Jan's Story

As a young child I silently suffered abuse from a step-grandfather and others in the small Midwestern town where we lived. I am a divorcee of thirty-seven years, never remarried, raised two sons, and suffered depression off and on for many years. In 1994 I took a medical disability due to a chronic neuro-muscular disease. My grandparents, parents, three siblings, aunts and uncles died long ago, adding to my feelings of brokenness. However, God met me at my point of need and continues to this day to heal and set me free.

I would prefer to write about abuse from my head not my heart. For most of my sixty-nine years I have lived from the neck up, only to learn that living “out of my head” has at times nearly pushed me to living “out of my mind!”

In addition to suffering sexual abuse at the hands of my step-grandfather, neighborhood boys, and college dates, I suffered verbal abuse from my family. When I was a little girl my brother, six years my senior, would tease me about being chubby. My sister, nearly three years my senior, would join him in taunting me. My mom seemed unable or too busy to stop them and my dad was seldom at home. The more I tried to stop the verbal assaults, the meaner my brother and sister were in relentless teasing. In junior high school I determined never to be chubby again. I began an intense study of food, calories, exercise, and control of appetite. I had to take matters in my own hands. Throughout high school, college, and marriage, I maintained the commitment to myself to stay thin even though my methods of doing so were unhealthy as I purged to keep the weight from returning. After my divorce, I seldom overate and purged, nor did I abuse laxatives anymore. Today, I am blessed to be living a much healthier lifestyle.

Had it not been for God placing an abuse ministry team in my life, I might still be living a borderline-survival life.

By helping other women write their own stories of abuse, my eyes have been opened to the destruction in other women’s lives and a greater understanding of my own abuse. One woman I coached had a nineteen-year-old daughter who died of anorexia. In reading the daughter’s journals over the last nine years of her life, I could see myself in the pages of her journal, although not as severely anorexic. I lived. She did not.

In another writing experience God awakened me early one morning, and I felt urged to write a letter to my deceased step-grandfather. As strange as I thought it was at first, I did it. Four pages later with tears and great relief, I forgave the man who abused me and offered up the letter as a burnt offering to God to use for his glory.

Thus the journey of healing continues for me on several levels; physically, emotionally, spiritually. I have read books, journaled, prayed, received nutritional help, and spent years with godly therapists. It is my desire to be in the center of God’s will and to live for his glory and enjoy intimacy with him. Intimacy is critical to the survival of the human soul. It is what I ache for. It is the hope I have in Jesus that reassures me he will continue to deepen our relationship. I am full of praise and thanksgiving for all that he has brought me through.

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