Editor’s note: this post discusses abuse

Eventually, the abuse becomes so normal you’re almost desensitized to the feelings of hands and objects hitting your fragile body. The drunk screams falling out of their mouth sound like peace compared to the sound of your mother’s head hitting the walls. The sight of blood on your walls no longer freaks you out. 

The lies you tell DHS become clockwork. When someone reaches out their arms, you flinch in anticipation of being hit. One moment you’re playing with your dolls and the next, you’re being swatted several times for “being too loud.”

The memories of several hands touching you in ways no one should have are embedded in your mind. All you want is to wash away the sins, but the stains are too dark to clean. 

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I survived sexual, physical, mental, and emotional abuse, but it never felt like survival until I got older. The abuse affected me tremendously growing up. I was quiet, reserved, shy, introverted, etc.

I was good at hiding what happened to me. I always felt like I had to shelter myself from everyone around me. 

In middle school, I wore black clothes and dark makeup and hid behind my hair. I didn’t make friends easily. In fact, I didn’t want many friends. I was too ashamed of my past and life to let anyone in. To let anyone see the real me. 

Growing up with an abusive stepfather took so much from me. It took my childhood, my perspective on love, and ultimately, it left me broken. From very early on, I was taught love came from empty promises, hard beatings, angry words, lust derived from a high, and pain. 

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I struggled with knowing what true love was. It seemed anyone who “loved” me would eventually walk away. Until I met my husband when I was 15 years old. He was different from any other guy I had ever met or known. He had a softness in his eyes and a tenderness in his touch. He valued me. He loved me. 

He had the kind of love that can only be taught by Jesus Christ.

He showed me what a real man is and can be. He slowly broke down my walls, and he accepted me for me. My past and all. 

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I didn’t get to choose who my stepfather was or all the people who defiled me. I didn’t get to choose what happened to me either. But I did get to choose to overcome it and to forgive the ones who wronged me. 

I let God be God and He healed me from the rejection, torment, abuse, and shame that lived inside of me for so long. It wasn’t an easy process. It was painful, humiliating, and gut-wrenching.

He took every little broken thing in my life and made it whole. He showed me all the times he held me as I cut myself on my bedroom floor. All the times I cried myself to sleep, he wiped my tears and kissed my head. 

He began to show me it wasn’t only me who was hurting all those years. The ones who hurt me hurt Him, too. When all those people assaulted me, they assaulted Him, too. 

The moment God saved me from myself, He wiped my slate clean. He forgave me for all of my sins and iniquities. So I forgave everyone else of theirs against me. 

I used to pity myself for the hell I was brought up in, but now I look back and see where God protected me in all the other things that could have happened. It’s a miracle in itself that I made it out without giving into drugs or settling for what my future could have been like. After all, it was all I had ever known. 

But because God is so good and gracious, He gave me a new life. One worthy of so much.

He healed me and allowed me to overcome the struggles of my demons. And for that, I owe Him my life. 

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17-21).

Previously published on the author’s blog

Haley McLain

I am a wife and a mother to two beautiful daughters. I am married to my high school sweetheart! Writing has been a passion of mine for 13 years. I also am a photographer on the side!