Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Searching for Acceptance

Leslie Basham: As the victim of abuse, Marcia Arnel experienced these intense emotions.

Marcia Arnel: Feeling out of control, feeling scared, feeling helpless, feeling lonely. I was afraid because that man had told me before that if I told anyone, he would make sure I wouldn't tell anyone ever again.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, January 28. If you have young children at home, you'll want to protect their young ears because we'll be talking about some intense issues. Let's join Nancy as she introduces today's story.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: My friend Marcia Arnel has been sharing with us this week her story of what it was like growing up in a home where there was drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and then the experience of being sexually molested as a little girl by a neighbor. While all this is going on, there is domestic violence in the home.

You shared with us yesterday, Marcia, how you came to the point where you actually attempted to take your dad's life as a little nine-year-old girl. Things didn't get better. As you moved into middle school, the abuse and violence continued. We can only imagine the scars and wounds these kinds of experiences must have been making in your heart as a little girl. Now you're in the sixth grade and you're growing up. A friend moves into your home.

Marcia Arnel: Yes. My older brother had a really close friend who had just his mom at home and kind of a bad home situation so my parents took him in. He moved into our home. At night he would come and "visit" my room and just stand in my doorway and stare at me lying in my bed.

My dad had seen him do that a couple of times and told him he needed to stop going by my room. But soon after that, he would enter my room. My father would be in the very next room, passed out or smoking marijuana and watching TV or whatever, and this man would enter my room and he began to take advantage of me and began to touch me.

I remember lying there and just being very scared, back to when I was six years old recalling the fear of someone just walking in and catching us. I knew that something was wrong but didn't know what to do.

I was afraid that if I would scream that this person would get in trouble, and I might get in trouble for allowing them to come into my room. Different things would go on through my head. I just remember laying there just kind of comatose, just letting things happen and not really being an active participant. This occurred very frequently for about the next three years of my life through middle school.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So during this time were you conscious of pain in your heart, of anger? How were you reacting inside?

Marcia Arnel: I think at this time I began to hear people talking about saving sex until marriage and those kinds of things and me thinking, Well, stuff has already happened in my life. What am I supposed to do at this point? That interaction with that young man was happening so much in my room at night that I even began to ask questions of him. "Well, what about this? What about this?" He really planted a lot of wrong thinking in my mind at that point.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: How? What kinds of things would he say?

Marcia Arnel: He told me that if I ever got a guy excited that I was supposed to satisfy him--that it was wrong for me to walk away from that situation. He would tell me how I could do those things. He introduced me to the whole avenue of sex in general. There was never actual sexual intercourse that took place, but everything outside of that was definitely taking place in my room.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: How was this affecting your view of men, of sex, of relationships with guys? You're now going into junior high school. What kinds of relationships did you have with other guys?

Marcia Arnel: That young man, that I had the molestation experience with as a young child, was still part of my life and a dear friend. He and I began to, at that point, experiment more. As I was learning more from this man in my home, he and I would begin to experiment more with what that meant between the two of us.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: This was now willingly on your part?

Marcia Arnel: Yes. An exploration type of thing. I remember one time even--this man that was staying in my home--he and the neighbor boy down the street, coming into the house and them asking me to take a joint out of my dad's pocket as he was sleeping right there. We were on the couch. I remember going over and getting that. We went to the bathroom. They were trying to teach me what it meant to smoke marijuana and blowing the smoke in my face and drinking beer and different things at that point.

Then we went back and sat on the couch. The older man in my house began to get involved with me and my friend at that point and having interaction take place there. I just remember sitting there with my father sitting across from me in a chair sleeping--just feeling so helpless, so scared.

I finally got to a point where I was asked to do something that I just knew I could not do. I just got up and ran out back into my bedroom and just curled up into a ball. Feeling out of control. Feeling scared. Feeling helpless. Feeling lonely.

I kept wishing Dad would wake up on his own because if I said, "Wake up, Dad," then it was me. I was afraid because that man had told me before that if I told anyone that he would make sure I wouldn't tell anyone ever again.

I remember wanting my dad to wake up and catch us doing that so that it would finally end and being scared that if I woke my dad up that something would happen to me. I can't imagine really all the emotions that were going on at that time. I look back now and know that I was feeling very unprotected and very scared.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So a lot of fear. Any sense of shame or guilt that went along with this?

Marcia Arnel: I don't recall any shame or guilt at this point in my life.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Did you have other relationships with other guys as you're now getting into high school?

Marcia Arnel: The only other interaction I had outside of my neighbor friend was at the YMCA. I was involved in a junior leaders' club there. We would go on trips for weekends at a time. They were called youth rallies. In that club there was a young man whom all the girls liked. I remember thinking he was very attractive or cute or whatever. On one of our trips, he began to interact with me physically as well--and me wanting things to stop and him saying, "No," and pushing my hands out of the way and pushing himself upon me.

I remember the same emotions I had when my room was visited at night. The emotions were all coming back to me of what was I supposed to do. Do I scream at this point? Am I supposed to be quiet? Outside of those instances"¦

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What did you do?

Marcia Arnel: I remember sitting there and doing nothing. Just kind of comatose, once again.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Scared. Did your friends at school think that something was really wrong? Did they know what was going on in your heart?

Marcia Arnel: No one would probably be able to figure out that anything was going on inside of my heart or in my mind, outside of any other normal kid. I wore a very good mask.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: So what kind of kid did they think you were?

Marcia Arnel: As I entered high school, I was definitely happy-go-lucky Marcia. Everyone called me "Smiley."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Were you smiley?

Marcia Arnel: Oh, definitely. I always had a smile on my face because I wasn't home and bad stuff wasn't happening. So I was happy to be out of my home. So yes, there was a big smile on my face at that time.

I entered high school with the mentality that my brother told me it was very important to be popular and to get involved in every activity I possibly could if I was going to be anybody. I entered high school thinking I would have to do everything and I have to be somebody.

My brother at this point really started to become in my mind my father figure. Whatever he said is what I would try to do. So entering high school, I ran for class president. I was freshman class president. I was on the dance squad, drama club. I just started to plug in everywhere I possibly could.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Having grown up in a home where alcohol and drugs were a way of life and sexual abuse was the norm, now you're becoming a teenager and being faced with your own choices and your friends are making choices. How did you respond to those choices and the things your friends were doing as it relates to drugs and alcohol and sex?

Marcia Arnel: I went into high school determined to not drink or smoke because I saw that as being the downfall for my father. My brother didn't do it, so of course I wasn't going to because I did everything my brother did.

However, sex and interaction with men was the one area that I felt somebody wanted me or desired me to be around, because that was the only time I had real attention paid towards me as a younger child. I do remember always longing to be loved by a guy. The decisions I made regarding that was that I entered into the lifestyle of immorality.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been interviewing Marcia Arnel. Nancy will be right back to reflect on what we just heard. If you can relate to some of what you heard today, we hope that you'll accept the healing and hope that only God can provide.

We'd like to help be part of your healing process. You can find some materials on our Web site,, that will point out some steps you can take to find freedom from painful memories. These materials contain the book Glenda's Story, which follows the story of a little girl who faced all kinds of abuse from her alcoholic mother and also her stepfather. It's a story of redemption and hope. You'll be encouraged to read about God's ability to transform terrible situations. Just visit or call 1-800-569-5959.

Maybe you have a story about the way God has rescued and healed you from incredible pain. Would you write and tell us?

Tomorrow we'll hear about one of the ways Marcia started to handle the abuse in her home. Instead of turning to God, she began to fight. We hope you can be here. Now here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As we've been listening to Marcia's story, it's obvious that there are things that happened in her life when she was a little girl over which she had absolutely no control. She was sinned against, and greatly sinned against as a young girl.

I know from the e-mails that we receive that we have a lot of listeners with a lot of pain and a lot of baggage in their past. Can I just remind you that God does not hold you accountable for sins that others have committed against you?

But God does hold you accountable for your responses, your reactions and your choices. Freedom will come in your life as it did for Marcia as you begin to acknowledge your own sinfulness, your own wrong choices to repent and to seek God's forgiveness.

As you do, God can set you in a pathway of healing where you can draw upon His grace in a richer, greater way perhaps than you ever dreamed possible. In fact, if you find yourself relating to some of what Marcia has shared or what I've just been talking about, I'd like to take a moment right now and just pray for you.

Father, I do lift up this precious woman who is dealing with the pain of her past and perhaps feeling scarred and trapped and hopeless. I pray that she would realize that these things do not have to be a bondage to her. They do not have to hold onto her. They do not have to cripple her for the rest of her life. She can walk in freedom and in blessing and in Your grace.

I pray, Lord, that if she doesn't have a personal relationship with You through Jesus Christ that You would be speaking to her heart and drawing her to Yourself, because there is no hope apart from You.

Then I pray, Lord, that You would help her and help each of us to take personal responsibility for ways that we have sinned against You, to be honest, to confess our sin, to repent of it and to lay hold of the forgiveness and the mercy that are ours because of what Jesus did for us at the cross.

O Lord, help us to walk not just focusing on the woundedness of our past, but seeing our sinfulness and then coming to You, coming to the cross to find grace through our Lord Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministry.

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