You are Not Marked!

not-markedBefore we get started, I want to warn you this post is going to be about the sexual abuse (but laced with tremendous hope!).  If this is a subject you can’t read about at this point and need to leave, I understand. Blessing on you and see you next post.

Mary DeMuth has recently published the must-read, Not Marked, a book for survivors of sexual abuse and those who love them.  We are privileged to have her with us today! Without further ado, here’s Mary.

Some reading this won’t know part of your back story. Could you share a bit of it?

Forty one years ago, two neighborhood boys, brothers, offered my babysitter some free time. They’d take me out in the neighborhood and play with me. I imagined the swing set at my elementary school, or maybe a walk on the beach. But what they wanted was something I didn’t want to give. For months during my kindergarten year, they stole bits and pieces of me. I eventually told my babysitter, but she chose not to protect me. I learned how to sleep in order to protect myself. We moved away from that neighborhood and those awful boys at the end of that year, but the scarring remained.

You’ve written about the sexual abuse you experienced in other places. Share the impetus for Not Marked.

I shared my story in Thin Places, but have never shared in book length form HOW I moved from marked to not marked. This is part story, part healing journey. It’s a book about moving from surviving to thriving by someone who has been in the trenches.

We all know people who have been sexually abused, and therefore, each of us has been touched by it. Part of your dream for Not Marked is to be a resource for those, like your husband Patrick, who have not experienced sexual abuse themselves. Could Patrick share one of the ways he has been influenced by your abuse?

This is an excerpt from the book:
I am thankful that as Mary grew up God did protect her from the effects of her abuse. She did not get into alcohol or drugs as a kid. She was not promiscuous or rebellious. But that doesn’t mean she was whole when I met her. She had deep wounds, deeper than even I was aware. She was on the path to healing, which, if we had met sooner in life probably would have scared me off. The path to healing is one of endurance and peeling back layer by layer. I am thankful that God saw fit to allow me to walk that path with her, because it has caused me to be a conduit of that healing.

You and I are people who believe deeply and fiercely in redemption. Awful things will happen, but no place is unattainable to Jesus. What hope does Not Marked offer to those who have experienced sexual abuse.

Mainly that you don’t have to live as a victim, seeing everything in life through the lenses of sexual abuse. It is possible to have an amazing life. My hope is that we’ll see an army of healed sexual abuse victims daring to help the myriads of people who are victimized this way.

You yourself and have lived and served overseas. Were there ways in which the abuse came to play for you or your husband Patrick in France in ways that were different from life in the U.S.?

Yes, we planted a church in the mid-2000s in southern France. One memory stands out in my mind. The French aren’t as attuned to the possibility of abuse. When it was mandatory for our first grader to go on a weeklong retreat in the mountains, we approached the school and asked pointed questions about the adults going. They looked at us like we were crazy. Of course no sexual predators would go. But how could we be sure? It agonized me to send my daughter on that trip, only after much prayer. She was fine, but I was shocked at how little the folks there thought about the possibility of abuse. I’m still a bit sick to my stomach thinking about the whole situation.

I was very open about my sexual abuse with our community, and it opened the door for some very open conversations. These things are generally NOT talked about at all, so I believe my openness provided an avenue to healing for several.

When I traveled to South Africa this year to teach a large women’s conference, I was shocked at how awful the statistics were regarding sexual abuse. Staggering. More like 75%. So when I shared my story with those women, I saw a lot of tears and head nodding. Speaking openly about it provided a safe place for survivors to begin to process their stories openly.

What advice or suggestions would you offer to women living overseas when it comes to the subject of sexual abuse? {One I’ll offer is that Not Marked become a resource for every team serving!}

Know you limitations. You can certainly become a great listener, a validator of stories, a prayer warrior, but there does come a time when professional counseling is needed—perhaps some PTSD intervention or EMDR therapy to help the abuse victim reframe their past story. Becoming educated on sexual abuse and the way people heal will help too. I have found the best way to help someone is simply LISTEN. Ask clarifying questions. Empathize with their pain. Pray for peace and healing. Walk alongside.
Mary, thanks for sharing yourself, your story, and this amazing resource!

We want to get this resource into as many hands on the field as possible. TWO copies of Not Marked will be given away to anyone leaving a comment on this post. Winners will be announced next Tuesday’s book group.

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Photo Credit: Βethan via Compfight cc

22 Comments

  1. Jennifer April 2, 2014

    Mary, Thank  you! This is a challenging journey to walk. I walked it long enough to know but also long enough to know, as you do, that healing is possible.

  2. Rachel April 2, 2014

    What a healing and beautiful resource both for those surviving sexual abuse as well as their friends and family who do not know how to help.

    1. Carolyn April 3, 2014

      This is me too, a friend who often doesn’t know how to help or what I have to offer someone in such deep pain.  I am so deeply grateful for your honesty, your vulnerability and your openness, Mary, and for yours and your husband’s willingness to put in the hours of soul-searching and word-crafting necessary to create such a needed and valuable resource.  Thank you!

  3. Elisa April 2, 2014

    I was deeply touched by what you shared, Mary. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve been overseas for 10 years now and I can recall knowing someone who either was on a healing journey from sexual abuse or even walking alongside a friend, local believer or teammate that didn’t know how to be a good frirnd to someone else they knew walking through this. I can’t wait to get my hands on this resource so I can learn myself as well ss share with others.  This also spoke into my own journey of healing and gave me hope and encouragement to eventually share my own struggle with others. I want my story to be used shed light and insight where I feel there is little. Mary, I would be really interested in hearing more about your healing process and how it is intwined with shame and your identity in Him. Thanks again.

  4. Laura April 3, 2014

    Mary, thank you for sharing, especially your advice and suggestions at the end. I’m incredibly thankful for teammates who have listened, prayed and walked alongside me during the healing process. Because of this, I have a deep, lasting connection with them, even though I no longer serve directly alongside them.

  5. morielle April 3, 2014

    Thank you, Mary. I too am a friend who wants to know how to help. I just binge-read through your various online writings and hope to have the book as soon as possible.  So grateful that there are women like you in the world who are serving so powerfully through deep suffering.  My heart aches just thinking from my limited perspective about the pain and difficulty you have had to go through. But my faith is strengthened by hearing your and others’ testimonies.

  6. keisa April 3, 2014

    Mary thank you so much for stepping out and providing this tool. I wish I had, had  your book when I started my journeyof healingfor myself and those around me. You have inspired me to continue to share my store of hope to see others unlock the doors to freedom. Thanks and blessings!

  7. Amy Young April 3, 2014

    Mary, we so appreciate you making the resource and taking time to share with us here a bit of the back story. You are taken enemy territory and most likely have paid in ways we can’t imagine. We will pray for you as the Lord brings you to mind!

    1. Mary DeMuth (@MaryDeMuth) April 3, 2014

      Thank you. You know, the spiritual warfare has been a bit stunning and crazy as this book has released. Prayers much appreciated.

  8. Amy Young April 3, 2014

    Hey VA folks, Mary stared a weekly podcast this week! You can find it here: http://www.marydemuth.com/01-god-chooses-powerless/

    It’s about 30 minutes long and in it she shares a bit more about this part of her story! Check it out and I think you’ll be blessed by it.

  9. Jessica Hoover April 3, 2014

    One of the hardest things that I experienced on the field was a family of nationals experienced the rape of one of their young daughters. The mother, a close friend of mine, was totally non-reactive about it. In that culture because of war most women had experienced some sort of sexual abuse in their lives. She felt powerless while I was livid. We were blessed to work for an organization that did protection and the situation was dealt with as well as you could hope for in the developing world, but it was her resignation to it that was hard for me to deal with as a friend. Mary, your story and the words of encouragement that you share with those of us who love and care for survivors is a deeply needed and beautiful thing. Thank you so much.

  10. Alex King April 4, 2014

    Mary, thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ve had your book on my to read list since it came out so that I can better help the kids that I work with!

  11. MJ Cox April 6, 2014

    Thank you thank you thank you for being a voice for survivors!!  I wish this was available as a resource when I was recovering from my trauma 7 years ago.  I will be sure to read it, as I do have some fears of the PTSD surfacing as I go on the field this summer to Uganda.  Thank you again for being so spirit led to walk this road with us survivors.

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