It gets better.

It gets better,

little by little and day by day.

It gets better,

you find your voice and the shame fades away.

It gets better,

you’re freed from the anger and love takes its place.

It gets better,

lies lose their power and truth finds its way.

It gets better,

you find hope in the hopeless and help others do the same.

Forgiveness

“To forgive is to “swallow” evil and prevent it from going further.” Tolstoy

2010 was a huge year for me, I turned 30, went to Africa and London, but nothing would compare to the miraculous gift God gave me that year.

While I was in Africa, we were talking one evening with some of the people of the village and they were telling us there were a lot of young girls pregnant because the men in that village were raping them. Because they were pregnant they were kicked out of school and the men were not being held accountable in any way. They were understandably outraged as was I. I couldn’t talk or hear another word, I went to my room and cried all night. That was the angriest I have ever felt, I truly hated those men and felt I could have killed them in that moment.

After that trip, I was still completely heartbroken for those girls and processing a lot. I was in a church service and the topic was on forgiveness. I felt God nudge me to write a letter to my dad ( my abuser).

I wanted nothing to do with that. I told God I wouldn’t do it unless it was sincere, and the only thing I was sincere about with my dad was how much I hated him. God kept nudging me to just write. I finally started and as I began to type the first word the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me and completely melted my hard heart towards my dad. Jesus wrecked me with his grace and forgiveness for me. I felt free and so completely loved by God. I was free from being enslaved to my anger, I was freed from being a victim and I was free to let God handle and judge the sins of abusers. Forgiveness for my abuser was a miracle that only God could perform and was a life changing amazing gift to receive.

The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He rules the world in righteousness and judges the people with equity. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:7-10

Beneta was my safe person.

We all need a safe person, and Beneta was mine. Beneta was my mom’s best friend. They met at church while my mom was pregnant with me and my twin brother. Even while writing this, I realized God’s grace in bringing her into my life while I was still in the womb, knowing that He would use her in such a huge way in my life.

Beneta was so many wonderful things, a truly uniquely gifted woman in almost every way. But what always stood out to me the most was what a godly, compassionate women she was.

Beneta was a survivor of sexual assault from a family member. She became a Christian counselor and helped a lot of people, including myself.

One of the biggest lies I believed when I was younger, was that I was dirty and washed up, and that no Christian man would ever want me. The thought of having to explain to my future husband that my dad was my abuser just shackled me with shame. I felt hopeless.

Beneta’s life made me feel hopeful, she was married to a godly man, was a wonderful mother, and was using her hardships to help others- all in the name of Jesus. I admired her so much and wanted my life to be like hers.

Beneta passed away in 1999. I was 19 years old at that time, and weeks before she passed, she helped me write one of the hardest letters of my life. I miss her so much, and cherish the time I had with her. I’m so thankful God used her to bring me closer to Him.

I wrote her a letter after her passing and I’ll end this the same way I did when I was 19.

I can’t wait to sing with you heaven.

A weighty issue on abuse.

I was recently listening to a popular podcast and they were talking about how overweight people just lacked discipline and if they could just figure that out for 90 days, losing weight would be no problem. It made me cringe thinking about the overweight people listening and being put in this “you must be lazy” box if you’re overweight. When I personally know that a lot of the reason comes from horrific pain and trauma.

I’ve struggled with weight my whole life and it’s the worst. It’s a struggle that not only you have to deal with, but everyone else gets to see and judge as well.

I’m a survivor of sexual assault and my abuser was my Dad. In his eyes, the worst thing that you could ever be was overweight, so that’s exactly what I wanted to be. I remember gaining weight on purpose around the age 15 just to stick it to him; I was so full of anger and hate towards him. Looking back now as an adult, I also see that it was a way to protect myself from him and make myself unattractive to him and any other man that was like him.

Jesus has healed and freed me so much from this abuse and feeling like a victim, but this food issue I have is still something I need to fully surrender. Even as I started this blog, knowing that I was going to have to talk about hard subjects, I noticed my bad habits of turning to food for comfort and protection was in full force.

We are all made in God’s image, there is no one perfect body type. If someone is struggling with over eating, or not eating enough, please be kind. You never know what they are trying to heal from.

3 helpful ways to respond to a survivors story.

This post is meant for adults who have been abused in the past. If someone is a minor or is currently being abused, they need help immediately. http://rain.org  has great resources on how to help. Their hotline is available 24/7 at 800.656.4673.

When a survivor is telling you their story, they are letting you in on a very private part of their life. It’s an incredibly vulnerable and hard thing to share. It’s also a hard thing to hear and often hard to know how to respond appropriately. I’ve recieved some hurtful responses by well-meaning people who just had a lack of understanding on this subject. Here are some of my insights on helpful responses.

1. Just listen.

Let them lead the conversation and reveal the details they are comfortable with sharing. It’s human nature to want to know all the details, but don’t ask for them. When a survivor is telling you any part of their story they are reliving a very traumatic event. The most helpful response is listening without prying.

2. Tell them you believe them.

If someone says they have been a victim, just believe them. The majority of victims truly have nothing to gain by opening up and, for most, it’s an embarrassing and shameful thing to admit. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, false reporting on sexual assault is between 2% and 10%. Every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and every 11 minutes, that victim is a child. Please just believe them.

3. Ask them how you can support them.

Everyone feels supported differently and by simply asking that question, they can share how they want to be supported. A few of the ways I’ve felt most supported have been a simple “Thank you for sharing” or “How can I pray for you?” Encouraging words go along way and have made me feel heard, believed, and cared for.

My survivor story.

I have a sweet friend who is battling Stage 4 cancer for the second time. Whenever she tells her story to someone new she starts with, “My story is a God story.” I love her for that- for so many reasons. That is exactly how I feel about my story.

My abuser is my biological father. He abused me in all forms, but sexual abuse was the most frequent. I remember it starting at the age of three, and the last incident occured when I was 18 years old.

One of the first attacks from my dad that I remember was when we’re left alone for some reason and as soon as we were, he immediately grabbed me and put me in his room. His whole demeanor changed but his eyes changed and that scared me the most. They looked completely different- they were dark and his pupils were huge. I was too young to understand what was happening, but I knew it was bad. My heart began to beat out of my chest, and just when the abuse began I felt an overwhelming wave of protection come over me. I didn’t feel a thing, and I was in complete peace. I was too young to know that was God, but as soon as I heard about Jesus, I knew with all my heart that was Him.

My next abuser was my high school boyfriend. I was 19 years old when he raped me. It was a one-time incident and I dated him another two years after this happened.

To this day almost no one knows this part of my story, but if I want my story to be helpful to other survivors and create awareness, I have to be completely honest.

I’m still working through why I’ve hidden this more than the abuse from my dad. I know one of the reasons was because I didn’t want to be known as the girl who was abused by her dad and also the girl who was raped. I didn’t want to deal with this happening to me again, so I buried it deep inside and tried my best to act like it never happened.

After the rape, I went into the darkest place I have ever been, and stayed in that place for years. Through those years God never left me and patiently guided me through my healing, anger, and doubts.

As I was writing this, God put this verse on my heart. Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” I thank God for using some of my darkest and hardest times to help others who have been through the same.

A message to the R.Kelly survivors.

For those of you unfamiliar with the R. Kelly documentary here is an article to fill you in. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/04/arts/music/surviving-r-kelly.html

To the brave women who shared their story, thank you and I believe you. I believe you. I believe you.

Thank you for standing up against your abuser and standing up for the other victims. As a survivor myself, I know how painful and hard it is to tell your story, to relive the horrendous memories and the nightmares. It’s an incredibly vulnerable place to put yourself in and I have the utmost respect for you all.

You did the right thing.

Thank you for being a voice on a subject that is so misunderstood and often is left unspoken of. Thank you for being a part of the change to bring light into this darkness.

Thank you for your bravery to speak out in such a public way ,that you were able to reach hurting people all over the world. I pray that the amount of people you were able to help gives you peace and strength in your journey of healing.

I’m so sorry you had to go through this.

I pray that you all know how valuable and loved you are, how important your lives are and that the only one who should be feeling any shame is R Kelly.

Matthew 10:26-31

”So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your hair are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”