'I had to forgive and move on'
Sexually abused as a young boy, David Robinson was to meet his abuser many years later when he turned up, begging for forgiveness
Sexually abused as a young boy, David Robinson was to meet his abuser many years later when he turned up, begging for forgiveness. LORRAINE WYLIE tells the story
At first glance, David Robinson doesn’t appear to be anyone’s idea of a helpless victim. His bearded grin and sense of humour may have earned him a reputation as one of life’s amicable and decent blokes. But underneath the outward charm lies a spirit that refuses to be broken.
As a pioneer in Christian broadcasting, David has been among those responsible for the spread of the Gospel throughout the nation of Ireland. He is also one of the faces behind the statistics for sexual abuse.
"The abuse started when I was a very naive seven years old,” David explains. “As a country lad, I loved helping out at a nearby farm, but it was there I lost my innocence and was introduced to a paralysing fear. The physical pain was equally unbearable. My abuser bought my silence by warning me that if I told anyone, he would kill my mother. I was terrified.
“Ever since my dad had walked off and left us a few years earlier, my mum had taken on the role of provider for our young family. There was never enough money around and rural life was hard. But, she managed. My mum was the centre of my world. Losing her was the thing I feared most.”
David’s abuse continued for months and every incident seemed to last an eternity. The young boy hugged his secret and bore the pain in silence. But, while his brutal physical injuries eventually healed, there were other scars that refused to disappear.
"Perhaps the worst legacy of abuse of this nature is the awful burden of guilt. Logically, I knew I had done nothing wrong, but the weight of culpability weighed heavily on my shoulders.”
It was almost 40 years before David could speak of his abuse.
“After decades of carrying my burden, I eventually began to write my story in a book I have entitled He Called Me Son. By this stage in my life, I’d discovered the wonderful, unconditional nature of God’s love and had embraced the Christian faith.
“One night during prayer, I told God about my painful past and as the words came pouring out, the emotional dam burst. For the first time, I felt free. The sense of relief was incredible! My recovery began at that precise moment. It was an amazing journey of, not only self-discovery, but of getting to know the path God had led out for me.”
As David embarked on his mission of broadcasting the good news, the pathway toward total healing also became clear.
“I learned that if was ever to be free from my abuser, I had to forgive him. There was no option because if I didn’t let it go, the memory would continue to abuse me. I could choose whether or not to remain a victim but in doing so, I would allow my abuser to have power over me. In the end, and in the light of God’s amazing, unconditional love, I had to forgive and move on.”
Freed from the shackles of the past, David did indeed move forward with his life and embarked on his ministry of helping others escape the chains of sexual abuse. Very often, he was invited to speak to a church audience on the subject.
“It was amazing how God would lead me to talk about this sensitive issue. On one occasion, I had the privilege of leading two sisters, each abused by their father, into the freedom of forgiveness.”
However, David’s decision to forgive was put to the test when, in an ironic twist of fate, his abuser turned up at his door seeking forgiveness.
“Many years had passed, but as soon as the elderly man spoke I knew who he was. I could never forget that voice. I invited him into our home and, for a few moments we exchanged pleasantries. I have to admit it was a surreal experience. Then, out of the blue, he asked me to forgive him for what he had done to me. Apparently his actions had tortured him for years.
“We both stood and, in the familiar surroundings of my living room, I forgave him. I also explained that it was God who enabled me to extend such liberating compassion. I’d love to say that he left my home a different man and with Christ in his heart. But all he took away was a sense of absolution.
“Still, I pray that he too will come to know the Lord and I will meet him again in heaven for I don’t believe it would be complete without him.”
Today, David and his wife continue to serve God, especially in the sensitive and painful area of freeing victims of sexual abuse. When asked if he has any advice for sufferers, he has this to say.
“The only true way toward healing and freedom is to be able to forgive. By doing this you will find the route of escape and be able to relinquish the role of ‘victim’ and move on toward the calling God has for your life.
“It is not your fault that you were chosen to endure this torture. But, through Christ, you have the power to leave it where it belongs, in the past and look to the glorious future!”
• He Called Me Son by David Robinson is available from Amazon price £9.50
If you have been abused and need to talk to someone, or are concerned about someone you know, the following organisations can help:
Call the 24-hour confidential helpline run by the independent Christian safeguarding charity CCPAS on 0845 120 4550.
Into The Light, PO Box 64427 London W5 9HA