What day-to-day help is there for those of us who have been shredded? Especially when rape, ongoing sexual violence and violations of our physical being were instrumental in the shredding? How do we fight with the darkness that refuses to remain hidden but rises up as obsessions to self-destructive fantasy, as masturbation or other acts that we don’t want but which are so overwhelming, we can’t stop them?
Two years, I was having flashbacks to the first time I was raped. The images of being four and having two adult men coming at me kept playing in my heart and mind. I couldn’t stop them. I wanted to hide in a corner. I slept on my sofa, was afraid to sleep in my own bed. There was no window in my bedroom, no escape. Two dear friends suggested I contact Fr. Brent at the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, an apostolate of the Dominican Order. As I familiarized myself with the Confraternity’s ministry to those trying to live chastely, I wondered how it could help me. But I was desperate. I contacted Fr. Brent. He sent me the materials I needed to become enrolled in the Confraternity and authorized my pastor to enroll me. Even before I could be enrolled, I began the prayers each day and found several of them opened the flood gates and kindled hope.
6th prayer. Dear Jesus, bless our imagination. Grant that we may be preserved from the fantasies and daydreams that defile us, that all impure images may vanish, and that we may be protected from all the assaults of demons. “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (Eph 6:11, 4:23). Hail Mary…
My imagination had always filled in and expanded upon the horrors I had experienced. The self-destructive fantasies had become darker and darker. And though I had had a one year respite from them, the current crop of flashbacks threatened to overwhelm my mind and heart with fresh monstrosities.
7th prayer. Dear Jesus, bless our memory. Grant that no dark memories from our past may haunt us, but let your light shine within us to fill us with a healing hope in you. “And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (1 Jn 3:1). Hail Mary…
I had never prayed for the healing of my memory. It had never occurred to me; no one had suggested it. The 7th prayer inspired me to write my own prayer on my blog, Heirs In Hope:
Dearest Lord Jesus Christ,
Please heal my memory and sensibilities so I may remain aware of and live the life You have given me today. Please make my memory and sensibilities able to distinguish between experiences in my past and experiences today. If it is Your will, grant me the ability to use the memory of offenses committed against me in the past to aid in healing those who have been abused and offended as well as those who abuse and offend the little ones whom You love so dearly. And dearest, dearest Lord, please commission me as You commissioned Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta though Your dear Mother to pray and sacrifice on behalf of poor sinners. Amen.
Finally, the 10th prayer gave me hope that God could replace all the ugliness with the beauty:
10th prayer. Dear Jesus, bless our intellect. Grant that it may be purged of all false beliefs and all misunderstandings of human sexuality, and that the good angels may flood our intellects with thoughts that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and gracious. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8). Hail Mary…
Anyone may pray the prayers and pray with the Angelic Warfare Confraternity; we pray for ourselves and each other. Only Catholics may be enrolled. Instructions for becoming enrolled are on the site.
One of the biggest horrors of child rape and abuse is that they so destroy our sense of good and bad, so overwhelm us with fear and shame, our ability to choose for ourselves becomes mangled. By praying with the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, we place our brokenness in Jesus hands and ask Him to fix what we cannot fix. Therapy is useful as is spiritual direction. The Confraternity prayers bring us face-to-face with the ugliness, day after day, and and day after day, puts it in the hands of the only One who can truly heal us. We become like a child bringing weeds to his mother, Flower, Mummy! Flower! And the mother takes those weeds and gives them a place of honour in a glass on the kitchen windowsill where she may see them as she works and remember how much her child loves her. Jesus wants our weeds to transform, to recall us to whom He created us to be, because they are what we have to give and giving them to Him shows how much we love Him.