I wonder how many times i'll attempt to type this story before I press delete and start over.
I wonder if in some twist of reality, it will help me to re-write what has been lost.
I wonder how words can ever do justice for 1 in 3 women who hide behind exhausted smiles.
It has been 10 years since my first encounter with sexual assault. And still I wonder. By the grace of God I have found the strength to exchange pain for redemption. And still I wonder.
It has been a long and rugged road towards healing and it is only now that I realize that the journey never ends. Rather, God continues to unfold new mercies each day to help me face the questions embedded within the deepest parts of my pain.
Oh my sisters, if I could shout it from the rooftops would you believe me when I say that YOU ARE NOT ALONE? That every strained breath I take with every fragmented memory is for you and the countless souls desperate for freedom? No one can dictate if and when you should share your story. But perhaps, if another just like you bears her scars, you'll begin to believe.
You are not alone.
“If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
**CAUTION: The following content contains sensitive depictions of sexual assault and harassment.**
At 18 years old I was labeled as a goody two shoes; an inexperienced prude. In a high school society where drinking was the ticket and sex the prize, I was an outcast; reminded every day of my inadequacy to fit in. I barely understood the awkward transformation of my own body. How in the world could I bare to grasp the maze that is the mind of boys? It was towards the end of my senior year of high school when he began to notice me. He was my window into acceptance and I couldn't resist climbing in to take a peek. Just a glance of what it would feel like to be loved by the most loved boy in my grade. When he led me into his room I followed blindly, a fool to what was about to happen.
When he pushed me onto his bed I glanced in the corner of the room and saw his brother fast asleep. I pointed him to the direction of the sleeping form under the covers sure it would spur him to quit his advances. To my confusion, it seemed to entice him further, as if the thrill was sexy. He spun me around so fast the vertigo overtook my senses and I didn't have time to process the underwear he had ripped off me.
I wonder if he's done this before, I thought to myself. I squeezed my eyes shut to try and pray but the words were lodged like sticky glue in the back of my throat. The word “No” felt like a foreign language I wasn’t equipped to translate. A flash of my father giving me a hug goodbye and saying I love you that very morning crossed my mind like a shooting star disappearing in a vast, dark universe. I was always my daddy's princess. I remember thinking what a dark contrast I was in; being thrashed around as my body lay limp. If my soul could make a sound the shriek could surely wake the whole neighborhood. I prayed for my soul to cry out the words I could not.
As I gasped for air with every forced thrust, his heart beat against my body like a lash more severe than the first. His sweat was toxic poison to my virgin skin, melting away every ounce of dignity within me. After his pleasure was appeased, he rolled over to leave me. A woman turned to ashes. I remained paralyzed in my own skin, sick of my own body as if it had betrayed me. The sun rose and I quietly left with my prize; I had done it. And yet, why did I feel so utterly bankrupt?
Weeks passed and he made it clear that I was his property. If he could have branded me with a scarlet "S", he would have. And yet, it was an unspoken mandate that he would never be mine, even though he eventually called himself my boyfriend. He was an expert at withholding affection unless I paid him his currency in intimate favors, calling me a "good girlfriend" when he was satisfied; like a master training a dog.
I thought, surely it can't be sexual harassment or assault or rape if he is your boyfriend.
Eventually he tired of me and moved on to the next victim. Thus began a downward spiral of damaging choices leading to new predators. With each humiliating act against my soul and towards my body, the terms sexual harassment and assault began to dissipate until no longer tangible in my brainwashed mind. I would make excuse after excuse.
Maybe if my skirt wasn't so short he wouldn't have come after me.
If I hadn't been drinking, I wouldn't be in this position.
I should have been more forceful in turning him down.
Relax, it's just words; they're strangers anyway.
With every wave of conscience I willingly entered into reckless situations completely neglectful of my personal safety. What I failed to realize was that every time I chose to stay silent in my own prison of pain, I subconsciously gave over power to evil. I eventually found myself in a daze on my bathroom floor captured by the possibility of ending it all. I thought to myself, If men won't stop taking from me, I no longer want to be an option. I was in a hole of suffering so deep I could barely see the light when I tried to look up.
It was there, in the darkest recesses of my pain, that I felt a Presence climb down, down, down, to find me. If Love had a form it was Him. And for the first time in years, I knew what it meant to be held; how it felt to have the sacred torn from my life and still survive. It was in that quiet place of assurance where I finally gave myself permission to call it out for what it is.
And while they had names, they did not define mine. My name is Nika Diwa. I am a daughter of The Most High King. I am ROYAL; CHOSEN; HOLY; SPECIAL. Called out of darkness and into MARVELOUS LIGHT. Oh the freedom to learn that He could turn me into a beauty from ashes. I began to sing a new song as Jesus began to do a new thing, springing up from deep inside me into the sweetest liberation I had ever known. As the tears mixed with regret and revelation began to flow, God caught each one, naming and recognizing every hurt I had endured. Jewels in crystallized tears. It was in this eternal space of safety and all knowing comfort that I took my first breath of healing. And I haven't stopped breathing since.
Oh my dear friends, I do not claim to have the ultimate solution. While I would give anything to reach out and in an instant cure your heartache, I cannot offer a quick fix. But what I can declare is there is GOOD NEWS:
YOU ARE KNOWN TO THE BOTTOM YET LOVED TO THE SKIES.
God knows your Name. He sees your every thought. He sees each tear that falls, and He hears you when you call.
No, your pain will never be any less significant in your journey and NO, those who robbed you will never be justified. In fact, I believe God has a special fury for those who harm his daughters. And yet, could it be that the insurmountable, all-encompassing glory of Jesus is enough to make you feel hope again? For faith to begin the delicate yet empowering journey towards redemption? Oh Beloved, as far as the Heavens roll on and on forever, YES, YES, YES... it is enough!!! Starting NOW, in the mighty Name of JESUS, may your healing begin.
I stand with you, my sister, in saying "Me Too"; whether your heart is whispering or shouting. I confidently speak for countless women around the world and all the angels in Heaven when I say that there is power on the other side of your pain. This is true wherever you are in your road towards the light; and whether or not you choose to tell your story is YOUR PRECIOUS CHOICE. And I promise you, while there will be many times of wondering in this lifelong narrative we face, one thing you can remain assured of is YOU ARE NOT ALONE.