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.