I was always “that girl”. That girl that seemed to have everything. That girl who was always happy. That girl that could light up a room. That girl who knew how to make friends. That girl that could cheer you up even if she was having a bad day. But I had a deep dark secret that no one knew about.
My brother and I are 18 months apart. We moved into our new home when I was 7 and there was nothing but boys in our neighborhood. So naturally, I tagged along with my brother and his friends. And even developed a few crushes on them over the years. I had a crush on his best friend for what seemed like forever. And when I got into the eighth grade he started to “take notice” of me. He was 2 years older than me and I was thrilled when he started to take notice of me, and started talking to me more and what I thought was “flirting”. Then I started to notice that his flirting felt wrong. He started to touch me inappropriately. At first I convinced myself it was an accident. That a nice guy like him that everyone loved would never do anything like that. But he started getting bolder and more daring and I couldn’t justify it anymore.
I was always outspoken and had no problem telling people off. I told him no, but he would try to convince me that it was okay. I would try to run away but to him he saw it as “flirting” and would chase after me or he would grab me harder and leave bruises. He was a lot bigger than I was. I had no one to turn to. My world was crumbling around me. Someone was taking advantage of me and I didn’t know what to do.
I turned to my Heavenly Father. I learned in Young Women’s a year earlier that I should get down on my knees every night and tell Heavenly Father everything that happened. So I began to do that. Begging and pleading with him to make it end. Because everyday it got worse and worse and I didn’t know what to do. I finally got the courage to tell a friend. I picked this friend specifically because I felt I could trust her. Well once I told her who it was she flat out told me she didn’t believe me. I was heart broken. And at that point I lost all hope that anyone would believe me. After that things seemed to have escalated. It happened at school, it happened in the morning on the car ride there. For hours on end when I got home from school, it was like a never ending world of abuse.
I got so angry with Heavenly Father because it felt that my prayers and pleadings were going unheard. I finally told Him I wouldn’t talk to Him anymore because He didn’t care. That very Sunday in our Sunday School class my teacher told me something I will never forget. He said “Heavenly Father can’t stop bad things from happening to you, but He won’t let it go on forever” I felt like I got my answer. And everyday I would pray and ask Heavenly Father if today was the day that it would end. I did tell my parents finally one night but I asked them out of respect for me not to go to the cops. I felt that this boy, even though he was hurting me, was still a good person, and was just making a bad decision. Also, a small part of me thought that even if I told them they wouldn’t believe me and I couldn’t go through that.
Eventually when I was in 11th grade and he went off to college it slowed down a lot. It still wasn’t over but it went from every day to every few months when he would come home from college. Even though the abuse had pretty much ended I still had to pick up the pieces and begin the healing process. I started getting on lds.org and finding articles about forgiveness and finding peace. I talked to my bishop and prayed a lot to understand. At first all I wanted was him to tell me how sorry he was, explain why he thought it was okay, and promise he would never hurt another single person. I struggled with the thought of him hurting another person but I tried to push past it.
After I graduated high school he started coming around again and this time he was pursuing me. I was dating my now husband, who lived in Colorado at the time. He helped significantly in my road to healing and knew all about the situation. He was trying to decide if he was going to serve an LDS mission when he met that boy who was abusing me for the first time. They talked a bit and he was trying to convince my husband to go on a mission when my husband decided in that moment he was staying and marrying me so he couldn’t do anything to me anymore.
I have not seen him for 2 years and now I am a wife and mother. There are still moments when I struggle with some things that the abuse has done to me. I still wake up from nightmares, and think about it, I have a hard time with hugging people. But everyday I get a little closer in healing. It hasn’t been an easy road to healing but through the Atonement I can be made whole again. I am grateful for this trial in my life because I have gotten closer to my Heavenly Father and Savior and I can help others in my situation as well.
It wasn’t an easy road to forgive him. Especially when some days it was all I thought about. I was angry that he affected so much of my life. I was angry that he had taken something so sacred to me. I was angry that he defiled me. But then I realized that it will be judgement day and there will be things in my life I am sure I will need forgiveness for. That’s the great thing about the atonement, it’s not just for me, it’s for everyone. In order for Heavenly Father to forgive me I must first forgive. And since I have forgiven, I have felt peace, love, no anger at all, and most of all happiness. I don’t have to think about it everyday and I don’t have to let it run my life. It’s a part of me and has changed me for the better. And I would never want to change who I’ve become because of this.
Story written by: Courtney
The story appeared first on Real Imprints.