Rhianne’s testimony: From pain and darkness to life

Identifying as same sex attracted, Rhianne is delighted to be accepted for who she is into a Catholic community and to know that Jesus helps her to find ever-greater security in her own identity. Rhianne writes from WA.

I am an Aboriginal wom­an, raised by parents who were Catholic in name but neither of them prac­ticed their faith.

I recall attending a lo­cal Catholic church with my Nana as a small child. Other than that, I knew no-one who was religious.

One of the darkest mo­ments of my life was being sexually abused by a close family member for four years as a teenager.

Entering into adulthood was pure hell for me. I was desperate to find resolution around my sexual trauma.

I fell into deep depression. I had no idea of my identity, and I just wanted to disap­pear.

I was 25 years old when I first disclosed my childhood abuse to my mother shortly before her death from cancer.

If I hadn’t had a strong bond with my mum, I don’t know who else I would have been able to tell. Even today, I may never have found free­dom from my burning secret.

I was so desperate for my voice to be heard. I need­ed compassion and tender counsel. I didn’t need further rejection as I questioned my sexuality and identity, or the political and police interfer­ence now enabled by legisla­tion in several states in Aus­tralia.

My abuse grossly affected my sexuality. After my moth­er’s death, I got engaged to several women, the last be­ing for three and a half years which was a deeply abusive relationship. This led me to become addicted to drugs.

When this lesbian relation­ship eventually ended, I found Islam which led me into more abusive relationships, only this time with several men, one of whom I actually mar­ried.

I was still same-sex attract­ed but again trapped in an­other strain of co-dependen­cy, this time with behaviours which further degraded me.

The suicide rate among Ab­original youth is disturbing. It screams of the destructive pain so many precious young people experience.

I often ask myself: what pathways are open today to an Aboriginal child where she or he can disclose abuse, question identity and sexu­al attraction, and be helped to make their own healthy choices? Every avenue to prayer, therapy and counsel which is proven to work, even if only for a minority, must be left open.

If an Aboriginal child or adult senses that legislation might affect therapy or prayer, those wounded will stay away from even beginning recov­ery. Their ability to reach out and to speak up, especial­ly about abuse, might never happen.

However, politicians are queuing up to condemn ther­apy and prayer linked to sex­uality and gender. This will have a long-term effect of de­grading women and children. We will be the ones most as­saulted by new legislation which rips dignity away from girls and women as, for exam­ple, men who self-identify as trans-women compete in fe­male sport.

By ignoring bodily differ­ences, politicians also reject common sense and threat­en every female toilet, shower block, women’s shelter and women’s healthcare when they choose to ignore the bla­tantly evident biological and chromosomal differences be­tween males and females.

I have felt further despair and retraumatised by an­ti-therapy and anti-prayer leg­islation rising up across our nation. But turning my life to Jesus and finding a home within the Catholic Church are bringing me hope.

I am fortunate that the Christian community has been helping me to face my past. I am learning to invite Jesus into my pain so as to find newness of life. He is teaching me not to be afraid of anything.

Amazingly, Jesus gave me a dream about his Mother, Mary. I have spent years try­ing to deal with the grief of my mother’s death, and sudden­ly Jesus gives me his Perfect Mother to walk alongside me, to love me, and to help me not only heal but to trust more deeply in God. I am now ex­citedly involved in the RCIA course.

Our nation needs less men­tal illness, fewer addictions and suicides. It needs laws which respect God and per­mit people to grow up and to make decisions for them­selves.

It is regrettable that past support is being reported to have hurt a few people. But present support is saving my life and the lives of many oth­ers. We have no idea how many more lives it has already saved and might just save in the future.

I am grateful that my life and my story have been wel­comed into the Catholic com­munity and that knowing Je­sus is helping me to find ever greater security in my identity.

This article was first published in The Catholic Weekly newspaper, and is reproduced with permission.

Read testimonies from those who have experienced same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria and found healing and hope in the Christian faith:

Josef’s testimony: From unhappiness to freedom in Him

Mike’s testimony: Wounds that can be healed

Scott’s testimony: On the right side of eternity

Tags: Life Family Marriage, News