I find myself hearing from survivors, with some frequency, that they believe what happened to them was worth it because God was able to use it to bring healing to others.
Now, if that sounds a little like you–I commend you. You’ve come a long way in your healing journey to be able to say that and mean it. And kudos to you for overcoming evil and shame and denial to be able to share your story and use it for good. Wow. You are amazing. I really mean that. And now let me apologize (sort of), because I’m about to chisel into the next layer of denial you’re hiding behind.
See, considering your story worth it only because it could be used to bring help to others is, well, sorta, kinda, another way of shirking around the fact that you are intrinsically valuable. That means valuable simply because…you are. Because you are a masterpiece designed by God. And you are a dearly loved, one-of-a-kind child of His. And more than that, you are part of the Church–His very bride.
Hard to swallow?
If so, then yes, you are hiding behind another layer of denial.
So let me ask you this, is it enough for you if Christ freed you and healed you just so you would be healed and free and made whole? If that was all you ever got. If you never got to use your story for anyone else. If not one other soul ever benefited from the evil that occurred to you. Is it enough that Christ found you valuable? Is it enough that He came for you? Is it enough that He counted you worthy?
Is your wholeness enough?
Today, Precious One, take some time to bask in the love of God. It is scary to consider that you are intrinsically valuable because doing so means facing the reality of the injustice that occurred to you. It means recognizing that whoever assaulted or abused you, regardless of what kind of person they are or were or could be–they could be Mother Teresa for all I care–that they wronged you. It means you should be angry because someone precious to God was grossly harmed, that injustice occurred, that there is a debt owed to you on account of it. And that you may be asked to relinquish that debt.
It also means you must be vulnerable. You must be bare before God to let Him see into the depths of your heart–all that is pleasing and displeasing–and give Him the option to reject you based on what He finds there, to find that He embraces you. It’s scary. It’s probably the scariest thing you’ve ever had to face. Wow.
But until you do, you will never really live. You will never fully be free until you are fully bare before God. You will never fully be healed until you reveal the full extent of the wound to the Great Physician. And you will never be able to bring to others something you have never realized for yourself.
Now is the time, Beloved. Let yourself be loved.
Abuse. Society’s unacknowledged epidemic. Neglect and abuse, whether it’s physical, emotional, sexual or spiritual, happens at an alarming rate in America. “The United States has one of the worst records among industrialized nations – losing on average almost five children every day to child abuse and neglect.”1,2 Abuse and neglect cross all socio-economic, race and religious borders. It affects us all.
Helping Survivors Changes the Future
When working with survivors of sexual and often other forms of abuse, people frequently view it as helping the individual alone. However, I see it as helping generations of people. In a sense, it is also preventative work as abuse is so often repeated throughout generations.
Am I saying that everyone abused will become an abuser? Absolutely not. However, there are many cases of individuals with unhealed wounds of childhood abuse that go on to either abuse or marry an abuser, causing the cycle of abuse to begin all over again.
Abuse and neglect cross all socio-economic, race and religious borders. It affects us all.
Rewrite History or It’s Likely to Repeat
I am a survivor of abuse. Looking back at my parents, I see that they too came from a history of abuse. My father was most likely abused as a child and my mother was emotionally abused as a child. So, what happened? My father became my abuser, and my mother didn’t know her worth and didn’t see the red-flags of abuse in marrying my father.
My heart breaks as I see survivor after survivor who have had abusive husbands and relationships after enduring so much abuse already. One survivor asked, “Do I have some sort of sign on me saying ‘come and get me?’” Whilst there is no sign, per-say, survivors of abuse often walk with the weight of abuse on their shoulders, leading to shame and low self-esteem. They desire love so much that they are willing to sacrifice being cherished and honored to just be wanted.
I was one of these people. I didn’t expect people to care or truly love me, so when a guy was interested in me, I ignored all the red flags of manipulation and emotional abuse that were there from the start.
The good news? There is hope. Healing from wounds of abuse can help stop the cycles of abuse. Knowing your worth in Christ can break the chains of self-hatred and low self-esteem. You can see yourself as a child of God, worth
y of love and kindness. Choosing to take the very difficult steps towards healing can not only bring you freedom today, but can allow for freedom from abuse for your children tomorrow. It’s never too late! If you feel as if you’ve already let the cycle begin again, you and your family can find hope, freedom and healing! Begin the journey of healing today. You’d be amazed at the years God will restore.
I’m so thankful that God put me on the healing journey that I am still on today. I was able to get away from the abusive relationship I was once in and discover my beauty and worth in Christ, which led me to accept the pursuit of a man who truly would love and care for me. Today he remains one of the biggest instruments of healing in my life. Healing my wounds with love.
- Child Maltreatment 2015. Published: January 19, 2017. An office of the Administration for Children & Families, a division of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. This report presents national data about child abuse and neglect known to child protective services agencies in the United States during federal fiscal year 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2015
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2013). Child Maltreatment 2012. Available from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/research-data-technology/statistics-research/child-maltreatment
Baby, it’s cold outside, so we’ve been staying active! (And using a space heater.)
No one can accuse us of holding still. Read on to find out what we’ve been up to the past three months and what’s coming up next…
What We’ve Been Up To
This fall has kept us busy as we’ve been ramping up the fundraising, working towards hiring two part-time staff by June and covering monthly program and operation costs. While encouraged by the support of Trihope from so many arenas, we still have a ways to go to reach our goals. Our overall goal is to raise $5,000 per month by June, putting our milestone goal for the end of January at $2,500 per month. With current giving and pledges, we have raised $1,950 per month so far–and if those receiving this email who are not yet financial partners committed to giving just $10 per month, or $120 per year–this milestone would be met! Would you consider giving $10 or more per month? If you can’t–do you know someone who may be interested–a friend, co-worker, family member, church, etc? We would love to connect with them! Becoming a financial advocate for Trihope is just another way you can further the mission and invest in this work. We’re not lying when we say we can’t do this work without partners like you. Click the following link to join us as a financial partner: trihopemichigan.com/donate.
The second Survivors’ Night was a hit! We welcomed 12 new survivors of sexual abuse and/or trafficking (and several returning) to our second Survivors’ Night in November. Receiving a 3-course meal, several craft and pampering activities, and theatrical games, the survivors enjoyed a full evening of laughs and spoiling. The goal for the evening was to bless the survivors as the precious women they are, to show them they’re not alone in the difficult path they walk, and also to offer a gateway for further avenues of healing to those interested.
Praise the Lord for PowerPoint. That’s right, PowerPoint has become a close friend as we’ve been increasing speaking engagements and training opportunities this fall. From teaching parents and guardians how to protect their children from sex traffickers to supporting professionals in methods for working effectively with minor victims and their families to educating members of the faith community on combating the supply and demand factors of trafficking in the Tri-Cities through our first quarterly CAST (Christian Anti-Sex Trafficking) Committee–we’ve been constantly learning and constantly sharing.
Did you know that very little is known about trafficking in the Tri-Cities? While more and more survivors are being identified and although the risk factors for this area are high, there is little to no data available here yet. It’s hard to kill a beast when you’ve only found the footprints. Trihope is looking for those interested in doing research to help us get a bead on the issue here and know how to combat it effectively!
Restored Gems and Trihope have partnered together to minister to those in the adult entertainment industry. Many of those involved in this industry come from backgrounds of childhood sexual abuse and/or trafficking. We think they’re valuable and want them to know they matter to us and to the Lord, so we’ve partnered with the outreach ministry, Restored Gems, to care for their needs and minister to them in whatever way needed.
31 Days of Prayer – January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and hence, beginning January 1st, TriHOPe will be committing to 31 Days of focused prayer for the survivors and victims of sexual exploitation, as well as the groups that provide resources and assistance to them. Click here to sign up to receive each day’s prayer focus and join others in becoming everyday abolitionists through prayer. Then join us on Friday, February 3rd for a Night of Worship!
The Many Facets of Human Trafficking – Come out on January 24th for a training put on by the Mid-Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force on cyber safety, trauma informed care, and law enforcement’s response to human trafficking. Appropriate for professionals and community members alike! Click here for more information.
The next In the Wildflowers Retreat, a weekend long support group for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, is planned for Thursday-Sunday, February 23-26. For the first time, we are opening this retreat to male survivors as well. If you are interested or know someone who may be, we’d love to talk with you more about this opportunity. We have seen survivors take huge steps forward in restoration and healing in their lives as a result of the retreat and hope to expand our capacity to offer the program more times in 2017.
Following that, on Tuesday, February 28th, we will be holding the second quarterly Christian Anti-Sex Trafficking (CAST) Committee Meeting. Those interested in playing their part in combating the supply and demand factors of trafficking in the Tri-Cities don’t want to miss this meeting. Stay tuned at trihopemichigan.com, email us at email@example.com, or follow us on social media for more information. Here’s your chance to become an everyday abolitionist!
Coming in February 2017, Trihope will once again be holding a retreat style support group for survivors of sexual assault based upon the In the Wildflowers curriculum.
In the Wildflowers Retreat Overview
The retreat format provides an opportunity for survivors to step back from their busy lives and take some much needed time to seek God’s healing for the wounds they have carried for so long. The retreat will be led by members of the Trihope team and will explore several topics, including sharing stories, releasing shame, healing through God’s love, and ministering to others. With several of the retreat leaders coming from backgrounds of sexual assault, they understand many of the emotional difficulties and the courage involved in participating in such a group. They are prepared to walk alongside group members in the difficult, but freeing, journey of restoration taking place over the course of the retreat.
The retreat will take place Thursday, February 23rd at 7 pm to Sunday, February 26th at 5 pm at Bay Shore Camp, 450 N. Miller St, Sebewaing, MI 48759. Enrollment packs are available now by contacting us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The total cost of the retreat including room, meals and workbook materials is $250 per person for a shared room (an additional $100 per person for a single room). All materials, including the $250 retreat fee (made payable to Trihope), are due January 29th. Completed materials can be emailed to email@example.com, placed in the Trihope mailbox at NLCF, or mailed to New Life Christian Fellowship, ATTN: Trihope, 6115 Shattuck Rd, Saginaw, MI 48603.
Please note: We cannot guarantee a place on the retreat for enrollment materials and/or fees turned in after the January 29th due date.