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.

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.

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