Note to Reader
This is a twelve month project which aims to bring to light the individual pain experienced by young women and to show how their unique stories make them who they are. We ask you to feel with an open heart and respect their stories.
I’m twenty-eight and I’m from a mixture of Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee, FL, but right now I live in Orlando. And my childhood was probably the quintessential picture perfect, happy-go-lucky childhood. I grew up with my mom, dad, and younger sister. I spent almost every weekend at my grandmother’s house with her, my great grandmother, my aunt, my sister, and my cousins. So it was just a family affair every weekend.
I grew up in church and kind of bounced back and forth between a couple different churches, primarily a large Baptist church and an even larger non-denominational church. I went to a Christian school for all of kindergarten through twelfth grade. I was involved in youth group and a variety of other different ministries, one of which being kind of like a teen abstinence program that had ambassadors through a local pregnancy center. We were trained and we would go out and do presentations at schools, whether they were public or private, at other churches for youth groups, and things along those lines. The presentations were a lot about abstinence from a very Biblical perspective, which was good but challenging at times because sometimes the group of kids we were speaking to were a little intimidating. I’d also say I grew up in a bit of a bubble. I was very, very sheltered and overprotected. I was in high school and running things by my mom like if I could watch a PG-13 movie with my friends, and I was sixteen-ish.
I’d also say I grew up in a bit of a bubble.
I’m a project coordinator for an art consulting firm. I had no idea until last fall that a job like this even existed. So no it’s not what I dreamed of doing as a child. Childhood Kristin wanted to be a clown, a waitress, an ER doctor, and a botanist all at the same time. I’m married which is what I dreamed of as a child, so praising God for that. That happened very quickly. I went to school for Art and Art Education. I’ve used both of my degrees which is amazing. I feel like I’m in a very small club of people who can say that. But I kind of have a natural teacher in me, so I did teach for a few years but now I’m at a point where I’m trying to figure out how I can use that in a serving aspect again. Where maybe it’s getting back into serving with a youth group or something, which I did for several years in Tallahassee. And then since I moved to Central Florida in 2014, I haven’t served with a youth group at all. So I think I’m finally at a place emotionally, spiritually, physically where I’m able to kind of add that into my life and go back to a season of more than just Kristin. Which is important to me and I feel has been very obviously missing from my life in the last few years.
But that started a really interesting journey of painful experiences...
I don’t really have too many painful experiences growing up other than the typical childhood booboos and what not. But on a deeper level than that, I think some of the pain that I first experienced ironically happened when I was serving with that abstinence ministry. That was when I first discovered pornography. I think because I had been so sheltered as a child that my curiosity got the best of me. I don’t actually recall if it was a direct search or if it was a pop-up or random thing that came across. I’m a very visual person so if something created a thought in my mind I would just kind of wander. Our home office was also in my bedroom at the time and that’s where our family computer was. But I was really the only person who used it except for homework and stuff with my sister. So I had the ability to kind of just escape, shut my door, and just be in my room and nobody knew otherwise. But that started a really interesting journey of painful experiences. I don’t know if most people would associate pain with pornography but for me it was this intense, self-disgust, and self-hatred that came along with it, and was a massive struggle for me through most of college.
The breaking point that brought the most pain was when I realized it wasn’t just myself, which is always ironic when you think about it being one of those secret sins, is with my sister. My sister came home one day while I was watching stuff and I tried my very hardest to shut things off before she could hear what video was playing. I had already admitted things to my family at that point, so they knew that it had been a struggle. But for me being the older sister and being the example, that was the most difficult because I felt like I had made a massive, massive mistake that I couldn’t come back from. Like I had just ruined my example for my sister. She had trouble speaking to me for awhile or looking me in the eyes, which I think was the hardest part because I felt like I had fallen down on the job with being a role model that I always tried to be for her. So that was probably the most painful experience.
I saw pornography for the first time when I was sixteen or seventeen. I was old enough to know what I was looking at and yet still so innocent that it seemed surreal. When my sister came in, that particular experience, I was probably twenty and that would have made her about sixteen. I’d say beyond that stuff though, I think what that set me up for unfortunately was a lot of pain in turns of sexual sin, mistakes that I willingly entered into in hopes of figuring things out. I think I had grown up in such a sheltered home and conservative church life that anything relating to sex was so taboo that I had to attempt to figure things out on my own as much as I knew in my heart it was wrong and that it was not even something that I needed to be thinking about, dwelling upon, or doing. So that honestly set me up for a lot of miscalculations on what I wanted versus what I needed, what I was doing with my time versus what God wanted me to be doing with my time, with my life, with relationships.
I dated a couple times, one pretty seriously and then things kind of went up in flames and that was after I moved down to Central Florida. That barely sustained the move from Tallahassee to Central Florida. And then I kind of went off the deep end and got involved with a group of co-workers that were very heavy drinkers. So I felt that was the best way to “deal” with my pain just because that helped things go away temporally but also it gave me an excuse to make poor choices. I dated a few different people who were not trustworthy and didn’t have my best interest at heart, and that further perpetuated my need to find someone or something that filled the void at the time.
And that evening did not go as I anticipated...
So I think this was summer of 2015. That summer I was hanging out with a co-worker who I thought was a friend and was impressed by all his talk about respecting women and this and that and the other. We were just hanging out and having a good time, it was actually July 4th, 2015. And that evening did not go as I anticipated, whatsoever. I was taken advantage of despite pleas of “no”, “this is not happening”, tears, and stuff like that. So I think though I pushed that so far deep that I told like two people after that. And it took me awhile to tell my family just because of the fact that he was still trying to contact me, even though he knew I was super upset with him and he has no understanding of the word “no”.
But I think that was really difficult and has been one of the most eye opening circumstances in terms of “What am I doing and why am I surrounding myself with people who would dare to think or do something that would be as harmful, disrespectful to me?”
Part two of Kristin's story is available here.