Christian women are sexually assaulted too. By Christian guys. But we’re not allowed to talk about it. In a culture where men are encouraged to watch porn, pursue women and expect that women want all they attention that they can get (and tell them to lighten up when they say otherwise), Christian men are “outsiders”. Not allowed to engage in this culture but are immersed in it. Christian women are not prepared to deal with the situations that they are so devastatingly put inside.
Let me share my story. I am a Christian woman, and I started dating this guy when I was at College. On paper he was great. He was a Christian, we believed the same things, had the same vision for life and were easy friends. In a “why not give it a go?” kinda way we started dating. The abuse started so subtly that I didn’t notice it until I was sitting on the floor, crying, with cuts on my wrists and no desire to live another second. I thought I deserved to die. I had had every part of myself criticised, torn down. This was all mixed in with sexual assault, which I felt powerless to stop. It was always “why don’t you want me, you should want me” accompanied by him shoving his tongue into my mouth or groping my thigh. I made myself go numb inside to get through those instances. I tried to explain that I shouldn’t want him right now, that’s not the way Jesus tells us to live. He made me feel like I was wrong, I was stupid, I was weird. But I was simply trying to live the pure life that God calls us to live. He grabbed my stomach, mocking my “love handles” and calling me fat. He told me we shouldn’t go for dates where we eat anymore, we should go running. So I could lose weight. I am a US size 4.
I was sitting at a wedding. The guys sitting around me are chatting away to me, being kind. Showing me respect. I was so taken aback, I was shocked. How could I be shocked that someone was showing me respect? I was in so deep, I didn’t even notice he was treating my like crap. A friend confronted me when I made what I thought was a lighthearted joke about the fact that he called me fat and so I felt too much shame to have cream on my frappé. That night I knew I had to stop it. I called him the next day and said I wouldn’t do it anymore. I had been woken up to the fact that I deserve to be treated with respect. I deserve to be loved like Christ loved the church. That kind of beautiful, sacrificial love which calls out the best in someone. How Christ loves me. He values me and calls me beautiful because I am made in his image. That’s how a guy should see me too.
I know now that I am worthy of life because Christ went to the cross for me. He valued me enough that he thought I was worth dying for. He has made me whole again and I will never accept being sexually assaulted again in silence. I will speak out for all those other Christian women that are living in shame because Christian guys, in their brokenness, have treated them less well than they deserve.
Sexual assault is not a secular issue. It is a Christian issue too. But Jesus gives hope to those women – and men – who have been violated. He promised newness. And to those perpetrators, he promises forgiveness and healing. My prayer is that my abuser would know the love of Jesus, that love which transforms and makes you whole again. That one day he might treat a woman right, show her her value as God values his children.