I have begun working on a second book, one providing not only answers from my own life to victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence, but also to bring in major players in the advocacy work against domestic and sexual assault awareness as contributors. It seemed sensible to revisit one of my more successful blog posts. Thanks to RAINN, The Family Justice Center Alliance, Crisis Center Tampa Bay, Sexual Violence Task Force of Tampa Bay and the Family Justice Center Hillsborough County VOICES. There are other organizations, but as for these, I have personally seen or been involved with their work and know their determination to make a change for the better.
That being said, please feel free to share your comments AND RATINGS on this excerpt of ORANGE BLOSSOM WISHES:
No matter your age, as you read this blog, should you relate to any portion of it, we have something in common and are kindred spirits in a strange sort of way. The years of silence were unbearable. While keeping my mouth shut as a victim of molestation and abuse, the inner screaming was deafening—a specter I grew weary of battling after all those years.
It was not an easy decision in choosing to speak out, but I have to believe it will someday and in some manner have been worth it all—all the pain, rejection, hurt, degradation, hopelessness and doubt. In recounting some of the trauma and trials of my life, the intention is not to cause you, the reader, to consider it as “all about me,” but rather to share the good with the bad and, in some small way, extend a work rooted in faith, hope and a victorious journey through many harmful times. Fate, or perhaps destiny, provided I would be the one to go through these experiences.
While I have grown from an innocent child to a sage grandmother, I have slowly and painfully, yet thankfully come to the conviction nothing happens by coincidence; everything is part of a greater plan set down by a much bigger God who truly has His best for us in His heart.
The very first episode of being molested is clearly etched in my mind. I was seven years old. As a child I was molested for almost eight years. As a woman I was abused for sixteen years. The deafening silence cloaked my life, seeming to take the very breath from my lungs at times. I struggled to suppress what I was enduring, but inside my injured psyche was a precious innocent child, inwardly and silently screaming out, yet nobody hearing, “Please, won’t somebody stop the deafening silence? Can’t you see it, can’t you smell it? Get this terror out of my life before it kills me.”Unfortunately, it did kill a portion of me, but thank God for His resurrection power.
Hopefully, in reading accounts of a life subjected to molestation, sexual assault and marital abuse, you will gain a strong reassurance, whether you are the victim or a friend or family member of a victim, that there is hope beyond measure for a future of a full life well worth living. Yes, a life free from abiding in the times someone trespassed against you, your body, mind, soul and spirit.
The last thing I want this to be is just another religious message about being molested or abused and getting over it. The cry of my heart is that in some way you will be able to relate to the events of my life, know that someone else has walked the path you have traveled, or may be traveling now, should you be able to relate this to any part of your life, and that you will discover a hope that had likely vanished along the way. While I do not set out to write a religious piece, I can’t make it real without presenting the divine intervention and revelation that was the source of my deliverance from total desperation to a life renewed with glorious hope and faith for a future.
You are not alone. I want you to know that. I had my share of battles finding emotional healing and mental health. While you read this, I want you to feel welcome to walk through the door as I invite you into my life, and I willingly lay all the pain, abuse, battles, defeats and victories into your hands.
My desire is to help you regain (or perhaps finally establish) a sense of value, hope and faith for your future. You may feel or even believe you are the only one who has ever been through the nature of traumatic mistreatment you might have endured, or maybe are going through right now. Is it possible anyone has been touched as inappropriately as you? Has anyone else had to suffer the verbal abuse you are going through while you are being told how useless and ugly you are? Could it be that anyone has stood before their friends or children and been humiliated and demeaned to the point they felt like giving up on life like you have? It could be that the very thought of speaking to someone about what has happened to you rivets you in fear. Let me speak up for you. Let me try to give you a reason to hope, once again.
I know all too well that twisted combination of fear, confusion, depression and low self esteem. I’ve had those moments of being frozen in what seemed like suspended animation, doubting not only who I am, but why I am here, as someone screamed words into my ears of how useless and undesirable I was. I’ve lived through times of being groped amidst the smell of cigarettes and alcohol, wondering how I lost control not only of my own body, but my very soul.
By raising my voice of experience to the injustices done to innocent children and adults, I hope to bring to realization there are many others who are also smothered by their own silences. They, too, are gasping for a clear, fresh breath that might make them feel just a bit more alive. Let my life show you that in the midst of life’s strongest anguish and distress, God is never more than a fingertip away, ready to catch us if we fall. He is always reaching with arms wide open for us to run and be held tightly in His perfect love and understanding of what we are going through, where we are in our lives and how little more we can possibly take without being destroyed. You can make it! You will make it!
As you join me in this, we will also travel the paths I took that led to wrong relationships—relationships that were ushered in with red flags and warning signals I should have recognized and heeded rather than dismissing, as well as brushes with death and the devastation associated with loss of life. So I’ve decided to share some of the lessons life taught me as a result of—and even after—the abuse, humiliation and desperation to survive. Please save yourself the pain by learning from my experiences! Keep reading!
Hopefully, rather than becoming offended you will be compelled to speak up, speak out and make a difference for what is so common in our country today. So often we dismiss domestic violence and/or abuse as strictly physical acts taken against another human being. I take exception to that. Verbal abuse is abuse. If it comes from a spouse, mate or family member, it is domestic abuse. If it causes you to become self-destructive, it is an integral part of domestic violence. You don’t have to be hit to be a victim of domestic violence. The same abhorrent behavior now commonly leads to news stories of ones found raped and/or murdered.
This is not meant to be a therapy guide or a psychological aid. It is simply the story of one little girl who was totally lost and afraid, who is speaking out, sharing not only the trauma but the comfort, hope and faith found in the mire of a life of abuse. She endured very bad things at the hands of some not-so-nice people, and made some really lousy choices in life, but her journey continues today. She has become a grown woman who is living proof there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it ain’t no train.
For so long I implored of God, “How can I help make a change for the good?” His answer was a simple one:“Speak!” So I shall, finally, after the decades of hidden secrets. Taking all that into consideration, and weighing the cost, I must do as God said, and “Speak.” I believe you are worth taking that risk.
*Excerpts with permission from:
Hennecy, Carolyn S., ORANGE BLOSSOM WISHES, iUniverse, 2008