Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a woman with a cause. I work with parents whose children have been killed by negligence, or murdered through domestic violence, and other types of causes (for an attorney who handles wrongful death cases). And that’s actually my passion. I can work all week long on many types of civil cases, but when there is a cause I feel passionate about, I get tunnel vision and I eat, sleep and breath it. So lately I’ve been researching my own personal cause and praying for God to show me what, if anything, He wants me to do with it. Because sitting still and “doing nothing” is simply no longer working. In fact, it hasn’t been working for awhile. I remember a nice evening on my friend Joanna’s patio just before I moved last summer telling her that once we got settled in the metroplex, I was going to get busy and go public and speak out about my family’s experience of having a child who was molested.
Typically, I always wait until a storm has passed before I take any action about it. I wrestle with it on my own with God for quite awhile and AFTER the fact I come alongside others who are in that same boat (like single parenting) and try to help them based on the life experience I gained through the process. But I am starting to realize – like the death of a loved one and grief – some events in life simply may not ever fully go away this side of heaven. Like the four seasons, some events just carry moments of great weather and then a storm blows in. We cannot prevent the storms, but over time we learn storm readiness techniques (flashlights, candles, blankets, bottled water). In order to find peace, I must spend time with the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6). Outside of the Prince of Peace’s presence, I can very much look “in the flesh” as outlined in Gal 5:20 with signs of hostility, quarreling and outbursts of anger. Why might that be? Because I AM angry! Emotions are a natural part of our nature. But they should be warning signs and should not control us. Granted, in the moment, that’s easier said than done.
Many of you already know, but for those of you who don’t, one of my children was molested (aka sexually assaulted per Texas) by my ex-husband. And at that time we did everything legally and technically that we were supposed to do. We reported the event to the police, attended counseling at the Child Advocacy Center, participated in a videotaped interview and attending telephone recorded conversations with the criminal, obtained a protective order through family court, completed the district attorney’s victim impact statement, and dutifully followed all of the professional advice that we were given. The results of that F5 storm were devastating to our entire family and frequently talked about “storms” during that time period like in Storms of Life.
Recently, I was again reminded about the ongoing and continual stress that accompanies sexual assault victims and their caregivers and began searching the internet for more information or even organizations that maybe I could get involved in. I found an article by the America Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress that states “Much of the psychological damage a victim receives comes not from the assault itself, but from the post assault reactions from others… Recognizing this fact, the first people who come in contact with a victim post assault have an opportunity to set the stage, through their behavior and reactions, for an easier or more difficult recovery for the victim.” This was confirmation for my soul because so often when my child about it, it’s usually centered around how he/she was treated AFTER the assault was reported.
For us personally, the reactions of the family made recovery for my child severely difficult. After a felony warrant was issued for my ex-husband, he left the county to go spend time with his family and parents and siblings who all spent time with him and helped him emotionally and financially. He told people he was going to flee to Mexico and he threatened suicide. Basically, he requested a pity party and he got one. His mother deleted my child victim from Facebook, resigned from their Words with Friends game they had been playing, and they hired him a lawyer to help him. They – with deep cruelty – retaliated against me and my child. And the trained professionals told me that was actually normal. I was shocked. And those family members, try as we might to avoid, keep creeping back into conversations or stirring up the hornet’s nest. Most recently they allegedly told my oldest son that they would not attend his wedding if I were invited. Why? Because I speak out so publically about sexual abuse.
Shortly after this crazy F5 storm, we started going to Covenant Church in Texoma but my child refused to get really involved or talk to anyone. We prayed that he/she would meet good Christian people that would give hope. We prayed for healing of all of our wounds and broken hearts. I held onto Heb. 6:12 “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised”. And I listened to the song While I’m Waiting by John Waller every single morning while I got ready for work. Just waiting, waiting, waiting to see my child restored. And we did not tell anyone really what we were dealing with. We just wanted a fresh start.
Meanwhile, we started meeting people at church and really getting involved and God worked on me specifically for healing my broken heart and allowing me to forgive myself for allowing him to come into her life in the first place. LOTS of spiritual warfare was going on during that time period. I attended the Covenant Women’s Conference and listened to one of their speakers, Me Ra Koh, talk about date rape and the long healing process that followed. I bought her book Beauty Restored and nearly finished it in my car that same day. The church also started mandatory training through Ministry Safe which is specifically designed to keep children safe from sexual abuse at church. They were speaking my language and I was pumped to be there. Isn’t it fascinating how God shows up with resources at just the right time?
Then Pastor Joel Scrivner (of Covenant’s McKinney Campus) came to visit our church on September 4, 2011. And he walked right up to my child as if he had always known him/her, and he prophesied over him/her saying “There’s a special anointing on you. God loves you so much. And he’s marked you. He’s marked you and you have a great calling. You have incredible influence at your school. You have a lot of friends. You have an in road with a lot of people. You have a lot of influence. And the Lord this year is giving you an opportunity to take a stand and be bold. This is a brand new year. And in the past you’ve been kind of quiet and timid and you haven’t used the authority that He’s given you. But this is your year to take authority. This is your year to take a stand. And as you take a stand for your faith and what Jesus means to you, watch what God does as he opens door after door after door for you to minister to people and just love them and pray for them and speak life to them… this is so powerful. The friends around you don’t have this… and your home environment isn’t perfect, but you have got something special… not everyone, but most of your friends would just die to have what you have. So be grateful for it and watch as God allows you to minister to those who are hurting all around you and you’re going to minister through the wealth of safety and success that you have in your own family. Congratulations you two parents, you’re doing a great job. Faithful parents. I’m so glad you’re a part of the service today.”
My child cried, smiled and laughed. Something broke. The oppression left that day. I picked up the CD recording of the service and typed up what the pastor had spoken. To this day I watch his services online or via live stream and when my child sees Pastor Joel he/she smiles. It’s beautiful. And I sure needed that “faithful parents” reminder because I sure wasn’t feeling faithful. I was feeling sad, angry and frustrated. Emotions that the professionals insisted were normal but that I was getting tired of feeling.
Pretty soon after that we moved to Tarrant County and I’ve now seen much of what was said that day come to pass. And, I’ve now learned so much more about child sexual assault and the statistics are alarming. A large majority of these cases go unreported and offenders continue to offend others. Just like I have friends who speak out against severe domestic violence and gun legislation, our family will be taking a vocal and active stand on this issue. Our family IS what molestation looks like and I no longer intend to sit silently.
If your family has suffered from being a victim of a crime (sexual assault, hate crime, drunk driving, etc.) I promise you that the days ahead do get better. There are still very difficult days, especially around the holidays and around certain family triggers, but thank God we serve the Prince of Peace and have a heavenly Father who knows our need and is faithful to direct our path during our storms of life.
Oh the sweet freedom involved with bringing this topic out into the light and having my children’s consent to share.
Social media hugs everyone.
Victims of Sexual Abuse by the America Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress http://www.aaets.org/article123.htm
Coping with the shock of Interfamily Abuse http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdfs/intrafamilialabuse.pdf