Whispersfrommyheart's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘#childhoodsexualassault

The one thing most Survivors want, more than anything else in life, is to be believed.. We don’t need pat answers — we aren’t looking for answers from you. We just want to be able to tell our story and hear, “I believe you.” We need our story believed.

Sadly, not every Survivor will find such validation.

For the most part, I have not ran into anyone, whether inside my family or out, that questioned the truth of my sotry. Sure, some didn’t understand the length of time it took me to overcome some of the issues associated with my past, but they never questioned my claims. No one accused me of making up a story. Not one of them said, “Hey, I don’t believe you were raped. Why are you making up such a horrific story about a friend of your father’s”?

Until now.

If you read my last post you know, after 40 plus years, I have begun the journey to bring my rapist to justice. After speaking with NCIS the other day I discovered I needed more information about the man who abused me. I called the one person I knew could help me uncover some of the information I did not know. To my surprise, the conversation turned accusatory right off the bat.

“Why didn’t you ever say anything?”

“Why now, after all this time?”

“Honestly, I do think you made it all up to sell a book.”

Wow. That last one still hurts. Especially coming from a person I should be able to trust.

I hung up.

I couldn’t breathe.

I wanted to scream.

I was literally unprepared for the depth of emotion his response awakened in me. If anyone would have been watching me, I’m sure they would think I had gone completely mad.

I called my sister and could barely breathe enough to ask her if she could talk. I was crying hysterically. Thankfully, my sister was able to get me to take a deep breath and calm down enough to tell her what happened.

Talking helped.

Still, days later, if I allow myself to dwell on that conversation, my stomach begins to turn into a knot and all I want to do is cry. I can still hear the venom of those words coming out of his mouth.

Validating a survivor is a necessary part of healing. It tells the victim they are worthy enough to be heard. They no longer have to remain silent. That condemning voice is dimmed.

I recently read a blog post, which I happen to agree with, that makes the statement about those who accuse a survivor: You are the second abuser.

Yes. If you have the audacity to accuse a survivor of making their story up (and yes, I know some stories are made up, but those few in no way make the majority), or, somehow, asking for it, you are just another abuser on their list. You are telling them the voice inside their head is right. They aren’t worthy. They deserve what happened to them. Your accusations tell them there is no hope.

Stop the abuse!

We need to speak out! Just as this blog post states, when we view the past, our brains view it as if it were in our present.

“When you recall something that hurt you, your brain goes into high alert. Your limbic system responds to that memory the way it responds to a real threat in the here and now. I’m talking about full-on flight-or-fight here; elevated pulse, rapid breathing, the works. The more that trauma was reinforced, the stronger the response from your limbic system.”

Speaking out about our abuse lessens the pain and offers relief. We might have to tell our story over and over, again. In doing so, the darkness begins to receive light, and we begin to heal.

That is why it is important to believe a survivor.

We need to heal.

We need to be believed.

You need to believe our story.

 

 

 

 

 

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I have done it!

Today, because the state of Virginia no longer has a statute of limitations on childhood sexual assault, I have begun the process of bringing my rapist/molester to justice!!

I’m scared out of my mind. I don’t know what to expect — except the phone call from a Norfolk detective. I mean, I’ve seen television shows relating to this, but this is real life!! I have already spoken to a woman at NCIS (since my rapist was a military member when he assaulted me) who took down my information and story. I tried to remain matter of fact in my statement, but my nerves got the best of me and I broke down.

It’s been a long time since I’ve cried.

I hope to chronicle my journey here so that others, who wish to report their abusers in a non-statute of limitation state, will have the resources to do so.

This journey began with an article I read in Military Times (If I can find the article again, I will post it). The author of the article posted her email address and I contacted her. She, in turn, had the right people contact me.

One of the phone numbers given to me is for the RAINN organization. This organization can help you find your starting point if you so choose to bring your abuser to justice. They will also help you find resources in your area for counseling services.

Today, I begin a new journey. While I wait I ask for your prayers.

Thank you!

Courtesy of The Kelly File

Courtesy of The Kelly File

Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard, two of the victim sisters of Josh Duggar, broke their silence on The Kelly File Friday night. I watched, intently, to see how they spoke about their abuse, and how they reacted to personal questions regarding said abuse. And, do you know what I saw?

Grace.

Forgiveness.

Mercy.

I saw tears, too, but not where I expected them.

I expected the girls to break down when they were asked about what their brother did. I expected them to react like I did — like so many of us do when we recount our abuse — with tears, anger, and yes, some bitterness that Josh Duggar stole something precious from them — their innocence.

But, they didn’t.

Their body language was relaxed. They looked at ease through most of the interview. They smiled, laughed, and comfortably spoke about what took place in their home. It wasn’t until the subject of the media was brought up that, at least, Jill’s body language changed. She stiffened up and began to cry as she gave her personal feelings about the release of their sealed report. Jill recalled calling her husband on that day, over two weeks ago, when In Touch Magazine posted the police report for all the world to see.

“We’re victims,” Jill Duggar Dillard exclaimed. “How can they do that to us?”

Jill continued to fight back her emotions as she explained how they felt they were being re-victimized “a thousand times worse” than the original offense. She, and sister Jessa, both said multiple times, “We had already dealt with it, we moved on. Josh confessed to us, we forgave him; we moved on.”

So, why can’t America let it go?

Is it because we are disgusted with this kind of “sin”? As well we should be. As one who has endured years of childhood sexual abuse, I can say first hand that molestation is disgusting. It is vile. It is reprehensible. Repulsive. Repugnant. Vicious. Nasty. Shocking. Appalling. And, yes, contemptible. A lot of the posts I have seen over the past few weeks express those very words. Some would like nothing better than to take Josh Duggar out behind the woodshed and execute him. We have no problem understanding, or accepting, the words that express our disgust of Josh’s actions. We applaud those words. We exhort those words. But, there is another word we’ve heard that makes us just as mad as Josh Duggars actions against his sisters and baby sitter. A word that infuriates us and enrages us, and causes us to strike out in shock and disbelief that such a word could even be muttered over such a reprobate .

Forgiven.

WHAT? Forgiven? How could anyone forgive what he has done? He’s a pig. A worm. He doesn’t deserve to live. I’ve seen the words written all over the internet, newspaper sites, blog posts, Facebook statuses, Twitter feeds… they’ve all basically said the same thing. “Josh Duggar is a vile human being, and therefore must be punished in a manner that is acceptable to us.”

But, we don’t get to make that call, do we?

Josh didn’t molest us, he molested his sisters and baby sitter, and they are the only ones who get to determine whether or not he is forgiven. Period. And they chose to forgive him.

Deal with it, America.

I was very impressed by Jill and Jessa. They have given us a peek into something holy. A humble, beautiful example of Agape Love. True love that covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8). Along with a heart of love, they have given us a clear example of what true forgiveness looks like. A perfect example of how our LORD, Jesus Christ, treats every one of us who repent and turn from our sin to follow him.

The Duggar girls aren’t angry. The don’t exhibit signs of bitterness. They aren’t bashing their brother. Instead, their words toward him are seasoned with grace and mercy. They have said they have dealt with it, they have forgiven him, and they have moved on.

I believe them.

Is it possible, the reason we are so outraged is because we just expect the Duggar girls to feel the same way we do over our own abuses (or how we feel over a family member/friend who was abused)? And, because they don’t we think there must be something wrong with them?

I mean, who does that?

Victims forgive.

Why?

Because forgiveness doesn’t release the offender from the responsibility of his or her actions, rather, it releases the victim from the prison of emotional upheaval and life altering issues caused by the offenders actions.

The Duggar girls understand this.

They don’t need our help. No matter how much we think our two cents (even this blog post) is spot on, they don’t need our help. They’ve got it covered. And, they don’t need the internet counseling sessions. Their family dealt with Josh’s abuse. DCFS cleared the parents, and even complimented them on how they handled the situation. And, certainly, the girls don’t need our criticism for their right to forgive their brother.

These girls have suffered twice now.

It’s time to allow them the dignity to live their own lives with their own convictions.

I was 28 years old with two children, ages one and two, and five months pregnant with my third when I met with a counselor. I needed courage to leave my abusive husband and thought I could find some there.

Counselor: “Tell me about your childhood.”
Me: (Thinking what does my childhood have to do with anything?) “Well, it was a childhood. You know… normal.”
Counselor: “It was happy??
Me: “I don’t know. It was… norm… (a dam of memories breaks open in my mind)… wait, no, that’s not right.”
Counselor: “What isn’t right”?
Me: “My childhood. It wasn’t normal. I was mo… (there is a flood of emotions rising to the surface)… I was mol… (I am having trouble saying the word. My throat is closing off my words. Tears are choking me). I was molested”!

As that realization tumbled to the forefront of my mind, I felt as though my life shattered into a million tiny pieces. Each shard stabbing me with it’s truth. As the details began spilling out, my soul felt like it was being ripped apart. The pain was excruciating. Unbearable.

I don’t know how long I cried, but when I calmed down he asked…

Counselor: “How have you handled all of that”?

The truth is, most of us don’t know how to “handle” what we’ve been through. We’ve turned to food, sex, drugs, alcohol, self harm — other avenues to dull the pain. We don’t want to feel that kind of pain so we stuff it further and further down by any other thing that makes us feel better.

The other part of the truth is, this: We can’t heal unless we allow the reality of abuse, and the pain, to rise to the surface. To be validated. To be known. To be released.

No matter how painful it is, facing our past needs to be done in order to heal. Mine pounced on me while looking for an ounce of courage. I’m glad it did because today, the pain is no more.

What God has done for me, he WILL do for you!

Many nights, throughout my life, were filled with deep sorrow, hours of shed tears, and my mouth open in silent screams. I didn’t know how to verbalize what I felt inside. Dead. Betrayed. Hurt. Shattered. Alone. Desperate. Needy. Just tears and silent screams. I don’t remember saying too much, except, “Oh, God.” But, God still heard me, and understood. It was during this time I wrote the following:

Whispers in the Dark
The darkest, quietness of night
In stillness as you lay;
The only sound or rhythm heard
Are words your mouth can’t say.

The tears that burn your sleepy eyes
A fist in anger clenched;
The cry that asks “Why me, Oh Lord?”
The soul, in anguish drenched.

And though it can’t be verbalized
Into a single word;
A whisper’s heard with every beat
Your heart is being heard.

God hears you, Beloved. Even though you think he has ignored you. Even when you think he doesn’t care. But wait, if you listen long enough, you can hear it. In the stillest, quietness of night, the heart will whisper the tale of its journey to its Creator. And, there in the darkness…God is whispering back.

Excerpt from, “Whispers From My Heart – Emotional and Spiritual Healing from Childhood Sexual Assault.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
On January 28th, Casting Crowns will release their newest album, #Thrive (See video below).

As I watch the promotion of their album, and the “month of giving” on their Facebook Page (here), I began to wonder, “How can we thrive in life if we live in brokenness”?

We all face brokenness at one time or another in our lives, but for those who have lived through childhood sexual assault, brokenness becomes a way of life. The norm. Many times, just the thought of living outside the realm of “broken” is scary. It’s all we know. But, if we choose to move forward, is it possible to actually thrive while still in the state of brokenness?

I believe so.

Thrive is defined as:

to grow strongly and vigorously, to do well; prosper.

Growing Stronger:
In order to grow stronger one must be willing to seek healing. As long as the past continues to control the present, becoming strong isn’t possible.

When I first began my journey to healing, I could barely speak of my rape and molestation without breaking down. My past would suffocate my words and choke them off in my throat. As I allowed God into those broken areas, something marvelous began to happen. The intensity of the pain began to lessen. I could talk about my past easier than before. Today, as I look back, my past does not hold the same emotions it once did. I am able to speak to a group of women without breaking down. Oh sure, I still get choked up every now and again, but it does not cripple me. I have grown much stronger than I was on day one.

Growing stronger doesn’t mean you aren’t going to have bad days. You will. Growing stronger means, on those bad days, you work through the emotions — cry, journal, pray, talk with your counselor, etc. You aren’t content to stay and wallow in your pain.

During the early period of my healing it was tough. My emotions were out of whack, to the point I could barely function. I viewed myself as an empty shell then. My counselor encouraged me to begin writing down what I felt. She told me to be honest; don’t hold back but to write down everything that came to mind about my abuse (she also encouraged me to find a hiding place so my thoughts were kept private — I encourage you to do the same). I followed her advice. One look at my old journals will tell you what stage I was in. There are a lot of angry entries. Hateful entries. “Why me?” entries. But, there are entries that show improvement. Entries of forgiveness… hope… encouragement. Growing stronger meant, I didn’t remain in my anger, or hatred. I worked through them to forgiveness. I worked through “Why me?” to hope. And finally, to encouragement.

To Do Well:
Part of healing is being broken. Broken enough to allow those emotions to come forward. To seek God, and seek wholeness from him.

This journey to healing isn’t a quick trip. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. Time and a willingness to continue forward is a sign of doing well. Sure, you’ll have setbacks, everyone does, but those setbacks don’t hold us back.

Do you remember this quote?

it doesn’t matter how many times you fall .. what matters is how many times you stand up, shake it off, and moving forward .- Unknown

It’s true.

You can hit the dust 1,000 times, but as long as you get back up, dust off, and take another step forward, you are doing well. You are moving forward. God isn’t looking at how many times you’ve stepped backwards. He isn’t worried that you fell. He is interested in you getting up… He’s cheering you on. He is beside you, whispering in your ear, You can do it! I believe in you!

Thrive

3 John 1:2 says,
Our beloved, I pray for you that you will prosper in all things and be well, just as your soul prospers (ABPE).

God wants us to do well. He wants us to thrive.

In order to thrive, we need to know who we are in Christ Jesus. We can’t understand who God says we are if we aren’t reading his word. Our soul prospers as the word permeates our insides and changes us. Changes our hearts, our minds, our thought process, and our actions.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Cris Corzine, counsels sexual abuse survivors every day. She believes in teaching her clients about their spiritual identity.“Because knowing who we are in Christ is the key to victorious living.” “My favorite scripture for all time” Cris relates, “is 2 Cor 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (NIV).”

We are righteous because of Christ. Accept it. Embrace it.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Each time we allow God into those areas of our heart that are wounded and hurting, we heal. As we heal, we grow. As we grow, we get stronger. As we get stronger we begin to #Thrive…

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Cheryl HeadShot
Award winning poet and author, Cheryl A. Thompson, has been a single mother to Trey, Charlie and Brett since October of 1989. Through the trials of her childhood, and the struggles of single-parenthood, Cheryl has learned the importance of a heart attitude toward life and God, and how that attitude impacts a person’s soul and their relationship with God. She is a 1983 graduate of Christ For the Nations, Institute, in Dallas, Texas, and a 2012 graduate of Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Kentucky. Cheryl has been published in the FaithWriters quarterly book, FaithWriters online magazine, and a contributing writer for the Christ For the Nations—60 Years of Service coffee table book released in October of 2009. She has published articles in Heart Magazine 2012 and WHOA Women Magazine 2013. Her first book, Whispers From My Heart – Emotional and Spiritual Healing from Childhood Sexual Assault, was published in November 2009.

Courtesy of ShutterStock

Courtesy of ShutterStock

“It’s in the past, get over it.”

How many times have you heard that?

Exactly what is meant by “get over it”?

Do they mean:
Stop being so needy?
Quit crying?
Act normal?
Quit being a drama queen.
Stop rehashing the same old story?

Throughout my journey to heal people quoted that exact phrase to me. People, who did not understand the process of healing. Well meaning people who didn’t understand why I couldn’t let go the past. They didn’t understand the underlying issues associated with sexual abuse. I was accused of being a drama queen. Of loving attention. I heard, “It happened such a long time ago, Cheryl, you just need to let it go now.”

They were well-meaning, but they were wrong.

Most of the time, when I heard those words, I became angry. Angry because, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t “get over” what happened. I couldn’t flip a switch to turn off the internal roller coaster. I tried to get better by reading self-help books– I devoured them. I tried talking to myself positively and ended up berating myself for not believing. I did bible studies only to believe God must intend pain and suffering for my life. I did everything I knew in order to “get over” the years of rape and molestation. Yet, my pain and anguish of yesterday still ruled my today’s.

I couldn’t “Get Over It.”

For the longest time I felt as though something was mentally wrong with me. I thought, “I must have some kind of psychological problem, and that is why I can’t “get over” my abuse.” How many times have we told ourselves that very thing? That has to be the reason, right? Otherwise, I would be strong enough to overcome… wouldn’t I?

Isn’t that what we are taught?

Ignore it, it will go away.
The past doesn’t matter, it’s over.
Don’t talk about it, it just brings up bad memories.
The past is just that; past. It’s over, don’t dwell on it.

Those phrases almost sound like good logic. And there are plenty who talk a good game, but you know what? The past doesn’t stay in the past. It resurrects itself in the present. The past creates problems now. It oozes into your relationships, and spills out into every aspect of your life. In reality, your childhood trauma not only affects you, but it affects everyone around you. Maybe that is the real reason we’re told to “get over it.” If Childhood Sexual Assault stayed in the past, where it belonged, those of us who have been abused would lead happier, more productive lives. But the past doesn’t stay buried, does it? The pain of childhood rape and molestation does not understand it should not show up in the here and now.

You can’t just “Get Over It.”

Childhood Sexual Assault is not an illness one recovers from quickly. There isn’t a prescription we can take to clear it up. We can’t wash it away with a few scented baths. We can’t talk ourselves out of the pain. We can mask it, we can cover it over and think we have healed, but unless we experience true healing, our past will continue to affect us. It isn’t easy to just “Get Over It.” It takes real healing, not to “get over it,” but to overcome every single issue of Childhood Sexual Assault.

Healing is a journey — a series of small steps — lasting years. A journey designed to uncover every issue affecting our lives, and one that must be walked out day by day. One step at a time. One issue at a time. One layer at a time. Peeling back each layer and inviting God to deal with the wound.

My hope, through the things I post here on Whispers, is that those who have never been assaulted at any time in your life, will find an understanding into the heart of the one who has. Maybe a post will help you understand your sister, your mother, your friend, your neighbor or your co-worker. Maybe you will have more patience when you hear their story for the one thousandth time. Maybe, by reading this blog, you will find more compassion for the struggles and set backs those who are overcoming sexual abuse face. If nothing else, maybe the words, “It’s in the past, get over it,” will never be said again.

Cheryl Thompson is an award-winning poet, and author, and single mom to Trey, Charlie, and Brett, and “Gammy” to Dillinger. She’s got a few degrees, but most of her learning came from very difficult seasons in her childhood, and adulthood. Through it all, Cheryl learned an importance for keeping a heart tender for God. She is a freelance writer and blogger, who has been published in the FaithWriters quarterly book, FaithWriters online magazine, the 2009 Christ For the Nations—60 Years of Service coffee table book. She has published articles in Heart Magazine 2012 and WHOA Women Magazine 2013. Cheryl’s first book, Whispers From My Heart – Emotional and Spiritual Healing from Childhood Sexual Assault, was published in November 2009 and awarded the Christian Choice Book Award 2010.

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