It's never too late to begin the healing process from childhood sexual abuse. It's never too early to fall in love with the person God created you to be. Long ago someone made a choice to take away your innocence, but today that someone can't touch your freedom to heal.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One of My Favorite Posts

"Where were You when sin stole my innocence?"

It is a question survivors of sexual abuse, who wrestle with God, ask at one point or another.

It is a good question. It is a valid question.

And Jesus can handle our questions.

A survivor friend of mine gave me the following link to a song she likes. She wrote:

Carolyn: The line in this song "Where were You when sin stole my innocence?" stabs me in the heart every time because I think there is still a part of me that asks that question about my abuse. But I love that there is an answer...not just that He was on the cross but that He was there in all of my suffering, in my doubt, and my shame. Love it! So powerful!!!!

"You Were on the Cross" by Matt Maher

Keep asking the question, my friend; Jesus is a gentle healer. And thanks for sharing the answer you’ve found.

Why is this one of my favorite posts? It asks a hard question. It offers an honest answer from a survivor's struggle to heal. And during this season of the year, it leads this writer's heart to wrestle with a question: Why would the God of the universe come to earth in a lowly manger to die on a rugged cross?

To heal. To heal me and people like me. I like that . . . I like that a lot.

Friday, December 2, 2011

No Words, Old Words, New Words

Today I write my one-hundredth blog post. I decided to read over my past posts in preparation and was amazed that I had to read far beyond my titles to remember what I’d written over the past two years. I guess seven kids and life will do that to a writer.

As I write, Michael Bublѐ croons Christmas songs in the background, the dog is enjoying a sunbath by the glass door leading to my deck, and the cat is taking his morning nap curled up on my laptop case next to my computer. And I contemplate what to write. No words come.

My writer friend and mentor, Jane, the one who told me I was a writer and lured me into her mini-van, palms sweating, heart racing, all the way to a writer’s conference several years ago, once gave me this bit of wisdom: Write when you have words, when you don’t—don’t write. Now, I’ve since met many authors and read various books on writing. I know there are those who would disagree with Jane’s wisdom. But I don’t.

So on this day when I don’t have words, I welcome you to click below on a blog post from the past. And if you’re like me, you’ll have to read far beyond the title to remember what I said.

Rich blessings to you and yours during this wonderful season of advent. A new year is coming, and with it, some exciting news, with many words, from Tamar’s Redemption.

Friday, November 18, 2011

She Told: A Story of Thanksgiving

Marie waited until the rest of the women walked to the other end of the room. We were alone.

“I told him,” she said.

My eyes engaged hers. “You told him?” I asked, attempting to subdue the surprise in my voice.



“Yes . . . everything.”

Marie had kept her secret locked up for years. When she had finally found the courage to tell someone she loved, she had received a response that only deepened her shame. I was afraid she would never tell again. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she hadn’t.

But now, just weeks before her wedding, just weeks before she would pledge to become one with another, she told. Her secret was out. She had found the courage to voice her secret again.

“How did he respond?” I asked.

Her eyes sparkled. “He was wonderful.”

I pulled her close, my voice, a whisper through my tears, “What a way to begin a marriage.”


I attended her wedding, and as I have observed their lives as husband and wife through the years, I am reminded: To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, KJV)

She chose to tear down the secret, to build intimacy within their marriage,
She chose to weep before her beloved, so they could laugh,
They chose to mourn her past together, so they could dance,
And oh . . . how they danced!

Have a blessed Thanksgiving,

Image'>">Image: photostock /

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dear Coach Paterno

As the sun sets on your forty-six year career as the coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions, and the heinous actions of one man can no longer be hidden by the passivity of others, please consider this: Perhaps you were called to something greater than football. Perhaps there is another team for you to lead.

You see, there are thousands of institutions and organizations who don’t know how to respond in the wake of sexual abuse allegations. They have no game plan and their opponent is relentless.

Lead a new team. Teach others what you’ve learned. This may be your opportunity to coach more men and women than you ever did in the history of your career. This may be your opportunity to leave a legacy far greater than you could have asked for or imagined. Perhaps for such a time as this you’ve been placed into this world.

Coach Paterno, it’s the fourth quarter, your team is down by six, it’s your turn to call the play. Only this decision may not just affect a season, but years to come.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Speak No Evil

“He was a good man. Everybody loved him. He was a deacon in his church, and when he died, his funeral was packed.”

She blurted out the words as she told me her story,

Confusion outlining her face,

                                                  Torment highlighting her eyes.

I can only imagine what it was like for her to sit through holidays and reunions,

Hearing the living sing praises of the dead,

                                                         Pretending all is well,

                                                                           Knowing he was good,

                                                                                           Understanding he was bad.

He was a family member. And because she loved him and her family, she didn’t speak of his evil, and no one ever asked.

And she did as children often do,

She protected the guilty,

                                          To protect the innocent.

Perhaps to some, she would be considered a hero.

                                                                    She hid the crime.

                                                                                              She took one for the team.

But should sin ever be protected?

                                 Should a child ever bear the wounds of a hero?

                                                                     For the sake for the family?

                                                                                          For the sake for the team?

Perhaps if someone would have asked, she would have told. And she could have laid down the wounds long carried. And someone would have been a hero,

                                                       For the sake of the child,

                                                                         For the sake of the family,

                                                                                               For the sake of the team.

When was the last time you spoke to your child about sexual abuse? Be a hero.

Image'>">Image: David Castillo Dominici /

Friday, October 28, 2011

Protecting the Guilty to Protect the Innocent

“Ya know, it’s funny,” she said. “Everyone knows about my abuse but my parents . . . my husband, my friends, even people at my church.”

It’s sad, but true. Often survivors feel trapped by the circumstances of their abuse, unable to give voice to their biggest secret with the ones whom they’ve known their entire lifetimes—their parents.

There are varied reasons as to why this is true. Often it is because the parents, of the survivor, knew and trusted the perpetrator and left their child under the perpetrater’s care. Children are intuitive. They know if they tell their parents that so and so touched them inappropriately, that this information will hurt their parents. And those child survivors become adult survivors. And adult survivors know this information will hurt their parents.

Children, young and old, protect the guilty to protect the innocent.

And that is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about parents talking to their children about sexual abuse. If we teach our children what sexual abuse is and instruct them to tell us if someone violates them, NO MATTER WHO THE PERSON IS, we build a bridge of communication between us and our children, a bridge that our children can cross should a violation occur.

Because parents should be the protectors, not the protected . . .

Please join me in becoming a protector. Talk to your kids. And if your kids are grown, consider asking them if they were ever violated. It’s never too late to build the bridge, to begin the conversation. It’s never too late to help your child heal.

Image'>">Image: Chris Sharp /

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shattering the Message Bottled (Part 2)

“Did I have a message taped to my back that said, ‘Please, molest me!’? I’ve been molested more than once, by more than one person.”

Last week I posed this question: How would you respond to a survivor friend who asked the above question?

I wish I could wrap up a neat little answer for you and present it to you in an indestructible box. I can’t.

As I have known and loved over a dozen survivors through the past ten years, who have given me the honor of listening to their stories, I have learned that there are no easy answers. And I’ve learned that compassionate eyes that cry with them are more powerful than any of my words or answers.

But thanks for considering my question.

We help shatter the messages, survivors have bottled up inside them, by listening and by freeing ourselves of the desire to have answers. That’s one way we can love survivors well.

Image'>">Image: federico stevanin /

Friday, October 14, 2011

Shattering the Message Bottled

“Did I have a message taped to my back that said, ‘Please, molest me!’? I’ve been molested more than once, by more than one person.”

I’ve been asked this question by several of my survivor friends and it broke my heart each time. I suspect as my survivor friend list continues to grow, I’ll hear it again. And again.

How would you answer this question?

Please contact me at with your thoughts and place in the subject line - Answer. I will not post your response without your permission.

Let’s learn how to be good friends to survivors, together.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Lies Survivors Believe - A Male Perspective (Part 2)

Last week I posted a link to Shattering the Silence, a blog, by Cec Murphey, for male survivors of sexual abuse and those who love them. My blog stats soared. The need is great. Therefore, I would be remiss if I didn't share this week’s follow-up post.

Please read these powerful words. Please allow them to penetrate your heart:

Image'>">Image: David Castillo Dominici /

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Lies Survivors Believe – A Male Perspective

Men are often forgotten in the world of Childhood Sexual Abuse. There are varied reasons for this, but I believe the main reason is that historically, men don’t tell.

However, times are changing. Brave men are leading by example. They're telling.  With 1 out of every 6 boys suffering from sexual abuse by the age of 18, this change can’t come soon enough.

Because sexual abuse lies to little boys, just as it does to little girls.

Please read the honest words of a male survivor as he describes a lie he believed posted by New York Times best-selling author, Cecil Murphey, on his blog, Shattering the Silence, a blog spot for male survivors and those who love them.

Click here:

Image'>">Image: David Castillo Dominici /

Friday, September 16, 2011

Go Parent Go!!!

It’s that time of year again, time to have the talk.

Next month your children’s school will celebrate National Fire Prevention Week. It’s a good thing. Children are injured and killed by fires every year. I’m so glad we don’t ignore this hot topic (pun intended) and run from it. Our children deserve to be taught to stop, drop, and roll.

But here’s the thing—the chance of your child needing to stop, drop, and roll are slim compared to the chance that they may need to yell, run, and tell.

One out of every four girls and one out of every six boys will be sexually violated by their eighteenth birthday.

Take a few minutes today. Talk to your child about sexual abuse.

If you don’t, who will?

If you need a little coaching, please read my blog series “Protecting Our Kids" beginning Oct., 2010. And picture me with pom poms, cheering for you all the way. You can do it!

Image'>">Image: Grant Cochrane /

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Lies Survivors Believe – The Significance Game

Another survivor speaks:

“When I finally realized that what I had been trying so hard to keep hidden under the rug was actually sexual abuse, my first instinct was to tell myself that what happened to me wasn't really a big deal—that there were other people who had been abused much worse then I was. I tried to justify that what happened to me, shouldn't matter as much as it did. I even found myself saying "it really wasn't that bad" or "there isn't a lot to tell". Almost feeling like, in the scope of life, my measly little abuse moments weren’t horrendous enough to matter. My point is: abuse affects everyone differently. If your childhood sexual abuse, no matter how minimal it seems, effects how you operate in the world, then it matters.

I don't feel that way anymore, but I'm sure there are a lot of people who have been abused who play that "significance" game.”

I know women who have had one encounter with sexual abuse. I know women who were violated multiple times. All of these women’s lives have been affected.

It’s the consequence of sexual abuse. It’s the power of unwarranted shame.

Image'>">Image: Andy Newson /

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Lies Survivors Believe (The Common Lie – The Core)

Another survivor speaks:   

“The biggest lie that I face is that there is something about me that made me more susceptible to abuse. I don't believe that I am at fault for my abuse by choices that I made, in some ways that would be easier. I actually believe that there is something about me that is less valuable or less "whole" than others, and so I was an easy target.

This belief affects every area of my life now. I struggle with my worth. I'm constantly unsure of myself and my abilities, despite others telling me differently. The voice of contempt in my mind is sometimes louder than all the rest. I hold myself to a standard that is unreasonably high, and when I fail, I blame myself.

I haven’t fully figured out how to combat this lie. For a long time, I thought the answer was me working on my self-esteem. But, recently, I have come to realize that feeling confident in me is not the goal. Instead, I need to find my worth in Him [Jesus]. This is the weakness that I have, so I need to find my strength in Him. It still is a struggle even with this understanding, but I try to take one day at a time.”

My heart ached as I read her words. She, like the other survivors I know, is a valuable person who is a treasure to many. I love that she has figured out that the abuse she suffered wasn’t based on anything she did or didn’t do, and most importantly, that her worth is not based on anything she did or can do.

A timeless Sunday school song says it well, “Red, brown, yellow, black, and white, they [she is] are precious in His sight . . .” This truth spits in the face of our culture. It penetrates to the core of the lie—one day at a time.

Image'>">Image: Salvatore Vuono /

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Lies Survivors Believe (The Common Lie – Disguised)

A survivor speaks:

“Read this,” she said. She laid her diary opened to a dog-eared page, on the café’ table, in front of me. “Tell me if you can shed any truth on what I’ve written.” Then she excused herself and went to the restroom.

I was touched that she would entrust me with her private thoughts scrolled in the wee hours of the morning, her memories, no doubt, poured out on the page in tandem with her tears.

I read. It didn’t take me long to detect the first lie. The common one, it was my fault, disguised in her written words: “I flirted with him.”

She returned several minutes later.

“How old were you when you flirted?” I asked.

“Eight, maybe nine,” she estimated.

“Do eight year olds flirt?” She had a lot of experience with children. I knew she could tap into her knowledge with little effort.

“No. But I wanted his attention, I know I did.”

“Did you want sex?”


I searched her eyes, attempting to engage eye contact, longing to cauterize the lie, to replace it with the truth. “Children love attention. Children need attention. And children, who don’t get the attention they need, seek attention. But, they don’t seek sex. You weren’t asking for sex. You were asking for love.”

She brushed the tears from her cheeks and returned my gaze. “Thank you,” she whispered.

She began her healing by asking to see the lies. Knowing she couldn’t see them on her own, she took a risk. She asked for help. She is courageous!

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Lies Survivors Believe (The Common Lie – Twisted)

A survivor speaks:

“I remember, with my assault, believing that somehow I encouraged the attack. I suspected it was getting a little unsafe and knew he was following me. I nervously laughed and talked to him about elementary school, because I wanted him to know I knew him and thought he might leave me alone or engage in friendly conversation instead of targeting me.

At one time he blocked my path. I ran past him and nervously laughed. The lie I told myself was that if I had not acted that way, maybe he wouldn't have thought I was flirting and he would have left me alone. The truth was that my instinct was right. I sensed he was after me and he was. I tried whatever "psychology" I could, but he did what he was planning to do.

I battled for a long time thinking I had flirted and encouraged the assault. The defense attorney didn't help matters. It was his job to bring things like that out—to make me the bad guy. I had to remind myself of the truth—the attack was wrong, no matter what. He [the perpetrator] had no right! I said no. He took and didn't have permission. Even if he was confused and thought I was flirting, grabbing me and trying to rip my clothes off was not normal. He knew it and acted on his own selfishness anyway!”

This survivor had the rare benefit of her parent’s guidance after her assault. She was able to tell them almost immediately, and they were able to help her replace the lies with truth. The twisted lies of the assault and the defense attorney didn’t have a chance to deepen their roots. However, decades later, in vulnerable moments, when the past haunts her thoughts, she continues to speak the truth to her heart. Her healing began by trusting her parents, sharing her secret, and speaking the truth to her heart--unraveling the lies, over and over again.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Lies Survivors Believe: The Common Lie

“I went into the room an innocent child,” she said. “ I left filled with guilt. From the moment it happened, I was filled with shame. I believed it was my fault.”

It’s a common belief among survivors. “It was my fault” rings in their minds and penetrates their hearts.

“Then one day I noticed a child who was the age I was when it happened,” she said. “I observed the four year old and realized that four year olds don’t even know what sex is, let alone want to engage in it.”

This truth entered her mind. The ringing of the lie wasn’t so loud.

Time passed.

“Then one night I was praying to God about how ugly I felt. I’d prayed that same prayer often throughout my life. Then I heard the whisper. ‘It wasn’t your fault.’ I knew from that moment on, I wasn’t responsible.”

The truth permeated her heart.

The lie lost its power. The guilt lost its home. The shame lost its victory.

If you believe this lie, please don’t give up hope. Keep pondering the truth and telling God how you feel. And together we will pray that one day, you will hear His whisper.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Lies Survivors Believe

The lie she believed disguised itself as truth in her life for over a half of a century. It began as a wordless whisper that snaked its way through her mind, leaving a trail of venom, as it slithered quietly to its resting place—coiled securely around her heart. It lay there undetected, invisible to most, yet controlling selective thoughts and affecting life-altering choices.

Sexual abuse gives birth to lies. And until the lies are identified and put to death, survivors suffer from their poison. As I have listened to the hearts of my survivor friends, I have discovered that the lies they believed were the same, yet how those lies shaped their lives were unique to each woman.

Over the next several weeks, we are going to look at those lies and hear from the experts—the survivors—on how those lies molded their lives. And we’ll hear the good news of how they’ve replaced those lies with truth. Truth that has set their minds and hearts free.

Friday, June 17, 2011

On Loving Survivors Well (Healing)

She had disclosed her childhood secret in her early forties. Now, more than a decade later, she called me to share wonderful news. “I told someone [about my abuse], and for the first time in my life, I felt no shame. I’m sure it [shame] will still show up in the future, but this lie I’ve believed for years—it’s gone.”

There is no easy fix or overnight healing from sexual abuse and the lies it whispers into its victim’s ears.

We love survivors well when we accept that healing is a process—a process that may last for years and perhaps a lifetime.

We weep with them when they weep and dance with them when they dance.

Friday, June 3, 2011

On Loving Others Well (Part 6: Understanding)

I never tell a survivor, “I understand your pain.” I don’t.

I met monthly for a year with four survivors in an intimate setting created to stimulate healing. I never heard one survivor say to another, “I understand.” These women knew something non-survivors don’t often consider—every survivor’s abuse history and the consequences of their abuse are different.

When we love survivors well, we remember this, and we listen with fresh ears to each survivor.

Friday, May 27, 2011

On Loving Survivors Well (Part 5: Honor)

It is an honor to bear another’s burden. To know that a survivor has entrusted you with their deepest hurt is a sacred trust—a trust that must be guarded and protected.

As with all relationships, keeping what’s shared in private, private, is important. But for a survivor, who has had their right to trust violated when they were sexually molested as a child, keeping what’s shared private is imperative to their healing.

We love survivors well when we keep their confidences. By doing this we help them trust; we help them heal.

What an honor!

Friday, May 20, 2011

On Loving Survivors Well (Part 4: Balance)

“Don’t make any major decisions when you are physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted.” I was getting ready to make a life changing decision and the voice of wisdom wafting through the airways drifted into my ears and whirled around my heart. I was weary. Really weary. I took the advice of the voice. The decision could wait. Then I focused on nourishing myself—body, mind, and soul.

Solid relationships require time and energy. I give my best to my husband, children, friends, and others when I am physically rested and I have time to refuel my mind and soul.

Loving survivors well is no different. We will love them best when our lives are balanced and nourished—body, mind, and soul.

Friday, May 13, 2011

On Loving Survivors Well (Part 3: The Patience of Job - The Wisdom of Nathan)

“But it feels like it was my fault. I participated in the abuse.”

If someone opens up to you and tells you about their abuse, be prepared to hear the above statement. I’ve heard it many times. It is a lie that is embedded in most survivors’ hearts.

As a friend to many survivors of sexual abuse, I have found that I can’t just blow past that lie by telling them, “It’s just a lie. You need to believe the truth. It wasn’t your fault.” It may sound absurd to you and to me; we know that a child, no matter what age, is never responsible for sexual abuse. But just telling a survivor that it’s a lie won’t change their feelings. What is truth to the mind doesn’t directly translate to the heart. And chances are, our survivor friend has believed this lie for years, and the lie has gone undetected and unchallenged for just as long.

It takes patience to love a survivor well in their area of abuse and shame. We may spend hours having marvelous conversations about life and enjoying their company, but when they move the conversation to reveal their deepest wound, we must be filled with the patience to listen and listen some more. It is only after we’ve earned the right to speak by listening, and they invite us to share our thoughts, that we need to pray for the wisdom of Nathan.

Nathan was a counselor in the Old Testament to King David. When he advised David, he did so in such a way as to reach David’s heart. Nathan knew that the King David was compassionate toward others and he used this understanding to move David’s heart. Nathan used a story of injustice done to someone else to help David embrace truth.

I’ve never met a survivor who isn’t compassionate. They know pain. They care deeply for others. One of my friends was struggling with her participation in the abuse, so when my thoughts were welcomed, I told her a story about another survivor. And when I was finished, I asked if it was the child in the story’s fault. I got a resounding NO! Another’s pain touched her heart. Did it make the lie disappear? No. But she understands that the lie is in her heart, and that in her heart, is where the battle rages.

I am determined to remain a faithful, patient friend to her. I will do what I can to help her lift her sword toward the lie, not because I’m an amazing person filled with knowledge and wisdom, but because I rely on a God who is.

Friday, May 6, 2011

On Loving Survivors Well (Part 2: A Shockproof Friend)

“I keep telling you things that I think will shock you, but you don’t shock easily.”

My survivor friend was letting me in slowly, giving me more information over the course of months that turned into years. I was thankful that she didn’t see shock in my eyes because I was purposeful in keeping my eyes soft and compassionate whenever she took our conversations to her place of hurt and shame. I never wanted to be guilty of ripping the scabs off of her painful wounds. She needed a friend to listen and listen some more. She needed a friend to trust that her memories were true as she was finally able to translate her memories into words. She needed a friend who wasn’t shocked by her abuse, her abuser, or the consequences of her abuse.

I think Dr. Diane Langberg states this concept well in her book, Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse. She writes:

Calling back memories that one has never been able to voice is a massive struggle. Hearing about such things can cause great denial in the listener. Yet we who believe that sin is so hideous as to require the death of God himself [Jesus] should of all people find evil believable.
(Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse, by Dr. Diane Langberg, page 280.)

I am not a professional counselor. But I am a friend to over twelve women who are survivors of sexual abuse, and I’ve had the honor of listening to their hearts over the course of the past fifteen years.

If 1 out of every 4 girls and 1 out of every 6 boys are molested by their eighteenth birthdays, chances are, you have a survivor friend who needs a shockproof friend too.

Friday, April 29, 2011

On Loving Survivors Well (Part 1)

My friend, Wanda, wrote:

I was raised in a Bible believing home. My parents had us in church every day the doors were opened. I learned early in life to make God a part of my life. I accepted Christ as my personal Savior as a child. I state this because, even in this environment, I was the victim of evil. Early in my childhood, around age 4 or 5, until around the age of 12 or 13, I was sexually molested by a trusted person. I was too ashamed and afraid to tell anyone in authority. I kept telling myself, “No one would believe me.” (Used by permission

When our body language or words communicate disbelief to someone who has told us that they were sexually abused, we reinforce what that survivor already thinks, “no one would believe me”.

To love a survivor well, we must keep our compassionate eyes focused on them while we listen to their hearts. And believe them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Where Was Jesus?

"Where were You when sin stole my innocence?"

It is a question survivors of sexual abuse, who wrestle with God, ask at one point or another.

It is a good question. It is a valid question.

And Jesus can handle our questions.

A survivor friend of mine gave me the following link to a song she likes. She wrote:

Carolyn: The line in this song "Where were You when sin stole my innocence?" stabs me in the heart every time because I think there is still a part of me that asks that question about my abuse. But I love that there is an answer...not just that He was on the cross but that He was there in all of my suffering, in my doubt, and my shame. Love it! So powerful!!!!

Keep asking the question, my friend; Jesus is a gentle healer. And thanks for sharing the answer you’ve found.

"You Were on the Cross" by Matt Maher

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Statistics Speak

As I bring this two and a half month focus on sex trafficking to a temporary rest (I will address it again in the future; my heart will not allow me to be silent on this issue), I’d like to share statistics that need no introduction, but demand conclusions:

Every 26 seconds a child is being lured or sold into the sex trade.
There are approximately 2 million children currently trapped in sexual slavery, forced to have sex with adults several times a day.

The US State Department estimates that annual profits for trafficking in our country are $32 billion. That exceeds the combined annual profit of Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook. (

I began this journey into the world of sex trafficking by asking, “What can I do about child sex trafficking, this modern day slavery?” I don’t think I’m being too bold to say that I believe this is the Holocaust of my lifetime. And I can’t ignore it. I now know too much.

So what am I going to do?

On a global level:

I have a young friend who was trying to figure out how to spend this coming summer between her junior and senior year of high school. She knew she wanted to serve in some capacity, somewhere. So in order to seek God’s direction for her life, she prayed a bold prayer. “I began to pray that He [God] would break my heart for what breaks His.”

Jesus heard. Jesus answered. Her heart is now broken for young girls trapped in sex slavery. She will be heading to Nepal this summer and forming relationships with girls in rehabilitation centers who have been rescued from sex trafficking. She will look into their weary brown eyes with her compassionate blue eyes and communicate to them with few words and consistent actions—that their lives matter, that they are valuable, that they are loved. She will be slow to speak and quick to listen while their precious minds, little bodies, and shattered hearts inch toward healing.

I can’t go to Nepal this summer, but I can stand with my friend by speaking encouraging words, participating in faithful prayer, and giving financial support. And I will also listen to her heart when she returns and weep with her over the injustices she encounters. And together we will give praises of thankfulness over the images redemption that envelope her soul. Ineffable joy.

I have also taken the 26 Second Challenge through Destiny’s Rescue. ( Here is how it works: I gave Destiny a one time gift of forty dollars (for me, that is a night out or a new pair of shoes—that I don’t need). In return I received a really eye-catching necklace that I have agreed to wear for twenty-six days (I will wear it far longer; it’s that cool) and share the story of how Destiny’s Rescue enters brothels and frees girls, girls as young as seven, who are forced to perform sexual services for up to fifteen men a day. The goal of the challenge is to encourage at least two others to join me and then they encourage two others, and so on. When my pyramid reaches fifteen levels, I have helped Destiny’s Rescue raise $1,000,000. Monies that are used to rescue children, give them an education, and rehabilitation. Money well spent.

On a local level:

I will take the dehumanization of women and children through pornography more seriously. When I see magazine covers that aren’t selling products but bodies, I will respectfully speak to the store managers where I shop and ask that they remove them from view. It’s a small step, I know, but baby steps lead to walking and in walking, I may one day run.

If you desire to encourage my young friend this summer as she addresses the global statistic of child sex trafficking, contact me at I will be delighted to give you more information.

To know what you can do in your community to change our US statistic visit FREE stands for Freedom and Restoration for Everyone Enslaved, a volunteer movement dedicated to clear paths to freedom from human trafficking.

Join everyday people taking action to stop the spread of human trafficking in our nation and around the world.

This organization is making a difference in their community in Berks County, PA, and they will gladly teach you how you can make a difference in yours.

Together we can silence the statistics.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Beyond the Walls of Justice

“Do you think we should go home now?” Her big brown eyes looked up at me, the corners of her mouth uncurled. Atypical.

She had lost her eight year old sunny disposition somewhere between the giggles and the sudden fight that had erupted between her and her older sister earlier that evening. When I spotted her heading for the back door, she was carrying her two favorite stuffed animals under her left arm, a yellow duffel bag over her left shoulder, her school backpack and lunchbox over the right shoulder, and a sixty-four ounce bottle of bubble bath in her right hand. She was prepared for the journey. She was running away from home.

I think most kids consider running away at some point during their childhood. Some even pack their bags and make a dramatic exit. My oldest son packed a suitcase and dragged it up into the fort of our swing set many years ago. I kept my eye on him, and he returned from the backyard an hour later. Unharmed. He was hungry.

Now it was my youngest who sought justice beyond the walls of our home. She informed me of her destination, and I told her she could go. I also told her that I’d be going with her. “I need to keep you safe,” I said.

So the two of us took off. Together.

Forty-five minutes and a thoughtful conversation later, we were both cold and tired. And she was hungry. So when she asked me if we should head home, I replied. “Yep, I think it’s time. May I help you with your bags?”

“Sure,” she said, a smile lighted her face.

When we entered our house, I welcomed her back with a big hug and made her a sandwich and warm cocoa. She was glad to be home.

But some children who run away never get back home. Their stories don't have happy endings.

Every year forty thousand teens run away from home in the US. Many are seeking justice beyond the walls of their homes. Some might return home if they could, but somewhere between forty-eight and seventy-two hours from their leaving their front doors, runaways will be approached by a pimp. One third of the forty-thousand will end up trafficked.

In our country.

In our America.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hopes and Dreams

I was sitting in the Q&A session of the conference on child sexual abuse and sex trafficking. The question was asked in ignorance. The answer was given with passion—the passion that comes with thirty-five years of experience working with broken women.

“What about the women who want to be prostitutes?” the moderator asked.

“I never met a little girl who wanted to grow up to be a prostitute,” the expert answered.

So what happens? What happens between birth to thirteen (the average age a girl enters prostitution in the US) that channels an innocent child into a corrupt world—a world where these children, when arrested, are guilty until proven innocent? And their pimps remain free.

What happens?

Childhood sexual abuse. Eighty to ninety percent of prostitutes were sexually abused as children. And when they were little girls, they dreamed of being teachers, doctors, nurses, wives, and mothers.

Just like you. Just like me.

In the US 300,000 children become victims of sexual exploitation annually. GEMS, an organization in NY, works with girls whose dreams were dashed by the selfish evil choices of their abusers. They help these victims of abuse and slavery recapture their dreams by introducing them to hope. You can help them at

Friday, March 25, 2011

Does a Watched Pot Boil?

“Did you know that child sex trafficking is huge in the Philippines?” I asked my Filipino friend.

“Yeah, and the people accept it,” she responded.

My conversation with my friend might shock you. It may cause you to ask or even scream, “Accept it? How can anyone accept it?” If I hadn’t just returned from a conference on sex trafficking and sexual abuse, it may have shocked me too and caused me to ask the same question. But I’ve learned that sex trafficking and sexual abuse are complicated issues. And these issues live and thrive in cultures where people are busy doing life, caring for their needs and for the needs of those around them, trying to survive one day at a time. Just like me. Just like my culture.

So I begin my journey, in the fight against child sex trafficking, by asking Jesus for a humble heart. You see, although I don’t think the US is at the point of accepting child sex trafficking yet, I am keenly aware that I and my nation are like the frog in the pot of water, with the temperature rising, and it could reach the boiling point—without me ever noticing.

The International Justice Mission, an organization devoted to eliminating sex trafficking world wide, has two offices in the Philippines and many others scattered across the world. Check out their website at They are making a difference in this fight. Consider joining them.

Friday, March 18, 2011

So What

So what did you do about it?” I asked. “You were both alive at the time.”

I was seated at the dinner table across from my parents, an indignant adolescent, demanding an answer. We had just studied the Holocaust in school that day, and I was sure that if I had been alive during World War II, I would have done something about it. How arrogant.

Last night I attended the opening meeting of a conference, The Biblical Call: A Christian Response to Human Trafficking & Sexual Abuse. I learned that we have more slaves now in our world than we did in the four hundred years of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, many of them children, many of them sex slaves.

I’m alive. This is now.  So what am I going to do about it?

This afternoon I’m going to learn from the experts what I can do about it. So stop back next week, and I’ll let you know.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Brothel Song

He enters the darkened room and checks for the exits just in case he needs a quick getaway.

“Would you like a drink?” A small girl asks.

“Yes,” he replies. He’s not a drinking man, but if he doesn’t drink, they might notice. He must blend in, just another foreigner, just another client ready to make a deal.

It's 11:00 PM. A child takes the stage. The only lights in the room blaze down on her. Her small eyes disappear as she squints toward an audience she can’t see. She adjusts her short skirt to hide her skinny legs from the many eyes that lust over her small scantily clad body. The music plays. Her voice is weak, but she sings. Knowing what will happen if she refuses; she holds the mike close so she can be heard above the music blaring from the karaoke machine. An American love song penetrates the smoke filled air. She sings tender words no one has ever spoken to her, tender words she may never know.

“You like?” The Mama San asks. Her hand touches his shoulder as she attempts to strike a deal.

“Yeah, I like.” His words taste bitter, but his jaw remains firm. He won’t let the Mama San notice. He refuses to let her see. Because if his plan works, the little girl on the stage will be singing her last song in this brothel tonight.

Today I listened to Tony Kirwan, founder of Destiny Rescue, describe a scene much like this one. Destiny Rescue exists to free children from sex slavery. Tony and others go undercover in countries such as Thailand, at great personal risk to themselves, all because they believe that every child deserves a childhood.

Now this momma believes passionately that children deserve a childhood too, but I can’t go to Thailand. However, I can support people like Tony. Check out the Destiny Rescue website and consider taking the 26 Second Challenge. I did. It was simple.

And together we can help Tony free another little girl from singing a brothel song.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hide or Seek

When I played Hide and Seek as a child I preferred to hide than seek. I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps there was a little budding control freak evolving inside of me even then. I felt more in control when I hid. Perhaps it's because I'm far more right brained than left. Hiding involves creativity. Finding requires logical thinking. Or perhaps it's because, when one plays Hide and Seek, many hide and only one seeks. As a child, it was easier for me to belong to the group than stand alone.

When it comes to the subject of child sex trafficking I'd rather hide than seek. I know why, and I’m sure you do too. We probably share the same reasons. And, if you are like me, even as an adult, it's easier to stand in a group than to stand alone.

Today, I’d like to challenge you to seek rather than hide. Find some time over the next couple of days to watch this movie, The Candy Shop. It will take you to the dark side of child sex trafficking, but here’s the thing—it won’t leave you there. It will stir your heart and motivate your soul.

And together we will seek and find that what is hidden in the darkness, when brought into the light, will leave us standing together. Not alone.

Thank you.

Friday, February 25, 2011

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

The plane banks to the right. I look across over the wing searching for the ground below. The lights glitter across Atlanta, Georgia like lights on a Christmas tree. Beautiful. And just like the lights on a Christmas tree distract the eye from the imperfections of a freshly cut tree, the lights of Atlanta attempt to deceive my heart from the ugly truth: Beneath the lights of this bustling city, children are slaves, forced to have sex with the highest bidder.

I chose the window seat on purpose. I wanted to peer down over the city I had just heard so much about at the National Conference for the Prevention of Child Sex Abuse and Child Sex Trafficking.

Atlanta, Georgia is a hub for air traffic for the United States. Atlanta, Georgia is a hub for child sex trafficking in land of the free and the home of the brave. Every month, in the state of Georgia, 7,200 children are sold for sex. (Georgia Demand Study,” A Future. Not A Past., February 2010)

The city lights continue to glitter. But they don’t blind me from the truth—the truth I can no longer ignore. I hear the whine of the landing gear moving into position. I pray. One heart filled prayer from one concerned mother, 10,000 feet up, for someone else’s child. “Jesus, free just one child tonight. Please. Just one.”

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I know it’s difficult. But together we can and we will make a difference. Share what you’ve learned today with one person. Our strength builds with knowledge and a conscious decision to look past the glitter and embrace the truth.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What Can One Momma Do?

“Why are you interested in writing and speaking about sex trafficking?” I ask.

Tears welling in her eyes. Her passion flowing from her heart. Palpable. Her voice quivers, “I was sexually abused by one person for two years. These kids [children who are sex trafficked] don’t even get a break to go down the street and buy a Popsicle. I cannot fathom how they survive the repeated violation of their bodies by hundreds of perpetrators over the years . . . sometimes their whole childhood.”

No rest. No play. No childhood.

It is a horrible subject, I know. We don’t want to think about, I get that. We certainly don’t want to talk about it, I understand. But what if we could actually do something about it? If we could change the life of one child or woman who has endured being trafficked, would it be worth our minor discomfort?

I am one momma with many children. What can I do? I am a sister. What can I do? I am friend to many who have been sexually abused. What can I do? Sound familiar?

I know. I get that. I understand.

Let’s take a journey together over the next several weeks. I’ll do the research. I’ll write the blog. And together we’ll find out what we can do.

Together. Hearts linked. Minds ready.

So we can think about it. So we can talk about it. So we can do something about it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why Children Don’t Tell (Part 5: They Protect)

Children of abuse (physical, emotional, and or sexual) amaze me. They spend their childhood freely giving unconditional love, often to spend their adulthood recklessly seeking it.

And so it was with my survivor friend who wrote The Tearless Princess, a creative exercise used to assist in her healing. Please read the following paragraph describing her molestation, posted this week, in its entirety.

“Then one day, Princess Marissa was on her way back to the castle when she was attached by a pack of gypsies. They tore her beautiful purple dress right off her and ran away, leaving her with nothing to cover herself. Princess Marissa was so upset, but she did not shed a tear. She was so ashamed and embarrassed, but she told no one . . . especially her father the king. She knew if she did, he would have all the gypsies in the kingdom killed.”

Children are protectors. Dr.Wess Stafford, president of and CEO. of Compassion International, writes in his book, Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most, “Child psychologists study this phenomenon with great amazement, as it has occurred throughout history. They have found that children can keep awful, awful secrets to protect the ones they love.” (Page 141) Stafford knows this well. A survivor of horrible abuse at the hands of house parents and teachers at a mission school, he and many other missionary kids, kept silent of their abuse—for years.

Princess Marissa knew, if she told, her daddy, the king, he would be upset and the kingdom would be in chaos. And because her abuser was somebody who her family knew, trusted, and loved, she chose to protect everyone, except herself.

She concludes her paragraph with this line: “The princess went on with her life as if nothing had happened, but a piece of her soft heart became hard like stone.”

She protected others and in the process lost the sweet softness of her child heart; she spent years, as an adult, trying to find it and make it soft again.

And that is why it is an adult’s job to protect children from childhood sexual abuse.

We must teach our children about childhood sexual abuse. So we can protect. So they can know. So they can tell.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Children Don't Tell (Part 4, They're Ashamed)

“Then one day Princess Marissa was on her way back to the castle when she was attacked by a pack of gypsies. They tore her beautiful purple dress right off her and ran away, leaving her with nothing to cover herself. Princess Marissa was so upset, but she did not shed a tear. She was so ashamed and embarrassed, but she told no one . . . (The Tearless Princess, by Anonymous, Used by permission)

The words taken from this story were written by an adult survivor friend to describe her molestation. This creative exercise was a powerful tool that has aided her in her healing process. She chose to express her pain in the language of a children’s book. It helped her remember and it gave her a voice.

Nothing can silence a human being like shame. And nothing can elicit such deep personal humiliation like childhood sexual abuse.

My friend concludes this paragraph in her story with these sad words, “The princess went on with her life as if nothing had happened, but a piece of her soft heart became hard like stone.”

So this week, I once again have my “what if” questions: What if her parents had taught her about sexual abuse? What if they had built a bridge of communication with their daughter regarding abuse so that she could possibly cross over and tell them what had happened? What if she had known that she could trust them with her shame?

Once again we will never know the answers to my questions. Sexual abuse is a complicated issue. But wouldn’t it be comforting, to know as parents, that at least we tried?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Why Children Don't Tell (Part 3: They Trust)

I can still picture it, my husband in the backseat of our two-door Oldsmobile Firenza, cradling our newborn son. We had just returned home from the hospital and my husband had crawled in the backseat of the car to get our son out of his car seat. I was waiting patiently, well, okay, not so patiently by the passenger side door.

“Are you coming?” I said.


“Are you coming in?” I repeated.

He didn’t even look up. “We’ll be in soon,” he said.

I was so glad to be home. I wanted my own bed. I wanted my own everything. But my mind told me to shut up, to take in this moment, to etch this beautiful picture deep within my mind.

My husband with his firstborn. Strong capable hands holding a helpless baby. Our baby. I didn’t ask Ken what he was thinking. I didn’t have to. It was a sacred moment. It was their moment, and this sight spoke more to me than words ever could. The love was palpable. And my baby, our baby, was learning from that tender moment on, that he could trust his daddy.

I believe that there are few things more precious to preserve, and more innocent to defend, than a child’s right to trust. A child longs to trust. A child needs to trust in order to grow up into a healthy adult. Perhaps that’s why it’s so difficult for we, as parents, to teach our children that sometimes there are individuals that can’t be trusted.

My survivor friend trusted. "I was abused by a close relative. He was absolutely trusted. And he took advantage of me. And I went along with it because I didn't know any better. Because I trusted him."

Her parents trusted him. She trusted him. And that trust was broken. Shattered. Destroyed. And she couldn’t tell her parents because she trusted. She trusted that what was happening to her was somehow okay because people you love and trust don’t hurt you. Do they? Can you imagine the confusion she felt? Can you imagine the war that raged within her little mind, within her little heart? I can’t. And when I try, it makes me cry.

But what if her parents had taught her that her body was special and that the parts that her swimsuit covers are extra special? What if they had taught her that no one is allowed to touch the parts that her swimsuit covers and that she is not allowed to touch anyone else where their swimsuit covers and that if anyone does, they want her to tell them—no matter whom it was? What if they had taught this information to her from the time she could identify body parts like nose and hand? What if they had taught this to her several times a year and built on this information in age appropriate increments? What if . . .

We will never know the answers to my "what if" questions. Sexual abuse is a complicated issue, but as a parent, I want to know that, at least, I tried.

Let’s begin the conversation about childhood sexual abuse with our children. So they will know. So they can tell. So they can continue to trust.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Why Children Don’t Tell (Part 2: They Don’t Know)

My friend wrote: "I was abused by a close relative. He was absolutely trusted. And he took advantage of me. And I went along with it because I didn't know any better. Because I trusted him."  (

Some children don’t tell because they don’t know they should. When my friend was first violated, she was a preschooler. She did not tell because she did not know. No one had ever taught her that her body was sacred and that certain parts were private and should not be touched by others. But as the abuse continued and my friend matured, she began to feel uncomfortable with his touch. But she kept quiet—for years. And because she loved (Part 1, of Why Kids Don’t Tell), she didn’t tell.

Uninformed children are easy targets for perpetrators and perpetrators are looking for easy targets.

That is why it is an adult’s job to protect children from childhood sexual abuse. We must teach our children from the beginning that their bodies are special and that no one is allowed to touch them in their private areas (except a doctor with permission from their parents).

Teach them so they will know. Teach them so they can tell.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Why Children Don’t Tell (Part 1: They Love)

"Some of them don’t tell because they love them,” I said.

Her face turned bright red. Her brown eyes bore into mine. “What?” she snapped.

“They love them,” I repeated softly.

“They love them?  How could they love them?”

I wasn’t surprised by her question. I wasn’t shocked by her anger. She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and she couldn’t imagine how any survivor could love their abuser. But her abuser wasn’t someone whom she loved.

Ninety to ninety-five percent of survivors of childhood sexual abuse are violated by someone they know and trust, and, yes, sometimes, by someone they love.

Consider this quote by a survivor friend of mine: "I was abused by a close relative. He was absolutely trusted. And he took advantage of me. And I went along with it because I didn't know any better. Because I trusted him."  Many of the reasons children don’t tell lay within these five sentences.  (You can read her story, Scars of Abuse, at (

The first reason kids don't tell is in the first sentence. Notice she wrote “close relative”. Children generally love their close relatives (fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, and cousins). I know my friend did and does.

Over the next several weeks, we’ll explore why children don’t tell as we dissect this quote. And together we’ll learn more, and we’ll protect our children better.

Children don’t tell because they love. They love deeply. And they know instinctively that if they tell, they might hurt the one they love. They can’t understand it—they don’t have the reasoning skills for it; they can’t explain it—they don’t have the words for it. But they can feel it. And those feelings are powerful. And those feelings hold them captive and keep them quiet.

And that is why it is an adult’s job to protect children from childhood sexual abuse.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

We Have a Winner!!!

Congratulations to Christy Willard!!! She is the winner of the God's Design for Sex Series. Our ten year old pulled Christy's name from the lid from our Apples to Apples box lid at 11:35 this morning. Thanks to all who entered.

Congrats Christy and family!
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