Tag Archives: Sexual Abuse

Scarred but not ashamed…

Earlier today, I shared an image (below) on my Instagram and Facebook pages along with this message…

Scars are a reminder that wounds can heal ♡ Stay tuned… #scarred #Psalm118 #notashamed #byHiswoundswearehealed #itsbeenajourney

I’ve worn scars most of my life. At times, I’ve hidden them. Other times, I’ve been open and honest. I once carried a great deal of shame with my scars but I am not ashamed. They are a part of who I am and where I have been. They mark my journey, which hasn’t been easy.

Today, they aren’t gone…just different.

Not to cover them, but to give them more meaning, I spent some time today with a gentleman named Mike…

Mike is a butcher by day and I guess you could say another kind of butcher by night as a tattoo artist. He’s twenty-seven. He was raised in a religious home and currently lives with his parents to save money. We had the chance to talk a lot. He told me he’d stopped believing because he’d had too many questions and not enough answers. He shared stories with me and I shared with him. I didn’t push him or try to force my beliefs on him but he was graciously open to me sharing the significance in the choices I made for my tattoo as well as some backstory on my scars.

I want to share with you the significance in my tattoo as well…

First, it’s my right wrist…

“For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

The crown of thorns and the cross remind me…

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

The cross was also drawn from the cross on the necklace I wear daily.

The puzzle represents the small bit of life we see and knowing God sees the bigger picture. I may only get a puzzle piece here or there. I may often feel alone and invisible. But God knows.

The teardrop represents the moments when crying wasn’t safe, the years I spent unable to cry, the tears I’ve finally been able to share in the place I’ve felt safest, and this promise…

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

The dove represents peace and hope, both of which I’ve desperately needed and He has graciously and freely given. In the doves mouth is a ribbon of teal and purple which speaks for suicide awareness. Teal is also the color for childhood sexual abuse awareness…both of which have impacted my entire life.

The dove also speaks for the innocent that can’t.

And Psalm 118 …

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say:

“His love endures forever.
Let those who fear the Lord say:

“His love endures forever.”
When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;

he brought me into a spacious place
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.

What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.

I look in triumph on my enemies.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

All the nations surrounded me,

but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
They surrounded me on every side,

but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
They swarmed around me like bees,

but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
I was pushed back and about to fall,

but the Lord helped me.
The Lord is my strength and my defense;

he has become my salvation.
Shouts of joy and victory

resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;

the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
I will not die but live,

and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death.
Open for me the gates of the righteous;
I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord
through which the righteous may enter.

I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
The Lord has done it this very day;
let us rejoice today and be glad.
Lord, save us!
Lord, grant us success!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
From the house of the Lord we bless you.
The Lord is God,
and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise you;
you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Psalm 118:17 was shared with me a couple times before I ever knew I’d need it. Then on February 21st, 2015, I realized just how much that verse would come to mean. It was the moment I found myself at the lowest, loneliest place I’d ever been, yet God met me there.

I will not die but live and proclaim what the Lord has done. Psalm 118:17

Life is beautiful and ugly. Moments still come when I question giving up but this verse reminds me He is in control and all things in His time.

Now, I wear it…proudly.

Each of these pieces were very carefully thought out and planned as far as the tattoo goes but I believe God was working through this just as much as I was. I was blessed to meet and spend the day with Mike and his co-workers, to be able to share with them a little of my life, and maybe even bring a little light into theirs.

Not only will this serve as a meaningful mark for my own reasons, but it’s also a reminder for me to pray for Mike and be thankful for sweet blessings.

 

The Reality of TV…

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I’m sure by now, most everyone has heard about the newest reality TV tragedy…19 Kids & Counting.

If, by chance, there’s still someone out there who hasn’t heard, I’m going to assume they aren’t here reading my little blog either…because they’re much more likely to stumble across numerous Duggar stories than they are to stumble across my tiny portion of the internet.

So, the latest is that eldest Duggar child, Josh, admittedly made a “mistake.”

First off, I will in no way support Josh or his actions, whether he was 14 or not.  Having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse for most of my childhood and having dealt with my own fair share of family drama, I’m going to say, I have a right to use my voice in this.

Josh made a choice.  Was it a mistake?  No.  It was a choice.  His choice.  Was it the choice of the girls he molested?  From what I’ve read, he was older than all of his victims therefore, he was responsible for his actions.  They are not at fault.  Period.

The fact that the Duggars call this a “mistake” really grieves me.  A mistake it buying Colgate toothpaste when you meant to buy Crest.  A mistake is choosing the wrong size pants.  A mistake is driving past your road and having to turn around.  A mistake is an accident, doing something you did not mean to do.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines a mistake as:

to understand (something or someone) incorrectly
to make a wrong judgment about (something)
to identify (someone or something) incorrectly

At 14, sheltered or not, boys know the difference between their bodies and a girls body.  By 14, they are maturing, changing, and growing.  By that point, especially in such a conservative family where premarital anything is discouraged, I’m going to guess, Josh knew that sexual conduct was inappropriate, wrong, evil, or whatever you want to call it.

The choices Josh made were choices.  They were not just mistakes…they were choices that impact the lives of those he molested in every single way imaginable.  I know because I’ve been there.  I know because I’m still there.  It’s not something that ever really goes away, no matter how much counseling or support one may have.  There may be healing, but it becomes a part of you.  Josh’s choices were not mistakes.  They were choices.  He could have chosen not to act on the feelings he had.

Are his choices unforgivable?  No.  That’s between his victims and God.  That’s not for me to judge or say whether he’s been forgiven or not.  If his victims choose to forgive, then good for them.  Forgiveness has the ability to free them from some of the burdens caused by him.  It has nothing to do with Josh, but freeing themselves from the chains of His choices, giving them room to heal.

Enough about Josh.  What he did was wrong, no matter how old he was.  And he knew it was wrong.  He admits that.  Period.

Let’s talk about the victims.
Let’s talk about the media.

The media is spilling this story all over the place.  Frankly, there’s not one family that’s ever walked on this big planet that didn’t have some kind of saga, scandal, or secret.  Not one.

If anyone ever thought the Duggar’s were the one family that escaped that, then that’s their own fault for thinking they were without issues.  Everyone has issues.  Everyone!

Believe it or not, the Christian life is not perfect.  I know many Christians who “appear” to have the perfect life.  I was one of the girls who envied (yes, I’m a Christian who has been envious of others!) others because they seemed to have the perfect life.  The thing is, when you start to get to know people, you realize we’re all just a bunch of messed up, broken people in need of a Savior and a whole lot of grace.

What burns me up is how the media is broadcasting this story as this huge tragedy and scandal, how cruel Josh was to victimize his sisters and other little girls, what a disgusting person he is, blah, blah, blah.

While I agree to an extent, the media is victimizing these girls all over again.

They’re not just destroying Josh, putting him in front of a firing squad and pulling the trigger, they are traumatizing his victims all over again.  No matter what happened, which none of us really know and that’s only for his victims to share if and when they want to, they deserve to live without all of this.  What we’ve done by putting this family in the light based on this scandal, this trauma, is destroyed them.  We scarred them for life…as if they weren’t already scarred enough.

By bringing this to light, we haven’t stood up for victims rights.  We’ve crushed them.  We’ve said shame on you and your family.  We’ve condemned the whole family.  We’ve demanded their “show be cancelled.”  TLC agreed to take Josh off the show but we still scream…”screw the family,” “take all of those whacks off the air“.  What we’re doing is victimizing the entire family based on one or two or three (parent’s, not the victims) people’s choices.

The family handled the situation years ago.  Whether we agree with the rumors of how they handled the situation or not, they dealt with it.  Perhaps these girls had gone through counseling.  Perhaps they had found at least some peace and healing.  I even hope they have been able to forgive.

My point is that what we as a society have done to them is not punish Josh for his crime.  We have punished his victims for his crime.  We have traumatized them all over again.  We have poured salt into their wounds.  We have crippled, maybe even destroyed their future.  We have impacted their entire family and the families of those connected.  We have slandered their name, dragged it through the mud.

All because of one boys stupid, inexcusable (as Josh even stated) actions.

What he did was wrong.  But two wrongs don’t make a right.  The media bashing this family, all the nasty comments on either side…all that’s doing is destroying these people.  We are no better than the crime we’re complaining about.

Think about it.  Does this affect Josh’s life?  Yes, it already has as he had to resign from his job and has been let go from TLC.  Is that all?  No.  Now the whole family is under fire.  Now the victims are exposed…maybe not by name but their lives, their pain, their suffering…are out there, exposed to the whole world and not by their choice.  We have rob them of that choice.  They have been violated all over again.

Next time you want to spread a story to attack someone who’s hurt another, think about the victims.  They need support and prayer now, more than ever.  I don’t care what you think about Josh, what he did, whether you defend him because he was only 14 or whether you want to see him burn.  His judgement and the punishment for his actions are not up to me or anyone else on this planet.  He has to live with the choices he’s made.  So do his victims.

The reality of this is that no one is perfect…no one.  Just because a family may appear perfect, doesn’t mean they are and if anyone ever tries to say their are, call BS because they’re not.  No one, Christian, Muslim, Athiest, or whatever religion or belief or human out there can claim to be perfect, having made no wrong choices ever.  And we’ve all suffered because of our choices and actions.

The issue here is that there are victims who have already suffered enough and all we are doing by dragging this family’s drama out for all to see is making them suffer more.

Now that we’ve already done that, where are the people standing up for victims rights?  This would be a great time and opportunity to talk about how devastating childhood sexual abuse is, how it destroys lives, how it robs its victims of peace, security, trust, hope, and often much more.

Instead of focusing on how disgusting this boy’s actions were and how we like or don’t like Christians, homeschoolers, skirt wearers or whatever piddly things we can think of to throw daggers at the Duggars, why don’t we take this opportunity to speak out about how light needs to be shined on the victims, to give them hope, not to destroy them or traumatize them all over.

The reality is…

Just because it’s a reality show doesn’t mean it’s real.  We don’t see behind the scenes, behind closed doors, etc.  Not one family can claim the reality of perfection.  Period.

The reality is…

Sexual abuse sucks.  Period.

Peace out…

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Making the best…

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Making the best out of what may feel like the worst…

What is your worst?

Maybe it’s…

a night of drunkenness, confusion, and bad choices
a lifetime of neglect or abandonment
a failed marriage
suicidal thoughts or attempts
witnessing or being involved in domestic violence
rape or sexual abuse
murder

Maybe it’s…

financial struggles or bankruptcy
a job loss
the loss of a loved one
infertility
feeling inadequate as a spouse, parent or child
self-hatred
an eating disorder
self-injury

Maybe it’s something else.  Whatever your worst is, please know this truth…

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

Did you hear that, friend?  You may not believe it right now but will you please read it again and plant that little piece of truth deep in your heart.  I pray that one day, you will believe it.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

God has not given up on you…even in your worst…especially in your worst!  He is working all things for good.  Even your worst.  That’s a truth to hold tightly.

Your worst doesn’t seem very good, does it?  I know mine doesn’t.

My worst was a childhood filled with physical and sexual abuse, neglect, and abandonment by the very people who were supposed to love, nurture and protect me.  Trust was foreign to me.  Love was engulfed with lies.  Innocence was stolen, striped away.  Years went by and with every day that passed, my shame and guilt grew.  I bore the weight of acts that were never mine to carry.  I retreated into my own little world, building walls all around me.  Those walls kept people out, protected my very fragile heart, and left me incredibly lonely and scared in what I saw as a dangerous world.

Along the way, people came into my life and showed me that life didn’t have to be as scary as I once saw it.  Little by little, I began to see that I could extend a slight be of trust…though never fully…never even close to fully.  But a little was a lot at that point.

Later, my worst led to other worsts including multiple suicide attempts (read here), many years of depression and many thoughts of dying, self-injury (cutting), eating disorders, alcoholism, smoking, promiscuity, and more.  I realize at some point, I had a choice in my actions and trust me, I have paid some pretty big consequences for those choices, but I also believe, had my innocence not been crushed as a little girl, many of those worsts would not have followed.

Today, I am a wife and mother of three amazing kids.  I have been part of a wonderful church family for nearly 16 years.  I am surrounded by some incredibly loving, caring, supportive people.  I am blessed far beyond anything I ever expected.

And you know what?

Life is still hard.

But…

Out of the worst, has come the best.

My worst, though it still leaves me with extremely painful, terrifying, and crippling moments, has also highlighted my bests.  Because of the life I have lived, my heart aches to reach out to others who are hurting, who are broken, who feel damaged and worthless, to pour the love into them that I, at many times, so desperately wanted.  Compassion is something I know well.  My ability to understand pain and to withstand pain is enormous.  I have experienced many things that allow me to be able to relate to so many others in their struggles.

We all have a worst.  Our best just might come from our worst.

In my worst, one of the things I missed the most was my voice.  Innocence was stolen from me and along with it, so was my voice.  For years, I just lived through the abuse, silently.  I couldn’t tell a soul.  I had no one to tell and even if I had told, I feared what would happen.

One night, at the age of 11 years old, I prayed for God to give me the courage to tell…

And He did.

That next day was the first time I told about the sexual abuse I had been living through for years.

Telling did not magically make things better.  Honestly, in many ways, it made things worse.  A lot worse.  Life became more difficult.  That was the first time I believed it was my fault and I began to carry the weight of all the shame and guilt.

I wrote a lot.  It was my outlet, my survival.  I have always loved to write.  I haven’t always written when I should and many of the scary things have never been put into words…even on paper, but I have, over the years, written a lot.  That’s probably why I love this blog so much.  As I’ve said before, for me, writing is like the air I breathe.  It’s a lifeline.

Even though my voice was stolen, I still had words…I could write them.  Someday, I pray He will give me the courage to speak them in front of others.  Through my worst, God has shown me some of my best.  He’s used something so horrible, so dirty, so broken, and turned it into words that have reached deep into the hearts of others.

I teach Bible studies in my church.  I am so unequipped for that but God has been with me every step of the way.  He has used these classes to grow me, teach me, and draw me closer to Him, while also blessing me with the privilege and honor of getting to know some amazing people who saw something in me and took a chance on taking my classes.  I hear many thank you’s, but honestly, I feel like the one receiving all the blessings.

God has given me a voice.  What was once stolen from me, He has made new.  He has given me a platform and a voice and each day, He gives me the courage to step out and use it.  He’s given me a heart of compassion to help others through their own struggles, to reach out to them in their time of need.  I fail often.  I will continue to mess up but my intentions are good.  He gives me grace.  Each and every day, He takes the ugliness of a life gone wrong and shows me the many ways He is making it right.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21:5

He is taking my worst and making something beautiful out of it.

Friend, He wants to do the same for you!

 

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There is Hope…

Hope

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

I am learning, day by day, that my life does have a purpose.  For so much of my life, I felt invisible and worthless.  I thought I was simply taking up space.  I was a burden. 

I have never felt usable unless it meant caving to what everyone else wanted, bending over backwards to help everyone else, giving in to people even when I didn’t want to or have to.  It never had a good meaning.  It was just something else that meant I was broken.

I am learning that even though I may not know a lot of fancy words, I don’t have a real education past high school, God can still use me and he chooses to use me.  The fact that he chooses me, it’s a hard one to accept.  I still find myself questioning what worth I have or why he would want to use me and my brokenness but then I just know that’s exactly why – because of where I have been, what I have been through, lived through, because of my brokenness.

Even though I don’t have a fancy degree, I have something better.  I have a life, one that God has rescued me from and one that he can use!  I am usable!  In my brokenness, my sin, my shortcomings, I am usable. 

When I began this journey a couple years ago, I felt God was leading me to teach, speak and write.

While I could write just fine, I didn’t write well.  As I said before, I don’t know fancy words.  Often times, I see a word and have to look it up.  In high school, I was so numb, so flooded with memories and trauma that I couldn’t focus on school.  I don’t think I learned much past noun and verb.  There’s simply nothing eloquent (ooo, big word – I hope I used it right, lol) about my writing.

As far as teaching and speaking, well, writing only involves me which is why I think I was able to do it.  When teaching and speaking came into the picture, I wanted to laugh at God.  I thought, “He is crazy if he thinks I am qualified to teach or speak.  What a joke!” 

Did I doubt God?  Yep!

And guess what he did?  He laughed back and said, “You are crazy if you think I can’t work through you!

Woah!  He sure did!

So I started teaching – I wrote about that experience here.

And next on the list is speaking.  Being in front of people is very much out of my comfort zone.  I have spent all my life being invisible or trying to be invisible.  I don’t like attention on me.  It feels awkward.  It’s uncomfortable.  It makes me feel guilty like I’m taking light off someone else.  There’s all kinds of emotions that come along with the idea.

So, God still has some work to do on me.  A lot of work!  But…

He is so clearly present and working in my life and I am so thankful that he is giving me these stories to encourage me to keep going.  He has put the right people in my path.

I feel that my ministry is teaching, writing and speaking to other women, to share that even in our brokenness, he can and chooses to use us, if we let him, that they are not alone, that it’s okay to not be okay and that God can take even the most broken and bring them to a place filled with hope, love and peace.  Having leaders who encourage my ministry has been such a blessing.  Seeing now that he has clearly given me a family that I can call on in my own times of need, that can extend arms of safety and love, who can try to understand me, who want to get to know me – the real me and not some fake face, is such a blessing!

All of this is more confirmation that I am on the right path.  I am not confident in myself or my own abilities but I am confident in God.  I am confident that I am doing what he wants me to do.

So far anyone who has ever struggled with a broken home, the absence of a parent, sexual abuse, physical and emotional abuse, abandonment, adoption, foster care, the court system, suicidal thoughts, depression, cutting, alcohol, smoking, promiscuity, rape, death and loss, marriage, finances, infertility, children, fear, shame, guilt, worry, jealousy, worth, trust, insecurity and more, DON’T GIVE UP…THERE IS HOPE!

I don’t have a pretty degree that qualifies me by any state or government on any of these issues, but I have a heart that has been impacted greatly by every one of these things and so much more.  There’s no doubt in my mind that God will use my story to shine his light onto someone else.  That’s worth more than any piece of paper :)

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