I Am A Survivor
by Dixie Diamanti
In horror, I stared at my 11-year-old daughter as she, with tears running down her rosy cheeks, recounted the times and places a distant family member had molested her. I was torn from my place of denial with a vengeance that knew no mercy. A war waged inside of me. The little girl in me, who never faced her own issues, and the mother who was always overly protective of her daughter, fought for freedom from reality. The very thing I thought I had so protected her from had happened. I was in shock.
The stark realization of what had happened began to sink in as I tried to make sense of everything I had been thrust into. I was 35 years old and had never told a soul that I, too, was an incest survivor. I was totally convinced I would go to the grave with the "secret”. Now, because of my silence and denial, my own precious little girl, whom I thought I had protected with my life, had fallen victim to the very same thing I had endured. “Dear God, how does one survive so much pain,” I asked. I honestly thought my heart would break.
As Heather, began to share with me the many horrible incidents, outwardly I listened intently, allowing her the much needed validation from me. I assured her that she was ok and would be believed and protected, in spite of the grip of terror that had me bound. Inwardly, I wanted to throw my hands over my ears and scream that it wasn’t so, and please don’t tell me. Because what she was describing to me was as if it were happening to me all over again. The very same words, places, reasonings, and sick realizations that I had experienced when molested were what I was hearing from my own child. I knew she couldn’t even begin to tell me these things without having experienced it. I was thrown into a tailspin of confusion, crying out to God to reveal to me what to do and give me the strength to do it.
My whole foundation of belief was shaken to the core. After I became a Christian at the age of 22, I had convinced myself that because I was a new creature in Christ I would never again have to deal with what happened to me as a child between the ages of 7 and 12 years of age. I had actually convinced myself that it hadn’t happened at all and I had dreamt it. In actuality, I had very vivid memories of every incident down to the details. Later, I came to learn that when a child has been traumatized with molestation or incest, they either block out all memories and have all the mental and physical manifestations that accompany the violations. Or they have all the memories, but have blocked out all the emotional turmoil that goes with it. I was the later. I had blocked out all feeling but remembered everything. I taught myself as a little girl to separate from my body when I couldn’t deal with the trauma. The real me floated on the ceiling playing with the butterflies while watching what was going on below. I would feel sorry for the little girl, because she looked so sad, but I was just glad it wasn’t happening to me.
In the months that followed, after finding out about Heather’s violation, I sought God for direction and healing. I asked him for a healing that would eventually reach out to others and see them walk free of the past, just as He was teaching me. As I began to face what had happened to me, I wanted desperately to help my little girl. But I had to begin my journey to healing first, before I could help her.
I had been in ministry for years, teaching and praying for the needs of other women, when the force of my past hit me and my family. I thought I was ok and had no need of emotional healing, because I had reached so many women for Christ. I slowly realized that I, too, must begin the journey of walking through what happened to me to reach the shores of deliverance. I had no idea where this journey would take me. Through the many months that followed I was in torment as I made myself face every incident, the confusion, disgust, betrayal, and shame I felt when I was violated.
I realized it was especially intensified because it was a trusted, authority figure and a family member. I was a victim of incest, and so was my daughter, and I needed to admit it and face it. It was such an ugly word. I later learned that incest is called “soul murder”, and that it is. A child’s soul, which is made up of the mind, will, and emotions totally shut down when violated by the adult family member that is the authority in their life. At that point the precious child’s spirit is covered by shame and confusion that will affect her all the rest of her days, unless healed by the Lord.
Being a victim had been behind many of the decisions I had made in life that wasn’t God’s best for me. All those feelings were shoved down, repressed, resulting in many deceptions. I learned if the feelings aren’t dealt with and released through self-assessment, counseling, and prayer they will emerge in some other way. They would show up when I didn’t want them to, either in poor health, wrong decisions shrouded by shame, or misplaced anger, and any of a thousand other malfunctions I had just learned to accept as who I was.
I threw myself at the mercy of the Holy Spirit as my counselor. I was not financially able to afford professional counsel, but the Lord put me in contact with a Christian Psychologist, a survivor herself, who began to minister the steps to healing one must take to walk free from the past. In the months that followed, as I trusted Him to show me what steps to take, I slowly moved towards emotional health.
God is a God of miracles. Not only in the physical realm, but also in the mental realm. I spent months walking through what happened to me at such a tender age. I was ‘there’ again and allowed myself to feel all the horror and helplessness of the travesty against my whole being. Slowly I came to a place of rage and anger at the audacity of this person, to not only violate me but my daughter as well. I came to realize that even though I thought I was protecting my daughter, because of my denial, I actually put her into the same unsafe areas I had been, thinking it would never happen to anyone else. It took me a while to realize that I was still operating as a ‘victim’ at that time and wasn’t seeing clearly enough to actually protect her.
I thought there had been something wrong with me as a little girl to make this person do that to me, and this feeling remained intact as I grew to be a woman. Because of this thinking, it happened again to my own child. “After all”, my attacker quipped, “You turned out so good, I thought it wouldn’t hurt her”.
I believed that I was the reason it happened; that I was the bad person. I was told I would destroy the family if I ‘told’. Thus, the power of my perpetrator was in the “secret”. Once I realized this, I became determined to not only expose this issue in the Christian community, but would do all in my power to make sure it never happens again in my family. I became a fighter with determination to expose the enemy by shedding the light on all the dark areas.
Incest and molestation is a curse that travels down through generation after generation in families. The only way this pattern or “curse” can be broken is through exposure and bringing the dark to light. The power of the secret has to be broken. It was the hardest thing in my entire walk that I had to do. It took me two years to hear the voice of the Lord in this and then do it.
I can remember every detail of that fateful day as I drove to the family residence and told the secret I had kept safely hidden since childhood, to protect the trusted family member. I cried and pleaded with the Lord to not make me go. I even stopped along the way and prayed, “ God, tell me again why I have to do this. It is going to hurt so many, and I feel responsible.” And in a voice that even to this day seems audible, the Lord in His mercy said, “ My beautiful daughter, you are the victim. You did nothing to cause this to happen to you. You are not responsible for what shedding the light on this sin will do to anyone. You must shed the light into all the dark areas by exposing your enemy to break the generational curse of incest. You are doing this to protect the grandchildren you will have. Your grandchildren will be safe because you and Heather will be walking in the light of the confrontation.”
At His voice I felt strong enough to walk in and change lives forever with what I told them. I released myself from the responsibility of protecting anyone with my secret. I was the victim. But that is the day I became a ‘survivor’.
The backlash was not fun, and there was many a day when I felt I had destroyed loved ones lives with my uncovering. But I continued to look to the Lord to guide me. My daughter was watching me in all this and growing in her own realization that she had a Mom who genuinely loved her and was as hurt for her as she was. I went through years without anyone to stand with me and knew how important it was to validate the victim. Heather would walk into healing many years before I did, because she had the freedom to know it wasn’t a secret anymore. The power of the sin was gone and God won!
I consequently founded a support group ministry called “Restoration Ministries” that reached women who were childhood victims all up and down the Central Coast of California. I trained facilitators to start new groups and was amazed at how many women there were out there like myself. I heard the story told over and over, and watched the Holy Spirit begin his work in countless others who consented to start the journey to healing from the past and moving forward into finding God’s unique purpose for their lives. I realized, after many months into this ministry, that it was so satisfying to use my anger constructively towards exposing the enemy by telling my story, and by doing this I was stopping it from happening to the children of the women that came, as well. By telling my story, the women realized they needed to take the steps to healing to save their children as well as themselves. It was very sad to learn that 75% of the women we reached had children who had already been molested.
But there was great victory! I watched women walk the trail of healing, by becoming strong enough to face what happened to them, expose the enemy in telling the secret, and begin new steps towards stopping the victimization’s.
The statistics astounded me when I found that 1 in every 2 women has been molested at some point in their childhood. This was confirmed by witnessing at the meetings I gave my testimony in, countless women coming down for ministry afterwards. It seemed like every woman in the room stayed after for ministry and to tell someone, for the first time in their lives, that yes, they were a victim and needed healing. The beginning of healing is telling the ‘secret’.
Today, Heather is a young mother of two beautiful children. She walks with God and has spoken freely to her children of the importance of good touching and bad touching, and is not in denial of what happened to her mother or herself. She has good strong boundaries and ministers those boundaries to others. I am so blessed when I look at my grandchildren and know that they are the ones that God was protecting the day he took me on that dark, lonely, journey to expose the darkness in my family, and to break the curse of incest.
My marriage to my children’s father ended after 25 years of marriage, due to the many dysfunctions that is tied into living in denial and not dealing with one’s victimization issues. It was a very painful experience for my children and I, but again we watched God redeem our lives in ways we never thought possible.
Today I have come to realize that my life purpose is that I get to assist and encourage women in finding their gifts and callings and to a more fulfilling life purpose. If that means coming to terms with the patterns that were created through childhood victimizations, then we start there. I believe that every woman is God’s precious daughter and He has a distinct plan for her life and has her on a divine journey into completeness in Him.