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.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Gift of a Daddy

As I spend these next two weeks celebrating our Savior's birth and a new year with family and friends, I invite you to watch this special CBS news story. Warning: Tissues needed.

Click here.

With prayers for a peaceful and joyous Christmas,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

When a Father Speaks

“If you really want your kids to hear something, they need to hear it from their dads,” the culture watcher man said on the CD. “They expect to hear words of instruction from their mothers.”
I drove down the highway, tears streamed down my face.

“But they don’t have a dad, God,” I said, as my words bounced around my empty mini-van. I was making the drive home, New York to Pennsylvania. I had just returned three little sisters to their grandmother’s house. And I felt a heavy burden for them and for their future—a fatherless future.

Little did I know that years later, these three little girls would become our daughters. And they would have a father.

I don’t remember why the man on the CD said kids hear instruction from their dads better than their moms. Perhaps it’s because historically mothers not only did much of the childcare, they gave much of the instruction. Perhaps it’s because women are more verbal then men. Kids are used to moms warning about this and teaching about that, so a momma’s instruction becomes more muddled, a bit like Charlie Brown’s teacher, “Whomp, wahaw whomp, wahaw whomp . . ."

Whatever the reason, when a dad speaks, there is power in his words. It’s why I have the father in my children’s book, Rise and Shine: A Tool for the Prevention ofChildhood Sexual Abuse, give the instruction to his daughter about sexual violations.

I believe in daddies and in the power of fatherhood. I believe that when fathers understand that they can play a major role in protecting their kids, and given the encouragement and tools that they need, they will have the conversations. They will do what they must do.

I believe in motherhood. I know that mommas, now and in the future, will continue to warn and teach, even if they sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. They will also, given the encouragement and tools they need, talk to their kids about sexual abuse. They will do what they must do.

And blessed is the child who has two parents working together to protect them, doing what they must do.

To watch the free children's video, Rise And Shine: A Tool for the Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse, please visit: RiseAndShineMovement.orgProtecting children, one conversation at time.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Spouses Caught in the Ripple

Photography by Christy Mae, Used by permission, Copyright 2012

Perhaps no one endures the ripple of sexual abuse more than the spouses of those who were abused. The two were called to become one. Not two.


And in this joining of two, all things are shared. Not just the future. But the past.

Marriage, the joining of two souls, is difficult enough. Add sexual abuse history to the mix, and you've got another mountain to climb.


But here’s the hope, mountains can be climbed.

Image courtesty of Michal Marcol/"

In January, Tamar’s Redemption Tuesdays will feature couples who are facing the mountain and choosing to climb.  We’ll ask them honest questions and look forward to their vulnerable answers. They’re not climbing experts. They are learning along the way, working together, picking each other up as they stumble, and dusting each other off, taking needed rest and shelter along the way.

They aren't perfect. They’re in process. They can’t offer you healing, just their honest thoughts, and a promise.

You’re not alone.

Please, come join us in the climb.

Hope for others "Caught in the Ripple": Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What to Do with Uncle Joe

“He’s always coming at her demanding hugs and kisses. She just stares at him, and he continues to nag, saying that he won’t give up until she responds. He's harmless, but it bugs me. I want to say something. Do something. Yet, I don’t want to hurt his feelings.” A mom

The clueless and relentless uncle, he wants his hugs and kisses from all the kids and pouts, teases, and manipulates until he gets what he wants.

He’s a big kid. And he is probably harmless. But what’s a momma to do about him, especially a momma who’s trying to help her kids understand that they are allowed to say, “No!”?

She has a talk with Uncle Joe.

Yep, you read that right. She needs to have a talk—a talk right there in the middle of Christmas. No bah-humbug. No need to be Debbie-downer. Just a simple non-threating conversation.

“Uncle Joe, we’re trying to teach Sally that she’s allowed to have boundaries and that she’s allowed to tell people, ‘No!’” the momma says as she gently touches his arm. “I know how much you care about her . . . and you know,” she whispers, “how dangerous the world is out there. Well, I was wondering if you could help us out. When Sally doesn’t want to hug you, could you just tell her that it’s okay? It would really help us teach her, and it will help protect her from people who may want to hurt her. Thanks,” she smiles. “I really appreciate your help.”

Non-threatening conversations not only help us set boundaries with all the clueless Uncle Joes and cheek-pinching Aunt Bettys, it helps us protect our kids. Embrace teachable moments, one conversation at a time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An Adoptive Mother’s Voice, Caught in the Ripple (Part 4)

“I brought her from a country where she would have starved to death, and then I bring her here. Here for this!”

Her baby girl was violated.

A loving mother. An adoptive mother. A mother who loves the children of others. A mother who loves children with abandon. A ferocious protector.

Yet it happened.

“Your daughter is here.” I said. “She’s alive. You made no mistake by bringing her to the states. And she told.”

So much to be thankful for, but understandably this loving mother felt guilty and hurt for her child.

Would she have knowingly put her child at risk? Never. Would she have protected her child from the sexual violation if she had any clue? You bet.

Photography by Christy Mae. Used by permission. Copyright 2012

Sexual abuse whispers lies to its victims, and to the victims caught in the ripple. “I shouldn't have adopted her. This is all my fault.”

I’m glad this mother spoke with me. I’m glad she shared the lies, so together we could look at the truth.

Sexual abuse breeds lies and thrives in secrecy. If you’re hurting because your child was violated, talk about it with someone you trust. And seek the truth. It sets us free.

Caught in the Ripple (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advice from a Survivor Momma, by Christy

I wish children came with an instruction manual.

Navigating the complexities of parenting is a considerable task. From the moment my children took their first breath, mothering them was about caring for their needs and keeping them well protected.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (Christy's Story), balancing protection and care without becoming paranoid is not always an easy feat. I find that my biggest parenting fears are usually tied to issues from my abuse. But my sexual abuse history also provides me with awareness and an intuition that I have come to value.

As a Momma, I fear that someone will hurt or take advantage of my children. Instead of letting this fear create anxiety in my heart – lest I lock my kids in our house until they turn eighteen – I take a more proactive approach, which I would like to share with you.

  • ·         We started very early talking to our son and daughter about modesty. These conversations included why certain parts of the body are for them only. It was important for us to establish early body boundaries and to let our children know that they are entitled to body privacy.

  • ·         We don’t leave our kids with people we don’t know well — coaches, other parents, teachers. No matter the inconvenience, I will often accompany my child to a practice or a play-date. I want other adults to know that I am an involved parent.

  • ·         We expect organizations – churches, sports clubs, kids programs – to perform semi-frequent background checks on their volunteers, and we are not afraid to ask what protective procedures they have in place, such as, "Will my child ever be alone with an adult?”

The people-pleaser in me can feel tempted to trust adults just because I don’t want to hurt their feelings. But in my experience, anyone who shares a concern and care for my child is willing to do whatever it takes to keep them safe.

My kids don’t need a protective bubble. As a parent, it is my desire and ultimately, my responsibility to teach and guide them, so they know what to do when I’m not with them.

Finding a balance between under and over protecting my kids is a constant challenge. But I have learned to trust my instincts as a mom and am willing to enlist others to help me in this cause.

Please join us on Tamar's Redemption Thursdays: Parenting with Purpose, Parenting without Paranoia. Because parenting is hard, for survivor parents, and all parents. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Mother’s Voice, Caught in the Ripple (Part 3)

“As you grew we wanted to protect and love you always.  We thought we had done that, but now we find out that we did not protect you from sexual abuse.  We had no clue, especially by the adult we all trusted so completely.  I feel I failed you.  I did not see any signs.  The person who did this was one of the last people I ever would have thought could betray you and us.  You see, you are the major victim here, but there are those others who are victims, too.  The pebble in the water creates vast reaching ripples, taking in victims all along the way.”  A mother

Photography by Christy Mae, Used by permission, Copyright 2012

The heartache of a mother and father. They love their baby girl. They loved the perpetrator. Never in a million years did they think he was capable of such a heinous crime. He had been a safe person with some, but not with others. And they never knew.

Jerry Sandusky. Father. Coach. Philanthropist. Many knew him as a good man. But now we all know. He was safe with some. Not with others.

How does that happen? We could try to understand it. And there are those who study it. But even if we knew the answer, would it take away the pain?


A parent is still left riddled with guilt and haunted with questions: How could he? Where was I when this happened? Why didn’t I see it? How could this happen? Why didn’t she tell me? Was I a distant parent? And on and on.

You can’t identify a perpetrator by his looks. And cases show many are adept at hiding their actions. Warning signs are hidden beneath merit badges, charming personalities, and the accolades of others.

We want to believe sexual abuse only happens to kids in bad families filled with abuse and neglect. That is simply not true.

Sexual abuse can happen anywhere, in any faith, and yes, in any family.

Perhaps some parents are only guilty of trusting.

I believe in grace. I believe as Maya Angelou says, “When you know better you do better.” We know now that the best defense we have against childhood sexual violations is to talk to our kids. Begin the conversation. Build the bridge. Be the hero. Learn more at

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Wonder of "What If"

Out of 39 million, we hear you. We hear the heart wrenching strains of a familiar survivor song.

We wonder at each story’s climax what might have happened if someone had stepped in – right then.

We wonder how the life of that sweet little girl or that rambunctious boy might have been different had they been told.

I sing the chorus of wonder myself from the sting of my own childhood sexual abuse.

Our stories are many. Answers often few. But to my amazement, God fills. He fills the void of “what ifs” with “what nows.”

I can make a difference now for my child, my friend’s and family’s children. I can join together with others who are speaking up and speaking out. I can speak the words “sexual abuse” without fear because I know that others need to hear it and children need to know that it’s out there and what to do if they meet it.

And my wonder changes from the curiosity of a different past to a feeling of wonderment – seeing people embracing the cause and taking action.

Written by: Christy, a survivor (

 Linking here today:
  Five Minute Friday

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Caught in the Ripple (Part 2)

When I speak at events for the Rise and Shine Movement to protect kids from sexual violations, I always have at least one survivor approach me at the end. To share her heart. Her pain.

But I have others approach me too. They are the wives, mothers, sisters, friends, relatives, daughters, of those who have been sexually violated. And yes, they come to share their hearts. Their pain.

When perpetrators touch their victims or make their victims touch them, they don't just touch the victim; they touch those who love the victim. Creating more victims. And those victims hurt.

That’s why Tamar’s Redemption is expanding its mission. Together, we are going to address the issues of the survivor and the issues of those who love the survivor.
Photography by Christy May. Used by permission. Copyright 2012
Because sexual violations ripple. Everyone that’s caught in its effect deserves to share their heart. Their pain. 

And everyone deserves to heal.

We heal best when we heal together. Please, come heal with us—all of us.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Ripple

The old woman opened her eyes and took a shallow breath, “I have something . . . I need . . . to tell you. Something . . . I’ve never told . . . anyone.”

Her daughter leaned in closer, “Mom, don’t talk now,” she said, as she swept a white strand of hair back from her ashen face. “Just rest.”

“No,” she whispered. “I . . . need to say this. I have to tell. When I was seven . . . a man rented a room at our house. My parents . . . they needed the money. I never told them. I couldn’t. But that man . . . he . . .”


I was shaking hands after a speaking engagement. A woman in her fifties approached me.

“My mother was in her eighties and on her death bed when she told. It all made sense—why she treated my older sister the way she did. My sister has been in counseling for years. Her counselor told her that she had all the signs and symptoms of a woman who had been sexually abused. But my sister had never been sexually abused. My mom treated my older sister terribly. She transferred her pain to my sister.”

The ripple effect. One cause leads to an effect, which leads to another effect, and so on and so on.

The effects of sexual abuse can ripple. A mother, clothed in a long, flowing robe of shame, unknowingly swaddles her daughter in the folds of its opaque fabric. The lies the mother believes become a cloak of untruths around her daughter’s heart, mind, and soul.

The above story is tragic. But it doesn't have a tragic ending.

When the mother told, her daughter heard, and a loose piece of thread from the robe was exposed. And with a tug, the opaque fabric began to unravel. One sister was able to help the other see the truth and continue to heal. And the mother entered eternity free from the secret that held her captive for most of her life.

Unresolved pain can ripple. It may not have been your choice to hurt, but it can be your choice to heal. Please join us on Tuesdays and heal with us.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

And the Oscar Goes to . . .

As I reflect on this past year and all that has been accomplished through this blog and the Rise and Shine Movement, I give thanks for:

Videos shot and produced. Thank you, Mrs. Christy Willard!

Illustrations sketched and completed. Thank you, Mr. Josh Manges!

Voice-overs practiced and performed. Thank you, Rise and Shine voice-over team!

A website birthed and thriving. Thank you, Mr. Austin Wisler!

A hard copy version of Rise and Shine typesetted and published. Thank you, Mr. Frank Hultslander and Ms. Jeanne Zoppel.

We've accomplished much in year, team. And I thank God for each and everyone of you. Because of your efforts, children are being protected and survivors are continuing to heal. If I could, I would give you each an Oscar, but please accept my sincere and humble thanks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays, Kimmy's Song

During this week of thanksgiving, we celebrate with Kimmy Bennett, who has found her voice and sings her song so poignantly in the following poem. 

Photography by Christy Mae. Used by permission. Copyright 2012

    Touch of Innocence
    by Kimmy Bennett 

                                                              My sweet princess needed so little,
                                                              A hug around her waist
                                                              But deserved so much more.

                                                              She gleamed with innocence,
                                                              A smile on her lips
                                                              And perceived no harm.

                                                              My little angel craved attention,
                                                              A kiss on her cheek
                                                              And accepted his tending.

                                                              She took delight in his offerings,
                                                              A laugh from her tummy
                                                              But was not aware of his misbehavior.

                                                              My little girl loved him,
                                                              A touch of her soul
                                                              So protected his secret.

                                                              She is now aware of her trauma,
                                                              A tear from her eye
                                                              And seeks to tell the truth.

                                                              My precious child exists in me,
                                                              A piece of my heart
                                                              Yet continues to be a strong woman.

                                                               I am admired for my strength,
                                                               A song from my mouth
                                                               For reclaiming my own power.

Photography by Christy May. Used by permission. Copyright 2012

Kimmy, thank you for sharing the truth with us. We admire your strength too. Please, keep singing!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why I Told (Part 2)

I still remember the agony in her eyes.

“Why did you run, and I didn't?” my sister asked.

Together, through our tears, peering back across the years, we searched for the answer.

You see, I wasn't alone in the barn that day when the teenage hired-hand attempted to molest me. My sister was with me.

She froze. I ran.

Two sisters.

Two different personalities. She was naturally quiet. I was not.

Two different stages of development. She was nine. I was four.

And what we believe to be the most significant difference—she was already a survivor. Years before, another had stolen her innocence.

Shame—the great immobilizer. Shame—the great silencer.

My sister froze. She no longer felt the freedom to run.

She didn't tell. She had already lost her voice.

And, we believe, because I was with her, my big sister, and empowered by her presence, the hired-hand didn't get the chance to impart his shame on us that warm summer afternoon in 1968. I was able to yell, “No!”  Run. And tell.

Shame can render the most talkative child mute at any age. We must teach children about sexual abuse. So they can understand what it is. So they can yell, run, and tell.

Why I Told (Part 1)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Letting Go, Christy's Voice (Part 4)

Used by permission, Photography by Christy Mae, Copyright 2012
Never have I felt so vulnerable, yet so free.

After God began the process of band-aid removal  (Part 3), I was forced to see all the ways I had been covering up the pain of childhood sexual abuse. Standing bare, heart exposed I had to face the truth about myself – and God.

Slowly I began to see God’s hand in my story. I saw my hands clenched white-knuckled around a rope, grabbing and pulling with all my might. I was playing tug-of-war with the Creator of the Universe. And it wasn't getting me anything except rope burns.

I wanted to believe God, to trust Him. I longed for a relationship with Him, His offer of unconditional love, and a promise to never leave me. I saw surrender as my only option.

Surrender is hard, especially for a control freak like me, who had grown accustomed to holding on to things. Control offered me a false sense of security, and I finally realized I actually controlled very little.

Self-evaluation can get ugly. But God was patient. He waited until I was ready and graciously revealed what I needed to see, as I needed to see it. Healing didn’t happen overnight. The longer I lived with the lies, the harder it was to break free of them. Frequent re-evaluation became a critical part of my life, as it is now.

In an act of faith, I began giving my fears and insecurities over to God. Healing is a lengthy process—an ongoing process. I have to make daily choices: to trust God when I want to rely on myself, to relinquish my need to know “why” or any desire to change the past, to accept His often, mysterious plan and His promise to find worth in it all.

I have experienced faith-filled healing and continue to do so. But first, I had to let go of the rope.

We believe healing occurs best in community. If you are a survivor and would like to share your story, please email Carolyn or Christy at We will work with you to bring your words to life on our blog. You may share anonymously or use your name. Thank you. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why I Told (Part 1)

“Why did you tell your dad and your older sisters didn't?”

I think that’s a good question. I’m asked it often. I've asked it myself.

Why me? Why did I get away? Why did I tell?

I have several ideas as to why. Today I’m going to focus on one.

My father hadn't disappointed me . . . yet.

I was only four years old when the teenage field hand attempted to molest me. My father was still my hero. He was my source to make wrongs right. I remember running from the barn and racing toward my dad without hesitation. And I told him. Everything.

There was a freedom in my steps and a freedom with my words.

But that freedom didn't last throughout my childhood and it was rare within my adulthood.

Why? My father wasn't perfect. Neither was I. And life happened. Stuff got in the way.

And because my father parented with his parents’ parenting philosophy of obedience training rather than relational parenting, the distance between my father and me widened. The challenges of life multiplied. I ran in many different directions with my thoughts and problems, but rarely to my dad.

For these reasons, I urge parents to build the bridge of communication regarding the issue of sexual abuse with their children. Our imperfections, as parents, will enmesh with our children’s imperfections. Life will happen. Stuff will get in the way. The distance may widen and challenges will multiply.

We always want our kids to run to us—with freedom in their steps and freedom with their words. 

Build the bridge. Build it strong. Strengthen it often.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Finding the Real Me, Christy's Voice (Part 3)

When my kids were small they thought a band-aid could fix anything. A tiny scratch or a banged up knee just felt better when you put a band-aid on it.

You and I know there is nothing magical about those sticky, adhesive bandages. They are a temporary fix while the real healing work happens—under  the band-aid, from within.

In a perfect world you could stick a band-aid on the hurts of life, ignore it for a few days and you'd be good as new. But real healing is intentional and it takes a lot of hard, often agonizing, work.

In my mid to late twenties two major conflicts in my life, including years of not dealing with the pain of childhood sexual abuse, became the catalysts for deep personal healing.

I had unknowingly put an invisible wedge between me and God. I wanted to feel connected to Him, but I struggled with feeling let down by Him because He didn't intervene. I had concocted an idea of who I wanted God to be and when He didn't measure up, I was convinced it meant He wouldn't take care of me. I wanted God to swoop in before bad things happened in my life, not just clean up the mess after.

This is where God found me—covering myself with band-aids and in a lot of pain.

God started removing the bandages one by one. Sometimes quick, sometimes slow and careful. This process hurt as He showed me all that I had been hiding under there. With the bandages removed I could finally see the real me—wounds and all.

This is when the real healing began.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Touch of Gray and Ounce of Wisdom, Tamar's Redemption Thursdays

 Hope and Encouragement for Moms

Once again the breakfast bar at our kitchen counter was strewn with homework papers and books. There was no place for a cereal bowl or even a spoon. I was frustrated. How many times do I have to tell her to put her stuff away? It was late. I was pooped.  She’ll hear about this in the morning.

Yet, the morning came, and I was unusually chipper. Amazing what rest can do.

She stumbled down the stairs into the kitchen on her sleepy mission to prepare for school. I had a choice. I could conjure up my frustration from the night before and let it fly. Or I could pull her aside, place a loving arm around her shoulder, and turn her toward the breakfast bar. Then ask calmly, with a lilt in my voice and a grin on my face, “So my dear, how do you expect anyone to eat breakfast with all your stuff on the counter?”

I chose the latter. I chose it because I’m a bit older, grayer, and wiser these days. You see, I’m parenting for the second time around. I have four mostly grown and launched children who have flown or nearly flown from the nest. They were my guinea pigs. I tried all sorts of parenting experiments on them. Thankfully they lived. And they do tell about it.

Yet in the middle season of my life, with my nest appearing more empty than full, God brought me new test cases—three little girls. Sisters. Filled with pain. Needing a mom. And believe me, I feel woefully inadequate for the job. Most days, I shoot up prayers for wisdom on a moment by moment basis.

But on this morning, I had an extra ounce of wisdom.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“You are forgiven,” I said. “And loved.”

You see, I figure she can’t hear those words enough.

And truth be told, neither can I.

What words do you long to hear today? Perhaps your kids need to hear them too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Looking for Eden, Christy's Voice (Part 2)

Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
 How We Hurt, How We Heal

Eight years ago, in a time of immense trial, God became real to me. Although God and I met every Sunday since I was very small, sitting next to my Grandmother in the church pew, he always felt far away.

For many years, I imagined myself at the front of the time machine line – clicking back the years and changing history. I thought a re-write was exactly what I needed. Cue the knight in shining armor to save me from my childhood sexual abuse. This would change my life – for the better.

As I imagined my perfect story, free from betrayals and hurts of any kind, full of love and laughter and – everyone doing things my way –it hit me. I was looking for Eden when I live in Pennsylvania.
Used by permission, Photography by Christy Mae, Copyright 2012

Viewing my world through “personal hurt glasses” I was rejecting the story God was writing for my life. I saw every hurt, every trial as a punishment, or a lack of protection, against me. I struggled to understand how evil things happened under the watchful, ever-present eye of a loving God.

Counseling helped me to remove those glasses until I finally understood. My hero did come –but it was not in the way I had pictured it. I needed to put aside my own stubborn self to see a hero strong enough to withstand my nagging questions, loving enough to handle all of my doubts, and faithful to stay with me until I was ready to see.

"That which we fear might happen to us — might be the thing to produce deep faith in us. Why be afraid of anything — when He’s using everything?"

We invite you to visit Christy's blog -

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Protecting Our Kids from Sexual Violation: The Hope (Part Seven)

"I was violated at the age of five, ten, and fifteen," she said. "At five I was touched inappropriately, at ten my girlfriends and I were playing at the park and a man exposed himself and masturbated in front of us, and at fifteen an older boy sexually assaulted me on my way home from school."

I've known this woman for over twenty-five years. I know her well. She has lived and does live a joyful life. So I asked, "Why haven't these events paralyzed you in your adult life?"

"It's how my parents handled each incident that has made all the difference," she said. "They listened to me, believed me, and took action every time. I have little memory of the first incident. I know I told my mother about the inappropriate touch, she took me to the doctor to make sure I was okay physically, and she and my father protected me from the perpetrator. They dealt with him.

"I remember the second time well," she continued.  "It was awkward, but my friends and I ran and told my dad, he took us to the police station immediately. The police caught the exhibitionist and he went to jail. We found out later that this man was a wanted on other sexual charges.

"And the third time, I ran home and told my parents. They took me to the police station and we ended up with a court case. I had to testify. It was scary, but my parents supported me the entire time. The older boy was charged and sentenced to prison.

"But do you want to know what happened after that? What's really amazing?" she asked.

"Sure," I said.

"Being a tiny girl and a racial minority in a large public high school, I used to avoid the cliques of students standing outside the front of the high school each morning and slip in a side door to avoid any kind of taunting or bullying. After I won the court case . . . I used the front door."

I can't promise you by following the six steps to protecting your kids, outlined in my previous posts, that your children will not experience a violation. It happens to one out of four girls and one out of six boys before their eighteenth birthdays. But what my survivor friends will tell you is that it's not the sexual act or violation that does the most damage to their hearts, minds, and souls. It's the isolation. It's the secret. It's the not being able to tell, or worse, not being believed.

My friend was blessed to have amazing parents who listened to her, believed her, and took action. She knows this and thanks God for them. And she has allowed me to share her story with you so your children can use the front door too.

We can follow all of the steps to protect our children from sexual violation and still a violation can occur. It happened to my daughter in high school, and I have been educating her on this issue for years. But you see, because I built the bridge of communication with my daughter, regarding sexual abuse, she knew she could cross over the chasm that abuse creates and run safely into my arms. No secrets had to be kept, no internal lies that abuse creates had to be believed. She got to hear from her parents over and over again, “It wasn't your fault.” When we take steps to educate and protect our kids we have hope. And by teaching our kids about sexual violations, we have nothing to lose.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Looking for a Hero, Christy's Voice (Part 1)

Used with permission, Photography by Christy Mae, Copyright 2012

Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
How We Hurt, How We Heal

Thirty-six years a survivor and I still wrestle with God.

When painful memories overwhelm, it’s hard for me to see – to see God in that darkness. I have pleaded with God for His “five w” answers, but all I really want to know is “Why?”

Blaming my adult abuser was not enough for me. God became an easy target for my barrage of questions and doubts, my feelings of anger and helplessness.

If You created my inmost being and my days are written in your book, then how did You know and do nothing? Was I not worth it?

How easy it was to assume He had turned a blind eye. If He wouldn't look out for me, I would have to do it.  Stubbornly I assigned myself protection duties and began a career as a control freak – I would never be hurt again.

Back then, I needed a hero to swoop in and save the day. But He never came.

Or so I believed.

“Where were You when sin stole my innocence?
Where were You when I was ashamed?”

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Protecting Our Kids from Sexual Violation: The Conversation (Part Six)

"And what do you write about?"

All eyes are on me. It's my turn to answer the question.

I take a deep breath and respond, "I write about sexual abuse."

I get this question all the time when I attend writers' conferences.  It's a natural inquiry at lunch or over dinner with fellow writers. Sometimes my response is followed by an awkward silence, especially in mixed company, but most of the time, the table comes alive with questions, comments, and most often, with a disclosure from a female. "It happened to me." She says, "Thank you for doing what you're doing."

"You're welcome." I say.

I know sexual abuse isn't easy to talk about, but the more we talk about it, the less power it has to enslave survivors and harm our kids. The pain of sexual abuse thrives in silence; the act of sexual abuse depends on silence.

So talk about it, talk about it, and talk about it some more. Let those around you (friends, family, babysitters, and neighbors) know you've been reading about how to protect your kids. Ask your child's coaches, church leaders, and music instructors what their organizations are doing to protect your kids from perpetrators.

Raising our voices regarding this issue has the power to shatter the silence that erodes a survivor's life and the power to divert the perpetrator who steals a child's innocence.

Please join me. Take a deep breath and say, "I speak about sexual abuse."

And I promise you, someday, someone will say, "Thank you."

Step Six: Talk about sexual abuse. Joining our voices has the power to shatter the silence that erodes a survivor's life and the power to divert the perpetrator who steals a child's innocence. Perpetrators thrive in environments of silence and ignorance. They also count on our children to keep secrets. We must teach our children that, within our families, we don’t keep secrets (step five). We must also empower our children to say no to adults when they don't feel like hugging or kissing because perpetrators avoid confident children who know they can set boundaries (step four). And remember that perpetrators avoid knowledgeable, confident kids (step three) who have a relationship with their parents (step two), especially those parents who refuse to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse (step one).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Voices of Tamar’s Redemption: Christy’s Voice, Christy’s Journey (Part 4)

Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
How We Hurt, How We Heal

Desperate, I wanted to trust people.

I searched for acceptance and love from anyone who was willing to give it to me. Internally, I traded my trust for a guarantee – that I would never be hurt again. I jumped into relationships with everything I had. I clung to them, relied on them, looking for some security. I wanted to feel safe.

Like a teeter-totter, I swayed between depending on others for what I needed and relying on myself.  I knew deep down I would get hurt, but I also knew not trusting anyone was impossible. So I remained skeptical, ready to step in to protect myself at any moment.

Marriage was a proving ground. Initially, the promised commitment felt safe. But it wasn’t long before it all started to fall a part.

All I knew of sex and love came from untrustworthy sources. Because of my abuse, sexuality was covered in a veil of shame. Still in denial about my abuse, marital intimacy became a struggle.

I finally felt the nudge to deal with my sexual abuse. Up until that point I was suffering in silence. But the infection inside of me had become contagious. It was infecting other people. The cure, I relented, would be to finally talk about it.

Counseling became an outlet, helping me to make sense of the abuse and find my voice. It was a long, arduous process. Like surgery, my counselor helped me open it up and dig around in there. Together we removed the parts that were unhealthy.

 Used with permission, Photography by Christy Mae, Copyright 2012
It hurt a lot at first. But slowly, I was stitched back up. Tenderly, we cared for the wound until eventually it is healed from the inside out.

I have a scar.

It’s not raw anymore. Most days I don’t even see it, forget about it. But remnants will always remain. Flare-ups will happen. It’s a part of my story.

I am a survivor. And I have finally learned to live that way.

For more of Christy's story see Part OnePart Two, Part Three

 Christy's blog

If you would like to encourage Christy or comment on her post and prefer not to respond anonymously on this blog, please feel free to email your comment to this secure address I will be glad to send your comment or question to Christy. Blessings to you, Carolyn

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Protecting Our Kids: The Secret (Part Five)

"Do you want to know a secret? I know one."

Longing to hear her whisper the seeeecret, I leaned in close and pulled my doll's string again.

"Do you want to try on my glasses?” Mrs. Beasley asked. “You may if you wish.

Huh? I pulled her string again.

"Do you want to play?"

I stared at my doll. I didn't want to try on her glasses or play with her—I wanted to know the secret! Frustrated, I grabbed her by the neck and pulled her string over and over again. Mrs. Beasley asked me more questions until she asked again, “Do you want to know a secret? I know one.”

With one more pull of the cord, my hopes of hearing her secret were dashed forever. Mrs. Beasley never divulged her secret but continued on with the same cycle of questions, and I was ready to yank her string right out of her polka-dotted little bottom.  I still loved my Mrs. Beasley doll, but I was one disappointed six-year old. Why? Because children love secrets.

Perpetrators love secrets too. They depend on them and will use cunning methods and various threats to convince your child to keep their secrets. Understanding this fact gives parents an opportunity to thwart a perpetrator’s plans by creating a home environment where secrets are discussed and discouraged.

“But what about ‘fun’ secrets?” You might ask. Lest you think I’m an old humbug, let me give you a replacement word for secret that’s even more fun for children and it begins with s. Replace the word secret with SURPRISE.

Let’s say you’re going to have a surprise party for grandma and you don’t want your little darling to blow the cover. You could say, “Sweetheart, we’re going to have a surprise party for grandma. We’re not going to tell her about it until she walks through the door and we all yell, ‘SURPRISE!’ and then you get to answer all of grandma’s questions and tell her everything.” Choosing our words wisely as parents requires some thinking and creativity, but it's well worth our time and effort when the goal is protecting our kids.

I don’t know who designed Mrs. Beasley, but whoever did, took the time to understand children. Thousands of Mrs. Beasley dolls were sold in the sixties and early seventies. Perpetrators take the time to understand children too. And thousands of children will be molested this year. It’s important for parents to remember what it’s like to be a child and do what they can to keep their children from becoming another statistic, shackled by a lonely, senseless secret.

Perpetrators count on our children to keep secrets. Our fifth step in protecting our kids is teaching our children that, within our families, we don’t keep secrets. We must also empower our children to say no to adults when they don't feel like hugging or kissing because perpetrators avoid confident children who know they can set boundaries (step four). And remember that perpetrators avoid knowledgeable, confident kids (step three) who have a relationship with their parents (step two), especially those parents who refuse to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse (step one).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Voices of Tamar’s Redemption: Christy’s Voice, Christy’s Journey (Part 3)

Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays
How We Hurt, How We Heal

I was just a kid. I had no reason not to trust him, but this left me vulnerable. He had relied on my innocence, my ignorance, and my trust. I obeyed his instructions because that is what I had always done, what I felt was expected of me. I was unaware of appropriate body boundaries. Not at that age, not back then. My abuser had certainly crossed the line.

 Used with permission, Photography by Christy Mae, Copyright 2012
This betrayal changed me.

After awhile I stopped trusting adult men. I didn’t know I was doing that at the time, of course. This change was deep inside of me, mixed into the undercurrent of how my young mind had interpreted the yucky things that happened to me. Confusion birthed lies, which took root under my surface.

Inside, my world was a swirling mess. I wanted to trust others, but I was always skeptical. On one hand I knew I could always rely on myself. But I also questioned whether I could trust my own instincts. They had been “wrong” before.

I began to believe the only way I could keep someone from taking advantage of me was to be the one in control. I doubted people had my best interest at heart so I depended on myself and set high expectations of others.

I was in bondage. Chained, to lies I had unknowingly accepted as truth. All the control I thought I had could not keep my world from falling apart.

I needed help. But I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.

Peace and trust take years to build and seconds to shatter.”   --Mahogany SilverRain

For more of Christy's story see Part One, Part Two

 Christy's blog

If you would like to encourage Christy or comment on her post and prefer not to respond anonymously on this blog, please feel free to email your comment to this secure address I will be glad to send your comment or question to Christy. Blessings to you, Carolyn

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Protecting Our Kids from Sexual Violation: The Boundaries (Part Four)

No child was injured during this photo shoot. 

Imagine you're three foot nothing. The world is big, very big! Adults are tall, really tall!

"Guess what, Pumpkin, today we're going to a family reunion," your mother says as she pulls open your bedroom blinds. "Time to get dressed."

You use your little fists to wipe the sleep from your eyes. You're not quite sure what a reunion is, but your mom tells you you're going to have fun, lots of fun.

A Child’s Perspective: Take One

After a long ride in the minivan, you're happy to be out of your booster seat. Your mom takes your hand and you enter a room, a really big room. There are people, really big people--everywhere. Suddenly a woman you don't know comes racing up to you. The next thing you know all you can see are big red lips, all you can smell is coffee breath, all you can hear is "Oh, isn't she a cutie patootie?", and all you can feel are your cheeks being pulled so tight you want to yell OUCH, but you can't move your lips into the OU position.

Next thing you know, you see giant hairy arms grabbing you. They pull you twenty feet off the ground. You try to look up to see who it is, but you can't. Your right cheek, still sore from Red Lips, is crushed up against someone's big green shirt. All you can see is green, all you can smell is bad aftershave, all you can hear is "Grrherherherher", and all you can feel is every ounce of air being squeezed from your tiny body. Finally, that someone lowers you to the ground. You spot your mom across the room. You run as fast as you can away from Red Lips and Green Shirt and nearly topple your mom over as you grab her legs, refusing to let go.

Being a kid is scary sometimes. Adults forget that.

A Child's Perspective: Take Two

After a long ride in the minivan, you're happy to be out of your booster seat. Your mom takes your hand, bends down, and looks you in the eye, "Now remember, you don't have to hug or kiss anyone if you don't want to. It's okay to say no thank you. I'll be right here if you need me."

You enter a room, a really big room. There are people, really big people--everywhere. Suddenly a woman you don't know comes walking up to you, she stoops down, looks you in the eye, and says, "Well hello, Sarah, it's so nice to meet you. My goodness, you're a cutie patootie."

You see her smiling face and reach out for a hug. She hugs back. You smile.

The next thing you know a giant man in a green shirt bends over, looks you in the eye, and says, "Hello Sarah."

You know him. He's your uncle.

"Do you have any hugs for your ole uncle Frank today?"

"No thank you, I don't feel like hugging right now."

"No problem. It sure is good to see you. My how you've grown. How about a high-five?"

You feel safe. You slap him a high-five. You giggle. You look up at your mom and smile. She smiles back.

Teaching kids that they can set boundaries and say no is wise all the time. Adults need to remember that.

Empowering children to say no to adults, when they don't feel like hugging or kissing, is our fourth step in protecting our children. Perpetrators avoid confident children who know they can set boundaries. Perpetrators avoid knowledgeable, confident kids (step three) who have a relationship with their parents (step two), especially those parents who refuse to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse (step one).
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