Another week, another Christian leader using his position of power over young people to gain a child’s trust before abusing her.
But when he kissed me the first time, he kissed me, and then pulled back, my face still firmly in his hands. “Kiss me back!” he said, exasperated.
I’d never been kissed. I didn’t know how.
This time, Marie Jensen, the victim of the pastor, speaks out some 20 years after the events occurred, explaining how it took her that long to finally be able to talk about her experiences. She also recognizes that what happened to her at 15 wasn’t an “affair”; it was rape and child sexual abuse.
It took me until college to realize it hadn’t been an affair. I was sitting in a YWCA training seminar to work as an advocate for sexual assault victims, listening to the definitions of rape and consent, when for the first time I put a name to what had happened to me.
I’d thought of it as a twisted relationship, emotionally abusive, but I still would have used the word “affair.” But as things began to untangle in my brain, here’s what I started to wonder:
After an affair, do the guilty parties cut themselves with knives to make tangible sense of their pain? Do they suffer from symptoms of PTSD? Do they have nightmares for the rest of their lives? Every time the phone rings and someone hangs up or — worse — breathes on the other end of the line, do participants in an affair assume it’s that other person, even twenty years later?
Do they see that other person in crowds even though they know that other person lives in another state?
Victims of spiritual abuse often suffer from PTSD-like symptoms (as I have mentioned before), and I suspect this is linked to the frequent use of gaslighting by religious abusers in order to keep their victims under control.
Now, combine that with the trauma of rape, and of course it took her years to realize that’s what happened to her. Rape victims experience significant degrees of PTSD-like symptoms when compared with victims of other traumatic events, and the two combined must be hell to live with.
(Top image via Shutterstock)