“I am saving myself for marriage.”

This was a phrase I used to pride myself on in my teen years.

Everyone knew I was a virgin.

I didn’t try to hide it, not that I would flaunt it, but I wasn’t ashamed and had no desire not to be.

Sadly, that precious gift was stolen when I was seventeen.

I dated the wrong guy and he thought my virginity was his for the taking. So without permission, that’s exactly what he did.

I lost my virginity to rape and after that I thought, “What’s the point of waiting now?”

Who I had been - pure, innocent and free - was stolen and who I was after, well, I didn’t even recognize myself.

Because of losing who I was, I began to party and became promiscuous. I wound up being raped a second time that year - more violent and traumatic than the first time.

Was it my fault? I should have known better than to be around those guys.

Was I worthless? I must be, because I was treated like trash.

What’s the point of being “good” when I’m obviously only good for one thing?

I believed these lies for many years, and I still have to battle for the truth sometimes.

After many years of stuffing the pain down as best I could - using drugs and alcohol to numb the reality of what had happened and trying to forget the shame that engulfed me from the choices I made following two rapes and abuse - I felt I couldn’t live anymore.

I was a mere memory of who I had wanted to be and I contemplated suicide.

I was in such a dark night of the soul. The day I almost took my life, I heard the audible voice of God, He said, “The truth will set you free”.

In that moment the power of death was broken off of me and the Holy Spirit began to lead me on a journey of learning just what the truth is that would set my soul free.