By Helen Gill-Smith
Someone needs to hear my story to heal, experience freedom from trauma, and rewrite their internal narrative! My testimony of survival and triumph is worth sharing, even if it only reaches one!
While revisiting my adolescent traumas in the RECOVER IT ALL Program, I realized that I am not the only one who has gone through or will encounter the traumatic experiences. Most of my teenage traumas centered around my body image, changes, growth, and development. The natural formation of my curvy hips, full breasts, and drum thumping behind led to sexual abuse from others that eventually became self-inflicted in my adult years.
Although I was deemed a tomboy as a child, I also knew how to be a little girl and a young lady. My grandfather was a pastor, and I stayed with them during the summer months, along with my sister. One of my older aunts and my mom taught us how to be and dress like young women.
My sister was more of a tomboy than I, but she was also ready to be a young woman, unlike myself. No way! Not me! As far as I was concerned, the girly stuff was for the birds. Pink is not my color, but I love blue. There was only one girly doll that I liked, but not nearly as much as I enjoyed going outside playing in the dirt, jumping off the play structure, climbing trees, wrestling with the boys, drag racing with my skates down steep hills, picking up bugs, and making mud pies. Yep, Helen, the adventurer risk-taker explorer was me!
Wearing stockings was unnatural. Staying cute was so uncomfortable. Then my body had the nerve to transition into womanhood with the monthly bill before I became a teen. And the shape of my entire body followed suit immediately. “What the heck is this?!!! No, No, No, I want to stay a little tomboy/girl,” were the thoughts of my mind. I wanted so desperately for the transitions of my body to STOP! “Ough, I was so not ready!”
All I could see was life as I knew dissolving, my outdoor fun ending, wrestling with the boys disappearing, and none of it was ever coming back! What was I going to do? My mom could not help me understand and could not help me stop it. As if that were possible. And she also did not prepare me for what could potentially come. However, later in life, I realized that she could not inform me of what she did not know. All I can remember is when she gave me a book about the changes in my body and how hurtful it was because she neglected to have a conversation with me. It took me some years to understand why she could not have a conversation with me about the adolescent traumas of my life until I was an adult with two children.
During my adolescent years, I felt unworthy because of the lack of communication from my mother, treatment from boys and men, my father’s absence, and not having a relationship with God, the Father. It did not help that the men in my life did not step up to be the missing link either. The closest one to being a father to me was my grandfather, but since he was not my father, I would not let him in too closely, and we became even further apart once the abuse started. It wasn’t that I felt he would harm me; I believed he would perceive me differently, too.
In this season, the devil did all he could to get me to pay more attention to him, to steal all the joy I had, kill my dreams and potentials, and destroy my self-worth. The attack door opened with my mother, continued with my younger sister, and exploded with the boys.
It all started in Jr. High with the looks, the whispering, and audible words about my overnight forming hips, butt, and breasts. Then the peeping under the open stairs under my dress, the so-called accidental touching in inappropriate places. Next was the soliciting and bold requests for sex that brought me to a place of total disgust. Such unwanted attention came from almost all the boys in school. Then it came from men I knew and men who were strangers also.
One day, while at one of my aunt’s, my older cousin molested me, and I was utterly oblivious to what was happening. There was no warning, no requesting, and no words exchanged; he just grabbed me, and the next thing I knew, his hands and tongue were all over me. At first, I was so frozen in my mind trying to understand what was happening that there was no way of escape, or at least I was too shocked to try. Somehow, I got away, but immediately I was embarrassed, so I said nothing.
As I recalculated this traumatic event while in the RECOVER IT ALL Program, I realized that a part of me enjoyed it. I remembered my body naturally gaining pleasure from the fondling as I could not control its physiological responses. And it wasn’t necessarily the act that I enjoyed; it was the closeness thereof. There was a want for me to evolve the transitions of puberty body and mind. But how could this be? It didn’t seem right at all. But what do I do? How do I explain these mixtures of conflicting thoughts and emotions and the reality of what initiated them? No one is going to believe me is the lie I embraced. I’ll keep it to myself and stay far away from him, too, is the coping mechanism I adopted. I will hide my body the best I can is the mechanism of defense I wore as armor.
The following incident was a man masturbating in front of me at the bus stop while he was in his car. Then, a bus driver tried to kidnap me by turning on a different street while I read a book in the back of the bus, me being the last child on the after-school bus. Later a man tried to rape me on a crowded bus.
Then there were deacons, preachers, including the pastor at my church, trying to solicit me for sex. And even while married, the attacks continued, from my husband with sexual acts that made me uncomfortable and forced upon me. It was as if I was a walking target for sex and abuse. Why though? Why? Aren’t’ I the same little girl? My body has changed, not the rest of me. Why? Why would you want to do these things to me? What did I do or not do to deserve this? On and on with the questions thinking the whole time it was me. Not realizing it was them.
Hiding was the thing for me to do, so I thought. Not only did I hide my body, but I hid my thoughts, voice, spirit, gifts, and talents. Not all the time, only when I thought that a boy or man would discover me. But I was always found out and brought to the front, where I did not want to be. Yet, no one could see me, see me, and the evil I seemed to bring out of the opposite sex.
As a result of such traumas, I did not want to become a centerstage success. I was more than happy to reside in the background, but Father God never intended this for me. The gifts and talents always bring me to the front, and most of it is from my voice: singing, speaking, teaching, and acting. The enemy tried to stop my voice and failed. So much so that I would not talk for one season, and another I could not speak even after singing. When I realized an Anointing over my vocal cords, I made an irrevocable decision to exercise my mouthpiece no matter what, even while pushing past the muck of my healing from trauma pains.
RECOVER IT ALL helped me see the traumas of my adolescence from the other side, a healed place. It wasn’t me after all. And in retrospect, it wasn’t the opposite sex either. The enemy entered an open door somewhere down the line, and a perverted mind developed. And by no way am I the only one, though it felt like it at the time.
The deceptions of the enemy and the depth of my soul wounds tried to shut me up and keep me hidden from the world and the Kingdom, but Father God said NO! He continuously pursued and wooed me into His loving arms while forgiving, healing, delivering, and transforming me!
God’s plan was for my voice to release the sound of heaven, for me to be in front, to be noticed, to be a leader, teacher, etc. The little girl who tried to hide, unbeknownst to her, was built and designed to be noticed. Not in a perverted way, but in a way where others can see the Love of the Father.
Therefore, I no longer hide not my body or my voice. I now stand firm in Father God’s position for me and no longer hidden. I am no longer silent, nor am I afraid of centerstage success. It is where I am supposed to be. My name, Helen, means light, so this light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, everywhere I go, every day and in every way.
I am not the first, the last, nor am I the only one with a sexual abuse trauma story, yet my testimony still has the resurrecting power to shed light in dark places and spaces to heal and deliver someone else.
Indeed, I was not ready, but now I AM; perhaps, I’ve always been!
Helen Gill-Smith is a woman of faith, a retired City Worker, Singer, Son Arranger, Music Director, and Founder of Dare to Heal Ministries. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Management and has helped countless ministries and businesses expand with her organizational and creative skills.
Contact Helen: email@example.com