“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:3 NIV)
Few understand the strength it takes to admit to being a victim of sexual abuse and violence.
Fewer still understand the road toward healing.
This is why I speak, though often stammering and ineloquent.
I speak for the sake of others.
Here is one example.
Last Thursday evening I had the privilege of being the featured speaker at the Lawrenceburg, Indiana, DIRECTIONS! Support & Advocacy Services, a program of Community Mental Health Center, annual Take Back the Night event. According to the press release, The Directions! event is held during national Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a time to promote awareness of sexual assault and related crimes and the impact of these crimes on society. According to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (R.A.I.N.N.), someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the United States. Forty-four percent of victims are under the age of 19, and 80 percent are under the age of 30. Sadly, only about 46% of all sexual assaults are reported to police.
“Sexual violence is an epidemic in our country and our communities. Survivors feel shame, guilt and fear of public ridicule. Rape has lasting affects on every aspect of a victim’s life, while, according to R.A.I.N.N., 97% of all perpetrators never spend a day in jail.”
Take Back the Night is a national campaign to bring greater awareness to the violent crimes of rape and sexual assault. 2013 marks the seventh consecutive year Directions! has hosted their event. It is the second time I’ve been the featured speaker. The evening featured inspirational messages from survivors and information on key strategies to use when confronted by sexual predators. Participants also learned how to help raise awareness in their communities about rape and sexual assault and about how to make a difference in the lives of survivors.
“Change comes from the courage survivors speaking out,” said Catherine Dwyer, Directions! Program Manager. “It also comes from the courage of each individual citizen who stands up and speaks out against sexual crimes. ‘Take Back the Night’ is the perfect opportunity to join your voice with the voice of other courageous survivors and citizens working to end sexual violence.” (See Cathy and I, pictured at right. Love that woman!)
The most incredible part of the evening for me is always The Clothesline Project on display. Originating in Massachusetts in 1990, The Clothesline Project now encompasses more than 500 communities and several foreign countries. It has become a worldwide campaign bringing awareness to violence against women. Shirts featured in the display were created by survivors and family members and friends of survivors in our communities. The Clothesline Project offers a visual tribute to the courage of all survivors.
If you or someone you know is a victim of rape or sexual assault, please do not hesitate to seek help. RAINN has a hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
It’s never too late to heal.
And healing is never out of your reach.
Dearborn County Prosecutor, Aaron Negangard, stands in front of The Clothesline Project display and speaks on behalf of protecting survivors and on the legal advances of prosecuting perpetrators. So inspiring to see him there, as well as many law enforcement officers and violent crime first responders.
Here are more pictures of the event, as well as t-shirts created by survivors.
They speak louder than any words I could pen.
Often when I’m supposed to be doing something more pressing, more legitimate (like work on my second novel!)–I go nutso and do a whole bunch of crazy home decorating projects all at once.
I figure it’s kinda like writing. Ideas lurk around my brain, tugging at me with a color or a turn of a lamp, or of the possibility of a balanced vignette in an otherwise empty, lonely corner, until I simply must do something about it.
This round of decorating was inspired by a jaunt my husband and I took to a local architectural salvage yard. Except for a book store, there may be no greater place on earth to wander and imagine those who used the dilapidated items generations before me . . . to consider the hearts of the folks who passed through the old door we bought or through the threshold topped by the piece of decorative trim we claimed as our own.
Just stuff. I know this.
But stuff made new.
Apply whatever metaphor you see fit to these humble projects. May they inspire you to create. May they speak to your soul about the hope and real stuff redemption is made of.
Hearts scraped clean.
For His glory.
Project #1: The Laundry Room
Dark and dim, the little room had potential with a pretty window overlooking the garden. But light couldn’t get through.
Enter salvage yard item #1: a beautifully trimmed door with a ginormous window. And wow, if it didn’t just happen to have the same dimensions as the builder’s door that was already there!
Project #2: The Master Closet
This closet doesn’t have a door on it because of its precarious position between the commode room and sinks. How annoying, right? I mean, who wants to look at this mess all the time? (Never mind that I’m a horrible housekeeper.)
Enter salvage piece #2: A beautifully worn, carved piece of trim.
I love how the circle patterns repeat with the decor I already had, including the hydrangea (my wedding flower) plate my maid-of-honor found for me for our wedding years ago. I can’t get enough hydrangeas!
Project #3: A wreath
There’s no before-and-after for this project, because it was just a new one inspired by Pinterest–what else? I’m smitten with anything burlap these days, and when I found this roll of teal burlap ribbon at Hobby Lobby, I swooned. (Or was it the instrumental praise music they play in the background there? I may never know . . . )
Anyway, I kinda like how it turned out. And I love the look of teal on dark red!