‘The System Worked’

The ‘over reaction’ is in the fact that this is continuing to happen time and time again… or in worst cases, the rapists aren’t being held accountable at all. It wasn’t a rape because it needs to have been a penis??? So this woman, violated while unconscious, by a man putting his fingers inside of HER sexual organ, and dragging her around, gets a lighter sentence because it wasn’t his ‘sexual organ’? It’s not about sex people! It’s violence! Why is this still even a conversation?

If it was just about sex he could have gotten a damn girlfriend, hooked up with an interested female, masturbated, or even hired a prostitute (not that I’m condoning prostitution and would argue that in many of those cases, it’s human trafficking and those girls/women are victims too) – but seriously… it was not about sex, it was about violence and control and power. So he didn’t use his ‘sexual organ’ to violate her… what about HER sexual organ that was being violated?! Does the lack of sexual organ doing the assault lessen cases of child molestation when the same things happen? What about foreign objects that aren’t fingers or the sexual organs? Why does that even matter? How does that make the violation any less? How does that make what he did to her and took from her any less of a crime?

There is no over reaction. Women are not being protected in this country. ONE in FIVE women are raped on campuses every year. ONE in FOUR female children and ONE in SIX male children are molested/sexually assaulted by the time they are 18 years old. These statistics should be taken way more seriously than they are. When a person is found GUILTY of a crime of sexual violence (involving HER sexual organs!!!) there should be a real consequence! Not a laughable and cringe-worthy 6 months!

How dare he say it’s an over reaction. Can we have some men of honor please rise up?! Please take a stand for the women in this nation?! Please fight for us and with us!

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Keep talking About Sexual Assault

By people speaking out against sexual assault and taking a stand, the awareness has led to the decrease of 60% in the last 20 years. That being said, according to this site and the sources provided, there is still approximately 300,000 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year. In the amount of time it will take me to type this post, approximately 100 seconds, another American will be sexually assaulted.

Please talk about this. Let’s decrease the number even more! Will it be your sibling, friend, parent, or child? Speak out, stay safe, and help others to stay safe!

And just in case me saying something could make a difference – if you’re dealing with perverted ideas of sex and you’re tempted to violate someone, get some help. Don’t keep it a secret and don’t try to fight it alone. Just own it and get some help so you don’t hurt someone.

Tell Me…

Tell me how any of my precious babes ruined my life because I didn’t go to college and don’t have a career. Tell me which one of my kids I should have started choosing abortion once life got more challenging. Tell me which one was an accident, a consequence, a mistake. Tell me.

No?

Then why are we telling women this while they are pregnant? Why in the hell are we telling women that they are missing out on life when they find themselves pregnant? Why are we telling them that these babies are just tissue inside of their womb? Why are we telling women that it would be better to end the life of that child than to face the inevitable horror of being their parent (or choosing adoption).

I’m a better person than I once was because of the lessons I’ve learned as a parent. Has it been work? Has it been tiring? Has it been challenging? Has it been the hardest thing I’ve done at times? I’ll tell you.

Yes. 

But there is such a beauty in seeing life through the eyes of a little one. There is such beauty in seeing myself through the eyes of my child. Giving up everything for my child wasn’t as tragic a sacrifice as people claim because in giving up one thing, I said yes to another – and it was the greatest treasure that no job, amount of money, no relationship, no current crisis could take away from or add to.

You not only end the life of your child when you choose abortion, you end the life of a beautiful part of you that you will never know when you choose abortion.

There is nothing more precious than the gift of a child – not only for the life they’ll lead, but for the life you will lead with them in it.

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Psalm 127:3

“…There’s Grace for Abortions…”

As people who know me already are aware, I am deeply saddened by abortion. With all the petitions out there for defunding Planned Parenthood for their criminal activity, I feel this is too important to slip through without being said (more than once!). For anyone who has had an abortion and/or knows someone who’s had an abortion, there is no condemnation for those who seek to receive the grace of the Father.

I pray we all stay soft and tender to the hearts of those who’ve dealt with this as we stand for life. We stand for the lives of those who have already repented and grieved their decision and their unborn babe(s). We also stand for the lives of the doctors and counselors who’ve yet to realize the truth of what they are doing, and we stand for the lives of the women who are aborting their babies for their own personal reasons who’ve yet to understand the gravity of that decision. God is bigger than all of our past choices and meets us where we’re at – even meeting us with blood on our hands. There is grace and love available for all who seek to obey our Lord, Jesus Christ, as we “go, and from now on sin no more.” May God grant us all repentance and free us from the bondage of our sins.

Please click on the image below to read the article titled, “Dear Sister, There’s Grace for Abortions Too”

Dear Sister, There's Grace for Abortions

 

Please keep talking about what’s happening inside Planned Parenthood. Their criminal activity should not continue to be funded by our taxpayer dollars. How can we support gender selected abortions, covering up child sexual abuse (of which I have my own experience, with Planned Parenthood), aiding human sex trafficking of minors and prostitutes, as well as harvesting the organs of aborted babies and selling them? How is Planned Parenthood upholding the law and helping to protect our children? We don’t need Planned Parenthood! There are thousands of community health centers located throughout the US that offer the same and more than what Planned Parenthood offers that actually follow the law and care about the health and safety of women and children:

PP National Map FINAL-page-001

Planned Parenthood is corrupt. I don’t support abortion and would like it to be illegal because of the reality of what is happening – living babies who are aware are being torn limb from limb and getting their brains sucked out of their skulls, are being poisoned, or are burned to death… and many are surviving and being left to die alone in steel dishes, trash cans, etc. However, even if abortion is kept legal, Planned Parenthood should not be allowed to stay open (or at the very least, should not be funded by the taxpayer dollars so those of us who are opposed to their illegal activities and abortion are no longer financing such atrocities). #defundplannedparenthood

“But it DOES matter…”

Trigger Warning: This is my personal account of the sexual abuse I endured over a 14 month period of time when I was 13 and 14 years old. While I attempted to use the least amount of crude language as possible, it’s also very real and raw and honest, therefore the imagery is there in some cases. Read at your discretion. It’s very long and very personal but it’s time I share… and do so boldly. Posting this, even if no one is able to read it, is freeing and healing. ❤ A link is provided at the bottom of the post, where you can go and learn more about predators and what to watch and prepare for to protect children.

“But it DOES matter…”

“Parents are so naïve – they’re worried about strangers and should be worried about their brother-in-law. They just don’t realize how devious we can be. Know that we will use any way we can to get to children.” – Convicted Sex Offenders

“Most child sexual abuse, up to 90%, occurs with someone a child has an established and trusting relationship with, whether known or not by the parent, and who is often a person in a position of authority……. Sexual predators are smart, extremely cunning and often individuals you least expect would commit such crimes. Sometimes they are the well-respected pillars of the community. They develop elaborate schemes and go to great extents to do anything to get access to children.” – Laura A. Ahearn, LMSW and Executive Director of Parents for Megan’s Law and the Crime Victims Center

David Bushey was one of those men. I’ve often not used his name as I felt shame in the past for exposing him and calling him out. He exposed himself and I refuse to be ashamed about what he did to me any longer.

David had married into my family and subsequently remained a long-time family friend after that marriage ended. I was offered a babysitting position for his girlfriend’s daughter when I was 13. He wasn’t a stranger. He didn’t kidnap me. He didn’t force me with physical strength to do things against my will. This 33 year old man befriended me and played card games with me, listened to music with me, laughed with me, and created a connection with me.

Sexual abuse starts with a violation of a boundary. A boundary is a physical or emotional limit that is placed on an individual in a relationship. For David, it started with an inappropriate “compliment” about my legs in passing… I didn’t know how to vocalize my discomfort so instead I changed what I would wear and sit with blankets on my lap so as to not receive that attention again. Then, he moved on to physical boundaries… he placed his hand on my leg and stated, if it made me uncomfortable, all I had to do was tell him to stop. I still didn’t know how to vocalize my discomfort. I don’t even fully understand my fear in vocalizing it… but I was afraid of being disrespectful in some way, afraid of saying anything. Speechless and unsure of what to do, I recall stiffly nodding and shrugging slightly.

That was where it started… but it didn’t stop there. One day after returning home from work (we had 2½ hours alone every single day until his girlfriend returned home, at which time one of them would bring me home – there were also days he’d get home even earlier), he jumped in the shower and returned to the living room to play our regular game of cards on the couch. I took my turn and looked up to his face and saw him looking down. Naturally, my eyes followed his gaze and I saw him maneuvering himself so that he was exposed through the leg of his shorts. I immediately straightened as my eyes shot forward and I stared through the cards in my hand… I stated that it was his turn and tried hard to pretend that I couldn’t see anything and that I hadn’t seen what I saw. I convinced myself he was probably trying to fix it so that he wasn’t exposed; that it was all an accident.

I became “part of the family.” We’d joke that they were my mom and dad. With a difficult relationship with my own parents, this was everything I dreamed. His girlfriend had red hair like me and so we’d play that I got it from her. We went on fishing trips, they took me school shopping, got me a new radio for my birthday, had barbecues, enjoyed family time in front of the tv, had a party during the superbowl, taught me how to drive… you name it… I was invited in and treated as one of their own.

Meanwhile, while alone or when no one was looking, David was doing things “in secret” … he bought me cigarettes and showed me where to hide them so we wouldn’t get caught, he bought me a new bike and told me to lie and say I saved the money for it from babysitting, wrote me love notes, etc. There was this sense of, it was us vs. everyone else and that he cared about me more than anyone else could understand… and when it became physical with clothes on, it was with “such heated passion” as he put it. Though I didn’t quite understand what he was saying at the time, I longed to be loved and the physical affection was more than I could handle. I believed this is what love felt like, even the uncomfortable parts.

We talked a lot. He’d say things that didn’t line up and while they stood out to me, I didn’t understand them. Later they would make sense, but then, they just left me curious. I recall asking him once, earlier on, how many people he’s had sex with and he said that he’d only had sex with his wife and his current girlfriend. However, after he sat me down to watch a porn film with him (while my younger sister played in the other room with the little girl I babysat), he spoke of what sex looks like and sounds like. After that day, per his encouragement, I began making noises when we’d roll around. I remember him trying to kiss me and I didn’t let him and he noted that it must be important to me considering all the other things we were doing… he also noted how much more I enjoyed it “than the other girls.”

He pushed me for months to have sex with him… trying to coax me to perform oral sex by pushing my head down when I finally did let him kiss me… he told me time and time again, he was ready when I was ready.

I remember the date… the date I finally chose to give my virginity away… something I wanted to save for marriage. “But he loves me and it’s real!” I convinced myself… I don’t remember what it felt like. I remember thinking something isn’t right, and I closed my eyes and turned my face away from him and laid there. Over the next 8 months this became our daily activity. He would come home and sometimes shower and sometimes not… and he would roll me around from my back to my belly and back again as he had his way with me. He would always pull out and I’d always have to wash it off my stomach… and a handful of times I had to wash it out of my eyes. I often had to shower after because of the dirt and sweat dripping onto me… I felt so dirty…

It wasn’t long after we started having sex that I’d hear him and his girlfriend having sex while I stayed the night. It made me physically ill and I’d cry myself quietly to sleep. I was horrified. Why was he doing this to me? I felt so unloved while at the same time feeling as though I was betraying his girlfriend for doing what we were doing. The days after, I’d tell him how confused and conflicted I was (in a much less articulate way) and he’d always say it was my choice… but upon no longer having sex with him, he would turn his affections away from me and be extra affectionate with his girlfriend right in front of me. He’d practically ignore me, and even make fun of me with his girlfriend. This happened each time I tried to end the sexual aspect of our “relationship” and each time I would go to him when we were alone and initiate sex in order to receive his affection… and I’d have it back.

We talked one day about someday running away together… I asked him how that would ever work. I said, “if people found out we are together, you’d be in trouble. You could go to jail.” He responded with, “that would be up to you.” and I pondered that and thought, “it’s up to me?” and felt overwhelmed at the thought – I didn’t know that’s what I was feeling… or why… I just knew that was a lot to take in. He then said, “But if you told your family, they’d be disappointed in us.” To which terrified me. The thought of them being disappointed in me: I’d lose everything.

I woke up one day and had extreme discomfort and felt very itchy. It was intense and I didn’t know what was causing it. I was afraid to tell anyone in case it was due to my sexual activity and thus people finding out that I was “with” David so I waited to talk to him about it. He was concerned I was pregnant and told me to ask his girlfriend to take me to Planned Parenthood (it was called Family Planning at the time) to get on birth control. While there and alone with the counselor, she asked me how old my “partner” was… I remember feeling *terrified* and staring at her unsure of how to answer. She said, “It’s fine, it doesn’t really matter how old he is, we just need to put a number on file.” So I said nervously, “Okay, uhhh… 17?” As I threw my hands in the air slightly on my lap, clearly lying and afraid to tell the truth… and she never said another word about it. To me or anyone else who could have helped me.

Near the end of the abuse, before it all was exposed, David’s girlfriend came to me and said she was hoping for a romantic getaway with him but he kept insisting that they bring me along. She asked me to tell him no when he asked for me to come with them. I recall feeling confused and scared but I don’t remember why. She was upset so perhaps I felt she was upset with me. ETA: I recall being at my sisters house and his girlfriend pulling me aside. I now remember that I was initially afraid that she knew something but then felt confused why she seemed upset with me when she didn’t confront me about what I feared.

When I was finally confronted about it by family member (A), and asked if I was having sex with him, it was September 5th, 1999 around 12-2am. I had just spent the evening with my first high school boyfriend at the Windsor Fair. A boy that David made clear left him feeling jealous because he had to share me…. It had been fourteen months since I began babysitting for him and his girlfriend. At the question, I lied poorly and over and over… until I finally admitted that it was true. You would think that I’d count that as my moment of victory – I was finally rescued… but so much confusion would come in the following days, weeks, and years.

Upon admission of what was happening at 1 or 2am, we drove an hour away to tell family member (B) what was happening. (A) made me say it, say the words of what “I” was doing. I recall sitting there on the bed at 3am shaking violently as I said the words. No hug was offered… no tears… just a logical response from family member (B) of “okay … [pause] …. how about we go to sleep and we’ll get back together tomorrow and talk about it.” (A) and I drove another hour back to where we were sleeping that night and later the next day went to see family member (B) again – this time inviting family member (C). I don’t know how she was informed or what was said… but we all sat there around the table as I relayed the details to them… recalling vile details of what I’d endured… “confessing” to having gone to him at times…

His girlfriend called me about babysitting while I was there and told me that Family Planning had called back about some abnormal test results… (A) told me that they couldn’t let me go back and that we had to tell his girlfriend. Makes sense… but they didn’t just tell her. They brought me to the camper in the yard where we all sat in the booth and pulled up a chair. They had called her over to talk to her… she sat in the chair and (A) looked at me and told me to “go ahead.” I had no idea what to say or how to word what had been happening to me… I had no explanation… and I felt so dirty for having to “confess” what I’d been doing. So when I cried that I couldn’t, (A) spoke instead and said “David… [pause]… and Kristi…” and nothing else came out of her mouth…… a statement of joint responsibility… “AND” vibrated in my skull for the few moments of silence that followed, almost forgetting why we were even sitting there…

His girlfriend noted the pause and hesitation and jumped up. I snapped back to the present and realized what was happening. She began screaming at me “I trusted you!! How could you?! I trusted you!!” … I begged and pleaded in apology, sobbing in complete agony for what I had done to her, in what had been happening, still unable to form words to express my pain….

She ran out of the camper. (A) and (B) chased after her… thankfully not leaving me alone as I had family member (C) who stayed by my side and comforted me and loved on me. She helped me get to a decent place with all of it and by the time the other two returned, I felt “okay.”

They had his girlfriend’s daughter and she jumped into my arms. I was hugging her tightly as I heard her 4yo voice say, “Mama doesn’t want me to see you.” I felt like I left my body and returned to it as the reality hit me… I wasn’t okay anymore. I was sobbing and saying I love you to her as (B) informed me that they were keeping his girlfriend’s daughter while she worked through things with David and she requested that they not let me near her… (A) informed me that I’d have to leave… I squeezed her and said I love you for the last time for many years through tears and such ache as they pulled her from my arms and brought her inside.

I left with family member (C) and I don’t remember anything really… shaking in disbelief, crying, staring off in thought… I felt so lost… everything was so surreal. Her presence helped… I can recall her being near me. Maybe she was at a loss herself in how to help me, I don’t know… all I know is I felt comfort in the midst of all the turmoil…

Still yet… it didn’t end there.

A few days later I would learn that I had a bacterial infection called Trichomoniasis, a curable STD caused by a small organism called Trichomonas vaginalis. The woman told me it wasn’t necessarily passed through sex so I didn’t need to stop having intercourse… however I should use condoms, which she handed to me, until it’s been treated. I took the antibiotics… and convinced myself it wasn’t from David. I just wasn’t ready to believe that yet.

Over the days and weeks to follow, I would hear through my family the arguments happening between David and his girlfriend… he said that he never told me he loved me and that we only had sex a couple of times… I was told that his girlfriend believed I seduced him (the counter argument given by my family was that even if I had torn off his clothes and jumped on his penis, he was the adult and should have stopped me)….

When I tried to explain the truth about how many times we’d had sex (thinking of more places he’d done it to me… let alone how many times), I was told it didn’t matter if it was once or a thousand times… it was wrong.

When I tried to explain that he told me he loved me often, I told them we have a love song that he picked out for us, that he said we’d run away together… I was again told that it didn’t matter whether he said it or not… it was still wrong.

When I tried to explain that I didn’t seduce him, that I hated it from the beginning, that I even tried to thwart the unwanted attention… I was again told that it didn’t matter – he was the adult and he was the one who did this.

As an adult, I can see how they thought that this was important and helpful and really the main thing that mattered…. however, I only remember feeling “but it wasn’t just once…. and he did say he loved me….. but I didn’t seduce him….. I didn’t tear off his clothes and jump on his penis…”

I had no voice… I was made to feel that the details don’t matter… that none of the truth mattered… none of what I had experienced mattered… all that mattered was that he was wrong no matter what I had done and no matter what had happened…. but still, I felt…. blamed….

I was told by (A) that she believed (B) felt as though I was partially responsible. I didn’t hear “believed” as an opinion… I only heard it all as fact… (B) blamed me… she was disappointed in me, just as David said she would be. I felt such pain… I didn’t know how to convince her that I shouldn’t be held responsible for this… I felt unsafe with her as she continued in a relationship with David’s girlfriend; I gradually would stop confiding in her about it. In this same conversation, (A) pressured me to contact a hotline to report what had happened “to stop him from doing it again, especially to [his girlfriend’s] daughter.” In a panic to protect this precious girl that I had come to love deeply as if she were a little sister, I agreed to do so.

I nervously called the hotline one afternoon while home alone… again forced to say the words of what had been happening to me. After going through all the details yet again, the lady on the other line told me that she couldn’t help me… I had to have my father call to report it. Why was I continually put in a position to confess and admit and share and now to report?! I was now forced to tell my father what had been happening because still, no one had told him. I was forced to tell him what was happening, that everyone else already knew, and that I needed him to report it. I was shut off… I remember mocking him… I remember being disgusted with him that he didn’t know already… I remember feeling like I needed to just say it and end the conversation… I didn’t want to relay it all again…

Meanwhile, David and his girlfriend married… and (B) remained close friends with her… she eventually divorced and left him, but she still blamed me and gave me angry looks every time our paths ever crossed. At this point I had learned that 3 other people aside from the person who confronted me, believed they knew what was happening… (B) stated she was afraid that she would be wrongly accusing him, his girlfriend stated that she was afraid she would find it to be true, and another family member stated that they were afraid that the family would hate them for accusing David… additionally, there was the counselor at Planned Parenthood who said “it didn’t matter how old he was” and thus didn’t report the crime taking place… didn’t tell a soul. All of these people did nothing, the majority if not all for completely selfish reasoning… no one looked out for the victim… for a child… a scared and confused little girl who was being violated more than once on a daily basis…. with no voice… no one was my voice… no one vocalized what I didn’t know how to vocalize.

Upon reporting David, I thus began the process with the victim advocate and for the first time I felt like I was that: a victim – in a good way. What was happening wasn’t my fault, what was happening was wrong, and all the details of what happened and the things I had been believing was one big lie from day one with David. None of his words were true and none of it was accidental. The details mattered; what I experienced, mattered. Additionally, she told me that me laughing as I told the dirty and disgusting details of what had happened to me was a normal and common response for victims and that it was actually a healthy response of dealing with nervousness and pain. For the first time, there wasn’t something wrong with me. I didn’t do this…. I wasn’t to blame.

Two years after I was confronted, David was sentenced to 2 years in jail and would have to register for 10 years as a sex offender upon release. Prior to the sentencing, several women came forward that they too had been victimized by David. One was 13 at the time of the abuse, another 10, and another around 14 (that I can recall). None of them had reported it and due to statute of limitations we couldn’t use it in court unless his side shared the information. I recalled him making that comment to me “you like this more than the other girls…” and realizing what he meant by that… and I grieved as I learned what he had done to them (some of which was even worse than I had endured) and how they must have felt after that not to have any real closure or justice until this moment. I finally felt like my voice in all this mattered… I was speaking for all of us that he’d violated.

At the sentencing, his lawyer stated that he has no prior history of doing such a thing and my advocate was able to share the information of the other women. I was so elated that their story was being told! However, that elation was short lived as I heard his lawyer state that my family was still in contact with David… I felt very confused as his lawyer expressed how (B) sent David a Christmas card and how he was still working quite closely with her husband. I was detached from what was happening but still quite perplexed… I looked over and was surprised to find (B) sobbing at all that was transpiring. I didn’t understand…

When asked later why she had done that, there wasn’t a hint of apology. I was expected to accept and understand her feelings of “needing to let him go” and how sending him the card was her way of doing that. “He didn’t just do this to you,” she said, “you weren’t his only victim. He did this to all of us. We’re all his victims.” …… We’re all his victims……. I didn’t feel right about that… and the images of what he had physically done to me flashed in my mind, images I wished I could erase… I had no words to express what I was feeling… so I quietly felt hurt and angry and determined to “accept it” and “be understanding” of what my family members, what they were experiencing, and of their support for his girlfriend despite her continuing to blame me. After all… I had lost 3 people in my life I deemed as family in one quick wisp, and I feared I’d lose whom I had left. However, “we’re all his victims….” rang in my ears and bounced around in my thoughts for many years to follow…..

Six months after he was released from jail, I was 18, married, and pregnant with my first child. I received a phone call from (B) and a combination of emotions filled me as she informed me that David was killed by a tree landing on him at work…. relief and gratitude for never having to fear driving by him or running into him, a twinge of regret for not having confronted him for what he had done to me, and joy that he’d never do this to another child… I stated that I didn’t know what to feel, I had a lot of feelings, and she proceeded to tell me she had mixed emotions as well… she was crying for him on the other line…

Three years later as I began really processing my abuse, I wrote a blog entry regarding what I’d overcome – partly as therapy, partly to reach out to others who had experienced the same thing. Some of it wasn’t flattering to those who were a part of my experience but I did my best to be nameless and respect them (at least as I recall… it’s very possible that it came across as quite hurtful… I was still processing after all), but that part of the experience was just as important as the sexual assault I endured. People need to know how to help victims of child sexual abuse! However, those who I mentioned knew I was talking about them, and didn’t feel the same way I felt. I received an email from (B) with criticism to each and every paragraph of what I’d endured. As we corresponded, I was shushed and declared as self-righteous and ungrateful for not seeing how much they cared about me. I was told that I lacked in understanding regarding what they had to go through during that time and that I chose to stay stuck in the past and hold grudges. I was told that I shut them out so they weren’t able to help me… I was told that *I* was wrong. Looking back, I can see that I longed for some validation, acceptance, understanding… instead, I kept feeling condemned.

I was never really allowed to feel the pain and truth of what I experienced except with a few close friends and my husband… any public attempts to reach out to others were snuffed out and so I stopped sharing more deeply in group settings… until 7 years later, early this year. I shared my grief with a private group of women on facebook that I’d grown quite close to on the anniversary of when more than just my virginity was stolen from me… the memories overwhelmed me of that day… that moment that I closed my eyes and turned my face and I lost my innocence, my childhood, my freedom, and my trust as they evaporated into the air… the reason for struggles in my marriage as my husband bore the brunt of my emotions, for struggling with my worth and value as I worked to love myself, for struggling with feeling safe with anyone – especially men.

The women were so compassionate and sadly (but also comfortingly) many of them had endured similar experiences as well… I was able to process more of what had happened and realized that the date recently passed that David would no longer have had to register as a sex offender had he still been living… it was an emotional moment and I was flooded with gratitude. I looked at my daughters and tearfully thanked God that He used what David meant for harm, for the good in my life – that my children will never have to experience what I did because of what I was able to learn from it.

I recently removed (A) and (B) from my life, after years of trying time and time again to help restore what had been broken. I was told to forgive, to understand, and told to “let it go.” While those things are important (hence me seeking to do them), it’s also important to be allowed to feel our emotions and to be real… to be allowed to heal from abuse in our own way – even if it’s hard to watch and listen to. These family members were still inflicting emotional pain on me because I was feeling and behaving in a way that wounded their pride… they never apologized – even for thinking they were doing it right and realizing it could have been done differently. I could understand that, I can appreciate that! I don’t have all the answers! But to completely justify each step of how they handled it and never once acknowledging what I’d endured… I could accept them not understanding… I could accept them doing what they believed to be right and good… but I could no longer accept their treatment of me… I allowed their words to consume my mind. Their words filled me with doubt in my character, my life choices, my reality… I would go around in circles with myself and with those I confided in. I’m not a perfect person, but I need love just the same.

It wasn’t enough to avoid the subject with them anymore, it wasn’t just from the sexual abuse that I felt that it was necessary… they’d shoot me down for other things too. I’ve learned that to love them as I love myself (as the Bible teaches), I have to actually love myself to the point of no longer allowing others to harm me… and I have to stop feeling guilt and shame for walking away from them… hence me removing them from my life. They are my family and I will always love them… but I will no longer allow them to hurt me (and perhaps hurt them in return – as I said, I’m not a perfect person and our relationship wasn’t helping any of us).

God is a merciful God. As such, I’ve striven to give mercy to the repentant and the unrepentant time and time again (Lord knows I’ve needed the same such grace)… and I will continue to do so. But it’s just as important to note that God, who commands us to forgive, also commands us to “shake the dust from your feet” as you leave, as a testimony against those who refuse grace and peace. (Luke 9:5)

I refuse to continue living as a victim by allowing people to hurt me. I once was a victim, but I’m not anymore.

It doesn’t matter…

But it DOES matter.

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Additional Note: Don’t be afraid to offend people… investigate and listen to your gut if people set off red flags! I’ve been there! It’s hard! We had a friend of 8 years set off all sorts of red flags… He liked hugging my oldest and said it was like he was hugging the woman he was interested in having a sexual relationship with (he didn’t say that, he called her by name, however he also confessed to being a “sex addict”), he wanted to take her to the store with him, and offered to watch her while we were out running errands, etc….. there were other odd things taking place regarding his interest in the aforementioned woman as well. He made a comment about a sexual encounter between them that he stated was inappropriate because she was intoxicated and he wasn’t, but he was “just really hoping” to see if there was chemistry between them. I would rationalize myself through it all… but it all felt so wrong.

The red flags kept plaguing me and I remember arguing with myself in my mind over it. Finally, I said to myself “he’s a young guy, he wouldn’t do that.” And it dawned on me in the next breath that he was the exact same age as the man who assaulted me…. Not just 34 year old men do this, however, it dawned on me that it was very possible that something could happen if we weren’t careful. I told my husband that we needed to keep an eye out because I had a suspicion that his friend might become a danger to our oldest daughter, if not both of our older daughters. We agreed to watch out for anything off, but it wasn’t long into the day that I felt like, “wait a minute… keep watch? What does that mean? Wait for something to happen? Then it will be too late!” I didn’t want to be like (B) and be afraid of being wrong in my accusation… so I chose that it would be better to offend.

I approached the friend and told him my concerns and his response was so flipping eery… he said, in a soft and “loving” tone, “Kristi, I would never do such a thing. I really mean that.” As he rubbed my shoulder and held his hand to his chest. I could feel the manipulation as he sought to convince me to continue to trust him. That was it… he couldn’t stay. This all felt too far – and even if I was wrong, he had to go! So I told my husband he had to go and his friend became very angry and told my husband and mutual friends lies about me, trying to convince him that I was crazy. While we were alone, he tried to intimidate me to let him stay through an angry stare down, which I did not give into (despite how incredibly frightening and uncomfortable it was). I left with my kids  and told my husband he had the weekend to pack up all his things and be gone. My husband stood by me, though he was genuinely confused and wasn’t sure of my mental state at the time. Nevertheless, we made him leave that weekend.

Not long after, my husband heard an account of one of his close friends at the time stating that she woke up to this man assaulting her and she was unable to say no because she was intoxicated… much like the encounter he himself had shared with me regarding another woman… and that took the cake for him. He no longer believed I was crazy and within the week or two after, we learned of 3 others!

Every time something off happened… I felt it… but I rationalized it because of my “bias” to/”paranoia” of what had happened to me. I’ll never do that again. I now hold no qualms over the intuition I have and the unction of the Holy Spirit when it comes to predators, potential or not, and stand first for my children. I will not ignore it. I decided that I’d rather accuse wrongly and offend than for my daughter (children) to become victims of what I had endured…

Educate yourself in how to spot a predator, educate yourself in how to teach your children healthy boundaries (in an age appropriate way to preserve their innocence), and what to do if those boundaries are breached (I’ve been able to do this without instilling a fear, but a respect for their bodies and in trust of their parents protection), and don’t let fear of people lead your decisions – even if you assume incorrectly about a person, a decent human will appreciate your diligence in protecting your child. If they care about your child, they will celebrate your vigilance! A questionable person, however, will be offended or smoothly try to calm you about such a fear and encourage you to trust them.

The site below has some great information to help us be in tune with who is interacting with our children (of course the Holy Spirit speaks to us as well and is always my first “go-to”).

http://www.parentsformeganslaw.org/public/prevention_childSexualAbuse.html

Today is September 5th once again... this date was once a day that tormented me because it was the day I was confronted about my sexual abuse, I felt exposed in such a vulnerable state, and it harbored all the awful memories of that day and represented all I had endured up to that point and beyond…. but praise God, that wasn’t the end of my story. September 5th, 2003 (only 3 years later), was the date of my last period before I learned that I was pregnant with our first child. Even though I still wouldn’t understand for many more years, it was almost like the Lord was saying: “This is why I allowed this to happen. I saw your tears, I heard your cries… you didn’t know her yet, but I knew you would want to protect her; you would rather it be your story than it be hers. You’ll never have to say, ‘why couldn’t it have been me instead?!'”

“Knowing I’m empowered to improve my life has freed me of my belief that I need to be taken care of by others. Feeling secure in my ability to care for myself, I’m not vulnerable to people who would exploit me. I know I’m free to grow and develop to change my direction. I don’t feel imposed upon by other’s decisions; I speak my mind and express my needs. I’m no longer driven by circumstances; I’m an active participant in shaping my life.” The Rescued Soul by Christina Enevoldsen

Thank You Lord that this is my story – my story of pain but so very much so, my story of victory that You have given me. Victory over the past and over the pain, victory over self-doubt, the thoughts of others, and victory over the harm that could have taken place for my daughter. Victory for anyone else I can reach for whatever the reason – to help to understand victims, to prevent it from happening with others, and empowering others who’ve experienced it to be victorious too. Thank You, Lord. Continue to change me and help me to love others well where I’ve fallen short. I know you’re not finished with me yet – may Your power be made manifest in my weakness as You continue this transformation process that will someday make me into something You deem as beautiful. Thank You for loving me just as I am, right where I’m at, and with such generous and sacrificial love. I want to be more like You. ♥