When you do not know who you are and whose you are, you will succumb to almost anything. You are an open book to everyone, with no reservations and prudence. You do not have firm ground to stand on. You just go with the flow. Que sera sera as they call it.
When you have been sexually molested at an early age, especially from the ones who are supposed to protect you, it’s easy to feel like you are on sinking sand. Depression and torment become familiar companions. What’s worse is that these emotions can oppress you for days, months, and even decades.
The pain can be too much to bear; you’d want a way out. This leads to double-mindedness. This is where a double life can start.
Sexual Abuse in Childhood
I grew up in a Christian home. My parents did everything to feed me and my siblings despite our dire poverty. Both parents did not finish elementary school; hence, my father ended up being a driver. My mom was a homemaker. Although she worked odd jobs to augment her income, the money was not enough since there were four of us children to take care of.
There was food on the table, but it was not as nutritious as it should have been. There were days when we would mix rice with milk or rice with vegetable oil/ water/ salt. My mom would add lots of water into the noodles so that it would be enough for us.
My mom brought me to Sunday School classes, Friday prayer meetings, and intercessory sessions on spiritual warfare as early as I was 7 years old. Being the eldest of four kids, I was often labeled as the responsible and goody-goody girl. At church, I would appear as “holier than thou”– very on fire and very active in ministry. At school, I would also try to get excellent grades and get involved in extracurricular activities. In later years, I realized that all of these were just a facade.
I was always a happy kid, yet the first sexual molestation would often haunt me to the point of questioning my existence. The sexual abuse happened when I was 5 years old, up until I was 23. In-between these years, I was battling depression, death wishes, attitude problems, and certain addictions like flirting with men, and masturbation. I would create scenarios in my head where I was rejected and abandoned. The irony of it all was that I enjoyed the feeling of being the victim.
I did not know how to carry myself around men. I struggled with my identity. I remember that when I was 9 years old, I had a crush on my girl classmate. I am thankful though that this was corrected later on. Also, growing up, I was loud and brazen around men to the point that I was scolded from being annoying.
I hated God, myself, and the ones around me.
Lost and Broken
I would appear okay to everyone around me. On Sundays, I would lead worship. I also had speaking engagements at different events. I had a lot of ministry involvement, yet in the shadows, I masturbated and imagined sexual things. In my heart of hearts, I was decaying. Enslaved. Codependent. Needy. Insecure. Fearful of men and of the future. My life was pointless and surely, I was two-faced.
On numerous times, I would cry myself to sleep. Ironically, I would create scenarios in my head where I savored the tears of being the victim. Overall, distortion ruled my childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood.
The Long Process of Healing
In spite of my misery, I was often hungry for the truth. God saw this and He made a way.
God gave me leaders and mentors whom I could be accountable to– people who exemplified and demonstrated His unconditional love. He also opened doors for me to have a series of professional help, inner healing, and deliverances. He caused me to study Scriptures for myself, leading me to Bible verses that I could use to pray for my mental and emotional well-being. When my circumstances were beyond my capacity to bear, He led me to spiritual warfare, and I would sing unto His heart. Being in God’s presence became my most effective medicine.
Even in those seasons when I was groping in the dark, God cheered me on, assuring me that I could slay my giants. He kept giving me strategies so I could walk in holiness and purity again, as if no molestation ever happened. He kept loving me even at my worst, so I could eventually love what He loves and hate what He hates.
My recovery did not happen overnight for sure, but God was gently transforming me, one issue after another. As a result, I am now enjoying the life that I am living.
In my later years, I have learned to become more transparent to God; I tell Him everything. This has also helped me realize true freedom because He always has answers to my questions.
The world may be most uncertain right now, but with my healing encounters with God, I know that I stand on a Rock that is higher than I. I make fasting my lifestyle. I fast from food, social media, and my gadgets. I get rid of movies, songs, conversations and anything that trigger me back to my old ways.
Also at night, I pray, asking Jesus to cover me with His blood so I will not have nightmares and lustful dreams. I intentionally study Scriptures for myself to know God’s ways and what honors Him. I keep myself accountable; I have leaders who know my struggles and who are covering me in prayers and counseling. Every time lust attacks me, I ask for the fire of God to burn in my belly so I won’t give in to temptation. Prayer, fasting, spiritual warfare, Bible meditation, and worship are really keys to my breakthrough. I do not take any credit for these, though. These are all strategies that God has imparted to me.
No longer am I imprisoned by my past, but I am one who is free, and I want others to be the same. This is now my message, my anthem. By the grace of God, I shall continue to relay these truths to others, letting them see that they, too, can come out in the open, that the blood of the Lord Jesus is stronger than all of their addictions combined. They can live His original purpose and blueprint for their lives.
When you have experienced a clear conscience and clarity of mind, you will be tenacious in living a life that is free from gnawing guilt and shame. You will be living the life of your truest self.
“So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free.” John 8:36, Amp Bible
“And you will know the truth [regarding salvation], and the truth will set you free [from the penalty of sin].” John 8:32, Amp Bible
“I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20, Amp Bible
Editor’s note: This story was first published in One Voice Magazine on August 13, 2021.
Beth Barcoso is a graduate of BSEd major in Social Sciences and is currently finishing her Master of Arts degree in Guidance and Counselling at Cebu Normal University. She is an inspirational speaker/ trainer in the USA, Europe, Asia, and in different parts of the Philippines. She has been a volunteer missionary under Youth With A Mission (YWAM) for 16 years and has co-authored the books, God's Foot Soldiers and Young Women on the Journey. Beth is a songwriter/ singer. She is the founder and owner of Two Become One (Weddings and Momentous Events). She is also the founder and owner of Accelerate Events and Trainings. She is a “Silver Associate” and accredited “Stress Management Seminar” facilitator of Max International.