Rape victim turned author tells her story in ‘From My Lips to God’s Ears’ ~ by MEGAN PEREZ staff writer, South Plains College Plainsman Press

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.

[Excerpt taken from] Hollywood Screenplay Treatment Mission Statement, By Dee Smith, Screenplay Writer, Novel “From My Lips To God’s Ears”

[Xlibris Publishing Corporation]

Excerpt taken from Mission Statement of “Hollywood Screenplay Treatment” about the book “From My Lips To God’s Ears” by Screenplay writer Dee Smith:

“From My Lips to God’s Ears” tells the story of one woman’s journey as she deals with the devastating emotional, personal, and social effects of rape. It takes a look at big themes like forgiveness, honesty, regret, and love and filters them all through the experiences of its main character Liz, a young woman who is coming of age.
The novel is written as both a biographical narrative and an emotional exploration of the event and ensuing years and experiences. It is very effective for painting a portrait of Liz’s mental state and gives a clear character for the reader to follow…
Overall, “From My Lips to God’s Ears” is a very effective book. Any and all changes in the treatment have been made in order to take advantage of the tools and techniques unique to cinema as well as to lend clarity to the overall story goals. The end result is a story that adheres to the rigid requirements of a film narrative while retaining the theme, plotting, and intent of the source material!
Logline:
A young woman navigates the difficult landscape of healing and forgiveness after her boyfriend’s best friend rapes her.

Thank you Dee Smith ~ M.A. :)

From My Lips to God’s Ears
An autobiographical novel by M.A. Walker ~ by Leigh Beauchamp DayDSC_1571 MA Walker.jpg Photo: Leigh Beauchamp Day - Mary-Ann (M.A.) Walker stands beside Albro Lake, near her childhood home and directly across from the former site of the Albro Lake Naval Radio Station, where her father served as Operations Officer/Lieutenant, following WWII. The station was closed in 1968. The first three chapters of her book, “From My Lips to God’s Ears,” contain a history of the station and its role on the world stage. 

Within each of us is a book waiting to be written. To do so, however, is to lay bare one’s deepest secrets and shame, as well as the life lessons that come as a result of painful experiences. Dartmouth North’s Mary-Ann Walker, under the pen-name of M.A.Walker, has written one such autobiographical novel.

“There was a time when I could not see beyond my sadness and despair,” Walker says. “I couldn’t imagine trying to attain my lost aspirations.”

From My Lips To God’s Ears is a true story, with some details altered, of course. It chronicles a cruel sexual assault, and the long journey to self-discovery, healing and forgiveness through professional counseling and God’s influence.

The book was not originally intended for publication. It was a self-help memoire written to assist Walker in her own healing. Editors at Xlibris, a self-publishing company, recognized its potential and convinced Walker that her book could help others suffering from pain and self-doubt in similar situations.

Walker summoned the courage to “put it all out there,” as she says. Today, with her book, web, blog and social media sites, speaking engagements and interviews, Walker is determined to help as many women as possible through her message of inherent self-worth and forgiveness. Most of all she encourages women to “seek help. You are not alone.”

In 2009 the book was selected, by committee review, to be included in the Frankfurt Germany International Book Fair. Walker was also one of the featured authors signing books at the 2009 Miami International Book Fair, and recently, at the Word on the Street National Book and Magazine Festival in Toronto. Among her busy schedule of online radio talk show appearances and interviews, Walker recently appeared on CTV Morning Live, with Heidi Petracek.

In addition, Pandora’s Project, a nonprofit online chat forum that provides support to survivors of rape and sexual assault, has invited Walker to be an on-line guest speaker in January 2013. The Project’s global membership includes the UK, Australia and USA.

This fall the book was entered in the Las Vegas Pitchfest, and is currently being adapted for a Hollywood Screenplay.Visit any of Walker’s social media sites for updates on the book and screenplay progress: http://www.frommylipstogodsears.com; Twitter: @MaryAnnWalker5; blog: http://www.frommylipstogodsears.wordpress.com;and Facebook fan page.

The book is available in several formats: as an E-reader through Amazon; at Chapters Coles Indigo Kobo EBook; Walkers’s Website and the Xlibris Online Bookstore, WWW.Xlibris.com. It can also be ordered through any major chain or independent bookseller in the USA and Canada. [Article: North Dartmouth Echo December 2012 Edition, Page 10]

 

Pandora’s Project: Online support and resources for survivors of rape and sexual abuse

http://www.pandorasproject.org/

Pandora’s Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information, support, and resources to survivors of rape and sexual abuse and their friends and family. They have been devoted to recovery and healing since 1999. It is free to join and is safely moderated by a diverse group of survivors (staffed entirely by volunteers).

The Pandora’s Aquarium chat room hosts guest speakers who provide information and field questions about their areas of expertise.  These popular chats are geared toward sexual violence recovery, and speakers have included healing inspirations, authors, and activists.

Link to see transcripts of past guest speaker chats - http://www.pandys.org/guestspeakers.html:

Thirty-seven years later: Recovering from rapeM.A Walker – Author of From My Lips to God’s Ears discusses how sharing her story helped in her healing after years of silence.

What Pandora’s Project has to offer you:

For other interested parties, they offer:

The myth of Pandora taught us that there is evil in the world. But after Pandora’s box was opened, one thing remained: Hope. Though rape and sexual abuse can have lasting effects, recovery from sexual violence is possible. We are here to help you on your journey.

The long road to recovery and acceptance

What are the subsequent feelings of living life as a rape victim?

I had been victimized when I was in my early teens and I went on to live with a victim mentality throughout my adolescence and into my adult life. I felt like I died the day of my rape. Sometimes I actually wished my attacker had killed me so I would not have to go on living this very tortured life. I became pathologically depressed. I hated the adolescent part of me because it represented a weak and vulnerable person who couldn’t avoid being victimized. The thought of ever again feeling helpless petrified me.

As an adult I sabotaged every meaningful relationship I could have had because I was unable to trust a man enough to bond and develop a normal healthy relationship. I remained emotionally numb and became an expert at putting up barriers. In short, I was living in my own personal prison – a prison I had created for myself.

What are popular healing methods? 

I am not an authority on current methods of dealing with mental health issues. The good news is that there is help available to victims of these types of criminal behaviour. I lived a tortured life for more than 30 years before I finally sought professional counselling. I thought of myself as worthless and unfixable and I couldn’t imagine why anyone would consider me valuable enough to actually want to “save” me. I now realize how wrong I was to keep my rape a secret all those years. That was my biggest mistake, but it has given me a purpose for writing my book. If I could only say one sentence to a rape victim this is it, “Read my book and you will understand what a painfully tortured life I experienced because I tried to deal with the repercussions of rape on my own, don’t repeat that costly mistake – get professional counselling as soon as possible”.

Why must a victim forgive?

The natural instincts I felt after my attack were anger, hate, humiliation and fear. Forgiveness was the furtherest thing from my mind. However, living in a world of hate rots the soul and destroys you. The happy person I once had been was decaying because of hate. My psychiatrist guided me to the realization that if I could master the act of forgiveness I would be able to escape from the grips of hate. Then life would become brighter and once again be filled with hope. He also helped me to understand that by forgiving my attacker I would at last escape the control he had over my life. But forgiveness in my case did not end there. I also had to forgive my adult self for all the self-abusive behaviour I did because I was “so messed up”. Finally, I had to learn to forgive the adolescent girl hidden deep inside me who had been victimized in a very cruel act. What sounds like a simple act took a long time and it came with a lot of emotional agony.

Why is this important to accepting an attack?

I thought of forgiveness as a loving act of kindness one offers toward someone you sincerely care for. So why on earth would I offer that loving act to someone I hated? My psychiatrist helped me to understand that learning to forgive was a kind and loving act I needed to extend toward my adolescent self. For so many years I had hated that young girl inside of me who had been vulnerable and the victim of an attack I could never forget. My whole life had been dominated by the effects of that one event. Once I accepted the truth that I was totally unable to prevent the attack, and that it was not my fault, I began to feel liberated. Instead of loathing that innocent girl I could embrace her. A sense of peace began to replace all that resentment and rage. My rape was a tragic event that I had experienced. It really was a part of my reality so I needed to decide what I was going to do about it. If I did not want to live my life stuck in a victim mentality I had to forgive my adolescent self. However, because I was able to take that big step I now am released from the bondage that held me captive for most of my life. Finally I am able to live freely and really learn to love again.

Rape and its devastating effects on the victim

What are the long-term emotional effects?

There is no limit to the emotional effects of rape! It destroyed my sense of well-being and left me feeling like a violated shell of my former self. The “Me” inside that shell had died. I felt worthless and was filled with self-loathing as a result of my rape. I reasoned that, in some way, I was responsible for what had happened to me.  As time passed I directed all that anger and rage inward, becoming self-destructive. I loathed the weak and vulnerable adolescent inside of me that had been so brutally victimized. I was at war with myself and actually spiraled downward to a very dark place where I actually felt that taking my own life was the only way of escaping the hell in which I lived.

How can rape affect more than the victim, for example family members?

My parents were at a complete loss to understand me. For no apparent reason their happy, out-going daughter became introverted and depressed. I withdrew from my usual activities and spent long hours alone in my room. In desperation they did what any responsible parent would do – they sought professional help. Since I had already decided that I was “unfixable” I was uncooperative and that resulted in me being mis-diagnosed. I was suffering in one way; my parents were equally suffering in another way. Our very normal life was turned upside down because of that horrid event and in the years that followed we lived under a very dark cloud. This is an example of how one event can permanently change the lives of a complete family. That is so sad!