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, May 30, 2013

I Know Why My Momma Hummed. Did Yours?

You could hear her humming in the kitchen. Washing dishes, stirring mixes, spreading frosting.

You could hear her humming in the laundry room. Loading the washer, loading the dryer, folding the clothes.

When my mother worked she sang, whistled, but mostly hummed.

She’s nearly eighty-six now and her mind is as sharp as mine or better.

How did she raise six children, three boys and then three girls, and keep her sanity? There are days I wonder this, especially when I feel like I’m losing mine.

The other day, I had one of those moments, when I thought I was on the brink. One of my kids, who I’m convinced could be a lawyer one day, was stating her case. I’m an older mother now, a more tired mother now. Keeping up with her twists and turns, her “But you said last week . . .,” and remembering my own name, all at the same time, is just too much for me sometimes. This moment was no different. She stomped off to her room.

That’s when I plunged my hands in some soapy dish water and began to hum. And I hummed. And I hummed. And I hummed . . . one old hymn after another.

And the longer I hummed, the better I felt.

 I smiled. I now know why my mother hummed.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Are You a Reverend Mother? Hope for Mommas Lost in the Land of Motherhood

“I feel like all I get done all day is minister to our kids,” I said. Well honestly, I cried. Yeah, I cried. You see, I was in the midst of a momma meltdown, seated on our little timeout stool in the kitchen, my husband next to me, seated on the floor.

 “Did you read that somewhere? “My husband asked.

“Read what?” I sniffled.

“The part about being a minister. I think being a minister sorta gives respect to the whole motherhood thing.” It was then he stood up and excused himself. He had to pee. (I know, I know, TMI! But my husband pees and so does yours and it’s important to the story—really, it is.)

This gave me time to think, no reflect. (With seven kids, this kind of think-time is limited.) So I reflected about all the times, through the years, when I’ve struggled with my identity. Yep, the big I word which is really the big ME word. Are you tracking with me, Sister? Hang in there!

The truth is, I never dreamed of being a momma. Yeah, you heard me. You probably thought a woman with seven kids grew up dreaming of being a momma. But it wasn’t what I replied when someone asked me, “So little girl, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

You see, I was going to be a veterinarian, a psychiatric nurse, a truck driver (I still love wide open spaces and having control of the wheel. That would be another blog post. But I digress.), a counselor, a teacher, and the list was longer, but you get the idea—momma wasn’t on it. Sure I played with baby dolls, but enter Career Barbie and I was hooked. Compare changing diapers to changing into stylish clothes, cute shoes, and driving a convertible and well, there was no comparison.

Then I met Ken. No, really, I met Ken. A real Ken. And Ken and Barbie, okay, okay, Ken and Carolyn got married. And then other things happened. (I’ll keep my TMI, my TMI here.) And before the ink on my teaching certificate was barely dry, I was going to be a Momma.

I still remember the day, standing by the copy machine in the elementary school office, my tummy the size of a watermelon, cranking out reading papers for my class, when the principal cleared his throat and said, “I hear you’re not coming back next year.”
Yep, Barbie had decided to trade in her convertible for a station wagon. (That’s a half-lie, I’ve never owned a convertible. It was actually an Oldsmobile Forenza. But it had pin stripes! But again, I digress.)

Years passed.

And just when I thought, I might have the career and convertible, three little girls showed up. They needed some mothering. And I was doing what I never dreamed of doing—mothering. Again.

That leads me back to last week when I said . . . no, I cried, “I feel like all I get done all day is minister to our kids!” I had hit one of those days when everyone needed me and I felt like I just couldn’t keep up.  I was just plain burned out. I had lost my sense of true identity. It still happens to me some days, even after all these years.

You see, I wouldn’t trade being a mother, not for all the letters I could have put after my name. I made choices to keep and serve each child that has come my way, either by my womb or some other miraculous process. And my parents taught me to stand by my choices, even when my choices have led to more dirty diapers than paychecks.

So as I stood up, from that little timeout stool in my kitchen, and reflected, it hit me. I am a Reverend Mother. The title rolled through my mind. I smiled.

I’m not a Reverend Mother in the catholic sense, although, I certainly have bellowed out “Climb every mountain . . . follow every rainbow,” and such, through the years. I’d like to think that I’ve been my children’s strongest cheerleader.

I’m not a Reverend Mother in the theological sense, although I think I’ve listened to more sermon hours than it takes time to get an M.Div. And my older kids will tell you, I’ve certainly preached enough sermons.

But I am a Reverend Mother because motherhood is a sacred calling. Each time I choose to lay down ME to listen to my kids, to guide them, to weep with them or for them, to love them without return, I’m doing the sacred. It’s something close to holy. Something that goes so against my inner core, my human nature, that I get a glimpse of the miraculous.

So I will hold my head high, determined to embrace my new Identity and lay down ME.  

And Sister, whether you have twenty titles or one, three careers or one, seven kids or one, if you listen, guide, weep, love, and lay down your ME for your kids or your step-kids, so are you.

Embrace the title with me. Say it with me. Out loud. Head held high. I am a Reverend Mother.

So Sister, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Lie (What's Wrong with Me?)

I've written it before. I'll write it again. I've said it before. I'll say it again.

Sexual Abuse creates lies.

And those lies, according to my survivor friends, are more destructive than the abuse.

I invite you to click on over to Cec Murphey's blog (Men Shattering the Silence) today. Cec is a New York Times best-selling author. He is also a survivor of CSA. He gives hope to millions of male survivors each week and crafts into sentences, so clearly, what many struggle to speak.

Male or female, if you've ever thought What's wrong with me?, I know you'll find hope in his words and his new book,

Not Quite Healed: 40 Truths for Male Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

One Parenting Thing I'm Sure of . . . No, Two

She had a half-day of school, so we took a walk. I learned a lot as we walked, she talked, and I listened.
Image courtesy of Ambro/

I wish I could tell you when my older children had a half-day that I walked with them and listened too. But I can’t remember any specific walks—true confessions from a mother parenting for the second time around. Some of my children have grown up. So have I.

Now mid-life has given me a few more kids. I am parenting the children of another. I’ve had some time to examine some of my moma failures and successes. And, yes, there are some things I want to change, like time.

There is nothing like time-spent in developing a relationship with someone, to truly know and be known. Relationships take time. Yet life is busy.

Perhaps you have to work from nine to five or from three to eleven, or from eleven to seven. You have to provide. Food and clothing are necessities. I get that. No condemnation here.

But two things I’m convinced of, after nearly twenty-six years of parenting, are that time spent listening to a child is never wasted and that the only way to have a relationship with a child is to spend time.

Prevention Tip of the Week 
Children who are in a relationship with their parents, one where they are known and heard, are less likely to be targeted by a pedophile. Those who chose to violate children like lonely kids. Yes, food and clothing are necessities, but relationships are too. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It’s Not Over When It’s Over (Part 2)

by Dawn Scott Jones

            Sexual abuse is one of the most devastating traumas a person can experience. A survivor’s life is scarred in ways that go beyond our comprehension. Once abuse is over and the survivor is out of danger, she is left with the devastating aftermath abuse.

Perhaps you’ve seen it.

            You’re in a relationship with a woman who has been wounded by sexual assault. You want to help her, but you’re not sure how.

When sexual abuse happens, it shatters trust and the ability to trust. It destroys feelings of security. Because the abuse is usually done at the hands of someone older or more powerful and against the child’s will, she is left stripped of her boundaries—feeling powerless, vulnerable and fearful. She’s been intimidated—her self-confidence, decimated.  And since a child is too young to place responsibility where it belongs—on the abuser—she blames and belittles herself.

Regardless of the form of abuse suffered, whether a single experience or a lengthy season, the woman experiences a wounding invasion—a molestation of her mind and soul.

Well in adulthood, survivors struggle with:

      •     Shame and guilt
      •     A sense of worthlessness and damaged self-esteem
      •     Fear, anxiety, and panic attacks
      •     Sleep disturbances and eating disorders
      •     Impaired memory and flashbacks
      •     Fear of trust and intimacy
      •     Depression and suicidal thoughts

These plaguing symptoms persist because most survivors try to ignore the abuse committed against them and repress their emotions. Confused and bewildered, survivors often are unequipped to interpret or process the intensity of emotion that’s present: pain, rage, fear, panic, guilt, shame or pleasure. Emotional circuitry is overloaded.

Rather than process the trauma, many abuse victims shut down their feelings and go emotionally numb to mentally survive. Tragically, they grow-up disconnected from their feelings, unable to experience the full spectrum of emotions.

As one survivor put it;

“I’m afraid that if I start to cry I’ll never be able to stop or if I start to “feel” I’ll fall into a black hole and never find my way out.”

Learning to feel, however, is the beginning of healing.

When the dam breaks and emotions are allowed to come, survivors are faced with a decision to walk the healing journey or find other suppressive, unhealthy methods of coping with emotional upheaval.

 If healing is chosen, the process of wholeness will include stages of healing such as:

      1.   Denying the truth
      2.   Deciding to heal
      3.   Surviving crisis
      4.   Remembering
      5.   Choosing to tell
      6.   Releasing responsibility
      7.   Finding the inner child
      8.   Grieving loss
      9.   Expressing anger
      10. Forgiving
      11. Resolving the conflict

Choosing to heal is excruciating at times, but the journey is life-giving.

If you’re a survivor, take the hand of Jesus and trust him as you walk into the light. Remind yourself that you are safe now, and you can start to feel.

If you support a survivor, help her recognize and feel the damage that was done to her. Encourage her to be honest about the pain of her sexual abuse, and to choose wholeness.  Her healing is possible, and with your love and help she can explore the depths of her wounds and begin recovery.


To read more, please read Dawn's book, When a Woman You Love Was Abused. Thank you, Dawn, for sharing your wisdom with us. We are truly blessed and encouraged by you and your work.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Little Man, a Yellow Bus, and a BIG Attitude

Ben was only five years old and three foot nothing. But on this day, he had the confidence of a six-foot-three, two hundred pound male.

He stood next to his four year old little sister, Anna, by the front door. We watched her bus pull up to the curb. I opened the door to let Anna walk out and Ben slipped right out with her. “Ben, where are you going?” I asked.

With one hand on his hip and the other around Anna’s shoulder, he said, “I’m walking her to the bus. No one’s gonna pick on my sister!”
Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman/

It was one of those Moma-proud moments.

My heart was already weary for Anna’s future. Starting her in home speech therapy at age two and now sending her out to a therapeutic nursery school was more than I was ready for. To make matters worse, that BIG little yellow school bus just seemed to swallow her up each morning and spit her out each afternoon. And when she had come home in tears the day before and had told me in broken sentences that someone had teased her, I was done. So done! My Moma heart hurt.

But I never noticed Ben had taken it all in. He had remembered Anna’s tears from the day before and when that BIG little yellow school bus pulled up, he was ready.

I continued to watch in amazement from the door. He marched his attitude and his sister safely up to the bus door and said, “Bye.” Then he stared at the bus, hands on his hips, as it drove away. His mission accomplished.

I don’t know if Ben’s presence made an impression on the teaser on the bus, but I do know the teasing stopped.

I also knew that I wasn’t the only one who was concerned about protecting Anna. She had a BIG older brother who would be watching out for her too. And my Moma heart danced.

This weeks prevention tip:
It’s a lonely place, attempting to protect our kids by ourselves. But we don’t have to do it alone. When we speak about sexual abuse to those around us, we break the silence and draft others on our team. Because the more we speak about it, the more others know about it. And when we work together, we protect our kids better.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It’s Not Over When It’s Over (Part 1)

Today, we welcome Dawn Scott Jones, author of When a Woman You Love Was Abused.

 I’m a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I want to tell my story because I’m hopeful that by doing so, others can draw from the insights I’ve gained and find help and comfort in knowing that they’re not alone.  Indeed we’re not alone:

·         One in three girls have encountered sexual abuse. For boys, the generally accepted statistic is one-in-six.    
·         Ninety percent of victims know their abuser. Commonly reported abusers are fathers, stepfathers, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers. Other abusers are babysitters, teachers and neighbors.

Until recently, I couldn’t have told you how deeply I was affected by sexual abuse, but years later I’ve come to know that abuse is not over, even when it’s over.

My Story
Although I don’t have total recall, I have vivid memories of the sexual molestation I encountered. Behind the curtain of love and security given in my childhood home, lurked a monster—a sexual predator. I wish I’d never known about him, but bit-by-bit the drape was pulled back until finally I met the monster.

He was my dad by day, but something else by night. One evening I went to bed with the innocence of a child and the next morning I awakened with intense shame. My father, my childhood hero, had become my abuser. The one I looked to for protection, security, and love was the one stripping it from me. My innocence was stolen—my sense of worth, shattered. Is this all I’m made for? For the next several years I questioned my value, my abilities, and my worth.  I tried to ignore my past by stuffing my emotions and minimizing my pain. I denied the impact of sexual abuse.

But soon my body told on me; Panic attacks, depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbance, began to plague me. Anger erupted at the slightest perceived threat. Trust issues and intimacy fears surfaced in relationships. I was unraveling at the seams of my soul. Although sexual abuse had been over for years, it wasn’t over at all.  I was still a victim caught in its grip.

Many survivors find themselves in a similar vice-grip. They tend to minimize or dismiss the trauma of their abuse by reasoning, “It’s in the past.” Or “ It wasn’t that bad.”

Reality is often too devastating and overwhelming to face, so they suppress their abusive past, hoping that the residue of trauma will disappear with the passing of time.  

The psychological imprint abuse leaves on its victims, however, is massive. Soul-wounds like these don’t just somehow mysteriously fade away when abuse ends. On the contrary, only when abuse is over, can a survivor start to process the event and thaw out from her emotionally frozen state. Often, this is years later.

If you, or someone you know is suffering with the aftermath of abuse, it’s not uncommon—in fact, it’s expected. Survivors question if they’ll ever find peace. Haunting memories lurk on the peripheral of their mind and they wonder how long they can evade them. They desire wholeness, but doubt it’s possible.

Well, the hope of healing and overcoming is alive. Survivors can experience a healing journey and find freedom after abuse. It’s an exhilarating and excruciatingly painful pathway, but Jesus will walk with anyone who calls on his name.

Next week, in Part 2, we will explore what it means to find healing from S.A.

Dawn Scott Jones

Thursday, May 2, 2013

And the Winners Are . . .

We are pleased to announce the winners of our, first-ever, Rise and Shine Movement contest.
Drum roll, pahlease!
Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS/
Our first place winner is Verna Bowman. Verna, you win an autographed copy of Rise and Shine: A Tool for the Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Congratulations!

Our second place winner is Jennifer Willard Kurtgis. Jennifer, you win the beautiful bracelet and earrings compliments of Kate Cook of S&KAwareness JewelryCongratulations!

Thank you to all who made our first contest so successful. But more importantly, thank you to all of you, who raised their voices and raised awareness during Childhood Sexual Abuse Awareness Month.

When we speak about sexual abuse,
we lessen its power
 over children and survivors.

We will not shut up. We will not be silenced. Together we make a difference.

*Verna and Jennifer, please contact me at with your addresses. Thank you.

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