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.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Protecting Our Kids from Sexual Violation: The Instruction (Part Three)

"But how does the sperm get to the egg?" he asked.
Our eight year old (yes, eight year old) wasn't going to settle for a generalized answer. A budding engineer, who was right by his daddy's side anytime something needed to be repaired, he knew if daddies carry the sperm, and mommies carry the egg, and the sperm and the egg make a baby, then somehow parents have to connect to make a baby. And his inquiring mind wouldn't rest until he knew how.

I looked at my husband. He looked back at me. Our eyes spoke the unspoken.

Your turn.

No, your turn.

No, really, Honey, you can answer that one. Go for it. (wink)

I honestly can't remember who answered, but aside from our desire to pass the ball on this one, we were so glad he asked--us.

Conversations about sex make parents sweat. But when we are uncomfortable discussing a topic, our kids pick up on it. They are experts at taking our emotional temperatures, and if we are uncomfortable, they will be uncomfortable. If they sense us avoiding a subject, they will avoid the subject. And they will find answers to their questions somewhere, and they may not be the correct answers--the answers you want them to have.

Sex Ed. 101, taught by parents, should begin early. It is a critical step in protecting our kids from sexual abuse. Instruction can begin in the bathtub when you're teaching your little ones self-care. As you teach them to wash their bodies, label the parts as you go--all the parts--with the correct names. A nose is a nose,  a  hand is a hand, a penis is a penis, and a vagina is a vagina. I know, I know, the last two don't roll off the tongue as easily as the first two, do they? But let me cheer you on. You can do it!!! Stand in front of the mirror and practice saying "those words" if you have to, but don't miss an opportunity to teach your kids. Why? Because kids who have knowledge are confident, and perpetrators avoid knowledgeable, confident kids. Why? Because kids who are knowledgeable and confident tell. And perpetrators don't want to get caught.

Let the heart aching words of a survivor of sexual abuse stir your heart into action: "How could I put into words something for which my ten year old vocabulary had no words?" I wept with her when she asked me that question. Her words still bring a lump to my throat. She had "no words." She was a victim, and she couldn't tell.

Let's give our kids the confidence. Let's give our kids the vocabulary. We don't need to fear the conversations.

Even though I can't remember whether it was my husband or me who responded to my son's question, I remember my son's response:

"So, you do that to have babies, right?"


"You guys are done having babies, right?"



I was glad for his sake, and for ours, that we were "done" having babies. And he, being satisfied with our answer, was done with our conversation and raced off to play.

Giving our kids confidence through giving them knowledge is our third step in protecting our kids from sexual abuse. 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).

Here is a book series I recommend to parents for teaching their kids about sex. I'm using them with my foster daughters. God's Design for Sex Series: The Story of Me (Ages Three to Five),  Before I Was Born (Ages Five to Eight), What's the Big Deal? Why God Cares About Sex (Ages Eight to Eleven), and Facing the Facts: The Truth About Sex and You (Ages Eleven to Fourteen).

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Voices of Tamar’s Redemption: Christy’s Voice, Christy’s Journey

Tamar's Redemption Tuesdays

How We Hurt, How We Heal

I am a survivor. My life choices can no longer stay chained to the pain of my childhood sexual abuse.

Instead of self-protecting, I try to trust.

Instead of depending too much on myself or others, I try to rely more on God.

Instead of controlling, I try to surrender.

But breaking those chains didn’t happen overnight.

It was in high school that I became haunted by memories. Flashes of times I wanted to forget.  Experiences that confused me and made me feel uncomfortable. I wanted to rid myself of the thoughts as soon as they came to mind. Literally shaking my head as if I could dislodge them from my memory like water stuck in your ear after a day of swimming.

Persistent, unwelcome pictures from when I was young clashed against the hodge-podge of sexual information I was soaking in from my friends and the world around me.  My memories never lined up or maybe the issue was that they did. What happened to me was wrong. I knew that much. And it happened with a trusted adult in my life.

That’s what messed me up.

Please join us next Tuesday for more of Christy’s story.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Protecting Our Kids from Sexual Violation: The Foundation (Part Two)

Piglet: "How do you spell love?"

Pooh: "You don't spell it. You feel it." (A. A. Milne)

A wise statement from a bear whose head is stuffed with fluff, don't ya think? Pooh and his friends always make me smile and long to climb into the pages of the book and spend a day in The Hundred Acre Wood. If only life could be that innocent, that safe, for us and for our children.

But the statistics shout even if we ignore them. One out of every four girls and one out of every six boys will be sexually violated by their eighteenth birthday. Sexual abuse is an epidemic. It won't just disappear. So how do we, as loving parents, begin to inoculate our children against this heinous threat? Let's dissect the wisdom from our little friend, Pooh.

We spell love in many ways for our children. We provide food, clothing, and shelter. We help with homework, taxi them to games and concerts, take them to their well checks once a year, and the list goes on and on. But we can spell it forwards and backwards, upside down and right-side-up, and if our children don't feel loved, we've opened the door wide for an abuser to abuse. Children who don't feel loved are easy targets for perpetrators, and perpetrators are looking for easy targets.

So how do children feel loved? I'll defer to the experts on this one and recommend two books. (I know, I know, who has time to read? I promise you, these books are worth the time.)

In his best selling book, Howto Really Love Your Child, Dr. Ross Campell encourages parents to convey love to their children through four areas: eye contact, physical contact, focused attention, and discipline. It's my favorite parenting book. A friend recommended it to me long ago. I needed it. I'm a "doer". I like to get things done--check things of my list. "Doers" buzz right by Dr. Campell's first three principles. Believe me, my kids are better off because I read the book and now that I'm entering take-two of my parenting (foster children), it's time for me to read it again.

The Five Love Languages of Children, by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campell, is another great read for parents who want their children to feel loved. The authors divide how children (and adults) "hear" love into five languages: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. I have a child who's a hugger. He grabs a hold of his momma often. His momma, who's not a hugger, but a quality time kinda gal, needs to grab a hold of her hugger often. That's how he best understands love. Great book.

Over the next several weeks I'll give you more tips on how to protect your kids, but nothing will give your kids more protection than your love communicated in ways your children can understand it, or as Pooh Bear wisely states, in ways they can feel it.

Building a relationship with your children where they feel loved and valued is the second step in protecting them from sexual abuse. Refusing to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse is the where we begin (step one).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Beautiful Scars

We had spent the past twelve hours together, a little shopping, a little food, a little sleep, and a lot of conversation. I had said little and listened much. Not because I didn’t have anything I wanted to say, I had a boatload of statements I wanted to make and questions I wanted answered regarding her present life choices and how they were affecting her and others. But Wisdom told me to be quiet . . . until our last few moments together.

“Are you angry with God for all the pain you’ve had in your life?” I asked, holding each word gently in my hands and presenting them to her slowly, carefully, one by one.

Her gaze remained fixed on the road ahead, her hands gripped the steering wheel. “I’ve never thought about that,” she said. “But . . . I have wondered what I’ve done wrong in my life to deserve all of this.”

And there it was. I could see it. She had pulled the bandage back just far enough for me to see one of the lies that festered joyfully and danced freely on the edge of her wound, looking up to laugh and smirk at me before diving back deeply into her injury. “Honey, God’s not like that,” I said. “He’s not getting you back for wrongs done. You’ve had great wrongs done to you and losses in your life. You can tell him you’re angry. He can handle it.”

Then she startled me. She whipped the bandage back farther, exposing a gaping, oozing hole. “I don’t know how to say this, but I think my heart is hard.” And as quickly as she yanked the bandage back, she reapplied it, pressing it against her skin, careful to make a perfect seal.

She pulled her car next to mine. Our time together was over; our conversation ended. I fought to keep my tears under control. Her face showed no sign of emotion. “I love you,” I whispered as I hugged her. Then I got into my car and cried out to the Healer of hard hearts during my long drive home.

A year passed and her choices became darker with each passing month, the wound grew so large it literally sucked her in, swallowing any remaining healthy tissue. The drugs she trusted to numb her pain and keep the wound from spreading betrayed her. She kissed the face of death. It took the paramedics an hour to resuscitate her. It took her loved ones five hours to convince her she had hit bottom and the only road leading anywhere was up.

She took the up road. It was a long and arduous climb. But as she reached out a shaky hand toward Jesus and he clasped his nail-scarred hands around hers, she felt strength for the journey. Jesus stripped each lie naked before her and silenced each menacing laugh that sought to trip her. And when she felt the need to stop traveling and beat on his chest and tell him of her anger, he took every blow until she was exhausted and fell peacefully into his arms—a time to rest. And miraculously, her life began to change as her heart began to soften.

I spent twenty-four hours with her recently. We did a little shopping, a little eating, and a lot of talking. We said much and listened much. Her face was radiant. And I couldn’t help but notice, the bandage was gone. And the wound? It was healing. Sometimes reopening in tender places. Sometimes needing a little more salve. But healing. 

And leaving a scar. A beautiful scar. A scar that tells a story—a story of redemption.

It's okay for healing to take time. It's okay to revisit old wounds and see if they need a little more salve. Healing is a process, a process that doesn't have a deadline or require perfection.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Protecting Our Kids from Sexual Violation: The Definition (Part 1)

Copyright Rise and Shine Movement 2012

"Do you see anything wrong with what she's wearing?" asked the editor as he pointed to the illustration of the little girl in overalls. He had just read my sexual abuse prevention manuscript and now he was evaluating the illustrations.

"No." I responded.

"Think about it."

I looked back at the illustration hoping the answer would jump off the page. It didn't. I turned toward him, "I'm sorry," I said, my eyebrows and shoulders raised, "I'm just not getting it."

He hesitated. I waited.

" could someone touch her, you know, in her private areas, with those [overalls] on?" he asked.

There is much confusion as to what constitutes sexual abuse. Before we begin our discussion on protecting our kids from sexual abuse, let me give you a definition from an expert who has spent years counseling survivors.

"Sexual abuse is any contact or interaction (visual, verbal, or psychological) between a child/adolescent and an adult when the child/adolescent is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or any other person. Sexual abuse may be committed by a person under the age of eighteen when that person is either significantly older than the victim or when the perpetrator is in a position of power or control over the victimized child/adolescent." (The Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allender, Navpress, 1995, page 48.)

I didn't rattle off this definition to the editor. He was already overwhelmed—clearly uncomfortable with the topic.

"A violation is a violation," I responded, "regardless of whether it was above the clothes or beneath the clothes."

"You'd better include that in the back of your book or something." he said.

"Yes, I think I should."

Our conversation ended.

And I was relieved. I clearly needed a different editor.

Parents who refuse to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual violations and have a solid understanding of what sexual abuse is, have embraced the first step in protecting their kids from sexual abuse.

Please stop by next week to learn another tip on how to protect your kids. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Who’s Tamar Anyhow?

I was hanging out with two of my writer friends recently. I love them. They’re honest pals. They tell me what they really think, and I trust them.

One’s a self-proclaimed former Super Gal. She could fix anything, until she realized she couldn’t fix anything. She surrendered her cape to God a few years ago in her late forties.

The other is a former Woodstock groupie. She was immersed in the rock and roll culture until one day she realized that Jesus loved her. Now she’s a Jesus follower and Bible scholar.

Very cool women.

“I love your blog,” Super Gal said, “but I have to admit, I don’t get why it’s called Tamar’s Redemption.” She didn’t grow up in the church. And since the story of Tamar, from 2 Samuel, in the Old Testament, is rarely heard from the pulpit and certainly not in Sunday school, I understood her reaction. “Who’s Tamar anyhow? I think you should change the title of your blog.”

“Don’t you dare,” said my Woodstock friend. “I love the name of your blog!”

Two friends. Two opinions.

I reaffirmed Super Gals opinion. She’s been in marketing for years. All she wants is for my mission to protect kids to spread. So do I. Her point was valid. Will parents find my blog with the title Tamar’s Redemption? Hmm . . .

I felt the passion of my Woodstock friend. The story of Tamar, in my opinion, is one of the saddest stories in the Bible. Tamar, raped by her half-brother, told to be quiet, to get over it. The final mention of her in scripture can be found in 2 Samuel 13:20. “And Tamar lived . . ., a desolate woman.” (NIV)

Desolate. Alone. Joyless. Without hope. Without redemption.

It hurts my heart to think of men and women alone in their pain, without hope, without redemption. It’s what millions of survivors face each day until they are listened to, until they are believed.

My answer.

Tamar’s Redemption Tuesdays: How We Hurt. How We Heal. My blog title will change and move to my website,, within the next few weeks, but Tuesdays will be reserved for survivors and those who love them.

If you know a survivor, please welcome him/her to stop by for a visit. There won’t be any trite suggestions or quick fixes. A place for survivors to meet and share their journey. A place to be listened to and believed. A place with hope and I pray—redemption.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

How We Hurt, How We Heal

“No one had ever asked me what it feel like to be me. Once I told the truth about that . . . I felt free.” (Abilene, from “The Help”)

It’s my favorite line from the movie, “The Help.” When Abilene spoke those words at the end of the movie I wanted to jump out of my chair and shout, “Hallelujah!” To tell the truth. To feel free. To be FREE! To be known fully. I don’t think it gets any better than that for a human being. And I was so happy for Abilene.
Abilene was a black house keeper and nanny to white folks in segregated Mississippi.
To be honest about her circumstances could cause her to lose her job or worse.

Enter Skeeter, a white writer who dared to ask Abilene what it was like to work for white folks—what was it like to be Abilene. Abilene answered Skeeter’s questions, reluctantly at first. But because Skeeter listened to her and believed her, without condemnation, the dam broke. Abilene spoke her truth with abandon. She found her voice. She felt free.

Survivors of sexual abuse begin to find freedom when they are listened to and believed. And somewhere along the way, between the words, among the tears, they find their voices. They begin to feel freedom. The dam breaks. That is why I will be adding a day for survivors, and those who love them, on this blog each week. Tamar Tuesdays will be a place for survivors to share how they hurt and how they heal. A place where they will be listened to and believed—without condemnation.

A place to find their voices. A place to find their freedom.

If you are a survivor and would like to share your story, please contact me at 
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