20 September 2017

Life After Abuse

One man’s journey to freedom after suffering the horrors of sexual abuse.

Judging by the amount of recent press coverage, it might seem that sexual abuse is the plague of modern society. But there’s nothing new about it. As far back as King David’s day the practice was commonplace. Princess Tamar’s Royal lineage did not protect her from the ugly brutality of rape. The fact that the perpetrator was her brother only added to the young woman’s torture.

For those who have never suffered sexual abuse, it is impossible to describe the emotional trauma it inflicts. Only the individuals concerned can fully appreciate the humiliation, not to mention the awful sense of guilt that stains every area of their life. For them, sexual abuse is not one of life’s unpleasant subjects. It is the reality of a living hell. They know the fear of a creaking floorboard, the darkness of a secret world and the indoctrination that in some abstract, illogical way, they must be to blame. They also understand that, regardless of age or gender, when lust chooses its target, there is no escape.

At first glance, David Robinson doesn’t appear to be anyone’s idea of a helpless victim. His bearded grin and witty sense of humour may have earned him a reputation as one of life’s amiable and decent blokes. But underneath the charm lies a steely determination that refuses to give in. As a pioneer in Christian broadcasting, David has been among those responsible for the spread of the gospel throughout Ireland. He is indeed a man with a mission. Nevertheless, David is also one of the faces behind the statistics for sexual abuse. He explains,

“The abuse started when I was a very naive seven year old. As a country lad, I loved helping out at a nearby farm but it was there I lost my innocence and was introduced to a paralysing fear. The physical pain was equally unbearable. My abuser bought my silence by warning me that if I told anyone he would kill my mother. I was terrified. My mum was the centre of my world as my dad had left us a few years earlier and she had to take over the role of provider for our young family. The last thing I wanted to do was lose her.”

David’s abuse continued for six months and, although a relatively short period of time, every incident lasted an eternity. The young boy hugged his secret and bore the pain in silence. But, while his bruised and lacerated flesh eventually healed, there were other scars that refused to disappear.

“Perhaps the worst legacy of abuse of this nature is the awful burden of guilt. Logically I knew I had done nothing wrong but the weight of culpability weighed heavily on my shoulders.”

Nevertheless, almost forty years after his innocence and flesh had been ripped to shreds, David finally told of his dilemma.

“After decades of carrying my burden, I eventually began to write my story in a book I have entitled ‘He Called Me Son.’ I also told God of my pain and as the words poured out, the emotional dam burst and I found an incredible relief! For the first time I was free. My recovery began at the precise moment I realised the wonderful nature of Christ’s love for me. It was an amazing journey, not only of self discovery but of getting to know the path God had laid out for me.”

As David embarked on his mission of broadcasting the good news, the pathway toward total healing also became clear.

“I learned that if I was ever to be free from my abuser, I had to forgive him. There was no option because if I didn’t let it go, the memory would continue to abuse me. I could choose whether or not to remain a victim but in doing so, I would allow my abuser to have power over me. In the end, and in the light of God’s amazing, unconditional love, I had to forgive and move on.”

Freed from the shackles of the past, David did indeed move forward with his life and embarked on his ministry of helping others escape the chains of sexual abuse. Very often, he was drawn to speak to a church audience on the subject.

“It was amazing how God would lead me to talk about this sensitive issue. On one occasion, I had the privilege of leading two sisters, each abused by their father, into the freedom of forgiveness.”

However, David’s decision to forgive was put to the test when, years later, his abuser turned up at his door seeking forgiveness.

“Time may have left its physical imprint but as soon as the elderly man spoke, I knew who he was. I could never forget that voice. I invited him into our home and for a few moments we exchanged pleasantries. I have to admit it was a surreal experience. Then, out of the blue, he asked me to forgive him for what he had done to me. Apparently his actions had tortured him for years. We both stood and, in the familiar surroundings of my living room, I enfolded him in a genuine hug and told him that Christ was my Saviour and it was He who enabled me to extend such liberating compassion. I’d love to say that he left my home a different man and with Christ in his heart. But all he took away was a sense of absolution. Still, I pray that he too will come to know the Lord and I will meet him again in heaven for I don’t believe it would be complete without him.”

Today, David and his wife continue to serve God, especially in the delicate and painful area of freeing victims of sexual abuse. When asked if he has any advice for sufferers, he has this to say,

“The only true way toward healing and freedom is to know the Lord. It is essential to be able to forgive the abuser. By doing this you will find the route of escape and be able to relinquish the role of ‘victim’ and move on toward the calling God has for your life. It is not your fault that you were chosen to endure this torture. But, through Christ, you have the power to leave it where it belongs, in the past and look to the glorious future!”

Lorraine Wylie

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article you can contact David Robinson via e-mail davidthepotterschoice@gmail.com. He will be happy to assist you and give you any necessary support.