There are few things more appalling than childhood sexual abuse. According to a report done by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, there were 57,286 cases of childhood sexual abuse in 2015.1 To make matters even worse, in 34% of cases reported to law enforcement, the perpetrator of the abuse is a family member.2 Dr. Joy Wilson, author, ministry leader, and victor over incest, knows this all too well. In her soon-to-be-released book, Ministering to Victims of Incest: A Model for Church Response, she unpacks her story and the lessons she has learned from her own past and from working with other victims of sexual abuse and incest. We are pleased to share a piece of her story with you today – be on the lookout for Dr. Wilson’s new book, releasing soon!
God called me to minister to women in 2006 as a practical Bible teacher. Since then, I have shared my testimony while teaching in various Christian denominations and congregations in Guyana as well as in Kenya, East Africa; the United States; Jamaica; Trinidad and Barbados. As told in my autobiography Jesus Removed My Grave Clothes, my biological father sexually molested me repeatedly from about age nine to fifteen.
The woman I am becoming is a testimony to women who are survivors of incest. Through teaching, television, literature, counseling, deliverance, and mentoring, I have been given access to audiences that are local and beyond, reaching the international women, including those in the Caribbean. It is through the telling of my story and conveying the hope and practices of healing, coupled with the love and support of friends and family, that I have found success. In Guyana, the country of my birth, I personally did not experience Bible teaching and Christian counseling that was specific to my need as a victim of incest. I suffered tremendously. As a girl, I was alone, afraid, and confused.
As a married Christian woman and then a young mother, I struggled greatly to stay married, raise our children, maintain other critical relationships, work, and study. The effects of the incest I suffered as a child and teenager took a toll on everyone, which only added to its effects on me. At one point, my life became so overwhelming that I experienced an emotional breakdown and had to receive psychiatric treatment for about two years while I continued to maintain most my roles but also tried to achieve some of my goals.
An important turning point for me was being able to understand the effects of what had occurred and how it was not God’s plan for incest to occur in the family. Medication was prescribed to help me with the emotional aftereffects of this trauma, so I would not be so despairing. It was an important stage of my healing. From all I learned on my journey from a child until this day, I believe that God has called me and now equipped me for his call on my life: to confront incest in the Church, which I am calling my transformation project. My hope is that both the Church and the families that have been impacted by incest too will be transformed as a result. … God trusted me to be wounded by my biological father, but he raised me up to be a unique voice for such a time as this to serve the body of Christ as his minister to women who suffered childhood incest. I am passionate about this humble calling.
Ministering to Victims of Incest: A Model for Church Response may be ordered at XULON http://www.xulonpress.com/bookstore/
Dr. Joy Wilson, victor over incest and practical Bible teacher, supports the ministries of pastors and Christian leaders for the prevention of domestic violence and the redemption of women who have suffered from this trauma. She has ministered in East Africa, the United States of America, the Caribbean and several congregations in Guyana where she lives. She earned the degree of Doctor of Transformational Leadership at Bakke Graduate University, Dallas, Texas. Her dissertation presented research to show that incest is a silent cancer in the church. Dr. Wilson believes that Christian ministry must specifically address the needs of women who have suffered childhood incest. Such women need to be spiritually empowered for transformational leadership in marriage and family. Dr. Wilson, member of the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and author of Jesus Removed My Grave Clothes; also has degrees in Social Work and Counseling Psychology. She serves as part-time faculty for the University of Guyana and the Guyana Wesleyan Bible College. She and her husband are parents of four and grandparents to five.