Tag Archives: domestic abuse

Q&A with Abuse Survivor Shannon Deitz

Abuse survivors are not fragile individuals. They are strong; worthy individuals who have overcome tremendous suffering whether it was physical, sexual, or verbal. Every form of abuse affects the person emotionally, lowering their self-esteem and sense of worth. 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

  • 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.

  • You recently spoke at a women’s prison, tell us how that came about. How did the women respond to you and your story?

After speaking at a Women’s Conference in Texas City, TX, I was approached by a deacon who was a part of a prison ministry and felt many of the women would relate to my testimony and offer a sense of hope, even if they were not going to end their term in their lifetime. I have spoken at other prisons where many of the women were in for drug possession, prostitution, aggravated assault, etc. who would be released in 3-5 years.
In this particular prison the women in the room with me were in for murder, or attempted murder.

When I prayed about what I felt God wanted them to hear, it was Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” The only thing that kept me from being in their shoes, in that prison, was the simple grace of God. These women had suffered many of the same abuses as I, incest, rape, domestic violence, but most especially emotional abuse. What put them in that prison was the biggest lie we are left with “I am not worthy”. They made choices that
will remain with them forever and now that lie seems cemented into their soul.

But God’s grace prevails, even in prison, no matter how long the sentence they serve, they are God’s beloved, He knew them before he created them. He gave them a purpose and that purpose can be carried out no matter the surroundings they live in. It’s never too late. They can turn their sights on the Lord every day and reconnect with the gifts and talents He has given them and He will open the doors for their purpose to be fulfilled.

This is what saved me and I prayed in some way it would give them the same hope. Paul was in prison for much of the end of his life, chained to guards too! And yet he still fulfilled his purpose of ministering and spreading the good news. It was what God had planned for him before he was born and no matter his circumstance, because Paul acknowledged every door God opened, he fulfilled it to the end.

After visiting with these women I knew I immediately wanted to go back again. They were welcoming, receiving, and genuinely amazing women. The only difference between us was the civilian clothes I wore. I was invited to speak at the Angela House not long after, a halfway house for women coming out of prison. Once again I witnessed the lie of ‘I’m not worthy’ threaten their true purpose and freedom. I shared the same testimony and the same verse because they no longer have to be bound by what was done to them – and what that shame, anger, guilt, and rage caused them to do.

  • 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 through both REDEEMED and EXPOSED, speaking to groups and leading retreats, 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.

  • 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?

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 also 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 or gifts 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.”

  • The Hopeful Hearts Ministry offices were affected by Hurricane Harvey with flooded offices. You and your son were also recused from your home by boat. Tell us how your ministry is moving forward despite catastrophic damage and loss.

We are dedicated to helping survivors of all forms of abuse. I have found in these past few weeks how that the trauma of water rushing in and overtaking your home, giving you no preparation only to steal any sense of comfort or security elicits the same fear, anxiety, and betrayal as any other form of abuse. Physical boarders do not define Hopeful Hearts Ministry. We have continued to move forward with God’s grace and held our programs in homes hosted by donor’s .We continue to meet with men and women, peer to peer, to discuss the traumatic experiences they’ve been through whether it is from the flood or from abuse done in their past.

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.
www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com

This may be used with permission and credit given to Shannon M. Deitz 2017.

Q&A with Shannon M. Deitz Abuse Survivor and Founder of Hopeful Hearts

about shannon2I 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. – Shannon M. Deitz

Your first 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 affected me 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 over their past.

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 through EXPOSED, speaking to groups and leading retreats, 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.

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 also 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 or gifts 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 and age 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 gifts and 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 very 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.

From one male viewer:

I came across your website yesterday and was very moved to listen to your short YouTube video “I Have a Voice – Childhood sexual abuse and forgiveness”.

Your sharing of your story, your truth, was very powerful. I especially liked the part where you defended the (any) abused child by saying “it’s not right” (to take away the voice of a child).

That 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. ~ James, TX

 

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

www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com