Veil of Shame

I felt dirty and violated; like before the first shower after being raped.  I wanted to cleanse myself of my shame but knew I was washing evidence down the drain.  No matter how long I showered I’d still be dirty and violated.  There was no way I could wash it off.

I had been in therapy before.  I met with a therapist my last year in undergraduate school – Bruce.

Bruce saw the web of violence surrounding me.  He started to break the web but my world began to fall apart as we tried to break free. We call it self-destructive behavior in the therapy world. I began to fall apart at the seams.

Each time Bruce cut a string to the web; my mother grabbed it and wrapped it tightly around my neck to let me know that I wouldn’t live apart.  My father enticed me with a car.

I took baby steps forward.

I lost hope when my brother died by suicide.  I embraced every sin known to man to prove I belonged in my dysfunctional family and shake my angry fist at God.

After I rolled around in the dirt, I got up, dusted myself off and tried to get free, run for safety; I got a job, an apartment, enrolled in graduate school.

Satan threw the other shoe, hitting me again in my heart causing me to stumble. Another brother was called to Heaven.

I began a relationship with an abusive man who tried to kill me. Thanks to the police, I survived.

I was pregnant and returned home in shame.

My brother whose friends raped me got me a job as a cashier at the restaurant where we worked together with my rapists and spectators.  My parents and brother knew about the rape but graciously made arrangements for me return to dance in all my shame in front of them.

The head waitress who watched the rape required me to meet with her to decide if she would allow me to return because I didn’t return after the rape – I didn’t give two weeks notice.

The head waitress hated me and all summer help working through college. She had a cocaine addiction, children at a young age and made sure the summer staff knew this was her full-time job; she wasn’t moving on to anything else.

The head waitress may have slipped the drug in my drink to impair my ability to fight back.  She watched them rape me and laughed when I pleaded for help.

She took great pleasure in lecturing about how gracious she was to allow me back to work when I didn’t give notice.  Neither of us mentioned the rape.  She took great pleasure in my predicament.

So I returned to work alongside my rapist and the witnesses. I said nothing.

Thankfully, I went into pre-term labor and couldn’t continue.

But it wasn’t the last time my brother put me in the path of my rapists. They were invited guests to his wedding. The man who kicked me out of the apartment after the rape was the DJ at his wedding along with the head waitress and supervisor who observed.

I told my brother again but he didn’t believe me.  His friends told him I was lying. He called me a liar and not just once.

He helped my father beat me up the first time I disclosed. I pleaded with him before he was married but it didn’t matter.  My rapist was his DJ and friend. I was just his sister.

I don’t remember my brother’s wedding.  I was physically present but my mind went numb.

Several years later my brother’s father-in-law died.

Dressed in black I headed to the viewing. I worried whether I’d run into my rapists. My brother and his wife were very good friends with my rapist and observers. I figured they’d all be there and they were.

I shouldn’t have gone. I didn’t communicate my fears to my husband. I told him about the rape before we were married. I thought he should have known. He should have remembered.  He should have stopped me.

I asked him to go but didn’t tell him why I needed him to go with me.

If I told him, he would have told me not to go. But I didn’t give him the chance. I made him a victim of my silence.

My past tortured me.  Like most victims I felt guilty; and my guilt impeded my ability to talk about my experiences, seek help or protect others.

God led me to two wonderful therapists who helped Jesus replace my veil of shame with grace and hope.

Thank you Lord for freeing me from my enemies and releasing my tongue to share our journey.

I pray for my sisters and brothers chained by shame.  Please provide them a way out, help them see it and give them the courage to run for safety! Amen

Domestic Violence HousePsalm 25:19-21 (NIV)

See how numerous are my enemies
       and how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me;
do not let me be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
because my hope, Lord, is in you.

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