Tag Archive: abuse


And now a glimpse into the story of Steve and Helene from Helene’s side:

Helene and Steve

I will start with the here and now – Steve and I have been married two and a half years and together six years. I feel very blessed and fulfilled by our physical intimacy, and am looking for many years of exploring what that will look like in the various seasons that await us. Knowing where the other comes from with respect to sexual history makes us want to honor the other, and bring healing and peace and respect to the other in a way that no one else can. With that comes a humbling responsibility and great power, but also a deep desire to bless the other and receive the joy of sex that God intended for us to experience together. I am sure it will not always be like it is now – sometimes it will be better (whatever that will look like, I don’t know yet) and sometimes it will be worse, but I have a deep trust that this is something we both want to prioritize because we have been uniquely placed by God in a position to offer that to the other. I would say that right now, our biggest challenge is that we often feel like life gets in the way of us making time to be intimate as often as we’d like. Thankfully we are quick to notice it and since we don’t have children and have a fair degree of freedom in our activities, we plan impromptu time in bed or put a hold on our calendar for a romantic evening on short notice to remedy the situation. Life is good.

But it wasn’t always like this. What I had to bring to the table on our wedding night was a soul and body so disconnected by a misguided sexual past that I thought I would never be able to fulfill my role in sharing wonderful physical intimacy with my husband. And it really broke my heart, because I felt that Steve had spent so many years (mostly) holding back from physical intimacy until he found someone to marry, while I was out carousing with any guy who wanted to lay a hand on me, and now all that brokenness made me unable to give something to Steve that he so rightfully deserved. I felt shame and disappointment and guilt. I felt unworthy and dirty. And more than anything, I felt scared to give him access to my body and my soul together as one – which is something I’d never done with anyone.

You see, my body hadn’t always been mine. My childhood, despite my wonderful parents’ love and care, was filled with physical attacks from a violent brother as well as the unwanted advances of a male babysitter before I even reached puberty. At a young age I learned that my body was something people could use to hurt me. I learned that those closest to me were the ones who would hurt me. So I simply dissociated my soul from my body – if people wanted to use my body for evil that’s fine, I could keep it at arm’s length and not be affected by it. In teenage years I became very promiscuous – which seems counterintuitive but I learned later that it is a very common way for survivors of childhood sexual abuse or violence to cope with a feeling of powerlessness. It was as though I had to affirm that my body didn’t matter, therefore what happened to me as a child didn’t matter. What it did however, was widen the chasm between how I related to my body and how I related to my soul – I didn’t understand how the two could coexist together as a whole. It also taught me that you can have countless partners but that you never have to trust anyone, especially the ones you become closest to. So in a weird way sex became a tool to keep people at a distance, not bring them closer. I had no concept of what it could mean to have sex with someone and respect them, or be respected for that matter. By the time I entered my thirties I had left that wildly promiscuous past behind, perhaps more as a result of finding fewer people willing to engage in the practice because of my age, or perhaps because unbeknownst to me I was growing up a little. Then Steve entered the scene. We started dating and he told me about not wanting to have sex before marriage. I thought “well heck, I’ve never tried THAT before!” Since nothing else had worked to that point with respect to finding eternal love, I was willing to give it a shot. Not only was I attracted to Steve in the conventional way at the onset of dating, but I was also very intrigued by the idea that someone could value a relationship with me that wasn’t based on the physical. In hindsight it is an incredible story of redemption that the Lord would have put Steve on my path, because out of that relationship came a deep reconciliation between my body and my soul, and a feeling of wholeness has emerged that I had never thought possible.

It was not easy at first though. I didn’t know how to be sexual and at the same time stay engaged emotionally and spiritually with him. I knew that I could not treat this incredible person the way I had treated sexual partners in the past – by using him as an object. At the same time, I did not know how to stay connected with him during physical intimacy because I had trained my soul to just go hide somewhere deep inside whenever I was naked with somebody and to leave my empty shell of a body for the person to use as they saw fit. At that point, we’d just gotten married and I wanted desperately to give him a wonderful sexual experience, but it all came crashing down on me. All those years of protecting myself had essentially disabled me from knowing how to let somebody in, body and soul, into my life. So in the first few weeks/months, I remember letting “it” happen but feeling pain and incredible sadness that I couldn’t connect with Steve in that way. I felt a lot of rage and guilt that all these years I had been able to have “great sex (whatever that means!)” with strangers and now with the one person whom I loved and trust, I couldn’t do it. But that was actually a blessing, because what was happening was that for the first time in my life I cared enough about someone that I did not want to use him and let him use me. I wanted to experience what God intended for us to experience, but I didn’t know how. I felt too broken to have anything to offer. I was at an impasse, so I went to see a counselor who helped me sort out all these feelings I was having. She gave me and Steve tools for overcoming this initial difficulty in our intimacy. She gently encouraged me to start trusting Steve in a way that I had never trusted anyone before. At first, I sometimes had to make him stop in the middle of the act because I couldn’t stay with it emotionally and I did not want to let myself dissociate from my body. It was better to make the whole thing stop than to let myself go back to that secret place inside and leave my empty shell in bed with Steve. It was awkward of course, and I am forever grateful that Steve gave me the space and unconditional love to work through all these emotions – all the while he was experiencing his own disappointment that sex with me wasn’t quite the amazing and exciting experience he had hoped it would be. What made the difference was that I knew he trusted me and trusted that I was committed to getting past this and having a wonderful physical connection with him down the road. He never pressured me, something for which I am, again, so grateful to him. Within that sacred, safe place I began to heal.

After about a year, things started getting better. I found myself looking forward to sharing intimate time with Steve whereas before I had to talk myself into it a little. I started trusting him, trusting my body to be a source of joy and pleasure and not a source of pain, trusting that it is possible to have someone touch me with respect, with love, with care. And I feel so incredibly grateful when I find myself wishing we spent more time in bed together now–after my journey it is such a blessing to find myself in such a mundane, simple predicament: simply to wish for more intimate time with my husband. More importantly, all the time Steve and I spent not being fulfilled sexually has created a relationship that is based on trust and mutual respect and we have learned to find other ways to feel valued and loved. I look forward to and love the times that we spend physically intertwined together, but I also look forward to and love the times when we just sit and talk about what we’ve been reading and thinking about, cook together, kayak together or serve others together. We were able to develop an incredibly supportive and challenging relationship even as we were struggling with relating to one another sexually, which had two pretty awesome outcomes: one, we appreciate the lightness and depth of our physical intimacy even more because we worked hard for it, and two, we don’t worry about how it would affect our relationship if for some reason (sickness, distance,…) we couldn’t show our love physically to one another. We know so many ways to show and receive love and to feel connected to one another, one of which happens to be sex. It’s a wonderful gift, but not the “end all be all” of marriage in my opinion.

[to read Steve’s side to this story, click here]

so yesterday morning i come downstairs and i log into Facebook and am busy catching up on the nights mail when suddenly a word in another mail in my inbox catches my attention… it’s a mail from my wife, the beautiful Val [tbv] with some bank details regarding flight money and my comment below it says, ‘bitch, i want all the money’

[cue me confused] so i start trying to work out what word i was going for cos i have clearly mistyped when suddenly, in the inbox to my left a new mail rises to the top of the pile, addressed to my former UK housemate from the Simply Way with brett fish anderson [that’s me] writing “Fuck you”

You've been hacked...

[confusement changing to panic as i realise i’m being hacked but all this live and while i am in my account] so i quickly scramble towards the password changing settings menu and as i do i get a notification and it is one of my old friends who i have not been in any contact with for a long time and he is saying ‘now why would i do that?’ so i click on it and on his status which was something along the lines of ‘Have a great week everyone’, brett fish anderson has commented ‘i hope you die.’

[password changed and hoping that is it – ticked the option to ‘log me out of all devices i am currently logged into’ – nice touch Zuckers – and waiting to see if the surreal movie-type experience has finished… my buddy Dunc, who i am staying with, walks downstairs so i share the story with him and he tells me to check my activity log – good job Zuckers – and so i do – just three other people fortunately – old church friend, old cape town friend and my boss’ wife all with the eloquent ‘F___ you’ scrawled upon their page [by brett fish anderson of course] and so managed to delete them]

by this time i have an email from a friend from The Simple Way suggesting i might have been hacked and copying the mail from my boss’ wife to me which i have just deleted…

so crisis largely averted – i think one downfall of the hacker was being over the top in terms of using language no one would have suspected i would actually use in that way – but it was a little freaky as it started to happen in front of my eyes [maybe better that way rather than arriving to 200 sent out messages i guess] and felt a little bit like being trapped in a movie…

i have seen a lot of hack attempts and been the victim on occasion, but that was definitely the most malicious one i have personally encountered. feels a little bit violationary…

and is it boss’ wife or bosses wife?

I thank You, God
For granting an audience
To someone as weak and insignificant as me
I kneel before You
In a futile attempt
To right a millenia of wrongs committed against You
I represent a group of people
Totally unworthy, fully undeserving
Completely unaware and oblivious of their need for me to be here

If the court stenographer will read back the testimony
It will be made clear
That time and time again You have born the brunt
Of false testimony, claiming You were the guilty party
For all manner of unspeakable acts of evil
Disease, Death, War and Famine
All thrown accusingly at You
Accompanied by a menacing, pointing finger
And the strangled screams of, “Why?”

In fact, how often have I been there
Part of the crowd
Adding my voice to the throng?
Or even just the lack of it?
A silent accusation off to the side
Taking it all in
But making no real attempt to voice an objection
Or run to Your defence
“Sometimes the cries were just SO loud.”

But taking out some time
To build up a case
I have been forced into an encounter
Coming face to face with who You really are
Looking beyond the weak Hollywood interpretations
Cartoon caricatures; comical characterisations
Even moving past the weak and off-putting representatives
You have dirtying Your name here down on earth
I finally start to catch a glimpse of the You behind the scenes…

And I know!

September 11 – You were there!
WWII Nazi death camps – You were there!
And in Ethiopia where a vulture picks at a rotting child!
And in Hillbrow as another mugging takes place!
In the belly of the Titanic!
In the local AIDS clinic as yet another baby dies!

Your alibi is shattered!

I have seen Your character. I have tasted who You are.
There is conclusive, overwhelming proof
That YOU, WERE, THERE!!!

…and finally, I see it…

…something I should have known all along…

You couldn’t not be there!!
When that fatal shot is fired; at the moment of impact;
another suicide bomber snatching the lives of those around him.
So You stand in the midst of it all
Taking it all in…

Taking it all on!

You hurt…
You bleed…
Your heart breaks even before the family and the friends whose will follow…

You picked up the battered and twisted bodies
Welcoming some of them home.
You screamed at the horror
The violence!
The pure, unadulterated evil of it all.
You screamed!!!

You wept…

You weep!

And as I stand by the grave side
And watch as they lay my person to rest
And ask, “How could you, God, how could you?”
“How could you take this person from me?”

Suddenly it sinks in
Finally hits home
I start to ‘get’ it
One person I loved with all my heart
One more person You love with all Yours
Another one.
And another.
And another.
And another.

And one more.
Because You have to stand here every day.
And another.
Watching the ultimate consequence of sin.
And another.
Something that should never have happened.
And another.
Who do You get to shout at?
And another.
Where do You point Your accusing finger?
And one more.

God…

“I am sorry!”
I know that can’t mean much.
Doesn’t even begin to start.
But, “I’m Sorry..!”

It’s been true all along,
I know not what I do…
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