She was just five years old when her innocence was snatched away one afternoon at the hands of three older boys. By the time she was 12, she had been sexually assaulted twice more – by a stranger and then a spiritual mentor. The trauma took on a life of its own and she became captive to her pain. Then one day, a speaker at a youth conference introduced her to a promise in the Bible that changed everything for her. If she allowed Him to, God would give her beauty for ashes. This is her story…
Tell us about yourself! Who is Faith Gor in a nutshell and what drives her?
I am a 28-year-old Christian lady who loves the LORD and is committed to serve HIM with my abilities. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt and a friend. I’m also a public speaker. I offer hope, help and healing by sharing my story. I also educate, encourage and empower sexual abuse survivors. I have been a caregiver to my mother since I was 14 years old. This has been a beautiful journey of learning and bonding with my mother. It’s a bittersweet experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I have seen GOD’s love through my life experiences.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up as a happy child because I was loved. Being the only girl and a lastborn, I received attention and I embraced it. I enjoyed going to church, school and being with my brothers. I enjoyed staying in clean places; I couldn’t stand having my clothes, feet or my shoes dirty. I was a careful child.
My joy faded one afternoon when I was five years old, when a bunch of the children in my neighborhood enticed me to join them in their play, not knowing that my innocence was to be robbed then. It was on this day that three older boys assaulted me sexually. It was a painful experience. I could not express the pain. It was scary, too. I didn’t know what to do or say. I didn’t have a name for that act. What made it more confusing was when they gave me money (afterwards). I valued money before that, so that made me not even talk about it. Thank GOD my brother got to learn about it and fought the three boys who assaulted me. And since then, my brothers chose not to leave me home alone.
A lot changed in my personality then because of the feelings of guilt, shame, low self-worth, fear and anger. I hated life and had a dark view towards almost any act of kindness I received around me. I stopped playing with just any child; I chose my friends instead.
I grew up being defensive. I always wanted to protect the vulnerable. I struggled with revenge and I longed to be a soldier so that one time I would go back and get rid of all the men who abused me. I somehow got comfortable with my dark life and the inner struggles that warred in me every day. I accepted that that’s how life is, but it was confusing. Being exposed to sexuality during the developmental ages is difficult because you have to deal with the sexual urges that are awakened in you and have no self-control. I also did not know how to express what I was feeling. I never heard any child talk about it, so I suffered in silence.
At the age of 10, the wall of comfort that I had built around myself was broken down when a stranger abused me sexually in a bus on my way to school. I shattered, panicked and froze. I felt so weak and helpless. I wondered why GOD allowed this to happen to me. Again, I believed that was part of life and it became so confusing. By this time, I already knew what death was because I had watched people die in the movies and death meant getting out of the life scene. So, I crossed the road carelessly. By GOD’s grace, the car swerved. I got scared and thought the driver would come to cane me, so I went to school in fear and pain.
I couldn’t walk well because I had pain in my genitalia. I suffered infections for a long time and didn’t tell anyone. One afternoon when I was at home, I decided to end my life by taking my mother’s medication. This was disgusting because the drugs that were in capsules got wet in my throat and I couldn’t bear the burning, bitter sensation, so I threw up. Fortunately, one of my brothers came and found me with my mess, but he didn’t know what I had done. He just asked me whether I was playing with mama’s medication because the package was there, and the traces of the capsules were in the mess. Then he told me not to do that again.
I lived in constant fear because I didn’t know what to expect from life. I feared going to school. I feared being left alone at home. Church was the only place I looked forward to because we sang, listened to Bible stories and I felt genuinely loved there.
When did the abuse by your Bible Class teacher begin?
This happened just once and I never talked with him again. This happened when I was 12. They (the teacher and his wife) asked my mother to allow me to go visit their family. I liked their baby because she had slanted eyes, and they liked me too. So, my mother saw no harm in the visit. During the day when the teacher’s wife was washing clothes outside, my teacher attempted to rape me but I escaped, and I thank GOD for this because that was a miracle! The next time I went to church, I avoided his class and when he found me, he asked why I ran away from his house. I panicked but walked away from him. Thank GOD that after 2 years, that teacher and his family moved to a different place. This made it easy for me to go to church without feeling threatened.
How difficult was it to deal with? Did you tell anyone?
It was difficult to deal with all these series of abuse and I didn’t know what to wish for anymore. But I constantly looked forward to the day that I would die and end the pain. I only shared with one friend of mine. I didn’t tell her what I was going through because I didn’t know how to express it, but I told her what the teacher did to me since we belonged to the same church.
What were your darkest days like?
Every day was a dark day, especially when going to bed. I could not allow myself to sleep because I feared that someone would come and abuse me. So, I struggled with nightmares and I would doze off in class a lot because I didn’t get enough sleep at night. The darkest days were when I had immense pain around my lower abdomen. I suffered this a lot, but doctors would treat typhoid or amoeba. Living this life felt as though I was falling into a deep, dark bottomless pit alone and I was never getting to the bottom.
Photo by Jeff Koine
Nobody talked about sexual assault in church, as written in the Bible, like Dinah or Tamar’s story. So, I thought the Bible was for the righteous and GOD was of a God of the righteous and wealthy. I thought that there was something wrong with me because maybe I was the one who was attracting the men. That’s what I thought, sadly.
Some days, I wished my dad would be around to give me the sense of security. This was only a wish because he separated [from] my mother when I was 13 years old.
I remember the day he left. I came from school and the house felt empty, but I didn’t notice what was missing. Later, my mother came back from her business and one of my brothers told us that our dad left. My mom then discovered that he had taken his clothes and most of his things.
We went through the first night without him and I felt so much peace. I thought maybe my mom would finally get off medication because she had developed a lot of ulcers. But trouble came after he left. I became confused and wondered about my identity. If my father had died, I would have known he was dead and made peace with that. But now he was just out there. Without him, who was I? What do I say about my dad when my friends are talking about their dads?
When someone would come up and talk to me about their father in a loving way, I would feel so much hatred towards them.
It was difficult to understand why all these things were happening to me. I concluded that I was a black sheep and that all evil was meant for me. I hated myself. I didn’t have hope at all. I didn’t know what a beautiful life looked like. The only hope I had was to die.
School didn’t make sense. I never saw the need to work hard in my studies. I only did this to avoid conflict with my mother, but I never saw any benefit in life. I wished to disappear and never return.
I became very afraid to leave the house. I would get ready to go to work but then have a hard time stepping outside because the world out there was dangerous. I was safe within the four walls of my home, but people were unpredictable and scary.
What was the turning point for you?
This happened when I attended a youth conference at the age of 19. The pastor talked about sexual purity (which was a subject I dreaded because of the struggles I had), but at the end of his presentation he said that GOD is able to give beauty for ashes to those who may have gone through sexual assault. For the first time church made sense! And he quoted from the Bible:
“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” – Isaiah 61:3
This encouraged me. It was a new dawn for me. He later invited us for counseling, and I went. This was one of the best decisions I ever made in life – opening up for help. It was the first time that I opened up about my past and the pain. The gentleman was fatherly and was moved with compassion and spoke to me in a gentle way. I felt loved, accepted and looked forward to healing. He encouraged me to forgive after comforting me. He read verses from the Bible which encouraged me, and he prayed with me. This was my first step on my journey to recovery.
One of the things he did was confirm that I was safe. He told me that GOD could help me heal from all the trauma and pain, but I didn’t see how that would happen. Then he said one of the things that would help me heal is forgiveness, and that God could help me forgive.
I had wanted to become a soldier so I could one day come back and carry out revenge, but GOD says that vengeance is His. He said to not repay evil for evil. I surrendered the urge to get revenge to GOD and I even prayed for my abusers because even as I kept crying and learning more, I came to realize that many perpetrators are people who were abused as children themselves but didn’t seek help.
The pastor went on to explain the meaning of Matthew 6:12, which talks about forgiving others so GOD can in turn forgive us. That hit me hard. I realized that if I didn’t forgive them then GOD wouldn’t forgive me. Up until that point, I had misunderstood forgiveness. I thought that if I forgave someone, I was saying that what they did was okay. But what the man told me was that forgiveness does not water down what they did. It remains an offense, but when you forgive, you release them to GOD.
What steps did you take to begin healing? What happened to the perpetrators?
I intentionally prayed for healing and for the perpetrators – that GOD may forgive them and save them so that they may come to repentance and turn from their wicked ways because GOD is in the business of saving people. I don’t know much about their whereabouts now because we moved to a different place.
I started reading books on mental health when I discovered that I had severe depression and anxiety, which was affecting my health, productivity at work and my social life.
I also listened to a lady share her story from AudioVerse. This was another great thing that happened because I got to know that I was not alone and that GOD loved me, and that GOD hated abuse. I felt that if she recovered and later got married, then GOD can do the same for me. That led me to give GOD a chance in this healing process. I also tried going for counseling, which helped to some extent. This is because I struggled with suicidal thoughts and post-traumatic stress disorder.
When did you decide to start sharing your story? What led to this? Was is difficult to do?
I decided to share my story in February 2019. This I did to tell a survivor that they are not alone and that they can overcome. It is not about what happens to you that makes a difference, but what you do with it. I know how it feels to suffer in silence, so I spoke to encourage the people who are hurting that it is okay to talk about their hurt and they can find help, since they matter.
I also spoke to educate parents of the dangers that are around their children, This I did to encourage them to talk to their children about sex education, teach their children what is a safe touch and what is not, and that they can report when anyone touches them inappropriately or shows them sexual-related activities.
The first time I shared, I wept the whole session. It wasn’t easy. It’s never easy. It takes GOD’s grace, because it’s more of HIS story of love and how HE is healing me. I share because I want to be who I needed when I was younger. I am a wounded healer.
What advice do you have for others who have scars from sexual abuse and don’t know how to overcome that?
Sexual abuse was not your fault. Your sexual past does not define you. The sexual abuse did not or does not lower your value. You are valuable in GOD’s eyes and HE loves you (Jeremiah 31:3; Zechariah 2:8). GOD hates abuse (Psalm 11:5) and HE has promised to bring vengeance to those who hurt you (Deuteronomy 32:35). We have the power to choose our attitude even in our suffering, choose to suffer proudly not miserably. Yes, it happened, but it is not happening now. You can say no to your past and choose to live now, even when it doesn’t make sense.
Choose life to shame the devil, who is the author of all pain and suffering. He is a thief (John 10:10; Revelation 12:17). Give GOD a chance to heal you, for in HIM there is eternal life (John 3:17) and HE is coming soon to take us home where there will be no pain, neither sorrow nor suffering.
Allow GOD to forgive others through you. Forgiveness sets you free. I choose to forgive because GOD forgave me even before I knew HIM. Forgiveness is a spiritual act; we truly forgive when we accept GOD’s forgiveness for us. He then forgives the other person through us. Remember that feelings come, and feelings go. We can only base our belief on the truth – GOD’s word. Choose to fill your mind with the truth and say ‘no’ to self-demeaning thoughts and feelings.
Where are you in your healing journey?
I haven’t healed completely. I think with sexual assault it takes your whole life to heal because it touches the core of who we are. Every day, I think about how I lost my childhood and I ask GOD why. And depending on my state of mind, sometimes I get so overwhelmed and I would wish those people never harmed me. And on those days when I feel angry, I still choose to forgive. I remind myself that I have already forgiven them, and GOD is handling it. I just let GOD have it because if I keep the anger, it poisons me instead.
People often say forgive and forget, but it’s a myth because we cannot do that. We can only learn and make different choices going forward. If I’m living with someone who is abusing me and it’s life-threatening, forgetting means I will go back to them as if nothing happened and they will keep on hurting me. It means that I have lowered my value and that makes GOD sad because He values us in a very special way. So, HE can’t be happy when we place ourselves in abusive situations. Love doesn’t hurt. It respects and protects.
Some days I wake up with a particular insecurity, but I find strength in GOD’s word and I choose life every day. I know that I’m valuable and GOD created me for a purpose. Therefore, I thank Him for the things that I have now because I can help a sister and a brother and tell them they can get out of this, too. If I did, you can, too.
Don’t waste your pain. GOD will use your deepest pain to launch your greatest calling.
Vimbai E. is a writer, journalist, ghostwriter and the founder of The Weight She Carries. With hundreds of articles publishing online, in print and for broadcast, her love of language and storytelling shines through every piece of writing that bears her name.