My first experience with any form of abuse was sexual in nature. For many years I was ashamed to admit that I had been sexually abused by a family member. In fact, I had buried it deep within and did not speak about it to anyone until I was in my late twenties.
The sexual abuse was devastating for me. It had many long lasting effects that I would not understand until many years and 2 abusive relationships later.
I was 5 years old when I first received oral sex by the family member. That particular situation shaped the way that I viewed the opposite sex, family, and myself. I equated love with physical intimacy and entered into sexual perversion early on; often masturbating to television shows that I had no business watching at such a young age. I always felt shame afterwards; just like I did after being inappropriately touched as a child.
Even then I had a relationship with God and would pray for Him to forgive me; re-dedicating my life to him again and again in fear that I would not be good enough to get into Heaven.
I somehow felt I was to blame and did everything I could to forget what happened to me. Every now and again, I would have flashbacks of this until eventually I convinced myself that it did not happen. I believed that if I did not talk about it, did not acknowledge it, then it did not matter. That type of thinking got me into a world of trouble because one can not heal from what they do not acknowledge. For years, I suffered from depression and anxiety as a result of what I refused to talk about and honestly did not understand.
At age 17, I entered my first abusive relationship in which I became a teenage mother. This relationship was toxic in every sense of the word. I experienced physical abuse at the hands of the person who proclaimed to love me. I was lost in this relationship trying to help my then boyfriend get out of the street life. I had to put my dreams of journalism on hold when I got pregnant because I had to find something more “reliable” as I was told many times by well-meaning individuals.
Several years later, I would end up in another emotionally abusive relationship and bare another child. I would finally seek therapy after all of this to deal with my depressed state. My therapist saved my life by showing me the power and control wheel and explained that everything that I shared fell into the realm of Domestic Violence; she knew that my depression was not severe. Instead it was based upon the circumstances I was in.
I had no idea what the word ‘Domestic Violence’ meant or that I was a victim. All of this time, I felt I was to blame for everything that happened to me. Make no mistake, I am not perfect by any means, but there is absolutely no acceptable excuse or reason for abuse (whether male or female). It was my therapist who encouraged me to get involved in my local church’s domestic violence ministry. I promised God that when He healed and delivered me from my abusive past that I would go out and help others. It was and still is a promise that I have kept to this day because of the Lord’s faithfulness in healing and delivering me.
A Note From Whit Devereaux,
God would not let my dream of being a writer die though. I chronicled my experiences in my award winning novel, “Not By My Own.”
Not By My Own is a Christian Fiction Novel based on some personal facts of my testimony in overcoming abuse, teenage pregnancy, depression and anxiety. The book is influenced by the scripture John 5:30 which states “I can do nothing on my own, but by my Father who sent me.” (paraphrased). God has allowed this book to open many doors, including being featured on the AC Green Show, the Chicago Defender, a book tour and is the basis for my mentorship program, Not By My Own Community, under my nonprofit organization. I live my life according to Revelation 12:11 because the more I share how I overcame life’s struggles, the stronger I feel. I no longer deal with shame because I have accepted that what happened to me is not my fault; however, I also recognize that seeking healing was my responsibility.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, make a safety plan to exit and utilize the resources available to protect yourself and your loved ones from further abuse.
To learn more about the resources available through Whit's non for profit or to connect with her, please visit her at notbymyown.com.
To purchase her award winning novel, please visit whitdevereaux.com/newbook. For the month of October, you may enter the code: FREESHIPNOTBYMYOWN for free shipping through her website only.