April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It’s a great time to shed light on the dark topic of childhood sexual abuse, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the launch month for my book, Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, than to raise awareness and tell a redemptive story from a survivor who has turned her story into a means of hope and healing for others.
Today I am hosting Becky Cole, a survivor who has come to thrive in Christ and the author of a children’s book called, Tell Someone: A Story to Raise Awareness and Help Prevent Childhood Sexual Abuse. I met Becky online just a couple months ago. She so graciously jumped in to help with my book launch team for Journey to Heal. It was in this that I learned of her book, and ministry to children.
Becky lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Jason, their children, Sam and Faith, and their two dogs, Sweetie and Scruffy. She is a loud laugher, coffee drinker and chocolate chip cookie connoisseur. Becky grew up in Louisiana and has also lived in Dallas, Texas and Seattle, Washington where she and Jason helped plant churches. She now writes at beckyanncole.com and leads the preschool ministry at her church, Northpoint Austin.
Here is Becky’s story…
It was time to be free. The secret I had been keeping for over thirty years was now keeping me. The LORD softly whispered, “Tell your story.” I didn’t want to tell my story. I wanted a different story – something other than the one I had lived.
In the fall of 2014, when I could not bear the weight of the chains and my disobedience any longer, I brought my childhood sexual abuse out of the darkness and into the light. I simply spoke the truth and told someone.
The first time was the hardest; I bawled on the phone as I told one of my closest friends. I told my husband, Jason, next. Then I told my sisters and, finally, after I was grown, with children of my own, I told my parents. I told old friends and new friends and neighbors and moms I met at preschool.
The more I talked about it, the less ashamed and alone I felt. To my surprise, the more I shared my story, the more others shared their stories with me. I considered it a privilege, and, at the same time, it broke my heart to know that so many others had experienced abuse. I also realized that childhood sexual abuse was not a thing of the past – it is still happening today.
I sensed the LORD was wanting to take my suffering and all that the enemy stole from me and use it for good. I could not have my childhood back, but perhaps others could be restored and maybe childhood sexual abuse could even be prevented if I was willing to share my story. I wondered if it was possible for children to know “tell someone” like I knew “stop, drop and roll.” Telling someone is such an important part of the healing process. Since I had been teaching and ministering to children for several years, I thought I might be able to communicate this to them in a way they would understand.
The LORD led me to write Tell Someone: A Story to Raise Awareness and Help Prevent Childhood Sexual Abuse, a book for children ages 5-12. Tell Someone helps kids recognize and respond to abuse. It uses story to connect with children and repetition to help them remember what to do should they ever find themselves in an abusive situation. They learn the characteristics of a safe person and are encouraged to find a safe person to tell. Children who have experienced abuse will know that what happened to them was not their fault and they do not have to be ashamed. They will understand that they are souls created to be cared for.
As I wrote my book, The LORD was writing a new story for me. What began with brokenness, shame and captivity led to healing, forgiveness and freedom. He has not only set me free but He has restored me and is redeeming what the enemy had stolen.
I pray and believe the same for other survivors – He wants to write a new story over you.
You are loved,