By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
It took strength and courage for Sheron Baptiste to share her personal experience of molestation and sexual abuse during a panel discussion held last week.
But after it was done, the Bahamian author felt like a burden had been lifted off shoulders, and her soul.
She hopes the wheels have been set in motion for the conversation to continue about what is one of the most traumatic ordeals a child can experience in life.
The panel discussion was held last week and was organised by the author because she no longer wanted to live in silence like so many who have suffered the same fate.
She thought it would do a lot more good to put a spotlight on the traumatic and uncomfortably painful topic which is seldom discussed in a public forum.
Sheron was born and raised on Grand Bahama.
Unlike some children who enjoyed their childhood, feeling protected and engaging in child-like activities, Sheron’s childhood was marred by sexual abuse at the hands of men who were considered “friends of the family”.
“There were multiple occasions when I was molested by family friends. There was someone that lived with us and he would wake me up at night," she told Tribune Woman. She was sexually assaulted by this man.
Sheron does not remember how long these episodes went on for. But she does remember it happening numerous times.
Then, when she was 12 years old, a different man raped her.
Sheron said she had to learn how to put up her defenses early on, which eventually stopped the perpetrators.
“Both stopped when I became aggressively angry. I can't really explain it, but it wasn’t until I showed anger and not fear that things changed,” she said.
Though she had the courage to stand up for herself, she never told anyone what had happened to her.
“I never told anyone because I was afraid that I would be blamed for the situation. None of my molesters were convicted. I could not bring myself to talk about it for many years. I understand when a person says that they would rather not say anything because of fear or shame,” she said.
But now she is encouraging victims to speak out “as loud and as much as you can.”
“I never sought professional help. I was poor. I only had prayer and the Bible. In reading the Bible I became a believer in Jesus Christ and my belief in Him has helped me to get over many hurdles,” she said.
Today, Sheron is the author of “The Molested Fornicator”, and she hopes her book brings healing and hope to all who read it.
“I am an author because of my belief in Jesus Christ as Lord. The title, ‘The Molested Fornicator’, came from the title I gave myself. I would always refer to myself as a molested fornicator, then one night I had an incident, something scary happened to me, and I heard the Lord say, ‘Who can love the molested fornicator? That showed me that there is a God who sees and knows me in the midst of all the mess. So I titled the book that,” she said.
“What I would like readers to take from this book is the understanding that there is hope and courage. Life does not stop; you are still valuable and loved by God.”
As to what she would tell others who may find themselves in a similar situation, she said:
“My advice to anyone is to forgive. Regardless of whether a person is religious or not…it is important that you forgive yourself and the person that abused you. Forgiveness heals the soul.”
Sheron said she hopes to host several more panel discussions to keep the conversation going.
“The event was a success and I do believe that that will not be the last event. We left no stones uncovered. We talked about the effect (of abuse) and how we can watch out for the children so that it won't happen in the future. I hope that there are more events to raise awareness,” she said.
“The Molested Fornicator” is available for purchase on Amazon.