Where My Courage Comes From
I’m writing this Wednesday night thousands of feet in the air on my flight back to Chicago from Philadelphia that began in Maryland where I spoke at Mid-Atlantic Conference for Maryland Children’s Alliance in Ocean City Maryland.
No matter where I go or who I am speaking to I continue to be inspired by those who approach me afterwords. I said something in my speech today I read out of my 2nd book Living For Today
“I am like any other survivor imperfect and living one day at a time.”
I am constantly turning to God for guidance. For the right message to come across and to keep me strong. My strength comes from Him. I check in with Him all the time even if it is just to say thank you. He is working a ministry inside me that is spreading a positive message of the pain I have suffered in my life. My courage comes from the 6 year old and 12 year old whose memory lives in me. I wasn’t strong enough to give the child I once was a voice but I have been making up for it.
My innocence was killed but my voice has been restored. This is the justice I give the child I once was. Fighting a war I couldn’t save myself from but determined to protect millions of other children from.
This is not where I imagined I would be in my life at 25 years old. This is the last thing I thought I would be doing. Talking about the one thing that I just wanted to go away. It was when I realized it was never going to go away that I could choose to let it continue to play a negative factor in my life or do something positive with it.
There have been many times I wonder is my work done here and I call out to God “What is my next assignment?” Instead He continues to place this calling on my life to be a voice for the voiceless. He opened my eyes to what needs to be done and has encouraged me to go after protecting His children on this Earth from what I was not protected from.
So many of my diary entries as a child I am calling out to God “Where are you, save me, protect me, keep him off me, make him stop?”
Then I am reminded I live in a world where people have the choice to do good or evil. I experienced many acts of evil as a child but God opened my eyes up to the good I could do from it. He gave the extremely weak, lost, depressed, ashamed, and suicidal teenager I was and suddenly dropped a gift from above and filled me with confidence, strength, courage, motivation, determination, and the voice that had been taken. Turning the secrets locked away in a diary for no one to ever read or see into a book. Taking the voice too ashamed to utter the words to her therapist about what happened behind closed doors to stages across America and national television for millions to hear and getting a law passed.
Someone turned to me today right after I spoke while I was signing copies of both my books and said, “Erin how do you not have anger that your rapist is walking the streets a free man. It made me sick knowing what he did to you and got away with it.” I told this person that my heart can go there right now and get very angry but what good will that do me? I don’t want that toxic anger and bitterness to fill me. It will get me no where and keep me stuck in a very unhealthy place. Instead I have taken back the voice he used with his hands to silence and empower society to wake up to protecting other children from sex offenders just like him. He might not be locked up, but I am not a prisoner inside myself like so many survivors are because of the trauma they have suffered. There are many people that do get to see their rapists locked away but they themselves have locked themselves up inside because of what their rapist has done to them. So even years after justice was served they are still hiding inside themselves carrying the shame, anger, bitterness, and rage.
The two men who molested and raped me walk the streets free and I don’t carry hatred, anger, bitterness, and rage in my heart for them. God encourages me to focus on the path I am on and leave justice up to Him. Both those men know where they are in their lives with God and it is not my place to judge. That is only God’s place. After all my greatest guidance, strength, courage, trust, and faith comes from God the same person who created the two individuals that raped and molested me. God has shown me it is much healthier and healing to cry and grieve over the little girl I was then to harbor anger and hatred towards the evil. I have gone down both paths and He is so right. I feel a whole lot better after crying then being hateful and angry. Crying is letting go and healthy, anger and hate is holding on and I discovered unhealthy. Yet it is a process we must all go through in order to get to the healthy place and discover the peace all crime survivors experience.
I continue to live one day at a time constantly checking in with the one who gives me the strength and courage to keep going. One thing always in the back of my mind is the first thing I am going to ask God when I make it to Heaven, “How did I do?” For now I ask Him to forgive me for the mistakes I make along the way.