Tag Archives: Hope

Domestic Violence Abuse Awareness

Survivors of abuse, both men and women, 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 single form of abuse affects the person emotionally, lowering their 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 from the affects of the abuse 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.  Below is helpful information for all of us who know a survivor.

Giving a Voice to Domestic Abuse Survivors
Whether they were a child, teenager or an adult, domestic abuse causes the victim(s) to keep quiet out of shame, fear and guilt. A victim needs the ability to speak about what is or has been done to them without question or judgment.

Frozen rather than Fight or Flight
When in danger, we often assume the natural response is to fight back or run. However, when abuse is involved (sexual or physical), there are scientific neurological studies that prove a ‘frozen’ response takes place as a result of the flood of adrenaline and hormones.

They literally can’t think to run, fight or even scream. When survivors of child abuse, sexual assault, or domestic abuse understand this, it helps to ease the undeserved shame of the victim. It also helps validate the victim who is struggling with “why they stayed or let it happen”.

Triggers and Repressed Memories
Survivors of domestic abuse are often survivors of abuse as a children or teens and have often suppressed their abuse. Overcoming and escaping a domestic abusive situation can often unlock these memories.
Counseling is Key in Healing Process
Survivors of abuse are 3x more likely to suffer depression. Given an outlet to talk about the abuse releases the shame, fear and feelings of unworthiness. Talking to a counselor can help guide them through the healing process.

The healing process for an abuse survivor is similar to that of someone suffering grief. They need to feel safe, experiencing the sadness of the loss of their childhood innocence, their virginity or security, whatever it is the abuse took from them. Then they need to have the freedom to experience righteous anger and eventually be led down the path to forgiveness of both the perpetrator and themselves.

Don’t be Afraid to Help a Survivor of DMV Create an Escape Plan
Survivors want to know they will be safe and protected. Many have no idea what the first step should be or where they should turn. Find the nearest shelter and walk with them on the journey to make an escape plan.

Survivors Can Live a Normal Life
If you have suffered any form of abuse at any point in your life, you can overcome its debilitating effects. The more you talk about what has been done to you, the more you will heal. Although it will never ‘disappear’ from your past, it will be a chapter of your life that can be closed. The more you keep the shame, guilt and fear locked away, the more power you continue to give the perpetrator and the more likely you will continue to remain their victim.

Abuse Doesn’t Define a Survivor
Often survivors take on what has been done to them as a part of who they are and they live in a victim mentality feeling as if nothing good will ever happen to them, that they are unworthy or not good enough.

For more information visit www.HopefulHeartsMinistry.com

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 .

Connection. Compassion. The Gospel.

Nicole is 27, but had been living apart from her parents since she was 15. She logged on to JesusCares.com Thursday because she was pregnant and fighting with her boyfriend.



Some of her statements in the chat proved that she was broken but in the end – desperate to discover hope and love. Below are a few statements Nicole made while chatting with a coach:
• When hearing for the first time that God loved her she said, “I’m confused, Why am I hearing about this now and not years ago?”
• When the coach said she was precious, she replied, “I am anything but precious. No one thinks I am precious or anything good.”
• She asked the coach how she felt the day she understood for the first time that God loved her then she said, “A weird feeling in your stomach and heart? Because I’ve got that now.”
• “I’m still stuck on the fact that maybe Jesus loves me”
• “Why am I crying? I haven’t cried since I was 9”
• “I can get Jesus now, I don’t have to go to church first?”
• “How do you pray? I have never heard anyone else pray.”

This is just one of thousands represented in the JesusCares chat room.

Anyone who has lived through adolescence can testify that it is a difficult time. As they navigate the waters of our post-Christian society, today’s young people suffer from unprecedented levels of depression, anxiety, pressure, loneliness, and desperation for approval. For many, one nagging question motivates every social media post, short-sighted decision, and attempt to self-harm: Does anyone really care about me?

At JesusCares.com, hurting teens and young adults from across the globe find comfort, guidance, and the answers they desperately seek. An initiative of Groundwire, JesusCares.com follows and expands the remarkably effective model that has touched millions of young viewers and listeners since 2006. Using a multi-pronged strategy, Groundwire leverages media and technology to meet the age 15-25 demographic exactly where they are — viewing, listening, texting, or chatting — and to invite them to voice their questions and struggles so they can find answers in the message of the Gospel. Young people listening to popular radio broadcasts or viewing favorite shows on networks like CW, MTV, VH1, Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming, and Comedy Central are interrupted by direct advertising spots that catch their attention, resonating with where they are today.

The JesusCares.com initiative includes targeted, authentic, and well-produced commercials that grab the attention of young viewers and listeners by the millions. As they respond to the broadcast messages, they are invited to visit the JesusCares.com website where they can chat with a live spiritual coach available day and night, as well as find a collection of resources such as podcasts by Groundwire’s founder and executive director, Sean Dunn, and daily devotionals.

“Statistics indicate that 86% of teens believe in God, but most don’t believe He is loving. Even fewer believe they are lovable. What if this generation truly understood and responded to God’s offer of hope, truth, and purpose?” Dunn asks.

Since 2006, Groundwire has interacted with broken and searching youth on thousands of live chats. Students are drawn to the honest dialogue about spiritual issues, often receiving Christ as their Savior as a result of the coaches’ ministry. Coaches then do their best to connect visitors to local churches and resources where they can continue to grow in their faith. JesusCares.com looks to grow Groundwire’s reach in contemporary culture.

To bring JesusCares to your community or to sign up as a coach,

go to www.JesusCares.com.

The World is a Hostile Place

Excerpt from Zero Victim by James E. Ward

Judging by the many unfortunate events we see and hear about each day, we could describe the world as a rather hostile place. By hostile I mean that life at times can be somewhat antagonistic, in which circumstances often work against us. Some kind of counterforce is necessary to work for us if we will be successful in not becoming victims of these circumstances.

Without specific actions of intervention such as education, employment, and exercise, our lives would quickly become dysfunctional. Like teeth and rocks that naturally decay and don’t improve without some form of intervention, so do our lives. Those who fail to seek help when necessary may even die an early death. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently reported that approximately 900,000 Americans die prematurely—yet up to 40 percent of those deaths could be prevented.

Life naturally intends to make victims out of each of us. Therefore, we must intentionally and strategically work against the circumstances that work against us.
To prevent wear and tear, our relationships need specific care and intervention to prevent them from decaying. None of us can survive alone. Perhaps more than we admit, we desperately need each other to thrive. We especially need relationships with our family members, but even in the context of our immediate families, hostilities exist.
Life naturally intends to make victims out of each of us.

Through years of counseling, pastoring, and coaching, I discovered that because challenges are sure to come, the people who do well in life are the people who learn to manage their challenges well. Failure to mentally prepare for unfair circumstances is really unwise. By preconditioning our minds to strategically and intelligently mitigate the inevitable pitfalls of injustice, while anticipating their arrival, we protect ourselves against adopting a victim mindset. Once an individual adopts a victim mindset, they significantly reduce their chances of successfully navigating their way out of the undesirable circumstances they’re facing.

-James E. Ward


“One thing I did [in the shelter] was I prayed a lot.”

Shanjula Harris woke up early every morning in the homeless shelter to help her children get ready for school. After she dropped them off, she came back, put on her nicest clothes and started walking. “Every day, Lord knows, I’d walk up and downtown Dallas and ask for work. And I did it every single day,” she said. Shanjula had worked for years as a medical assistant at a Dallas hospital, but when she lost her job in 2009, she had nowhere to go. She and her three children — Deon, Precious, and Twquan, were forced to move into a shelter the day before Thanksgiving.

Her story isn’t unusual. About 85 percent of homeless families in the United States are headed by women — specifically single women with children. “One thing I did [in the shelter] was I prayed a lot,” she said. “There were a lot of things I didn’t understand. And some days I didn’t feel like praying. But I knew I had to because I knew it wasn’t me by myself. I had my kids to think about, too.” In 2010, Shanjula received the break she needed: she was accepted into a self-sufficiency family ministry for single parent families seeking higher education in Dallas. She was also offered a new job. She was able to study and work full time, while her children attended school. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in psychology and hopes to someday attend medical school.

Shanjula and her children became part of a “program” that com- bines housing, day care, and access to college education for residents, who are primarily single mothers. On one level, the program offers redemption from abusive, desperate circumstances these moms and their families face. But on a much higher level, the goal and purpose of the program is holistic redemption of the entire person.

Reflecting on her experience, Shanjula says her life “changed from having nothing to having something. It makes me feel good to know I have a goal set. I wanted my children to see me graduate, to say, ‘My mom did it. She was a single parent raising three children by herself. If she can do it, I can do it.’”

Shanjula needed redemption from her circumstances, and she needed a sense of hope for the future. Her redemption began on a spiritual level and later she found full redemption from her circumstances for her, her family, and the next generation. Her world changed as she and her family became part of the story of redemption. She found hope; she experienced God’s unfailing love, and she began to write the next chapter in her story of redemption. Her story represents a cosmic transaction in faith and weaves her into God’s plan of redemption for her, her family, and everyone in her circle of influence.

From the beginning of human history, God’s work and purpose for humanity was to redeem what was lost in the garden. What was intended for harm, over and over again, is made into good through God’s work of redemption. In the Old Testament, we can see patterns of his redemptive work in the lives of unsuspecting people. It is in his nature to redeem broken people.

jesusagendaExcerpted from The Jesus Agenda by Dr. Albert Reyes. For more information visit www.JesusAgenda.com

Q&A with James E. Ward Author of Zero Victim Part Two

For each of us, our mentality represents our personal set of lenses through which we see everything in life. Our experiences and conversations and interpretations of them are tinted by the “color” of our mental lenses. What you see through your lenses becomes “your world.” Despite what circumstances and events are in the actual world, they will always appear to be something different in “your world,” which creates a different, privatized reality just for you.     – Pastor James E. Ward

indexYou point out that the victim mindset has become so pervasive in our society, it powers major industries. Give us a few examples.

o Victims and Their Lawsuits. – Today we are seeing a record number of lawsuits being filed in our nation. An estimated 15 million civil lawsuits are filed each year in the United States. A significant number of these suits are frivolous, having been filed by people who are simply looking for easy money. Many people wait for a good opportunity to file a lawsuit. Those who are not seeking to sue others must be concerned about the possibility of being sued. The excessive use of our legal system can be traced back to citizens who suffer from high levels of victim mentality. The basis for any lawsuit is to seek justice for a victimized person. Whether the lawsuit deals with personal injury, property damage, breach of contract, or a custody battle, a suit gets filed by a person who perceives another individual wronged them in some way. When legitimate wrong is done, justice must be served. In each case, the plaintiff acts as victim. Our multibillion-dollar legal industry thrives on victim mentality.

o Victims’ Fears Drive Insurance – The insurance industry is one of the most lucrative industries in the world. Insurance policies covering our health, life, property, and vehicles have become an essential part of our lives. Regardless of the type of insurance offered, companies are in the business of selling protection to people who want to avoid becoming victims. Insurance companies market the need for protection, not only from unforeseen disastrous incidents, but also as a means of protection to defend people and businesses against lawsuits. In some cases, the government mandates insurance coverage because of the likelihood of litigation. Preparation for when you will become a victim of some unfortunate tragedy becomes the premise of the need for insurance. Insurance coverage is the well-financed, strategic anticipation of victimization. Insurance cultivates victim mentality by reminding us it’s just a matter of time before we become a victim.

One of the most sensitive and controversial topics you discuss in Zero Victim is racism in America. How does the victim mentality serve as a catalyst for racism?

Victim mentality fuels the animosity that exists between races:
• By recalling past injustices committed by other racial groups. We cannot repeat past injustices, but we also cannot change past injustices. We must intelligently make the necessary adjustments to correct things for the future, without carrying over the mental scars, emotional hurt, and psychological woundedness of the past.
• By hindering the release of forgiveness toward other racial groups for past injustices, which does not allow forward progress in the development of trust and genuine relationship building.
• By anticipating future acts of injustices by other racial groups and failing to trust their actions and motives – [exegesis versus eisegesis]

Victim Lenses Ruin Lives – For each of us, our mentality represents our personal set of lenses through which we see everything in life. Our experiences and conversations and interpretations of them are tinted by the “color” of our mental lenses. What you see through your lenses becomes “your world.” Despite what circumstances and events are in the actual world, they will always appear to be something different in “your world,” which creates a different, privatized reality just for you.

What factors in a family environment can shape a victim mentality?
• Divorce
• Poverty
• Family Sicknesses and Diseases
• Sibling rivalries
• Child abandonment
• Single relationship status

As a society, how is our response to injustice shaped by the media—particularly in this age of social media?

• A popular idiom says: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” – The louder victim thinkers scream, the more attention they tend to attract. Media makes it possible for victim thinkers to be heard loud and clear by publicizing victimization or even perceived victimization.
• Media has exceptional power to influence regardless of the truthfulness and validity of the content shown. If a lie is repeated loudly and often enough, people will tend to believe it.
• Social media empowers anyone with the freedom to post their personal thoughts and opinions and highly encourages them to do so. This trend tends to give voice to victim thinking while encouraging others who share those victim thoughts to support them by “liking” their comments. In most cases, social media responses will support the mentality of a victim thinker, instead of providing beneficial solutions to assist them in changing their mentality and perspective about negative circumstances.

What is the simplest step people can take today toward adopting a zero victim mindset?

To discipline themselves to always act and never react…To think intelligently about the injustice they’ve experienced and not respond emotionally.

For more about Pastor James E. Ward and his book Zero Victim visit:


Q&A with Bill Myers about The Jesus Experience PART 1

billmyerspicA portion of The Jesus Experience is about love vs. works. You compare works to a “Father-son project”. Can you elaborate on that comparison?

So often we get the Great Commission ahead of the Great Commandment. We wear ourselves out trying to serve God instead of adoring Him. We’re like a dry wick in an oil lamp burning ourselves up, instead of saturating ourselves in His Presence and burning the oil of His Spirit. Yes, He’s called us to serve, but even that is to draw us deeper into Him. Who are we fooling? He doesn’t need us to work for Him. He can create anything He wants – except our friendship. That’s the one thing we can give Him that He cannot give Himself. Serving Him is simply a way to work side by side with Him to become better friends as we learn, love and yes, even laugh, with Him. And from that relationship comes more fruit than I ever dreamed possible.

You confessed that you saw people as objects, as tools to advance God’s kingdom instead of His children. How has the shift in your perspective impacted your life, relationships, and ministry?

Very subtly my purpose in life had become achieving success for God instead of enjoying my intimacy with Him. I had become a Martha servaholic, instead of Mary sitting at His feet loving Him. “The Jesus Experience” is about how to return to being Mary, to adoring first (which actually increases our doing). When that happens we begin to see people as God sees them – not as instruments to accomplish His purposes but as His beloved children. We see them not through the critical eyes of “what’s wrong with them” but through the loving eyes of “what’s missing”.

You talk about a place where you go to worship and pray to God in private every day. Can you describe why you feel this is an important part of your relationship? What would you recommend to those that a place of solitude is far out of reach?

Many of my Christian friends know all about Jesus, chapter and verse, but they don’t know Him. They love Him with all of their mind, but not all their heart. It’s like marriage. The only way you get to love someone is by spending deep quality time talking AND LISTENING to them. Not attending classes on how to be a good husband. Not talking to my spouse. Not even service (I did not fall in love with her by emptying the cat box for her). I fell in love with my wife by listening to her – deeply. If the Bible is true and God speaks to us in a “still small voice,” it’s important we quieten ourselves enough to hear Him. Wherever we can find that “quiet place,“ becomes our place of solitude. It can be anywhere . . . even on the freeway during rush hour (if I keep the radio off).

In today’s fast paced world, spending time in the Word can be difficult. You refer to using a technique called lectio divina. Can you explain that further?

It’s an approach to the Scriptures dating as far back as the third century. Instead of racing through a chapter a day or, worse yet, trying to read the Bible in an entire year, I’ll park on one verse or section, taking the time to slowly savor its deepest meaning. I’ll chew on it, often reading it several times, asking the Holy Spirit to do what He loves – instructing and guiding me. Yes, there is a definite time to study scripture in its context, to know the history, to know the background, but that’s more of a mental exercise. The spiritual exercise, which should come during my deepest worship times, is simply drinking in and waiting upon the Lord for any personal insight He may have for me.

Bill Myers is an award winning author and filmmaker, whose work in Christian media has impacted millions across the world. Through a casual, friendly tone and humor peppered throughout, The Jesus Experience is an enjoyable roadmap to a deeper relationship with God through freedom found in Christ. Myers has created the perfect crossroad between approachable and attainable that all believers can appreciate.