Tag Archives: Abuse

Faith, Fear and Fighting Abuse

Sexual violence, including child sexual abuse, spans across all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. According to a Child Maltreatment report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau, 60,956 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the United States in 2013. On top of the guilt and shame that abuse can bring, most victims know their attackers, which can lead them to be silent about their traumatic experience. Staying silent, however, does not lead to healing, according to Shannon Deitz, abuse survivor and founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry.

Recently speaking at Baylor University Chapel Deitz specifically addressed sexual assault and date rape. Shannon comments “In helping survivors recognize the abuse they have suffered and being able to speak about it allows a deeper level of healing.” Through Hopeful Hearts, survivors receive compassionate support from a trusted peer and are able to realize that the abuse they have endured does not define them as a person. As a result, they are able to rise above victimization, embrace their full potential, and thrive.
“Both sexual assault and child abuse are so devastating that most of us don’t even want to think about them being present in our society. This makes it extremely difficult for any victim of assault or abuse to feel comfortable enough to speak out, which is exactly what they need to be able to do. Be it a child, a teenager or an adult, anyone who has been abused needs to be able to speak about what has been done to them without question or judgment.,” comments Dietz. With this in mind, Hopeful Hearts Ministry started the “I Have a Voice” abuse awareness project where survivors share their personal stories of abuse (domestic, sexual, incest, rape, neglect, emotional and verbal) through intensely personal and honest YouTube videos. The nine videos have been viewed more than 5,000 times and show the power of giving a VOICE to survivors that was once kept hidden, and not only aides in their personal healing, but shows others they are not alone and there is reason for hope.

Five years later, Hopeful Hearts Ministry has outgrown its facility and the number of survivors from all of over the world receiving peer support, Christian counseling, and attending the programs it offers has grown exponentially. The organization receives at least two to three calls a week from new survivors seeking healing support. “It’s a catch 22 with the growth of our organization,” said Deitz. “On the one hand, I would rather be out of this business because there are no more survivors to help. But until then, I will continue to do what it takes to offer the programs and services needed to help survivors thrive in this life.”
Hopeful Hearts has served over 350 abuse survivors on four continents with individual and group peer support sessions. 90% of these individuals are female; and 75% have survived sexual abuse. Deitz has participated in over 60 public advocacy opportunities for abuse survivors.
With firsthand experience, Deitz understands the pain and stigma of being a survivor of sexual abuse both as a child and as an adult. She sees the month of April as an opportunity to encourage other survivors to speak up and speak out, knowing that it is a crucial step towards healing. “The shame, despair and inability to cope with the painful events can lead to depression as well as dangerous behavior, as survivors tend to seek other ways to block out the memories and dull the pain.” comments Deitz. “My goal is to help others see their worth and become the best they can be.” Through the power of her own testimony, she helps people see that they no longer have to live as a victim. They can begin a journey of healing because they are not defined by their past and they have immense value.

In her newest release, Redeemed (Hopeful Hearts Ministry October 2016), Deitz shares the struggles she has faced, including how she worked to overcome sexual intimacy issues, and abusive behaviors that carried over into parenting. 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. Redeemed portrays 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.
“Survivors want to know they are being heard and that they will be safe and protected,” explains Deitz. “We do not need to be silenced because our situation makes others feel uncomfortable. To the contrary, we need people around us who are willing to listen and willing to stand up for us if we choose to go public.” This focus in April is important because the more people who become aware of just how prevalent this problem is in our country, the more beneficial it will be for everyone. Being able to share our story with others serves to help prevent future abuse from taking place. If there is a survivor in your midst, be willing to listen. Be willing to hear their story.”

www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com

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I Have a Voice

Bringing Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Survivors Out of the Shadows

about shannon2Few problems are so pervasive, yet shrouded in secrecy, as domestic violence and sexual abuse. The statistics are staggering. They are reflected across every demographic. Nearly one in every four women is beaten or raped by a partner during adulthood. One in every four girls and nearly one in every six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18—but until recent years, these widespread problems were rarely made public. This October, in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Shannon Deitz, author, speaker, and founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry, is inviting abuse survivors to step out of the shadows and bring their stories to light.
Through the I Have a Voice project, Dietz encourages survivors of domestic violence to give voice to their past. The I Have a Voice project consists of seven 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.

True-life scenarios shared in the videos include stories of rape, incest, sexual abuse by clergy, domestic violence, and severe neglect. Each emotionally-charged testimony in the series clearly speaks of the courageous journey back to wholeness as well as the devastating effects of the abuse—particularly when that abuse occurred at the hands of a family member. “Being abused by a stranger is bad enough, but being hurt by someone who claims to love you or who is obligated to take care of you is worse,” explains Deitz. “It’s one of the main factors that keeps victims imprisoned in shame and secrecy.”

In one of the first videos, Deitz relives the heartrending memories and feelings related to the abuse she endured by her own 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 the 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.

The videos also raise public awareness by demonstrating both the prevalence and the insidious nature of abuse. “Most people don’t realize that domestic violence rarely begins with actual violence. More often, it starts with emotional and verbal abuse, which erodes self-confidence and self-worth and causes the victims to question their instincts,” Dietz says. “The weaker the victim, the more dominant the abuser becomes. Ultimately, this dominance turns to violence when the victim begins to show signs of strength and defiance. This is why the highest rate of domestic violence fatalities occur when the victim has left the abuser.”

Hopeful Hearts Ministry has heard from survivors in Africa, Poland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and across the US. Each video gives a survivor the opportunity to speak about their story in their truth, discarding the shame that they have carried but was never really theirs. Viewers recognize their own story in the voice of other survivors, and the videos are encouraging them to speak out about the abuses they’ve suffered and to seek help if needed.

“I simply want to say thank you for sharing your story…through the HHM website, Exposed, other resources shared, and your powerful I Have a Voice video, you have given fresh insight to my own dimly lit and locked up places of shame and victimization,” says Lauren, a 24-year-old abuse survivor. “Your I Have a Voice video is definitely the most eye-opening [resource] I have seen. I identified with the raw emotion of it.”

The Hopeful Hearts Ministry website guides viewers to a variety of resources designed to help them move forward in their journey of survival, including classes in stretching and relaxation that help abuse survivors manage the stress and paralyzing fear that can be triggered unexpectedly—even years after the abuse has ended.

“I’ve attended the healing stretch classes since mid-September 2014, and I am so thankful. Each time I have had a very positive experience,” says Jennifer, age 42. “The very first class I attended was the day after I was released from the hospital. I had been in a crisis, feeling suicidal, and needed close monitoring during that time. I was terrified to go to a new place, and I was filled with self-hatred. Through stretch and breathing techniques, I experienced a bodily connection to my feelings. I had been separated from my feelings for so long that it was overwhelming to reconnect in such a positive way.”

For those who want to help a friend or family member who is living in an abusive situation, Dietz offers this insight: “Remember the dignity and worth of the victim has been worn thin, which is what causes them to stay. Do not add to the abuse by belittling or degrading them because they are unable to see the situation as clearly as you can on the outside.”

Deitz is the award-winning author of Exposed: Inexcusable Me, Irreplaceable Him. She was also recently listed as one of the best authors in Houston by CBS Houston Radio.

For more information about Shannon Deitz and Hopeful Hearts Ministry, please visit www.hopefulheartsministry.com .

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness & National Child Abuse Prevention Month

812979976886223509_nApril has been designated as National Sexual Assault Awareness month, as well as National Child Abuse Prevention month in recognition of the pervasiveness of sexual assault nationwide. Sexual violence, including child sexual abuse, spans across all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. According to a Child Maltreatment report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau, 60,956 cases of child sexual abuse were reported in the United States in 2013. On top of the guilt and shame that abuse can bring, most victims know their attackers, which can lead them to be silent about their traumatic experience. Staying silent, however, does not lead to healing, according to Shannon Deitz, abuse survivor and founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry.

“Both sexual assault and child abuse are so devastating to most of us that we don’t even want to think about them being present in our society,” Deitz says. “This makes it difficult for any victim of assault or abuse to feel comfortable enough to speak out, which is exactly what they need to be able to do. Be it a child, a teenager or an adult, anyone who has been abused needs to be able to speak about what has been done to them without question or judgment.” With this in mind, Hopeful Hearts Ministry started the “I Have a Voice” abuse awareness project where survivors share their personal stories of abuse (domestic, sexual, incest, rape, neglect, emotional and verbal) through intensely personal and honest YouTube videos. The videos show the power of giving a VOICE to survivors that was once kept hidden, and not only aides in their personal healing, but shows others they are not alone and there is reason for hope.

Deitz has the unfortunate firsthand experience of being a survivor of sexual abuse both as a child and as an adult. She sees the month of April as an opportunity to encourage other survivors to speak up and speak out, knowing that it is a crucial step towards healing. “The shame, despair and inability to cope with the painful events can lead to depression as well as dangerous behavior, as survivors tend to seek other ways to block out the memories and dull the pain.” comments Deitz. “My main goal is to help others see their worth and become the best they can be.” Through the power of her own testimony, she helps people see that they no longer have to live as a victim, but are worth so much more.

For those who know someone who has been abused or assaulted, she encourages them to be good listeners. “Survivors want to know they are being heard and that they will be safe and protected,” she explains. “We do not need to be silenced because our situation makes others feel uncomfortable. To the contrary, we need people around us who are willing to listen and willing to stand up for us if we choose to go public.” April is important because the more people who become aware of just how prevalent this problem is in our country, the more beneficial it will be for everyone. Being able to share our story with others serves to help prevent future abuse from taking place. If there is a survivor in your midst, be willing to listen. Be willing to hear their story.”
Deitz’s willingness to share her story in her award-winning book, Exposed: Inexcusable Me, Irreplaceable Him, as well as listen to other survivor’s stories through the Hopeful Hearts Ministry, has created hope and a safe place for abuse survivors of all ages and backgrounds.

Mary from Canada shares, “I am blessed and thankful for the support I received and continue to receive from Hopeful Hearts Ministry. It’s a good feeling knowing that no matter how rough my road to healing may be, I always have genuine caring support.”
The “I Have a Voice” videos are opening new doors for Hopeful Hearts Ministry outreach. After watching the video ‘Child Sexual Abuse and Forgiveness’, a gentleman personally contacted Deitz in appreciation. “Your sharing of your story, your truth, was very powerful. It really hit home and I was moved by your honesty, courage, and willingness to stand up for and speak out on behalf of the abused child. Your ministry is powerful, important, and needed.”

Deitz continues reaching out to those who are struggling through her speaking engagements, blog, Just Show Up, and ministry website. She recently held a gala event honoring abuse survivors that raised $27,000 to aide in these efforts.

www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

ShannonSurvivor Shannon Deitz offers hope to victims of assault and abuse

According to Shannon Deitz, survivors of sexual abuse are three times more likely to suffer from depression, 13 times more likely to become addicted to alcohol and 26 more times more likely to develop an addiction to drugs. The shame, despair, depression and inability to cope with the painful events lead them to seek other ways to block out the memories and dull the pain.

Deitz believes the annual focusing of public attention on sexual assault and child abuse throughout the month of April can be beneficial in aiding all victims of abuse. “Survivors want to know they are being heard and that they will be safe and protected,” she says. “They do not need to be silenced because their situation makes others feel uncomfortable or is too hard to hear. To the contrary, they need people around them who are willing to listen and willing to stand up for them if they choose to go public. During this national month of awareness, the more people will become tuned in to just how prevalent this problem is in our country, the more beneficial it will be for everyone.”

Emphasizing the importance of openness, Deitz tells victims, “If you have suffered abuse at any point in your life and it has debilitated your marriage, your intimate relationships and your friendships, or even caused you to distrust others in general, then I want you to know, as one survivor speaking to another, that you can overcome this. The more you talk about it, the more you will heal. And though the experience will never totally disappear from your past, it will become a chapter in your life that you can eventually close.

For those who know someone who has been abused or assaulted, Deitz encourages them to be good listeners. “Being able to share their story with others serves to help prevent future abuse from taking place. If there is a survivor in your midst, be willing to listen. Be willing to hear their story.”

Deitz should know. It was her willingness to share her stories with others, first through her award-winning book, Exposed: Inexcusable Me, Irreplaceable Him,and upcoming new release this summer, Redeemed. Today, Deitz continues reaching out to those who are suffering through her speaking engagements, her blog (Just Show Up), ministry website and I Have a Voice.

www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com

 

No Hope? Know Hope.

It takes a lifetime-not a month…

 

Know Hope

April is designated nationwide as both Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month. A sexual assault takes place in this country every two minutes, though it is estimated only about 30 percent of the assaults are reported and only one assailant in 16 will ever spend a day in jail. In addition, statistics tell us five children in America die each day from abuse or neglect. Seventy-five percent of those are less than four years old. Most know their attacker.

For international author and speaker, Shannon Deitz, these national awareness campaigns are an opportunity to reach more people with the message that the abuse need not define the victim. Having endured not only the anguish of being abused as a child and condemnation and feelings of worthlessness that most often accompany rape violations, Deitz knows firsthand just how detrimental sexual assault and child abuse can be to emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Today, her goal is to help other victims regain their sense of self-worth.

“Both sexual assault and child abuse are so distressful to most of us that we don’t even want to think about them being present in our society,” Deitz says. “This makes it almost impossible for any victim of assault or abuse to feel comfortable enough to speak out, which is, of course, exactly what they need to be able to do. Be it a child, a teenager or an adult, anyone who has been abused needs to be able to speak about what has been done to them without question or judgment.

“But instead of being made to feel safe talking about it,” she adds, “more often than not, they are made to feel as if they are the ones at fault. As a result, they tend to repress the experience, stuffing it down deep inside and allowing what has happened to define who they believe themselves to be. They begin living out a victim mentality where nothing good can ever happen because they think of themselves as unworthy or not good enough to deserve it.”

A little reminder when you feel lost…

You are not lost!

Take Heart.

There’s Hope.

www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com