Last week while I was meeting the director of the facility where I was brought after my rape, I was triggered by something we were talking about. This woman, a therapist; victimologist; trainer; and liaison to the police and detectives; knew she would need to lighten the subject to stop my downward spiral. She decided to ask me about my dog which would seem innocent enough, right?
I proceeded to tell her how cute my dog is and how she is very much like me. She is shy and eager to please. I have taught her many fun tricks and because she is so eager to please, she is easy to train. I am instantly frozen… and then all the air was sucked from my lungs and I think my heart stopped beating.
Next thing I know I am crying so hard I intermittently stop breathing, hoping I will stop feeling. Both the therapists sitting with me were paused as well and I wonder what they must be thinking. Here they were trying to calm me with a light subject and instead sent me as far the other way as they could have.
In the space between two seconds, the words that went out of my mouth came around and pierced the depth of my heart with two intense insights. First, because I was so eager to please my father, I was easily trained. My father had repeatedly told me that he had to do things to me because I was bad. The lie that had engrained itself so deeply in my cognition was, then if I was good enough, if I pleased my father enough, the sexual abuse would stop. The truth is, I could never have been good enough to make him stop. Later when journaling about this experience, it came to me that I could never have been bad enough to deserve what he did to me either. I have struggled with the lie of ‘not good enough’ and ‘less than’ for so long and God had chosen this time to show me where the root was. With my surrender, He would start to destroy it.
Second, it dawned on me that my father’s actions trained me to be a target for future abuse as well. Twice I was molested by boys in my neighborhood, and I knew to be good, and stay silent. Then I would marry a man who would turn out to be abusive and he would continue the training because he knew the lie was already solidly anchored. Again I would try to be good enough to make it stop.
Then came that fateful night last June, the first of the two rapes. I had spent my life in training and in the moment of an incredible shock, my mind went right back to what it knew of abuse, be good and stay silent. Then maybe, just maybe, the rape would stop, and hopefully I would not be hurt too severely. When it was over, I cleaned up the mess, like I had been trained; I showered and cleaned myself, like I had been trained; and I told no one…
just like I had been [well] trained.
It was finally time to let myself off the hook and to step out from under the oppressive shame that had been formed through harsh judgements of myself…and from others.