I cowered behind my bed as the door squeaked open, closed, and locked. An ominous form loomed closer until he stood above me, his bulging eyes locked onto my tearful ones. I whined, he smacked my mouth, slung me on my bed, and whispered, “Shut up or I’ll kill you.” In darkness, he removed my clothes and for twenty minutes, Uncle Bert molested me. I can still feel his cold, clammy, hands as they violated my body.
Dad and Mom, out of town to visit my ailing maternal grandfather, left him in charge of my six-year-old brother, Timmy and me. At eight years old, I knew Uncle Bert’s behavior was wrong, but he threatened to harm me if I told anyone.
The assaults occurred as far back as I can remember. Uncle Bert, an exceptional liar, pretended to be pleasant to me when Dad and Mom were present. However, as soon as we were alone, he started his sexual advances. I remained terrified, held in a prison with no one to turn to.
Our family did not attend church. I first heard of God from my second grade teacher, Miss Robinson. She taught our class The Lord’s Prayer, read us Bible stories, and led everyone in prayer before lunch.
When I turned twelve, my family attended church for the first time. Shame, fear, and distrust consumed my life until I trusted Jesus Christ at age thirteen. For a while, I forgot Uncle Bert.
Another event occurred when I turned twelve; Uncle Bert met our neighbor’s sister, Cindy. He dated her for six months; they married, and moved to another state. I did not see him again except at a family reunion where he kept his distance. I decided to keep our secret and never told anyone what he did to me.
At age nineteen, I married. My wedding night brought back the old fears and tormented memories. Instead of a blissful honeymoon, my marriage remained unconsummated and in limbo.
My husband Dan continued to express his love, patience, and concern for me. Six months later, I could not keep my secret any longer. Years of pent up feelings and fears gushed forward while my husband listened in silence. When I finished, I bawled.
“Honey, I am so sorry.” Dan groaned, as he pulled me in his arms and held me tight while I continued to sob.
When my tears abated, I gazed into Dan’s watery eyes. His face revealed sadness, love, and concern.
“Annie, you need to see a Christian counselor as soon as possible. I know a woman who is a great therapist. Marianne Clark has helped many men and women recover from childhood sexual abuse.”
I nodded and said, “Yes, I don’t want to carry around this shame, fear, and guilt anymore.”
Every week for the next six months, I attended therapeutic sessions with Dr. Clark. A petite woman in her fifties, Dr. Clark, along with the Holy Spirit, helped me arrive to the point where I wrote Uncle Bert a letter of forgiveness. She said in order for me to heal, I needed to forgive. I never heard from him.
I told my parents who were horrified. Dad’s anger increased to the point where he said he wanted to kill his brother. Mom cried and both said they were sorry they did not protect me. I hugged them and said, “You’re forgiven, and I love you.”
God lifted a huge burden from my shoulders and healed me. The guilt, fear, and shame were gone. Dan and I consummated our marriage; a year later God blessed us with a son.
One spring afternoon, two years later, Dad dropped by with tragic news. Uncle Bert committed suicide. His wife found him lying on the floor of their garage, a gun beside his body. He clutched a penned letter to his wife and daughter that expressed his love for them, his remorse for what he did to me, and how he would rather die than hurt his daughter.
Dad said he saw Uncle Bert and his wife a couple of weeks ago. While there, he led them to the Lord and a Christian advisor.
Today, I am a counselor. God has used me to help other victims of childhood sexual abuse. Hundred of adults and children are free from their prisons of fear, guilt, and anger. Many have forgiven their attackers, trusted Jesus Christ as Savior, and experienced His healing touch.
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