The current statistics are even more sobering-- and have moved to 1-in-3 vs. 1-in-4. According to RAINN, 44% of rape victims are under age 18. Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. And there is an average of 207,753 victims of sexual assault each year, aged 12 and older. Approximately 2/3 of all assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, and 38% of rapists are a "friend" or acquaintance.
That means YES - quite possibly, that girl you sit next to in chemistry class... might be dealing with a friend-of-the-family hurting her. The withdrawn girl on the bus... could be being molested by her uncle. That "promiscuous" girl that everybody "knows"... may just be acting out because she has been raped already - so she figures why bother "protecting her virtue." The goth girl who pushes everybody away... she is trying to be as "ugly" as possible so she won't be raped again.
And it's even quite possible that one of your friends - someone to whom you share your secrets (the boy you are crushing on, the math test you failed, the normal everyday angst of high school) has been stuffing down her own horrible secrets of abuse so that she can forget... just for a minute... and feel "normal" by listening to your "problems." It is quite possible that you'll never know what horrors your friend faces each evening when she gets home from school
These kids-with-secrets didn't ASK to be raped... or assaulted... or abused. Like my lunchtime sandwich smashed by Hester's angry fist, they were attacked by ruthless bullies who get off on the "power" of hurting other people. And I imagine it would be easy for them to think that God does not care about them. Like Jenny in Forrest Gump who prayed "Dear God... make me a bird... make me a bird so I can fly far, far away (from her abusive father)," these kids might be wondering WHY God allows this pain and suffering to happen at all.
I don't want my next words to sound empty or condescending or out-of-touch, but I truly believe that while God may not have unleashed a bolt of lightening to smite your attacker, He was with you - each horrible minute - crying with you and helping you endure... and survive. While He will not stop a human, one of His children, from making a free-will choice, He is heartbroken when one of His children commits such an evil and horrible act upon another. At the same time, he feels every ounce of pain and suffering and shame you experience. God, as Jesus, felt pain, hopelessness, embarrassment, heartache, sickness, suffering, and more at the hand of Pontius Pilate and his angry mob. And every day, when people are cruel and inhumane to other people, I believe he feels double the pain - the pain of the victim as well as the pain and brokenness of the deranged or sick perpetrator of the attack(s).
While God won't interfere with anyone's free will, I believe, if you ask Him, he will gladly offer strength, healing, peace, and comfort - by placing other people in your life who will lift you up and support you as you deal with certain horrors and memories. You were NOT alone then... and you are NOT alone now. Surround yourself with kind and caring friends and family - you don't have to continue to stuff down these secrets... because the people who truly love you will support you and allow you to unburden your mind to them.
And while you may feel dirty or soiled like the Sharpie'd up forks from the last blog post, I believe that when you give your life to Jesus, and when you give your burdens and your secrets over to God - not only does He clean your fork... He gives you a whole new one.
To the people who read this who are holding horrors in their minds from their childhood or after, I pray that you will find strength and peace and healing.
PS - April is Sexual Assault and Awareness Month. To find out how you can help, please visit RAINN and read about 7 easy ways you can support Survivors of Abuse.
*Not her real name... exactly.