Feel the Pain

I didn’t understand the severe impact sexual abuse had on me.  For years I wasn’t able to grasp the depth of my pain. I knew something was wrong, yet I rejected the possibility that it was connected to my childhood sexual abuse.   I criticized myself and minimized my experience.

 

Stop overreacting; you’ve only suffered a minor offense. It’s no big deal.

You’re weak and incapable of shrugging off a bad experience. Move on.

 

But I couldn’t move on.  More guilt. If the solution was that easy, what was wrong with me?

Was I too weak? Defective?

Why couldn’t I forget my abuse?

I must have asked myself those questions hundreds of times. I wanted to bury the past or at least ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away. I was stuck.

 

Today I know I wasn’t weak. Struggling with the effects of sexual abuse is expected and the rule, not the exception. My past and all its pain were knocking on the door of the emotional closet I’d stuffed them into, and those emotions wanted out.

I understood that opening the door and acknowledging the past were the only way to move on, but I couldn’t do it. Facing the raw truth of sexual abuse terrified me. Instead, I suppressed my pain and remained emotionally frozen.

As long as I was strong and in control, everything seemed okay.  But when I opened the door of my past sexual abuse, I felt overwhelmed; afraid of my vulnerability and emotional weakness.

 

I have to feel this—I need to heal.

It took me two years to form those words in my thoughts and even longer to say them aloud. But once I accepted that I needed to feel if I wanted to heal, I repeated the words to myself out loud.

I needed to feel, to grieve my unresolved sorrow, and find peace with my past.

I’m not alone.

Sexual abuse is a wounding invasion—a molestation of mind and soul. When it happens, (and it happens all too often) it shatters our emotions, our trust, and our ability to trust. It destroys feelings of security.  We are stripped of our boundaries. We feel powerless, vulnerable, and fearful. We’ve been intimidated—our self-confidence, decimated.

Survivors have described other struggles:

• Shame and guilt

• A sense of worthlessness and damaged self-esteem

• Fear, anxiety, and panic attacks

• Sleep disturbances

  • Eating disorders

• Impaired memory and flashbacks

• Fear of trust and intimacy

• Depression and suicidal thoughts

Yes, sexual assault cuts deeply.  To be whole we must be honest about the psychological imprint abuse leaves on us as survivors. Everyone’s experience is different, but no matter what form of sexual abuse we encountered, it left its mark.

For me, being honest about my abuse meant accepting the fact that it wasn’t my fault, I wasn’t bad.  I worked at feeling compassion toward myself by thinking kind and sympathetic thoughts that replaced the voice of my ever-present, inner-critic with the disappointed, scolding tone.

I still teetered on the side of intolerance when my emerging, tender spirit  showed signs of breaking through, but  that’s  when I mustered the words to remind myself,

Sexual abuse is a big deal, I will acknowledge that what was done against me was horrifically wrong.

Self-compassion is still a challenge for me. It’s easy to slip back into my default system and become harsh and demanding on myself. I have to remember I’m not bad for having needs, and I’m not flawed for wanting love.

Maybe you have a story too. Sexual abuse, regardless of its nature, has left a horrific impact on you. It’s scarred your heart.

I encourage you to be honest about the pain of your sexual abuse and recognize and feel the damage that was done to you.  Healing is possible, and you can explore the depths of your wounds and begin recovery.

About Dawn Scott Jones:

 

Dawn Scott Jones is a survivor who has been sharing her testimony for more than twenty years. She is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God, is the creator of numerous audio teaching products, and has served in a variety of leadership and ministry roles.  dawnscott.org
For a chance to win a copy of her book, enter the drawing on our website here.

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Beautiful, Grace-Filled Grief

It’s a tricky thing, this grief stuff.  When a baby goes home to heaven too soon, it’s just backwards, wouldn’t you agree?  Parents are supposed to outlive their children.  Sometimes – more often than we realize – they don’t.  What tragic, ugly grief.  Yet something beautiful, grace-filled if we let it. Perhaps.

I can’t say I’ve always looked at grief this way.  I know while I was in the trenches of my own grief, the darkness shadowed any inkling of grace.  What I now realize is that grace had been with me all along, amidst the darkest of days.

Are you walking a journey of grief?  Are you facing something so difficult, so gut-wrenchingly painful that the thought of beauty and grace seem to be nothing more than an elusive dream?  Might I speak a word of truth into your heart today, sweet friend…

Even in the darkness, there is light…

“…God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.”

1 John 4:5

Beyond the ashes is a thing of beauty…

“…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion —
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning…”

Isaiah 61:2-3

There is purpose in this pain…

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”

Philippians 1:12

As I contemplate this grief, I marvel at His wonders.  Such beautiful, grace-filled grief is illustrated at the cross of Jesus Christ.

A death undeserved.

Beautiful mercy lavished upon.

Sin and death overcome by such marvelous grace.

So great is His unfailing love (Lamentations 3: 32).  Grateful for this beautiful, grace-filled grief that brought me back to my God who had never let me go.

 

About Teske Drake


Teske Drake (PhD, Iowa State University) is mommy to three babies in heaven, mom to two on earth, and wife to her one and only. She is the cofounder of Mommies with Hope, a biblically based support group for women who have experienced infant loss. Find out more at http://mommieswithhope.com.

Enter the drawing to win a copy of her book by going here. Winner will be contacted by email.

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Abortion, Sarcasm, and Anger

I recently celebrated the happy news that my book, Cradle My Heart, Finding God’s Love After Abortion is now published! I’m just thrilled to have this capstone to eight years of work on the book–so many people worked hard and prayed with me and for me to get this project to this point. And all of us share a desire to see women walking in spiritual freedom after abortion has hurt our hearts. That is my motive and that is my prayer–that God would be glorified by the restoration of broken hearts. I want everyone to know God’s love and to follow our Lord into the healing that his presence brings. 

In contrast, I also write about abortion as a social issue and I’m still shocked and amazed at the level of sarcasm in the abortion conversation. One of the biggest benefits of healing after abortion is that your anger recedes. There are many steps in the process of moving from anger to peace after abortion, and I think one of the most important steps is embracing the loss of control. So many of my attitudes when I chose abortion and when I tried to justify it afterwards were based on a generalized anger toward things I could not control in my life. It didn’t solve anything to be angry toward people who let me down or toward my circumstances which made me feel trapped. But anger can fuel your energy and serve as a motivator. Anger can give you a sense of power and help you feel stronger than you actually are. Anger can mask the pain of the grief you don’t dare allow yourself to feel.

If you are troubled by anger today don’t be deterred and don’t give way to sarcasm. Take heart and stand in God’s grace and truth. I’m encouraged by Proverbs 12:18: “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” The angry rhetoric that surrounds the abortion debate can quickly slide into sarcasm. And if you are surrounded by sarcastic people–especially on this issue–think about your own thirst for wisdom, your own need for truth. This is about so much more than a battle for our rights! This is a battle for your heart, soul, and mind. Turn to the one who is Wisdom and who can comfort your hurting heart.

About Kim Ketola:
Kim Ketola is a sought-after writer and motivational speaker with the Ruth Graham and Friends conference. After thirty years in the broadcasting industry, she founded a nonprofit organization through which she presents professionally accredited conferences to equip counselors and help individuals recover from the emotional and spiritual wounds of abortion.
To enter the drawing to win a copy of Kim’s book, go here.  The winner will be contacted on Saturday by email.

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Women Redeemed Webcast

Monday, September 17th we’ll be joined by Kim, Teske, and Dawn. Each has a story to tell. 3 Women Redeemed from the shame, hurt and grief. Together they share encouragement and advice about how to survive life’s toughest issues: abortion, miscarriage/infant loss, and abuse. Three women and three books, offering hope to women who are desperately seeking support, understanding and healing.

Normally at Grace Café, we would spend an hour with each woman, but we’ll save that for another time. Today they’re coming to briefly tell their stories and how their lives are intertwined to create a webcast on Thursday, September 20 that will allow women to come together in a non-threatening, open and loving environment to share their struggles and fears in order to move toward healing and hope.

So why is it important to discuss these topics? Here are just a few of the staggering statistics on the topics:

Abortion:

  • It is estimated that 13% of abortions are performed on self-described ‘born again’ or evangelical Christians.
  • The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) reports that 46% of aborting women identify themselves as Protestant and an additional 27% identify themselves as Catholic. If true, these statistics reveal that more than 70% of all abortions in the United States are performed on Christian women.
  • 85% of women say abortions cause mental health issues, including sorry, sadness, guilt, regret, grief, and disappointment.

Miscarriage and Infant Loss:

  • The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences reports that as many as 31% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.
  • An estimated 19% of all the adult population has experienced the death of a child.
  • An in-utero death after 20 weeks is considered a stillbirth.
  • A stillbirth occurs once every twenty minutes.
  • Approximately 26,000 pregnancies end in stillbirth every year.

Abuse:

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 80% of childhood abuse victims later suffer from at least one abuse-induced psychological disorder. It’s proven that the effects of childhood abuse follow women into adulthood.
  • 90% of victims know their abuser. Commonly reported abusers are fathers, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers. Other abusers are babysitters, teachers, and neighbors.
  • 80% of childhood abuse victims later suffer from at least one abuse-induced psychological disorder. 1/3 of people who are sexually abused become abusers themselves.

We’re having difficulty with our ability to add videos. Our Web Design team is aware of the problem and will help us figure it out as soon as we are next in line. In the meantime, click the link and view the video on YouTube.

Here’s the link to register for the Webcast Event on Facebook.

Pull up a chair, grab some coffee and join us right here at 11:00 a.m. EST to listen, or here the archive from here. If you’d like to take advantage of conversation in the chat room if you’re listening LIVE, then use this link.

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