Friday, April 23, 2010

Words For Katie

NOTE: Today's story is more than just a story. It is something I actually experienced as a teenager. I don't have any daughters, however, so I wrote it to use in the 7th grade health class I teach. I just shared it with the girls yesterday, along with a lesson on sexual abuse. If you are interested in printing a copy of this story to share with someone you love, you can find it here: Words For Katie

What do you see, Katie? Can you see Miller’s Dairy Farm and the old country school? Have you ever been higher on a swing? I came to this park every evening when I was your age to swing, dream, and pray about my future. I especially hoped for a daughter someday. And God is so amazing! He gave me you.

The summer I was sixteen, on an evening just like this one, I was leaning back in that very swing, legs extended, my long hair flowing behind me.

“Hey! I thought that might be you!” The sudden interruption surprised and annoyed me, but I dragged my feet and stopped regardless. I didn’t know much about Kent except that he was twenty-one and a new Christian. He had attended our Bible study a few times, although he lived in a town some distance away.

“Hey, yourself! What are you doing in Podunks-ville?” I asked

“I think God wants me to do some witnessing. He brought Liz Harney to mind. Don’t you know her sister?”

“Shelby and I are on the same cheerleading squad,” I answered.

“Have you ever witnessed to her?”

“She knows I’m a Christian. We’ve talked about it some.”

“Let’s go then.”


“Let’s you and me go witness to Liz and Shelby. What do you say?”

That’s how I ended up in Kent’s car, heading out of town toward the Harneys’. Slowly it occurred to me that I hadn’t told anyone where I was going, and I was barefoot. “Oh well,” I thought, “It’s for a good cause.” Besides, it was kind of exciting.

The further we drove, the less talkative Kent became. As he turned onto the river road, darkness enclosed us. It was still several miles to the Harneys’.

As I considered those facts, Kent pulled the car to a stop and switched off the headlights. “Wha…” I began, but he had already grasped my arm and was pulling me toward himself. “Kent, I thought…” He covered my mouth with his and groped, tearing my shirt as I writhed and pushed against him.

Breaking free, my hear pounding, I slid toward the passenger door and swung it open over the steep, overgrown slope leading to the river. “Please, God, rescue me!” I prayed.

When I hesitated, Kent grabbed my wrist. “Don’t.” he said evenly.

“No! YOU don’t!” I shouted, breaking into sobs. “I want to go home!”

God answered my pleas for help. Kent re-started the car, turned around, and headed back toward town. I kept my back to him with my hand on the door handle, prepared to leap if he so much as made a wrong turn. Before he came to a complete stop at the end of my driveway, I bolted and never looked back. It was the last time I ever saw him.

Inside my bedroom I fell to my knees, thankful to be alive. But I also felt ashamed, stupid, and no longer safe. It was many years before I told anyone about that night.

Oh Katie, I hope I haven’t frightened you. You are so full of dreams and eager to experience life, just as I was on that long-ago summer evening. Would I deny you the freedom you have so responsibly earned? Not for anything. But I had to share my experience with you in hopes that you might learn from it. These are the things I hope you will remember:

Nearly every person who is sexually assaulted knows their abuser.

Most abusers use deception and enticement rather than force to get close to their victim.

It is often the violation of trust, even more than physical injury that causes long-lasting emotional pain.

A person who is sexually assaulted is in no way to blame for it.

It is still assault, even if the person doesn’t say ‘no’ or fight back.

A survivor of sexual assault may wait a long time before talking about the incident. They may be embarrassed, ashamed, fearful of their assailant, afraid of not being believed, or simply eager to forget it. Eventually, though, talking about the assault helps with the healing.

I hope that something like this never happens to you. Oh, how I wish that I could protect you every minute of your life. But that would be like making you sit on that swing, yet never allowing you to experience the joy of swinging. So hold on, Katie, I’m giving you a great big underdog push, but I’ll be here if you ever need me.

Julie Arduini is hosting Fiction Friday today at The Surrendered Scribe.


  1. Sexual abuse can carry some ugly fallout. Thanks for shedding light on this delicate subject. Hugs, Rita

  2. Oh, Sharilyn! What a powerful and important message to young (and not so young) girls. Bless you for writing and sharing this.

  3. Oops,sorry for misspelling your name. [blush].

  4. I remember this one. Powerful. Glad to read it again.

  5. I think every teen should be aware of this post even though you wrote it as fiction, it still happens everyday and more often than we would like to admit.

    Well done Sharlyn!

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  6. Hi,
    If I understood you correctly, this actually happened to you? I am so glad that God protected you, and that you acted so sensibly. Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. Really excellently written. An example of God turning a very painful experience in your life into incredibly valuable ministry for others. I know you'll touch many lives and hearts with this one.

  8. What a powerful story. This is proof that God will take something meant for evil and transform it for His glory. Thank you for sharing this with others to impact them.

  9. Sharlyn, you tackle some difficult subjects in your writing! With you, I rather wish to keep the sweet innocent young ladies all safely wrapped up in cotton, away from a world that can harm them. But that isn't yet God's design, to live safely all the time in a world where evil doesn't exist - but someday it will be!!! and I'm thankful He can bring beauty from ashes in the meantime.

  10. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. You have such compassion. God Bless.

  11. Wow, this was so good that Bear didn't talk about himself in the third person! (just teasin' ya, Bear) These scenes can be so difficult to write, even for us guys, because the subject matter is so disturbing. You handled it well, and using the mother/daughter talk made for an excellent setting.


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