Tag Archives: rape

Pain And Healing – The Value Of An Outstretched Hand

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Pain And Healing – The Value Of An Outstretched Hand

Every human being alive knows the definition of pain. For some, it’s chronic illness – physical, or mental. Life has a habit of launching some curve balls aimed at destroying the status quo. Our action, inaction, or reaction to reality altering events is what sets the tone of our journeys and lives.

When the pain is unbearable, it is easy to lose sight of hope – hope for anything other than pain. In the intensity of a crisis or painful episode, the shaded sunglasses are fastened tightly. Through them, we only see darkness. The brightest sunny day, with birds chirping and life happening can appear dark and dreary as we wear these glasses. It’s being sight impaired to beauty for fear of the pain.

That is what pain does. It blocks our vision. It keeps us from enjoying the okay or good times because there is a paranoid expectancy of the demons and darkness lurking around the corner.

On the converse, those moments where we’re feeling those unexpectedly beautiful moments, and we are able to take joy in them — it’s more crushing when the pain returns. There is no denying that good and beautiful things happened. There are sometimes undeniable miracles at work. Even with those, it’s hard to hang onto what feels like fleeting beauty. Sunglasses continue to darken the world around us. 

We all have pasts. The collective pain and brokenness that each individual brings into a crowded room is unfathomable. Hidden scars. Brokenness. Some have walked through addiction, sexual abuse or rape, traumas of all kinds, physical or mental illnesses, bullying, crisis moments, losses of small and great magnitudes – just pain that is unimaginable.

We all need to recognize the FACT that every single person in there is a living, breathing story. Each comes with their own story – what brought them to where they are today.

Let’s talk about healing. And taking off those sunglasses. 

Healing is a term that people throw around when things hurt. Physical or mental. When life hurts, I can almost guarantee that you will hear that time heals all wounds. Whoever tells you that is lying. They may not intentionally be liars, but time doesn’t heal everything that hurts. Some things, time does allow you to better get a grip of, or to carry a little easier…but take away the pain? Nope, not so much.

However, there are  things in life that help heal. 

When life hurts, love heals. It doesn’t make the wounds automatically go away, but it dulls the sharpness of the pain. When someone offers an outstretched hand, and doesn’t greet pain with silence, healing can happen in unimaginable ways. Hope that we were temporarily blind to – that hope holds your hand and sits with you in the pain. That place is where healing happens.

It’s important to note that it’s okay to not be okay. But, when you’re not, please reach out – and allow someone else the honor of your taking their outstretched hand. No, reaching out doesn’t erase the pain. It won’t, and it can’t. Even when you feel that you’re walking through hell on earth, it’s heartwarming to know that you don’t have to do it alone.

Even not being alone doesn’t mean the storms aren’t damaging.

It is what we choose to do in these moments that define us. For me, it’s accepting the gift of friendship. When there is an outstretched hand, it’s taking it and allowing myself to just be. To just feel. To cry the tears that I want to suppress. A friend recently reminded me that I needed to feel what I was feeling, and that it was okay. Even the brokenness and tears. That is a reminder I have shared with many people over the course of time – but, hearing the words said to me – did something in my heart.

No, healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage is no longer permitted to control our lives.

I know it’s sometimes easier said than done. I’ve walked through hell on earth. I’ve known deep pain. But, I’ve also come to know hope and healing.

If you are or were a kid who was picked on and bullied, know that you don’t have to be defined by that. Healing is possible, and you are more. Your life is valuable, and you matter more than the words of any written language could express. There are many who may feel their pain is a result of their own doing. If you feel like you’ve messed up, always remember that you are not a sum of your past mistakes. You can make choices that enact positive change. You don’t hold all the keys to the universe, but you do hold some to your own world. We can’t control everything, but we can control our own actions.

Yes, bad things happen. Yes, it sucks. But, no, it doesn’t have to define your entire life. Brokenness can be exchanged for healing. It may not happen immediately, but it can happen. Sometimes love and friendship is like a healing salve applied to intensely painful wounds to aid in the healing process.

In case no one has told you this, please hear me. I believe in you. I believe in your story. I believe in the power of a shared story. So, let me offer this. If you have a story to tell, or just want to talk – reach out. I’m here, and others are as well. You can post in comments or send me a message via my “contact me” page. Just never give up on your story. Yours is a beautiful story, with chapters yet to be written. Never, ever give up. 

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When A Rape Turned Home Invasion Saved My Life (Guest Post) 

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This is an anonymous guest post. This is a guest post, and very few details have been altered – only to ensure her anonymity, protection and continued safety and freedom. 

Rape. Take a closer look at this picture. A mere 10 days after rape, you’ll see a positive pregnancy test, a crying eye, and embryonic growth and yolk sac. This picture shows that.

I cannot cope with reality. Plain and simple. It’s no secret that my significant other and I aren’t close these days. No one can tell me this excuses rape. 

Our lack of intimacy does not afford him the freedom of violently taking what was not, and never will be again, his. If you don’t think rape can happen inside a relationship, established home, marriage, etc, then you are part of the problem. 

As I lay on the cold, wooden floor, I could still feel the burn of being restrains. As I lay there, begging for escape somehow – asking God to allow me to perish, mysuddenly terrified daughter walked in the door. 

Without hesitation, she ran to me. Fiercely protective, this one. After a long talk, and at the request of a friend, 911 was called. Trembling and afraid, I opened the door. 

Compassion. 

Some of those exact moments remain a blur. And I’m not complaining. But I recall completely losing my shit at the ability to feel safe. Someone was there. For me. But not to hurt me. They offered no judgment, only compassion. 

Even if I wanted to turn very small and scurry away, I couldn’t have. Even if I didn’t press charges, my body forced the “this is getting investigated” scenario. Am ambulance was summoned, as I nearly passed out. From my cold, wooden floor to a cold hospital gurney, I became important enough to listen to. Important enough to fix. 

I did survive, but in those moments, living was not a desire. Yes, I wanted to die. 

Eventually, with my personal effects placed nicely in the newly crumpled brown super market bag,  I went back home. Home. It wasn’t a safe place anymore. I ached to not exist. 

As a routine follow up, I had wounds checked, blood and urine tested, and was then sent on my merry way. It was not until the following day, that I got a phone call that rocked my world.

My doctor needed me to come in (ironically on Labor Day) so he could further break my heart. It was one of the moments where it was hard to not kill the messenger. 

Your testing is back. (no dip!) I have some complicated news. You have hcg levels consistent with early pregnancy. (no amount of doctor speak could have lessened the new reality about to kick me in the stomach and steal the breath from my lungs. 

How did I respond to the news that I’m now a human incubator? Like a monster. I felt less than human. Broken beyond repair. I am carrying within my body, the product of rape. I fell apart. Crumbled into pieces. 

As I sat, now in a little ball – think crying in the fetal position, I could only think of how violently this little growing life had invaded mine. 

While I cannot fathom bringing a child into this world, I can comprehend, even less, taking his or her life. I will not stop a beating heart. But i also see myself as the world’s biggest asshole for not wanting this little growing life. 

The very next day, I was asked to come for imaging. Every other time I’ve seen a prenatal ultrasound, it invoked excitement. (and I have seen hundreds in my line of work.) But seeing my own, it terrified me. 

How then does this whole thing having happened play a part in saving my life? Simple. As much as I don’t want to be a human incubator under these circumstances, I do want give this child a fighting chance. I cannot die because someone, literally, relies on me to live. 

Yes, I do have family and friends. I remain alive for them because I know I’m needed or wanted, but this – this is different. 

Yes I’m terrified of this future, but strangely at a peaceful place where a trusted friend reminded me that beauty can and will somehow come from this. I can’t believe her right now, but I’ll borrow faith, and  the outstretched hand of others – that hand which will help me stand when I can’t even feel the solid ground beneath my feet. 

Is Grace Permitted To Be Messy? 

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Is Grace Permitted To Be Messy? 

Painted and photographed by yours truly

Most people understand and agree that life is messy, but to project our messiness onto a beautiful concept like grace sometimes makes some people squirm. ~ Steve Austin

For those of you who will tell me that trigger warnings are bullshit, and don’t need to exist – I respect your right to think as you may, provided you also respect my knowledge that some DO need them. For those of you who do – and if you’re triggered by anything – especially the mention of rape, you might want to give yourself grace and stop reading for now. And that’s okay! 

What word picture does your brain conjure up with the term messy grace?  Alone, at least for me, it made me tilt my head and entertain the confusion as I tried to make sense of what it could possibly mean. 

As seen in the definition word picture above, these words do not naturally fit together. 

Messy is a word I’m increasingly familiar with. Untidy or dirty. Yes, this. From my childhood and through these moments raising my own children, untidy can describe our house at any given time. Not always dirty, but untidy – absolutely. 

Then, there is this concept of grace. Grace has always painted a pretty picture of someone who deserves forgiveness and grace. Deserves being the operative word. To tell me otherwise has seemed like a foreign concept. 

To have the audacity to claim that the God would offer someone grace, someone who DOESN’T deserve it, it was mind boggling to me. To drive this point home, you’re going to tell me that the asshole who raped me gets this free and unmerited favor – I’m sorry, but this does not compute. This. This just isn’t fair. 

That’s exactly the message of grace. It isn’t fair, and isn’t justice. Justice is the polar opposite of grace. Grace isn’t only for the deserving. And, each and every one of us should be very glad about this. If we are being honest, there is not a human being alive who is perfect and not in dire need of some free and unmerited favor – grace. But, as it’s definition indicates, it is freely given to ALL. ALL people – regardless of their checkered past, their messy present, or whatever the journey of life escorts them to in the future

But, so often – myself included, I forget some very valuable lessons. 

  1. Grace is for the undeserving. 
  2. Grace is also for me. 

    See, I often see myself as less than worthy. I look in the mirror and see the pain looking back. Heck with that whole seeing beauty thing. No. I don’t always like what I see, and God knows I need that same grace. I don’t deserve it – but no one does! 

    For the people who profess Christ as Savior,  (and anyone else who takes the time to read) I’ll remind you that Jesus – in history, the only perfect personeverwith no sin. That guy died a brutal death (crucifixion) on The Cross – a death He didn’t deserve – so we could have a life (and grace) we don’t deserve! 

    If you are like me – and every other human being alive – you don’t deserve grace. The beautiful concept is that grace – messy grace – is yours for the taking. You don’t deserve it, but none do. Reach out your hand, and please take mine. Together, we can enjoy this foreign concept called grace. 

    Forgiveness And Healing – Even After Rape

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    First, I will start by simply mentioning that this is part two of a two part blog post, centering around rape – and even forgiveness that is possible. I recognize that this is an incredibly sensitive topic, and you may not feel comfortable reading further. No harm in this.

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    To everyone reading these words, know this – forgiveness is possible after something as horrible as rape. However, before I go any further, I want you to know that just because I was able to come to a point (years later) that I was able to forgive – I do not expect you to be in that same place — and that’s okay. My prayer for you is that you find peace, whatever you are. If you’re tormented, having nightmares, thinking about ending your life to escape the pain – know that you aren’t alone. However, PLEASE DON’T! Your life matters, and what was done to you does NOT define who you are. Or may have been able to sculpt parts of your life – but it doesn’t have to maintain that hold on your heart.

    Recently, I was listening to a message from a pastor (Craig Groeschel – sorry, Craig, if I butchered your name) of a church I’ve never been to. It was a message online. This topic was about forgiveness. He had a little or graph and talked about when we forgive people – it’s not for their sake, it’s for ours. The age old saying that mentions “when you forgive a person, the prisoner it sets free is you” rings so true. In this message, Craig also mentioned taking forgiveness a step further and pardoning people. To recognize that they don’t deserve our forgiveness, and they can’t realistically repay the things they’ve stolen.  That wasn’t all there was to the message – but that was the main part(s) that stuck out and grabbed my heart.

    Later that evening, I continued the thought process a lot. The very next day,  I made the conscious decision to write this. A crazy thing happened. I actually also began to pray for these people – that, somehow they’d come to know Him.

    Did I send these letters? Nope. Not a chance. Not yet. Plus, I don’t actually have an address to physically send TO anyway. All said, these were written for me. To allow my heart peace. To give my heart freedom.

    This is what I had to say:

    I’d like to bring up the inappropriate sexual contact. Okay, sugar coating this isn’t going to get us anywhere. You went from inappropriate touches, and advanced to sexual assault, attempted rape and rape. Sure, over time. It was wrong in every way. You stole things incapable of being replaced. You physically hurt me. You broke my heart. You took innocence. As much as you do not deserve it, I am choosing forgiveness. That’s the thing. You DON’T deserve it. But, I didn’t deserve forgiveness of my sins either, but Jesus died a death He didn’t deserve so my sins, and your sins would be washed away – as far as the east is from the west. So, I do not want fear, disgust or hatred to color my vision of you. I want to see you through eyes of grace. I mean it when I say words I never thought I’d be able to utter – you are forgiven. Though I recognize that you took far more than you could ever repay, I want you to forgive yourself for this too. You owe me nothing, and what you did will no longer have that hold on me. I choose to no longer give it power. I know you may not think you need forgiveness, or that you need to forgive yourself, but you should. You deserve joy in your life. You deserve to be loved. You need to know that you are, by virtue of being a human being, loved. Even when/if you’re seemingly undeserving. Walk in freedom today moving forward. I am. Be free to love and be loved. Understand that grace is a free gift, and I want you to have it. Please take care of yourself. Please love and cherish your family. Be a father. Know how much your words have power. Ask yourself if you want your child to only see pain and anger – or if you want him to know love. It’s a choice. It’s a decision. He’ll grow up before you know it. I don’t have to tell you that none of us are promised tomorrow. Love today. Start with yourself.

    Okay, and then we have you. You hurt me. You learned from him how to do it. How to essentially hurt me. You learned how to rob my innocence. You knew how to cause fear and self hatred in that way. You should have been able to be trusted. You violated all levels of trust. To feel what you forced me to feel isn’t right. With what you, did you could never repay me. It isn’t realistic to think there is or ever can be justification for sexual trauma or rape. In any form. You took things from me that can never be returned. I am tired of holding onto the hatred, hurt and anger. It’s not fair, and I’m done. I don’t allow this to maintain it’s grasp on my heart. Even though you did terrible wrongs, more than once, I want you to hear the words “you are forgiven” and know that they are yours. Let them free you, as they are freeing me. No, I am not the same person I once was, but I am stronger now. With God’s help, I am able to see you through eyes of grace. Grace, backed with love. You are also loved. I want you to know that God loves you, and wants you to come to Him. Just as you are. Allow your past to remain there. Allow forgiveness to permeate your heart. You don’t deserve it, but not one of us do. I truly hope you cry out to Him and allow Him to give you the same grace, love and hope. You are God’s creation, and thus beautiful. Smile. Know that you are forgiven. I am free of the hold this had on me. I want you to be too.

    This was difficult to write in so many ways. However, the freedom I’ve found and the grace and love I truly feel in this moment is like nothing else I can put into words. I genuinely feel the call to prayer for these individuals. I want them to know the freely given grace and love that I know. Though they once caused unbearable pain – I have decided today to not allow that to maintain any form of control in my heart. They are forgiven. Not only forgiven, they are pardoned. They are free. I am free. Blessed by grace, covered with love and filled with hope.

    Forgiveness After Rape – Is It Possible?

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    As the title suggests, I am going to be talking about rape, self harm and depression in this post. I understand if this is a sensitive subject for you and you can’t read it.

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    Before I go any further, I have to say this. If you are in my family, and feel betrayed because you didn’t know – I’m sorry. Not all that many people did – for what I thought were valid reasons. As such, please don’t pry to find out more or specifics I’m not sharing at this time. You won’t know or guess, and that’s intentional at this point.

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    As you can imagine, it takes every ounce of energy I have to address this topic. Not in a way where I relive the trauma, but in a way that something hiding is coming to light. You see, it’s far easier to live in shadows of anonymity. I was going to guest post about this on another blog, but I decided to acknowledge what happened and allow there to be power in my words – for my story to be told. Not just told anonymously – but by me.

    I will just stop finding words to say it. I have experienced sexual trauma, including rape. Sigh. Those words are scary. But, what I need to hear – and if this is something you need to hear, then listen up – this is not a dirty little secret.

    The fact that you were raped doesn’t make you suddenly become damaged goods. It makes you a human being who was hurt. A human being with – no matter your age – an innocence stolen.

    Yes, something was taken from me that is impossible to get back. Feelings of security were replaced with fear and anger – with a brokenness unlike anything I had ever understood – let alone experienced. I began a road that led to self harm and depression. I was that person who loved life – and all it has to offer. Turns out, not all it has to offer. I retreated inside myself, and struggled to let others in.

    Getting hurt was not on my list of things to do. It didn’t have to be for the experience to repeat itself. They took lessons, it would seem, and reconstructed a way in. Trust was broken, and so was I. At a time I was finally starting to feel almost safe again, that dream became a nightmare, and I felt as if I was shattered – but beyond repair. I almost felt as if there was nothing more to live for. I couldn’t protect myself. I felt doomed to a life that included nothing but heartache and pain. Humility and shame.

    That went on for a while. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned to months that turned to linger and longer. So much time being unable to escape these things I had come to know as reality – my own personal hell on earth.

    Then everything changed. A ray of hope. I learned that I could be valued for more than I was – and for more than had been done to me. I learned that there was more to life than betrayal. I learned that love wasn’t just a concept for other people – it was also for me. Until then, I had virtually no clue how much I ached to feel deserving of love. I firmly believe the desire to love others, and to be loved rests in each of us.

    I will tell you this though. The first person to break through to my heart – helping me break down those guard walls – wasn’t a person at all. It was no less real though. I’m talking about God. Yes, He was always real, and I always knew (somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain) that He loved me, and desired me. He wanted all of me, with nothing held back. So those broken pieces – I began seeing them as puzzle pieces. Those delicate pieces were in His hands – in the hands of my Maker. He was putting together a beautiful puzzle – a masterpiece. Yes, I started trusting God to hold my heart, and to bring healing to some dark places. I started to have faith that not all people would stab me in the back while playing the part of a thief. The kind that steals the unseen, but nevertheless real things – hope, security, love, safety, innocence, etc. I could go on.

    I was angry for a long time – and rightly so. I felt violated, and I had been. I felt like hope is a different future was a lost cause. It wasn’t. Through having an encounter with the God of all creation, this changed.

    Little by little, I started seeing myself the way He sees me. Truth be told, seeing myself that way is still something I struggle with. I still look in the mirror and have to remind myself that I am a child of God, and loved and adored by Him.

    In time, this recurring theme – forgiveness – kept coming up. Surely this is a sick and twisted joke right!?  I wasn’t expected to forgive this asshole was I? (pardon the word there, it’s what replaced any names for a long time.) They didn’t deserve to be forgiven. They deserved to pay for what they’d done. What he did was unforgivable – or at least that idea had been burned into my head. But there was conviction that came in time. I didn’t HAVE to forgive anyone – and no, they certainly didn’t deserve it. But – at some point – that all changed.

    I began to pray, and (as cliché as this is about to sound) give it all to God. I mean it though. I decided to give Him all the broken pieces and trust that He’s capable of protectively handle with care. Healing was – much to my amazement – starting to happen. I’m not going to lie though. Forgiveness wasn’t on my radar for quite some time. With words, at a few different things, I may have said that I forgave them – but I didn’t fully. I reserved the right to be angry. I reserved the right to despise even the thought of their names. I might have seen them on a regular basis,  but that still didn’t include interacting or connecting outside of what was needed in that moment. So, my words uttered forgiveness – but that’s about the only part of me interested in that concept.

    It actually wasn’t until recently that I became aware of this. That I actually realized that part of me may have forgiven, but the rest was still in shackles. Chained and bound by something beyond my control, and way outside of my reach. I was being held captive – in small and large ways – by these acts. Yes, my past had indeed defined the person was – who I had become.

    But it didn’t have to. For the sake of time, and all of our collective sanity, I will save the rest of this transition and how it took shape in my heart for the next post. I will share how I was able to learn and truly walk in something different – something other than all the heartbreak and pain that defined me for a considerable amount of time.

    Before I go, I simply must share a real life example that happened in between when I started this until now it’s completion. I had a function to attend. As I was making small talk with a few in attendance, something of concern caught my eye. I saw some dear friends of mine that were visibly upset – both with tears freely flowing. Something had happened, and I didn’t want to be nosey – but wanted to let them know that – no matter what, I see their tears, hear their cries, and that they weren’t alone. In a split second, my friends daughter came over and just stood in my embrace. After a moment, and just holding her – I asked what was wrong. After a pause and an attempt to not lose it, she bravely told me that her moms attacker was there. Being unaware of all the details, I went to comfort and spend a little time with her mom also.

    *** I will stop to say this — I have spoken directly with them, and have been given the go ahead to share briefly their story. It is painful, but it is real. ****

    It was at this point that the rest of the story unfolded with such heartbreaking and painful details. The truth of the matter is that mom was violently raped (and had to go via ambulance, as a result) and her precious daughter was forced to watch in terror. This asshole (no, I don’t generally use this term, but I am giving myself a pass because honestly it doesn’t even begin to describe him) came to this same function, and made it a point to ensure his presence was known to them. You see, our justice system failed in this case. He wasn’t convicted of her rape – or the (at least) two other rapes he had part in. So, this man is free while the fear was brought right back to the surface in an instant.

    At another point during the function, he was walking directly in our direction. As he approached, their fear was visible. He was visibly pleased. I took the time to (obviously safely) place myself in between them and him. I would not allow mom or her daughter to make eye contact with a monster trying to continue to enslave them in this bondage – the fear that they currently live with and have nightmares about. So any further damage in that moment was thwarted.

    But, friends – the damage has been done long before. The fear was no joke.

    I’m telling you – this is what rape does. It enables a person to maintain control of a person – not just during the physical act of forced non consensual intercourse (yes, that’s one definition of rape) but also for a long, long time to come. That fear and anxiety takes control and runs with it.

    What I will share in my next post will be about how I got to where I am today, what that looks like, and the thought process that got me there.

    If this tells your story, I want you to know so many things. But the most important is knowing that you aren’t what happened to you, and you and you absolutely are not alone. You do not have to feel such pain alone. If you would like, I’d be honored to listen to your story. You’ll find out that I can’t do anything to erase history, or even to make it better. But, you’ll also learn that there is freedom in sharing your story. There is healing mixed into that freedom – and control and power taken away from your attacker when you can face what happened (not in a way of re-living it, just in the way that shares with someone else that wouldn’t judge, would empathize and let you know it’s okay to hurt) and just know its okay to feel how you feel. You can be okay again. So, again, if this is you or anyone you know, understand – I’d be honored to stand by your side and heart your story. If you feel like it, you can share or comment in the comments before. If this doesn’t feel comfortable (and God knows I understand that one) then please feel free to reach out via the contact me button. I am here.