Thursday, December 03, 2009

Chattanoga, Kingsport, the Lincoln Memorial in DC and Beyond

Who am I to give an invocation and speak at the Lincoln Memorial in DC on behalf of child victims of sexual assault? I am no one. And that, is exactly how God likes it.

When I was raped while living in Chattanooga, TN in 1995, I had no idea that God was going to bring healing  for myself and hundreds of thousands of victims worldwide or share Christ with 90,000 people annually. The internet opened doors of support that were nonexistent. The sexual assault center opened later. Finally I was able to receive training and develop a local peer network of support. My gratitude remains with the pastors, counselors and friends who were there to support my family during the crisis.

Thankfully, I have never been a victim of domestic violence myself. As I met more survivors, my work soon revealed a strong correlation between domestic violence and sexual assault. In every church that I have ever spoken, in every workshop that I have led, in every crowd or gathering there have been victims of sexual or domestic violence. Their experiences very much say "it happens here". Being able to share their stories in  Kingsport at the United Methodist Clergy Gathering helped others understand the impact of domestic violence in ways that I could not convey otherwise.

Speaking out is a beginning but there are many survivors who need to hear a message of hope. The most poignant stories of survival are from those who were victimized as children. They are stories that, to be heard, need your help and attention.

When Friends and Family Against Child Sexual Assault (FACSA) extended the invitation to participate at the Lincoln Memorial we humbly accepted the invitation. This moment was shared with 3 members of Hope Youth. Speaking to the "conscience of the nation" from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial changed lives. None of us who participated will look at the world the same way. The survivors who have heard about the rally have contacted us to tell us what it means to have the veil of shame lifted that they falsely wear. We are removing stigma and offering hope.

There is much work to be done. We hope that you will join in with us to:

Check the National Sex Offender Registry. Learn who lives near you.
Listen to and believe survivors of all ages.
Spread the word of healing to others.
Sponsor the book Does God Still Love Me for survivors in shelters.
Support the ministry with your prayers, presence, gifts and service.

Stand in the gap to believe and proclaim that hope and healing is possible. We do.

For more information:
Facebook Fan Page
Voices of Hope Internet Radio Show
The Hope Blog
Hope for Healing.Org
Follow Gayle on Twitter

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