Since the inception of this blog (January 2015), I have been faithfully writing on a daily basis, with blog posts written on my “good days” and scheduled in advance, to ensure seamless content being published. Unfortunately, around the beginning of Lent I started to struggle again, both emotionally and physically. It would be putting it lightly to say the last couple months, especially the month of April, have been extremely tough for me.
While I strive to be transparent in my writing, I don’t usually get too personal with my blog posts. Today’s post will break that trend. This month the Lord has put it on my heart to dig deep and share in a way that I am super uncomfortable. Even if there is only one of you out there that can identify, I know it’s worth making myself vulnerable. If you find yourself relating as you read along, this blog post was probably meant for you!
April marks the end of Lent and celebration of Easter. Here in New York, flowers begin to break ground and the Birds return, waking us with their beautiful song.
April is a month that points to new life and new beginnings. I was born in April. I’m an April Fool’s baby.
April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month and I am a survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse.
“Sometimes God redeems your story by surrounding you with people who need to hear about your past, so it doesn’t become their future.” ~Jon Acuff
I don’t remember much from my childhood, but I remember a man in my church who befriended kids. He was probably in his mid to late 30’s at the time and married to a woman named Sharyn. They both lived with Sharyn’s mom, Grace, in Honeoye Falls, NY. He was a tall, charismatic man who wore suits that looked like they were from the 60’s. Powdered pink. Baby blue. His hair was dark, parted to the right, and slicked back, like Ward Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver. He had a smile that would rival Mr. Rogers’. Most of the adults in the church seemed to really like and respect him. Steve Erickson. The name of my first abuser. He had his favorites and I was one of them.
When I turned eleven the repeated sexual abuse I experienced at the hands of this man finally stopped. The pastor’s son caught him trying to grope me in the back hallway of our church and confronted him. He told Steve to leave me alone or he would tell everyone what he had been doing.
It wasn’t long after this confrontation that the pastor’s daughter befriended me. She invited me over for a sleepover. It was the first time I had ever spent the night away from home.
One night when I was sleeping over, her brother, the same boy who had saved me from my first abuser, snuck into her bedroom. We were both asleep. He woke me up with an ugly goblin looking puppet (Boglin) and motioned for me to be quiet so as not to wake up anyone else.
He proceeded to touch me as I lay in his sister’s bed.
He had saved me from my first abuser, so I trusted him.
He told me he liked me.
I was too young to realize he was abusing me too.
For the next five years this abuse continued on and off, only at the time I thought I was in love. I would do anything this boy asked me to and he would use our little secret to control me. Our “relationship” continued until he finally went away to bible college.
It was the month of April when I saw this boy again. Only he was no longer a boy. He was now married. More than five years had passed. He and his wife had moved back to New York after attending bible college in Missouri. His father, the pastor at the time, had recruited them to run a young adult group for the church.
His life seemed to be going so well, while my life was falling apart. I was twenty-one and a single mom at the time. I had just moved in with a my boyfriend who was a drug dealer and ex-convict. I had turned from the church and the things of God long before his return.
This man and his wife started to call me at home. I remember dodging their calls for months. I had heard through the grapevine they were trying to recruit young adults to attend their new church group and I had no interest in joining. When things between my live-in boyfriend and I started to get rocky (ex: he was physically and emotionally abusive), I finally gave in and revisited my childhood church.
Despite being married, the pastor’s son (my childhood “hero” and “first love”) took special interest in me. He convinced me to break things off with my boyfriend and even recruited a bunch of men from the church to move me back into my parent’s home.
It didn’t take long for him to find ways to spend time alone with me. He convinced his wife to get a part time job as a waitress and to take on ballroom dance lessons.
I am ashamed to admit that up to this point I had never read the bible on my own. I was ruled by my emotions and easily believed his lies. It didn’t take long for him to convince me to take part in an adulterous affair.
He made me believe he loved me and would have married me, but that his father forced him to get married to this woman because they were having premarital sex.
He would use bible verses to deceive me into believing that in God’s eyes WE were married first because of the sexual things he had done to me as a kid.
He would use manipulative tactics to make me feel sorry for him, stating his wife didn’t love him and that she had already cheated on him.
He told me she made him wife swap with another couple when they lived in Missouri and that’s why they had to move back to New York.
He used scripture to imply that in God’s eyes they were already divorced.
He bought me jewelry and told me that it was “our little secret.”
He made up stories for me to tell about where I got the jewelry, how I was spending my time, and instructed me to repeat the stories to anyone that asked.