Tag Archives: rape

Steubenville Horror – My Brother’s and My Sister’s Keeper

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Sometimes, when the spirit within me is stirred up, I’m like a dog with a bone. I just can’t leave it alone. It’s like that when the Lord places a word on my heart. I can’t sleep or rest until I’ve said, written or done what He has compelled me to do. This is how I’ve felt ever since Friday night, when I watched ABC’s 20/20 episode, entitled, Steubenville: After the Party’s Over, which informed us about the physical and emotional rape of a sixteen year old girl, referred to as “Jane Doe” on August 11, 2012. After viewing this program, I was haunted by the following questions, which I began addressing in a series of posts:

  • What made the boys, who committed this crime against the victim, think that it was their right to treat another human being with such degradation and disrespect?
  • What would make teenaged boys, who witnessed the cruelty and shame forced upon this girl, think that it was entertaining and funny — so much so, that they took videos and pictures of her and posted them online?
  • Why would teenaged girls, who obviously feared for the victim’s safety, advising her not to go with her abusers, do nothing else to protect her — by calling the police or at the very least, a trusted adult to step in?
  • Where were the parents of all of those teenagers involved in the parties that night?
  • When parents and coaches learned what had happened, why were those who participated in the parties, pictures and tweets, still allowed to play football, undisciplined? 
  • How did this girl find herself in such a dangerous position?
  • How does “Jane Doe” pick up the pieces and move on with her life?

I’ve addressed the first two questions in two other posts, which are listed under Recent Articles, at the end of this post. Therefore, today, I’m going to address the third question…

Why would teenaged girls, who obviously feared for the victim’s safety, advising her not to go with her abusers, do nothing else to protect her — by calling the police or at the very least, a trusted adult to step in?

Image Credit: abcnews.com

It was reported that several girls present at the first party were concerned for the victim, and tried to talk her out of going with Mays and Richmond, but the inebriated girl did not heed their warning, so they let her go. How terrible… Look at this statement one of “Jane Doe’s” friends made to the police:

“I could tell that she was gradually getting more drunk and worse throughout the night,” 16-year-old Farrah Marcino is seen saying in the video, obtained by ABC News. “Just, like, that she couldn’t, like, she didn’t walk.”

“She wanted to go with Trent. Like, we just kept trying to tell her: ‘You don’t want to do this. You don’t want to go with them,’” Marcino told detectives. “I just let her do what she want(ed), which I understand was wrong.”

Read more: 

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/steubenville-investigation-video-shows-fellow-students-concerned-victim-article-1.1297103#ixzz2OXiOUGyY

Image Credit: abcnews.com

It’s obvious that the teenaged girls who attended the parties were concerned for “Jane Doe,” but their concern meant nothing, because they failed to act on their concern. I can understand that they may have been afraid to stand up to the boys, perhaps, but all of them had access to a phone. For goodness’ sake — most, if not all of them had their own cell phones that they could have used to call a trusted adult to come and rescue the girl, who was obviously too impaired to make any decisions for herself. Or, if the teens were afraid of calling an adult to help the girl, they could have called the police to come and rescue her! So, why is it that none of the concerned girls or boys at the party did anything to protect her?

This reminds me of the discussion between the Lord and Cain, after he had murdered his brother Abel:

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

~ Genesis 4:9 NKJV ~

Here is yet another example of the values that many parents have failed to instill in their children. Are we our brother’s (or in this case, our sister’s) keeper? YES!!! We are indeed, our brother’s and sister’s keeper. 

1 So we who are strong have a duty to bear the weaknesses of those who are not strong, rather than please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please his neighbor and act for his good, thus building him up.

~ Romans 15:1-2 CJB ~

God’s word is very clear to us. Those of us who are strong have a duty to bear the weaknesses of those who are not strong, rather than please ourselves. Each of us should please his brother (or sister) and act for his (or her) good, thus building him (or her) up. I really want to break this down, because this is something that every parent needs to understand, so they can teach it to their children both by words and deeds.

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Those who were strong on the night of August 11, 2012, were all of the teenaged boys and girls who did not physically or verbally participate in the victimization of the girl that night. Those who were strong that night are the ones who tried to convince the girl not to leave with the boys. Those who were strong were the ones who witnessed what was going on, and felt bad about it, but said and did nothing to prevent the situation from growing worse. 

Those who are strong have a duty to bear the weaknesses of those who are not strong. Just to be very clear, the one who was not strong that night, was “Jane Doe,” and her weakness was the amount of alcohol she had consumed, which rendered her unable to make wise decisions. Her weaknesses that night, made it impossible for her to defend or protect herself. She needed one or more of those who were strong to bear her weaknesses and act for her good, thus building her up. 

But sadly, the strong ones failed in their duty to bear her weaknesses and act for her good. Why did they fail? Could it have been out of selfishness? Is it possible that they were afraid to call a trusted adult or the police, because they didn’t want to get in trouble? Did they think it was better to let “Jane Doe” be raped and hurt than to risk getting in trouble for being where they shouldn’t have been and doing what they shouldn’t have been doing? Were they supposed to be their sister’s keeper? YES!!! 

Image Credit: http://thetimehascome.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/living-sacrifices-romans-12.jpg

What a sad time it is for the people of this country! We have cast the Lord Jesus aside, and embraced our own selfish desires, and then, when disaster strikes, we demand to know how a good and loving God could allow such atrocities. It’s time for the people of this nation to get a grip. No longer do parents bother to teach their children how to worship the Lord and be a living sacrifice. Instead, they teach their children to worship themselves and sacrifice others!

How many more times will the same scenes be repeated, before men and women begin to sacrifice themselves and teach their children by word and by example that those who are strong must care for those who are weak? Do you want to see a change in this nation? Do you want to see a change in your children? Then teach them to do as Jesus commanded…

12 I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. 13 And here is how to measure it — the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.

~ John 15:12-13 NLT ~

Please join me in praying for those teens who attended the party, and though they didn’t actively participate in the assault on “Jane Doe,” by their silence, they enabled the crime…

Heavenly Father, I pray for each person who attended the parties on that fateful night, and I ask You to touch their hearts and draw them to You. Lord, show them where they went wrong, and show them how to do what’s right from this time forward. Father, I pray that You would give each one of these teens a compassionate heart, filled with Your love for those who are weak. 

Inspire them to lay down their lives for others, Lord. Give them wisdom not to attend anymore parties like that, and if ever they are involved in a situation where someone who is weaker than they, is being harmed or exploited, enable them to be courageous and strong as they take a stand for what is right.

Father, I ask You to continue to watch over “Jane Doe,” and heal her broken heart in Jesus’ name, amen.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

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Steubenville Horror – Warning!

*** Readers Beware – I do not usually use any graphic language or descriptions in my posts, because first and foremost, in all that I do, I want to honor God. However, in this post, there are graphic descriptions and links to song lyrics, which denote the vileness of the crimes committed against the victim. My wish is still to honor God, however, in doing so, I must include the graphic descriptions below, in order to illustrate the evil that we must begin to battle in order to save our nation, our children, our elderly, and even ourselves. The time has come to wage war against evil, rather than standing by silently hoping it will disappear.

In the wee hours of this morning, I wrote the first post, entitled, Steubenville Horror – Heartless?, in a series about the callous rape of a drunk sixteen year old girl, and the equally heinous atrocities that followed. In the first post, I listed a seven questions that I would be addressing in this series, dedicating that first post to the first question:

  • What made the boys, who committed this crime against the victim, think that it was their right to treat another human being with such degradation and disrespect?
  • What would make teenaged boys, who witnessed the cruelty and shame forced upon this girl, think that it was entertaining and funny — so much so, that they took videos and pictures of her and posted them online?
  • Why would teenaged girls, who obviously feared for the victim’s safety, advising her not to go with her abusers, do nothing else to protect her — by calling the police or at the very least, a trusted adult to step in?
  • Where were the parents of all of those teenagers involved in the parties that night?
  • When parents and coaches learned what had happened, why were those who participated in the parties, pictures and tweets, still allowed to play football, undisciplined? 
  • How did this girl find herself in such a dangerous position?
  • How does “Jane Doe” pick up the pieces and move on with her life?
Image Credit: http://www.elefterian.com/files/mix_4/lavina2.jpg

In this post, I will attempt to address the second question from my list. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, however, as you examine this case, it is very evident that something has gone terribly wrong in our culture, and like a snowball that gains momentum in an avalanche, unless we make some drastic changes to our lives, many more lives will be devastated and destroyed. Therefore, as I share the events of that terrible night on August 11, 2012, look at it as a warning sign for every man, woman and child in this nation!

What would make teenaged boys, who witnessed the cruelty and shame forced upon this girl, think that it was entertaining and funny — so much so, that they took videos and pictures of her and posted them online?

As horrible as the rape of this girl was, I was equally appalled by the cruelty shown by other teenaged boys, both those who were at the parties, and those who learned about the rape later. Briefly, on the night of August 11, 2012, a sixteen year old girl from West Virginia attended three parties that took place in Steubenville, Ohio, along with several other teenaged boys and girls. At all of these parties, the minors were consuming alcoholic beverages, and it became apparent to all by around 10 or 10:30pm, at the first party, that the girl, “Jane Doe,” had become extremely intoxicated, as she stumbled around, slurring her words.

Image Credit: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/01/steubenville-high-football-rape-crew/60554/

This is a very loose timeline of the events that occurred that evening, and I truly believe that this is like a shot heard ’round the world, and we must heed  its warning:

  • People at the party started making fun of “Jane Doe,” as one of Steubenville High School’s baseball players dared people to urinate on her.
  • A couple of hours later, “Jane Doe” left the party — now unable to walk on her own, Steubenville High School football players, Trent Mays, Ma’lik Richmond carried her by her hands and legs, as though she was an animal to Mark Cole’s Volkswagen Jetta. According to witnesses, she “was sleeping.”
  • On the way to Cole’s home, Mays exposed the girls breasts and penetrated her with his fingers, while Richmond drove and Cole recorded the crime on his cell phone, as the song, “Way too Gone”, by Young Jeezy played in the background. The lyrics to this song are truly vile and disgusting.
  • There were apparently three parties that night, and by the third party, witnesses report that “Jane Doe” was unable to walk on her own, and that she vomited several times, eventually winding up on the ground, naked, silent and motionless.
  • While at Mark Cole’s home, witnesses Anthony Craig and Evan Westlake testified that they saw Ma’lik Richmond behind the girl, with his hands between her legs, penetrating her with his fingers, while Trent Mays repeatedly smacked his penis against her side.
  • The victim woke up the next morning naked, in a room and a home that she did not recognize, unable to find her cell phone or her shirt.
  • The victim learned about what had happened to her from Twitter, Instagram, YouTube videos and texts.
Image Credit: http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/18ah4v28dxs5tjpg/original.jpg

One of the many things that makes this so disturbing is the way other teenage boys responded to the girls victimization. They laughed about it and told crude jokes. They took pictures of Mays and Richmond violating the girl and posted them online.

One young man, who apparently wasn’t present at the incident, posted a twelve-minute YouTube video, where he laughed about the rape. He even commented via Twitter, “Song of the night is definitely Rape Me by Nirvana.” I checked out the lyrics of “Rape Me”, and they’re chilling.

Image Credit: http://www.realisticimaginations.com/Wallpapers/Loveless/loveless1400.jpg

There is something seriously wrong with a culture that raises teenaged boys to have such contempt for the lives of others. If “Jane Doe” had been one of their sisters, or mothers, would these boys have found such humor in her victimization? Because the girl was from another town, did that justify their behavior? Because the girl was drunk, did it make their actions less heinous? 

Is this anyone’s idea of harmless fun? As I read and learned about these boys who could have and should have stepped up to the plate and stopped the attack on this girl, I’m reminded of the bullies who laughed and cried out against Jesus when He was arrested. We like to pride ourselves in thinking of how far we’ve come from the violence of days gone by, but the truth is, mankind has not evolved into a kinder being. The true is that with each passing generation, as America has turned her back on Jesus Christ, she has become more evil and more debased. 

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…

~ Matthew 24:12 NIV ~

Think about it, not one of the boys involved in the parties had any love or compassion for a helpless sixteen year old girl, who was not able to even walk away from the first party. Parents, what are we teaching our children? What are we teaching our boys? Are we teaching them to respect the lives of others? Are we teaching them to protect, respect and care for women? Or are we fueling their egos? Heed this warning, people:

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

~ Proverbs 22:6 NIV ~

Image Credit: http://s1341.photobucket.com/user/MrsRaZella/media/compassion_zps3b56214e.jpg.html

Are you training your children to love others and put others ahead of themselves, or are you teaching them to look out for number one? I may not be popular for writing this, but it has to be said. How many of the teens who attended these parties bought and paid for their own cell phones and service? Or were they a gift from Mom and/or Dad? How many of the parents of those teens regularly check to see what their children are posting and texting? How many of the parents of the teens at these parties buy the music that their children were listening to that night — music that encourages rape and drunkenness? How many parents knew where their children were that terrible night, and if not, why not?

Didn’t any of the boys at these parties feel any compassion for the victim, or have their egos been stroked and groomed so that they think football players, wrestlers, baseball players, and anyone else deemed popular by the so-called “in-crowd,” is above everyone else? Are we raising a culture of boys who think that they just have to play a game well in order to be considered a “star” or a hero? Every single boy who came in contact with “Jane Doe” that evening had the opportunity to become a heroic man, and sadly, every single boy chose to be cowards and fools.

A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back.

~ Proverbs 29:11 NLT ~

Parents, the fact is that we are raising a generation of fools by covering up for their sins, buying them whatever they want and fueling their over-sized egos. Raising strong and wise young men requires hard work and much prayer. It means withholding those things which are bad for your children, no matter how much they badger you for it. It means that you must give up your own “me” time to devote yourself to teaching your child wisdom. Contrary to popular belief, doing the right thing does not come naturally to people — doing the wrong thing does. We must teach our children wisdom, and that means sacrificing our own desires for their good. It means that our children need to learn that life is not always fun. They must be taught the value and pleasures of wisdom.

Doing wrong is fun for a fool, while wise conduct is a pleasure to the wise.

~ Proverbs 10:23 NLT ~

This is my prayer for foolish teenaged boys throughout our country:

Father, forgive us, because rather than living according to Your word and teaching our children how to live according to Your word, many of us have become wise in our own sight. We thought it would be best to spoil and coddle our boys, rather than teaching them how to grow into strong and courageous men of God. In catering to their whims and desires, we have taught our children selfishness, rather than how to be selfless as Christ was.

Forgive us, Lord, and teach us as parents how to train up our children in the way that they should go from this day forward. Lord, Your word says that if we will obey You and ask for anything in Jesus’ name, according to Your will, that it will be done, do Father, in Jesus’ name, I’m asking You to touch the boys who are growing up in today’s world. Draw them to You Lord, and teach them to love You first and foremost. Show us how to teach them to love others first, by demonstrating that love for them. Show us how to teach our children repentance, by our own example of repentance. 

And Father, in Jesus’ name, show us how to teach our children and youth of today the value and sanctity of life, so that they will grow into strong and courageous heroes and men of God, no longer bound by the foolishness of their youth. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Steubenville Horror – Heartless?

Friday night, I watched an episode of ABC’s 20/20, entitled, Steubenville: After the Party’s Over, and ever since watching it, my heart has grieved, and I can’t help wondering, Why? There are so many different perspectives here and you just have to ask yourself what went wrong? With all of the turmoil there has been in my life recently, it was really easy to fall behind on the news, and so when I saw this program, I was shocked and appalled by everyone involved in this horrible incident, and several questions began to brew in my spirit…

  • What made the boys, who committed this crime against the victim, think that it was their right to treat another human being with such degradation and disrespect?
  • What would make teenaged boys, who witnessed the cruelty and shame forced upon this girl, think that it was entertaining and funny — so much so, that they took videos and pictures of her and posted them online?
  • Why would teenaged girls, who obviously feared for the victim’s safety, advising her not to go with her abusers, do nothing else to protect her — by calling the police or at the very least, a trusted adult to step in?
  • Where were the parents of all of those teenagers involved in the parties that night?
  • When parents and coaches learned what had happened, why were those who participated in the parties, pictures and tweets, still allowed to play football, undisciplined? 
  • How did this girl find herself in such a dangerous position?
  • How does “Jane Doe” pick up the pieces and move on with her life?
Image Credit: http://abcnews.go.com/topics/news/steubenville-rape-trial.htm

The case has been tried, and two boys, Trent Mays, age 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, age 16, were convicted of rape on March 13, 2013. My reason for writing this post is not to question their guilt or innocence. My reason for examining this case and writing about it is to encourage parents, children and teens to talk about what happened in Steubenville, Ohio, and thereby, hopefully deter another horrific incident like this.

Therefore, in a series of posts, I will be addressing each of the questions that I listed above, beginning with the first question…

What made the boys, who committed this crime against the victim, think that it was their right to treat another human being with such degradation and disrespect?

Were Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond completely heartless? Did they think that they were better than the girl they abused? What made them think they had a right to treat “Jane Doe” in such a callous manner?

9 “The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? 10 But I know! I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” 

~ Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT ~

I don’t believe for a moment that these two boys were completely heartless, especially in light of scripture. Do you see it? The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked… The problem with these boys is not that they are heartless, but that their hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. Both Trent and Ma’lik had a heart problem that neither were aware of, and before we examine this any farther, I need to be up front with you… You and I are not exempt from this heart problem. Let’s look at verse 9 again:

“The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”

~ Jeremiah 17:9 NLT ~

Image Credit: http://cdn.hiphopwired.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/steubenville-football.jpg

The scripture doesn’t say some hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. It very clearly includes all human hearts — that includes yours and mine… So what could have led these two boys to humiliate, abuse, molest and rape this girl? 

Image Credit: http://collegecandy.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/steubenville.jpg?w=600&h=350

These boys were “stars,” adored by Stuebenville’s football fans and their families. They were built up and put on a pedestal as star athletes, who were somehow better than others. Let’s be real, we see this adulation of high school athletes all over the country, and not only high school athletes, but college and professional athletes as well. They are given star treatment, often receiving special perks for being good-looking, talented and intelligent, and as the scripture says, “The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked…” 

All too often, when people are built up like this, it goes to their heads, and they begin to believe that they really are special… that rules and laws don’t really apply to them… that they are entitled to receive special treatment… and that their needs are more important than the needs of others. While it’s true that not everyone who receives this kind of “special” treatment responds in this way, there are many who do.

It isn’t healthy or wise to put people on a pedestal. Certainly, it is good for parents and teachers to acknowledge a child’s accomplishments and to encourage him/her. But it is equally important to teach a child humility. Every child should know that while he/she may be gifted, their talents are just that — a gift from God, and that gift does not make someone more important than anyone else. Indeed, those who are given gifts must also be taught how to be responsible.

 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

~ James 1:17 NKJV ~

Parents, it’s up to us to teach our children the difference between right and wrong. We are the ones who are responsible for teaching our children not to look out for number one, but to put the needs of others above even our own needs…

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

~ Romans 12:10 NIV ~

We need to recognize that while it is damaging to give a child low self-esteem, it is equally damaging to build a child’s self-esteem so high that they believe they are above others.

What if those boys had been armed with the knowledge that their hearts were so terribly wicked and deceitful? What if they were taught that their talent was a gift given to them by God, not because they were any better or more deserving than anyone else, but simply because of His grace? And what if those boys had been taught to honor others (including “Jane Doe”) above themselves? Is it possible that the Steubenville Horror could have been averted?

My beloved readers, do you have children… grandchildren… nieces and nephews… students… teen-aged friends? Talk to them about this horrible atrocity, and ask them what they would do if they were in the position these boys were in. Talk to them about how these boys should have responded and why what they did was so utterly and terribly wrong. Talk to them about the consequences of their actions…

And please, join me in praying for Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond…

Father, in Jesus’ name, I cry out to You for Trent Mays’ and Ma’lik Richmond’s hearts, which are most deceitful and desperately wicked, and I ask You to create a clean heart within them. Lord, let them see the wickedness of their actions against “Jane Doe,” and fill their hearts with remorse and repentance.

Lord, let them learn from this, and let each young man repent of his sins and find salvation in You. I pray that You would set them free from the lies that they have told themselves, and that others have told them. I pray that You would reveal to them that they are no better than anyone else, and that they would begin to place others above themselves, seeking ways to help others, rather than to harm them.

Lord, I also cry out to You for the girl that they damaged. Father, please protect this young woman, and touch her heart. Let her feel the warmth of Your embrace, and let Your rivers of healing waters wash over her, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Little Girl Lost…

The following story is for the __picture it & write blogging challenge…

Image Credit: http://ermiliablog.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/photo-1-3.jpg

“Ring around the roses, a pocket full of posies. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!” 

“London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.”

“See, see, my playmate,
Won’t you come play with me?
And bring your dollies, three?

Climb up my apple tree?
Slide down my rainbow,
Into my cellar door,
And we’ll be jolly friends,
Forevermore, 1, 2, 3, 4!”

Image Credit: https://www.makewav.es/story/425830/title/
shouldchildrenbeallowedtoplayout

Tears slid down her cheeks as she walked into the yard of her childhood, hearing and seeing the children playing again in her mind’s eye. Was it possible that she had once been so innocent and carefree or was it all only a dream, a wish for what could have — no, for what should have been? Nostalgically, she walked over to the swing that was still tied to the old oak tree, fingering its chains and testing the wooden seat before easing her weight onto it. Someone had obviously taken great pains to care for this swing, to ensure that the ravages of time wouldn’t render it a danger to other children who might use this swing, or in this case, so this now middle-aged woman could sit here, close her eyes, and remember…

She remembered playing with her neighborhood friends and her cousins until well past dark on those steamy summer days and nights, and then rising early the next morning, to do it all again. The year was 1971, and things were different back then. This was an era where you’d better be on your best behavior, because the neighborhood mothers kept watch on all of the children as if they were their own, and if you acted up, Suzy’s mommy would spank you for misbehaving, and then she would call your mommy, and she would spank you too! She smiled, remembering that Suzy’s mommy had indeed spanked her on more than one occasion, for her mischievousness.

Image Credit: http://www.gettyimages.com/
creative/hairbrush-stock-photos?page=2

She smiled as she gazed at the steps leading to the upper level of the yard, envisioning the little girl with her little purple hotpants under the cute little mini dress, wielding her brush as though it was a microphone, as she put a record on her record player and prepared her one-woman stage show, imagining the audience below, which sometimes included neighborhood children, and other times was completely imaginary. A lone tear slid down her cheek as she remembered that little girl standing right there, with her imaginary audience applauding as she softly sang Donny Osmond’s, “Go Away Little Girl.” 

She remembered staying up late on hot summer nights, catching lightening bugs with her cousins and her friends. Life up until then was so carefree, as it should be for a little girl of ten, but that all changed one dreadful night when she was playing a game with her cousins. It was a dark, moonless night, and they were playing one of their favorite games, “Midnight in the Graveyard.” She was “It”, the “Ghost in the Graveyard,” and she had to find a hiding place, where her cousins wouldn’t be able to find her, but if they did find her, she still had a chance of winning, if she could escape without them tagging her and run to the empty swing, which was “home base.”

She remembered finding the perfect hiding place. She shuddered now, as she remembered that night, hearing the voices of her cousins, as they counted the hours until they could go and look for her… “It’s One O’Clock in the graveyard, and I see no ghosts,” they counted. “It’s Two O’Clock in the graveyard, and I see no ghosts,” they continued, as she softly giggled, crawling towards the big bushes on the left side of the house. The other kids were scared of bugs and spiders, so they would never try to find her in the middle of these bushes, she thought, when suddenly, from behind, someone grabbed her foot and clamped a hand over her mouth.

Image Credit: http://beatrizmartinvidal.deviantart.com/art/Kidnapped-girl-57670485

“That’s not fair!” she thought angrily, as she squirmed to get away and tell whichever cousin had cheated, but as hard as she wiggled and tried to escape, he wouldn’t let her go. And then she realized that whoever it was that held her was much too big to be one of her cousins. This person had strong, hairy arms, like a man, and he smelled too — like he needed a bath and some deodorant. She kept trying to wiggle away and get his hand off her face, because she couldn’t breathe. What was wrong with him? Didn’t he know he was too big to play this game? “He doesn’t even know the rules!” she thought angrily. “Just wait till I tell my daddy about this,” she thought. “I bet he’ll straighten him out.”

She wasn’t frightened until he opened the door of a dark van, and threw her down in the back, while ripping a piece of duct tape from a roll, and placing it on her mouth. Her daddy and mommy liked to watch “The F.B.I.”, and her heart started pounding rapidly, as it suddenly dawned on her that she was being kidnapped by a stranger. “Oh God,” she prayed silently, as tears began to fall rapidly, and her struggling ceased as fear paralyzed her. “Please help me. Please don’t let him kill me, Lord.”

Image Credit: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/school-kidnapper-edwin-john-eastwood-makes-shock-confession/story-fnat7dag-1226539868318

The back door of the windowless van slammed shut, as her kidnapper opened the front door and climbed in, starting the van and turning the radio up loudly, as The Doors sang, “Riders in the Storm.” As she lay weeping on the hard, dirty floor in the back of the van, Shelley suddenly realized that her life had just changed drastically, and there was nothing she could do about it, but pray and try to survive. Her mommy and daddy had always said she was headstrong, and that trait would prove to be necessary for her survival.

Her husband quietly walked up to her, as she sat on the swing, reminiscing, softly speaking, “Are you ready to meet them, Shelley?” before he touched her. In their more than thirty years of marriage, he had learned to never walk up behind her and touch her or grab her, without first announcing his presence, lest he trigger a traumatic episode. He looked at his wife of many years with deep love and admiration for her courage. Over the years, she had fought her way past many obstacles that might have stopped anyone else, but she was determined to be whole, for her own sake, as well as for his sake, their children’s sake, and now for their grandchildren as well.

It had taken her many years of prayer and counseling to work past the painful memories that she had locked deep within her mind, as she allowed each one to surface. Sometimes, only one memory would surface periodically, and other times, she would be brutalized by an onslaught of many memories. Sometimes, they came in broken, hazy fragments, while other times, vivid, sharp memories bombarded her soul.

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Still, with the help of her loving Savior, she had continued to press through those memories, which had led her here, to this place, her childhood home, that she hadn’t seen since that dreadful night in 1971, when her idyllic life had been ripped away from her. And God, in His infinite mercy and kindness, had kept her parents alive. She hadn’t seen them since that horrible night either, and she nervously stood up from the swing, and lifted her hand to her hair, to smooth it, glancing up at her husband uncertainly. “Do I look okay?” she asked him worriedly, and he smiled warmly, cupping her chin in his hand as he replied, “You look beautiful.”

Hand in hand, as the two of them climbed the steps to the upper yard, she glanced to the left at the bushes that were supposed to have been her hiding place on that dreadful night, so long ago, and shuddered, as the door opened and she saw the aged faces of her mother and father. Though time had left its toll on their faces, in the forty-two years since she had last seen them, she recognized them immediately, as they fell into one another’s arms, weeping for joy. “I thought we’d never see you again,” her mother cried, as she held her tightly, as though afraid to let go, for fear that she’d vanish again. 

“My little princess,” her daddy choked out as she was engulfed in his arms. “I’m so sorry I didn’t protect you better,” he groaned helplessly.

“Don’t say that, Daddy,” Shelley gently replied, as they made their way into the living room. “You were wonderful parents, and you had no way of knowing that such  horrible predators lurked about.” It was a joyful reunion, as Shelley introduced her parents to her husband of more than thirty years and showed them pictures of their grandchildren as well as their great-grandchildren. 

Their conversation soon took a more serious tone when her mother asked, “Can you tell us what happened, Shelley? Why did it take you so long to come back to us? There hasn’t been one day that we haven’t cried out to God to bring you back home to us,” she said, as she sat on the faded green sofa, leaning against her husband, who periodically swiped at his nose and his eyes with a wrinkled white handkerchief. 

“It was awful, Mommy,” she said softly, as she shared the story of her abduction while playing with her cousins on that fateful night. She told her parents how he raped her repeatedly, and then forced her to prostitute herself in the city, against her will. She told her parents that she had tried to escape numerous times, and how he would find her and beat her each time, until she finally stopped trying to run away from her captor.

She told them of her arrest at the age of fifteen, and how it had changed her life. When the police had picked her up, she told them of her abduction and her forced prostitution, and how they arrested her kidnapper, charging him as a rapist and a pedophile and locking him away for a very long time. The one thing she didn’t share with the police was her real name. 

The truth of her identity was locked somewhere deep within the recesses of her mind, but the years of repeated abuse and rape had wreaked havoc on the child’s fragile mind, and it would take years to unlock some of the secrets within. Because times were different then, there was no computer database for kidnapped children, and no DNA testing, which made it nearly impossible for the police to locate her family. By God’s grace, the courts were very kind to the broken teen, placing her into the home of a Christian couple who lavished her with love. They loved her when she acted out in anger and rebellion, and they loved her when she cried herself to sleep each night. 

It was this loving couple who introduced her to Jesus, and demonstrated His unconditional love to her in so many ways. They took her to Christian counseling, several times a week at first, then, as she began to heal, less and less. Throughout the years, she and her foster parents had prayed for Shelley to be reunited with her parents, especially when she married Gabe, and again, when each of their three children were born, but though she saw their faces in her dreams, she couldn’t remember their names. She wasn’t even sure if Shelley was her true name, until two weeks ago, when after more than forty years, there had been a breakthrough, and she suddenly remembered her name, her parents’ names, and even her former address. “I was surprised to discover that you still live here,” she finished amid the tears.

“Shelley,” her father said gently, “we thought of moving many times over the years, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave, in case you escaped and came looking for us. We had to stay here so you could find us, and I’m so glad we did,” he cried,  getting up and throwing his arms around her and her husband.

“Shelley,” her mother said softly, “Would you like to see your old bedroom or would it be too traumatic?”

“Mommy, I have longed to see you and Daddy, and my old room for so many years,” she responded, standing up, and grabbing her husband’s hand, as the four of them headed up the wooden staircase with the gold shag carpet. She laughed delightedly, as she saw pictures of herself as a child hanging on the wall to the left, as they ascended the stairs, running her hand along the oak banister. Sadly, the wall seemed incomplete, as the pictures went from infancy until the age of ten, and then they just stopped. There were no prom pictures, no sweet sixteen pictures, no graduation pictures.

It suddenly dawned on Shelley just how ghastly this must have been for her parents, who never got to experience the joys so many other parents enjoyed. Her mother never got to share with her about the changes that happen when a little girl becomes a woman. Certainly, she had been deprived of these joys, but so too, had her parents.

Waves of compassion swept over Shelley as she, her husband and her parents stood in the hallway outside of her bedroom, and impulsively, before they opened the door to her bedroom, Shelley turned to her mother and whispered, “Mommy, I’m so sorry for all of the joy that you and Daddy missed out on. I’m so sorry for the pain this has caused you, and both of you need to know this was not your fault. You did all that you could do, and what that horrible man intended for evil, God has turned into something good. You see, if none of these horrible things had happened to me, I might not be working with teenage prostitutes and rape victims. This has all worked out for good, because I love God, and He has called me for this purpose.”

After comforting her parents, Shelley turned and opened the door to her bedroom, which had remained unchanged for forty-two years. The bright purple bedspread on the white for poster bed, and lavender walls covered with posters of Donny Osmond brought a smile to her face. There were her old record albums and her record player. She smiled as she saw her collection of stuffed animals neatly arranged on her bed, just as she liked them. She picked up Mr. Bean, a fat fluffy golden stuffed cat, cradling him in  her arms as she had done as a child, and walked to the window overlooking the trees and her swing.

“I’m home now, Mr. Bean,” she whispered quietly, as she turned around to look at her family, and with tears brimming from her eyes, she fell to her knees, as her husband joined her, and reaching for her parents hands, they all joined hands and prayed, giving thanks to the Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, who in His infinite love and mercy, had reunited this broken family, and restored the years that the enemy had stolen from them.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers