Think about your most embarrassing moment. It’s often when you were a kid , and your biggest concern was avoiding embarrassment at all cost. Or it could be at 30 years old like me, when I went a little heavy handed on the laxatives after surgery and pooped my bed! Everybody has a story, or a few, and the interesting thing about your most embarrassing moments are, they are only told to those you trust the most. It’s almost a seal of approval on new friendships or relationships. These stories are not a first date conversation or a getting to know you topic. They are reserved for those who have earned your trust.
One of the biggest silencers for me on my sexual assault was embarrassment. It’s strange how much power things that embarrass can have over you. You often hear victims stay silent because of shame or fear but I never heard much about staying silent because of embarrassment, and for me that was probably my biggest reason.
The other interesting thing about embarrassment is, that once you have healed from that situation it has zero power over you. Those moments that once left you paralyzed, now become your story, and biggest weapon to help others, and create stronger bonds. I am so very thankful for those safe people through out my life that I was able to share my moments with, free from judgment.
For those who are struggling with embarrassment from abuse, none of the embarrassment falls on you, that belongs ONLY to the abuser. I pray for safe people in your life, and freedom in your healing.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the parents of abuse victims, and how hard it must be for them, and the lack of support they often have. Now that I’m a Mom it hits me even harder, even just the thought of this happening to my daughter breaks my heart into a million pieces. Im so thankful I had a Mom who believed me, fought for me, and supported me when I told, and continues to support me today. I want to publicly thank her and let her know what it meant to me, I hope this will also bring encouragement to other parents as well.
Thank you Mom,
For believing me immediately, and for fighting for me, even when it wasn’t the outcome we wanted. That helped me to know I was valued and worth fighting for.
Thank you for putting me in counseling and always encouraging me to continue to seek healing as an adult. That helped me to be hopeful, believe healing was possible, and that I wasn’t a lost cause or damaged beyond repair.
Thank you for allowing me to heal on my own terms and timeline. That helped me to be ok with not being ok, and that I was loved unconditionally.
Thank you for continuing to stand up and fight for me, even when you were being attacked and lied about by my abuser. This taught me to stand up for what’s right, even when it’s hard and scary, and people are against me. This made me brave.
Thank you for honoring my boundaries. This helped me to stick up for myself, and my boundaries without shame.
Thank you for being strong for me when I’m sure all you wanted to do was fall apart. This made my healing possible.
I attended this conference last week, and it was chalked full of insightful, helpful and life giving information. It left me feeling incredibly hopeful for the future in and out of the church. Here is my personal highlight reel on this two day conference. Here is the live stream
Powerful quotes from Valued
“ Your son has a much higher chance of being sexually assaulted than he does of being falsely accused of sexual assault. A much, much higher chance.”
“Justice is always done. It either falls on the abuser or, if he repents, it falls on the Redeemer. But Justice is always done because evil is real and it matters to God, and it should matter to us.”
“The grace of God is not proven by the foolishness of allowing perpetrators to serve in places where they can abuse again.”
“I have never had to tell a Christian abuse survivor ‘you need to start thinking about forgiveness.’ Why on earth would I cut down a wounded person like that?”
“You are not guilty for the sin and crime done to you.”
“I’m tired of abusive Christian leaders getting away with abuse for years because of the ‘great things they’ve done for God.’ Enough!
“Anger is not a sin. It’s actually a really good response to being sinned against…Justice and holiness is who God is…God is angrier than you are.”
“For more than a decade, with the exception of last year…the number one reason that churches are found liable in the federal court system is for sexual assault on church property.”
“It’s proper to use the word trauma for sexual abuse. Sexual abuse survivors are second only to war vets in suffering from PTSD.”
Things Parents and Caregivers can do to Protect Children.
1 in 5 children will be sexualy assaulted before 18.
Most children know their attacker.
34% are family members.
59% are acquaintances.
7% are strangers.
40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by older, or more powerful children.
9 helpful tips to teach children.
Explain to your child that God made their body. God made them and called them very good. Their body has integrity.
Teach proper names for private parts.
Inviting Communication on this subject
Teaching about touch. Inappropriate and appropriate.
Don’t ask a child to maintain emotions.
Throw out the word secret and replace it with surprise.
Clarify rules for playing doctor. Use stuffed animals or broken toys not people. Your body is not a game.
Churches should have policies and procedures that will protect children, along with providing child-protection training to all its members. At minimum, these policies should address such basic issues such as the following.
Background screenings for all church workers and volunteers; this must not be limited to simply a criminal background check.
Parameters related to adult-child on and off church property, including physical contact, in-person interactions, electronic communications, and privacy issues.
Similar type of parameters related to child-on-child contact.
Offer personal safety classes to children and youth. Such classes should
Teach younger children the parts of their body covered by a bathing suit are not to be touched by an adult.
Teach older youth ways to guard against becoming too “attached” to a non-parental adult, including, but not limited to, being alone with adults.
Educate older youth about how sexual offenders think and act.
Instruct children of all ages what to do if they are inappropriately touched or simply uncomfortable around a certain adult or peer.
Explain to all youth the difference between sinning and being the victim of sin.
Identify and make available qualified resources for youth who have been abused.
Responding with Excellence
Rejecting the culture of rebuke and silence.
Being prepared to respond. Develop a policy that provides a specific protocol for the way the institution will address abuse disclosures.
Make sure that the allegations have been reported to law enforcement.
Make sure that the child does not have contact with the alleged perpetrator while on church property or at church events.
“I’m continually blown away at the strength of survivors telling their stories. After years of abuse they know that telling their story will garner attacks by ignorant people, and they still tell. All the more reason we need to encourage and honor survivors. ” Jimmy Hinton
Survivor stories will play a huge role in decreasing the statistics on sexual assault. I’m thankful our culture is starting to listen and want to be educated on this epidemic. Here are a few ways Survivor stories will play a powerful role in that.
They will help us understand and identify all the different type predators and the methods they use to abuse.
A great example of two different ways predators operate have been shown recently in the two documentaries, Surviving R Kelly and Leaving Neverland. R Kelly used his fame and young girls wanting to make it in the music industry. Then once he got them isolated from their families he was controlling, cruel and used fear to abuse them. Micheal Jackson also used his fame to his advantage, but instead of using fear to control he convinced his victims that he was the victim, and needed them to help him not be lonely and to make up for his lost childhood. He used love and gifts to abuse them.
Survivors telling their stories also help other survivors begin their healing process. No matter what your story is, it’s important and helpful. I think often times people shy away from sharing their story because they think they didn’t have it as bad as someone else, and that is absolutely untrue. If you remember everything or if your memories are fuzzy both of your stories are important. If your abuse occurred over years or it was only once, both stories are valid and helpful. If you knew your abuser or it was a stranger, both stories need to be heard. If you told and turned your abuser in or you have never told a single soul, both stories will be relatable to someone. If you are healed or just starting the process both stories can help save lives. Both men and and women’s stories are equally as important and desperately need to be heard. All stories matter.
Survivors stories help us better educate and teach our children how to protect themselves, as well as making it harder for predators to operate.
I pray that our world will be a kinder and safer space for these stories to be told, and for those telling their stories now, I stand with you, and respect you pushing through the evil for the greater good.
Have you ever read a book you wish everyone would read, not just because it’s written well but because it’s gonna help save lives? That’s exactly how I feel aboutRid Of My Disgraceby Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. This book was crucial in my healing from sexual assault. The book has a wealth of knowledge, not only for survivors but for anyone who wants to help in the prevention, education, and support of sexual assault victims. I’m going to highlight some of my favorite parts of the book, and what was particularly helpful for me. But do yourself a favor and read this book.
“Disgrace destroys, causes pain, deforms, and wounds. It alienates and isolates.” “Grace is love that seeks you out even if you have nothing to give in return.” The book starts off with these two definitions and immediately I was hooked. Unlike the millions of the books I had read on this subject, I could tell this one was going toget to the heart of the issue and be a tool for real healing.
The first part of the book really goes into detail defining what sexual assault is and the effects it has on the victim. One quote that really struck a chord with me was, “Many victims feel the effects of sexual assault but are isolated or confused because they believed a popular misconception of what sexual assault entails.” One of the ways I would cope with being a survivor was to minimize the traumas that happened to me, and this lengthy explanation helped me to fully understand and grieve the sins committed against me.
The last part of the book has survivors stories, which is such a powerful, helpful, and hard thing to hear, but it really made me feel less alone and more understood. The book ends on healing and handing over your wounds to Jesus, our healer. This book left me feeling so loved by God, and so hopeful for my future. I’ll end this with another beautiful truth from the book. “Grace re-creates what violence destroyed.”
I hope this book is as helpful to you as it was to me.
I knew that the day I became a Mom, childcare, sleepovers, church camps, and all of the fun childhood events would be a serious struggle. I prayed and prayed while I was pregnant for help to hand this worry over to God.
When my baby was five months old, I found out the most heartbreaking news- my abuser had other victims. After this, my fear for putting my daughter in childcare grew immensely and I found myself dropping out of commitments that involved childcare. I was one of the rare victims that actually told and turned in my abuser while it was happening, but unfortunately, our system has failed children and sexual assault victims for far too long, and he was free to continue to abuse. And he did.
I was talking to a friend and fellow survivor about how she handled childcare with her kids and how she’s not in a constant panic. She wisely told me that the same grace that God gave us to get through it, will be the same grace God will give our kids with whatever hardships they go through, and the best things we can do as parents is to talk and educate our kids on this subject from a young age.
One incredibly helpful book for kids on this subject is God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsay Holcomb. I have already read this to my one- and a half-year-old, and will continue to read and discuss this with her as she gets older. The entire book is helpful, but I especially like the last page where they talk aboutnine ways to protect your children from sexual abuse.
Explain to your child that God made their body.
Teach proper names for private body parts.
Invite your child’s communication.
Talk about touches.
Don’t ask your child to maintain your emotions.
Throw out the word “secret.”
Clarify rules for playing “doctor.”
Identify whom to trust.
Report suspected abuse immediately.
I’m incredibly thankful for wise friendships and great educational books on this subject to help with the prevention of abuse and to help ease this worried Mama’s heart.