Leaving a Deeply Troubled Past Behind
By Rod Thomas
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“We threw a party in my room on my floor and we were all drinking. And at some point there were a lot of people in our room and then not a lot of people in our room,” Ashley Abercrombie remembers. When the party ended, Ashley passed out from drinking too much, but, she was not alone.
A year earlier, Ashley left her small town to attend college. She was anxious to pursue a career in fashion and textile design. “I came from a 15,000 person town and then stepped on a college that was twice the size as my home town,” she recalls. “I honestly thought like I would leave my home town and just change the world.”
Ashley attended college on a full-ride academic scholarship and plugged right into campus life. “I pursued the same things that I had in high school. I joined the student government for my first semester, I got involved in the crew team at NC State and started, rowing as an athlete.”
But there was trouble back at home. Her parents divorced during her freshman year and Ashley was devastated. “It was actually hard on me because I felt like, ‘oh, where’s the solid ground?’ here I am in this brand new place and then I’m not even sure about home any more.”
Ashley didn’t talk to anyone about the mounting stress in her life. “I developed an eating disorder called bulimia. So that is one way that I dealt with the pressure. That also meant that I could hide and not have to share with people because I could be behind closed doors and express this emotion, even though it was in an unhealthy way”
In fact, Ashley was able to keep up her grades and activities for a while. But over time, she lost her grip on who she was. She went from respected student athlete to party girl “I started drinking all the time. The only way to cope with being in a cage was just to drink more or, binge and purge or to do a drug, anything that would keep me disconnected from, who I was,” she said. Her grades also suffered. She was placed on academic probation and quit the rowing team. “There were some days that I couldn’t even get out of bed and I would be going to classes or doing things with my friends, but not really there, not really present.”
One night after Ashley and her friends partied in her dorm room, she passed out from drinking too much; and a man waited for her friends to leave, intending to rape her. “When I came to again, the first thing I actually remember picturing is my underwear on the floor. And I’m thinking, “what is going on?” And then coming to and realizing like, ‘oh, my god, this is really happening. This is really happening to me.’ And not being able to fight and not being able to say anything other than, ‘no’ and ‘stop.’ there’s nothing you can do. I mean, it’s a helpless moment and complete loss of control, a complete violation of everything a person is,” she remembers.
The rapist was a popular student athlete, and Ashley never pressed charges. “I wasn’t sure anybody would believe me, being the party girl that I was, I’m sure they would have just thought that I just chose to sleep with this athlete.” After the attack, Ashley left school. “In a weird way it sort of sobered me, that the lifestyle I was leading, had taken me to a place I never wanted to go.”
Ashley eventually moved to California, but she soon realized that even a move across the country could not erase her past. “Wherever you go, there you are. I just wanted bulimia to be done. I just wanted the memories to go away. I just wanted the pain to go away and that didn’t help me address any of the real issues by just wanting things to go away.”
Ashley started working at a restaurant where several of the wait staff were Christians. She noticed a difference in they way they lived. “These people had this life on the inside of them. Now I know what it is, but at the time I just didn’t know how to describe it, I just knew I wanted it,” she said. “We’d go out for coffee and we’d go out for dinners; and then it wasn’t too long after that that I asked them, like ‘hey, can I come to church with you guys?’”
Ashley heard a woman at church share a story that was similar to her own “it was the power of the story that started to set me free. And so I gave my life to Christ that day.”
Ashley was healed from bulimia, and as she learned more about God, she understood that she no longer had to hide behind a mask of shame. “As I began to renew my mind in Christ; and what that simply meant to me was learning my value. Studying Psalm 139, where God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I was so unlovable and God found a way to reach me, and God found a way to touch me, and god found a way to restore my life and God found people that were willing to be with me when I was unlovable.”
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