I had always wanted a newspaper route. I thought it would be cool. Having my own money to spend only made it more desirable. I was 11 when my parents agreed to let me deliver papers. It was hard work. I got up every day at 4:00 am and hauled my bound stack of daily news into the dining room. There I would roll and stuff each one into a plastic sleeve and place it into the double-sided pocket carrier. Once all the newspapers were packed, I would sling the heavy carrier over my head and rest its weight on my shoulders. Each morning I headed out into the dark, snow-covered, streets of my neighborhood. It was hard work, but I loved doing it.
The day after Christmas in 1988 was the day that my world forever changed, and it happened while delivering these newspapers.
It was near the end of my route. I was working on the cul-de-sac across from the one I lived on and was almost finished for the morning.
All I remember about the car was that it was big and green and that the passenger door window was taped up with plastic. This boat of a car pulled up next to me and a middle-aged man opened the driver-side door. He leaned out of the car, calling out, “excuse me” and motioned me over. As I approached the car, he asked, “Can you tell me where Snow View Drive is?” I knew exactly where it was. I was eager to help. Standing next to the car, I turned to point down the road to indicate where he should go.
The next moment happened so fast. As I turned to point, the man grabbed me and threw me across his lap onto the passenger seat.
“I know where you live and I’ll kill your family if you try to run.” I believed he would. He drove for what seemed like hours. When the car stopped he forced me into the back seat. For the next forty-five minutes I endured some of the vilest acts that should never be experienced by a child. My innocence was stolen from me; ripped from my child’s grip. At one point a car pulled up and the headlights shone onto the green car. The man quickly opened the door, to avert the driver of the other car from getting out. The other driver asked if the man needed help, to which he answered no. The car drove off. The horror continued.
At the end, he dumped me out of the car, into the snow, and reiterated his threat to kill my family if I told anyone. He drove away.
I was alone. In the dark and in the snow. I began to run and saw a house just off the road. For a moment I thought of stopping there for help, but the fear of being hurt even more kept me on the road. I ran until I saw a road I recognized. I ended up being a mile and a half from my own home.
When he was arrested he said he did it because he was drunk, high and distraught that his girlfriend had just ended their relationship. He claimed he never before entertained such a thing. When he saw me, he said he didn’t know what came over him. It was random. He did not live near us; he was just driving around.
He was sentenced to 40 years and had 10 of it suspended.
In the wake of his arrest and trial he left a hurt and very confused little boy. My dad’s boss was a Christian. My parents asked her to come pray with us and she did. Her influence led us to attend church and was how I heard about Jesus. I prayed the sinner’s prayer when I was 12, about 6 months after my rape.
Saying that prayer didn’t fix anything. Things seemed to get worse. For a long time I was so angry. I struggled with wondering if the rape made me gay. I slept with women to prove I wasn’t. It formed and twisted my views of sex, sexuality and relationships resulting in something that wasn’t healthy. My anger and brokenness grew. Being raped cost me a lot.
I’ve talked with many professional counselors. Some counselors helped, some did not. Even as they told me I wasn’t alone, I felt I was. I always felt alone in what I suffered. Talking about it was too difficult, so I didn’t. This time in my life was lonely and heavy.
I would hear people comment on other’s experiences similar to mine. Without thinking or knowing what to say, they would say stupid and hurtful things. Hearing comments like “everything happens for a reason” or “God has a plan for all of us” only made me angrier.
As the years trudged on, I attempted to put it all behind me. However, it always lingered in the back of my mind. I wanted to be healed from what happened to me, but I wasn’t even sure what healing would look like. It would be almost 20 years later before I saw God purpose that wretched day.
One day, as the Student Administrator for the military school I was assigned to; I found myself sitting across my desk from a young female student. She had been in the Air Force for only 3 months. The story and feelings she shared with me could have been my own. At first I didn’t know what to say to her. But a voice inside me kept saying, “Tell her she’s not alone, and tell her how you know.”
And that’s what we all need, right? Not just to hear that we’re not alone, but to hear from those that are in it with us. We need to know others who understand our hurt and loneliness. A few years after that conversation with the young female Airman; Jesus captured my heart in a way that I had never known. Suddenly I discovered the Source for complete healing that had previously felt unavailable to me. It was then I realized that I really was not alone.
I want to be clear here about what I am communicating when I talk about not being alone. Of course I’m talking about Jesus “being with us to the ends of the earth,” and the Holy Spirit being our present Comforter. However, I’m also talking about community. The community of people that God surrounded me with. It was through community that I felt “with” others and experienced genuine love. That kind of love heals a multitude of hurts. The words of the Psalmist, that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” rings most true through community.
This is the first time that I’ve written my story, let alone shared it so publically. I did so for one reason. So that if this has happened to you, you will know that you are not alone. There are others that know the kind of hurt you know, that know the same kind of loneliness, and that suffer over the same questions.
While the number of women who are victims of rape or sexual assault is substantially higher than the number of men, the gap is shrinking. If you’re a man who has gone through this, you are not alone. If you’re a woman who has gone through this, you are not alone. I could throw a ton of statistics in here, but it wouldn’t be helpful.
What is helpful is Truth. And here are some truths you need to know. What happened to you – it’s not your fault. You did not deserve it. You are not alone. And while it may feel like it, what happened to you does not make you less than who you are or who you are meant to be.
Here is something else I want you to know. This event, as horrific as it was, doesn’t define us. It isn’t who we are. It is something that happened to us and we can heal from it. About a year into my counseling I decided I wanted to be a police officer. I wanted to help others who would experience the same thing. That event was the catalyst for how I would direct my life toward helping others. Later I learned it was God actively purposing it.
Of course, deep down, most of us know there are others who share in our suffering. Only knowing does little to move along the healing process. If you feel alone in your hurt, here is an organization committed to helping you heal: