“Who raped you, Sarah?” Rachel asked seriously.
“Ray,” Sarah said, looking at the floor.
“Who?” Rachel asked with a quizzical look on her face.
“My uncle,” Sarah responded.
Rachel’s heart sank.
Sarah noticed that Rachel was reluctant to respond. She then said, “Yea, I know, I wouldn’t have expected that either.”
“Do you want to talk about it?” Rachel asked considerately.
Sarah contemplated all the possible people she could tell and decided she wasn’t close to anyone she didn’t want to hear.
Sarah let out a sigh and began, “I used to respect him very much even though he isn’t a Christian. When I was a child, he used to play with me all the time. On my birthday, he would buy me the best gifts too. He was always the life of the party, charming everyone with his eloquence of speech. He is a teacher by profession and lives with his wife and two children.”
Rachel was stuck on that last phrase, “He has a family?!” she thought.
Sarah continued, “I started noticing little changes when I started puberty. He told me I was growing into a beautiful young lady. The way he said it did not sound innocent. After that, I would catch him staring at my breast from time to time. I never told anyone about it as I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe he was my intelligent, fun, and responsible uncle. I thought he wouldn’t desire his niece like that, right?”
Sarah shook her head as if feeling like a fool that she did.
Sarah said, “Things got strange when I saw him one day at my past school, and I found out he got a job there. I was in the sixth form at the time. He would ask me to sit with him during lunch, but I would always say that I have homework or something else to do.”
“The evening when … it happened,” Sarah swallowed before continuing.
“My father was supposed to pick me up that day, but he had some report to finish at work. He called to say Uncle Ray would be the one to carry me home. I pleaded with my father to let me take a taxi, but he said I would be safer with family, little did he know that wasn’t true. I knew my father would listen, convinced my feelings were immature, I kept my mouth shut.” Sarah said regretfully.
She continued, “Anyways, he had evening school to teach so, I waited in the library until it was time. He called me when he was through, and I went to the parking lot. I greeted him as usual and sat in the back. Ray tried picking a conversation with me, but I barely answered and put in my earphones. I noticed that he missed a turn, then I took them from my ears and asked. Ray said he was going to a nearby shop. I settled back in my seat only to notice more bushes than I can recall from the journey. My heart started racing. Then all of a sudden, the car came to a stop and, he began cranking the engine.”
Sarah added, “The large brick wall you saw is what’s left of the burnt-out children’s home.”
Rachel thought, “I knew I had seen the place before, her church had visited it before it’s destruction.”
Sarah continued, “Ray stepped out of the car and went to the bonnet. It was dark out, and the only flickering street light was present. He called me out to help to find the flashlight. I did, all I wanted was to get home as soon as possible. As I started saying, maybe we should call someone, he grabbed my neck. Then, he pushed me to the passenger’s door glass. He took out a black-handled knife and, and rested it on my throat. He whispered in my ears and told me that he has been watching me. He told me he knew I wanted this too. I said no, and he snapped at me and told me to shut up. He took out the white thing they use to tie the rims and tied my arms behind my back. He then pulled me over to the bushes and pushed me on the ground. I felt prickles sticking me all over my body. Then he knelt over me. He lifted my uniform skirt,” Sarah broke off and sobbed.
She continued, working hard to keep her voice steady, “Cut my underwear with the knife and placed his knees between my legs. He took a condom from his back pocket. He opened his buttons and pulled down his trousers. I couldn’t believe this was happening. All of my senses froze. I couldn’t move.”
Rachel heard the helplessness in her voice. She couldn’t bear the details but knew this was important to her friend and, after all, she asked.
“He placed a hand over my mouth and forced himself in me. I have never felt such acute pain in my entire life.” Sarah cried.
By this, Rachel found herself crossing her legs at the thought. She was blinking unnaturally to hold back her tears.
Sarah continued, “Every move he made increased the amount of pain I felt. No matter how I pleaded through his fingers and fought with what little strength I had, he didn’t stop. He never looked in my eyes.” Sarah sighed, “After what seemed like an eternity to me, he got his release and rested a while before getting up. I heard the sound of his zip and the rustle of his buckle. He then cut the strip that held me captive and threw me a little white towel to clean myself up. I might not have been able to see the substance, but I knew it was blood. Painstakingly, I attempted it. He dragged me to the car and gave me his jacket to put on over my uniform. He drove me home, and when he stopped at the gate, he threatened me. He told me if I said anything, he would deny it, kill me and make it look like a suicide. He went as far as to say he would rape my little sister too. I couldn’t bear the thought of Ruth going through the same thing. So, I kept my mouth shut.”
“When I got through the door, I told mom I wasn’t feeling well. She brought up dinner and told me to get some rest. Dad came home at almost midnight that day, I know because he stopped by my room like he does every night. That night, I pretended I was asleep. He took my wrinkled fingers from the length of my shower and said he was sorry he couldn’t pick me up, and it won’t happen again. If he had stayed one more minute, I would have blurted out everything, but he left. From that night, I learned to keep things hidden.” Sarah remarked.
“You know what the worst part is?” Sarah asked.
“What is Sarah?” Rachel responded. Her voice was down to a whisper.
“I begged God to help me, and he didn’t. He didn’t stop the man. He didn’t even stop the pain. He let me feel everything alone! He let this man bruise not only my body but my mind too. What kind of God would do that Rachel?” Sarah asked angrily.
Rachel didn’t answer. She couldn’t, not in the presence of so much pain. Instead, she asked, “How did you carry this for so long?”
Sarah responded with a painful chuckle, “You learn. You can put pain in a coffin and bury it so far down that you forget it. You can numb yourself so greatly that you feel disconnected from it. At church, sometimes I am genuine, and other times, I just go with the flow. After a while, you learn the typical behaviors.”
“Why do you cut yourself?” Rachel inquired.
“I don’t know when it started, but I just find myself doing it. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to love most of the time anymore. Or because instead of feeling the pain inside, I now feel it outside. Other times, when I have been numb too long, the slices help me to feel. It helps me recognize my humanity. That night you caught me, was the anniversary of the rape. The emotions came in like tsunami waves, and I couldn’t handle them.”
“Why happened between you and Mark?” Rachel finally asked. She noticed her friend never brought him up once.
Sarah straightened her back, “After it happened, they started noticing changes in me for months. They asked, and I would brush it off. It was after we came to the university that they approached me seriously. I made up a lie to get them off my trail. I couldn’t face them. I couldn’t face Mark. If he found out, the feelings he tried to hide would be thrown out.”
Rachel realized, Sarah was fear-ridden in every area of her life. She was not prepared for all of this. For crying out loud, she just came to get her degree! Rachel knew she couldn’t abandon her now, not after tonight. She had to help her friend, especially since she helped her so much. But how to, that answer evaded her.
Rachel said, with every confidence she could muster, “Sarah, we will get through this. God didn’t give up on me, He won’t give up on you.”
Rachel left that night devastated. She had so many questions for God. She even got angry too. How could an uncle do that?! What wicked creature would be able to live through that moment? When she reached her dorm room, she curled up in her white fluffy blanket and bawled her eyes out. She needed also to prepare for meeting her father. She almost canceled it but realized it was because she was using Sarah’s situation to avoid the confrontation.
She had a brief conversation on the day of the meeting with her mother, and they prayed before ending the call.
She didn’t know what to wear! She was going to meet her father for the first time, and her biggest problem was clothes.
“I want to look mature, independent, and happy. It seems nothing in my closet match the description,” she said frustrated. She dug and dug until she settled on a white and black chiffon blouse with a black jeans skirt. “This will have to do,” she thought.
They were meeting up at a small restaurant near her. Rachel went early to plan with Mark and Adrian. The boys were to sit three tables away to be close enough to hear but not close enough to be seen.
When Devon Dixon walked in, Rachel didn’t have to think twice if it was him. He had the same slender frame, and a short bridged, rounded tip nose as her. He had a faded hairstyle that highlighted his thick, curly hair. Devon Dixon was tall though. She figured she got her height from her mother.
He seemed to have recognized her too. Rachel shuffled to stand. She nervously gave her hand and said hello. He took it and shook it gently. He said, “Hi Rachel, it’s wonderful to finally meet you.”
If you are reading this and you have experienced rape, my entire being goes out to you. I want you to know, you are loved, you are seen. Precious, you are not alone. I will leave the advice for future posts but for now, I want you to know, I see your pain. I feel those warm tears. I understand your confusion. It’s okay to be here. It’s okay to feel everything deeply. It’s okay not to be so strong. It’s okay to experience the roller coaster emotions. Yes, it did happen. I hope you don’t ignore just because it is ‘too much’. You are different but you are you. You have life and there is hope. And, yes, you can be healed.
It is a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety (Merriam Webster Dictionary). When you experience shame, the first discovery is nakedness (Gen. 2:25). There is a divine consciousness that abides in us. When we do things or experience things contrary to that nature, it send off a signal in us. Our initial response is to hide (Gen. 3:7). The exposure of something you want to remain hidden is never a comfortable experience. That’s why we run from intimacy with God and vulnerability with others. We are afraid that the picture perfect life that we have portrayed is nothing but a mask we wear everyday. To be fully known and fully loved is the most liberating thing. It is the kind of love God is. I won’t say too much on this yet. I want us to take baby steps. We can start by answering these questions;
1. What am I ashamed of? Why am I ashamed of it?
2. Who is responsible?
3. Have we confessed it?
4. Have we invited God in the shame room?
5. Have you given Him the authority to do something about it?
Rachel has met her father. Now what? Is there any hope for a healthy relationship with him? Will she be able to open her heart to him? Will she be able to truly forgive? We get to meet a very interesting character too, Adrian. Let’s see if we can uncover his story. Missed the last one?! Click here.