Frozen. Completely powerless. Thoughts running through my mind… “I guess I deserve this” … “I will never be loved” … “I’ll never get out of this” … “Does anyone even hear me screaming?” … “Will anyone ever rescue me from this horrifying life?” Every day was another mystery. A terrifying mystery. Will today be the day I die? Will today be the day he kills me? I had no idea what he was going to be when he walked through that door each day. There was no escaping him. You couldn’t just decide to walk away and then do it. He wouldn’t let me. Not without trying to stop me, or hurt me, or use our son as a hostage against me. How did I get here and how do I get out?
This was not the life I imagined for myself as a child. Like every little girl, I wanted a fairytale-kind-of-love. Prince charming himself would come riding on a stallion and swoop me off my feet, marry me, buy a lovely home for us with a white picket fence and have beautiful children with me. And we would live happily ever after. So, where was I? Who was I? How did this happen?
I was born in the beautiful country of Brazil. My parents were in love and they had a dream. They wanted a better life for us. So, we set out to America when I was just two years old. We lived in Massachusetts until I was about eleven. I have many great memories of living there, of my childhood. Playing outside with friends, building snowmen, making snow angels and forts, and a ton of other imaginative games I played. My younger brother, Matthew, was born there. I was the first to learn English in my family so, of course, I was tasked to teach my parents. We moved to Florida while I was in the middle of fifth grade. My parents were just not going to live through another winter up there. It was taxing on them. I happened to love it, of course. But I was just a child and as a child, your parents protect you from everything they possibly can. The winters and the snowstorms to me, were fun! No school, playing outside in the snow, drinking hot chocolate every day. That was the life! I had no idea what it was like to shovel snow out of your driveway, drive on an icy road to work, or lose money because work was canceled.
Great memories. But also, not so great ones. Before I was six years old, I was sexually molested by an older and more powerful child. By age eleven, I was sexually molested again, this time by my own doctor at a regular doctor’s visit. My boyfriend raped me at age thirteen, my parents were divorced before I was fifteen, and by age seventeen, I was a mom.
They say that once you have been molested or abused, you literally walk around with a large fluorescent mark on your forehead that says, “I’m a victim! Look at me! I am weak!”. Statistics have shown that perpetrators can tell by just looking at you that you are a victim and you are a target. There’s more than an 80% chance that you will be abused a second time. Perpetrators report that they look for passive, quiet, troubled, lonely children from single parent or broken homes. As many as 40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by older, or more powerful children. The younger the child victim, the more likely it is that the perpetrator is a juvenile. Juveniles are the offenders in 43% of assaults on children under age six. Of these offenders, 14% are under the age of twelve. More than one in three women in the U.S. report having experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Approximately five million children are exposed to this violence every year.
So, how did I end up in abusive relationships in my teens and twenties? Had I become one of these statistics? Perhaps. But perhaps I had also lost myself. I didn’t know who I was or what I was truly worth. The world had been so unkind to me at such a young age. I began to believe what the world said about me, and what my abuser said about me.
But at some point, I met Someone. He came and rescued me. He told me who I was and what I was truly worth. He told me that I was the apple of His eye and that I no longer had to be afraid. He spoke to me tenderly and said that I was worth far more than rubies. That I was priceless and that He died for me. He said He has a plan for my life. A good plan for me, even better than I ever imagined.
Then He did something no man had ever done to me before. He put His hand out and invited me into a relationship with Him. He didn’t force Himself on me or threaten me. He looked into my eyes, smiled, told me He loves me, and asked me to be with Him. I accepted His invitation, with tears in my eyes. He wiped away every tear, held me close, and washed me clean.
Today I am a free woman. I am free from the bondage of fear. I still struggle with thinking I am there, in my past. But when I run to the cross, to Jesus’ feet, and meet Him there, I find peace. Hope Restored was born out of the deep burden I have for women and children who are exposed to violence, rape, and abuse. My heart still breaks for women who have experienced or are experiencing these tragedies and the aftermath of it. I am here to share my story and my journey through the healing of these pains. There is hope after tragedy. Restoration is possible. Redemption is possible. Healing and joy are possible.
The mission of Hope Restored is to coach women of all ages to find peace, joy, and hope after suffering abuse. To show women how to have an exit strategy. To encourage you with biblical promises that will restore your hope. To empower you with truth and help you fight the lies and deceptions this world tells you every day so that you can be who you were born to be, and so that you can ultimately be RESTORED.