Written By Carolyn J. Hudson,
Wow! It’s been six years since that horrible night that I was raped by an elder of the church I attended at that time. That violation dramatically changed my life on all levels; physical, emotional, mental, financial, social and most of all spiritual. It was catalytic in nature. It was a force that became a demarcation, a mark in time from the life I knew to a new life totally unknown to me.
The physical assault of rape was horrible enough, however that did no compare to the co-abuse or re-victimization I experienced and the serious health issues that magnified because of the attack. Most days I fought for my life physically, mentally, emotionally and some days I was too weak to fight. No one knew. We Christians are good at hiding.
What has happened to me in those six years? I died and did not know how to revive myself. I reached the deepest depths and the highest heights in my soul. It’s difficult to explain those many collisions in my soul. The emptiness and fullness, the peace and fear, the sadness and joy, the destruction, the death, the depression yet the determination. Through it all, my survival tools became truths that I call “Points of Grace” that helped me maintain life and walk the healing journey. Instead of writing my life events over the years since my last writing in 2011 I chose to write what I have learned through this trauma journey.
My Points of Grace – My Truths Birthed From My Trauma
- Trauma is life changing – I learned the severity of trauma. Trauma is not a hiccup in life. Trauma is a life changing eruption that destroyed my life as I knew it. My structure, my pillars were gone. Trauma changed the landscape of my life. I had a new normal now, a normal I did not want or ask for but it was my life now, whether temporary or permanent. Insecurity, fears, anger, confusion, isolation, self- blame and severe depressions are just a few of the new normal feelings.
I did not want to accept or call my life a new normal. I wanted my old life back. I fought to keep doing what I do every day but I failed. My mind and body did not connect anymore. Depression lived with me every day and slept with me every night. No matter how much I wanted to attempt normal everyday functions I couldn’t. The assault affected my capacity to do daily chores. I could not function. Memory loss, confusion, anxiety, fears, isolation grief, depression were my normal. Through therapy I realized my trauma symptoms were not unusual. They were normal for a survivor. As I began the healing process and many symptoms began to minimize I realized my life would not be the same.
- Silence is not golden – I learned the importance of speaking out. Speaking out is imperative for real healing. It’s empowering, strengthening and life giving. Hiding and suppressing the trauma has long lasting negative effects. Suppressing pain can cause health issues. Though I was silent, the violation, the trauma still affected my life decisions. Talking about the trauma, talking about the pain and releasing it helped. It was important for me to have someone to talk to, have a safe person, a safe place where I could speak, where I could release my pain and not be judged.
After I was raped the authorities advised me not to speak about what had happened for fear of it may affect the trial to come. Being the obedient person I was trained to be from childhood, I desperately tried to honor their wishes but failed. I needed a release in my soul. I had to talk to someone.One Sunday morning while serving as a minister I broke down in church. Fortunately I made it to the ministers room before I let out the biggest cries and screams. I could not be silent. I was in great pain and needed to talk. That was the best thing I could have done for me. They wanted to help but couldn’t. Talking about the trauma later with others helped me tremendously. I learned the safe places to express myself. Talking helps many survivors heal and decrease the negative effect on their future lives. Silence is not golden.
- Safe places are necessary for healing –I learned having safe places to express yourself is an important component of healing. A safe place can be a person, group of people or a place. It is a place in your life where you can be yourself. It wasn’t good to isolate myself though I preferred that above anything social interaction. Trusting someone with my wound I learned was important. I tested the waters and trusted my gut. I could tell very quickly if someone connected to me just by their conversation. A safe person is someone who has your heart, who empathizes who listens to you without judging and has your best interest in mind. If I shared my pain, my heart and it bounces back to me that person or group of people was not a safe place. Anyone who judges, blames, guilts or minimized the violation was not a safe place for me. Re-victimization can kill someone who has survived a traumatic attack. Don’t allow it. Finding a therapist that fit me was important. Finding a support group that fit me was important and sharing with people that know me.
My place of worship was not a safe place for me. I felt re-victimized by the church leadership and eventually had to leave to live. I relied on my safe places, a few family members and friends, my therapist and later two support groups. Sometimes the person in my safe place did not understand what I was going through but they were there for me, patient and empathetic. I could trust them with my wounds. But I also had to grow into a safe place within myself. My own thoughts were a danger to me and they had to change for my good. Sometimes I was my worst enemy. I had many battles within my conflicted soul. I had to build myself up from within and destroy all negative thoughts that hindered my healing.