Rape, Incest Survivor Speaks Out

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child ashamed
April is National Sexual Assault Awareness month as well as National Child Abuse Prevention month. Here's why she says victims should break their silence. (iStockPhoto | midkam)

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 nonprofit? 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 nonprofit.

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.

Used with permission from Shannon Dietz, founder of Hopeful Hearts Ministry.

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