Meet Alli. A gracious warrior, awe-inspiring creator of things, and beautiful example of a woman who loves deeply. I met Alli about a year ago and she and I quickly became great friends. Her sun-shiny demeanor radiates onto everything she touches, and all those who know her love her. Alli's story will shed light on an epidemic we face, not just here, but all over the world, and it's one that needs to be heard. As you are moved by her words, may you also be driven to your knees in prayer for all those who have tasted such an infirmity. May you see that hope does exist, not just for Alli, but also for you.
I like to think that my life got off to a good start. Raised by a strong mother who taught me what it looked like to stand for justice and how important it was to defend the defenseless. We were a military family, so many days were spent at our school-aged day care center on base where my mom was employed. There, I would meet her co-worker, a man, who I would quickly become uncomfortable with, as he would pursue me with his words and later with his hands. At the time, I could not explain why it troubled me, but I think even then at age 11, there was this profound discernment beyond my understanding. It started with compliments…the ones you know are unnatural, leaving you with an eerie aftertaste. Soon after I would confide in my mom, and she would encourage me to speak up, informing him that I did not appreciate his gestures. Finally, when I mustered up enough confidence, I expressed my discomfort but he continued on…”my Alli, my beautiful Alli.” My mom would then take the reigns and these words would eventually cease; however, later he would re-fire remarks so perverse that I dare not touch on here. As time passed, the comments would come to a halt, slowly letting up and decreasing. With my parents’ permission, my sister and I were invited to a sleepover his sons were having, which seemed harmless considering they were our friends and he had begun to prove himself credible. But, manipulators will manipulate, earning trust and gaining power, a dangerous combination in the hands of a schemer. This was the first time I remember feeling trapped. Here I was, in this tiny apartment with nowhere to run. I can remember standing in the bathroom as I changed into my pajamas, too young to process my feelings, the emotions. Shaken to the bone, naïve yet comprehensive, with no way to express or release, I stood anxious. The next several hours would change my life forever. Paralyzed, I sat as he made his way down my shirt, navigating my innocent skin. I sat frozen, hopeless, longing for the morning hours, confused, dirty, and tainted. Somehow, by the grace of God, I managed to sleep a little that night but only to wake in the morning to find my sister sitting on his bed. The twisted look on his face still turns my stomach. Why would he look at me like that? The confusion and the questions would swirl and I would spin. There would be two more encounters, one occurring in my own home, before this would all come to a head. One day during school hours, I was told to leave early and make my way to the Post Clinic. When I arrived I found my dad, seething with anger and my mom crying and shattered. My sister was in another room being examined and suddenly my fear was confirmed…he had gotten to her too. Oh, how I wished I had done something to protect her. Standing there in the hallway of our small clinic, I told them what happened to me; and we later found out there were others. And so it began…the police, the counselors, the questions and interrogations. We now carried with us a heavy load of deep wounds, fighting desperately to leave them behind us. Every relationship had become awkward and every decision was insecure and uncertain. Compliments from anyone, no matter how pure or genuine, became unbearable as I felt I was calling attention to myself, behaving in ways to encourage these remarks. This fearless girl, who once stood against injustice of all kinds, was now feeble and weak, unworthy and broken.
Years passed and I soon became engaged at the young age of 18. I knew sex was coming, and my insides would shudder at just the thought of it. The Lord would send me an angel, a friend, who taught me about God’s view towards me and on sex in marriage…how, when it’s cultivated in the right context, it’s a beautiful kind of worship. Walls were beginning to fall, and I was experiencing powerful breakthrough. Slowly, I began to breathe again. To find joy again. Yet, my husband did not share these same sentiments. After two years he would leave me. Without warning and abandoned, I was lost but God was loud. He led me to a local church that lived out this stunning definition of community, and from there, He would send me to India for a month to teach me about beauty in brokenness.
From there, my road to healing was long and messy, but the darkness was beginning to lift as I fearfully gave my life to the Healer. Counseling was the safe space where my fragmented thoughts would run free. This advocate of a woman that God sent me would gently lead me to the truth of my identity. Forgiveness was painful but it became unleashed on her couch as I began to set my perpetrator free for stealing my innocence, as I began to set my ex-husband free for discarding me, as I began to set my mom free from her inability to protect me, and as I began to set myself free from carrying the guilt of what happened to my sister. I also received healing prayer from a dear friend. As she walked me through this devotion, she asked the Lord to show me two things: where He was, and what He was doing during those agonizing moments. I began to sob uncontrollably sitting on a porch swing in the heat of a summer night, with only the sound of crickets surrounding us. He whispered to me, and now I could see clearly. He was right there, and He was weeping. His heart was breaking when our purity was being taken from us. He was there, and I caught of glimpse of His love for me. I experienced my Maker that night and He restored my dignity, my worth, my joy. Relationships were taking a turn. What once was barbed wire built around my heart, now welcomed love, becoming soft and pliable. Two and a half years, after that night on that porch swing, I find myself in the arms of a fiancé who shows the love of the Father in ways I never thought could be possible for me. Here I am. A wreck with a future and a hope and a life.
I pray for that man who snatched my childhood. I pray that no one else will be hurt by him. And most importantly, I proclaim that my story is absolutely worth it if it can bring healing and liberation to all of you who are reading this today. As Christine Cain, who was abused by four men for twelve years of her life says, “It doesn’t just affect you, it affects all the generations that are to come after you. Most of us prefer the comfort of our victimhood rather than the responsibility it takes to be free. See, when I was a victim I didn’t have to help rescue anyone, because poor little Chris. But when Chris is free, and a brand new creation, then she has a responsibility to open the prison doors for everybody else. I bet you that the devil wishes he had left me alone.”
And so I choose not to stay in my victimhood. I choose to open the prison doors for other girls just like me. I guarantee that devil wishes he had left me alone. Will you join me?