Growing up, I didn’t feel like I belonged in the Catholic Church. Since I experienced physical attractions towards other men, I felt far too broken and “dirty” to ever find myself sitting in the pews at Sunday Mass. I despised God. I despised His Church and its “restrictive” teachings on homosexuality. And yet, even amidst the deep distance that I drilled between the Lord and I, Jesus patiently waited for me to return home to Him.Read more
I saw porn for the first time when I was six. I was visiting my dad in Florida with my sister. We were watching TV late at night, unsupervised, when we came across a channel that showed two people having sex. I knew that we should change the channel, but I didn’t want to. I was intrigued and wanted to watch longer. A brief exposure was enough to impact me deeply.
After that I was really tuned in to sexual images in magazines, movies and shows; it was like I had developed a radar for it all. I knew that it was not good to be looking at those things, so I kept it secret. Another thing I kept secret was that I learned to masturbate in the third grade. In high school I got a laptop and had access to porn videos online. Nobody knew that I was watching these things and that I had this hidden life, because for a while on the outside I was a “good girl.”
One of the ways that porn influenced me was making me think that guys wanted to use me. I wasn’t aware I had acquired that way of thinking, but when I started to party and become promiscuous in high school, I allowed myself to be used by boys. I learned from porn that that’s what they want and that I could have a sort of power over them by letting them use me.
The biggest impact that viewing porn at a young age had on me was that it introduced a deep sense of shame that I carried with me for almost two decades. When I had a conversion back to Catholicism in college, my new friends were interested in knowing the real me and knowing my story. The fact of the matter was I didn’t know the real me and I hadn’t looked at my story. When I started to, I uncovered this place of shame. I discovered a belief firmly cemented in my mind and heart that I was no good, that I was broken beyond repair and that I was perverted at the core of my being. I eventually connected these beliefs to the early experience of not only watching porn but wanting to watch porn. I thought: Why would someone, especially so young, want to watch something like that unless there was something seriously wrong with her, unless she was perverted and just kind of off?
One thing that was helpful was learning that it’s actually pretty normal that if a child is exposed to porn or has any kind of sexually inappropriate experience there often is a curiosity that later becomes very confusing and shameful for the individual. I also learned that it can be a normal response for a person to become interested in sexual things after an early exposure like that. It turns out that what I experienced was not unusual given what had happened and what I had seen—and that lifted a lot of the shame from me and made me feel a lot more normal and a lot less messed up.
Something happened several years ago that further touched and brought healing to this part of me. I was in prayer on a retreat and was feeling very in touch with the sense of shame and brokenness, unworthiness and perversion. The memory of the first exposure to porn popped into my head and I saw a scene play out. I saw myself and my sister lying on the ground in our sleeping bags in front of the TV, soon after seeing the porn, and we were sleeping. I saw Jesus kneeling on the ground by my head and leaning over me, weeping. I sensed that He was not mad at me and He was not at all interested in punishing me. I sensed that He was sad for me because He knew what this experience would do to me and how long it would take me to heal from it. I also saw in Him a very real and righteous anger at my dad for not protecting me from this. This experience was very healing; it was really important for me to see how Jesus responded to me in that moment, and it allowed me to see the memory and myself differently. I was finally freed from the shame I had carried for so long.
The topic of this content can be triggering to some readers. That is completely understandable. I’m not going to go into detail and will focus on the healing more than the trauma itself, but if you need to stop reading here, that’s okay. Also, if you have been in a similar situation, please remember to surround yourself with people that you can talk to—other brothers and sisters in Christ, family, priests or religious, or even counselors. There is nothing to be ashamed about, and there are people here for you.
I went through a few years of sexual abuse between age 7 and 11. I knew the person quite well, and they were very much a part of my everyday life. I think that when someone so close to you hurts you in this specific way, it really messes with you. A priest once told me sexual abuse can be one of the worst things to happen to a person because it will affect them physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually. However, I am blessed to say that where I stand now, I am healed in ways I didn’t think I could be. Being healed from something doesn’t mean that you’ve forgotten it, though, or that it doesn’t still affect certain areas of your life. It might not be an open wound anymore, but the scars are still there, and that’s okay. Unfortunately for me, the healing process didn’t begin until I was about 16, because the way I coped with it beforehand was hiding it and never talking about it or dealing with it. And trust me, if that’s where you are right now, that isn’t going to help you and it will only make it worse in the long run.
The first step that I took was acknowledging it to myself and being brave enough to bring it out into the open. It was hard to talk about it and bring myself back to that place. At first, the best way for me to work through it was with someone else who was either trained to handle it or someone who related to the situation in some way. I tried to do it this way for a while, and it definitely helped a lot, but ultimately, the Lord was the one who really helped me heal. It was once I let the Lord into that part of my life that I began to experience peace and acceptance within myself. I had to learn that Jesus wanted to sit in those wounds with me—and as with every wound or cut, when you need to clean it, it hurts. Pouring on that hydrogen peroxide or using an alcohol pad is going to sting like crazy, but it’s cleaning it and getting it prepped to begin to heal itself.
I know that without the ways that He worked in me and spoke to me, I would still be in a very wounded place in my life. I had to let the Lord into some very dark places, and let others into those places with me too. One thing that I didn’t realize was how long it would take to get to the point of freedom and peace. I would say that for me it took at least four to five years, and it is still something to this day that I need to fight for. Because the evil one wants to use this type of situation to unravel you and separate you from God. There were so many times I had to forgive over and over again, but I would honestly go through the whole process over again to be where I am today.
Let the Lord heal you. Let others into your life to love you and be with you. Talk it out with trusted people. Don’t get discouraged or lose hope and think that you have to stay in a wounded place forever. That’s not what I want for you, and that’s definitely not what the Lord wants for you.
Valentine’s Day was approaching, and I, being the haughty, single woman I was, had adopted a new motto. I began to tell everyone I encountered: “You know, guys cannot complain about being single on Valentine’s Day. That’s all on them.” This phrase led to my reasoning that if they want a girlfriend, then they have the freedom to ask a girl out, but us poor women are simply maidens in waiting. Poor us, striving for authentic, Christ-centered relationships, yet living in a time when chivalry is far gone. I had reduced my vocation to the mere passivity of waiting to receive, while at the same time demanding of men immediate and heroic action.Read more
When I was eleven years old, I discovered pornography. What began as curiosity transformed into an ongoing, hidden wound for seven years. The devil took hold of my feelings of isolation and insecurities, feeding me lies. As is common in any form of habitual sin, I felt there was no way out. But that was a lie. As with any lie, it has since been overshadowed by Truth.Read more
I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through a Pro-Life conversation before without someone saying “Men shouldn’t tell women what to do with their bodies,” or accusing men of being misogynists (or worse than that), all because many of us believe in the right to life for everyone.Read more