Susanna's Story II
The year was 1956. I was 11 years old, and by today’s standards, what happened to me was definitely human trafficking. That term was not being used back then. No one had yet coined the phrase “human trafficking” or anything like it.
However, it was then, just as it is now, human trafficking, and illegal. One does not need to be taken anywhere for this definition to be accurate. And, to the surprise of many Americans, one does not need to be a foreigner in the United States, or an American girl in a foreign country, or a foreign girl in a foreign country.
Human sex trafficking involves the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation, period.
There is a particular value, or redemption, to this story of mine which has made me truly free from the power of evil that was brutally thrust upon me. In 1990, at the age of 45, I was no longer able to contain all of the wounds and hurts in the privacy of my silently guarded mind. I wept - sobbed - for three days non-stop, night and day. Nothing would bring consolation. My husband could only hold me while I cried.
What in the world was happening to me? When was this nightmare going to stop?
At the age of 9, I had asked Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. Saved, I was. But even that did not immediately undo all the injury I had exacted upon myself by withholding the harmful and damaging information in isolation. I kept myself in a prison of darkness, doubt, fear and anger for 42 years. So, in 1990, I believe that God was bringing every element of my secret past up to the surface, one layer at a time, so it could at last be brought into His light and be healed.
For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
I believe that God wanted me to understand my own past with a new perspective and to appreciate my history with a new conviction. Through the wise support of Christian counseling combined with much persistence in prayer, I found a more encompassing and a more lasting relationship with my Heavenly Father. And He began to set me free from the residue of wicked deeds from long ago. In my terrible pit of darkness, I did find God in a deeper and a more real sense than I had ever known or experienced before, one layer at a time.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Did you realize that you can find God in your own darkness?
I know. We so often hear that “old things are passed away,” etc., meaning that whatever happened in the past needs to stay in the past. Even if we hear it from the best, most well-intentioned friends that we have, it is still a lie from the enemy. Being told to forget about the past so it will go away is not a truthful statement. I can attest to its lack of accuracy. It does not go away. It stays and delves deeper and deeper into the recesses of our souls, continuing to create havoc in our lives; much like a sea monster that mostly stays deep in the ocean, but coming up now and then to break the surface of the water, shocking and horrifying everyone who bears witness – including ourselves.
In actuality, that comment about past things staying in the past is a phrase that is used by the perpetrators to silence their victims, “What happens in the circle stays in the circle.” Not too long ago, there was a Las Vegas tourism commercial airing on television saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” I wonder where that came from? Later they came up with the tag line that said, “What happened in Vegas didn’t really happen.” It’s all about desensitizing the public to not even be able to blink an eye at the slightest hint of evil or impropriety.
That’s right. The perpetrators want the dark past to stay in the dark past and they never want it to be allowed entrance into God’s light. Why? Because the light will expose them for what they are, and they do not want that kind of exposure.
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible refers to this passage this way: “…old things are passed away--old thoughts, old principles, and old practices, are passed away; and all these things [ed. old thoughts, old principles, and old practices] must become new. Note: Regenerating grace creates a new world in the soul; all things are new. The renewed man acts from new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company.”
It is therefore my opinion, and in agreement with Matthew Henry, that because of the regenerating grace of God, we have been made able to return to the darkest recesses of our minds with God at our side. After God’s saving grace, we are regenerated souls. As such, we are returning to those old places with new principles, with new rules, and with new ends, and in new company. This means that we have a new arsenal and a new commander to fight against the old, evil secrets, and with the authority in Jesus Christ to see them annihilated forever. Hooray!
I do not believe that 2 Corinthians 5:17 was ever meant to convey that we must never return to that old time and dark place. Instead, we must process the old things with a new understanding, and in God's company, receive God’s desire for us to be whole and healed in that place.
Think about it. If God’s plan of redemptive grace is to bring our hurting heart into His light so that it can be attended to and healed, why would He ask us to obliterate the past hurt from our minds forever? I do not believe that He does.
Fear not for I am with thee; Be not dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, yes I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
God is plainly not the author of our challenges and traumas. Satan is clearly the one who perpetrates and infiltrates against us with predatory fervor in his feeble attempt at silencing us into submission. He is just like the earthly perpetrators, and in so doing, continues his effort to strike down any opportunity for God’s glory to shine to a lost and dark world. That is the legacy of silence.
When we go back there, to that dark place of our past, to reinstate our rightful position and to take back our rightful territory under God, God is always there waiting to help, hold, heal and sustain. He is faithful there. He shows up where we need Him the most, and He is always right on time. He reveals to us, while we wait on Him in that dark place, what that hard time was all about and how His plans for us include His covering and comfort and fullness through to the other side of it.
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
Another important message I have learned is interconnected with God’s plan for us made by Him at our conception. At that time, God pronounced His plan and His purpose over our life – it has been established on our life and in our life. The Bible records this in Jeremiah 29:11, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
There is nothing that can happen to us or be said about us or be done to us by others that can ever rescind God’s initial plan and purpose for our lives. He does not take back what He spoke over us just because of another person's evil spewed upon us. We belong to Him, and we can pursue His calling on our life before, during or after any trauma that the enemy of our souls intends to use for our eternal silence.
The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
We can always call on Him for help – He never sleeps nor slumbers. He is at the ready all the time. And, in time, His plan and purpose for our lives will be manifest in the physical realm, going far beyond where we live and serve Him each and every day.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
and His banner over me was love.
Song of Solomon 2:4
If you are hypersensitive to details about
the trauma of others,
Do not read the following actual story.
This story is only meant for healing purposes:
1. for the reader to assess in their own circumstance
those things that might need attention for themselves;
2. and/or for their family members or
those they are assisting in a professional way.
Statement of Deference
The following is a personal account that relates events that are
real and true. With respect for the reader, no profanity or other gratuitous language is used. Various names of persons and/or specific locations may have been modified. These modifications are certainly
not intended for the protection of the perpetrators. The changes are
expressly meant for the respect and privacy of those who might
be otherwise identified as connected in some way to the
described events and, by personal choice, have not
revealed their own story of past abuse or other connection.
I am an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse and child exploitation. By a very careful weaving of intelligence gathering and guile, an administrator at the school which I attended caught me into a skilled connection, directed by him, and resulting in child exploitation – sexual activities for the purpose of filming, producing and distributing such films. It began in 1956. I was 11 years old at the time.
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them,
because He Who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
I John 4:4
The administrator, Mr. Smith, was the predator and primary perpetrator. He invested in the needed time to gain my trust. He was clever at collecting information about my family, my likes and dislikes about food, clothes, movie stars, vacations, hobbies and music; and about my friends. All of this information specifically fed into the plan that he had intentionally set for me.
The first meeting with Mr. Smith in an enclosed place away from the view and protection of others happened after I had shared with him that my favorite food was hot dogs. I simply loved hot dogs. I learned just then that he had a hot dog in his office, and he said he knew I would like some of it; lunchtime was the perfect chance for me to taste it.
At the next lunch period, I went right over to Mr. Smith’s office, expecting a bite of his hot dog. As soon as I walked into his office, Mr. Smith smoothly and swiftly whirled around behind me and I heard the door suddenly close and lock.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,
but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this age,
against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
I turned back toward the office door and I saw the odd smile on Mr. Smith’s face. My body and my mind became one frozen, solid piece of ice. My mind was blank and my body didn’t seem to move. I starred at Mr. Smith, not even able to tremble. He proceeded to sit on the floor next to his big, dark desk and he pulled me down to take a bite of his special hot dog.
Why didn’t I scream or run, or kick and yell? Why didn’t I bang on the door for someone to come and help me? Why didn’t I tell Mr. Smith that he was a creep? Why, why, why?
It was simple. No one ever told me that I could. But even more importantly, many people had already told me that I could not.
A few years earlier in my short life, beginning in 1948, certain events created the background which told me to always quietly submit. I had been trained to know that there were never any other options open to me. These earlier experiences taught me not to yell or scream or to even expect a rescuer to come and help me. As a 3 year old I was molested by the teachers at my nursery school.
Most of the nursery school abuse took place in a closet. This is one of several of my earliest childhood memories, of being in that closet. As a child, I could never think of what I had done to warrant being put in a closet by a teacher. Was there something outside of the closet that the teachers did not want me to see? Had I done something wrong and needed to be punished? Had I laughed out loud at the wrong time?
Did someone else tell the teacher a lie about me? Maybe I didn’t put the scissors away where I should have. I never could figure it out. It did not occur to me that what was happening inside of the closet by the teachers was the reason that I was put in there.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able
to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
The closet had a twin sized bed in it. I was supposed to stay on the bed. I do remember one of the teachers sitting on a small chair to the left side of the bed. The teacher would put her hand into my clothing and her other hand inside her clothes. I remember hearing strange sounds from her.
There were also times when a second teacher would come into the closet, standing to the other side of the bed, and she would complain that her break time would be over soon, and for the teacher who was sitting on the chair to “…hurry it up!” because she wanted her turn.
Did this happen daily? I am not sure. But I do remember that it happened often. That dark closet has been my primary memory of nursery school for as long as I can remember. It made its indelible mark in my brain and in my body, no matter how often it occurred.
But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One Who lifts up my head.
There eventually came a time when I was taken in a car from the nursery school to a house in the neighborhood. There was an older couple there who brought children into their house for the purpose of sexual violation.
Another one of my earliest memories as a child is a time when I refused to get out of the car. I remember the car pulling up in front of this house. A woman from the nursery school drove me to the house. I still remember looking at the back of her head as she sat in the driver’s seat; very dark brown hair, curled under in the back and on the sides. I do not have a recollection of her speaking to me.
I still remember holding tightly onto the car door armrest for dear life this one time – I was sitting on the left side of the back seat of the car, right behind the driver. I yelled and cried that I was not going into that house. Then the car door across from where I was sitting swung open, and I could see the couple standing, but bent over and peering into the open doorway, smiling all the while; the woman on the left and the man on the right.
They were standing outside of the open car door, bending over and speaking to me, “Won’t you come inside? We have lots of nice candy for you. The other children want to play with you. You’ll have fun.” I wouldn’t go. I still remember the feeling of panic and terror at the thought of the inside of that house with those people. I didn't care about the candy or the other children who might have been inside. I remember feeling a terrible sense of foreboding inside of me that said there were awful things in that house; scary things inside there.
The car door closed, the couple said goodbye, and the woman with the dark brown hair drove me back to school, still never speaking. For many years I thought that I had some kind of control over that particular situation. After all, I had cried and I had said “No!” in a very disagreeable way. And I didn’t have to get out of the car or go in. I thought I had won at last. As an adult I have learned that perpetrators sometimes create a scenario where the victim is given a false sense of control.
This false sense of control for the victim causes them to let their guard down (indicating indifference to what happens or what somebody does, even though it may be unpleasant) a little bit. This dropping of the guard allows for easier violation and manipulation of the victim by the perpetrators.
I cried unto the Lord and He heard me from His holy hill.
The nursery school operated with a system of secrecy. We (the children) were openly told by the teachers not to let anyone know about the games at school. But, it was somewhat familiar for me as a child - the “secret-keeping” - and for many others in my generation.
Our family, like so many post-war American families of the 1940’s and 1950’s, had a system of secrets used to contain family emotions. The secrets were about things which no one talked about, but at the same time, no one ever said we couldn’t talk about those things – everyone just knew we didn’t do it.
Due to the gruesome trauma that had been exacted upon me in nursery school, and all happening behind a veil of silence and familiar secrecy, it was very easy for me to be silent at all costs in Mr. Smith’s office on that first day of violation. I had already been well coached, guided and instructed, and well prepared to comply with any request. Knowing not to scream and understanding not to run away from Mr. Smith’s office was not hard for me to do. These were a few of the circumstances that forced a little girl to hide, to keep quiet, and to stow away horrific events into the far recesses of her mind.
In addition to the nursery school techniques of silencing children, Mr. Smith had a few of his own methods to silence me. One was the presence of guns in his office. I remember the first time I saw one of the guns. Mr. Smith was repeatedly raping me on top of his office desk. He paused at one moment, reached down and opened one of the lower desk drawers. He took out a gun and showed it to me. I then heard the slow, hypnotic words in my ear, “If I ever find out that you have told anyone about our little secret, just remember, this is how I hurt the mothers of any little girls who tell what happens in this room.” Later, a second gun appeared in the opposite drawer. Double trouble.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
The brutal and horrific violation of my mind and body continued on a regular basis for three school semesters. What began in the administrator's office soon moved to a house in the neighborhood. Sound familiar? It should. Remember the similar occurrence in my nursery school experience? This is not coincidental. Even so, why do they do that?
Once Mr. Smith shifted the abuse location from the school office to the neighborhood house, the violence escalated to greater proportions, and new things began to take place. The abuse house had a remarkable duplication of Mr. Smith’s office in the living room area. The people from the office came along to the new place. But, new people that I had never seen before were introduced to the ongoing pornography abuse. Also, animals were introduced onto the scene in this new environment. It soon became very clear as to what these people were capable of. The animals were abused in many cruel ways just like I was. And none of the animals lived very long lives.
When it was deemed the right moment, Mr. Smith directed the demise of each animal. Each time, Mr. Smith and his friends gave the impression that a different end had come to the animal. Most of the time it was made to look like a game. It was only a game and they said the animal “was too weak to play the game anymore.”
These people were successful in making me believe that if they could let an animal die (although as an adult I understand now that it was intentional killing), then some of the games they played with me could cause me to die. I concluded that I’d better play the game right, and not resist or do it wrong. I needed to survive. So, I played the games for everything I had, just to survive and not die. You might call it a game for life, because that is exactly what it was. Eventually, I began to believe that I had even less worth and less value than a common animal.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.
The house with Mr. Smith always had an unexpected array of various kinds of people and violent rape events that drew me in my mind up to the ceiling or over to the side of the room against a wall, watching my body from a safer distance; as if it wasn’t me at all. It was almost like watching a movie with no sense of my own physical feeling or emotion, as if I was watching someone else experiencing brutality without feeling. I was numb, nothing hurt anymore, inside or out. My body was numb and my mind became dumb; numb and dumb – unable to physically or emotionally feel anything and unable to speak anything about the abuse.
At the same time I was being told that I was going to be a star. They were going to make me a star. If I kept on track, and did what I was supposed to do, I would be a star, they said. I was presented with situations where I held the control of the whole room – although it was a contrived power, orchestrated by the director of it all and by everyone else in the room – all for an effect. I danced with scarves to my favorite classical music. It made me think I had a sense of power.
At the age of 11, a girl is supposed to be developing her skills at creating friendships and relationships that are give and take, friendships that build up and encourage. It is a time for the development of the brain in specific ways which, if allowed to develop properly, will help carry the girl through life in appropriate ways and with the ability to make appropriate choices in life.
The brain’s way of correct thinking in childhood – which is very concrete; black and white – begins to turn to shades of grey somewhere in adolescence. This allows for the cultivation of judgments and discernments that are critical and necessary in adult thinking patterns. The mental and emotional confusion that is brought to a young mind through sexual abuse can arrest normal brain development, thus leaving such affected children vulnerable in extraordinary ways.
For me in those pre-teen years, with a child’s mind, and a truncated mind at that, I could not determine the depth of the manipulation against me; and all for their pleasure and their desire. My needs and my opinions meant nothing. I was dispensable and I was replaceable at a moment’s notice. I must have thought that if I obeyed really well, then I would be a star, and maybe, just maybe, I’d move on and things would be different; things would get better. Sad. Very sad.
I will call upon the Lord, Who is worthy to be praised;
so shall I be saved from my enemies.
The abuse at school and in the house with Mr. Smith and his friends finally did stop. I believe it was a divine appointment by God. A new school was being built closer to my home, and after three semesters of abuse I was able to attend the new school. The vile people from the old school did not move to the new school. They all stayed behind; and thankfully so, for me.
Psalm 18: 28-30
For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.