I endured and survived sexual abuse from a very young age till my early teens. I was abused by people who were trusted by the family and lived with us. I don’t remember at all at a young age anyone talking about sexual abuse, or as a child anyone telling me about inappropriate touches. In as much as I had a feeling it was wrong, I spent my childhood in a cloud of confusion. I needed someone to validate my thoughts on the abuse and the fact that it was wrong. Without that validation, I was scared to speak up in case it wasn’t received well and in fact I was the one in the wrong. That, coupled with the fact that the abuser warned me never to tell anyone.
I struggled in silence
All my adult years (until not too long ago) were spent in silence. Silence in depression, silence in mental health instability. I didn’t know what was happening to me. At first I thought I was lazy and needed to aim for bigger goals and work harder. At some point I even overworked. Still, that didn’t help. I struggled with my mental health and I viewed my issues as weaknesses that needed exorcism. The more I struggled, the more negative and vicious my internal dialogue became towards myself. Of course that didn’t help matters and so I struggled even more. And on and on the vicious circle went until I spiralled to a point of almost no return.
Oh, did I mention that I was in the prayer team in my church, and one of the lead worshippers? Yes, I even tried spiritual warfare, there is no trick in the book that I didn’t try. Deliverance against this thing that I perceived to be laziness. I tried it all.
I tried it all
Again, I didn’t know something was genuinely wrong with me and that there was help out there. In my community there had been silence once again, on all things mental health. So how was I to know? My turning point truly began when I sat on a talk on mental health and depression in my church’s women’s group meeting. As the speaker rattled on listing symptoms of depression and mental ‘unhealth’, things began to make sense. I was even more alert when she talked about ways to help yourself and seek help. Funny enough, there were people against the talk. ‘How dare you preach depression and tell people to go to their doctors to seek help? Aren’t we in the house of God?’ Some were advocating the fact that the solutions the speaker brought out were a soft touch to demonic activity, can’t we just do spiritual warfare and get rid of the demons?
All these questions, all these issues promote silence.
In Zimbabwe, 325 girls are raped every month
The Chronicle, August 2016
According to the United Nations Women, around 120 million girls worldwide (over 1 in 10) have experienced sexual abuse. It is estimated that over 35% of women worldwide have experienced sexual abuse at some point in time. Bringing it closer to home, in August 2016, The Chronicles in Zimbabwe reported that about 325 girls are raped every month in the country. To put it in context, 1 girl child is raped every 2-3 hours in Zimbabwe. It is estimated that a majority of these cases go unreported. The United Nations Women estimates that women who have experienced sexual abuse are twice as likely to experience depression.
Mental health issues that arise out of sexual abuse and other issues should never be ignored. They rob one of esteem and suppresses their ability to flourish and live life to their fullest potential in life. For, after all, we were all created for a purpose.
One rinse doesn’t do the job
It was only when I knew that something was wrong with me, that I was able to seek help that was available to me from the appropriate channels. It was when I knew what was wrong with me that I was able to apply Biblical principles for my recovery. As Christians we must understand that not every trouble in life can just be prayed away. After the prayer, there is the doing. In this case the doing is to do with the renewal of one’s mind. My pastor’s wife once when counselling me likened the renewal of the mind to rinsing washing up liquid from a bottle. One rinse doesn’t do the job. But the more you rinse, the weaker the soap becomes and the cleaner the bottle becomes. Renewal of the mind is a continual process which is not easy either. Hence the need for us to learn to be our sisters’ keeper, be kind always and positive.
Hosea 4:6 My people perish for lack of knowledge
Romans 12:2 ….but be transformed by the renewal of the mind…’