International Women’s Day is everyday…says this survivor.

Being an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse and rape at 14. I lived most of my life in a fragmented mindset, pieces of my identity hidden behind the shadow of what I only allowed others to see. The secrets were suppressed and the key to that pain was locked away.

The bondage placed upon my life at the early age of 4, was meant to be a death sentence of everything good that my Mother and Grandmother stood for and the love they so lovingly wrapped me in, was now blemished. The curse had been passed down through generations and as much as they tried to protect me from abuse, I experienced this unmentionable pain in the hands of people they trusted.

Years of flashback and triggers haunted me as I covered up the pain through perfectionism, people pleasing, an eating disorder and many other coping mechanisms. Trauma after trauma tried to keep my mind in a self-denial pit of defeat. Blurring my decision making and accepting unhealthy boundaries.

On the outside I appeared to have it ALL together, picture perfect is what some would say. But, on the inside I felt scarred, damaged, worthless, unloveable and broken.

I was lost.

When I chose to face the truth and feel the pain, it was excruciating, literally debilitating and heart wrenching.

I wanted to put it all back in the pretty little box that I secretly kept hidden in the crevices of my heart.

But I couldn’t…the truth was exposed and I had to make a decision, either I was gonna fold or I was gonna fight…and I chose to fight for my freedom.

What does fighting for my freedom look like?

Everyday making a decision to do the next right thing…..in spite of depression, anxiety, ptsd, wanting to isolate, low self esteem, doubt, fear or self sabotage.

The next right thing looks

like…..accountability, intensive therapy, an eating disorder program, Celebrate Recovery: 12-step Christ centered recovery program, reaching out to others who I trust when I need support or a listening ear, prayer…lot’s of prayer, self-care, journaling, spending time with my husband, kids, granddaughter and our dog, walking preferably near salt water with the beach under my feet, fresh air, essential oils, laughter, whole food, supplements, chocolate, reading, drinking water, sipping my cup of coffee in a pretty mug, finding joy and gratitude daily…even when it’s hard and learning to love, accept love and give love.

Above all else, my relationship with God through his son Jesus is how I am learning to view myself through His Word, promises and truth. I am healing.

These are some of the tools, resources and support I have used and some I am still using to help me walk in my freedom.

Everyday I celebrate “international women’s day” as I cheer on other women who are locking arms with others who are overcoming tremendous battles (some in which others may never know about) and are taking one step at a time to courageously become liberated from what tried to destroy her.

My name is denise marie and

I AM no longer held captive…by my childhood secrets, I AM free.

“So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed”. – John 8:36

#nolongerheldcaptive

No longer held captive by…the need for validation

Having a false

sense of security

in the opinion

of others,

is an intentional attempt

to try to live our life

pleasing the created

instead of the creator.

yearning for acceptance

that only comes from

His place of peace.

the constant battles

that play out in

our own thoughts,

limits our ability

to clearly distinguish

between sanity and insanity.

the self-contained

ego-driven

willingness

to remain

in distress

limits our gift

of freedom.

I am learning, it’s not a get “fixed quick” healing process, I have to be willing to do the hard work necessary in order to renew my mind. Which includes, limiting the opinions of others and the access of them speaking into my life from a place of their “own” needs being met. Honoring my space and upholding healthy boundaries is imperative.

~ Denise

“So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed”. – John 8:36

Spring of ’84

Parking Lot
The Latin word rapere “to seize,” from which rape is derived
I was very excited to be going on my first date with this guy that I had met at the mall. He was tall, with an athletic built. He was very handsome, quite charming and very polite. When he came to my house to pick me up, he was a proven gentleman by saying all the right things to my Mom and getting the green light to take her daughter out to dinner.
As we walked to his car, he quickly opened the car door for me and we drove off.
It was in the evening around 7:00pm, we were on our way to a late dinner. As we passed by my high school, he proceeded to drive into the parking lot. I looked at him with a nervous smile and asked him why are we here?
He let me know that we had some time to kill before dinner and he wanted to hang out and talk before we go to the restaurant.
The talking quickly lead to kissing, which lead to him getting on top of me, pulling my skirt up and  entering me. I told him I was a virgin and begged him to stop and that he was hurting me.. his response, “I will be gentle”.
The charming and polite gentlemen, quickly turned into a cold, self-gratifying, jerk.
I felt dizzy, as my head was spinning, and every emotion from anger, shock and despair engulfed me.  I couldn’t believe what was happening.
The next thing I hear is a tap..tap..tap.. on the window and a light flashing into the drivers side.  
 He immediately jumps off of me and pulls up his pants.
He rolled the down the window, and it was a police officer. The officer asks us what we are doing and asks for his license.
The officer than shines his light on me, and asks me for my name and birthdate. I give him my real name, but a fake birthdate, I pretended to be 17, (the age I told the guy, when I met him at the mall) now I told the same lie to the officer. In actuality, I was 14 and the guy was 19.
You see, even though I was being violated,
I was too afraid to tell the truth.
I felt like, since I had lied, it was as if I had deserved it.
The officer looked at me with disappointing eyes, shook his head and told us to leave the high school property.
He drove me home, kissed me on my cheek and told me that he had a great night.
Without responding, I got out of the car, went into the house, took a shower…and cried.
I felt like I wanted to die.
I didn’t tell anyone about the rape until I was an adult. I felt like it was my fault and I blamed myself for everything…
Things that played out in my head were:
I shouldn’t have lied…
I shouldn’t have went on the date…
I shouldn’t have worn a skirt…
I should’ve told him no, I didn’t want to go to my high school parking lot…
I should’ve screamed and fought him…
I should’ve told the police officer what happened…
I’m nothing…
I’m dirty…
I hate myself.
Those words haunted me for years…
TODAY, I know that I was not to blame.
That it wasn’t my fault…
It’s not the clothes that I wore..
or what I looked like..
or what I said…
or what I did or did not do.
I did not encourage him or provoke him to rape me.
Today, I no longer live in shame.
*********************************************
 National Sexual Assault Hotline

https://rainn.org/     1-800-656-4673(HOPE)

In my darkest hour…I found hope.

flower in darkness

I was attacked at the very core of my being and was told to end it.
That I was not going to live past the depression, the anxiety and the tremendous amount of pain. The lies, and self hatred tried to overshadow every ounce of hope and faith I previously held onto.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley…

Fragmented pieces of the memories came flashing back as I tried to piece them together and make sense of the realization that these were not nightmares but factual suppressed recollections.

I will fear no evil…for you are with me…

It was too much! I felt as if I was literally being ripped from the inside out. Every part of my body ached as I exposed the truth and walked through the dark murkiness of my past.

You protect and guide me, and I find comfort as you console me…

In my despair, I wept as I released the pain of that little girl.

You are repairing all the damage that was done to me, and restoring the deepest, most real part of me. 

My strength Lord, comes from you. ~ xoxo Denise

*Psalm 23

There are times in all of our lives that things become overwhelming, sometimes to the point that life seems to be crashing in from every angle of your life, which for me caused me to literally find myself in a dark place and needing help.

I wanted to isolate but instead I called for help.

I want to encourage you, to seek help.

If you find yourself in a position that you need to talk to someone, reach out for help.

You are not alone, you are not overreacting and please don’t feel as if you are bothering them.

Pick up your phone… and call someone.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255