May 12, 2022
You Turned My Sanctuary Into A Living Hell
I see it all now that you are gone, the big picture, and I wish I never met you. Because of you, I will never fully trust a man again. To the someone who used to be my mentor, religious leader, and friend…where are you now? Are you proud of what you did? Or is that why you ran away the second you got caught?
My class on Sexual Citizenship has allowed me to see beyond the pain of grooming, and depict the effects it has had on me. The homework has taught me that sexual assault looks different in every case. Most importantly it has taught me that I am not alone. More than 1 in 3 women have experienced sexual assault, but why did I have to be one of those statistics. Well, what I know now is that I am not. I am not a statistic or a number, I am a victim of sexual abuse. A term that I could not comprehend prior to this class.
My youth pastor began to sexually and emotionally groom me at age 14. I was unaware and naive that a 38-year-old Christian man would take advantage of me when I was at my lowest. You let me trust you, confide secrets in you, and love you, all for it to be sabotaged by your malicious and predatory intent. You were the person I called when I got in trouble with the cops, when my boyfriend cheated on me, or when I found secrets about my family and you took advantage of me every single time I needed you. At 14, I did not grasp that I should not have been hanging out with my 38-year-old youth pastor alone. I did not understand the power dynamic you had over me. That you shouldn’t be the one picking me up from my friend’s house late at night because I did not have a ride. That you shouldn’t have ever put your hand on my thigh in the car. That you shouldn’t have drunk texted me, hitting on me through the church’s own Instagram DMs! You played a dark and twisted game that will forever haunt me. Not only me but the other 6 women you abused. No one ever expected the funny, young, married youth pastor to abuse his students, his peers, or his own wife. But that is exactly what you did. You scoped out your victims the second they walked through the church doors, a place that should remain sacred and inviting. You turned what once was my sanctuary, into a living hell.
Lucky for you, I never had comprehensive sexual education in school. I never understood what grooming or sexual abuse was until Olympic gymnast doctor, Larry Nassar, was persecuted. With this lack of knowledge, I never saw the red flags, I never thought that a Christian man in power would abuse it, against me. Against the other victims.
What I know now is that it is essential to not only have comprehensive sex education, but to have a safe space within your family and friends or school where you can discuss, talk, and question relationships. It was in my college Sexual Citizenship class that I learned about consent. Sadly, I realized, prior to my current relationship, I had never been asked or given consent to any past partner! This is something that I needed to learn at age 13, not at 20 years old!
I have never told my parents about my past with Tucker. I have only told 5 of my friends, my therapist, and now all of you. So to my parents, I am sorry for never telling you what I went through. But I am more sorry that I was never given a safe place to be open about my experience. I felt damaged, dumb, and degraded by him and I let that secretly tear away at me for years. Until now. I am grateful for this class. I am grateful for my community, my college, and my own strength that has allowed me to remain hopeful, humble, and honest.