This past Monday night I attended the “Whispers and Roars” event hosted annually by the YWCA in St. Louis. It was a gathering of some 150 people – mostly women, but not all – to hear women read their own poetry written in process of healing from rape, sexual abuse, and incest. I had been invited by a young woman in our congregation who serves as SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) volunteer. The experience was one I will not forget. The strength and will of these women was palpable. They were in different places in the process of rebuilding their lives, and each spoke with honesty and courage. They were reclaiming their lives. One woman’s story stood out to me. Sexually abused as a child, as she grew up she believed she could only relate to men with her body. She became an exotic dancer. As a young woman, she was raped. While in counseling following her rape, she found the inner strength to begin college. There she majored in psychology. Soon she will have her Masters in Psychology and now she serves as a volunteer with the YWCA working with women who have been raped or sexually abused.
Another woman described the confident, can-do-anything young woman she was before …. On the day she was raped, she said that person died. She became frightened, distrustful, always questioning her ability. The confidence she once knew was gone. She is in the process of rebuilding her life. She will never be the same, but her hope is to gain a new kind of confidence and her sharing on Monday night showed that she is on that path.
Some women spoke of their faith, their trust in God or the “higher power’ who is with them on this journey. Again and again through the evening we heard stories of resurrection; truly new life arising from death; hope out of despair. Some were indeed “whispers” where there had been no voice for so long. Others were ready to “roar” – ready for the world to hear their story. One woman said “Please remember and tell my story.” That’s how it is with resurrection. It must be proclaimed and again the women found the courage to proclaim it.
Thanks be to God!