August 22, 2017

The Art of Active Healing-Part IV: Empowerment

In this week's post with guest blogger, Jillian Short, we conclude by exploring how healing can be an act of art and creation!

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During this four-part series, we have touched on Denial and how this normal reaction served to protect our bodies from damage, allowing us time to safely process. We moved on to Persepective and how our sense of wellness is tied largely to the way we feel or think about a circumstance or situation. Last week we looked at Purpose—how we actively bridge the gap between our past and our future.  All three of these—Denial, Perspective and Purpose—are progressive aspects within our healing process.

Every one of us are living with befores and afters. We are living in the present, yet daily we must deal with the fallout of what was before.  Sometimes we forget that each day is an after—a sequel that hasn’t happened yet.  Our healing journeys—our todays—are not hopelessly fused to the traumas we experienced in the past. Each new day is a separate entity. As a fellow survivor of abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety and disillusionment, I speak out boldly on this subject, and only do so with compassion and understanding. 

This week we are approaching the idea of Empowerment as it pertains to our past abuse and our ongoing healing.  For today, rather than thinking of healing in a passive sense, I want us to look at the idea of healing as an active, hands-on, cooperative and powerful ART

“Empowerment” is just a fancy word for harnessing the power we already have. This is where the idea of Art comes in—again. Merriam Webster defines “art” this way:  

art
√§rt/ 

noun

Skill acquired by experience, study, or observation; the conscious use of creative imagination; Something that is created to express important ideas or feelings;
The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power;

There is strength in facing your own pain and asking hard questions…and being willing to do the work to find the answers. There is power in honesty, straightforwardness and telling it like it is—first to yourself.  The long-quoted verse says it so perfectly, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32).  The word “shall”, in the original Greek, is progressive.  It’s literally saying “Continue to know, to learn, to grasp, to embrace TRUTH…and this truth—that which you are grabbing hold of—shall set you free.”

The decision to embrace the truth of your worth is powerful—and totally crucial to your wellness.  Even just the desire to want to—that may be all you have to give right now.  If that’s all you have, take it and run! Grab hold of it! The turning point in my life came at an incredibly low point.  There were no trumpets or bolts of lightning.  In reality, it was a quiet time of true agony. But in that lowest of moments, I came to truly accept the truth. The truth that I was created beautiful and worthwhile. I am unique. I am worth fighting for. I have so much to share with the world. I was born on March 30th because that was my special day. I was given specific—special—tools to use in my life to create a masterpiece. My masterpiece!

Viewing healing as an art takes all the passivity away—all the feelings of being out of control—and allows us to mentally see ourselves holding our own paintbrush. To see our own worth.

Mental images (such as this) are so important for survivors of child sexual abuse/trauma! When we purposely fill our minds with positive images, we are actively counteracting the bad memories that are chaining us to the wall. These negative memories are holding us captive—and it’s time to change that!!


My life-canvas (and yours) is comprised of many colors and tones and shades. I choose to firmly hold my paintbrush and daily make a conscious decision to envision the beautiful person I see inside my soul. This isn’t about conjuring up power. This isn’t about acting or pretending. This is about accepting myself and allowing myself to be who I was created to be. 

I want to make sure we fully grasp this. I purposely used the word “accept” here (please go back and read the last paragraph again) because we already know the truth. We already have incredible ability and strength within us!  We really have no idea how much we are capable of!  How much we already know! We have no idea just how impactful our lives are—and can be!!

Do you see how true “power” has nothing to do with those people who hurt you?  They have no power over you.  You’ve allowed them to hurt you long enough. It is time to rise up out of the debris of debilitation and begin to breathe again.

Let’s face it.  This debris surrounding us isn’t exactly pretty! As we begin to rise up out of our trauma and pain, we are often bombarded by the reality of our “fallout”. This in and of itself can be enough to slap us right back down into it again.  This is where ART comes in to play.  Each day, each moment, we have the same choice.  Sometimes our past hurts more than others.  Sometimes bad memories surface and crowd in—but this does not change our worth.  It does not alter who I are.  And today—again and again—we have the choice to choose truth.

Choosing truth is just that. It is a decision to be right where you are. Sometimes truth means you need to stop and take a deep breath and say, “ouch, this hurts.” Never ever put yourself down for your feelings!!! They are real.  Consciously make the decision to affirm your feelings.  Then, after allowing yourself to hurt (or be angry or whatever feeling you are dealing with), make a decision to believe in who you are

I found the strength to breathe deeply and allow myself to live again.  That’s what I had been missing!  It was the absense of truly LIVING. I had been existing, just hoping to make it through another day.  As I was able to actually embrace my own worth—as my Creator intended—I began to see my past differently.  I began to see many wonderful and useable tools hiding within my “debris pile”!  I realized over time that the fire had only refined my tools—not destroyed them!!

As I began to rise in strength, much like the phoenix, I was able to see my inner beauty and purpose.  And without even realizing it, I was now living out the essense of empowerment.    I  was actively creating my after


You are not the pain of your past. You are not broken. You are not the actual debris.  The debris and brokenness may be all around you, but YOU are the artist. You are here for a reason.

“The pearl is the oyster's autobiography." Federico Fellini

Living on purpose starts from the inside and flows outward. Truly the most important decision you will ever make is that of shifting your heart toward the idea of Purpose—choosing life and worth—and this begins from the realization that you are here for a reason—and that you matter. What will flow from this is EMPOWERMENT.  







---

As a very young child, I was subjected to sexual abuse until I was seven. When I was twelve, my parents and I went to Micronesia as missionaries with Evangelism Missions Inc. I loved it! I learned the language, embraced the culture, and eventually became interpreter for our mission church. My abuse became a distant memory—buried and unaddressed.

Years later, still deep in the clutches of my church affiliation, I married a man who was physically abusive—with the church’s backing—under the doctrine of “Biblical Patriarchy”. Then the unthinkable happened. I discovered my children were being sexually abused. My world crashed around me.

I wish I could say I was strong and tenacious. I wasn’t. The knowledge of my children’s abuse filled me with such pain I could barely function. Guilt engulfed me. How could this have happened? I’d been abused myself—Shouldn’t I have been able to recognize the signs? This trauma triggered my own unresolved past, resulting in PTSD and severe anxiety disorder. The lack of support from our friends—especially within the church—astounded me. We were told to forgive and honor our abuser. They strictly instructed us to be silent, even telling us not to press charges, stating that “speaking out about our abuse gave the church—and thus, Jesus Christ—a bad name”. He only served an 18-month sentence. After his release, he was brought back into church leadership.

I left my toxic church—and my marriage—and began the slow, upward path toward recovery. My children began to truly heal. I was amazed to learn more about Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and its effects on us as adults. I surrounded myself with life-changing resources—and positive support.

Today, I am a court-certified translator/interpreter, co-owner of a real estate investment company, and the founder/CEO of Always a Voice®. I am the International Spokesperson for Stop the Silence® and an Advocate/Ambassador with the CSA Survivor Force, a national media outreach group under Stop the Silence®/NAASCA (http://www.naasca.org/StopTheSilence/ or https://stopthesilence.org/csa-survivor-force/). I have a degree in Counseling/ Biblical Theology and use my experiences to offer hope and encouragement to other survivors.

I am happily remarried and my family is thriving—more than I would have thought possible! My children have gone on to use their own voices through music, dance, art, education. Some are directly fighting against sex-trafficking and child abuse.

My passion and goal is to empower those who have no voice--or those just finding their voices--and to raise awareness on how to better recognize signs of abuse and how to combat precise issues/problems relating to the “fall out” of trauma. My next book, “This Little Plight of Mine©” (late 2017) speaks out against what I now define as “Church-Sanctioned Abuse©”.

I am committed to use my voice (through media, newspaper, and radio), on a global level, to stop the silence and perpetuation of abuse and trauma “one person, one dream, one step, one leap at a time.”



August 15, 2017

The Art of Active Healing-Part III: Purpose

In this week's post with guest blogger, Jillian Short, we explore some practical ways to become "purposeful" in our healing.

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We’ve spent the last two weeks discussing the art of active healing. We touched on Denial and how this normal reaction serves to protect our bodies from damage—allowing us time to safely process. We then moved on to focus on Persepective, keeping in mind that so much of our wellbeing comes from how we feel or think about a circumstance or situation. Both of these—Denial and Perspective—provide physical aspects to our healing.

Just as other bodily symptoms/reactions are present with any illness or condition, in the same way our bodies answer our Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) with symptoms, reactions and responses. We can google “Diabetes” and read how to actively take charge of the management and treatment of this disease. We can readily learn how diet and exercise can prevent Type 2 diabetes from progressing and developing into Type 1—or worse. Through research, we now know that applying a holistic approach to managing diseases/illnesses can help create a much more successful outcome.

In our culture, we really aren’t taught to take an active role in the care of our mental, spiritual and emotional health. We are taught from childhood to supress and hide our adverse experiences—and the normal symptoms associated with our trauma—as if exhibiting our trauma somehow translates out to some innate weakness in our lives!! 

Oftentimes we find ourselves years down the road of life before we finally come to the realization that we actually matter. That our feelings matter. That our physical wellbeing is connected to our emotional health—or lack thereof! And this is the time to decide how we are going to move forward into an active partnership—bridging our physical self and our emotional/mental/spiritual self

It is during this season of awakening—the season of shedding the skin of our Denial—that we often experience our greatest onset of symptoms and “issues”. With proper perspective, we can make a choice to view this season in our lives as productive and necessary. We are literally taking back the ground that was taken from us—and it is time! 

Accepting—realizing—that our symptoms (and reactions) have been normal responses to our trauma is the most important healing step we may have ever taken! This realization may be accompanied by a feeling of liberation and freedom—or you may find yourself incredibly emotional and sad. Sad for all that has been lost. 

It is imperative that we grasp the idea of “rehab” and what that means/looks like. Let's imagine this scenario: an Olympian runner loses both his legs and is not expected to walk again, let alone run.  But more than anything he wants to run again, so he decides to go for it with all his heart. He puts the huge, nearly impenetrable goal of competing again in the forefront of his mind, and now he eats, sleeps and breathes his goals—his purpose. He begins to measure everything he eats. He writes out his goals. He hires a specialized trainer. He puts pictures of runners all over his house--on his fridge, above his toilet, in his car. He sits in bed at night and reads running magazines. He lifts weights. But more importantly he plans and anticipates his SUCCESS.


Successful rehab and treatment is always accompanied by hard work and "pre-commitment". We must choose to surround ourselves with strength and wholeness—to hunker down and do whatever is necessary to be well and happy. The first step in that direction is giving yourself permission to be happy. Especially for survivors of child sexual abuse, it's easy to believe we are not worthy to be truly happy. Guilt holds us back. Our memories chain us to the wall of indecisiveness. Growth seems to elude us, mostly because of our fear of change, our fear of responsibility and our fear of success. And strangely, sometimes it's just more comfortable to stay anchored to our excuses, fear and/or indecision.

During my awakening stage, I found it very helpful to write in a journal. I bought a new notebook that was small enough to easily carry with me in my purse. I actively wrote out my thoughts, plans and goals, lists of changes I wanted to make, verses, quotes and poems, letters to God (sometimes angry, sometimes full of hope and faith) and my exercise and diet goals. This is a practice I continue to embrace to this day.

On a practical level, here are a few “on purpose” steps you can take to help achieve mental balance and happiness:
  1. Join a positive support group
  2. Seek a coach or therapist you feel comfortable with
  3. Remove negative friends/family members from your sphere of influence
  4. Go through your list of TV shows—break free from any that are trashy or negative.
  5. Make a list of movies/books that bring back the happy “child” in you. Go on a quest to watch/read each one you can get your hands on!
  6. Begin an exercise regimen—including time for quiet walks and peaceful deep breathing!
  7. Commit to healthy eating—and throw in some great ambience whenever possible! Candles, a gorgeous view…and every now and then, enjoy a perfect dessert with someone you love!
  8. With the help of your doctor, decide to take active inventory—and active control—of your medications.
  9. Take steps to gain control over any addictions or dependencies you may have acquired. You deserve to be whole and well.
  10. Get up earlier—or go to bed earlier. 
  11. Reclaim your faith!
  12. Hug your loved ones!
  13. Give forgiveness a chance. At this point, you are only hurting yourself by allowing “them” to retain their hold on you. You deserve happiness—and they don’t have any right to control you! Not anymore, and not ever again! 
  14. Rejoice in your freedom!
  15. Look yourself in the eye—in the mirror—and be proud of who you are. Promise yourself that you will begin to care more deeply for your health. Make a choice to celebrate the things about yourself that you can’t change.
  16. Remove negative talk from your vocabulary. Speak the words you would say to your own child. Words of hope. Words of empowerment and confidence that they can "be whoever they want to be" or "achieve whatever they put their mind to".
  17. Reach out to others! Find a community outreach program or activity that interests you and get involved. You have no idea how much of a blessing you could be to someone else! Your past experiences will be a huge source of blessing and encouragement to those you meet! 

Viewing your healing as purposeful rehab can be very empowering. And that is exactly what this is. REHAB. You can’t go back and undo what happened to you. There is no magic to completely erase the painful memories or the fall-out of your abuse. So viewing your healing as rehab—learning to successfully readjust your life and re-route your thought processes—is crucial to your wellness. 


Living on purpose starts from the inside and flows outward. The most important “next step” you can ever take is that of shifting your heart toward the idea of Purpose—and this begins from the realization that you are still here for a reason—and that you matter.  






---

As a very young child, I was subjected to sexual abuse until I was seven. When I was twelve, my parents and I went to Micronesia as missionaries with Evangelism Missions Inc. I loved it! I learned the language, embraced the culture, and eventually became interpreter for our mission church. My abuse became a distant memory—buried and unaddressed.

Years later, still deep in the clutches of my church affiliation, I married a man who was physically abusive—with the church’s backing—under the doctrine of “Biblical Patriarchy”. Then the unthinkable happened. I discovered my children were being sexually abused. My world crashed around me.

I wish I could say I was strong and tenacious. I wasn’t. The knowledge of my children’s abuse filled me with such pain I could barely function. Guilt engulfed me. How could this have happened? I’d been abused myself—Shouldn’t I have been able to recognize the signs? This trauma triggered my own unresolved past, resulting in PTSD and severe anxiety disorder. The lack of support from our friends—especially within the church—astounded me. We were told to forgive and honor our abuser. They strictly instructed us to be silent, even telling us not to press charges, stating that “speaking out about our abuse gave the church—and thus, Jesus Christ—a bad name”. He only served an 18-month sentence. After his release, he was brought back into church leadership.

I left my toxic church—and my marriage—and began the slow, upward path toward recovery. My children began to truly heal. I was amazed to learn more about Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and its effects on us as adults. I surrounded myself with life-changing resources—and positive support.

Today, I am a court-certified translator/interpreter, co-owner of a real estate investment company, and the founder/CEO of Always a Voice®. I am the International Spokesperson for Stop the Silence® and an Advocate/Ambassador with the CSA Survivor Force, a national media outreach group under Stop the Silence®/NAASCA (http://www.naasca.org/StopTheSilence/ or https://stopthesilence.org/csa-survivor-force/). I have a degree in Counseling/ Biblical Theology and use my experiences to offer hope and encouragement to other survivors.

I am happily remarried and my family is thriving—more than I would have thought possible! My children have gone on to use their own voices through music, dance, art, education. Some are directly fighting against sex-trafficking and child abuse.

My passion and goal is to empower those who have no voice--or those just finding their voices--and to raise awareness on how to better recognize signs of abuse and how to combat precise issues/problems relating to the “fall out” of trauma. My next book, “This Little Plight of Mine©” (late 2017) speaks out against what I now define as “Church-Sanctioned Abuse©”.

I am committed to use my voice (through media, newspaper, and radio), on a global level, to stop the silence and perpetuation of abuse and trauma “one person, one dream, one step, one leap at a time.”




August 9, 2017

The Art of Active Healing-Part II: Perspective

During the month of August, we are focusing on learning how to tap into the truth we already have inside us and go all out in what Jillian Short calls a “full-thrive”. We will continue to discuss this week what it means to walk in strength, peace, power and joy—during our healing process and within the boiling pot of imperfection and pain.

-- 

It’s so easy to get imprisoned in the quagmire of what was—of all that happened! Of what we didn’t do. Of what we know we should’ve done. But there is good news!

Anytime we are seeking growth in any area, there are always things we can do to cultivate our goals. It is so important to focus on practical ways we can nurture healing. Remember that every major change is accompanied by hard work and "pre-commitment".  And it requires us to change our perspective. But we have to want to.

What is your identity? Is it your pain/trauma? Has being a "victim" crowded out the YOU you were meant to be?

There are many situations in life that are out of our realm and control. Many things are not in our jurisdictions/job descriptions or responsibilities. For example, you can’t make it stop raining. If your home has already been repossessed, any amount of “changing your perspective” is not going to bring it back to you. It is not our decision to make. These unchangeables of life fall outside the box of what we can do.

There are countless unwanted scenarios/memories in each of our lives that we simply cannot change.  And most of those hard situations are the cause of our depression and stagnation.

I firmly believe we must live ON PURPOSE. Growth requires planning, plotting and cultivation. Once again: every major change is accompanied by hard work and "pre-commitment". WHY? Because the mere fact that we need a "change" implies that there is already something else that exists...that needs to be re-done, re-worked, eradicated, uprooted, re-born, revitalized...

TODAY'S QUESTION(S): 
What is it you TRULY want? Do you want to be an overcomer? What is the alternative? Remaining a victim is a choice all survivors have. 

It is easy to become comfortable with our tag of “victim” and merely survive on the pity of others. Or worse, we can become dependent on the resulting turmoil and unhappiness of our pasts—without even knowing it.

This week as you are pondering your past and struggling to make sense of it all, I invite you to let go.  Release the terrible pressure of trying to figure it all out. You are here now—and you are here for a reason!  I encourage you to accept the fact that your trauma/abuse was not your choosing. It was not remotely your fault.

As you continue to park here on these thoughts, I encourage you to resist the temptation to blame, fix, tweak or manipulate anything in your mind. That even includes the “fall-out years”, following your abuse/trauma.  This “letting go” is nothing more than just breathing in—deeply—and embracing YOU. Your whole self—with the pain. Not inspite of it. Because of it!

Currently I am Mrs. District of Columbia US Continental 2017. When I donned my sash and crown, this did not magically turn me into a queen. Who I am—ME—was not intrinsically altered at that moment. The sash and crown were placed on me. They did not change or define who I already was or who I truly am.

In the same way that my sash and crown did not/does not make me a queen, the pain and abuse that was placed on me did not/does not alter who I am. Who I was born to be.

There is a future aspect to this thought. My title as Mrs. District of Columbia does not alter who I was or who I am, but it will alter what I am able to accomplish with my life from here forward. I can choose to use this title as a megaphone to implement change—to be a louder voice to STOP THE SILENCE and perpetuation of sexual abuse and trauma. But that is entirely up to me.

In the same way, I can choose to use the abuse/pain I have experienced as tools of change. Because of my life experiences, I possess empathy, compassion and understanding. There is beauty and power in taking back the ground that has been stolen from us!

This is the essence of empowerment!

“Perspective makes all the difference. It’s not what you look at; it’s what you see… Remember that the sun never actually sets; it's our perspective that makes it appear to. Our sunset is another’s sunrise. It's all perspective. How would your life be different if you applied this truth to the things that cause you stress? Letting go isn’t about erasing the past; it’s about looking at the same event and seeing something different. Activate this power in your life! Take the pain and poison of the past and allow it to nourish a new found wisdom. Remember, you can't change the past, but you can change the labels you place on events. Perspective - it’s not what you look at; it’s what you see.” ~ Steve Maraboli
           

Last week I touched briefly on ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and how they affect our health. Here is an excerpt from last week’s discussion:

“As it pertains to our past abuse, it is truly imperative that we address and embrace our trauma as we would any other major illness, disease or injury.  If you were diagnosed with diabetes today, you would be wise to take your diagnosis seriously if you want to live a healthy and happy life. You might be encouraged to make necessary dietary changes or begin an exercise program. You might even join a support group—especially if you were struggling to accept your diagnosis.

Emotional, sexual and/or spiritual abuse are life-altering experiences. These Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) are no less traumatic or impactful to our physical bodies than other more physical forms of trauma—such as diabetes and other health-related issues.”

In keeping with the fact that childhood traumas are relevant to our ongoing health, I want to take a moment to stress a very important element. It is of utmost importance for you to have strong, positive mentors in place who can and will assist you. If you haven’t already, I urge you to find a trusted coach/counselor/therapist who can help guide you as you change your perspective and grow in realization and awakening. Seeking help is not weak—it is wise!

It is our natural instinct to love and protect ourselves. The existence of these amazing survival apps within our bodies is the very reason we are struggling to conquer—to erupt—and rise above our painful childhoods or our years of “disconnect”!  

Giving yourself permission to change your perspective is one of the most powerful decisions you will ever make. Healing is a process—a journey—and YOU are at the helm of your own progress!






---

As a very young child, I was subjected to sexual abuse until I was seven. When I was twelve, my parents and I went to Micronesia as missionaries with Evangelism Missions Inc. I loved it! I learned the language, embraced the culture, and eventually became interpreter for our mission church. My abuse became a distant memory—buried and unaddressed.

Years later, still deep in the clutches of my church affiliation, I married a man who was physically abusive—with the church’s backing—under the doctrine of “Biblical Patriarchy”. Then the unthinkable happened. I discovered my children were being sexually abused. My world crashed around me.

I wish I could say I was strong and tenacious. I wasn’t. The knowledge of my children’s abuse filled me with such pain I could barely function. Guilt engulfed me. How could this have happened? I’d been abused myself—Shouldn’t I have been able to recognize the signs? This trauma triggered my own unresolved past, resulting in PTSD and severe anxiety disorder. The lack of support from our friends—especially within the church—astounded me. We were told to forgive and honor our abuser. They strictly instructed us to be silent, even telling us not to press charges, stating that “speaking out about our abuse gave the church—and thus, Jesus Christ—a bad name”. He only served an 18-month sentence. After his release, he was brought back into church leadership.

I left my toxic church—and my marriage—and began the slow, upward path toward recovery. My children began to truly heal. I was amazed to learn more about Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and its effects on us as adults. I surrounded myself with life-changing resources—and positive support.

Today, I am a court-certified translator/interpreter, co-owner of a real estate investment company, and the founder/CEO of Always a Voice®. I am the International Spokesperson for Stop the Silence® and an Advocate/Ambassador with the CSA Survivor Force, a national media outreach group under Stop the Silence®/NAASCA (http://www.naasca.org/StopTheSilence/ or https://stopthesilence.org/csa-survivor-force/). I have a degree in Counseling/ Biblical Theology and use my experiences to offer hope and encouragement to other survivors.

I am happily remarried and my family is thriving—more than I would have thought possible! My children have gone on to use their own voices through music, dance, art, education. Some are directly fighting against sex-trafficking and child abuse.

My passion and goal is to empower those who have no voice--or those just finding their voices--and to raise awareness on how to better recognize signs of abuse and how to combat precise issues/problems relating to the “fall out” of trauma. My next book, “This Little Plight of Mine©” (late 2017) speaks out against what I now define as “Church-Sanctioned Abuse©”.

I am committed to use my voice (through media, newspaper, and radio), on a global level, to stop the silence and perpetuation of abuse and trauma “one person, one dream, one step, one leap at a time.”





August 1, 2017

The Art of Active Healing-Part I: Denial

During these next four weeks, we will have the great gift of Jillian Short sharing with us about her life and what she's learned in her healing journey. We will focus on learning how to tap into the truth we already have inside us and go all out in what Jill calls a “full-thrive”. We will discuss what it means to walk in strength, peace, power and joy—during our healing process and within the boiling pot of imperfection and pain.

--

When life hands you a plate you didn’t order, even the basic ins and outs of life can become a battle just to keep your head above water.  Perhaps you can’t even remember what trust and zest is—it’s been so long since you've possessed either one—or worse, you can’t remember life before the abuse/trauma!  

Perhaps your abuse happened decades ago—and yet your heaviness lingers and you’ve noticed you’re getting more traumatized about your past than ever before. Especially after years of numbness, or even decades of intentionally avoiding your memories—or perhaps you only recently remembered what happened to you!

Questions are now bombarding you. Why can’t I turn the corner? Why are the bad memories and nightmares getting worse?

With each survivor—no matter what our story is—there comes a time, a season, of awakening and realization. Our pain becomes almost tangible. Angry questions like What planet was I on? Why did I allow him to hurt me for so long? Why didn’t I stand up for myself? boil to the surface, demanding answers.

In spite of this horrific upheaval, something wonderful is happening to you! Your body/soul has decided you are now strong enough to confront your pain!

This awakening hurts beyond words! And no wonder—when our eyes have been accustomed to the dark, the sun’s brightness hurts! It makes us squint and want to run the other way! 

So what is going on? Our bodies have been in protection mode—and as we awaken to the truth of our abuse, we become present. We become aware. And increasingly we begin to feel the reality of what we experienced in our past. We are no longer in shock—which, by the way, is a life-saver when our bodies undergo major trauma.

Much like our body going into shock to preserve us after a physical trauma, our souls put up protection and padding against certain unraveling. We have given this a name. We have called it Denial.

I want to camp here for a while and pull apart the word and the idea of denial. The word denial has been floating around a lot lately. So has the word empowerment. But like other buzz words, we often fail to hear and/or truly acknowledge their meaning or how they apply to us. There were many years of my life that I couldn’t see I was drowning in denial (case in point!), and the word empowerment scared and confused me because I was living the complete polar opposite. We must not take this lightly.

Funny thing when we are wrapped in the blanket of denial, there is a pseudo sense of peace. It isn’t a peaceful kind of peace, but rather a lack of engagement, a lack of being able to be truly present. Certain areas of our hearts are roped off and we must maintain a pseudo existence. We want to be normal. 

Interestingly when we look closer, denial itself is one of the stages of shock. And when we look even closer, we realize that these stages are actually normal.

I have come to understand denial, and to even respect it. Abuse is too horrific to gaze directly into its face, so our bodies lovingly protect us. We often turn to unrealistic thoughts or escape mechanisms in an attempt to maintain our footing. 

Denial creates a massive disconnect between our bodies and our souls—which is good for a time. But it isn’t healthy to stay there! This disconnect can only continue for so long until our bodies and our souls cry out, “enough is enough!” We are intricate and priceless creations—and we can only handle denial/neglect for so long. We can put off eating for a time, but our bodies will eventually rise up and demand care. Much in the same way, as survivors, one day we may begin to revisit our long-ago pain. We may begin to experience the trauma as if it happened yesterday.  And we hear—if we are willing to listen—our souls demanding to be heard. Asking us to rise up. Care for me! Notice me! Stand up for me! Celebrate the beauty of me—the real me! And with this awakening comes the opening of old wounds.

We have begun our exodus out of denial! We are now being given the choice to come up higher. To allow ourselves to learn to feel again and truly thrive.

Today I want to invite you to step back and view what is happening to you from a different perspective! The mere fact that you are able to finally look at, to see, to comprehend your situation—what really happened to you…even if you still can’t come to grips with it—is a healthy sign!

You are healing. Your denial stage was part of your healing too. In the case of long-term emotional, physical or sexual abuse, denial is a way of life. You are not alone. Your denial was a preservation tool! I encourage you today to be kind to yourself and accept that. Your very soul was protecting YOU.

There is life past your abuse. There is life past your stage of shock and denial!! You can find your footing again and be who you were truly created to be! And that person—that person you were born to be—is still here.  That You is fighting for you and standing up for you.

I invite you to view your life and your pain from a different perspective! There is no possible way to get from back there (your past abuse/trauma) to the life you deserve and want to live—not without first stepping out of the numbness of denial. And there is no way around the fact that it is going to be hard. It hurts to feel! But you can do this! “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)

As it pertains to our past abuse, it is truly imperative that we address and embrace our trauma as we would any other major illness, disease or injury.  If you were diagnosed with diabetes today, you would be wise to take your diagnosis seriously if you want to live a healthy and happy life. You might be encouraged to make necessary dietary changes or begin an exercise program. You might even join a support group—especially if you were struggling to accept your diagnosis.

Emotional, sexual and/or spiritual abuse are life-altering experiences. These Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) are no less traumatic or impactful to our physical bodies than other more physical forms of trauma—such as diabetes and other health-related issues.

Next week we will discuss, in greater detail, the issues of ACES and how we can learn to take an active role in our own path toward wholeness. Until then, know you are not alone. You are priceless and unique. And it’s OK to feel the unsettling of realization and awareness. In fact it is the beginning—the birth—of finding your voice!



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As a very young child, I was subjected to sexual abuse until I was seven. When I was twelve, my parents and I went to Micronesia as missionaries with Evangelism Missions Inc. I loved it! I learned the language, embraced the culture, and eventually became interpreter for our mission church. My abuse became a distant memory—buried and unaddressed.

Years later, still deep in the clutches of my church affiliation, I married a man who was physically abusive—with the church’s backing—under the doctrine of “Biblical Patriarchy”. Then the unthinkable happened. I discovered my children were being sexually abused. My world crashed around me.

I wish I could say I was strong and tenacious. I wasn’t. The knowledge of my children’s abuse filled me with such pain I could barely function. Guilt engulfed me. How could this have happened? I’d been abused myself—Shouldn’t I have been able to recognize the signs? This trauma triggered my own unresolved past, resulting in PTSD and severe anxiety disorder. The lack of support from our friends—especially within the church—astounded me. We were told to forgive and honor our abuser. They strictly instructed us to be silent, even telling us not to press charges, stating that “speaking out about our abuse gave the church—and thus, Jesus Christ—a bad name”. He only served an 18-month sentence. After his release, he was brought back into church leadership.

I left my toxic church—and my marriage—and began the slow, upward path toward recovery. My children began to truly heal. I was amazed to learn more about Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and its effects on us as adults. I surrounded myself with life-changing resources—and positive support.

Today, I am a court-certified translator/interpreter, co-owner of a real estate investment company, and the founder/CEO of Always a Voice®. I am the International Spokesperson for Stop the Silence® and an Advocate/Ambassador with the CSA Survivor Force, a national media outreach group under Stop the Silence®/NAASCA (http://www.naasca.org/StopTheSilence/ or https://stopthesilence.org/csa-survivor-force/). I have a degree in Counseling/ Biblical Theology and use my experiences to offer hope and encouragement to other survivors.

I am happily remarried and my family is thriving—more than I would have thought possible! My children have gone on to use their own voices through music, dance, art, education. Some are directly fighting against sex-trafficking and child abuse.

My passion and goal is to empower those who have no voice--or those just finding their voices--and to raise awareness on how to better recognize signs of abuse and how to combat precise issues/problems relating to the “fall out” of trauma. My next book, “This Little Plight of Mine©” (late 2017) speaks out against what I now define as “Church-Sanctioned Abuse©”.

I am committed to use my voice (through media, newspaper, and radio), on a global level, to stop the silence and perpetuation of abuse and trauma “one person, one dream, one step, one leap at a time.”






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