Secrets in the Dark
Guest Author: Fee Rocha
My name is Fee. I’m the proud mother of three crazy kids. I’m the wife of a preacher…and a handsome one to boot! I teach Sunday school and ladies Bible classes every week, I’m even working on getting my degree in counseling…I am just an average girl. I am Fee…and I’m also a survivor of sexual assault. To be specific, I’m a survivor of incest. Each time I say it, those words get stuck in my throat and begin to choke me, trapping me in my prison of silence. I’ve been silent about this for a long time, but that ends now. Today I speak openly, not only for myself, but for those still trapped in their silent prisons.
I am going to give you a very abbreviated version of my story. But be warned…it is tough to read, some of you may not want to read to read it, and I won’t fault you there. I find no joy in writing these words, but I know they must be written. This issue, this taboo, this stigmatized victimhood must be brought to light so that the shadows and darkness begin to fade. I realize some of you may still battle with very strong triggers from your own abuse. If that is the case, please feel free to stop reading here.
Growing up, my home was the stuff of nightmares. Some of my earliest memories are the grainy images, the frightening sounds and distinct smells of those first few times my father came to molest me. He was always on the prowl, biding his time for the right opportunity to take advantage of a quiet moment in the house. I didn’t dare let myself be caught alone in our home. It was too dangerous, but sometimes I found myself trapped anyways.
When my father first started his predatory behavior, I was very young, maybe three or four years of age, the truth is that I don’t remember a time when it wasn’t happening. I found what was going on so confusing. The touching made me uneasy and scared, but how could it be bad if my dad was doing it? Why did we have to keep this a secret, was it wrong? Surely, he wanted what was best for me. Otherwise, why would he show me all those magazines to “help me understand how adults had fun together”? My father always assured me that everything we did was our secret. He told me I was special, and that is why I got to share his secret. I became good at keeping secrets.
I didn’t really understand his “secret” at first, but what I knew for certain was that my body was not my own. More and more I lived in a constant fear of being touched. As I grew up, I remember a constant nauseating feeling of dread welling up inside my chest and throat, suffocating and immobilizing. It never failed, the sound of my father’s heavy footsteps made my heart drop into my stomach. I was paralyzed with fear. I wished I had never been born so that I didn’t have to go through those moments of despair.
His sexual predations escalated as the years went on. I remember begging God to let me die, so the abuse would end. But God didn’t let me die, and I became convinced that God was more of an absentee landlord who only came to collect rent. God obviously didn’t care what was happening to me. I was so angry at God! If He wouldn’t pay any attention to my cries, then I decided I didn’t care to pay any attention to Him either. My heart hardened more and more, and my life felt utterly void of purpose. I specifically remember one period when the thought hit me that I might be stuck dealing with a pregnancy piled on top of all this. It was then that I seriously contemplated taking matters into my own hands and ending this useless life I had been dealt. From then on, ideations of suicide were always circling the perimeter of my thoughts. I guess the only thing that stopped my from going all the way was another fear; fear that I wouldn’t succeed…that I would fail to escape this prison that had become my existence. Most 13-year-old girls fantasize about their first kiss. When I was 13 I fantasized about ending my life. You see, I desperately wanted to die before everyone else would find out about the things I’d done, or really the things that had been done to me. The guilt and shame continued piling higher and higher, crushing me under the load. I felt as though these sins were my own.
Finally, at the age of 14 or 15, I stood up to my father. I threatened him, saying that I was going to ‘do something about it.’ All of a sudden the sexual advances stopped. The abuse, however, was not over. No, he found other ways to keep inflicting pain and holding power over me. In the back of my mind though I always knew the threat was there. I knew at any moment he might work up the nerve to sexually assault me again.
A strange thing happened as the years passed. My brain took all of my memories, my pain, and my fears and put them into a box labeled ‘It did not happen’ and pushed it to the very back corner of my mind. I lived in denial, pretending that I was just fine. I also rebelled against everything, my parents, my beliefs, even God. I lived a life that I am now sad and ashamed about, punishing myself and God for what I believed to be my guilt and shame and His lack of care.
Looking back now, I cry for the child that I was, for the hurt and pain that I went through. For many years, I held these sentiments to be true:
I am not worthy of love
I do not deserve anything good.
I am disgusting, and if others found out how disgusting I am they would leave me.
Everything was my fault.
The list went on and on, and for many years into my adult life, my mind was warped by this delusional thinking. The ‘Fee’ I thought I knew, was a myth…she didn’t exist.
I wish I could say none of this ever happened, but today I know better. I finally see things clearly, as they really were. I was a wounded, abused, tormented, little girl. I finally came to terms with this when, at the age of 39, I finally came to terms with everything that happened. I was forced to reach deep within my memory, open that secret ‘box’ I’d hastily stuffed all those painful memories in so long ago, and process them. At first I crumbled. I recoiled and wanted to hide my pain and truth from the world. But there was a big difference this time. This time around I had already fully placed my trust in the God I turned my back on when I was younger. I knew I wasn’t alone anymore. I knew I did not have to be oppressed by the lies I told myself when I was younger. There is a funny thing that happens when you have God on your side. Truth wins. It refuses to back down. God wins. Every time.
“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is nodarkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
Today I am walking in the light and the blood of Jesus is continually lifting those burdens of guilt and shame from my shoulders. That promise is for you too. You who may still be suffering in silence with the pain and trauma of abuses perpetrated on you when you were defenseless. You are not alone. You are not ruined. You are not unloved. I love you. God loves you even more.