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Learning to Heal After Sexual Assault: From Fear to Courageous Healing

By Ruthann J. Weece

Brave Women Series - Ruthann's Story


I was four years old the day this story began to write itself on me, the age most little girls are lost in imagination and dreaming of one day becoming a princess. But my story was different. Some dreams are stolen before you even find them. This is how it was for me.


Before that day, I blindly trusted in the protection of those closest to me. I thought everyone was safe. I didn’t know fear and I was brave. Until everything changed.


I wish it had never happened. I won’t minimize its pain by telling you that I’m thankful because I’m not. I won’t tell you its lesions were worth its lessons because there are some lessons a person never needs to learn.


I don’t remember much about how big he was because all grown-ups were bigger than me. But I do remember how that man did the unthinkable and left the biggest mark on my body, which I spent a lifetime trying to scrub away. I’ve often wondered if his decision that day ever haunts him like it has haunted me. Does he even remember what he did? Or was I just a way to satisfy his ungodly needs?


After this wounding, fear became my friend. It was how I determined what I did and where I went. It embedded itself into the core of who I was, and it wouldn’t let go of me. I didn’t do anything without fear’s company until I was old enough to steer it on my own. From a darkened bedroom to the hidden crevices of a secret hiding place, life could swallow me up in a moment’s notice. This wasn’t the only time I found myself under someone else’s curse.


 

"After this wounding, fear became my friend. It was how I determined what I did and where I went. It embedded itself into the core of who I was, and it wouldn’t let go of me. I didn’t do anything without fear’s company until I was old enough to steer it on my own."

 

No matter what else was happening, if I was left at home with an older sibling and a stranger threatened our safety, every one of us would scurry into a hiding place. My safe spot was always under my bed, the most logical spot for an intruder to look, but I was too young to know their ways. Shaking amid tears, I hid for my dear life. I knew what it meant to be broken and I feared the scars and pain that would break me.


I lived my days and nights in constant fear.

And I buried my secrets under layers of shame.

I didn’t trust people and was diligent about avoiding danger.

I strived for perfection to control pain. My life was encircled in survival.


Then years later, long after I was married and raising our sons, my husband asked me a question that caused me to look at my life – “Ruth, is God worthy of your trust? Or has he done something to make you not trust him?”


I thought about his questions and wondered if maybe there was something to them. Did I trust God or didn’t I?


When your circumstances don’t reflect what you know about God it’s easy to doubt what you believe about him. I wondered where my distrust originated. I wondered why I didn’t know if I could trust him. I sought God over these questions. I even asked him to heal my unbelief. Somewhere in the middle of this I found the root of my struggle. I realized underneath my pain remained unhealed wounds that needed to mend. When I created space for my wounds to heal, it began to change how I trusted God.


 

"When your circumstances don’t reflect what you know about God it’s easy to doubt what you believe about him."

 

There is a time in each one of our lives when we must carve out intentional space to be courageous and heal. I use the word courageous because healing is all about being brave. Even when we outwardly appear fine, even when we appear successful, even if we look happy, we have a heart and a soul within us that needs our attention and care.


 

"There is a time in each one of our lives when we must carve out intentional space to be courageous and heal."

 

Inside I was struggling, while outwardly it was affecting my actions, choices, and beliefs. It was when I decided to face my fears and find the One who binds up the brokenhearted, that I found I was a braver than I ever knew. Within me was a little girl who needed my compassion and care so that she could become the woman God created her to be.


Fear may get written into our stories, but God never leaves us there.


 

"Fear may get written into our stories, but God never leaves us there."

 

Within God’s Word, he tells us time and time again not to be afraid, but he doesn’t stop there. He always follows up His statement with encouraging truths and a promise to hold onto.


Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”(Isaiah 41:10)


 

Brave Woman Manifesto


Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story. And by the way...


You are Brave!


No matter what you are facing, God has made you in His image, which means He equips you with His courage, strength, and power. I would love to connect more and give you a FREE gift - the BRAVE WOMAN MANIFESTO: Five Things to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard. Click HERE to sign up for my monthly newsletter and you’ll receive the FREE Manifesto, as well as recent blog posts, updated resources and personal details delivered only to my empowered email tribe.


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About Ruthann


Ruthann J. Weece pulls you in with her relatable voice. As a down to earth storyteller, she vulnerably shares about the hard and holy things in life. Ruthann and her husband live in Dallas where she leads, loves and disciples women. She is a contributing writer for Her View From Home and Gather at Dawn, the Dawn App where she creates space for suffering and faith to co-exist.


Connect more with Ruthann on her website ruthannjweece.com or on Instagram and Facebook. Feel free to join The Story, her monthly e-letter by signing up HERE.


2 Comments


Cleo A. Lampos
Cleo A. Lampos
Apr 23, 2023

Thank you for your transparency. So many live with the pain and fear. You give courage to many.

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Sherri S.
Sherri S.
Apr 07, 2023

I’m in awe of God’s perfect timing…again! I signed up for your emails Becky from a contest a few months ago not knowing at that time that I was going to need to read this. I’m 58 years old and now in trauma therapy for repressed memories. I’ve been crying out to God to help me and He made the way. Thank you Ruthann for sharing this chapter of your life and how God helped you. I’m highlighting this to journal:

“Inside I was struggling, while outwardly it was affecting my actions, choices, and beliefs. It was when I decided to face my fears and find the One who binds up the brokenhearted, that I found I was a braver…

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