Personal Stories: Graham O’Leary's story
I Was Sexually Abused And Warned Of Hell Fire And Damnation To Keep My Mouth Shut
My name is Graham O’Leary, 46, married with two kids, a worship pastor and have an album out.
This was not always the case though, I was abused by a minister in my teens and this totally wrecked my life, my future, my marriage and relationships with friends and my kids.
But one glorious day in September 2002 God stepped in and instantly healed me of over 25 years of depression and pain due to the abuse and restored my life, my marriage, my family and I now live to tell the story of God's amazing power and mercy and grace in my life through testimony, worship and song.
I would like to share with you that no matter what you have gone through in your life, or are going through now, there is one who cares and his name is Jesus.
I was brought up in church from a young age, was in the choir and lived a normal childhood until the age of 14.
The church we were in at the time made us have counselling sessions on a one-to-one basis with the minister. It was at this time that over a period of 18 months or so I was sexually abused and given money to be quiet, and also warned of all sorts of hell fire and damnation to keep my mouth shut.
I was so scared, felt so dirty and useless. It was all my fault, I could have stopped it, I should have told, etc etc. As the guilt grew so did the fear of the abuser and what he would do if I said anything, and so the cycle continued.
I was given £100 or so a time in cash, and as I could not take this home to my parents and let them know I had it, so the cycle of spending it began. I found out that eating sweets and take-aways seemed to dull the pain so I could easily spend that amount of money on food in a day. But this was never enough, I began to spend any money I could get on food in the hope of dulling the pain I felt inside and this just grew and grew.
Eventually the church closed, the minister died and I was left feeling so alone and guilty and dirty and had such a pain in my heart that I did not know how or what to do, so carried on with what I knew. I tried to live a Christian life but was being eaten away from the inside. I was working but spent all my money on food to try and dull the pain, but each year that passed i needed more money and more food as the effects kept getting less and less.
I got married and after a few years got us into serious debt and caused all sorts of problems in my family, i could never tell anyone why I was acting like I did because the shame and the fear and the guilt were destroying me inside, and now destroying me on the outside too.
Let me just say here that it is never the abused person’s fault for what happens to them! The fault is 100% with the abuser, no one else.
I spent more and more, got bigger and bigger, until I reached 34 stones!
My marriage started to fail, we went through churches like water, as soon as a hint of trouble came my way I was off. I could not sit in a room with men, or in small groups, I would not go to parties or get involved with anything intimate in church or elsewhere and no one knew why.
I suffered from severe depression, I spent a year on the sofa watching DVDs and eating, I could not hold down a job, I tried to commit suicide a couple of times and almost succeeded once but my wife just caught me going out the window from our 6th floor flat and pulled me back in.
Things got so bad that my wife eventually left me and I was having counselling but found it so difficult that I would lie to them and never tell the real reason why I was like I was.
By the year 2000 I had given up on church, on God and on life.
I had no hope, no future and with everything in pieces I resigned myself to my lot in life and thought that at least I could just eat and drink and watch DVDs all hours of the day and night until this painful life ended.
My wife walked out one Friday saying she could take no more.
At this time in complete despair I had been crying out to God to help me, and when I was as low as I could go, God began to step in and very slowly bring some change and some courage to me.
After a blazing row with my wife one evening I just sat on the sofa and sobbed uncontrollably and she finally twigged what was going on and asked me if I had been abused. Then the whole story came flooding out and she took some bold steps to see me get help and try and sort this out, for which I am really grateful,
I was put on tablets for depression, etc. I went to a counsellor who had been abused himself and he really began to help me see that it was not my fault and that God loved me and wanted to heal me etc of all the years of pain and lies.
Things slowly changed, I think the weight of knowing that someone else at last knew my guilty dirty secret as I thought it, was a release.
To cut a longer story short, things kept changing slowly until on Sunday September 8th 2002 at 3:15pm, I told my church minister what had happened to me and why I was such a pain in his church!
He was brilliant, very caring and understanding and nothing like I expected him to react happened. We left there and as we drove away I felt what was like these steel bands just loosening from my chest. I started to feel light (which is a miracle for me) and all the way home i was filled with such freedom and joy and all the pain and sadness and depression just instantly lifted away!
I know now that by coming full circle and trusting my minister and telling him, God used that to bring me the freedom I so desperately needed. I awoke the next morning expecting to be the same as usual but was full of life and joy and feeling so amazing that I just was dumbfounded at the saving power of Jesus and what he had done for me.
Since that day, I have released a praise-and-worship album, spoke on radio, Premier, UCB and even Mike Rimmer interviewed me at Grapevine one year which was cool! had my story in magazines and been able to share my story at different churches around the country. What the devil tried to destroy me with, God turned into good and now I thank him so much that my album and my story are touching and reaching peoples’ lives who have been through similar to me.
I am still on the journey, things still happen or memories still surface and sometimes I don’t cope very well but I know that God is with me and he helps me and strengthens me to get through and move on the next level.
So as I write this today in Oct 08 I have come a long way since 2002, yet still have a long way to go as well. But with God on my side I know without a doubt that I will not fail ! My marriage was saved, my kids are all living for God, I have my own company and am involved in worship and music etc and I thank God for those who over this time have remained true and faithful in their friendship and dealings with me and allowed me to walk my journey knowing that good people are around me to help me through.
If you have been blessed or encouraged by my testimony, or would like me to come and share it at your church or event, please message me or write on my wall and we can arrange something.
My album is called Solid Rock, and I know that my life now is unshakable and unmovable because I am standing on the Solid Rock. Jesus Christ
Bless you for reading