Inspired by an Olympic Victory

August 3, 2012

'London 2012 Gold Medal' photo (c) 2012, Mark Hillary - license:

[Trigger warning]

As news of the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke last fall and Penn State students rallied in support of their football coach, one brave young woman decided to step out and be a voice for the victims of sexual abuse. She was totally disgusted by a culture in which students supported the coach instead of the victims.

““What kind of world do I live in? Are students really doing that?” she asked herself. “When that happened, when the victim was that far away (from people’s minds), I was in shock,” she told a reporter.

Today, a little over a week since the airwaves have been filled with news of the NCAA’s unprecedented penalties on Penn State and its football program, Kayla Harrison once again took center stage—or platform, that is. She became America’s first Olympic judo champion.

The media is filled with her historic achievement. In every news story about her victory is also a reminder of her history worded in some form of this phrase: “overcame sexual abuse by her coach.”

The reason reporters from every corner of the globe are repeating that phrase is because Harrison had the courage to come forward in the midst of the football craziness and tell her own story. She shared publically for the first time how her judo coach had groomed her as a small child and then used his power to abuse her throughout her early teen years.

She decided it was time to conquer taboo by speaking out candidly and without shame.

“I feel like we’re making progress,” an AP article quotes her as saying, “but as a society, I felt like being a victim of sexual abuse has this huge taboo around it, and that’s just wrong. If anything, it should be the opposite.”

Harrison powerfully reminded the world today that, even though she acknowledges her painful past, she is not being defined by it.

This post may not seem to you like it has much to do with Jesus, but in my mind there’s a connection. I wholeheartedly believe that God suffers with every child who is abused and that he offers a path to restoration for every victim, as well. I believe that the secrecy and shame often surrounding abuse are tactics of the Evil One to keep victims emotionally imprisoned.

Let’s bring this thing out into the light, so God can do his work of healing. Beginning in September, I’m leading a support group for women at Maple Grove Christian Church that will work through the book, “The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse.” If you live in the area, you are welcome to join us on Tuesday evenings at 7 p..m. beginning September 18. [date change of as 9/1/12]

If you are the victim of abuse and you can’t join us physically, get the book and read it. I’ll probably be discussing it more from time to time on the blog.

I just think the church is the last place where this pain and trauma should be ignored, so we’re going to start talking.

Go Kayla!

Here is one of the best versions of Kayla’s story, written a few days ago by Red Forgrave

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