Disclaimer: today's post contains adult content. Read at your discretion.
Keeping a secret is not inherently bad. It's more about what the secret is. Sometimes we keep secrets in order to surprise someone for a special occasion, and other times we keep secrets to keep someone from getting into trouble. I held on to the secrets of my childhood for so long, not realizing they were the roots of many of the insecurities I had about myself. Even when I reflect on some of the mistakes I’ve made, the “reason trail” tends to lead right back to that time in my life when I was exposed to so much sin that I was not warned about beforehand, and couldn't protect myself against.
Different relatives molested me, both male and female, between the ages of nine and eleven. I was also exposed to pornography at an early age, and at that point, I was not aware that what was being done to me was wrong. What I did know, was that no one was openly talking about it. So neither was I. By the time I was old enough to understand what molestation was, it seemed a bit too late to mention the events that occurred years prior, especially since I didn’t see those relatives around much, if at all. Along with pornography and masturbation, when I understood it was sinful, it was too strong of an addiction to just stop.
I never wanted to speak out about what I’d been through. So much time had passed between the incidents and me coming to full understanding of the severity of it all. I never felt like I hated the people who violated me. For others, even after so many years, hatred is still a huge feeling they have for that person. What we all share in common is that at some point, we felt it was just too late to say something. Maybe years go by, someone who was involved has passed away, people moved away, or people change for better, etc. So many circumstances play a part in us all keeping secrets. Satan can have us believing that if we talk about what troubles us, we will make our lives (and the lives of those around us), much worse. That instills fear, doubt, worry, anxiety, and a host of other emotions in us. It also keeps us bitter and angry with those people and the situation. We cannot control how people will respond to what we do or say, so even if you choose to do something you believe is positive, there will be someone criticizing you based on what they believe. Other reasons I found it hard to confront my family was fear of not being believed, or causing the family to split up. I was so worried about how it would affect everyone else, that I was not focusing on how not talking had been affecting me for years. In actuality, I was hindering the growth of my family by continuing the same patterns as my relatives.
When I ask women why they’ve never shared acts of rape, molestation, exposure to pornography, sex trafficking or abortions they’ve had, one of the main reasons I hear in return is because they didn’t know of anyone else with a similar experience. In other words, no one else around them was talking about those types of experiences. They feel alone with their secret. When we keep things like that locked inside, we really hurt more than just ourselves. We hurt generations after us. Here are three main reasons why I believe we should all make an effort to not keep our painful experiences a secret any longer.
1. We can bring awareness to our young people ahead of time. I truly believe that talking to our youth about sin at an early age, will better equip them with the tools and confidence they will need to resist the evil temptations of this world.
2. We can break generational curses. In sharing my past with my family, I learned that I was not the only one in my family who had been molested. Because no one talked about it, we went so long not knowing just how many generations of women we had in our family who suffered the same experiences.A generational curse cannot be broken if no one knows it exists. Change cannot be made if no one sees the problem.
3. We experience a level of healing and victory when we open our mouths.
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11 ESV)”
The first step in moving in a direction towards healing and reconciliation, is to talk about it. I opened up to someone in my college ministry about it and was encouraged to pray about it. I finally opened up to God completely about everything I felt, thought, and didn’t understand. That’s when He began to work inside of me. The process of healing and journey towards reconciliation cannot happen when we suppress things and keep secrets. It takes more than wanting to forget it, to really and truly heal. This doesn't apply only to sexual abuse, but any other abuse or experience we feel embarrassed about.
It was not until I began to speak about what I experienced and the mistakes I made, that I felt free from whatever holds my past had on me. When I began to share my life and all that I have learned from God and why I have the past that I have, I began to meet other women with the same stories who were just as thankful as I was to finally know they were not alone. When we are transparent, we leave the enemy no room to haunt us, to hold our past over us, or to plant bitterness in us. We never know who God may want us to share our story with or why. But I believe the three points I mentioned in this post are at the top of the list. I wish I had known more about sexual immorality, other than always hearing “don’t have sex until you’re married”. I wish I had known not to let people touch me a certain way or in certain places. But now I know, and it’s my purpose to educate others. I know I’m not the only one, so join me in showing others what happens when the secret is out!
I have a campaign, Speak Up & Out, where everything I mentioned above is my motivation. I encourage and empower women and men to Speak Out on those secrets, those hidden things that we believed we would die with, and allow God to turn that into their testimony.
Speak Up & Out,