Tag Archives: children

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

Save

Save

Q&A with Shannon M. Deitz Abuse Survivor, Founder of Hopeful Hearts Part 2

812979976886223509_n
April National Sexual Assault Awareness month, as well as National Child Abuse Prevention month in recognition of the pervasiveness of sexual assault nationwide.

Low self-esteem, especially among teens, has become a national epidemic. What do you want someone struggling with feelings of low self-worth to understand?

My instinct is to respond, “You are worthy! You are unique and there is no one else in this world just like you and this world needs you and the skills and talents YOU have because each one of us has been given a specific purpose to use these talents and gifts and no one can replace you.”

But I have been in a place that I have felt extreme unworthiness and insecurity. I know that if I heard someone say that I’d doubt what those talents were, because I wasn’t like everyone else. To that I say, “Would being like everyone else make you happy? Would going against who you are, what sparks interest and joy inside of you just to get others attention bring you joy? Most likely not.”

In this day of social media, self-worth is defined by the number of followers we have on Instagram or how many ‘likes’ they give to your posts. It is important to realize that those are numbers and most of those people have so many numbers because they ‘follow’ and ‘like’ everyone just to get more numbers. When it comes down to knowing you, who knows you best?

You, my friend, are worthy of life and others would be so lucky to know you, who you really are and share in the talents you’ve been given.

What is your goal with Hopeful Hearts Ministry and what motivated you to start it?

Hopeful Hearts Ministry strives to help those who have suffered abuse not just survive, but thrive.

When I was called into speaking on a national and international level on various topics regarding faith, the most popular message I gave, the one that resonated best with audiences at least, was when I spoke of my own personal journey, the abuse I incurred and how I overcame the stigma of shame attached.

As the years progressed and my voice became stronger, God led me to more and more opportunities to work with survivors of all ages, especially those in my generation and generations ahead of me who were taught to keep skeletons in the closet. It became clear that there was a desperate need to empower all survivors to have a voice, to educate the world on what abuse is, to teach others how to listen to those who have suffered abuse, and to learn how to stop the generational cycle of abuse. In 2012 a dear friend of mine said to me, “Why don’t you start a non-profit? Think what more you could do.” Hence, Hopeful Hearts Ministry was formed.

Every dollar earned from the book EXPOSED, the HOPEFUL HEARTS CHARM, SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS, RETREATS, ETC goes toward the Hopeful Hearts Ministry. We are a 501 c3 National Non-Profit

Tell us about the I Have a Voice project and the feedback you have received from viewers.

In 2013, I realized the importance of a survivor speaking truth and being heard. I decided to create the I Have a Voice YouTube video series, revealing 5 emotionally-charged personal stories of survivors of abuse. This hope-filled project consists of intensely moving interrelated videos, all with a collective purpose to help victims to overcome their past and be empowered to move forward. Men and women have responded as a result of the videos, expressing their gratitude in knowing they are not alone. They are empowered to move forward in their lives. Since 2013 we have added 2 more I Have a Voice Videos.

www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com

This may be used with permission and credit given to Shannon Deitz 2015.

Awareness Can Help Stop Child Abuse and Sexual Assault

about shannon2April 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.

Survivors of abuse are not fragile individuals. They are strong, worthy individuals who have overcome a great amount of suffering whether it was physical, sexual, or verbal. Every form of abuse affects the person emotionally, lowering self-esteem and sense of worth. Often survivors hide or bury the facts and the deep effects of the abuse out of fear, shame, and lack of support. The best way for a survivor to heal is to give a voice to what has been done or said to them; to be heard and to know they are supported and loved. Shannon M. Deitz

Q&A with Shannon M. Deitz Abuse Survivor, Founder of Hopeful Hearts Part 1

What has inspired you to reach out to others?

I am a survivor of rape and incest. The years I kept the facts of these traumas within me led me down some dark paths that were filled with bad decisions based on my lack of worth and self-esteem. I want to educate and reach out to other survivors before they get entangled in that dark path and make decisions that can affect them for the rest of their life, adding to the trauma of what has been done or said to them in the past.

Your book, Exposed: Inexcusable Me…Irreplaceable Him, is a no-holds-barred accounting of your personal self-destructive journey and how, with God’s help, you triumphed. Why do you feel it is important for you to share your story?

When I began to live my life in the freedom of being a survivor, no longer tethered to chains of negativity, pessimism, and insecurity, I realized how much I longed to see others free from these same chains. I knew the only way to reach others was to tell my story in its truth and entirety. What helped in my healing process was to hear other stories similar to mine and to witness their successful triumph and victory overcoming their past. I began to realize if they could do it, I could too. By writing EXPOSED I wanted to share both the stumbling and the victories so that others could relate and recognize that they could also be victorious.

How has sharing your story with others helped you in your journey to healing?

The more you share the truth about your experience the easier it is to accept it and move passed it in order to embrace your present and future. By sharing my story I find that it gives me strength and fortifies the healing process. What has been ‘done’ to me is a part of who I am, but it doesn’t define who I am. In fact, I’ve come to the place where I can thank God for every aspect of my life, the dark and ugly moments, along with the joyous times, because He has brought good from it all and allowed me to recognize that I am stronger because of it.

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