I became involved in My Ashes to Beauty ministry many years after my abortion. As I walked through the healing process of having an abortion, I realized how much of the decisions leading up to that very day had been affected by my childhood trauma, neglect and the sexual abuse I experienced. I knew in my heart I had to go all the way back, to allow God to start this healing process.
In the fall of 2020, I had an opportunity to join a group of warrior women in a sexual abuse bible study called “In the Wildflowers”, via Zoom. I did my part by watching the weekly videos, doing my homework and meeting every Monday night. I had never really done any work in this area of my life. I had shared my situations with others, including counselors but it had been dismissed. As I began my healing journey, I was able to recognize how the trauma of abuse had followed me into adolescence and adulthood. Prior to this study I had felt that worse things had happened to other girls and I needed to ‘suck it up ’and get over it. I felt that the abuse I had suffered was “normal” and, I had done something to cause it. I carried the shame and guilt of what others had done to me and owned their sickness for so many years!
In this study, I found help and encouragement from the ladies who I met with every week in my class. They gave me the strength I needed to get through this journey. When I did not have words or the ability to identify how I felt; they showed up with words to help me express my heart from the pain and grief. When I was angry and felt defeated, they prayed and spoke God’s truth into my life. We encouraged each other through text messages and email throughout the week and we loved on each other, helping each other through our painful journeys.
This bible study, the love and support I received allowed years of pain, shame and guilt to be washed away. I was able to surrender the burden of other people’s selfishness and God allowed me to be set free, from my past and He healed me.
Now I am sharing my redemption story so you can be set free and live a victorious life. God’s word promises to restore us. “So, I will restore to you the years that
the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewy locust, my great army which I sent among you.” (Joel 2:25 NKJV) And that is exactly what He did for me and He’s waiting for you to start your healing journey of restoration.
When I was a kid, my mom would take me and my brother to church where I heard about a man named Jesus. From what I was taught about Him, I thought he was supposed to protect me. But with everything that happened to me, I thought He had abandoned me like my parents did. I remember lying in bed, telling Jesus that if I was a good girl, could He make my daddy stop drinking and my mommy happy? It didn’t happen so; I gave up on Him.
After I left my husband, I kept coming back to that moment that I was willing to take his life and something stopped me. What stopped me? Who stopped me? I kept coming back to Jesus, ‘did You stop me Jesus?’ I began to seek and find out more about who Jesus really is.
I began listening to Moody Radio and all their programs. I needed a safe place to start. I listened faithfully and one-night Dr. James Dobson who I listened to regularly, once again, gave an invitation to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I got on my knees, prayed and received Jesus Christ as MY Lord and Savior. He loved me enough to die on the cross for me and He loved me enough to stop me from making the biggest mistake of my life. I am eternally grateful to Him.
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Life carried on, I graduated high school and went to college. After I graduated, I met a man that I thought I was so in love with. He made me feel special, wanted, loved and beautiful. He seemed to be everything I had been looking for in a man. We got engaged after a short courtship and a year later we got married. Very shortly after that his demeanor changed. He started acting jealous, trying to control what I wore and getting in between my relationships with friends and family.
I don’t remember the first time he beat me; I just remember it didn’t stop after that. Every day he would get upset about something and beat me. He was a tall man and would grab me by my throat hold me off the ground until I passed out while punching me in the head. In the beginning, I would run into the bathroom and lock the door and hide in the shower. But he kicked the door open, and beat me in the shower. He then removed the bathroom door so I couldn’t hide in there again.
I remember running out of the of the house one freezing winter night in just my clothes and socks. It was so cold outside but I didn’t care! I ran and ran until I found a building to hide behind. I sat behind an Arby’s restaurant shaking and crying, thinking about what to do, who to call. Since I had cut off all ties with friends and family, there was no one. As I sat there shaking and crying, I realized I had no place to go so I got up and walked back to the house. He beat me and raped me that night, telling me it was my fault and that I made him do it.
The beatings and rapes continued until one night I stood chopping carrots in the kitchen getting dinner ready and he walked in. He was in a bad mood. I knew what was coming as his voice started escalating. I remember thinking what kind of life is this? I wanted to get married, be loved, have kids and a beautiful home. But here I was. I remember thinking, I would rather spend the rest of my life in jail for murder than live like this. It was like I had left my body and I was watching in slow motion; I took the knife I had in my hand raised my arm and spun around. I screamed at him ready to stab him and something stopped me, I came back to reality thinking I had just stabbed him, but something stopped me. I saw fear in his eyes for the first time. He never touched me again and it wasn’t long after that I left for good.
In my mid-teens, my view of myself became more distorted. I wanted to be wanted and I wanted to be loved. I turned to relationships, alcohol and drugs, and this left me feeling even more empty than I did before. I became very boisterous, very opinionated and I projected a false sense of security to hide how I really felt.
When I was 16 years old, I was intimately involved with an 18-year-old. We dated for over a year. When I tried to break up with him, he threatened to kill himself. Out of guilt, I remained in the relationship for a little while longer until I could figure out a way to break it off. I told him again I didn’t want to see him anymore, and he pulled a shotgun out and put it to his mouth and said if I broke up with him, he would kill himself. I took off running down the stairs of his apartment and he proceeded to chase me down the main street of the small town where I lived. As I ran down the street, I saw people I knew and screamed for help! I thought he was going to shoot me in the back. In fear, they turned and fled. I ran into the restaurant where I worked. I was hysterical and my boss grabbed and took me to the back of the restaurant. I told him what happened and he called my house and my brother came and got me.
A few weeks later when I was biking home after work, the boyfriend that I tried to break up with, grabbed me off my bike and chocked me as he told me he loved me and couldn’t live without me. I somehow broke free, grabbed my bike and raced home as fast as I could. I told my parents, and at first they seemed upset, but then they just dismissed it. And the ex-boyfriend that had frightened me so badly would call my mom and she would tell me he was sorry and to give him another chance. But I didn’t want anything to do with him. A few weeks later, I came home from work one night and saw him sitting in the basement drinking a beer with my dad. I was shocked! My dad looked at me and said, “Tony’s going teach me to play guitar!”
My dad had a workshop in the basement where he had pin up girls on the wall. He had playboy and Penthouse magazines in the cupboard that my brother and his friends would look at.
Around the time I was between 8-10, I walked down the stairs and found my dad watching a pornographic movie while having a meal. I was horrified. My father was so disrespectful to women and he constantly joked in a demeaning way in front of my mom and other women.
Dad would drink every day. And every Friday night he cashed his check and came home with his weekend alcohol supply. Dad would always be in a good mood. He would take a shower and his friends would start rolling in. He always smelled so good. In the beginning, it was exciting for me to see who would stop by; I liked having company. But as the weekend parties continued it became evident that my dad’s friends wanted to do inappropriate things to me.
My mom would usually stay upstairs and lose herself in her books, trying to ignore everything around her. I would hang downstairs trying to get my dad’s attention over his friends and his drinking. When I was between 8 and 9, I recall one of his friends pinning me down, laughing and holding my arms down while he tried to kiss me. I was kicking and screaming, telling him to stop as my parents watched. I couldn’t believe they weren’t helping me! Felling vulnerable, I spent many years pushing the bed across my bedroom door, afraid someone would come and hurt me. Because of my parents’ and my brother’s behavior towards me, I learned that I had no value. My mom never wanted me and I wasn’t worth being protected by my dad; I felt so unloved.
During middle school, my brother and I always came home to an empty house. The two neighbor boys would come over and try and kiss me, pin me down and they would force me to do inappropriate things with them. I was told not to tell or I would get beat up. I never told.
So, I would race home, grab all the hangers and pens in the house (my brother could open the door with a metal hanger or the ink stick of the pen), lock the bathroom door before by brother got home so he couldn’t beat me up. I would wait in fear as he banged on the door telling me to open it. Eventually he always found a way in. I would run through the house and try to get away as he threw knives at me. If I made it back to the bathroom the knives would be stuck in the door. He would beat me up! I didn’t tell because nobody stopped the other bad things that were happening to me. My mother always justified and made excuses for my brother’s behavior because he was her favorite; my dad was hard on my brother; I was dad’s favorite so I got the brunt of that from my mother.