Keeping It Real Ya’ll

So… Mom went along with me on my walk tonight.. the entire 5 miles.. I loved every minute of it. We processed my week, talked about my exciting week coming up and she was overjoyed that I stopped everything today, took a deep breath, and spent time with family. I usually feel like I’m watching a clock because I have this, that or the other thing to do, but when I got a text that part of my fam was going to be 15 minutes away this afternoon, I chucked the rest of my plans and jetted over to Snow Hill. My great nephew Lathan was playing baseball ( I think he lives, eats and breathes it lol), his dad Daryll Warren was coaching and his mom Candace Warren was doing the baseball mom thing and hanging out with Ellee Reese. Lathan had a ball hit him pretty hard in the forearm, but he still picked the ball up and hurled it to first base. So, he took a little break while they put ice on his arm. Candace had her arms full with Elllee snoozing💤 so I asked her if it was ok if I went and checked on Lathan and of course she said yes. I could tell he was in pain, but he still cheered his teammates on and after a little rest and ice therapy he went back out in the line up and had a great hit and made it to third base, but then the third our was made and they changed sides.
Sitting in that dugout with him made me really think about some things. There is always going to be a time when you are on the bench. You may be injured. You may be on the second string. You may have done something that you weren’t supposed to so either your coach or your parents benched you. But that doesn’t mean you’re out or that you’re done. You are still part of the team, and truthfully one of the most important parts. You cheer your teammates on, get them a Gatorade when they are thirsty or tell them they are being a knucklehead if they are. That’s one of the ways God shows up for us. He cheers for us, quenches our thirst, and rights us when we are wrong.
It’s not lost on me that I was sent to that game today… and although I didn’t know it at the time, God was showing me something. I hate that Lathan got hurt ( he’s ok, just gonna be sore I think) but I loved being able to sit beside him and comfort him a little, although he’s got that Laurent ( and Warren/Boyette) toughness about him. He kept his head up and stayed focused and most importantly remained part of the team, cheering and encouraging all the way through. And that’s one of the things Mom and I talked about tonight as I soaked in the beauty all around me. God is good y’all.. ALL of the time#blessed
Proverbs 3: 5-6
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

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Gut Check

Gut Check

Trust your gut is common advice that means to trust your inner voice. Gut feelings or reactions are feelings or reactions that are deeper and wiser than our conscious minds. Basically, it’s a natural alarm system in our bodies. It’s that nagging thought that something is just not quite right. It’s important to listen to these inner feelings and respond appropriately. Sometimes it’s a huge battle between your gut feelings and how people “appear” in certain situations. Predators take advantage of this battle and will use this indecisiveness to groom children for sexual abuse.

90% of children who are victims of child sexual abuse know their abuser. This is a far cry from what many of us were told growing up. Beware of strangers. Don’t talk to people who are: fill in the blank-poor, look sketchy, have a bad reputation, etc. The reality of this is that the abusers are friends, family members, teachers, pastors, and those in a position of trust. What I hear from others is disbelief. “Not in my family” “None of my friends would do that to a child” etc. What you must realize is that the abusers don’t stop at only grooming the child; they groom the family, friends and communities. They fill roles within the victim’s families that make them trusted and valued family and friends. It allows to abusers to overcome natural boundaries long before actual sexual abuse occurs. The end game to grooming is access to isolated one-on-one time with a child. Since oftentimes the abuser is well known and highly regarded in the community, we are misled and place blind trust in them. If you have a gut feeling telling you that something’s wrong, don’t dismiss it, please. Remember that they are deeper and wiser than our conscious minds. Listen to it and respond appropriately. Be vigilant…our children are counting on you to do so!

 

 

#MeToo#StopSexualAbuse

After many nights of troublesome sleep and conversations with brother and sister survivors, I feel like it’s been put on my heart to say something about the horrific abuse that the young ladies suffered at the hands of someone that was in a high position of trust. Yes, I know his name. No, you won’t hear it pass through my lips.
I feel confident that most of you are aware of this situation. These young ladies and their families trusted in this person to treat them so that they could be the best gymnasts in the world. Only to have their innocence stripped away and be left to deal with terrible scars from physical and emotional abuse.
This scandal comes on the heels of the Hollywood sexual assault scandal. Although, young ladies had reported this as far back as 1997. However, in both of these situations, victims spoke out many many years before but were not believed or paid to keep quiet. Enough of the history lesson…and this is not a platform I’ll use to tell my story because most of you know it.
Today, I want each of you to stop for a minute and pray for EVERY SINGLE VICTIM of sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking, physical and emotional abuse. I think our country is becoming keenly aware of the magnitude of these issues. Where there has been ignorance in the past, people are more educated about these things now. People will speak more freely about it now. People are more compassionate towards victims now. There is not as much “victim blaming” or “victim shaming”. The conversation around it is morphing into a movement of #MeToo and #ItWasMe.
One of the troublesome things about these acts of violence and assault is that the blame is not 100% on the predator. People knew. People enabled. People were told. Victims were blamed and shamed into silence. Families were broken apart. Parents did not believe their children. Friends and associates covered for the predator. THIS, MY FRIENDS, IS UNACCEPTABLE. While it’s true that these people may have never laid a hand on anyone, their silence or “minding their own business” or blatant cover up is a crime too. I’m sure you may be thinking, ” yeah but what does this have to do with me??” It has everything to do with all us. You need to be vigilant in protecting children (I consider someone a child until they turn 18). Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Know what to look for. Listen to your gut. Know who to call. It is a crime, so it needs to be reported to law enforcement. Last, but not least be sensitive to friends and family members that have gone through these types of situations. Every time these situations are brought forward and it’s covered in the media especially the magnitude of the last couple of situations, it can serve as a trigger to those that have suffered abuse. Even if you’ve gone through therapy and healed a lot from your abuse, it can still trigger memories, nightmares and depression. Be aware of this. Limit your exposure to the media in increments of time you can handle. Reach out to friends and loved ones for support. Most importantly – PRAY. God is still there for you. Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well”
Yes, I can say #MeToo but I can also say that I am a #thrivingsurvivor with many scars that I wear proudly. I have no problem talking about any of this. I’m not embarrassed or shameful anymore. I forgave my predator. I am a voice for the voiceless. I KNOW that we can put an end to all of this. I have been fully engaged in this battle for over 8 years now. Will you join me? #togetherwecan#stopchildsexualabuse#everypersonmatters

What Do You Want From Me?

In light of some recent events, I just have this on my heart to write. It’s probably going to be all over the place and disjointed but here goes!

Times change and people change, right? That’s always been my understanding. Until I changed and it has freaked some people out.

I want to paint a picture: ALL of my life I have tried desperately to be happy go lucky and fun loving. Some of that came with a cost. Parties, events  and gatherings.. let me just have a drink or two and everything will be just fine. It will settle my anxiety and nobody will know Im terrified. Times when I couldn’t have a drink to take off the edge, I would tell jokes or make fun of myself; anything to lighten things up.

Then comes the recollection of the sexual abuse. In order to get better I knew I had to stop drinking. Period. So I did. Every now and again I might have a drink but it’s rare.

I also knew I needed to find myself. And what I’ve discovered is that while I enjoy being around groups of people, that I’m also fine by myself. Instead of busting into a party wide open or into an event or meeting wired up, I come in, get a feel for what’s going on and then engage in whatever’s happening. If I was mad or upset, I would either leave or let someone know for sure. People have asked me: why are you quiet? Are you mad? What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you talking, etc. Because maybe I’m thinking before I speak now? Or maybe I’m listening?  Maybe I’m distracted? It could be any of those. Then I think, it would be so much easier to go back to the old wide open, center of attention me. But that’s just not healthy for me.

I just want everyone to please exercise patience with me. I promise I will tell you if something is wrong. But I need your support and I hope I can count on that because I love all of my family and friends dearly and don’t want to hurt anyone.

I read somewhere ” I have shed my skin so many times, the graveyards must be full of the people I used to be”  and that’s the truth.

I simply ask you to love me for who I am… please? Not who I was. And if you can’t, I understand. But just because I understand doesn’t mean that you can try to force me into the box you have for me. I don’t fit in boxes..

Have a Heart for Others

Have a Heart for Others

I am always encouraged that despite all of the evil going on in this world, there are so many people that show love to others. Today, I experienced an individual that has gone through a truly life altering traumatic experience step up and stand up for a child’s safety. When it could have been very easy to mind her own business and deal with her own grief, she thought about this child and her safety. It truly brought me to tears.

Out of my journey, I have been privileged to meet survivors of all ages at various stages of healing. I readily admit that sometimes I feel incredibly overwhelmed when listening to someone’s story. Not because I don’t want to hear it. Just because my heart breaks a little each time someone tells me about their experience with childhood sexual abuse. But I know I need to overcome those feelings because I feel like I’m being led to mentor and love on these survivors. Having someone who will show up no matter what – even when bad decisions have been made, or hurtful words have been said – can shift the way that survivors approach life and help them achieve their full potential. I was the recipient of great mentors in my journey and I know that without them, my results would have not been the same. Hearing a voice saying “it’s not your fault” or “I believe you” builds self worth and creates a bond like no other.  My ability as a survivor mentor to paint a real picture of past struggles, and pain gives rise to hope, to those who are hopeless.

S.C. Lourie wrote: “We were never meant to hold our hurts in. Out of everything, this Is one of the most damaging things we’ve been taught. But we are enduring. We are intelligent. We can unlearn.”

Over the past couple of years, there has been a handful of folks, 5 to be exact, that were sexually abused by the same person that abused me. Which rings true of the statistic that abusers rarely have one victim. That’s why acting responsibly is so important. I know that it’s asking a lot, but you  may be the only voice that child has. Bystander intervention is tough

Here is some wonderful information from the Darkness to Light website www.d2l.org

Disclosure, discovery, and suspicions of sexual abuse provide opportunities to intervene on behalf of a child.

 

 

DISCLOSURE OF SEXUAL ABUSE

Disclosure of sexual abuse means a child has chosen you as the person he or she trusts enough to tell. It is the moment when children learn whether others can be trusted to stand up for them.

DON’T OVERREACT

If a child breaks an arm or runs a high fever, you know to stay calm and where to seek help because you’ve mentally prepared yourself. Reacting to child sexual abuse is the same.

When you react to disclosure with anger or disbelief, the child will likely:

  • Feel even more ashamed and guilty.
  • Shut down.
  • Change or retract the story, when, in fact, abuse is actually occurring.
  • Change the story to match your questions so future telling’s appear to be “coached.” This can be very harmful if the case goes to court.

Very few reported incidents of child sexual abuse are false.

Offer Support

Think through your response before you react. You’ll be able to respond in a more supportive manner.

  • Believe the child and make sure the child knows it.
  • Thank the child for telling you and praise the child’s courage.
  • Encourage the child to talk, but don’t ask leading questions about details. Asking about details can alter the child’s memory of events. If you must ask questions to keep the child talking, ask open-ended ones like “What happened next?”
  • Seek the help of a professional who is trained to interview the child about sexual abuse. Professional guidance could be critical to the child’s healing and to any criminal prosecution.
  • Assure the child that it’s your responsibility to protect him or her and that you’ll do all you can.
  • Report or take action in all cases of suspected abuse, both inside and outside the immediate family.
  • Don’t panic. Sexually abused children who receive support and psychological help can and do heal.

Try not to show anger toward the offender, who may be someone the child loves. You can add to the child’s burden by showing how upset you are.

 

DISCOVERY OF SEXUAL ABUSE

Discovery of sexual abuse means you’ve witnessed a sexually abusive act by an adult or youth with a child, or you know by some other means that abuse has taken place.

Report your discovery immediately to law enforcement.

  • Tell the child’s name and where he or she lives.
  • Tell where you are at the present time, where the child is, and where the offender is, if known.
  • Tell what the child said to you.
  • Tell what interactions you saw between the alleged offender and the child.
  • Tell what other behaviors, if any, you’ve observed in the alleged offender.
  • Tell what signs in the child you’ve seen.
  • Tell what access the alleged offender has to the child.

And remember, if you discover child pornography, you’ve discovered sexual abuse. Child pornography is illegal.

 

SUSPICION OF SEXUAL ABUSE

Suspicion of sexual abuse means you’ve seen signs in a child, or you’ve witnessed boundary violations by adults or other youth toward a child.

Set limits. Ask questions.

If you are a “bystander” who witnesses a boundary violation, or sees a situation in which a child is vulnerable, it’s not important to know the intentions of the person who crossed the boundary. What is important is that you reinforce the boundary – even if you are in front of others, or in a public setting.

Describe the Behavior

“It’s against policy for you to be in the classroom alone with a student.”

Set a Limit

“You need to take your conversation to the student lounge.”

Move On

“I’m on my way there, now, so I’ll walk with you.”

Offenders are rarely caught in the act of abusing a child, but they’re often seen breaking rules and pressing boundaries.

Know the policies for reporting disclosures, discoveries, and suspicion in your organization.

  • All 50 states require that professionals who work with children report reasonable suspicions of child abuse. Some states require that anyone with suspicions report it. Information about each state’s requirements is available at the Child Welfare Information Gateway http://www.childwelfare.gov.
  • If you are a professional who works with children (e.g., a teacher; a nurse), there are special procedures and reporting requirements you must follow. Your employer should provide mandated reporting training.

Know the agencies that handle reports of abuse.

Two agencies handle most reports of child abuse: Child Protective Services (in some states this agency has a different name) and law enforcement.Some states designate Child Protective Services as the agency that accepts reports of suspected child abuse. Others designate law enforcement. Some do not designate or designate both. Many states have toll-free lines that accept reports of abuse from the entire state. To find out where to make a report in your state, identify the Child Abuse Reporting Numbers at The Child Welfare Information Gateway website, www.childwelfare.gov. If the legal system does not provide adequate protection for a child, visit the National Center for Victims of Crime at www.ncvc.org or call 1-800-FYI-CALL for referral information.

Have a heart for others…especially our children.

Love and peace,

Kriquette

 

 

It’s Never Too Late

  • If you would have told me that at the age of 43, I would go through such a huge transformation, I would have thought you were crazy. I had convinced myself that most of the big changes had happened and I was just cruising along. Then, what started off as a normal day, it quickly plummeted into a nightmare. Sitting in that field, with my head in my hands, not sure of what was going to happen to my life as I knew it. I realized how dysfunctional my idea of normal was. Right then and there, I knew I had a choice. I could continue to live a life that was shadowed by secrets and darkness or I could deal with it.
    I chose to deal with it. Frequently during my journey, I would beat myself up about “wasting my life”. What I learned was that it’s not wasted time at all. All of the experiences, good and bad both deposited something inside of me. Those experiences and challenges have sharpened me into who I am today. I like to think that I have risen from the ashes.
    Please don’t ever think that “it’s too late” to deal with anything. It’s not. It has been so worth all of the pain and grief that I have felt. I don’t feel like I am always waiting for something bad to happen and more importantly I see my challenges as opportunities not punishment. “She picked up the pieces of her life and created something beautiful from that day forth. She shone like the sun and changed the definition of broken”- Randall M Core

 

Astonish the World

Astonish the World

 

“My wish is that you continue. Continue to be who you are and how you are. To astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.” – Maya Angelou

Full disclosure…it’s really easy to get discouraged and down. I don’t always do a great job of pulling things off with a smile. The old me, the one in denial, would use humor to cover any negative feelings. When I finally admitted to myself that I was a victim of sexual abuse and that I had suffered unspeakable acts, I truly saw myself as who I was. I wasn’t the person that I had conjured up in my head and showed to everyone. I was Damaged.  Shameful. Guilty. Violated. Terrorized. Anxious. Depressed. Angry. Sad. Hurt. Powerless. Dirty. Worthless.  Scared. Alone. Helpless. Hopeless. Physically in  Pain. Mentally exhausted. Tired. Grieving. Ugly. Lost. Without Purpose. Overwhelmed. I was all of these things. That’s really hard to accept. The first time I put that in writing, it broke my heart but it also liberated me. With the grace of God, counseling, prayer ministry and the unwavering support of my family and friends, I am in a much better place today. I am striving to do what Maya Angelou said. Instead of focusing on what happened to me, I focus on helping others. It doesn’t matter to me who you are, you are worthy of kindness. Of course, I do focus on survivors-from any trauma because I know how important it is to be validated by someone else. It’s important that we all know that it’s ok not to be ok all of the time.  It’s equally important to know that you matter, you are loved and the world is a better place because you are in it.

Astonish the world with your acts of kindness….sounds like a good plan to me!

 

The Act of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is an action. It is the action of releasing a man of his deserved punishments and obligations. Legitimate forgiveness is only possible when the victim can look the offender in the eyes and with honesty say ” I hereby extend God’s mercy to you and waive any further punishment you rightly deseve and eliminate any further restitutions or reparations you may owe to me. Your debt is entirely and fully gone. You are free of any further liability in this matter.”

Forgiveness plays a huge role in healing. Forgiving the person that did that to me. Forgiving myself- the abuse was not my fault. I know there is hope for healing. I can’t say that one task is easier than the other. because they are not. I have forgiven my abuser; I have also forgiven MYSELF.

In order to do this, you must first, be honest with yourself. You have to acknowledge the problem before you can apply the solution. Secondly, you have to allow yourself to heal. Third, and one of the most important things is to really SEE the new you.

It’s not that you are forgetting what happened (don’t remind yourself of it either) but you have to see through the past and surge forward into the new phases of your life.

By forgiving myself and the abuser, my soul feels much lighter and I don’t carry around this heavy feeling of guilt . I have been amazed at how much better my outlook on life is as is my determination to heal and be able to continue to help others.

I found a quote a couple of years ago, that really resonated with me, right after I began my journey. In fact, it is taped on my desk, right under my keyboard. “Death brings forgiveness, but real forgiveness before the dying is immeasurable”

I challenge you to try to forgive….it’s definately been an uplifting experience for me. Always remember:” You are not alone!”

Through the Eyes of A 5 Year Old

As I travel through this journey, I often think that as I am telling my story, it may be difficult for people to see this through my eyes as a 5 year old. Yes, I am telling you the story and the struggles, but it was so different through the eyes of a 5 year old. As I address this issue, I have been down many roads and one of the roads has been the road of forgiveness and self empowerment.  I have written in my journal about how it possibly could have been if I would have told someone. I am going to share some of it with you in hopes that it will help you gain a better perspective of the emotional war that goes on inside a child’s brain. I firmly believe that a lot of outcomes would be so much better and more positive, if we can just get our children to disclose to someone they trust. In my child’s mind, I chose to shut out a lot of people and things. I didn’t allow the people that cared about me the opportunity to take care of me. I had preconceived ideas of what others thought.

Here are some of my thoughts about what it would have been like if I would have allowed the people that cared about me to help and take care of me. This is what I think they would have said to me:

“You are so brave! I believe you and will do everything within my power to make sure that no one hurts you like that again. I am sorry that you were hurt. But please know that now I can help you…together we will go through this hurtful time.  I don’t want you to have to pretend to be brave all of the time. If something really hurts you or your feelings, it’s okay to cry. Crying doesn’t mean that you are being a baby. Crying is not a bad thing. Keeping all those feelings inside can be a bad thing. It can cause you to be angry and sometimes mean.  Please don’t think that it is expected for you to always keep your head up and move forward.   I so want for you to feel cared for and loved all of the time. I don’t want you to feel like you are a burden to me; you are not. Sacrifices are made for you, but in a loving way. You are worth the sacrifices. Years from now, when you look back on these days, I want you to remember laughter and tears, but mostly love. I don’t want you to hold back on doing things you want to do because you are afraid and need guidance. I will help you. Talk to me. Tell me what you want to do. I want you to have as many experiences as you can. Just know that all experiences are not going to be pleasant, but that is how we learn and grow. I will not let you do something that will be dangerous or that I know will hurt you, I will not leave you with people that are dangerous and will hurt you. I am looking out for you. While you are very wise at 5 years old, you shouldn’t have to worry all the time about protecting yourself and other people. Let me help you.”

“You are a blessing. You are part of the family. You are the completion of this family circle. I see you when you are trying to be invisible. It hurts me to see you isolate yourself. It hurts me to see you make jokes about hurtful things because I know that deep down you are hurting. I want to hold your hand and tell you that everything will be all right. I will protect you from hurtful and evil things. I want you to be able to lay down the hurt, the grief and the fear; let me help you. But I need your help, I need you to tell me when you are afraid, I need you to trust. I want to help you and be there for you but sometimes I am unsure of what to do.”

And that my friends, is how it could have been. We cannot expect our loved ones to read our minds. We must tell them how we feel and what we need. As a five year old that was so afraid and so ashamed, I didn’t feel like I had the right to be loved and cared for. But the bright side to this story, is that I had a wonderful, loving family. I truly believe that even though they NEVER KNEW, their love for me helped me to be able to stand on my own two feet and keep going when I felt like there was no hope. They always believed in me and loved me no matter the circumstances. I just wish that I could have truly received all of the love that was offered to me instead of being afraid of it.  This is one of the many reasons that I want to help stop child sexual abuse. Children should be able to be GENUINE in their relationships and be able to trust without having that trust broken. Children should be able to laugh and play and cry and learn and dream without FEAR.  Let’s protect our children! It’s our job as adults!

My life changed in an instant, my innocence is gone…help me make my journey count by protecting our precious, innocent children. Together WE CAN.

 

Pushing Back the Dark

I am often asked, does it ever just go away? At this point in my journey, I can’t answer that question; I have a lot of work to do. The effects of child sexual abuse started when I was 5 and I didn’t start to deal with it until I was 44. The therapeutic process is a grueling one. You have to learn to trust the therapist/counselor, alongside whom you will later venture into a dark forest haunted by the monsters of your childhood nightmares. This trauma-work stage is the longest part of therapy, and your energies are directed towards facing overwhelming fears. A mourning period follows, during which you wade through a swamp of despair and emptiness, aware of all the losses you suffered as a result of having been sexually abused: loss of the ideal family you were supposed to have, loss of self-worth, loss of naivety, loss of the ability to play, to concentrate, and many more. There is little strength left over for dealing with the realities of the rest of the world. You shed the identity of ‘victim’ and even that of ‘survivor’ and become a ‘thriver’. The effect of this is devastating to our spouses.

Some husbands feel betrayed when told about the abuse, either when told about it or when faced with the difficulties which arise during therapy. Also, when partners are unable to rescue the survivor from past or present crises, they may feel guilty and inadequate. Being unable to match their own unrealistic expectations of themselves can be disillusioning. Many express their distress, at some time during the survivor’s healing process. Some spouses grow angry with the survivor for not ‘doing therapy’ quickly enough, prolonging the nightmare that their lives have become. Some want to leave the relationship and consider divorce. The slow pace of the healing process can result in unbearable frustration on the part of even the most supportive spouse. Moreover, the duration of therapy can become a serious drain on the family’s financial resources, from the direct costs of therapy itself, or indirectly, through lost income when the survivor finds herself temporarily unable to function in the work environment. In spite of the difficulties, many husbands are proud of their wives for the courage and determination they show in working to overcome the damage caused by the abuse. My husband has been a wonderful advocate for me, and I will be forever thankful.

It’s a work in progress…pushing back the dark!