic and in no way okay, but my peace and healing doesn’t depend on you recognizing that. I forgive you, because He has begun a new healing me and showing me more of His goodness that only came from mourning what I have lost. He is restoring and will continue to restore what I have lost.