Holding Onto Hope

Holding Onto Hope
by Bill Harbeck

My parents thought nothing of having a trusted relative share my room with me when I was 11 years old. But starting at that age my innocence, and my life were altered forever. For the next 9 years, I was sexually abused more times than I can remember. He took me on trips and gave me gifts that were so attractive. But I knew the illicit behavior he talked me into was not right—that this shouldn't be happening—but the allure of the attention, the gifts, and the pleasure left me confused.

As I advanced to high school and the incidents increased, I felt trapped. I could never tell my parents about this. I was the perfect church kid. What would the people of the church think? I could never share this with my parents. The disgusting nature built a level of shame and forced me into silence. My personality began to change. I grew from a happy, energetic child to a moody and withdrawn adolescent. I excelled in athletics and so I was able to immerse myself in competition that became an outlet for the anger locked up inside.

I did marry a wonderful woman, but 20 years of silence, improper and destructive behavior toward my family led me to a breaking point. I knew that if I didn't divulge my past, I was either going to self destruct or the ones around me that loved me so dearly were going to walk away. After 21 years of marriage, and living with the pain all alone, I shared with my angel the damage I was carrying. It was as if the entire world was gently lifted off my shoulders.

I would like to say that from that moment on life has been "perfect." It has been years since that day. I occasionally slip back into isolating patterns of coping that I know so well. But I want most to share that there is hope. Restoring the truth of God’s intended design is possible.

Sexual abuse survivors like myself have to tell our story in order to heal. The silence has to be eliminated. The lies have to be addressed. The past has to be confronted. We have to surrender our isolation we have used to shield us from the pain. There is someone out there we can trust with our story. God gave us community to heal us in these situations. Sexual abuse is not the end. Compulsive sexual behavior not the end. The end is the open arms of Creator and community who are waiting with open arms for us to come home. Hold onto that hope…and trust.

Holding Onto Hope Bill Harbeck is the founder and director of Holding onto Hope Ministries in Peoria, Arizona. Holding on to Hope raises awareness of the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse and to addresses the damaging lifelong consequences. Bill and his wife, Jillian also run Hope House, a residential on-site facility where men who are survivors of past sexual abuse can find a safe place for healing.

Shattered Shattered:—One Man’s Journey from Sexual Abuse chronicles Bill's journey from abuse to healing.
Posted: Oct 2, 2015,
Categories: Men, Women,
Comments: 0,
Author: Bill Harbeck
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