Jackie Hill Perry, a speaker and recording artist, talked about the sexual abuse she suffered at just 6 years old at the hands of a 16-year-old boy.
“I don’t remember how he got me to follow him into the basement,” she said, adding that her abuser was someone “familiar” to her.
“The teenage boy ... never told me not to tell, but what I do know is that it became a secret because to tell someone, I thought, was to implicate myself in an act of doing something that ought not be done," she told attendees. “Being a child, I didn’t have the capacity to even consider that his evil was not also my own.”
“I didn’t speak of that day, until I learned of its name,” she said, revealing at 14 years of age, she was able to call it by name, she said — sexual abuse.
“It allowed me to connect dots. The consequences of abuse like fear and shame and control dominated my days but it had a source that I could not acknowledge until it was reintroduced to me.”
“It was not merely that a teenage boy did something to me when I was little," Perry said. "That's far too abstract. ... It was that I was molested and violated by an image-bearer who did not see me as one. What happened was a perversion, demonic, a tragedy.”
God's healing, she said, is not immediate. Rather, it is “gradual and unassuming, and it usually begins with the hard work and ... revelation that the trauma exists,” she said. “Everything related to my molestation that needed to be healed had to be recognized first.”
When she grew up and got married, Perry said she had difficulty accepting her husband’s complementarian view based on her past experiences.
“He wanted to lead me well, but complementarianism, as it looks when lived, was terrifying when I remembered the last time I let a boy lead me,” she said.
Perry added, "Trauma makes you inquisitive, you know. It makes you doubt everything and everybody. ... I cannot tell you how frustrated I still am because it does not matter how much theology I have attained now. I am still affected by what happened to me then.”
“Even though my mind does not remember all of the details, my body does,” she added. “I am over 30, and I still feel like a 7 year old on most days. I am still so fearful of following anybody anywhere.”
"At this point, Heaven is my ultimate hope of healing," Perry said. "It isn’t that God is not healing me now, because He is, but I am not satisfied with that, and I don't’ believe I have to be. This incomplete healing is what propels my hope for a more sufficient one.”
“In Heaven, there will be a man that has never take advantage of me, a man that has always used His power to serve. Jesus is healing me, and Jesus will heal me.
"Yes, it hurts still, but what has happened to me or us won't hurt forever. Trauma will not have the final say. Jesus will."