- (Photo Mary DeMuth)
Mary DeMuth became a victim of sex abuse when she was five years old. As a kindergartner, DeMuth spent the morning in class and the afternoon with her babysitter, an arrangement that seemed innocuous and safe until the day when two teenage boys dropped by the house.
That afternoon, the boys began inappropirately touching her — initiating an ordeal that lasted almost the entire school year.
The boys scared DeMuth, threatening to kill her parents if she revealed their abuse. DeMuth also worried about speaking out because the teenagers had described their actions with an obscenity, a word that she worried might get her in trouble, if she spoke it aloud.
By the time the five-year-old finally made up her mind to inform her babysitter that she was being abused, the boys had invited their friends to participate with them. However, shockingly upon hearing the horrendous news of what was happening, her babysitter held onto DeMuth's secret and never reported the actions nor informed her mother.
Eventually the nightmare ended, first because DeMuth started napping during long afternoons at the babysitter's, and second, because the family moved home at the conclusion of the school year.
Despite being physically free from the abuse, internally, DeMuth did not feel liberated.
"I kept it silent for a decade," DeMuth told The Christian Post. "I felt like I had a mark on my forehead, 'Hey predators come and get me.'"
"I felt so very marked growing up and felt that every time there was some sort of predator somewhere, it would find me and I would run away from there somehow because I knew what they were up to and I knew how to run," she added.
DeMuth became a Christian at the age of 15, a move that gave her the courage to finally share her story and initiate a 30-year healing process. Her story is the subject of her new book, "Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing after Sexual Abuse," a title that the popular Christian author crowdfunded after mainstream publishers turned it down.
While DeMuth has already written a memoir about her life, she came to the conclusion she wanted to write a story specifically about sexual abuse after seeing the reaction from several blog posts she authored last year about her experiences.
"I realized there is so much hurt out there and so few people are brave enough to talk about sexual abuse, let alone champion what victims have gone through and really share what it means to be healed and how it works," said DeMuth.
The author, who has written both Christian fiction and non-fiction, said she also wanted to address what sexual abuse healing looked like in the context of marriage.
"There is a lack of books for all of us who are in marriage [addressing] how marriage can actually be a positive effect on your healing journey," said DeMuth.
DeMuth's husband wrote a portion of the book, because "he walked me through it and he offers help for other people who want to know what to say and what not to say and how to love."
Demuth's road to recovery has not been seamless. She says that sex has at times been awkward and that because of the trauma she endured as a five-year-old has had a "hard time attaching [emotionally] during sex." She will admit though that "in the past decade of my marriage we have gotten better about it."
She also confessed that she felt that many of her emotions around her own abuse were "retriggered" after her oldest daughter turned five.
"That's when the can of worms came out and I realized again how small I was, just how small I was, when they did that to me," said DeMuth.
While the e-book edition of DeMuth's book was released in January, the print version of her book became available on February 10.
The author said she welcomed prayers with book's release.
"I'm feeling a little bit naked. I write extremely vulnerable books, but this book is definitely the most vulnerable book I've written," said DeMuth.
DeMuth's book, Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing after Sexual Abuse, can be purchased from Amazon bookstore by clicking here.