The recent revelations of Donald Trump’s perspective on women and sexual license have caused yet another firestorm in this divisive presidential election. Why, as a nation, do we erupt at sexual scandals (Joe Paterno, Penn State; pedophilia in the Catholic church) like no other cultural phenomena?
Perhaps it is because every one of us has, in some way, been affected by sexual abuse. Statistics reveal that one in four women and one in six men have been sexually molested by the age of 18. That number is, no doubt, significantly higher because most people who have been abused don’t ever talk about it and never report it for public scrutiny.
Why do we, as a culture, glorify sexuality and yet abhor sexual indiscretions? The answer lies within ourselves.
Our self-hood, self-esteem and ability to love ourselves is built upon the foundation of affirmation and unconditional love from outside sources. Once a person’s sexuality is wounded, our ability to love ourselves is removed or reduced. And let’s be clear – sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually that they do not want to do.
In every case of sexual abuse, the beauty and dignity of the soul is violated. Most tragic of all, those who have been abused often blame themselves, believing that he or she should have or could have prevented the abuse. The attack we wage against our own souls is often more vicious than the original abuse. No one can be trusted, especially ourselves. This shame and contempt plays out in different ways in different people – all of which is intended to gain some sense of control over what has been lost.
As a sexual abuse survivor, it took nearly my entire adult life to come to terms with the sexual abuse and on-going threats of public humiliation that I endured throughout my childhood. Once revealed, it seemed as though my entire life had been a lie – having completely buried the memories that were so abhorrent to me. What eventually brought them to the surface were incredibly bad life choices – all done (unknowingly) in an unrealistic attempt to protect my own child from anything negative in life.
I was wildly successful professionally (sexual abuse victims often are as we strive to control every aspect of our lives and live from a position of strength and power); yet I had created a completely false sense of reality; that ‘life was perfect and that all would always be well’ mystique for my family. My hovering, helicopter, controlling behavior hit its full stride during my daughter’s teenage years when she, in the natural course of adolescence, was trying to define herself. Chaos ensued and all semblance of our “perfect” world collapsed.
It was then, through spiritual counsel, that all of my past was uncovered. I had already come to terms (with God’s help) with much family dysfunction (including other sexual abuse) in my childhood, but this newfound, additional revelation of sexual abuse needed immediate and absolute attention.
Here are the steps I took towards healing:
- Revelation of the abuse;
- Realization that I was IN NO WAY responsible for the abuse;
- Awareness and acceptance of the fact that the abuse had damaged my soul;
- Confrontation of the abuser so that the rightful person would take responsibility for the abuse;
- Forgiveness of self, the abuser, and God; and
- Accepting the pure and holy love of God and others for healing and restoration.
And, for me, an essential, additional step has been:
Allowing the redemptive healing of the abuse to help others.
Based on my experiences, I have established an entire healing ministry that encourages and helps others come to the place where they can allow themselves to be loved completely. You can read and learn more about it at www.hisloveenduresforever.net.
If you are interested and if you live in the Akron area, please tune in to WDLI TV-17 (Akron TBN station) for my “Joy in Our Town” interview on sexual abuse on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 2 p.m., or Monday, Oct. 24, at 5 p.m. Once aired, the interview will be posted on my facebook page (Deborah Markowitz Solan) and my website as well.
Finally, if you are curious about my thoughts on the upcoming presidential election, my deepest hope is that all of the sexually inappropriate comments, actions and revelations regarding the candidates will, once and for all, enable us to have a healthy discussion about the abuse that so many of us have experienced which will lead to an even greater discussion about the beauty of every human soul and ways that we can COME TOGETHER to restore that in each of us.