Healing after a sexual assault

The summer after high school, I picked up a summer job before leaving for college. I hadn’t been working there long when an older male coworker sexually assaulted me. I felt disgusting and guilty and wanted to escape my feelings of pain and confusion. I didn’t report the assault because I worried I would be blamed for it, and I couldn’t face the pain of the legal process. I just wanted to get through the rest of the summer until I left town. 

It was lonely holding on to all of this by myself, but I didn’t know whom to talk to. Finally, after weeks of trying to deal with this anger and fear and not making much progress, I called a Christian Science practitioner to pray for me. He gave me some comforting spiritual ideas to think about. I told my mom about the situation and also realized I needed to leave the job. So I did.

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I was relieved when it was time to head off to college. I felt leaving my hometown meant I could start fresh. I liked that no one on campus knew who I was or what had happened to me and that I didn’t have to talk about it with anyone. However, my first semester was challenging. My grades were poor, my anxiety was high, and I had trouble being around men. I talked to the practitioner each day for spiritual support. 

My anxiety was high, and I had trouble being around men.

One of the things that was challenging was thinking about how I could forgive. Maybe a lot of people wouldn’t think about forgiving someone who had assaulted them, but I felt this was necessary for me to move forward and find complete healing. So, one day when I called the practitioner, I told him that I didn’t know how to forgive the person who had assaulted me and that I also didn’t know how to forgive myself for “letting” it happen. The practitioner helped me understand that I had been completely untouched spiritually—meaning that whatever had happened to me outwardly could never touch my spiritual identity. I didn’t have to believe that there was any power besides God, good, or that there was any person who could act on me in a negative or harmful way. I was untouched by evil, and I was spiritually pure. This helped me realize that it was possible to forgive this man as well as myself.

As I tried to work through the emotions stemming from the assault, I began experiencing a painful physical condition. I woke up several mornings with boils on my arms and torso. I was scared and frustrated—college was supposed to be carefree and fun. I felt like all I’d been experiencing was pain. 

I was attending a school for Christian Scientists, so I was able to receive care from Christian Science nurses on campus. They tended to the wounds when needed, and I often covered the bandages and wraps with sweaters. 

One warm afternoon, though, I went to lunch at the cafeteria without wearing a sweater, and a friend asked what was wrong with my arms. To my surprise, I responded, “There’s nothing wrong with my arms.” I saw this as a turning point in my thinking. I began to understand that the boils were an outward manifestation of fear and hate. And with this response, which affirmed that nothing was wrong with my arms or with me, I’d begun to disarm those feelings.

I was completely free from anger, resentment, anxiety, and guilt.

Over the course of the semester, I realized that I’d begun to feel attracted to a boy I was friends with. But I was scared to trust my judgment. I had confided in him about what had happened, and he understood I was working through something. He was patient and kind when we spent time together.

One morning soon after my realization in the cafeteria, I awoke to find a boil on my leg. I called the practitioner and told him what I had found. I also told him that the boy I liked had invited me to a soccer tournament that he was playing in that evening. I explained that I was petrified about getting close to or trusting anyone. The practitioner shared some ideas about God’s love that helped me feel better about going.

I attended the soccer tournament and sat on the sidelines. Next to me was another student, but she wasn’t one of my friends. Out of nowhere she said to me, “Don’t you know how much he loves you?” She pointed to the boy that I liked and repeated her question. Before she got up and walked away, she added, “He loves you so much.”

For the first time since the assault, I heard God speak to me in my thoughts. He said, “I will never send you anyone who will hurt you. I will only guide love to you because I love you and I love him.”

I felt like I was getting a hug from God. Any fear of being treated poorly by a man just dissolved. I realized I could trust God with all my choices and desires. I also realized I could forgive the man who’d assaulted me, because I could separate the act from the person. I understood so clearly that this man was a child of God, despite his actions. I felt total forgiveness. 

After the tournament, I hugged my friend. It was my first time hugging anyone since the assault. The next morning, I awoke and found that every single boil on my body was gone. There wasn’t any sign that a boil had been there, and I have not had that problem again since.

I was completely free from anger, resentment, anxiety, and guilt. I felt only love and forgiveness. I went on to have an amazing college experience and dated that man for four years. We shared so many wonderful times together. 

I’m happy to report that along with the healing of the boils, the emotional healing has been permanent. I’m so grateful for Christian Science, which has helped me recognize my own true identity and the true identity of others.

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