Kay Warren, the wife of Saddleback pastor Rick Warren, has opened up about her lifelong journey of recovery from childhood sexual abuse, saying that each day is bringing her closer to the "complete healing that my soul longs for".
She said that her experience of being abused at the back of a church auditorium as a six-year-old caused her to struggle with feelings of shame and anxiety, as well as pornography in later life.
Warren was a guest speaker at the Caring Well conference held by the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to equip Christians in confronting the crisis of abuse in the Church.
She said that because of the "sexually repressed household" that she grew up in, in which talk of sex was "shameful", she felt unable to share what had happened.
"I didn't tell anybody," she said.
"I didn't have words for it, I didn't have language. Somehow I knew it was bad, and I blotted it instantly out of mind. And as far as I was concerned, it was buried."
The effects emerged as she got older, though, and influenced how she perceived her body, sex and relationships, with "shameful" sexual attractions causing her to feel like two different people, she shared.
"I was curious, but my curiosity could not be satisfied talking to my parents because of their very repressed and uncomfortable attitudes," she said.
"Anxiety and depression and shameful sexual attractions and actions divided me into a good girl on the outside, and in my mind, a bad girl on the inside."
By the time she met Rick at college, she says she did not feel "worthy" to be with him and although they went on to marry, she said there was an "undercurrent of pain", and that it that took therapy to help her overcome the feelings of shame and see her husband as a safe person to be with.
She went on to say that her healing continues to this day and that there is "not a one-size-fits-all recovery process" for survivors of abuse.
"I wish that I could say today that there is no longer any effects of the abuse," she said.
In a word specifically for the church, she challenged believers to go deeper in their support for abuse survivors, saying that all too often, Christians can expect "the big bow on top of the package that says, 'This is the way it used to be, but praise God that's no longer true and that's not possible and everything's been healed and everything's fine.'"
"And sometimes it happens that way, but sometimes, in this life, it doesn't," she said.
She added that recovery is something that is happening every day of her life.
"Every day is one day closer to the total and complete healing that my soul longs for, and it's coming, and it's mine, and it will be mine forever on that glorious resurrection day," she said.