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July 03 2013

A few months ago, I wrote a post here entitled, The Sexy Wife I Can’t Be. There, I shared how I struggled with being all that for my husband, particularly when the Christian culture around me encouraged me to explore and embrace my sexuality. As a sexual abuse victim, this entire journey has been excruciating.

I received a lot of comments, both public and private–many of you sharing your own stories of struggle, how you long to be “normal” (whatever that is) in terms of your sexual health. There is so much pain around this issue, and far too much secrecy and shame. I want to be a part of the revolution that changes all that.

I wrote that I was entertaining the idea of writing a book about it. It was so painful (and yet so healing) that I had to scrunch the time I wrote it so I wouldn’t live too much under a dark cloud. I finished the book, then I pitched it to my publisher who turned it down. My gut-hunch is that it’s a risk for a publisher, even though the audience is large.

I believe in the message of this book. I believe it will set folks free. So now I’m on the trail of self publishing it. Here’s the cover:


The cool part is that my husband contributed to the book. He gives the perspective of a spouse who hasn’t experienced sexual violation, and how the journey alongside me has been like for him (it’s been hard).

Here is an excerpt of Patrick’s words about our journey together:

I knew about my wife’s history of being sexually abused when I married her. When we were dating it didn’t really come up that often and it is not something I asked her about. She shared in tidbits mostly, but it was so horrifying I don’t think I really wanted to deal with it as a naïve twenty two year old. Even if I knew what to say or to ask, I don’t think I had the right tools to understand all that it meant and would mean in our relationship. We met in church, and our Christian faith was a central factor in our friendship and in our lives as we looked toward the future and what God wanted to do with us as a married couple. For all I knew, she had been “healed” of the effects of it, because you wouldn’t know to talk to her or get to know her that abuse was in her past.

For me, being a believer in Christ is the foundation for how I approach our relationship. It means that I have to take His Word seriously, even when it means that it costs me my expectations of what my wife would be like after we were married. I was thankfully never abused so it has been difficult for me to relate to her at times. If I have a problem I just compartmentalize it, and it took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that a problem as serious as abuse cannot be crammed into a file in the back of your mind. At least not in a healthy way. I found myself giving her advice like, “Just don’t think that way,” which as it turns out, is not very helpful.

My journey with being married to an abuse victim is really a story about Jesus changing me to be more like Him. To hear her with His ears, to respond to her as He would respond, to love her as He would love her. He continues to change my heart in ways that are less selfish and demanding, to more empathetic and generous. Not an easy journey, but one I committed to Mary, to those who attended our wedding, and ultimately to God who brought us together.

This month, I’ll be doing a kickstarter campaign to raise the needed money to finish the project. Watch my twitter feed, facebook or blog for the big announcement.

Here’s the thing: This book TERRIFIES me. It’s raw. It’s really, really open (and I’m accustomed to being open like this, so my fear surprises me). It’s a risk. But I’m willing to take that risk for you. Not that I’m anything special. I just feel like Jesus is asking me to be one of the first, to step out for your sake, to share my journey of healing to bring you hope.

You are not alone. And you don’t have to live with the mark of sexual abuse.


  1. Ro Elliott

    Mary…I am so thankful you are willing to allow God to take your story of redemption and share the same healing hope with others…I know all this comes with a price… but others will be so blessed by your laying down your life for a friend. blessings and prayers as you continue to move forward in getting His message of love to a hurting world.

  2. Mary, I am in awe of what a brave woman you are (defining “brave” as feeling the fear but doing it anyway). Your husband’s words above brought me to tears; I am so thankful that a woman who suffered what you suffered was given a husband like that to walk through the journey with you.

    I’ve never participated in a Kickstarter project, but I’ll be watching for your Kickstarter announcement, and look forward to helping you launch this important project.

    You inspire me, Mary.


    • So encouraging, thanks laura!

  3. Jim

    Thank you. I can empathize with Patrick. My story is similar to his, but different. My wife (now ex-wife) had many of the symptoms of sexual abuse. She kept getting asked if she had been sexually abused by women who had been. She had a real disdain for a single man who lived across the street when she was young. Our sex life was majorly screwed up, and eventually dwindled to virtually nothing. She wanted children, so we only had sex when she was ovulating, All other times she didn’t feel in the mood. I felt so used. I felt that our marriage bed had been defiled by its misuse. But at some level, I knew that the wound I felt was just one that was being passed on. It was passed on to me because I was safe, and because I loved her. An older godly woman told me that I had to “turn sideways and let it go to the cross”. Walking that out is what Patrick describes. Jesus receives all of the wounds that we pass on because He is safe, and he loves us. Being a husband, willing to be conformed to His image involves so much more than a 20 or 30 year old can imagine. But, God is so good. He causes even the struggles, hardships, and pain to be turned around for His glory and our good (praise His name).

    • I’m so sorry you walked through this, but grateful for your gracefilled perspective. I have often felt really bad about my own pain and wished I could just wave a wand and be whole. Wholeness has come, but often quite slow. I’m grateful my husband stuck by me.

      • Jim

        The first thing is that I realized that I didn’t really portray how I could handle her hurts badly, and how insensitive I could be. I blew it lots.

        But also, I wanted to say that you will probably give women hope (the positive side). My ex remarried after she left me. And 3 or 4 years later she left her second husband. I pray that something will encourage her that it is safe with Jesus to open up, and release locked up memories to Him. I pray that she will see hope. I pray that her time to be uncaged is soon.

        • A lot of abuse victims have multiple marriages or choose to never have sex. May Jesus heal her deeply so that she can be whole and happy and healthy in this area.

      • Jim

        I should mention that a scripture that the Lord has given me for encouragement is Is 30:20

        “Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher.”

        The whole thought is Is 30:20-26, but for now, verse 20 is just so rich, and it is something that I think holds true for the person abused, and their spouse as well.

  4. Marilyn

    Hi Mary, I want to buy this book!

    • Thanks Marilyn! It should be out in the next few months.

  5. Mary, this is a book needing to be written and read widely. This is a story needing to be told. My husband had no real inking either of the devastating fall-out to come in our marriage due to the childhood sexual abuse I went through. Like Patrick says, he also had to learn to love sacrificially and try to relate to me as Jesus would have. I am so grateful his love for me has always been strong and he was equipped to stick by me.

    You are already a bold and brave spokeswoman for these issues and many have benefited from hearing your testimony. Somehow, this message should be supported and published. I am with you in prayer and in spirit as you seek to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. May God give you strength and grace to carry on the fight to live uncaged and enable others to know that they can be too.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Joy!

  6. Tina

    I can understand the raw terror and the sharing of this private war. It is very vulnerable. I can imagine how you feel b/c I live it but I can also offer an outside perspective as one who can see the strength and life coming from your vulnerability. I often just feel shame and rejection when sharing from a vulnerable place and that fear gets validated every time I share but when led, (and when not) I often share. It is a risk. Thank you. I will join you and share your step and support you anyway that I can.
    I am a counselor and have connections with many professors at a large Christian University and would love to recommend this book after read to those appropriate who can use it as a therapeutic resource.
    I would also like to help with the expense of publishing it if needed.

    • Thanks Tina. Keep being brave. Some folks freak when you’re vulnerable because they don’t want to face their own vulnerability. Hang in there. And thanks for the encouragement.

  7. Mary, so glad you’re pursuing this. I’ll be praying for you (and Patrick) as you write and prepare to publish the book. Many, many people will be blessed by your vulnerability, your testimony to the hope and reality of healing. I pray God’s love over you, that it would cast out any fear.

  8. I just stumbled across this post and I wanted to say that I am praying for you as you share your story. I have the same burden on my heart to speak TRUTH to women who have been victimized. How many of us sit in church each Sunday heavy with shame that is not ours to carry, and yet we are afraid to lay it down? How much kingdom work goes undone because women of God have been lied to about who they are in the most intimate way? These victories are not beyond Jesus. Especially these. Secrets only have power when they are kept. It is TIME to start talking about it. Imagine Satan disarmed by thousands of women proclaiming their victories OUT LOUD. Satan did his worst and we said “But our Jesus is stronger!” So you go my brave sister and tell your story. I will read it and pray for you, and one day, because you were brave enough, I will tell mine too!

    • Thank you for praying for me, Beverly, and sharing your amazing words! And yes, we need your story!

  9. Kate

    Hi Mary, I need this book and so does my boyfriend. He needs to hear your husbands perspective on how he got through it, and I need to hear yours. When and where will I be able to obtain a copy?

    • The Kickstarter campaign will be sometime this month (to fund it). My hope is that I’ll release it in August.

  10. Don

    Mary, you are special. I get it that you don’t want to act special, like you deserve more than others. But you are special, you should feel special, recognize that the Lord sees you as special, your readers, even very occasional ones like myself, know that you are special. Your husband also shows that he knows you are special too. Thank you for doing what you do. You obviously “do” because of who you are. God bless you…and restore all that the enemy has stolen.

  11. Geri Jones

    I can share with you that the healing from this abuse is s long, uphill battle. First because as a Christian you don’t embrace the battle but try to shove it down. I can tell you how much danmage that does to you, it did to me. A few years ago I was able to undo the damage with Gods word and the pain is gone. There is nothing left but the victory over the pain. I hope your book reaches many who are still in the ‘shoving down’ season, and with Gods word and godly direction they can be healed. Praying for you……

    • Yes I so agree. It’s not an easy healing, but it’s SO rewarding in hindsight.


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