Julie Nohe shares her truth.
"I can confidently say I am an overcomer of rape and sexual abuse. I am free from the addiction to drugs and alcohol. I have been set free from the prison of my mind, and my identity has been restored."
From five years old, I remember daily harassment and bullying at school, because I wore glasses. I just wanted to fit in, but the other kids were merciless. I was the outcast of the class
When I was eight years old, my Dad become seriously ill with Multiple Sclerosis, the disease rapidly attacked his immune system and his mental health deteriorated with his body.
My parents separated because of the stress of Dad’s illness and risk to our safety through his unpredictable behavior and mental state. My wonderful family life was broken. Dad and his eldest son returned to England, for Dad to be with his family, and my mum, me and my other brother moved in with Mum’s new boyfriend.
Mum’s boyfriend became our stepfather and our happy family was over. My stepfather was angry and violent. He would beat my older brother regularly, often until he was bloody and lifeless. I remember vividly seeing my beloved brother like this and wondering how he could survive. After four years of physical abuse, my brother left home; he was fifteen years old.
My mum was rendered unconscious once, but was subject to his psychological abuse constantly and because of her own childhood trauma, she was powerless. Mum succumbed to his controlling and manipulative behaviour.
We were trapped. I felt like I was in prison. Controlled by fear and guilt.
The abuse I received from my stepfather was the secret kind. From the moment we moved in with him, I was sexually violated.
My virginity was stolen from me when I was eight years old. I endured this abuse for four long years; he treated me as his sexual partner and threatened me to keep me silent.
I gained the courage at twelve years old to stop his vile touch, but he was enraged and continued to enforce his power by refusing to let me out of the house. The years of lies, sexual abuse and psychological torment I endured during this time left emotional wounds that kept me bound for decades.
My eldest brother came to New Zealand to visit at this time. I had missed him so much and was overjoyed to finally see him again, but he came with terrible news – my Dad had died. The night I learned of my father’s death, my heart broke. I sobbed uncontrollably, “I want my Daddy back.”
Words cannot express the pain I was in. I felt alone and ugly. I had no sense of value or purpose. I wanted to be invisible, so no one could hurt me anymore.
On the outside, I appeared the obedient child, but when eyes were turned, I was up to no good.
Truancy from school, running away from home, promiscuity, drugs and alcohol had become my normal and my refuge. Drugs and alcohol ruled my life, and I loved to indulge in them to excess.
One night, when I was out with some friends, we were picked up by the Police for wagging school. I was in a stolen car, with guys I did not know and about to shoot up with Heroin.
The police intervention helped me to finally reveal the ugly secret of the childhood sexual abuse I had endured. I had carried that secret for seven years, and it was finally out.
With my stepfather now in prison, Mum could not handle my out-of-control behaviour and so I became a ward of the state. Mum believed she was doing what was best for me. I was placed in a Christian home. God was providing for me and I didn’t even realise it.
My life was spinning out of control; by age sixteen I had become pregnant to my drug dealer boyfriend, but at eight months pregnant, I suffered a massive hemorrhage due to my placenta tearing - my baby tragically and painfully died.
An emergency caesarean was required to remove baby and a hysterectomy considered in order to save my life. Thankfully my mother believed in me, so did not grant permission for this. However, for the next three days, I was at death's doorway. I was placed on a mortuary table - the professionals had no expectation that I would live.
I’m told I lost about thirteen Litres of blood. The mortuary table has a rim on it, and I was placed on this table so all my blood could be contained and channelled down the drain. The nurses had run out of towels and were wearing white gumboots, it became difficult for them to keep cleaning up all my blood because of there was so much of it.
I was given platelets to thicken my blood as a last hope. and my brother was allowed in to see me as they were unsure if I would survive. My life was hanging by a thread.
On Christmas Day, three days after the death of my baby, I was moved up to a ward. I was going to survive. God kept me alive! It is by God’s grace that I lived to see another day, and Christmas for me has an extra special meaning.
I experienced various other pregnancies over the next three years, all ending in miscarriage; but at nineteen years old, despite complications with baby’s umbilical cord being tied in a knot, I delivered a healthy boy through emergency caesarean. I decided then to leave my boyfriend and give all my attention and love to my newborn son.
I had no thoughts toward the value of myself or my body. Sex was a weapon, a transaction and a way to make men pay for all that they had taken from me.
I soon got involved with another man; he was a drug addict, very unpredictable and dangerous. I recall one time he had held a gun to my head and threatened to kill me. He coerced me into doing many despicable things, including criminal acts and prostitution. It was around this time I was raped three times, by three different men on different occasions.
I never comprehended the cost that this decision to prostitute would have on my son. I remember one awful night; I had been working as a prostitute and had got a phone call from the babysitter. I stumbled into hospital, not knowing where to look, or what I would find.
As I pulled back the curtain, I remember gasping from the wrenching pain I felt in my gut. My baby boy! His face was purple, swollen, cut, his nose broken.
His eyes were full of pain as he looked at me. He couldn’t speak but his eyes said it all,
“Where were you Mummy? I needed you to protect me.”
My boyfriend had beaten my twenty month old son. I don’t remember the man who had just paid me, but I will never forget that look on my son’s face. I had failed him. He was taken off me by Social Welfare, and I was not permitted to see him for months.
I was twenty one and my reason for living was gone. I was in deep despair; powerless and angry. My life was full of drunken parties at clubs, pubs and gang pads. This drunken lifestyle kept me numb from having to face the tremendous pain of my reality.
Suicide was often on my mind, but my son was my saving grace. After various meetings and over time with Social Welfare and my son’s caregiver, I was permitted restricted visits every second weekend.
I was looking for love with various men and women to somehow fill the empty void I felt inside. For six years, I lived in a lesbian relationship because of the continual abuse I had experienced from men. I had deceived myself to believe that this was my true identity. I hated who I had become.
My Date with Destiny
I remember one day, as I waited at an Auckland City Train Station, I spotted my brother! From this random encounter we reconnected after so many years apart. He had found Jesus Christ on his journey and shared his faith with me. Through his continuous encouragement, over time I started to try church too.
I spent eighteen months in another church before deciding to go to Destiny Church. The moment I heard the preached word, it resonated with me at a level I had never experienced before. It was deeper than just the words that were being spoken.
In that moment, I knew intrinsically that I was ‘home’ and this church would be my church for life.
After one year of being in Destiny, my son was returned into my care with commendations of how radically my life had transformed. I had been without him for ten years.
I will be forever grateful to my brother for the way he nurtured the beginnings of my journey with Jesus. I am grateful for his prayers and non-judgmental love
All the years the devil had stolen from me in my youth, all the times he had tried to destroy me through violence, addiction, medical emergency or suicide; my God has restored one hundred times over.
I am now happily married with a gorgeous son (born in 2011) and my now adult son, is also married and has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is only because of Jesus that our relationship has been restored.
I had disowned my mum for many years, and as I later found out my stepfather also kept her from seeing me. She also endured regular strangulation and other abuse at his hand. I always loved her, but I didn’t understand how she could stay with a man who had caused so much hurt to all of us. I harbored hate for her choice to stay with him and unforgiveness for the feelings of hurt, abandonment and neglect.
I had no idea of the trauma my Mum had experienced herself growing up and how those generational dysfunctions continued to be outworked in our family. Over time, I began to realise, that Mum and I had both made decisions out of our wounded hearts.
The enemy came to rob, kill, steal and destroy my family and it is only through the healing of Jesus Christ that we have all been able to forgive and move forward together in unity.
It is because of Jesus that my family has been restored and has overcome family violence. I have been healed of all the deep wounds from my past: rejection, perversion, fear, shame, guilt, depression, death and suicide; anger, rebellion, poverty and the bitter root of unforgiveness - to name a few!
I have planted myself in Destiny Church, and over time, I have learned how to pray in faith and trust God in all things, even heartbreaking loss and pain.
It matters where you go to church; it matters who your spiritual authority is, and it certainly matters whose voice you give priority to. All that I am now - all that I speak and all that I do, is a copy of the example of Bishop Brian and Pastor Hannah Tamaki. They show me how to live a life with Christ. They are the pattern I follow.