Alia’s testimony on overcoming sexual abuse
When I was asked to write and publish my testimony, I must say I was not eager to do so. God, however, confirmed His desire within 24 hours and so here I am. As a social worker, I use my testimony to counsel youth and as a Christian, I use the opportunity to counsel as a moment to witness. However, I was not eager to publicly share the events that changed my life because they are personal, painful and dark details. Details I would not necessarily want ‘the world’ to know. Up until this point, I have been selective in who I share my testimony with and I have been the one to decide who needs it. I, then, share the parts I think are relevant with those who sit in front of me. But, it seems God is requesting that I tell the story and He does what He wants with it. Who am I to dictate His will regarding my story and the darkness He saved me from? In fact, what He does with my story is His glory to which I am not in charge of distributing. It should be noted that God speaks to me through the pen…and He just put me in my place with that last sentence. Okay. So, He is in charge of this piece. My ears are open to His voice. My pen is yielded to His way. My heart is open to His process. Let’s go.
My walk with God has been unique in the experiences that I’ve endured post-salvation after 2005. They were used as tools to not only teach me how to walk a holy walk but were used as a purification agent, a clipper to circumcise and a reminder of who I was born to be. For me, these seeds were planted in my early adulthood years after other more secular behaviors and mind sets had already settled. While there are many parts of my testimony, God is leading me to describe only a certain aspect of it.
With that being said, as a teenager, I had very low self-esteem. My father, the first man in a young girl’s life, was involved as he attended parent-teacher conferences, chorus concerts and recitals but I only saw him on the weekends. My mother was working long hour days as an entrepreneur and a single mother who sacrificed her own “woman hat” to maintain a home, acting classes and food on the table.
After watching a failed marriage for the first 10 years of my life, I didn’t have the concept of healthy ‘man-woman relations.’ I used men’s sexual attention to feel whole, to feel pretty, and to feel worthy. Throughout high school, I was very verbally and physically promiscuous. By the time I was 21, I had been raped 3 times, including the loss of my virginity being non-consensual. Each incident was different in circumstance and level of violence.
I got into a long-term, 4 year relationship shortly after the third time I was raped with a man that would turn out to be emotionally abusive. I didn’t know the relationship was abusive until after it was over. The same way I didn’t know losing my virginity that way was rape until years later. In that regard, I guess I tended to think the way men worked to destroy my mind and control my body may suck sometimes, but was normal. Later, I would find myself on some website reading the definition of rape or about the ‘cycle of abuse’ and checking “yes” to all the boxes. I would have a life-altering, mind shifting experience. So yes, coercion is rape. You know when you say “no” so many times and he keeps trying to convince you? You finally ‘give in’ because he’s not listening to you anyway and you’re in the backseat of his car on a dark factory road. What are the alternatives? So you lay there and look at the ceiling of the “hoopty” as he does what he wants to your body. Or he straddles your neck trying to force himself inside your mouth, arms pinned down, and you finally say yes to sex because anything is better than this… yes, that’s rape too.
A man constantly accusing you of cheating when you’re not giving any reason to think so is emotional abuse. He is jealous of your best friend, causing you to isolate from your family, blaming you for being raped, using your past against you, projecting shame, threatening to withhold their love, calling your phone constantly in an effort to control your whereabouts but saying they owe you ‘no explanation,’ calling you names, picking fights in public to humiliate you, cheating and bringing a disease into the bed you share, selling drugs in your house when they know you don’t approve, being jealous of the relationship you have with God, becoming irate at the thought of you loving another man more than him, even if it is Jesus…is all emotional abuse.
So, when the relationship fell apart, it took time to detox and walk away after years of raw intimacy that created a toxic soul tie like no other. I felt so stupid for continuing to be involved and kept it a secret to avoid judgment. I would lay in bed next to him, feeling played and cry in the dark. I would tell God sorry but I couldn’t help it. God was beginning to have enough. I fought Him. I wanted what I wanted even though it was bad for me. I was determined to let my will be done by any means necessary. The fact was a man was what made me feel whole and I couldn’t manage to walk away long enough to see if God could fill the void I was looking to fill. The man felt too good! Even though I knew it was wrong, it was essential to my being and sense of worth. HE was my everything. So God’s voice got louder in my life as he attempted to rip this stronghold from my grip while, unbeknownst to me, calling for celibacy. All the AWFUL, terrible things that had happened in the ending of the relationship weren’t enough for me to walk away- God had to beat me.
On March 24, 2010 I had some sisters from church come over my house. When it was time to go, I walked them outside to their cars. There was one pit bull I knew of that was running free in the parking lot where the cars were parked. I had never had experiences with pit bulls and did not know them to be the ‘hood weapons’ I know them to be now. I walked over to the parking lot gate and opened it about 2 feet. In an instance, two white pit bulls ran to the gate barking viscously. I turned around and ran towards the other side of the street, not consciously thinking I had opened the gate wide enough for them to get out. As soon as I turned around, I heard my one sister screaming for her life and I saw both dogs attacking her in the middle of the street. I was stuck and had no idea what to do! Another sister ran to her and punched one of the dogs in the face and then the owners ran out of the parking lot to get the dogs. My friend was bitten on the arm and was screaming in pain. An ambulance was called, my sisters blamed me for the attack and I fell into a deep depression for three days.
As I laid in bed, crying, not eating, heart aching from guilt, I suffered in silence- the enemy’s favorite tactic to use with me. At times, he would mess with me and cause the dogs to bark in the street outside my window. On the third day, God spoke. The sister who was attacked played a special role in my life and God used her to speak to me. So when I saw Her get attacked it was like seeing God. God told me that when I engaged in illegal intimacy with this man, I might as well picture Him being mauled by pit bulls – my sin. I let the sin out of the gate and it jumped on my God as she screamed for dear life. Picturing myself hurting my newfound love, God, in such a vicious and terrifying way was enough for me to give my body to Him and practice celibacy until marriage. Holiness is right and while I still didn’t think I had value or even believed he could fill the void, I didn’t want to hurt my God like that ever again. The consequences for my perpetual sin had become too painful for me to continue. I had to obey or else the pain would get worse. My sister being attacked by pit bulls that I let out was too much pain to even bear.
To be honest, (wouldn’t even admit this but since it’s a testimony), I continued seeing this man. My soul was literally attached, but was not intimate. Yes, God’s voice got louder and the consequences got worse until the day came that I learned he was still sleeping with the girl he cheated on me with. I stopped seeing him but kept talking to him on the phone! Finally, the last day I ever spoke to him was when he said “F*** your God and f*** your church.” That was it. That was all I needed. I chose God.
Several years later, August 2012, I got involved with another man who lived in the apartment below mine. The devil used him in my life and I became involved in a friendship but then the friendship became physical for about a year. He knew the decision I had made in reference to celibacy. However, when we were intimate, I would push the envelope all the way right up until it got to my own line. I was tap dancing on the line. Each time I would be with him, I’d tell myself I wouldn’t get physical but then I did and then would go upstairs crying and repenting with guilt and shame. Time and time again, I would ‘molest myself’ as my mind screamed no but my body did it anyway without my permission. Then one night, the line was crossed and he raped me after two years of choosing celibacy. To say I felt violated would be an understatement. On this night, when I chose to give my body to God it was taken anyway. I was devastated.
So right here, I refuse to” testi-lie” and say I feel like I had victory over this situation, as I do still blame myself for ‘getting myself raped’ a fourth time. More God-ordained counseling will continue to shift my thinking on this, however, God did heal me from the devastation that I felt after it happened. I did not go crazy but more went down the path of destructive apathy and said “oh well, my body doesn’t belong to me anyway- clearly!” I suppressed, compartmentalized and moved on.
Eleven months later, I found myself hanging out with that guy again and kissed him. Yes, I made out with my assailant. The same way I continued making love to my abuser. The same way I continued to date my first rapist and hang out in the same house with my third. In a crazy way, this was my attempt to maintain power and control. They took my body and/or my mind but I still had control- over my body by ways of “seduction,” my whereabouts or my ability to date if I wanted to! All these years, after all these rapes, my body didn’t belong to me. ‘No’ never worked so I always said ‘yes,’ because I could.
Wow God. (He is going in on this pen right now)
While I may be clearer on this now, when I made out with that guy, I fell into a crazy quicksand pit. I was silent in my struggles. I refused to share what I had done with anyone- even my best friend of 12 years, Erin (a sisterhood birthed in the mind of God). I was rolling my eyes in church, feeling unworthy of God’s love, angry at myself. I felt it illogical to even go back to God to ask for his forgiveness. He had to be sick of this behavior by now – I thought. I fell deeper into this black pit as I couldn’t lift my hands to praise, couldn’t muster up the words to worship. I was too ashamed and proud to ask God for help and I was dying a slow spiritual death. This continued for about a month and a half. I knew I was dying and so did my spiritual loved ones around me, yet I kept a tight lip and suffered in silence. Finally, one day, God saved me through my best friend who finally pushed me to tell her. Then in service, she came to me, literally lifted my hands to God and prayed a mighty warrior prayer as tears flowed from my eyes like a river. I was free and had been resuscitated.
Not sure how to conclude a testimony because I feel it’s on going and this was just a snapshot of my experiences. But I do know that while we can endure dark periods, no season is permanent. When in the winter of our lives- we know in our heart spring is coming. It always does. In the last couple months, I have found myself ministering to girls in abusive relationships. I never imagined those tears I had would be used years from then. I never imagined the feelings of emptiness and loneliness I felt in the 2 years it took me to detach from my abuser would eventually go away! I am able to tell these women, from the other side, that they WILL be okay and know exactly what they’re going through. But the fact remains, I would not be free if it weren’t for God coming inside me and changing my heart because my mind was indeed completely and utterly made up. Saying ‘yes’ to God became a matter of life and death and the ‘yes’ at the time wasn’t even surrendering all as much as it was giving him permission to come inside my heart. I wasn’t at the point where I could say I was ready to give it all up because I still believed I needed it. My sin felt good. It made me feel whole and I was comfortable in operating in it. But once the consequences got too much to bear and he got inside- he scrubbed, cut, washed, and healed me. Now there’s no going back and in fact, my testimony still ministers to me. After all, this walk is a process. While the healing continues to manifest, the victory in this testimony is the fact that I am alive, sane and living holy. My body really does belong to God. He is my boo, my father, my best friend, my boss, my confidant, my everything. He really does make me feel whole in loving me unconditionally. It’s true that he will never lie to me, betray me, tell my secrets, call me names, hurt me, or take advantage of my vulnerability. He’s the best man for me.
Okay God. You got that one. My testimony is told written and shared. Are you happy? I hope so!
Signing off- your faithful servant.