Recovery from Sexual Abuse and Porn Addiction

molested, addicted, and forgiven

Molested

I remember it like it happened this morning, every nasty detail. His name was Jeremy and he lived across the street. He was a teenager. He seemed like a giant at the time. He was big and strong and took advantage of me. This was not just two kids experimenting, which is common. He knew what he was doing. He knew he was wrong.

But I learned from my Momma how to “fake it to make it”. She had a great deal of hurt in her life, but she was always the life of the party, the happy one. She was always on the “up” in public, even if she was falling apart inside.

So, life for the three-year-old returned to the family’s old habit of keeping up appearances. My Dad owned a mechanic shop in our tiny, rural Alabama town. I grew up in church. Dad sang in the musicals, and Momma helped with the children’s choir. There’s even a video of me singing my first solo in the Christmas program at the age of five. We were active in our little church as far back as I can remember.

Addicted

Throughout my childhood, there are multiple memories of “experimenting” with other children. Partly out of normal childhood curiosity, and partly because I had been exposed to something no adolescent (much less a preschooler) should know exists. Then, at age twelve, I discovered porn. I liked it. It looked fun. It reminded me, in a sick and twisted way, of how I made Jeremy feel good as a tiny little boy.

I shared porn with friends, I told boys at school about it. I had become the “porn expert” by seventh grade. When your first conscious memory is of sexual abuse, an over-sexualized childhood makes perfect sense. Every conversation was a chance for sexual innuendos and every moment alone was an opportunity for secrets.

[clickToTweet tweet=”When your first memory is sexual abuse, an over-sexualized childhood is common. #recovery #graceismessy” quote=”When your first memory is sexual abuse, an over-sexualized childhood is common. ” theme=”style3″]

Did I fail to mention that I was still a good little church boy during this entire time?

I was a youth leader, in all sorts of choirs and ensembles, and people constantly remarked to my parents, “With his personality, he will either be a preacher or a politician”. Sunday morning and evening, Wednesday nights, Children’s camp, youth camp. I went to all of it. I was doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons. I knew plenty about God, but I had no true relationship with God.

Then it happened. I was a part of “Youth Leadership: Shelby County,” a forum created by several governmental departments, and we were on a field trip to the Department of Human Resources. After our tour, the director of DHR came in to tell us about the process of investigating child molestation cases. My heart sank, my palms grew sweaty, and there’s no word for the knot I felt in the back of my throat. But I was in “fake it to make it” mode.

I was determined no one would know.

It had been fourteen years, but the memory was still fresh. She brought out dolls they use to identify what has happened to children, and I lost it. I barely made it out of the room, running, before I fell apart in the hallway. I remember sliding down the sheet rock wall and crumbling into a pile of tears and anxiety. I was humiliated.

I had worked hard to get here. I was on a leadership trip with other students my age from all over the county. These people weren’t my church friends. They were complete strangers and I was crying in the hallway, acting like a fool! I couldn’t mask my anxiety and humiliation. I wanted to crawl under the carpet.

Back to the church boy. By the age of twenty, my feet had touched the soil of three foreign countries to share the Gospel with lost souls, not even realizing that I was just as lost as every barefoot foreigner I had witnessed to. I thought I knew it all, but I had no relationship with God.

 Recovery from childhood sexual abuse is a long and often difficult journey, but I am free and forgiven.

Instead, I filled the void. I tried to cover the wounds with sex and porn and experimentation, along with church mixed in for good measure. Sexual sin carries a lie that says, “With this adventure, you can be taken away for a while. Come away with me. Let’s have fun. Let’s get away from it all.” I wanted the escape.

Forgiven

It wasn’t until I was 25 that I started a process of truly learning who my Heavenly Father is. My Abba. Learning that He loved me first, with a love that is pure and holy. A love that is untainted and seeks to give, not take. I didn’t ask to be abused and there is nothing I can do to go back and change it. Much like the victim of sexual assault in Judges 19, I had no voice. For years, I lived like a victim. But now I am a man with a voice and a new perspective. I refuse to let my brokenness be a cause or an excuse for further addiction.

[clickToTweet tweet=”I refuse to let my brokenness be a cause or an excuse for further addiction. #graceismessy #recovery” quote=”I refuse to let my brokenness be a cause or an excuse for further addiction.” theme=”style3″]

I am learning that there are two battles in life: the first is a breaking free and the second is a staying free. The first battle is strictly spiritual: a matter of being born again. The second battle is also spiritual, but without practical steps along the way, it’s a losing fight. Recovery from childhood sexual abuse and addiction is a long and often difficult journey, but my desire to remain free means I must have clear boundaries and be honest about my struggles.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Recovery has two battles. Click here to learn more. #graceismessy #recovery” quote=”Recovery has two battles.” theme=”style3″]

For so many years, I got it all wrong: I thought that I had to win a battle right now and for good. I was wrong. I am going to fight whatever battle lies immediately before me, today, in this moment. The partial truth is that there will be new struggles tomorrow, but the rest of the story is that tomorrow will come with new strength. God meets me there, in the midst of my vulnerability and says, “I am strongest when you are willing to admit your weakness”.

I finally realized, that, like Jeremy, I had been given grace that I didn’t deserve. No more performing for others. Now, I am learning the freedom that comes from being real before a God who loves me as I am. I don’t have to “fake it to make it” anymore. Setting aside the mask of religion and regulations, I am now free to love others. I am Steve Austin: molested, addicted, and forgiven. By God’s grace, I’m learning even to love myself.

  • Your very best writing. Your courage to speak so frankly and vulnerably here will no doubt open many hearts to hear what you have experienced in love and grace. I know it opened mine.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you for having the guts to write this. Your heart is wide open here, your clarity and humility real. Really, I’m a little undone and I can’t even find words to adequately articulate what that did…and I’m sure what it will continue to do. Wow.

    • “ugh” is what my brain was saying the whole time that my heart was throwing this up.
      Thanks for responding.

      Was NOT easy, but putting it out there is so freeing and takes back the power from the Enemy. I am truly glad to share.

      The fact that it’s not even 1pm CST and 153 people have read my story, boggles my brain. The fact that some of those 153 people have had similar struggles and could find hope and encouragement through my scars ROCKS!

      I love freedom.

  • Wow, Steve, thank you so much for your transparency and openness in this post. I can’t imagine the courage it took to put those words to paper.
    I am so proud to know you and to work beside you with POTSC and the Grace Mob! LOVE you!!

    • Angela! Thank YOU! This was a tough one because it was so personal. I actually left some stuff out–can you believe that?! My life was a total MESS before I had a life-altering, future-transforming REAL encounter with the JESUS of Second Chances! I will ALWAYS be imperfect, but I will NEVER be the same!

  • What an amazing man of God you are Steve. I am so sorry for what you went through. What I see is a Godly Man who has chosen Life. God is your Hiding Place, and He will surround you with songs and shouts of deliverance. According to God’s Word, He saw you when you were being formed in your mother’s womb; and on the authority of God’s Word, you were wonderfully made. You are His handiwork, recreated in Christ Jesus. You have placed your Hope in Christ Jesus, a hope that will never disappoint, delude or shame you, for God’s love has been poured out in your heart through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to you. God bless you Steve as you walk in honesty and humility before our Lord. I will continually lift your family and ministry in prayer. Much love brother.

    • Pam, thank you for your kind words!
      I’m not sorry for what I went through. I’m so thankful that God was able to use such a terrible experience to heal me, to draw me to intimacy with my Father and to now heal others. I went through some tough patches, but look at this: 240 people read my story yesterday. That’s REDEMPTION!!!!! 😀

      Thank you for all the life you spoke. You are an awesome lady and I am glad to know you.

      God bless you and thank you always for the prayers!

  • That is very powerful, and I am proud of you. Thank God for the immense amount of courage it took to let all of that go. Thank God for the ones who will come after you and who will have freedom because of you. To God be the glory!

    • Ugh. You know how sometimes you post things and forget just how PUBLIC they are?
      Yea, didn’t think about you reading this. THANK YOU for showing me grace. I’m so thankful for the transition that has taken place in both of our lives and the journey that we are both on. I’m thankful for radical grace that can change the hardest of hearts and remove the phoniest of masks.

      Thank you for stopping by. You have no idea what your comments have meant to me.

  • Thank you and the raw honesty…At every Cross Road we have a choice which path to take. JESUS said I stand at the door, all you have to do is open it. Then start truely trusting JESUS for the rest of your life. Steve yours is a powerful example that GOD does not fake his Grace and LOVE. PEACE BIG POPPI

  • Grace, grace, grace, Steve. God chased after you and kept His hand on you all those years. He saw your heart and your wounds and longed for the day that you would let Him heal you with his grace. Thank you for the courage to share your story and help others see the grace of God. I’m so thankful to God that you can now help so many others who may have experienced what you went through.Blessings,
    ~Erin

  • Bro, this kind of childhood trauma sucks….simply sucks. I bless you, in the name of Christ Jesus with joy and healing that only He can grant. You are a grace-full man and I am sure are a grace-full husband and soon, a grace-full father.
    The road is not always easy, yet the road is also filled with grace…you’ve have learned to pickup the moments of grace very well.

    God bless you!

    • Childhood trauma sucks for sure. Have you read one of Carlos Whittaker’s recent posts called “The Suck Will be Less”? I love it!
      Thank you for the blessing and words of life!

      Thankful to “meet” you!

      Be blessed,
      Steve

  • Thank you for being so vulnerable, and for writing this post. I was molested as a child myself by my uncle. I can understand you thoughts and feelings. It’s good to know that God can turn any horrible experience into something good. I can see He is doing just that in you! My God continue to heal you and speak through you!
    ~Danielle
    http://www.cause-blog.com

  • I was a victim of the same for 13 years, multiple men.. I was able to overcome, and through all the hell it took, I wouldn’t trade a day back to change who I am now. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ashley, I am so sorry for what happened to you. But good news–you are still standing and God is crazy about you! Thanks for stopping by and trusting us with you story.

  • Your story hit home with me. Same exact life story with the neighbors and such. Except I’m 37 now and never found god no matter matter how hard I searched. Glad you did. I never filled the void. I have a wonderful wife and kids but still have that hole inside me. Thanks for sharing.

    • Oh my precious, loving God, please wrap your loving arms around this man. Give him peace and comfort and heal his wounds. Give him your many blessings and let him know that he is loved by you and your children. Protect his life and his heart. You are awesome in this place mighty God! Amen:)

  • I love you Steve Austin . Thanks for opening your heart ! Mr Carey and I miss that sweet crazy laugh of yours .

  • in your most vulnerable moments is when you, God’s vessel, show us through your transparency, the crazy love and lavish mercy Jesus has for you and for me and for the world. Bless you.

  • Steve Austin! Thank you so much for being so open and real. A lot of us suffered abuse at the hands of people like your neighbor or people who even proclaimed their love for us. I have to admit that extending that Grace can be so challenging and I am so proud that you have come to realize that your freedom was worth it. Pray that I too will learn not to empower others from my past to affect one nano second of my present or future. You have always been very special to me and have spent much time praying for you during the years you were struggling …and I had no idea. Love to you and your sweet family!

    • Mamanette!!!
      Thank you for taking the time to read my wonderfully messy story. Being open about my past was a huge step for me in the healing process.

      Forgiveness is NOT easy. It is right, but it is NOT easy. It took me some 28 years to move on. And we are all different.

      I love you so much and you have always been special to ME too!

      Come back anytime!
      –Steve

    • Amen! He’s the only One and the only Way!
      Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you’ll click “follow” and join the fam!

      Be well,
      Steve

  • Steve, I admire you for sharing such a vulnerable place in your heart. It takes a certain amount of strength. I am so happy you found God’s grace and Jesus’ gift of freedom. Most men live with that “black secret” in their hearts forever. Praise God you have found relief, and by your testimony, I pray others will be able to find the same freedom and relief. Blessings, Elizabeth

    • Elizabeth,I am so thankful for the new creation that I am in Christ. It was a long road to find freedom and I continue to mess up daily, but having a grasp on Messy Grace has forever changed my life.

      I thank you so much for stopping by and hope you won’t be a stranger!

      Be well,
      Steve

  • I am rejoicing with you that these bonds have been broken from you. By bringing this into the light, the darkness has no power over it any more. Good bye, Dust Bunny! (Revelation 12:11).
    May the Lord increase your borders, directing your story to every person that needs to hear of the healing power of our gracious and merciful God!

    In Him,
    Tami
    o/
    Praising Jesus for He is ALWAYS victorious!

  • I have been searching for Christian blogs that are “Transparent…even messy” and I read your testimony and am so thankful that you are willing to share what happens to so many kids and also the healing that occurs when you have a real relationship with Abba! I am a preacher’s kid, have been through hell and back myself and understand some of what you went through and the hypocrisy that is so present in churches, but I am thankful that I too, have a real relationship with God and He heals all wounds as I trust in Him. Broken, but loved! Mary

    • Mary,
      Broken, but loved!!! You are absolutely right.

      Going through hell and back is no small task, but if we are able to testify of His goodness and grace and unconditional love, at least it has great purpose.

      I’m so glad you’ve joined the community, and I hope you hear from you often!

      In His grasp,
      Steve

    • i was so broken, too, hon..but my God heals, oh my God heals…i still can’t believe the TOTAL restoration He’s brought into my life..before i settled for healing, but now, i’m walking in wholeness. i’ve praised God all along for life, but now, i praise Him for life abundant! 🙂
      “God is more powerful than anybody’s past, no matter how wretched. He can make us forget – not by erasing the memory but by taking the sting and paralyzing effect out of it”
      ~Jim Cymbala

      • not at all arguing with u about Him doing things halfway, but i will share that in my experience, He granted me healing ALONG the way..i still struggled with self-worth, with the voices reminding me of my past, with the anxiety from vivid memories, with the depression that darkened my entire day…but what He’s done most recently? the complete healing n wholeness He’s brought into my life? you’re right…nothing halfway about it! 🙂

  • So many of us have experienced things as children that were confusing and devastating. After a lifetime of trying to deal with the pain inside of me MY way (and the world’s way), I finally faced the truth and gave all of my pain, confusion, anger and hurt to my Father in Heaven, and allowed the Holy Spirit to start the real healing from the inside out. Thank you very much for following the call of the Holy Spirit and using your experience to share the love, joy and mercy of God:-)

    • Thank YOU for taking the time to read and comment. In a world where self-reliance is praised, there is nothing more healing than laying it all at the Cross.

  • […] I experienced my own personal Sodom and Gomorrah when I was three. Mine was not by choice. The monster reared his ugly head, raped and pillaged and burned images and smells into my mind that can never be erased. But why erase them? At times it seems like that is what everyone else wanted to do, but I was not afforded the luxury. Why not use the waking up and standing up on feeble knees to say, Everything about this was wrong. In the wake of destruction, it’s normal to send in the clean up crew, but saving a life requires more than just tidying up. A sweeping under and looking over of things will never fix such intense trauma. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened for so long and still does for most victims. Well, life’s not that clean. These things are deeper than the janitor’s dust mop. There is no excusing what happened to me. THIS WAS NOT OKAY… […]

  • […] I was molested when I was a preschooler, and it has rippled through my life ever since. The “predator” was a 17-year-old kid who lived across the street. And knew my family well. It didn’t happen in a public restroom, or at a park, or in a store. It happened in my own yard. The pink crepe myrtle desperately tried to make this scene pretty, or at least a little less horrific, but it failed miserably. […]