Sunday, July 29, 2012

Where Was My Mother?

 Where Was My Mother?

On a recent interview and many before the question is always asked, “Where was your mother?”  As hard as I try to avoid the question, it never fails to be asked.  On The 700 Club, Terry Meeuwsen even went as far to say that you must have also wondered, “Where was your mother when this was taking place.”

How do I say she was in the next room?   How do I say she was there with eyes that wouldn’t see?  How do I explain she was there with arms that would not defend?  She was there with a cold heart to the bruises I wore.  She was there blind to the hurt in my eyes.  She was there insensitive to the burdens I carried.  She was there consumed with her own survival.  How I do I say she was hunkered down behind a great wall of denial.  I absolutely wondered, not wanting to face the fact that she was there all along.

Because the truth is my mother has asked for me to “leave her out of this.”  I guess I could say, “I was hatched from an egg and there was not a mother responsible for my well being.”  But that would be a lie.  I learned to lie as a child to protect my mother.  Even to answer a stranger who asked, “How are you?” and you answer, “Fine.”  That was a lie the size of Mount Rushmore when every fiber of your being is screaming,  “I am rotting away inside from the filth and constant attacks.”  I would love to leave her out of this but the fact of the matter is I had a mother, like millions of survivors that may read this one day, that played a role in my abuse.   

I cannot leave my mother out of this but I can leave all the bitterness and resentfulness, and honor her as God requires, forgiving her every day, even for the request to, “Leave her out of this.”

Sometimes, if we speak truth, we are accused of not forgiving.  I don’t see how the two are connected.  I can forgive me mother but yet answer the question, “Where was she?”  I know where she was physically, but mentally I don’t know where she was.  All I know is that she did not protect me.  The little girl never had a voice, but today I have a voice and a voice that no one will ever take away.  I am a mother and I will protect my children and all the children that God gives me strength for my life to touch.  I will even protect the little girl inside of me that did not have a mother that protected her. 

To learn more about the subject of child sexual abuse and how you can be better prepared to protect the children in your life, please visit VOICE Today at

                                   View The 700 Club Interview

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Other Shoe

As survivors of child sexual abuse we spend our childhood expecting, almost waiting for the next horrible thing to happen and I must confess that is hard programming to break.  We suffer in silence, we manage and manipulate our world so as to try to outsmart our perpetrator, we take the long way, we try to stay within eyeshot and earshot of someone who just may be willing to protect us, but ultimately the evil wins and we are trapped to face the unthinkable-again and again.

So how do we shake this feeling of doom and gloom?  How do we reprogram our minds and our bodies to expect great things today?   Personally it is a moment-by-moment challenge where we have to take captive those negative thoughts and put the opposite spin, a positive spin, on that moment.  Today, I am still conquering this residue of abuse in my life.  We were conditioned to spend so much time worrying about the next attack that we tended to live in the next moment, the future, instead of the here and now. We create the scenarios that will bring disaster and focus on them like they are real.

We have to speak truth over the lies that the evil planted in our minds.  We have to take charge of our lives; living on purpose, determined to experience joy, enjoy our relationships and just be.  We have to plan our days to function with maximum health that includes nutrition, rest, and exercise.  This discipline is so contrary to the conditioning of the abuse, because we learned to hate our bodies and what they have suffered, so we tend, at least I did, to almost punish our bodies.  So many eating disorders are birthed from child sexual abuse.  We either put on a layer of insulation to protect ourselves or we starve ourselves, both exercising control over our bodies we did not posses as vulnerable children.   Many of us also engage in self defeating and self destructive behaviors that limit our mind and bodies ability to heal. 

So today I challenge you to reprogram your thoughts.  Instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, take off both shoes and run barefoot in the grass. Expect great things out of this day.  Expect to be surprised, to be excited, to enjoy the life you deserve, free from pain and torment, free from abuse and free from those dreadful thoughts.

Know that God loves you and never wanted you to suffer.  He desires you to live a life full of peace and joy.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, "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."

For resources for survivors of child sexual abuse please visit VOICE Today,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Snapshots of Joy

Do you remember as a little one throwing your arms out for momentum and spinning around and around, faster and faster until you fell flat looking up to see swirling clouds.  Then you would jump up the minute you regained your balance to do it all again.  When we were little we wanted the world to go faster, we stretched our necks to meet the height requirement, we stretched our legs to reach the gas pedal, we wanted to ride the fastest roller coaster, always anxious to get one year older, and on and on. 

Now, I just want the world to slow down. Time is our most precious resource and it is fleeting.  I will graduate my baby boy from High School tomorrow and I can’t believe that 18 years have flashed before my eyes.  Certainly our goal as parents is to give them wings to fly, by I long for that simple summer day where I waded through the brightly colored balls at Chucky Cheese, or played hide and go seek, counting slow enough to get the wet clothes in the dryer; when toys were strung from corner to corner and we looked for hours for the lost hot wheels car; when we had to turn the car around because we left his favorite spider man action figure and he of course couldn’t miss the outing.   Cheering on the sidelines for our little league team was a weekend pastime.  I cherished those little arms wrapped around my neck that gave me a moment to rub noses or butterfly kisses.  I miss he long bubble baths with dozens of toys in the tub and the nightly story time and snuggles.

Fanning through boxes and boxes of pictures this week to choose the most memorable moments I found myself pulling out more than I left in the box.  They were ALL memorable moments.  Every photo was a snapshot of joy, a memory captured on photo paper and seared in my heart.  I thank my son Jacob for all those precious memories and for the overwhelming joy that he has brought into my life.  I can truly say that I have been able to live vicariously through his marvelous childhood and being a mommy has been my favorite job of all time.

Though my own childhood was riddled with abuse I am proud the cycle stopped with me, and though there are always scars that may open from time to time, the joy of being a mother spoke volumes of healing into that pain.  My father walked out of my life at my birth never to look back.  I have been able to witness a precious loving relationship between a Jacob and his dad.   I find it challenging to trust my mother because of the ways she let me down.  But I know Jacob trusts that I will always be here for him.  The cycle ended because Jacob has a legacy of healthy, honest relationships and he has been filled to overflowing with love every day of his life.

I am a proud Mom with prayers of blessings for Jacob and encouragement for others to slow down and treasure each moment with your children, because those moments spin away fast.   I want to share one of my favorite quotes with you, “It is not the breaths you take in this life but the moments that take your breath away.”  So today, share a simple moment that takes your breath away and take a snapshot to hide in your heart.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


When we grieve as adults we somehow touch that wound we spend every day trying to heal.  Maybe it triggers that sadness and pain that was a constant emotion as a confused and lonely child.  Maybe it triggers the grief of innocence lost.  Whatever the reason I want to share my journey through my Granny’s death in hopes it will help you process your own feelings when you struggle with grief.

My Granny passed away last Sunday.  I am so grateful to her and for her because she was the one person that gave me Godly life lessons.  She gave me hope and encouragement.  I believe, had I possessed the courage to tell her of my abuse as a child, she would have been the one person that would have protected me.  Years later when I finally told her what I had suffered through my childhood, her gentle words were comforting, “If I had only known, I would have taken you away from him, she painfully and regretfully whispered as she held me in a puddle of tears.”  She gave me the little cups of joy as a child, the affirmation I so longed for, the moments to be a child in her arms and elbow to elbow on the banks of her pond with a fishing pole.  She listened to my dreams on her front porch rockers and she told me often, “One day you will soar on wings of angels.  There ain’t nothin you can’t do if you put your mind to it,” she would bellow in her southern drawl.

I will miss my Granny so much.  I know she is walking on streets of gold, praising God arm in arm with the angels and learning all about the mysteries of life from the lips of Jesus.

Her life was a miracle and also her death.  In her 97 years my Granny miraculously lived through pancreatic cancer in the ‘70’s; to follow would be battles with diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer and congestive heart failure.

She had a massive stroke 8 days before she passed.  She lived 8 days paralyzed, unable to speak or eat but could respond with a nod.  I believe she stayed in that critical state for 8 days to give anyone in her life an opportunity to come to her side and say goodbye.  To rid there hearts of any words left unspoken.

I was by her side all night and day after her stroke and peacefully left knowing it would be the last time I would see her alive.  So funny how we think for a second that we know what happens next in this life.  I returned home, three hours away.  The week passed and Granny held on and I would continue to ask God, should I go back to be by her side?   It was one of the most hectic weeks at VOICE Today, and each time I would get a great peace that God was in control and when I needed to be there I would.  On Saturday I received a call around 1pm that hospice estimated Granny had less than 8 hours to live.  I had a commitment for a TV Interview at 6pm in Atlanta.  I again asked God, should I cancel and go on to be by my Granny’s side and again I felt great peace to continue to do what God had called me to do and He had my Granny.    My long and arduous week finally ended at 8:30pm on Saturday, 8 days after Granny’s stroke and I prayed as I traveled the 3 hours to my Granny’s side, “God please call her home when you are ready but if you could spare her for me to hold her hand one more time it would be a miracle.”  Exhausted from my week I just decided to pray in the spirit during the long drive south.

When I arrived at 11pm I had a renewed strength that I know only comes from the power of the Holy Spirit.  I rushed to her side where she was struggling for each breath.  I could feel the angels in the room and I said “God thank you for this moment.“ I held her hand, sang to her and told her that I could feel the angels and reassured her that Jesus was coming soon. 

I worked all week on a slide show of her life that I put to her favorite songs.  I turned it on softly in the background.  Family members who had been by her side all week had gone to bed, totally exhausted, or left for a shower.   I laid my head on her chest and squeezed her hand. Hours passed and her breathing became more and more erratic.  At 1:25am my Granny opened her eyes, pinched her lips twice and took her last breath in a peaceful departure to heaven.  God was in control of every minute of her life and it was His will for me to be by her side.  It is a blessing I shall never forget and a testimony to answered prayer.  God honored my obedience in doing all that He had called me to do that week.

I finally cried, that cry that you think will never end, that leaves your head pounding and your eyes burning like fire.  I am still grieving but not with tears, just with a hole in my heart that I know will never be filled this side of heaven.  I will miss my Granny, but I gave her my word that I would live as she lived generously and love as she loved with great intention and action.

What I have learned that I want to share is that I am allowed to hurt, to feel pain, and through this visit to the greatest wound in my life, I can learn how to grieve in healthy ways.  I grieved through making a beautiful memorial of my Granny in her slideshow, I grieved through making sure her funeral was a great tribute and honor to her life and I grieved yesterday giving myself permission to rest.  My advice is to heal loving yourself through the pain.  Don’t push it down, don’t default to self destructive behavior, don’t ignore the pain, just invite Jesus into that pain and pray for an abundance of great mercy and grace.  Open the Word of God and let His Words be ointment to the wound.

My Granny was an amazing cook but her recipe for life is the best recipe she left me.  I would like to share the recipe I found in my Granny’s bible, faintly remember her reading it to me as a child and I read at her funeral that I think has great value:

     Mix Thoroughly
     I cup good thoughts
     1 cup of kind deeds
     1 cup of consideration of others
     3 cups of forgiveness
     2 cups of well beaten faults and add  
        tears of joy, sorrow, and sympathy  for others

     Fold In
     4 cups of prayers and faith to lighten other ingredients and to raise the    
     texture to heights of Christian     

     After pouring all this into your family, bake well with the heart of human 
     kindness, Serve with a smile.                                                                                             
                                                             By Mrs. Lynda Roberts

We must just remember after our grief, joy comes in the morning.  We are not little children anymore left to figure out the pain alone but adults with an arsenal of tools to heal and to grow.  The greatest tool of all is the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

She Doesn’t Believe Me…

I was 17 years old when I was forced to disclose to my mother that my stepfather had been raping me for the past 14 years.   I was still very hung over from the 64 sleeping pills I had ingested the night before and the ½ bottle of straight  vodka I drank to wash down each death pill.  I’ll never forget my mother’s finger in my face calling me a liar and a drug addict.   Here is an excerpt from my book, “From Sorrows To Sapphires,” where I describe that horrible day in my life:

“Rejection and Rejuvenation
I can barely write what took place over the next few hours. I had arrived at Nicole’s father’s law office physically exhausted after the night I’d endured.  I could not stop shaking.  My body quivered from fear and exhaustion. The stress of the night, the sleeping pills, and the alcohol’s effects were still in my system.  I was sitting upright in a chair when my Mother entered the room.  She showed no mercy but immediately lit into me. She screamed that I had set in motion a chain of events that would now ruin her life. She blasted me with both barrels:
“You have ruined my life.  How could you do this?  How could you embarrass and destroy our family?  You must be on drugs.  You’re shaking like you’re on drugs.  I knew you were on drugs.  You’ve become a drug addict.”  She never let me open my mouth. She continued to berate me, her eyelids blinking frantically, as I sat in the chair with my head hung down low.  “I’ve contacted the Wells, and they said they would take you. You can go there this afternoon and leave us alone. This can’t be true. It’s all a lie. You are a liar. You’re a big liar.” She was fireball-red from the top of her chin all the way down her neck with red blotches screaming anger and fear out of her skin.
She would have hit me had she not thought she was being monitored closely.  I could tell she wanted to rip me to pieces.  She could have pulled every hair out of my head, and that still wouldn’t have solved her problems.  She told me I could come to the house and gather my things, but I needed to make it fast.  “You don’t need to put us through anymore today.  We’ve had a horrible night. You have really ruined our lives, and I want you as far away from me as possible, out of our lives for good.  I want you out.  I don’t even know who you are.  You are not the little girl I raised and loved.  You are not the little girl I sacrificed my life for.  I’ve called the Wells, and they’re going to take you in.  You can go there as soon as you get your stuff, and I don’t want to ever see you again.  You need to be with the Wells.  You need to be with them now!  Maybe they can figure you out,” her voice quivered. 
Her eyelids were batting faster, as they always did when she was nervous, and her voice was stern and detached, and her neck was covered with red blotches.  There was no sympathy in her tone. There was no wavering in her decision.  I had told the unthinkable, the unbelievable, and her response was to bury herself in denial. The reality of what was happening at that moment was more than I could process. She turned her back to me, and even more heartbreaking, turned her back on me.
She walked out and slammed the door. Nicole’s father must have known I needed a few minutes, so I was left alone in the cold conference room.  I was flabbergasted.  I did not even have the strength to lift my head up.  Never did I ever imagine she would turn her back on me.  That was the final blow.  The worst blow I could have received. “Why God?  Why didn’t you take me last night?  Why is there no end to my suffering?”  My soul had been ripped out, my heart shattered to a million pieces.  My Mother didn’t love me enough to fight for me, to believe me.  I’d spent years enduring the unbearable, all those years protecting her and protecting the secret.  She chose him.  She turned her back on me and chose him.  She betrayed me. I had no one and nowhere to go.  I wasn’t going to Danbury. The Wells’ left me and never looked back. They walked out of my life.  I wasn’t going to beg them to take me in.   I didn’t need them.  I didn’t need anybody.
The door opened and Nicole’s father towered over me, as my head was still hanging between my legs.  “You have to make a decision.  We can seek justice.  I need to know what to do, and I need to know right now.”  His stern, deep voice shocked me back into reality.  
“Can I have some time to think this through?  I’ve protected them for so long.  I never wanted her to know.  I never wanted to hurt her like this.” 
He stayed on his point as a lawyer: “I’m sorry, but you have to make a move now.  I have no choice because you are a minor.  You have to focus on you now.  I will prosecute.  We can put him behind bars, we can get justice,” he urged in a deep firm tone. 
“There is no justice in this, no justice,” I said. “I just want my freedom.  Please get me my freedom.  I don’t want anything but my freedom, please,” I whispered in a soft crackling voice.  “Just my freedom.  Please get me my freedom, and I’ll go as far away from this place as I can get.  I promise, please just let me out of this hell, please let it be over.” 
He saw the utter despair in my face, and the total hopelessness of my situation.  Out of pity, he asked if I wanted to stay with them a few days until we figured things out. I was in such a pitiful state; he had no choice but to extend a hand.  I thought I was at the end of my rope on the bridge last night, and within a few hours, I had slipped even further down.  There was no fight left in me.  I was tired, I was alone, and I was defeated.  I truly know what it feels like to be at the end of yourself and sitting on the bottom of life.  At that moment, I had no more of me to depend on; I had only God.  All I had was blind faith and a verse I clung to: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Within what seemed like minutes, I was getting my emancipation in front of a judge and my petition for freedom granted.  “Get your education and make sure to make something of yourself,” said the judge.   “Don’t let this ruin your life.  You can rise above.  Many others have done so,” he continued.  Nicole’s father assured him he would seek therapy for me, and I would be living with them for a while.
Nicole drove me to
465 Briar Patch Place
. Mom, Carl and my two sisters peered through the window as we got out of the car.  The reception was cold.  It took less than ten minutes to gather my belongings. I was given two black trash bags.  My heart raced with fear and exhaustion. Carl stayed out of my way, my Mother cried, and my sisters clung to my legs, pleading for me not to leave them.
I was so angry, so fiercely angry, as I shoved my clothes into the bag and grabbed my eight-track player and all my eight tracks. I asked if I could take my bicycle, and they agreed.  I found my schoolbooks, but not my diary.
“Can I have my diary please?”  She said she didn’t know where it was.  “It was in the car last night,” I replied.
“No, you can’t have your diary. It’s gone. He burned it in the ditch this morning.” [The diary, it turns out, was not destroyed, and miraculously, years later, I was able to find it, well-hidden under the armoire in the master bedroom at
465 Briar Patch Place
. The “Journal” entries within this book came from this diary.] 
Her reply didn’t register, as I needed to get out of there immediately before I started doing dishes or making the beds or worse, grabbing a butcher knife and going stark raving mad.  I had to get out of there before I buckled, before I wrapped my arms around my sisters, thinking that I needed to stay to protect them more than I needed to go to protect myself.   Leaving them behind made my gut ache. I wrapped my arms around them, held them close and said, “You both look me in the eye now.  I love you, and I’ll be back to see you.  You can call me at this number if you need me, and I’ll be back to see you.  Be good.  I’ll be back, I swear, I’m not leaving for good.  Just a little while, and I’ll be back.”  Tears streamed down their cheeks. “Please don’t cry, please,” I pleaded.
      I had to leave my bicycle behind, as I threw the bags in the back of Nicole’s Toyota Supra. She said, “Help me take the tee-tops off.  I have an idea.” We took the tee-tops off, and she told me to stand up in the front seat and scream to the top of my lungs.  She said, “Experience your freedom.  Scream ‘I’m free!’” 
There was a mass in my throat.  I couldn’t talk.  I choked, but in a matter of seconds, I went manic as I screamed and screamed - all the way down
Fontaine Drive
and all the way down Highway 217.  She drove me all over town for hours screaming.  It felt so good.  I was free, and I had so much to scream about. I laughed, I cried, and I screamed.  She was the best friend a girl could have.  She kept driving, and I kept screaming all the way down
Victory Drive
(that was its name and it symbolized what I was experiencing!)
This was so very different for me. Often I would let my breakdowns explode inside my head, and I would scream silently. But now, thanks to Nicole, the screams were boiling out. And now, also thanks to Nicole, I felt release.  She smiled at me as she drove, and I enjoyed the freedom to scream. I enjoyed the freedom to smile.

For those that are in this place of denial by your mother and other family members, my heart bleeds for you.  I know your pain but please know that there is hope that you will get past this grief and build a happy life.  That life may or may not include your mother or your family, but regardless we need to forgive those that have so deeply wronged us.  It is not about releasing them from responsibility or accountability, it is about freeing ourselves from all the anger, the resentment, the pain they caused us.  Love, Joy and happiness cannot coexist with rage, vengeance and hate.  I have heard a quote that goes like this, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
I am still trying to build a relationship with my mother and it is always one act of forgiveness at a time.  I have to give extra forgiveness for her insensitivity, her callous remarks about my childhood, and total lack of responsibility and accountability for her own actions.  The conversation always turns to her mental state, and her inability to face this situation in her life.  She justifies all my pain with what a good person she is and what a good life she lives.  So I swallow and I make the decision to continue to work on our relationship to the extent that it does not hurt me emotionally.  I have suffered enough and I continue to build good boundaries when it comes to a relationship with my mother.  I realize it may never be like the relationship I have with my own daughter but I love my mother and I wish her nothing but the best.
If you are hurting and need prayer please contact  To order “From Sorrows To Sapphires,” go to and visit our e-shop!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Never At Peace?

An avalanche of anxious emotions overcomes so many survivors of child sexual abuse.  For years I lived in a place of extreme anxiety riddled with shame, and still struggle at times for peace in my spirit.  The stress and triggers of my abuse seem to exaggerate these feelings.  I understand why so many survivors of child sexual abuse turn to alcohol or other substances in a quest to calm these sometimes overwhelming emotions. 

I began to ponder where this stream of anxiousness begins, whether a trickle or gushing river, and why I don’t have complete control over these emotions.   Having listened to hundreds of survivors share fears from their childhood and I too grew up with my best friend, fear, as a constant companion that never left my side.  My every move for 14 years was premeditated, navigating a minefield of abuse, making sure I planned bath time when my mother was awake or a walk down the hall making sure my stepfather was on the other side of the house.  Like a calculated chess game every move in my home was strategized in what was often a failed attempt to stay safe.

As a child when your safety is jeopardized, whether groomed into a perverted act or touch or brutally raped or sodomized, either consciously or subconsciously you say to yourself, “The world is not safe and I am afraid of the next attack.”   As a survivor, in many cases, you repress the memories and are left wondering why you  are anxious, why you are fearful and why you can’t understand or manage the situation.  Many survivors live for years never connecting the dots from their sexual abuse as a child to the self-destructive addictions or behaviors that may manifest in alcohol and drug addictions, eating disorders, cutting, suicidal thoughts or acts, rage and a plethora of other struggles.

So what is a survivor of child sexual abuse to do?  Here are some suggestions that help me:
  1. Face your abuse. Acknowledge the pain that you may have spent a lifetime hiding by repressing feelings and memories.
  2. Find a safe person to break your silence and tell your story.
  3. Seek professional help from a counselor.
  4. Resist the urge to reach for alcohol or drugs to calm your spirit. Only use medication under the guidance of a medical professional.
  5. Release the shame you have carried over these years. Accept the reality that you had no power.
  6. Find a support group for adult survivors of child sexual abuse.  If you can’t find one ask a counseling center or faith center in your area to start one.
  7. Exercise releases calming chemicals in your brain.  Just start with a walk and try to get out of your head on your walk, take deep breaths and focus on the trees, the birds, the flowers, the sky.
  8. Pray for peace and strength and ask for prayer.  You can write to be prayed over by our prayer team.
  9. Contact VOICE Today at and join our mailing list.
  10. Be good to yourself as an adult and that little girl or little boy that has suffered so desperately at the hands of your abuser.
My prayer is for you to experience complete healing and join me in my journey to find peace in my spirit.  Know that I know your pain and I am so sorry for your suffering.

Monday, February 13, 2012


At the 2012 Love Campaign Event, my best friend and sweet husband, Phil and I had the honor of speaking to couples about our love. Below were Phil's parting words of wisdom that touched my heart and hopefully will touch yours!
  • God formed Eve from one of Adams ribs. God does not do anything accidental, He did this with a symbolism that we all need to remember and contemplate as we go through this life of marriage together. God chose the rib purposefully,
  • He did not chose a bone from the head, so woman would not be unduly dominating;
  • He did not chose a bone from the foot, so she would not be trampled or walk on,
  • He did not chose a bone from the hand, so that she would be reduced to servitude.
  • Marriage is definitely the blending of two separate individuals to form one common and united life. The bonding “agent” is Love: the supporting arm is “consideration”. If you want to be loved, then be lovable.
  • Love starts out as a physical feeling and an emotion. It is this love that gets the relationship started in a marriage and can carry it forward for a time. However the love that keeps it growing and succeeding is when over time you realize that Love is not in finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly. Immature love says, “I love you because I need you”. Mature love says, “ I need you because I love you”.

Thank you Phil Williams for blessing me with your love and your wisdom!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Molestation-A Very Sanitary Word

One way to avoid facing the violence, violation and trauma of child sexual abuse is to characterize it with a word that does not conjure up a harsh image.  In fact “Molestation” does not bring with it any particular image at all.  Child sexual abuse is a crime where an adult takes power and control over the child and forces or entices the child to engage in sexual activity. 

When a child is shot, you picture a gunshot wound and blood. When a child is stabbed you picture a knife and a puncture wound. In both cases the outcome may be death or serious harm, but when you hear the word “molestation” you have no picture.  Our minds don’t want to travel to dark side of child sexual abuse so, for sheer protection; we visualize some form of inappropriate, if not gentle, contact. We don’t consider that the first “gentle” contact is only a precursor to severe sexual violence. We don’t consider the emotional trauma that comes with even that “gentle” touch.  We may tend to process what we see or hear in the context of an adult relationship, when sexual activity is fun and enjoyable.  For the child nothing could be farther from the reality.

Why don’t the media report that a child was raped, sodomized, penetrated with a blunt object, or forced to perform oral sex?   Why does society package and hide all these heinous acts behind the sanitary word “molestation”?  The answer to this question is, in large measure, that society is offended by the visual image of a small, maybe 5-7 year old, child being raped, sodomized or performing oral sex.  The most critical point that society misses is that it is much easier to read and watch a video reporting these things than to live them.  How does the child get true understanding, empathy and help, if society cannot and will not embrace the reality of the violence they experience.

It is time for our culture to wake-up to the truth about child sexual abuse and be educated on the issue, the devious behaviors of predators and prevention steps that enhance the safety of children.  Child sexual abuse is not like an allergy or an infection, where one takes medicine, the problem goes away and in a few months is forgotten.  It is an crime that tears at the very fiber of the child’s being and it alters your identity in such a way as to coat you with shame and self-hatred.   For many victims there is not a day that goes by that their childhood sexual abuse does not haunt them in one way or another.  Child sexual abuse is indeed the murder of innocence and thus the picture seen, the words used and the penalties imposed should mirror the gravity of the acts.

Child sexual abuse, and all the acts packaged into this crime, is a hard pill to swallow and a difficult issue to discuss.  However, each of us must get past the initial shock, recognize the devastating, life-long impact of the violence and get tough and aggressive about protection and prevention.  Our children are being victimized at an alarming rate.  The CDC reports 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.  As if those statistics aren’t scary enough, know that these facts are based on reported abuse and millions upon millions of cases go unreported.  Of the thousands of survivors in the VOICE family , only a handful reported their childhood sexual abuse to authorities and sought justice.  Also note that the CDC statistics reflect only penetration and fondling.  Other forms of childhood sexual abuse like exposure to pornography, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and other forms of evil perpetrated against a child are not included in these reported statistics.  Regardless of the numbers, the victimization of one child is too many.  

What can we do?  If you are an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse, we encourage you to find a safe person and break your silence and begin to heal.  You need to tell your story to heal and others need to hear your story to learn about the predator, about the issue and about prevention and protection. Stop using the word molestation and have the courage to report truth.  Join The VOICE Movement at and get involved in breaking the silence and cycle of child sexual abuse through awareness, prevention and healing programs.  

I am a survivor of child sexual abuse.  I wasn’t “molested”.  I was raped thousands of times over 14 years by my stepfather.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Shadows of Shame

For survivors of child sexual abuse it seems as if we live in dark shadows of shame and cast that shadow of shame wherever we go.  In most circles the mention of child sexual abuse is unwelcome, or allowed only with discomfort and disdain.  My prayer is for 2012 is the year that members of society open their eyes and begin to understand the trauma taking place right in front of them.  Unfortunately, those who have not suffered from child sexual abuse have difficulty grasping the depth of destruction it causes.  Taking the issue seriously means focusing attention on prevention and healing, not a few days or week of sensational headlines. 

Rescue efforts are admirable for the children trapped in commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, but we cannot rescue children fast enough.  A significant contributor  to a child winding up on the streets and being forced into prostitution is the sexual violation of that child at a younger age.  The median age of a sexually abused child is 9 years.  We meet many whose sexual abuse started at ages 2-4.  As a society, we are conditioned that the greatest risks to children are strangers, when in fact 90% of abuse is by someone the child knows, loves and trusts.  Running away from home (TO THE STREETS) is just one self-destructive path the sexually abused child takes. Their vulnerability exposes them to an even darker and more evil world on the streets. Then they spend a lifetime trying to scrap off the filth, the guilt and the shame.

The shame and fear of child sexual abuse does not drive every child to the streets and ultimately to prostitution.  Many suffer quietly in a silent prison of pain, trying to navigate life while carrying the shame from the childhood violation.  Few ever disclose and even fewer ever seek and find justice.  The shame they carry leads to unfulfilled lives lost talents and failed relationships. When a child finds the courage to disclose, they are frequently met with denial or urged to remain silent to “protect the family reputation”.   Family and friends frequently convey the message that survivor’s outspoken comments about being sexually molested as a child cause them to be shamed or dirty just by association. Why? 

Consider the CDC statistics that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are reportedly sexually abused by age 18 and those numbers may understate the real frequency because of the narrow definitions used, and the reluctance of victims to report. I believe that child sexual abuse has infected a stunning number of families.  If the abuser is the father or stepfather the focus is on protecting the family income.   If the abuser is a family friend, a coach, or a teacher the focus is on the credibility of the child.

If you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  Those that turn a blind eye are, in many ways, just as guilty as the perpetrator.  I invite you to visit and learn how you can become educated to protect children and be a voice for safety in your community.