Garlena Hines: 'Don't Give Up, Don't Back Down'
By Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club
“I was five years old when I was first molested. The molestation went on from the age of 5 to 19. My life was never the same after that.”
Like most abused children, Garlena Hines was molested by someone she knew.
“I am thinking, ‘When will this ever stop? Is this how my life is going to be? Somebody’s going to always be violating me, touching me?’”
By her teen years, shame over what had happened turned to anger and severe behavioral problems. Since Garlena didn’t grow up with a father, her mother felt a role model would help her. That’s when a 42-year-old married male cousin offered to help.
“It started with, ‘Let’s just walk on the pier to get the breeze ,’ and I’m thinking this is ok, but we are holding hands as if we are a couple. Maybe there is something wrong with that.”
When Garlena turned 14, her 44-year-old cousin took her to a hotel room.
“So on my way to the hotel, I am thinking, ‘This is not something I want to do.’ Before the night was over, I had lost my virginity – something I knew I could never ever get back.”
Garlena had always gone to church with her mother. One Sunday, the preacher got her attention.
“The minister was talking on the reality of hell. In the middle of his sermon, I get up and I walk to the altar. He looks and he say, ‘Somebody get this child.’ And I say, ‘No, I don’t want to go to hell. ‘Cause if I die now I’m going to go to hell.’ The lady took me aside, and she began to pray for me. She gave me the plan of salvation, and I felt so cleansed at that point. I wanted to tell everybody.”
That included telling her cousin who was molesting her.
“I said to him, ‘Guess what? I gave my life to Christ. I’m not going to hell.’ He says to me, ‘That doesn’t mean we have to stop sleeping together.’ And everything in me like crushed. And I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I’m stuck.’”
Although Garlena says she asked Jesus to save her, she didn’t let Him become the Lord of her life. She and her cousin’s sexual activity continued until she was 19.
“It did something for me internally, emotionally. I was in the church and understanding what I am doing. The stronghold he had over me was strong, and I didn’t have enough in me to break it or fight it. I couldn’t tell anybody who could help me pull away from it.”
After Garlena graduated from high school, her cousin lost interest in her and stopped calling. She went to college and started dating other men. Then one night she was raped by a friend. Garlena didn’t tell anyone, and it became just another secret in a lifetime filled with secrets and shame.
“I made a vow to take revenge on every man that I could, whether that meant tearing up homes, tearing up marriages. I had a vendetta.”
She continued, “If I broke up a marriage, I didn’t care. I moved to the next marriage and to the next marriage and to the next marriage.”
Garlena became pregnant with twins from one of her affairs. At five months, she miscarried and lost both babies. Shortly after that, she made the decision to end her life.
“I heard this bird just chirping. It began to become distracting. Now I’m on my way to kill myself, but I’m being distracted from killing myself. I heard the voice of God for the first time. God said to me, ‘If I can take care of the sparrow, I can take care of you.’ I dropped my keys. I fell on the floor and said, ‘God, thank you. Get me out of this.”
During a New Years Eve church service, Garlena made a decision.
“My pastor got up and said, ‘We’re going to be free in ’93.’ That was the word I needed. There was no bolt of lightning. There was no altar call. I didn’t fall out. Nobody laid hands on me. But at that moment, I felt something break in me. The greatest thing that night was, after everything I’ve done whether it was my fault or not, He still loved me. He hadn’t changed His mind about me. His plan for my life hadn’t changed.”
Garlena started developing a relationship with God.
“I went after God with all of my heart. I wanted God. I hungered and thirst after Him. I wanted Him more than I wanted any relationship or any man. That was the turning point of the transformation.”
Over time, the biggest part of her healing came when she forgave her abusers.
“Matthew 6:14 helped me, and it says if you don’t forgive those who trespass against you, your father in heaven won’t forgive you. God showed me how to walk in love. Forgiveness sometimes is the best justice.”
Today, Garlena is raising her 14-year-old niece. She’s also written a book and helps other women who have been abused.
“I encourage women everywhere I go that they can be free. They can be whole.”
Garlena has a message that isn’t just for abused victims but for everyone who needs to know that God hasn’t forgotten them.
“God wants to heal you. He doesn’t want you to stay broken. He don’t want you to stay torn. He came that you will have a whole life and have it in Him. It took me seven years. Don’t give up. Don’t back down. Don’t forget to fight because God wants you to be free.”
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