Natalie, 19, California, USA
[As told to Then God Moved editor Adira Polite]
I was raped last summer. I met him senior year, at my friend’s 18th birthday party. I found out we went to the same school, but I’d never seen him before. I liked him from the start. We kept in touch after the party; the more we talked, the more I trusted him. I even trusted him enough to be alone with him. In return, he stole my virginity.
It was horrible. He verbally abused me, both during the rape and after. The shock lasted for over a month. It was a very conscious denial; I knew that my emotional response would be disastrous, so I held off until I couldn’t. When I began telling people, my rapist retaliated by having his friends sexually harass and cyber-bully me.
Only a month later, for unrelated reasons, my step-father announced that he’d bought a house in another city. I’d just lost my sense of worth and safety and now I was losing everyone and everything I knew. When we moved, I fell into total isolation. I could barely get out of bed, let alone go to class. I was suicidal, without a doubt; I couldn’t find a sense of purpose if I tried.
At my lowest point, the Lord spoke to me. I was crying on my bathroom floor when, in a very calm, soft voice, He told me that He loved me, that everything would be okay, and that I needed to get up. I started looking around like “Did I really just hear that?”, but the voice was as clear as day and the accompanying peace was undeniable. Before that moment, I knew of God, but I had no relationship with Him. But now, I knew I wanted and needed the love of Christ…so, I chased Him.
As I began praying and reading the Word every day, I was supernaturally, radically transformed. My desire for sin decreased and in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit became apparent. Through Christ, I even felt my heart towards my rapist soften from one of hate to one of forgiveness and grace. He, like me, is not beyond redemption.
Some might ask how I believe in a good God, given what happened to me. It’s simple: Satan is real and man has fallen. Our will has been twisted towards sin and the result of that is suffering. But God continually uses that suffering for His good. My life is an example of that. Because of my struggles, I carry a message of hope: God is our great Helper and Comforter. Moreover, this time on earth is not all there is. We are just passing through. There’s a truly good place that we can’t yet see — and that place is our home.