Those are words I had never confidently uttered aloud until yesterday and it felt glorious to verbalize them.
I was speaking with the Joyful Heart Foundation about the possibility of them assisting me in helping to promote Made in His Image. The mission of the Joyful Heart Foundation is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse and shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues. This organization was founded by Mariska Hargitary, who stars as Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
The content of the scripts, as well as the work she did to prepare for the role, opened her eyes to the epidemics of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. What she learned was staggering:
- One in three women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
- Every two minutes in the United States, someone is sexually assaulted.
- Nearly four children die every day in this country as a result of child abuse and neglect. And up to ten million children witness domestic violence each year.
Mariska’s compassion and beautiful heart birthed the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004, with the intention of helping survivors heal and reclaim their lives.
While speaking with them I needed to share a little about myself and cast the vision for Made in His Image. For months when I was in therapy I tried to say, I’m a survivor, but couldn’t. I didn’t feel like a survivor; I felt trapped in pain that I couldn’t articulate. During one therapy session my doctor said, Here I have something I think you will like. Sitting in his leather chair, he swiveled closer to his desk, opened his laptop and inserted a cd. As he pressed play I heard Blessed John Paul II say the following in English coupled with his pronounced Polish accent, “Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” What struck my heart the most were his words, “Be not afraid.” His deep, yet gentle voice, provoked a sense of peacefulness in my soul.
My doctor made me a copy of that cd and in the months that followed I used it daily to practice annunciating words, phrases and life experiences that I couldn’t say otherwise. I would turn on the cd and listen to the sound of Blessed John Paul II’s voice. Then I would turn up the volume so his voice overpowered mine. Over time, I was able to turn down the cd, so my voice resounded above John Paul II’s. I still couldn’t confidently say, I’m a survivor. My doctor told me to just let it come out naturally.
Yesterday I said it for the first time. When asked why I was drawn to their organization and starting my own, I confidently stated, I’m a survivor! It flowed so naturally, and for a second I couldn’t believe what I had just said. I smiled. And my smile was huge. Later in the evening when I went before the Lord in the Tabernacle I thanked Him for the gift He had given me through my doctor, the cross and Made in His Image. There was no one else praying where I was and as I knelt as close to the Tabernacle as I could I said aloud again, I’M A SURVIVOR!
For the year and a half that I was in therapy every time I firmly shook someone’s hand or focused on making eye contact with them, they had no idea all that I was practicing. Everyday tasks that come as second nature to some, become a monument of achievement to those hoping to heal despite trauma.
I am exceedingly grateful for what the Father has done for me. And it is my desire to take what I have been given by Him, which is a pure gift, and spread His love and healing to others through Made in His Image. So our voices can join in one accord to bravely say, I’m a survivor.