South Plains College Plainsman Press ~ 1401 S. College Ave. • Levelland, Texas. Vol. 55 • Issue 7 • February 4, 2013
Feature: Rape victim turned author tells her story in ‘From My Lips to God’s Ears’ by MEGAN PEREZ staff writer
Imagine being a young, carefree teenage girl. Nothing is wrong, and you feel invincible.
Your only worries are what you might wear to school tomorrow, your homework, and what you are doing this weekend if you’re not grounded. Now, imagine all of that being taken away in a matter of minutes.
Rape is an act that can shatter someone’s world and leave them trying to pick up the pieces. “From My Lips to God’s Ears” is a powerful and informative account of a young teenage girl’s rape, written by M.A. Walker.
The young woman Walker writes about in her book is a teenage girl named Elizabeth “Liz” Sulis.This character, however, is based off of Walker herself. Written as a self-help tool, Walker never imagined that her story would be able to help other rape victims.
At 14 years old, Walker was raped by someone she knew and trusted, her boyfriend’s best friend. As her life was almost idyllic, Walker says she never thought that something like that would happen to her.
“Until the day of my attack, I was naïve and totally trusting,” Walker told the Plainsman Press in a recent interview. “I was just a happy-go-lucky kid who got blindsided…My attacker was someone I knew well, and he took advantage of that position of trust to take me off guard. He threatened me that I must never tell what had happened, or ‘The next time it would be worse.’”
This threat was enough to keep Walker silent about her attack. Unfortunately, this act of keeping quiet did more harm than good. During the aftermath of her vicious attack, Walker dealt with many consequences of remaining silent, such as: depression, anxiety, and a suicide attempt. The process of forgiveness was not an easy task, nor was it a short one.
“Forgiveness is not the natural response to sexual abuse,” says Walker. “One is filled with rage and thoughts of revenge as a result of such an attack. I never could have reached the point of being able to forgive my attacker on my own. It was with the compassionate counselling of a wise psychiatrist that I was able to accomplish this.”
Walker adds that she came to understand that she was “trapped in a victim mentality because [her] attacker was still controlling [her] life.” She says that the act of forgiveness was the very first step in taking away his power over her.
According to Walker, there were several layers of forgiveness to go through in her case.
“By that, I mean I had to learn to love and forgive my adolescent self (the weak, vulnerable who had fallen victim to the rapist),” Walker explains about her first layer of forgiveness. “Until I was able to do that, I would continue to be self-destructive, trying to kill the vulnerable person I hated as much as my attacker.”
The second layer, Walker describes, dealt with forgiving herself.
“Forgive my adult self for all the self-abusive things I had done because I loathed myself so much,” says Walker. “For years, I lived convinced that I was damaged and totally unworthy of love or anything beautiful in my life.”
The third layer, again, consisted of forgiving herself for ruining potential relationships.
“…I could have had [meaningful relationships] with people who really did love me and care about me,” Walker explains. “I caused a lot of confusion and heartache for people who did not deserve to be treated in that way.”
She adds that, “Being consumed by hate and self-loathing was very exhausting and tormenting.”
She says that if she never were to forgive her attacker, she would have “remained trapped in that victim mentality.” By forgiving her attacker, though, Walker has learned to heal.
In her book, Walker describes “Three Things Every Victim Should Know.” The first thing every victim should know is that most rape victims often feel that they are responsible for their own attack, and Walker emphasizes in her book that that is misplaced blame. The second is that “un-forgiveness and hate contaminates your life.” As long as you harbor such emotions, you continue to live as a victim and life becomes a living hell, says Walker. The first step to reclaiming your life and taking away the attacker’s control over you is accepting what has happened and finding a way to go on with your life. “No one can do that on their own. You need the help of a psychiatrist with an understanding of this type of abuse to help you through this process.”
The third thing every victim should know is that the power of love can help tremendously in the healing process. “God can use even such a horrible event as I experienced to bring about good,” says Walker. She adds that, “He used some very amazing people in my life to help protect me from myself and help me learn that my life does have a purpose.”
While publishing “From My Lips to God’s Ears,” Walker said that there are many messages she had wished to convey through her book.
“I want people to understand that rape is a life-altering event,” Walker says. “I hope it will arouse compassion for the victim as people get to see how the main character’s life spirals out of control. Convinced that she is ‘damaged goods,’ she is filled with self-loathing and follows a path of self-destruction, and abandons two relationships that could have brought love and meaning into her life.”
Walker also hopes that victims will learn from her mistakes.
“I hope other victims of abuse will seek professional help early,” she says. “By learning to accept what has happened to them and how to arise above it, they will have a better chance to live a balanced, productive life. That is a lot better than living in torment for more than 30 years like I did!”
Walker says she also hopes that because of her book, victims remember that God has endless love for them, and that He is able to restore hope and heal broken lives such as hers.
“He used many people and events to protect me from myself and helped me to understand I have worth and a purpose for my life,” says Walker.
Walker’s story has inspired many rape victims to tell someone about their own attacks, and to not keep silent. She is now an advocate for rape victims and is sharing her own personal story. She hopes that by telling her story she can continue to help other victims to avoid the destructive path that almost destroyed her life.