****Be sure to read to the end for today’s giveaway and the winner of last week’s giveaway, a copy of Suzie Eller’s The Mended Heart.****
Sharing my story..
It’s Saturday morning…the Saturday after my college graduation. I can’t believe four years have come and gone. Four of the best years of my life. I pull up the covers for a few more moments of sleeping bliss. Finally, I slide out of bed, throw on some shorts, and run out the door to meet friends for an afternoon of roasting in the Texas sun.
My last Saturday with my best girlfriends. Treasured memories fill my mind…formals, weekend trips, date nights, spring breaks, late nights studying…so much fun and laughter. How could it be over?
Hours later, I rush back into my apartment, golden brown, smelling like a perfect blend of coconut and the the great outdoors. I head upstairs to shower, thoughts flitting from outfit to shoes to jewelry. What will I wear tonight?
As I hit the top step, I see him. A masked man wielding a large hunting knife. Behind the mask, two cold eyes staring into mine. Who are you? Why are you here? Surely this can’t be real.
The cold blade on my neck jolts me back to reality. The intruder shoves me into my room. He commits vile and horrific acts against me. When he finishes, he leans in close and whispers, “I know where you live. If you tell anyone, I will return, and I will kill you.” I watch him walk out the door and turn toward the stairs.
I listen intently. Is he gone? Is he waiting downstairs? I muster every ounce of courage, step gingerly out of my bed, grab my crumpled towel, wrap it around my naked body, and creep down the stairs. Finally, I reach the front door, swing it open and run.
At age 21. Every dream shattered. Every hope dashed. I feel abandoned by God and so very alone.
Not a single soul understood the depths of my pain. I locked myself in a prison of fear. At times, living seems too much to bear. No one knew…my loneliness…my helplessness…my hopelessness.
Thankfully, this is not the end of my story. But my journey to get where I am today was long and hard. That day in June 1986, I had no idea where to turn or what to do. I was thousands of miles from home. School was out. There was not an instruction book for what to do after your raped.
Joining the Conversation…
Part of the reason I write this post is to say how grateful I am for the conversation happening nationally about sexual assault on college campuses…both stranger rape and date rape. Sadly, the statistics have not changed since my attack over 25 years ago. One in five women on college campuses are raped. We don’t report our attacks because someone has stepped into our world and cracked our hearts wide open. We have been violated in a most intimate and personal way. The words don’t come easily: I’ve been raped. We believe our attacker’s threats. We fear the administration, the police, our peers will not believe us. We fear the unknown in the investigative and prosecutorial process.
I celebrate our federal government! I’m so thankful for the new federal guidelines to provide victims with a road map on what steps to take after they’ve been raped…both personally and with regard to their institutions. And to provide those institutions with practical instructions on how to identify, prevent and respond to sexual assaults involving their students.
I’m grateful for this conversation. I’m grateful for the proactive stance our government is taking to protect young women. Victims need a voice. We need an advocate.
But I also want to be a voice of hope in the midst of this conversation. God makes an amazing promises in His Word.
James 1:2-4 says,
Romans 8:28 says,
“We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.”
After my attack in 1987, fear held me captive for nearly 15 years. I fed it, nurtured it, and allowed it to infiltrate every part of my being. Anger and bitterness consumed my heart. I held daily pity parties for myself. Until one day, desperation led me to my Bible. It was in the pages of God’s Word that God healed my gaping wounds. He restored my soul. He freed me from my fear. He gave me NEW LIFE. He did as He promised…He took my shattered heart and, piece by piece, created something good and beautiful.
My vicious assault now serves as a backdrop for a ministry. What I once thought destroyed my life now gives it great purpose. You are reading these words today because God now uses my transformed life as a vessel to draw others to His love, His grace, His hope, and His healing.
Never forget, we are created for God’s purposes alone. We live in a world where bad people will make bad choices that hurt good people. But God promises that the trials and sufferings that enter into our lives, when surrendered to Him, will be redeemed to bring about our good, His glory and point others to Him!
I share my story of hope and healing in my first book, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God’s Story.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a sexual assault, please leave her first name in the comment section today, and I promise to pray for her. I will choose two comments to win a copy of Hidden Joy. To purchase a copy from Proverbs 31 Ministries, click here. If you order before Friday, we’ll send you a signed copy. And for a free sample chapter, click here.
Come back Friday for the winners and for a list of tips on how to keep yourself safe and steps on what to do if you are the victim of a sexual assault…great to share with young women headed off to internships in new cities or off to college in the fall.