Bringing Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Survivors Out of the Shadows
Houston, TX— Everyone wants the fairy tale, but fairy tales don’t come easy when the marriage is battling to overcome the nightmare of past shame and betrayal. In her newest release Redeemed (Hopeful Hearts Ministry October 2016), Shannon M. Deitz shares the early struggles of her marriage to her husband, Neal, including how they worked to overcome sexual intimacy issues, abusive behaviors toward one another that carried over into their parenting, and the imminent threat of an extramarital affair and divorce. Redeemed reveals the self-destructive behavior Shannon was led into because of the shame of rape and guilt of self-imposed inexcusable sin during her formative years. Deitz, in a gripping and riveting read, unfolds this truth through the continuation of her journey in accepting love, intimacy, worthiness, and forgiveness through the gift of marriage and motherhood. Redeemedportrays Shannon’s ever strengthening love story with God as she struggles to accept the good gifts He has waiting for her, and the courage it takes to trust God and others, when her spirit has been so deeply wounded by sins of her past.
Through the I Have a Voice video project, Dietz encourages survivors to give voice to their pasts. The I Have a Voice project consists of eight intensely moving interrelated videos, all with a collective purpose to help survivors recognize the abuse they have suffered and expose the truth, understand that they are not alone and that the abuse does not define them, and overcome being a victim and realize the full potential of their lives moving forward.
Earlier this year, Deitz conducted an online survey that revealed some interesting information regarding domestic abuse survivors. 98% of survivors polled indicated that they had suffered abuse by a family member during childhood. Deitz commented:
I found that women who have suffered through domestic violence in past relationships have lost nearly all sense of identity and the natural boundaries that come with simple dignity and self-respect. They suffered mental and psychological abuse before the abuse ever turned physical. The abuse is subtle, mental, verbal, emotional... slowly chipping away at self-confidence. Causing the victim to feel inferior, they often question their rights and boundaries. When someone chooses to step forward and stand up for themselves it often turns physical for the perpetrator to obtain the upper hand and authority. It is typically when abuse turns physical that the victim realizes the true danger they are in.
Many survivors of domestic violence also suffered some form of mental and emotional abuse or neglect during their childhood. With this in mind Hopeful Hearts has added a support group program on the topic of boundaries. A self-defense course that includes a focus on inner strength and self-worth is also underway.
The organization has experienced steady growth over the past year recently adding two new Spanish Speaking Peer Support guides to the Hopeful Hearts Ministry team. Now more than ever Deitz is encouraged to move forward with plans to help other communities across the nation, as well as other countries set up a satellite Hopeful Hearts Ministry. There are many requests from across the nation and the globe, which have expressed interest in joining the vision.
In one of the videos from the I Have a Voice project, Deitz relives the heartrending memories and feelings related to the abuse she endured by her grandfather. By allowing herself to be vulnerable and honest during the filming, she believes that others may be stirred to open up about their own “secret” and move past feelings of victimization to focus on the things gained through their adversity. “Abuse changes things forever, but healing is possible if the choice is made to overcome the victim mentality and work hard to become a survivor,” Deitz stresses.
These videos also help raise public awareness by demonstrating both the prevalence and the insidious nature of abuse. Deitz says:
Most people don’t realize that domestic violence rarely begins with actual violence. More often, it starts with emotional and verbal abuse. This erodes their self-confidence and self-worth and causes the victim to question their instincts. Ultimately, this dominance turns to violence when the victim begins to show signs of defiance. Most domestic violence fatalities occur when the victim has left the abuser.
If you want to help a friend or family member who is living in an abusive situation, remember the dignity and worth of the victim has been worn thin. This is what causes them to stay. Do not add to the abuse by belittling them because they are unable to see the situation as clearly as you can.
Hopeful Hearts Ministry is a faith-based 501 c3 non-profits which supports the long-term recovery of survivors of all forms of abuse through peer support sessions, counseling, programs that empower, and public awareness services.