This was the only choice I had. I had fashioned in my mind that I was doing the right thing. I had heard, so many times, “The first step towards healing, is the acknowledgment of the issue” but I was terrified. I was scared of three things: the unknown, the lack of compassion and understanding from others and the consequences of my decision. I realize that there would be a cost associated with my freedom but I couldn’t quite assess what it would be. I desperately want it to be whole and released from the shackles of guilt and shame that imprisoned me. So, I did it…
“My name is Ashley and I was sexually abused and molested by my father. He mishandled me, violated my trust and corrupted our relationship. He was also my Pastor and taught me everything that I knew about Jesus. The abuse took place between the ages of 12 and 19 years old. I don’t want to live in shame anymore.”
I didn’t admit this (publicly) until 10 years after the abuse had stopped. I ran away from home at the age of 19 and never went back. Do you really want to know why I left? Yes, I was angry, uncomfortable and hated being in that house, but that wasn’t the main reason I chose to disappear. I left because I loved my father and I thought that loving him meant hiding his secret. I thought that if I just remove myself from the equation he’d be “cured” of his issue. I had already shared the abuse with my mother and two brothers, around the age of 21. No one seem to care. They didn’t really react. Maybe they did care, but didn’t know how to express it. Maybe they didn’t want to believe it was true. I think about their, “why’s” from time-to-time. I try to understand and be compassionate for them.
In August 2015, five days after sharing my truth with the world, I received a call, informing me that my father had died from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. I was devastated and I experienced a myriad of emotions. I blamed myself for a while and so did others. For a year, I received hate messages, threats to not come back to my hometown and the total abandonment of my mother, two brothers and countless other family members and friends. It was the hardest thing I ever experienced.
Even when I was at my lowest point, emotionally and questioned if I had made the right choice, it was something that kept telling me, “You did the right thing, Ashley!” Everything within me was fighting against that one truth. It took courage to admit my truth and even more courage to continue owning it. I never thought that it would cost me all of this heartache, pain and suffering. After all, I was seeking freedom not more turmoil. But I kept fighting; I kept telling my truth.
When I feel myself getting weak I hold onto God’s promises and choose to ONLY BELIEVE God. He promises that He’ll never leave me nor for sake me. He draws near to the brokenhearted. He hears me when I cry. He will not let anything overtake me. He will deliver me. He will be my refuge. He knows the plans He has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future. He promises me so many things and I had to learn how to apply them to my life on a daily basis. Sometimes there is no gimmick or a 10-step guide to overcoming fear. We just have to make the choice to only believe God.
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