I was a painfully stupid 19 year-old.
I was insecure and made a lot of stupid jokes. It was a cold Iowa winter’s night, the type of night where normal people hibernate indoors. Not us. We were young and invincible as we made our way back from the sketchiest of bars. All you could see in the 2 a.m. sky was the cloud of smoke rising from the warm breath of our huddled, slightly intoxicated pack.
The group went their separate ways as I hung in the hallway with a girl I was proud to call my friend. As we stood chatting, somehow as a drunk guy and girl passed us in the hallway, an inexcusable joke escaped from my lips; a joke about rape.
Instantly, her face filled with a deep pain that I had only seen a handful of other times in my entire life: once on the day my dad left. Floating through the hallway were words I could never recover. The agony on her face instantly told me a secret that she didn’t want anyone to know. We spent the next several hours on her dorm room floor talking it through and sobbing as she recalled the lowest moment of her existence.
I have never cried harder in my entire life as my soul ached for the horror that lurks in our messed up world. I cannot even imagine what scum would force himself on a woman. Could there be a more cowardly act?
Did you know this terrible nightmare affects more women than most of us realize? According to this 2011 study, nearly 1 in 5 women in America have been sexually assaulted. (And this statistic represents the reported cases. Most cases go unreported meaning this statistic may be even more frequent.)
1 in 5.
But what can we do? These past few years God has been teaching me this incredible truth: One man who stands up for what is right can truly change eternity.
So today, I am taking a stand in this open letter to anyone who has lived a nightmare like my dear friend.
YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN, YOU ARE NOT DAMAGED, YOU ARE LOVED.
And this is for you: An Open Letter to Any Woman Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted
Words cannot express how much my heart hurts for you and the terror you have been through. The truth is, I don’t know how to write this letter or what to say, only that is must be written for there are unspoken words you need to hear. Starting with this:
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
You were created in the image of a perfect God – his final creation and his masterpiece. You are the most incredible thing He ever made and there is nothing a man could ever do to take that away from you.
First and foremost, you are His. God holds you in the palm of his hand, loving you as the perfect father cares for his baby girl even when you can’t feel his arms around you.
You are not loved for your looks or your talents.
You are not loved for what you can give him.
You are deeply loved just for being you.
I know it might seem like that suffering will never go away. Perhaps there are days when you’d rather just give up. Maybe you have deeper struggles than anyone knows. That voice, my friend, the one telling you the pain you have experienced is deserved, that somehow you could have prevented what happened – is a LIE.
NOTHING you did is to blame for what happened to you.
NONE of the pain you’ve felt is your fault.
You are BLAMELESS no matter what the worst voices say.
No, you are not damaged.
No, you are not broken.
No, you are not hopeless.
For God can and will redeem every single part of your story.
If you are in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinth 5:7 (NIV)
Yeah, it might seem impossible today – like healing will never happen, but please know that the men who follow Jesus are here for you to support you in any way that we can. We are here to pick you up, dust you off and protect you from the worst this world has to offer.
Please, be brave and ask for help. Find a program, a trusted friend, a counselor, a pastor – share your struggle no matter how hard it is. Start a personal relationship with God. You too can be a new creation in Him.
Your story is NOT defined by a terrible moment.
Your story is defined by God and what He has to say about you.
And the rest of that incredible story is waiting for you.
YOU’RE NOT WORTHLESS.
YOU’RE NOT UNLOVABLE.
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.
YOU ARE BLAMELESS.
YOU ARE LOVED.
Your Brother in Christ