My heart is already racing and I’m feeling that heavy sensation in my chest...you know, the feeling that happens as you’re on the climb up of a roller coaster, with each click of the track reminding you that the biggest drop is waiting for you at the top...and it’s just getting closer and closer.


...anxiety, as I write this. I’ve fought and wrestled for the last few days about whether or not I should take part in this movement. And then I realized if I didn’t, I become part of the problem....the issue in our society, the lie, that tells people who’ve been taken advantage of sexually that they should stay quiet...continue to think that it was probably their fault it ever happened in the first place. Remind themselves that if they say anything, people probably wouldn’t even believe them anyways. I’ve had every single one of these thoughts run through my mind. I faced rigorous counseling for the abuse I experienced from a man who said he loved me. Who even asked me to marry him (and I said yes)...but behind closed doors, made me do things I never wanted to do. Inflicted physical pain on me that no woman should ever have to endure. We make excuses for our perpetrators. “He didn’t mean to push me that far. He didn’t technically rape me. Maybe I didn’t say no strongly enough. I’m sure if I had tried harder, I could’ve stopped it...” THIS IS THE PROBLEM. The fact that women (and men too) everywhere feel they can’t come forward...sometimes until YEARS after the fact, and tell their truths about what happened to them for fear that they will be shamed, or that our society won't validate them or attempt to bring justice to their situation. So today, after nearly 5 years of not sharing my story, I’m sharing my story. My hope is that it helps shed light on the fact that sexual abuse happens every single day, all around us. And it’s time to BREAK THE CYCLE. 


I was in a relationship with a man who claimed to love Jesus. Who also claimed to love me. But rarely told me I was beautiful. Rarely affirmed my strengths or gifts. And hardly ever showed me any love or attention in the presence of other people. I always felt somehow that he was ashamed to be with me. I just couldn’t understand why I never felt like I was enough for him. I developed what I can only describe as the closest thing to an eating disorder after several months of dating him. I ran 4-5 miles every single day and counted my carbs incessantly. I dropped down to my lowest weight and yet, it still consumed my thoughts. “Maybe if I can just reach THIS weight, or fit into this size...or look THIS way in my clothes, he’ll look at me differently. He’ll tell me how beautiful he thinks I am. I can be what he wants, I know I can, if I work hard enough.”


I never was. Enough, that is. It was always about his ambitions. His dreams. His goals. His future plans. If my dreams and aspirations happened to fit nicely into his box of plans, then, “Great babe! Yeah you should do it!” But if not, “You need to trust me babe, I know what is best for us. You need to trust my lead and follow me {blindly)...” his manipulation was always wrapped in a spiritual twist that never allowed me to really question his judgment. I thought, “Well he’s prayed about it and told me this is right for us, for me, and I guess I just need to be okay with his decisions for us. I’ll let go of my gut feelings because I’m not the head of this relationship. It’s not my place.”

So I put his family first. Pushed mine away slowly over the years of dating him. Put his dreams before my own. His desires. His goals. His friends. And I became only a shell of who I once was. I forgot what I was good at. That I had dreams and aspirations of my own. That I had my own friends, and my own community at one time that he didn’t control. And I slowly became a fragile, hollow, submissive, fearful person, who followed him asking no questions...that is, until I started to ask questions. And stand up for myself every once in awhile. And push back on things I felt in my heart weren’t right for us. For me. 


This didn’t go over well. But I was neck deep in a relationship with a man who controlled me. Who manipulated me. Who took advantage of me in the bedroom and then sent me texts the next morning with scripture verses that talked about forgiveness. His way of “apologizing” for the night before I guess? I would wake up sore. I would ask myself if I wasn’t clear enough when I told him he was hurting me. Maybe he couldn’t see the look on my face or when my eyes would water as he pushed me to do things that hurt me...maybe he couldn’t tell I was pushing him away, hoping he would “catch on” that I didn’t want what he was doing. Maybe he would notice that he was hurting me when I was saying “ow babe” in a soft, cracking voice, after he’d say “if you relax it won’t hurt as much”. I was silently crying out for help. I laid awake in bed wondering how or if I could ever escape this relationship I was so deep in. I would beg God to help me know what to do, because I certainly couldn’t get out now. People were watching. He was on staff at a church. I was leading worship there. Where could I go? I didn’t have much a relationship with my parents at this point because I pushed them out of my life when they started to express concern for me and my relationship with him. I protected him. I defended him. And I wasted away to nothing each time I did. Why couldn’t I just leave? Why couldn’t I just save myself? 


One day, I found a courage deep down that I didn’t know existed anymore. We’d gotten in a fight the weekend before. He stood in front of a locked bedroom door and we yelled. He wouldn’t let me out. I think I even pushed him. When we met up and talked a couple days later, I looked him in the eyes. I didn’t recognize him anymore. As he talked and talked (as he always did) and justified what he did and said, I began to feel like I was watching myself have this conversation with him from afar. In that moment, as I watched his lips move, I didn’t hear his voice anymore. An overwhelming voice in my heart drowned out his voice and I heard the words, “The door is open to you. You CAN walk through it and leave. You don’t have to do this anymore.” It was clear as crystal. I had a sense of calm rush over me. He finished his piece and without missing a beat, the words just came out of my mouth. I wasn’t even sure if they were coming from me. They just came. “I don’t have to do this anymore. And actually, I don’t WANT this anymore. I’m done.”


And that was it. I gave back the ring. I picked up the broken pieces that were left of myself and all of a sudden, all the plans we’d made were no more. I still had secrets. No one really knew why I did what I did. Why I left. People thought we were so perfect together. So, what now?


About a year later, I hit rock bottom. The pain and agony I felt from it all manifested itself in very unhealthy ways. I blazed a path of destruction for myself, because I had no self dignity left.  I wasn't worth anything anymore.  It didn't matter what I did because no one valued me anyways.  These are the lies I told myself. I made awful decisions.  I medicated and tried to numb myself with all kinds of things that only made it worse. And then one day, I was confronted by a thought I never imagined I would feel.  "I can't do this anymore.  There's nothing left to live for.  No one knows the kind of pain I'm walking around with everyday.  I don't want to live anymore."  And then my phone rang.  It was my dad. He spoke firmly with me and made me take a step in the right direction for the first time in almost 2 years.  I needed help. I found myself in extensive counseling. Finally uttering the words out loud to someone for the first time, what had happened to me. What he’d done to me. How out of control everything was because I had never dealt with it all. I remember telling my counselor, “but it was my fault, I could’ve stopped it...I should’ve been more clear when I said he was hurting me. I could’ve said no louder. I could’ve walked away...couldn’t I?” 


It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t ask for it. I couldn’t have stopped it. I was controlled. Manipulated. A hollowed-out version of myself that couldn’t stand up and fight for herself anymore. But I got help. I learned the truth about what happened to me. I was taken advantage of. My innocence was stolen from me. By a man who I thought loved me. It took me a long time to ever believe in healing again. To believe I could love and BE loved again. 


I’m here to tell you that God redeems all things that are broken. I’m a walking testimony of that. I have freedom from the thing that once took every ounce of joy in my life.  I was given a second chance. I believe God gifted me my precious husband Caleb, who loves me more than anything in the world. He puts me first. He sacrifices for me and our little family. He takes care of me. Physically and emotionally. I am so blessed and undeserving of him. And by the way, my family has known for quite some time now about everything and they walked through some very dark days with me.  I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them.  My mom and dad are my heroes and I am so grateful for their love and support in my life. But I couldn’t go another day without sharing the journey it took for me to get where I am today. I’m here to tell you if you resonate with anything I’ve said today or if you’ve had any of these things happen to you, 


It wasn’t your fault. 

You can’t do this alone. 

There are people who can help.

You're not being dramatic or seeking attention if you tell the truth. 

And you must not be silent anymore. 


Edited to add: I have forgiven this person.  I am whole.  I believe that people change for the better.  And I believe that this man has changed as well. 

All my love and light to you beautiful people,


Posted on October 18, 2017 .