As I write this article, I’m filled with words that have been locked up in me for so long: I cry like a child, I tremble, and I recall horrible memories. But I still choose to unleash these words. Maybe, just maybe, I think, God can use my tears, pain, and horrific memories to help others have a voice and know that they are loved.
You see, I’ve kept these memories silenced within me for decades—about 40 years. A few years ago, the man who sold me into the hands of others died. All of those painful memories resurfaced and hit me like a truck. I didn’t know if I or my Christian friends could handle the atrocity of the trauma I’d gone through, but I’m writing about my story because I believe God can use it. My hope is that these words will be a like a psalm of the heart for you, readers, who either understand from experience or who desire to understand the reality of sexual exploitation.
Scrub, Scrub, Scrub
I remember exactly what it feels like to be sexually abused. You see, I was sold by my own father to our neighbor and others as a sex toy. At that time, I felt as though I was completely trapped. I felt like a commodity—used goods that were sold to men. Big men, big hands. I was small and tiny. I had no voice—I was gagged. The images in my mind are so horrific. I was repeatedly used by my own father and other men in our town. I felt so worthless.
I wanted to disappear. Maybe if I work really hard, I thought, I can pay my own way to get out of this town. To ease my pain, I would take a hot steaming bath as tears flowed. I scrubbed and scrubbed until my skin was raw. I tried to scrub myself clean from the filth of those big, evil men. I thought I could scrub their rough touch away.1