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Next week I have an amazing woman to introduce you too. But this week I thought I would re-share my #metoo. This is another part of my story and my brave. I hope that wherever you are, you know and hold on to the truth that you are never alone. There are others who have been through similar situations and God has and will never leave you. You are not alone. This is a piece of my brave. - Hannah

I have started and stopped writing this post for over a week. I have thought about it and discarded it. I have made excuses and bottled up more fear and anxiety over this part of my story than any other that I have shared with the world. Vulnerability has never been my strong suit and this is a part of my story that I do not want to share and be disrespected because of it. And maybe that feeling of wanting to be respected and treasured comes from the fact that on multiple occasions I was not respected or treasured, but looked at as an object. Something to be used, abused, and manipulated to believe that I deserved every sexual innuendo, grope, and touch.

This is my #metoo, but beyond being one of millions of women and men who are sexually abused and used, I want you to know you are never alone and there is hope on the other side.

Because truly there is another side. One day I was innocent and naïve and the next day I was more aware than I wanted to be. One day I felt like a princess, treasured, a daughter of the King of Kings, respected, and human. The next day I felt like a garbage, dirty, broken, impure, and worthless. There is a clear line in my life of before abuse and after. The first time I was ever touched I was a little girl at my friend’s house, her father was bored or drunk, maybe both and he touched me. I did not know what to do with that information and as quickly as it happened it was over, and thankfully it never happened again. But that day, I became very aware at five years old that I was a sexual being. Even though I am technically a virgin, that day the seed of lust was planted and I have struggled, wrestled and been in more prayer over lust in my life than any other sin issue. 

Fast-forward I was starting the spring semester of my freshman year of high school and like most high school journeys in was filled with drama, some of it was silly miscommunications and others were more serious. It started with simple brushes in the hallway, I didn’t think much of it because our hallways were narrow and there were a lot of students. Those awkward brushes of bodies happen occasionally, but it gradually became touching, then grabbing. I would be sitting in class and feel my bra being unhooked.

I felt trapped and started suffering a lot of anxiety. There were multiple times that my mom would have to get a sub for her class and take me to the doctor, because before the day would even begin my stomach would start knotting and on occasion I would get sick. I tried telling my principal one day and he told me I deserved it. I tried telling my mom, but sometimes I think it is hard to find the words to say that make our loved ones hear us. I blamed everyone’s lack of caring on my past of telling lies; maybe they still thought I was a little liar. I felt like even though I had done a lot of work to earn trust back, maybe I never would fully earn it back when it came to things that mattered most. Maybe the gropes, touches, and nasty words being whispered in my ear were my punishment for those years of being dishonest. Maybe I did truly deserve this. 

Lies are dishonest. I used to tell them and it turns out that I am really good at accepting and believing them too. I am twenty-four years old and I still struggle with the abuse of my past. I do not know if I will ever not wrestle with what happened to me. Thankfully during my sophomore year all the anxiety and doctor appointments led my parents to pull me out of my school and I went back to homeschool. On my own I started healing in small steps. Getting back into social circles was hard, but it was the step that showed me that not every guy is going to treat me with disrespect. But, I still struggled when I would be alone in a public space or even going for a walk around the neighborhood. I would turn around and sometimes run home or take longer paths home, because I did not want to pass by a guy jogging. I would get extremely anxious being alone with any guy, even friends. I struggle with my self-esteem. I still sometimes look in the mirror and all I see is a piece of trash that will never be worthy of any man’s love someday. I still see garbage. Sometimes I just call it a hot mess to make people smile, but it is truly how I see myself sometimes; worthless. But there is hope. I know that is easy to say to spin something, but there is truly hope. 

While I still wrestle and am learning from these experiences from my life, God is healer. I know that, because even though I struggle, I do not struggle every moment of every day like I once did. I can take a walk and pass a neighbor and not look over my shoulder after we pass to make sure he is not following me. I have days when I do not cave to the compulsion of lust, because I do not know what else to do with my anxiety. I can look in the mirror and tell myself I am beautiful and worthy of love and actually believe it after a minute of affirmation. I could have easily decided that I hated all men and never ever wanted to love or even be friends with one again, but I do. I have had healthy friendships with guys and I do have a deep desire to get married someday. 

What those boys meant for evil, that robbed me of innocence, led me to seek shelter in my Savior. My hope. I am naïve to think that my story or any amount of awareness will end the sickness of abuse, but I know that what can heal every heart that looks in the mirror and believes the lie of worthlessness, is Jesus Christ. He came and died to rescue the broken and crushed and spirit. I have faced disappointment in life, but the only time I have truly felt crushed and the weight of persecution was when I was facing abuse. I can’t tell you how much His love was truly what healed and still heals the broken places.

But, outside of my Savior I found tools to help healing through counseling and recovery. 

Retelling my abuse story was not something I was thinking I would do through my 12-step program this past year, but it was one of the main things that has been still plaguing my thought life and feeding my fear. It wasn’t until this past week that I told my dad this part of my story. I spent many years healing and going through this with God alone, hardly ever letting anyone into the story of my abuse. This past year attending a recovery program through my church was the first time I ever shared what had happened to me.

I still believed that no one would truly ever care that I was used physically and hurt emotionally. But, they did and do care about my life and the hurt places.

Bottom line. You are not alone in your journey. This is not just #metoo, there is a beautiful future on the other side of abuse.

Abusers only win, when we stay down and let their actions continue to dictate our lives. While I can’t erase the events and the effects on my life, because they did happen and they are a part of my story.

I do not have to stay in my grief as a victim of sexual abuse. I am still healing and on this journey of bringing the lies of darkness into the light. Through council, leaning on my faith, and loved ones I feel safe with I have been able to make it to today. The other day, I told a friend I did not want to write this, that I did not know how. She encouraged me to say no to the fear and the lies that still whisper to my heart. And I am writing this. You are not alone. Do not let the comfort and emotional release of #metoo, stop you from seeking council and tools to face tomorrow with the truth closer to you than every lie that you were made to believe. I am doing my best each day to live in the present because I have been given each new day to rise above my yesterday, I hope as each day comes you can stand and say me too, because you are worth more than what has been said and done to you.