I’m humbled and grateful to be here today. A huge thank you to Kathi for allowing me to share my heart. A little background. I’ve shared my sexual abuse story in the last few years, but I haven’t always been so open. Initially I kept it silent for a decade, then over-shared, then went silent another decade. The healing journey hasn’t been easy, but it has been good.
About a year ago, I sensed God wanted me to be bold in sharing about sexual abuse. I wrote “The Sexy Wife I Cannot Be” on Deeper Story, which went crazy (so many comments), followed by “I’m Sick of Hearing About Your Smoking Hot Wife” on Christianity Today. The overwhelming response to those two posts prompted me to write Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing after Sexual Abuse.
The book proved too risky for publishers, so I decided to crowdfund it, which turned out to be an amazing success. I cannot believe that now I can hold Not Marked in my hands, and also offer it to you. What’s unique about it: It’s written from the perspective of a survivor. It doesn’t offer cliche answers. It’s honest. And my husband shared his unique journey of how to walk a loved one through their sexual abuse.
The following is an excerpt from Not Marked, from the question and answers section. It melds nicely with Kathi’s The Husband Project!
One of many issues that came from childhood sexual abuse is a deep sense of shame. It rears its ugly head during intimate moments with my spouse. How can I reassure my spouse that the extended time and head-work it takes for me to “go there” is not about desire or rejection of him? And will I ever not struggle in this area? I heard you talk once about how your husband knows he’ll never eat strawberries off your belly. That’s me! In a world that says that’s part of “the fun,” that can be hard.
That’s a hard one because spouses do experience rejection when we’re trying to conjure up a desire to have sex. Doing that sounds like we don’t “want” them because we have to work at wanting them. The old cliché, “It’s not you; it’s me” is true, but not wholly helpful when you’re explaining why it’s hard for you.
Viewing marriage as a team instead of a he-she need-meeting factory helps. It’s not about you meeting his needs, or him meeting your needs, but about both of you meeting each others’ needs. It’s a win when both of you are joyfully satisfied.
Working on your own issues is the gift you give to your spouse, just as your spouse working on his/her issues is a gift to you. You’re in this together.
As to whether you’ll ever get better, yes it is possible. You will be more healthy next year and the year after as long as you continue to doggedly pursue healing—not only for your sake, but for your spouse’s. There will be times when you feel like giving up. You’ll sometimes give in to the thinking that you’ll never heal. You’ll get discouraged.
But remember, we all walk with a limp on this earth. None of us will be wholly healed this side of eternity. Your limp just happens to be sexual injury, which gets at the very core of you and touches on issues of identity and worth. It feels pervasive. When you get to that place of despair, recount how far you’ve come. And remind yourself that you will be fully healed one day.
As to the strawberries, I (still) can’t imagine doing this, and I’m learning that that’s okay. The measuring stick of my sexual relationship with my husband is not Hollywood. It’s not even other Christians who share about their amazing sex lives or offer advice about how to be all that. The measuring stick exists deep within my marriage, a sacred place where we learn to love each other, sacrifice for the other, and express our love in us-shaped ways.
My spouse takes it personally when I can’t drum up the interest or desire. I so desperately want to be close, but resentment has built up on both sides.
This is an extremely common problem, one that I experience frequently. What helps us is talking about our pain—Patrick sharing how he feels (rejection), and me sharing how hard it is to be healthy sexually. If we stuff our resentment, it gets ugly—then explodes. If you’ve gotten to the point that you can’t talk about it, consider couple’s therapy where you have a safe place to share your anxiety and sadness in the presence of a mediator.
I happened to have the privilege of walking through my healing from sexual abuse alongside my husband Patrick. Though he had not been sexually violated, he learned how to ask good questions, pray for me, and help me begin to grasp the beauty of sex. I am still scarred in this area. It’s still difficult. But I’m grateful that I’m farther along than I was even five years ago. All that to say: don’t despair. Healing may be slow, but it can happen. If you’d like to find out more about our journey, watch Patrick’s video here. Discover more about the book here.
For some helpful resources on sexual abuse visit my resource page.
I also wrote a post called “How to protect your kids from Sexual Abuse.”
Discover how sexual abuse has impacted you: Sexual Abuse Impact Quiz
For a limited time, get two books for the price of one, a $28.96 value for $14.97. These are physical, hold-in-your-hands books, the kind you can write in, bend the pages, and show the highlighted parts to your friends. Both of these books are Bible-study-able!
And here’s the cool, special offer JUST for Kathi’s friends. If you purchase these two books (for the price of one) and send your receipt to Publicist@marydemuth.com, you’ll receive the two study guides for the books FREE. This is an additional $7.97 value. So you receive $36.92 worth of merchandise for just $14.97 (plus shipping and handling).
Hurry, this is a limited time offer, until March 10th.