Friday, July 13, 2012

Innocence Lost

(This post comes from Dann Youle.)

I've always wondered why the victim feels responsible for the damage done by sexual abuse. I felt responsible because I had no control over my innocence being taken from me. It wasn’t something I gave up freely.

In my own story and in the stories I know of other men who have been sexually abused, the guilt seems to come from realizing we suddenly "know too much!" The guilt that I accepted kept me from talking to anyone, or realizing that there were possibly safe adults I could talk to.

A key which helped me overcome my sense of guilt was to realize that I wasn’t the one who was tempted to do something that went against the laws of nature or God’s laws; something abusive was done to me. By realizing that truth in my journey of seeking healing from the damage of the abuse over the past 12 years, it’s easier and easier to believe that it wasn’t my fault and there was nothing I could have done differently.

A huge defining moment, back in October 2000, was when visiting my grandfather’s grave. As I wept and spoke words of forgiveness and healing (for my benefit), I had a new ache in my heart considering the pain he had probably endured in his life, pain that very well could’ve originated from his own loss of innocence.

I’ve also considered how my own abuse isn’t an excuse for actions that I’ve taken because of my own brokenness and need for healing—actions that were abusive and hurtful to others. While I’ve never sexually abused anyone, I know I’ve acted out of my own pain and I have hurt those I love the most.

In spite of my lost innocence, there is healing and restoration that comes from accepting the truth that we all have hurt. The pain in our lives is that we lost our innocence, whether given or taken away. If people can still love me in spite of that, who am I to withhold love, grace, and forgiveness when I’ve been wronged?

In that knowledge and strength, I find my own innocence restored because I extend grace to others.

1 comment:

Heather Marsten said...

You are so right - our innocence is restored when we extend grace and forgiveness to others. That was the key to my healing.

I wanted to make sense of my abuse and tried to figure out what I could have done or should have done that would have been the magic thing to make my father love me and stop the abuse. Problem was, there was nothing - but the shame followed me. I felt abnormal. I wish there were sites like this when I was being abused, so that I could realize I wasn't alone.

Even though I am healed from my past there are still remnants of shame that sometimes stick up their ugly heads. My father, the first time he came into my room told me, "You are so stupid, dumb, and ugly that no man will ever want to marry you unless you put out. I'm going to teach you to put out." Sometimes I still view myself through this lens, forgetting how my real Father (God) sees me. I spent years putting out because I had no sense of self, and that just increased my shame.

Thank God for restoration and forgiveness. I love the promise of God that He will give beauty for ashes. He did heal me and fortunately my children are not being abused. The cycle stopped with my parents' death.

Thank you for being so open and sharing from your heart. It is a huge blessing.