Sunday, July 24, 2016

Prayer for Survivors

Lord Jesus, for my brothers and sisters that have been deeply and devastatingly wounded by physical, by emotional and by sexual abuse I pray healing.  I pray that today they will feel the healing presence of the Holy Spirit, the great comforter.  There are no human words to take away their pain and disappointment, only Your healing touch.  As the sun rises this morning, so bright you have to squint to see, I pray those same powerful bright rays of light would pierce the darkness in their lives.  As the pain chills their bones, I pray your rays of light would warm them like a cozy blanket.  I pray in Jesus name that the attacks of the enemy, that attacks in dreams, body sensations and flashbacks would be halted by your power of protection.   As they grieve for their family, and are tormented by feelings of abandonment, I pray that You would draw them into a new family of steadfast believers, to be a witness to your everlasting love.  I pray You would be their Father that holds them close.  As they stand in judgment from family and friends, not believing their testimony of sexual abuse, may you give them strength to walk in the truth, no matter the cost.  May you empower them to forgive all the heartache and suffering, from all those that abused, abandoned and neglected them.  May you flood them with Your overflowing love, to those that would turn their backs on them when they needed them the most.  May you empty their hearts of resentment, of anger and of desperation?  May you fill them with hope and anticipation for an amazing future walking hand in hand with You.  May they hear Your small still voice that says, “I love you and I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  May they today begin to put their trust in You and not in “man.”  May they receive today a hunger and a thirst for Your word, and be flooded with peace as they read your faithfulness throughout time.  May they be cleansed of all feelings of indignity by Your blood Jesus, that was shed on the cross for them?  Help them Holy Spirit to feel Your love in a real and powerful way as they have never felt before.  Help them to bask in your presence and just be loved on today by You.  May today be the day that they surrender all to you.  If they do not know You in a real and personal way as their savior, their friend, their confident, may they today give their life to you. 

In Jesus name I pray

                                                                                 Angela Williams

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

They Don't Understand

They Don’t Understand

     They want to understand our pain.  Who am I talking about?  I am speaking of the ones in our life that love us so much.  Their heart breaks for us.  They can hardly bear to see us cry.  And we survivors of child sexual abuse, we hide.  We hide, because the last thing we want them to see is our suffering, because in our struggles, they feel helpless to comfort us, to ease our pain.  We dream of the day when we wake and the flashbacks are gone, never to return.  We long for a guarantee that the body sensations, the smells, the triggers are gone for good.  We try so hard to run from them, but no matter how long ago the abuse happened, they find us.  When they find us in a strong and grounded state, we can manage most of the time to regroup, to breathe deep, keep our eyes open to the safe reality that surrounds us, to press in and press through the pain.  And when it passes, we breathe deep and praise God that we are safe in our skin.  But on those days when the evil memories visit us in whatever form; when we are tired; depressed; weak; it is like an explosion of glass in our spirits and we quicken to find all the chards before they cut deeper into our soul.  As much as they want to, they don’t understand why we can’t forget the pain.  They don’t understand why it haunts us.
     Weeks ago I hit a wall of exhaustion.  If you might relate, the kind of exhaustion after months of pushing limits, that a 10 hour night of sleep doesn’t begin to rejuvenate.   But the bright light in my future was a family beach vacation.  I was excited to go on vacation with my family, to finally put my feet in the sand and be stilled by the rhythm of the ocean.   It had been an exceptionally strenuous week physically by helping my daughter move.  Of course what you think will take only a few hours, took two days.   
     On the way to the beach, I decided to see my mother since it had been some-time between visits and have more quality time by spending the night.  It was a pleasant visit and as we were retiring for the night I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of a bust of David, a family heirloom so to speak, that had adorned our living room foyer table for as long as I can remember.  The bust was now residing on the bedside table.  The image flashed in my mind of walking the trail of horror to the bedroom where I had been summoned as a child.  “Don’t, don’t you go there,” lashed the harsh voice in my head.”  The command was obeyed, I laid my head on my pillow, sang Amazing Grace in my head and fell asleep.  
     The sleep was restless as a looming dark shadow was enveloping me.  When my eyes fluttered open, I saw the headboard of the bed.  Flash to 1974, I was 7 years old with my eyes focused on the headboard as I was instructed to stay still and stop squirming.  I took a breath that would not fill my lungs because I felt as if an elephant were sitting on my chest.   So began the short shallow panic breaths, I tried to get out of my mouth to my still sleeping husband I need to go.   “I need to go now.”  He awoke to what the heck is going on?  I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t stand my skin.  I wanted to peel it off.  I had to get out of that bedroom, I had to get away from that peering statue of David.  I had to run but my husband said, “Come here, sit down, what is wrong?”  As he reached for me I tore away and looked for an escape.  The bathroom door was open so I darted for the door.  I tried to get it closed but he was in hot pursuit.  I fled through another door to the toilet trying to make a beeline out and ran head first into my daughter.  I backed up to collapse on the toilet.  By now I was hyperventilating.  I couldn’t catch my breath.  I could not explain to them what was happening and they didn’t understand.  I was completely horrified for them to see me in this condition.  I appear to be a pillar of strength on the outside, resilient and confident woman, but today I was a broken little girl, humiliated to be seen in this condition.  You see these days have come and gone over the last 30 plus years in private.  Rarely has anyone but my husband witnessed the turmoil or noticed the turbulence.  My daughter grabbed my hands and tried to make eye contact with me and attempted mindfulness techniques to ground me in the here and now.  She tried to slow my breathing by instructing me to take long deep breaths, from my panicked panting.  I couldn’t look her in the eye for now the shame was choking me, and I just wanted to hide.  I was in a deep tunnel with the waterfall of tears dripping off my chin, as I heard my husband say in a puddle of frustration, “let’s call an ambulance.”  They just didn’t understand.  The sound of sirens in my head jolted me back to reality.  The reality that I had to get the wall built fast to hold back this tsunami of pain.  Within minutes I had experienced flashbacks from the pit of hell watching a little girl’s dignity and humanity be stripped away.   Somehow what had seemed like hours, was just a matter of minutes and I was composed, apologetic and searching frantically for the mask of “I’m ok.”   I prayed, “Jesus please help me.”  I washed my face, forced a smile and went back to life as a wife, a mother, a daughter.  I had roles to play and pathetic was not one of them.
     The days that followed were to bid rest and relaxation, and the real kind that only long summer days at the beach can deliver.  But unfortunately, the breakdown forced my emotions into a tightly wound spring.  I tried so hard to be engaged in the moment, to laugh, to share, but I found myself forcing the merrymaking.  The darkness had gripped me tightly and I squirmed tirelessly to get out of its grasp.  I read senseless magazines, I took long baths, I got up early and read scripture, I prayed for the darkness to lift and my joy to return.  I darted the questions of “How are you?” from my loving daughter with the “I’m fine, don’t worry about me,” and the apologies for her having to witness me shattered.  She said “good,” but the unspoken response in her eyes was “I know you are not good mom and I don’t know what to say.”  We understand the discomfort they feel and we wish with everything we could wash it away.  We understand there are no words of comfort and the fear of sharing the wrong words.  Then there was my precious husband who took the brunt of my brooding.    I had nowhere to deflect the pain but on him, and I hated myself for it, for punishing him for my present condition.  Like the strong and mighty man of God he is, he just took it, realizing I was hurting.  I couldn’t look him in the eye, I couldn’t explain why or how I was hurting.  My default button of isolation and silence had been pressed. 
     The incident happened on Friday night and it was not until the following Thursday that the fog lifted.  It was as if the sun broke through and the sound of the ocean washed the residual fretting away.  I was heartbroken that once again my past abuse had stolen my present joy.  I was heartbroken that those I love the most, I pushed away.  I was heartbroken that this rare week at the beach was spent fighting the demons of abuse and my precious time at the beach had sifted through my fingers like sand and was gone.
     Over the next two weeks, I have been drawing even closer to God, again asking my whys.  “Why God did these horrible memories flood my mind?  Why God could I not process them and pack them away in a safe place?  Why God did I have a total melt down, and in front of my husband and child?  Why was I not stronger to stand against the darkness and fight, like I fight for every survivor in my path?  Why don’t people understand our pain?“  And a small voice said, “You were depleted, you were tired, you were frail, and most of all, you were tender.”   In my quiet moments with God I received revelation. Healing is a journey that takes a continuous investment in our self through self-care, self-awareness, self-compassion and selfless surrender to God.  I received revelation that they may never understand, but God does.  For HE is the only ONE who understands our pain is God in three persons, The Father, Son Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit.  The Father understands the pain and suffering of His children by witnessing the will of man turn to perversion and abuse, Jesus sympathizes with our pain through His own suffering on the cross, and the Holy Spirit feels our pain as He resides in us.  As we may be quick to resent those who don’t understand, quick to dismiss those who have a blink of disbelief, quick to shut those out for self- preservation, quick to feel like no one will ever understand, remember these words.  God understands.
                                                                                                                       Angela Williams
Tips for friends and family of a victim of child sexual abuse:
ü  Pray for them and offer to pray with them
ü  Offer a hand or hug
ü  Be sensitive
ü  Give space and time to grieve
ü  Remind them to take slow and deep breaths
ü  Let them know you are available if they want to share
ü  Believe them and be a good listener
ü  Know that you can’t take away the pain
ü  Help them stay in the present moment
ü  Shower them with love and compassion

Scriptures of Meditation:
Matthew 10: 29-31
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.[b] 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 
Psalm 126:5
5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Deuteronomy 31:8
8The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
2 Timothy 1: 7
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Challenge to fellow Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse:

Don’t suffer in silence.

We are here and we understand.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Tough Talk To Tender Hearts

Tough Talk to Tender Hearts
How to Talk to Children about Sex and the Risk of Sexual Abuse

Parents often have difficulty deciding when they should teach their children about the “birds and the bees.” While talking to children about sex can be very challenging, it is a parent’s responsibility to provide them with the knowledge and understanding that will help prevent sexual abuse.

By teaching children about sex, it gives them a better understanding of the biological and anatomical changes that occur in their bodies as they are growing and developing. These changes may be strange and uncomfortable to children when they do not understand what is going on.

Sex education also provides children with the tools that might prevent sexual abuse. For instance, it allows them to understand their personal boundaries in any relationship they might encounter, which could make the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.

Unfortunately, the society we live in is overly sexualized. This means that children will learn about sex whether or not their parents want them to. Usually, it is a friend or sibling who tells them even though they themselves do not fully understand the topic of sex. Therefore, would it not be better for them to hear it from their parents, a knowledgeable source they trust, rather than their friends or the media?

Without sex education, there are consequences to not only the victims, but society as well. When children do not understand these sexual advances and how to tell a perpetrator to stop, the perpetrator will take advantage of the child’s innocence.

Children need attention. When given it, they tend to not question the actions of those they know. They also will easily trust strangers. Children are inherently programmed with the desire to please adults, so even if they are confused by or fearful of the adult, they will often continue to demonstrate obedience.

More often than not, when sexual abuse occurs, the child will stay silent rather than inform a trusted adult. This could be for several reasons: some victims may be simply confused and scared, whereas in other instances it may have been that the perpetrator threatened to hurt a loved one if the victim would tell.

As a result of the abuse, many children begin to develop destructive behaviors that impact them not only as the abuse takes place, but throughout their adulthood as well.

Children who have been the victims of sexual assault are:

  • 3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
  • 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
  • 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
  • 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

Children who were sexually abused also have an increased chance of re-victimization in adulthood. One study found that sexual victimization that occurred in youth increases the chances of sexual victimization in adulthood between 2 and 13.7 times.

The CDC similarly conducted a study to understand the short- and long-term affects of adults that had been through some traumatic stressor as a child. These stressors could include abuse, neglect, or some other sort of trauma. The more traumatic the stressors a child faced, the more their chances of long-term health problems increased. The CDC identified such health problems as liver disease, suicide attempts, unintended pregnancy, depression, and alcohol abuse, amongst many others.

Sexual abuse among children is much more common than one thinks:

  • 44% of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 18.
  • 7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.
  •  3% of boys in grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.
  •  93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.
  • 34.2% of attackers were family members.
  • 58.7% were acquaintances.

Educating children about sex can help prevent them from becoming one of these dire statistics. There are many ways to go about sex education. The interactive workbook, “Tough Talk to Tender Hearts,” is just one way to help parents cross the bridge that they might be afraid to.

“Tough Talk to Tender Hearts” is a great resource guide to help parents navigate “The Talk” with their children, starting as early as infancy. That’s right, this conversation begins early, layering age appropriate conversations throughout childhood in order to provide children with the tools to understand their bodies and boundaries during each stage of development. Sharing the information learned in this interactive workbook with your children will empower your child to feel confident about their own personal boundaries and personal power. Please visit VOICE Today to purchase your copy.

1. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sex Offenses and Offenders. 1997.
2. 1998 Commonwealth Fund Survey of the Health of Adolescent Girls. 1998.
3. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2000 Sexual Assault of Young Children as Reported to Law               Enforcement. 2000.
4. World Health Organization. 2002.
5. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sex Offenses and Offenders. 1997.