Love Showed Up: Friendship Overpowers Shame

Today’s brave and breathtaking post comes from my friend Lisa. Kel and I were Lisa’s Youth Pastors almost 10 years ago and I’m so humbled and honored to have reconnected with her so she can share her brave story, which I still cannot read without tears. 

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The ribbon included with my post is simple, but that simple ribbon means so much to me. That simple ribbon gives meaning to all I have been through…all I have overcome and all I will overcome. That teal ribbon stands for surviving sexual abuse.

“You haven’t beat me down. I may have fallen before but I will stand tall now.”

Those words were the last ones I said aloud in a very emotional speech on sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of my father.  This is the first time I have ever written those words for the public to read.

I looked up to the small audience of close friends in my living room after speaking those words one close friend in particular overcome with emotion. I understood then that I was truly “loved”…love showed up. You see…the girl I was didn’t believe those words yet. I was brave enough to speak them again the following night at a Take Back The Night event, but that girl was desperate for acceptance. That girl was so strong that she was afraid to admit that she was actually weak.

The night I practiced my speech I shared this for the first time:

“From about age four to age six I was sexually abused by my father…In those two years he did the worst things you can imagine to a little girl. The abuse pretty much set the tone for the rest of my childhood. The effects were far reaching. I wasn’t confident. I didn’t feel pretty”.

I am 24 years old today and this speech took place about 4 years ago. I can say with confidence that this event was the first time in my entire life that “love showed up” for me (at least that I recognize). I shared such a vulnerable piece of my life with more people than my husband (boyfriend at the time) and expected to be turned away. Instead I was greeted with tears of compassion and quiet support from good friends.

A lot of survivors of sexual abuse wait for the proverbial “anvil” to drop on their heads. I was no different. This was the first time I got that people have the capacity to care…to care about me. Also in that moment I felt God’s presence. Love showed up has dual meanings in this event. I got that people cared for me, and I got that God cares for me…always. His presence was just a flicker… and to this day I struggle with trusting a heavenly father when my earthly one treated me so horribly. It was this event that made me understand that I truly had a family in these people. To this day I can count on them for anything that I need. If it’s a phone call after a hard day or lunch just to socialize…I can count on them. I also understand that I can bring anything to God. It’s just laying my problems (or especially myself) at his feet that I struggle with.

Through good friends, an awesome husband and an equally as awesome therapist I am closer to believing these words I wrote in my speech:

“For me taking back the night means taking back all I lost…taking back the world [I] had begun to fear. To say to [the person] who assaulted me. You will not stop me from living my life to the fullest. You will not stop me from becoming the woman I want to become. Strong, confident, poised. My head held high, you haven’t beat me down. I may have fallen before but I will stand tall now.”

419534_10151195673834275_311131210_n Lisa Smith is a devoted wife and student. She strives to move beyond her experiences and eventually become a licensed therapist. Lisa hopes to be an inspiration to others both that share her history and those who don’t. Lisa is passionate about bringing women’s issues to the forefront and out of the shadows of shame and silence. Her hobbies are far reaching…everything from singing and playing the guitar to writing stories and reading. If you find yourself wandering Barnes and Noble you can find Lisa in the psychology section, the reference section, or the fiction section (P.S. you should look in that order). Lisa hopes that she can touch others with her experience and for those who share her history she most wants you to know you are not alone. 

Interested in contributing to the Love Showed Up series? Send me an email at leannerae (at) gmail (dot) com and let’s have a chat about it. 

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  • Abby Norman

    You are loved. You are love in this world, I see the fingerprints of it all over you.

  • http://www.addingaburden.com/ Jill – addingaburden.com

    Thank you for sharing a bit of your story. It is powerful to see you reject shame and choose instead to let others know they are not alone. Thank you for living in the light and pushing back the shadows for so many others!

  • Lisa K

    Heartbreaking that a little girl would have to go through that but how wonderful that Lisa can share her story now. She has become a light in the darkness.

  • Mariah

    Just oh… those words from your speech. While my experiences were not the same, those “more than a conqueror” sentiments are universal to me as well. You build me up with them today…

  • http://avanomaly.blogspot.com/ Jamie

    I’m inspired by your bravery and your determination to stand and walk tall. Thank you for sharing your story and may the blessings of our Savior be continually made known to you. You are a woman of valor!

  • http://simply-rea.blogspot.com Rea

    Thank you, Lisa, for sharing such a vulnerable part of your story with us. Eshet chayil (woman of valor).

  • Stacey

    Thank you for standing. I’m so glad love showed up for you, beautiful girl.

  • http://tclarson.com/ TC Larson

    This took such courage. Sometimes we have to proclaim something in order to begin believing it, don’t we? You did that in sharing with your friends, and I pray it has become more and more true in the time since then. Your story matters, and what you do with it can change someone’s world. Thank you for sharing it.

  • http://www.eloranicole.com/ elora nicole ramirez

    You can’t see me, but I’m standing in applause. Lisa. Sweet girl. I know that feeling of proclaiming in order to believe. I’ve been in those shoes and I still falter on some of my hardest days. But you’re SO RIGHT: it’s my friends who remind me of true family.

    Your bravery speaks volumes. You are loved, my friend.

  • Vanessa

    Wow. Thanks for sharing this story. I’m sure it gives hope to many.

  • Suzanne Terry

    Thank you for sharing your story, brave Lisa. You are standing tall, and we are standing with you.

  • Adela Just

    The truth in here is powerful. I am so glad you are speaking it and that love is there for you when you do. Thanks for sharing.

  • Lindsay

    Thank you for sharing this, Lisa, for trusting us with your words and your story. Standing with you.

  • Lisa

    I’m bravely coming out of the shadows again to thank you all…your response has touched my heart and rendered me speechless. I truly meant (and mean) every word. Thank you for your comments they have lifted me up

  • Hannah Boning

    this is brave, Lisa. I see your brave. thank you. you are so, so loved.

  • pastordt

    Stand tall, Lisa. You are doing such good work, such important work. And look at all the people who love you! Thanks so much for sharing this painful story, and for sharing it in light of who you are becoming today – a strong, righteous, compassionate woman. What a gift.