On September 27, the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship hosted a survivor of sexual abuse to talk about her experiences and share how she was healed through her faith. This lecture was the start of a series of presentations to be given on topics ranging from sex trafficking to China’s one child policy. The speaker, an RIT alumnus, wished to remain anonymous in this publication.

The woman explained to the audience that she went online in order to overcome her shyness when talking to men. Eventually, she met up with one of the men. Although she originally intended to remain celibate until marriage, she began to feel as though her worth was based on what she could do with her body.

Early in the relationship, the man began raping her regularly, eventually moving on to more serious bondage and other forms of abuse. It wasn’t until the victim was reached out to by a friend that she realized her abuser had been isolating her from friends and family for more than six months. When she re-established contact with her friend group, she realized for the first time that her relationship was unhealthy. Her friends helped her cut ties, and leave the dangerous situation behind.

Like many survivors of abusive relationships, the woman explained that she went through a difficult road of recovery. The survivor explained that it was at this time she found God, and began familiarizing herself with the Bible and its teachings. She began attending large group meetings at churches and found herself doing something shocking during the prayer time. “All of the sudden I found myself praying for my ex-boyfriend and I was like, ‘What is this? I hate this man; I don’t want to pray for him.’”

As part of her healing process, the speaker explained she has forgiven her abuser, and prays that he will get the help he needs. She explained it is important to forgive, because anyone could become an abuser. She hopes that he will someday be able to maintain a healthy relationship. “Through that experience, and really ever since, Jesus spoke to me and showed me what forgiveness really is,” said the speaker.

For much of the presentation, the speaker focused on how her faith enabled her to heal and move on from the experience. She now has a husband and is expecting her first child, which she attributes to God watching over her.

All of the audience members seemed to agree that the presentation was a very personal and intense perspective of the topic. Rachel Rutledge, a second year Undecided Liberal Arts major, said “As a woman… it’s important to be aware of these things, and to hear about other people’s situations, rather than just seeing statistics.”

Paula Gonzalez, a third year Marketing major, agreed and said “I’m a great supporter for women, and their rights… I want to just hear stories, personal stories of things that have happened.”

The lecture wasn’t only powerful for the women in the audience. Ryan, an RIT alumnus of the computer security/ISF program and former Intervarsity Christian Fellowship leader, came to the event to support and encourage other members of the organization. Ryan felt that the talk was very powerful. “It was very encouraging to see, especially as someone who knows people who have been in a similar position as her, and have a similar background, and hasn’t arrived at as peaceful of a place yet,” said Ryan.

As part of its lecture series, the group is planning to host a second event on Friday October 4. This lecture will go in-depth to describe sex-trafficking and how Christians view the issues. Details can be found online at events.rit.edu.