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Virtual Trauma Art Exhibit Showcase

How deep and destructive are sexual assaults
Artist Name: Angela Stephenson
How deep and destructive are sexual assaults

Journal Entry: February 23rd

This question just hit me: Did I always have self-serving relationships with guys because of what I “learned” from being molested as a child?

What did my shocked 6-year-old mind & heart take away from the seductive attention of a 16-year-old boy? Why he was touching me in private places and what he was doing to me. How did this overwhelming, confusing, guilt-ridden manipulation change my perspective of myself and relationships?

I felt shame, dirty, my family would never look at me the same again if they found out. I didn’t tell anyone. I wasn’t the sweet, innocent, little sister anymore. I had done something horrible and I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was really bad. I hid the truth. That made me a liar. I decided not to trust men; because they might use me. Before the molestation, I assumed everyone had my best interest at heart. I intuitively knew that this boy was trying to selfishly get something from me that was wrong.

My self-protective reaction was to have relationships with guys to meet my needs, I would be in charge. I liked the attention and the excitement of a new boyfriend. But if a more interesting guy came along, I would leave the first relationship for the more exciting guy… and on… and on… (having little awareness or concern for the nice guys I was hurting along the way).

I didn’t use sex for validation (Lord, No!) I wouldn’t trust men enough to have sex with them – that would be letting THEM use ME. I used their desire to have a relationship as validation to feel good about myself.

[I wonder if all molested kids crave that extra attention and validation to make up for the shame of the molestation? And then have long term issues with feeling unworthy, unlovable, guilty and shameful? Is the “yes” obvious?...]

Sometimes I feel the only way to be loved or worthy - is to earn it; by working, doing acts of service, doing things for my kids – and if I don’t do these things at every opportunity – then I’m not a good person, not a good mom, and not worthy of being loved.

As if love were 100% transactional - which I know in my MIND it’s not (but my little 6-year-old heart within needs reassurance).

Bible Time Revelation
See drawing 1

This is the shield I create around myself and my heart. Sometimes I think it protects me from the hurts of the world. But in REALITY, the shield isolates me from God and caring people - while I struggle alone, in a pool of my unworthiness and guilt; unable to accept God’s love. How could God love a shameful, guilty, “wreck” like me?

And yet I know from the truth of God’s Word, God does love me. He loves me so much that nothing horrible that I have done is too much for him.

As a human being, it’s hard to understand, to absorb, to accept this HUGE completely forgiving love. It is OTHER – Worldly. Nothing in this world works that way. And yet I know in my heart, this love of God is real, it is the foundation of all truth.

See drawing 2
Psalm 18:30 - God’s way is perfect. He is a shield for those who take refuge in him.

Being molested, my selfish acts, my lies, my mean thoughts, my betrayals – were events in my past. Who I AM is not equal to those past events.

Who Am I Now? How many good and wonderful actions/things have happened since? How many good things will be “enough”? I replay my mistakes in my mind much more than I replay my moments of goodness or joy. It’s a slow journey of healing.

But I will hold on to the truth that God’s love is not conditional. He loves me as I am.

Artist Bio:

I am a Christian author of the Come Alive! small group program, public speaker, Stephen Minister, Deacon, Co-founder of Living Abundantly Ministries and life-long student of the Bible and whole-person wellbeing. I’ve been involved Bible study groups for over 35 years. Each study has stretched me, humbled me, and revealed God’s expansive and undeserved love, acceptance, truth, and joy.

After working for many years in the technology industry, God called me to a new career in holistic wellbeing with God at its foundation. God’s love is a powerful source of health, healing and the power for change; when we allow it into the depths of our being (…and that takes some practice and vulnerability). Through the Come Alive! Small Group Program my hope and mission is to help people have a new Christ-led “rhythm of life” approach to spiritual and physical wellbeing.
I live in Wheaton, IL with my husband, Steve, and our two children. I find joy in my time with family, reading, animals, volleyball, and the beauty of God in nature.

I was molested at the age 6 and then the person I loved most in the world, my 18 year old sister, Paula, was killed at the hands of a drunk driver when I was 9 years old. My life, my thinking and my spirit were stunted and greatly changed by these events. I am currently healing, growing and learning new ways of being in relationship with myself, with God and with those close to me. The healing journey has been some of the sweetest, most joy filled, heart wrenching and challenging moments of my life. And all of it (the good and the not so good) gives me hope to live and share more joy and love with others.

Pittsburgh Baptist Church wholly aligns with biblical standards and doctrines for faith and practice. Not all
viewpoints of presenters and artists are reflective of the beliefs upheld by Pittsburgh Baptist Church.

We are honored to host each of these artists as they share their VOICE.

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