Relationships

A young woman’s journey out of sexual trauma and brokenness

Delilah Heng // March 5, 2019, 5:38 pm

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My family used to be tight-knitted when I was younger, and I was especially close to my father. We would attend church services together every Sunday and do family activities on every other day. It wasn’t until I started primary school that my father slowly became increasingly physically and emotionally absent.

He only came home on Sundays to eat with us and would disappear for the rest of the week. Here and there, I would receive phone calls from him that lasted for a mere 20 seconds. I’m in my early 20s now and this is still how we are like today. For many years, I just lived with the lie that my father was largely absent due to his work.

When I was 18, news of his second family surfaced. I was the first out of my siblings to hear of this.

Does he love his mistress and his two other sons more than he loved me?

I was deeply hurt. I questioned myself if I was worthy to be loved.

This downward spiral continued as my mother also began to have relationships out of the marriage. I started to lose respect for both my parents.

I hated my parents for being hypocrites and bad role models, and for having other partners while still legally married. I would always blame them for the woman I became to be.

People told me that I was fortunate to be born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I could easily get all the material things I wanted. And because my parents weren’t legally divorced, I had no rights to complain about my family. On the surface, we seemed like the perfect family.

But it was all a facade.

I grew up being objectified, mistreated and deemed unworthy of love. I struggled to see any value in myself.

I was 10 when I was first sexually abused by a relative of mine. It happened almost every week, and the more it happened, the more afraid I was to tell someone about it. This lasted for 7 long years.

The first time it happened, I was hurt and confused. This relative was someone who took care of me and protected me, yet he was doing all these inappropriate things to my body.

Every night, I cried myself to sleep.

Why me?

I felt embarrassed, dirty… and completely alone.

Four years later, I eventually told my siblings and closest cousin about it. But no one believed me. They assumed that I was making it all up.

Being doubted after mustering up all the courage I had to speak about my sexual assaults made it increasingly hard for me to trust anyone.

My inability to trust led me to channel all my brokenness into meaningless relationships during my teenage years. But those relationships made me feel emptier and more worthless. Those guys either cheated on me, or they only needed me to satisfy their sexual needs.

I was deeply stuck with the wrong idea of love, so I continued to give myself physically in hopes that they would truly love me back.

I was disappointed with the men in my family. They were either absent, distant or abusive, so I tried to find love outside. I was determined to find a guy who would love and care for me the right way.

In my adolescent slump, I drifted further and further away from God. My parents’ behaviour and the repeated marital affairs happening in my extended family made me second-guess Christians and the God they claimed to believe in.

If God is truly good, why are His people like that?

I eventually came to know Christ again for myself when I was 16. However, even after accepting Christ as my Lord and Saviour, it didn’t mean that everything became okay.

It wasn’t easy trying to change from my old ways – spewing vulgarities, sleeping around and being hot-tempered. I wasn’t a credible Christian in the eyes of my non-Christian friends as well.

But I was good at keeping up the facade.

In church, I became a leader in the children’s ministry, a mentor in my campus ministry and a musician in the worship ministry. Yet outside of church, I fell back time and again to leading a toxic and worldly life.

I knew that my life wasn’t honouring to God. It took me a while before I came to the decision to drop my various ministry roles. Because before honouring Him with my time and talents, I wanted to honour Him with how I led my life first.

But I also realised that the renewal of the spirit is a daily process. It didn’t mean that my life got straightened out overnight. It didn’t mean that my life was back in order for good. This walk isn’t so much about trying to meet God’s perfect standard (because we can’t), but acknowledging that this perfect God loves us despite our imperfections.

God will never see you for what you’ve been or what you’ve done. He’ll only see you for what you’re called to and created to be. He’s willing to empower that truth if you’ll pursue it. 

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)

If we truly know in our hearts how much God loves us, it becomes a reality in our lives and it can be seen in the way we treat other people. Maybe the person who hurt you only did so because he/she doesn’t have a revelation of who God is.

I’ve realised that it’s completely normal to feel hurt. It’s okay. But as Christians, we shouldn’t dwell in it for too long because it’s never about what we’re going through, but what Jesus went through to make us new again.

The enemy is out to misrepresent truth so that some men don’t run to it and find freedom. But we can love and find freedom because we know who God is. We shouldn’t live by our own feelings, but instead by faith and truth.

Things at home are still messy, and my parents and brother are still very far away from God. But I count myself as blessed because I got to know God.

I’ve come to recognise that even though my earthly father failed me and didn’t provide me with the love I so desired, my Heavenly Father always has and always will. His love is sufficient for me.

Though it took me a few more years in my walk with God to truly understand it, I’m glad that God never once stopped pursuing me and sending different people to remind me that I am worthy of His love.

My past doesn’t define who I am today, and neither does yours. True security and identity can only be found through Jesus.

Our innocence may have been violated along the way as we were growing up, and things that used to consume us may come back to haunt us. But rest assured and be rooted in who you are and how God sees you.

Because of God’s grace in my life, I’ve learnt to forgive my parents, the boys who broke my heart and even that relative who sexually abused me.

To fellow believers, don’t let the passing pleasure of sin be the thing that excites you in your life because it will not produce lasting fruits in the long run. In the midst of temptations, learn to surrender fully. It will be a tough fight, but God has already won the battle for us.

To fellow sisters who are struggling in the area of relationships, don’t ever let your heart be put on sale. You are a precious daughter, bought and redeemed with the price that Jesus paid with His life on the Cross.


The author’s name has been changed for confidentiality. Photos are for illustration purposes only.