This one is especially for folks who experienced sexual harassment from family members as kids. I’ve been adopted into the family of God out of an abusive family culture where the preferred weapons were words. One of my male relations, we’ll call him Henry to protect the guilty, liked to use sexual words no one should ever hear from a relation. I believe he only pulled this stuff while drunk. The farthest Henry ever took it was the time he groped my breast briefly—and I slapped him hard. When I told a therapist about this stuff in detail, the therapist took it far more seriously than I’d ever dreamed it would be. His ears heard me describing a sexual predator grooming a victim. Grooming is behavior that is passed off as innocuous but is really designed to eliminate the targeted victim’s will to resist the abuser’s sexual advances and ensure the victim will be too ashamed to report the abuser.
Since the alleged grooming went nowhere, it’s possible that was never Henry’s intent. I hope he was repeating behavior done to him without knowing its intent and God protected him from worse as well as me. It’s also possible he’s a ‘real’ sexual abuse victim, still living in silent shame, who tried to drown his pain in alcohol while restraining dark impulses as best as he could and lacked the judgment needed while drunk to see the “grooming” behavior was inappropriate. He often drank until he had a black out, so he may not remember why I hate beer so much. While sober, he’d never have done the things that made me afraid whenever I was alone with him, fears I distracted myself from by escaping into a book.
Whatever is the case, he denies everything. If he stumbles on this blog, and recognizes himself, he’ll send a copy of this to mutual relations complaining about how horrible I am, to publicly besmirch my wonderful blood relation. Since he might also threaten me with legal action, I’m attempting to protect his identity. It’d be petty of him anyway, as I don’t have enough readership to do much damage, and no desire to, either. I’d rather you prayed for him than hated him.
It’s been selfish of me to not speak up except in whispers behind closed doors, if my subjective experience can help you. I thank God for keeping me from worse harm, if the threat I perceived was real. Perhaps it wasn’t, but no one should live in fear of a blood relation raping them as I once did. No degree of sexual abuse or sexual harassment is okay. If you’re going through it, politely tell them how you feel when they do/say such things. A public setting often is best. If they disregard your feelings and continue their behavior, try to receive it only as evidence they’re continuing the cycle of abuse. If possible, report them to an authority in their lives you can trust to believe you and intervene and give them as few opportunities to continue hurting you as possible. Abuse is sin and enabling it isn’t good.
I’ve long felt guilty for hurting so much over relatively light degrees of abuse. That’s why many of my novels’ main characters have endured the severe levels of sexual abuse I felt would warrant the feelings I used them to express. If you relate to how I felt, stop playing the comparison game with other abuse survivors. What you went through was abuse, too, and your emotional wounds hurt the way they hurt. Speak up. Confess it to God and to counselors that God’s equipped to assist you in the healing process.
If you relate, please tactfully share your story in the comments or by contacting me privately. If you feel spiritually stronger than the author or another commenter, please respond with kind words that gently encourage us to continue to grow in spirit and in truth. Critical, disrespectful words that hurt without helping will be removed.