Sunday, September 19, 2010

SPEAKing Out

Honestly, this is a post I never dreamed I'd write. My hands are shaky, and I'm frantically thinking through all the possible consequences and ramifications of telling my story even as I type. Not consequences for me, but for my family who may not appreciate having me peel back the cover on my childhood and invite the world to take a look.

But I think I need to. Because there's a book out there being called soft pornography and filth by a man who wants it yanked from high school libraries and curriculum in the name of Christianity, and I have to disagree.

The book is SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson and it tells the story of a high school girl who is raped and chooses to remain silent about the horrible thing that has happened to her. The man objecting to the book is Dr. Wesley Scroggins, a resident of Rebulic, Missouri who published an opinion letter in the newspaper decrying several things included in the public school education in Republic. After calling the book soft-pornography, he says,
"This is a book about a very dysfunctional family. Schoolteachers are losers, adults are losers and the cheerleading squad scores more than the football team."
He goes on to object to the two rape scenes included in the book. I can understand his point. Rape is a tough thing to think about. A tough thing to imagine happening to someone you care about. To you.

But here's the truth. Rape happens to girls in high school and younger all the time. Ignoring it, silencing it, refusing to look at the terrible consequences doesn't make it go away. I'm a Christian and am passionate about my faith, and I cringe when I see things like this because there's a difference between being outspoken about SINS, like rape, and being outspoken against something that might help the victims.

And this is the part of this post that has me feeling like maybe throwing up would be preferable to typing, but I'm a big girl now and it's time to exercise my right to speak.

I'm a rape survivor. I can't remember the first time I was raped because most of my childhood from before my eleventh birthday is now a murky, shadowy haze of submerged memories I've long since stopped trying to access. The memories I do have of the abuse I consistently suffered at the hands of my grandfather are bad enough. I don't need the ones my brain decided were too difficult to hang on to.

We moved from Oregon to California soon after the truth of my grandfather's actions came to light. Before that, though, he confessed to the cops, I went before a Grand Jury, and the consequence was that he was given six months of state-paid-for counseling. That's six more than they gave to me. His reputation remained intact. His marriage remained intact. His job remained intact.

I, on the other hand, was absolutely shattered. And I'd just learned, once again, that he had the power. And that no one would come to my aid and make it right.

Junior High was hell. I know it's hell for most kids, but please trust me when I say that it was HELL for me. I didn't know how to be a normal girl. I didn't know how to protect myself from threats I felt sure where all around me. I had this horrible, dark emptiness inside me that felt like it would swallow me whole if I ever looked it in the eye, so I didn't. I threw myself into activities, frantically staying as busy as possible. When I wasn't busy, I was lying on my bed, curled in on myself, trying to understand what had happened to me. Trying to figure out how to feel normal, or at least how to act like it. Because the secret shame I carried with me was a weight so heavy, I always felt one tiny step away from sinking beneath it forever.

I had no friends. Really. The few relationships I managed to make dissolved within months because I was different. Secretive. Still bleeding and junior high is an arena full of sharks. I didn't know how to make small talk. I didn't know how to talk about boys. I didn't know how to be anything other than damaged and broken. And I never saw anyone else struggling like me.

Once, when I scraped up the courage to share my story with someone, I was quickly the topic of gossip. Most of which involved speculation that I was a slut and dissected what I wore each day to confirm their opinion that if I was going to wear jeans that tight, I must have asked for it. See? Sharks with blood in the water.

When I went to high school, I made the decision to hide who I really was. I stuffed the pain, the broken pieces, into that dark, icy emptiness inside me and put on a show. I was the funny girl. The understanding girl. The one who would listen to your problems all day, as long as you didn't ask me to share any of mine. I went as deep as boys and school stress with my friends and no deeper. Because I'd learned. Rape was a four letter word that made me an outcast. A pariah. A leper with a scarlet A branded to my chest for something people seemed to think I must have brought upon myself.

By the time I was a sophomore, I was involved in an abusive relationship with a boy who got angry with me over imagined infractions, threatened rape as a consequence for things like not answering the phone within two rings when he called, and shoved me onto the ground if I dared question his behavior. I took it all because I thought I deserved nothing better. I hid everything he did from my friends too, because it was important to be normal. Too look unbroken even as I was convinced something like that would never be true for me. A few months into that relationship, I stopped eating more than a piece of toast and a juice box each day. I took diet pills like they were candy. I smiled, laughed, joined every extra curriculum activity I could, placated my boyfriend, took more pills, smiled some more, and at every cost, avoided telling most people I was the victim of rape.

In fact, I stopped thinking of myself as a victim. I don't know what word I would give it, but it was a combination of loathing and despair. Maybe I had brought it on myself. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe the way my family had imploded could've been avoided if I'd been smarter, more able to say no, better able to handle the secret on my own rather than let the truth slip back when I was ten.

As I told you, I'm a Christian. I was a Christian then too. And the few youth leaders who encountered me then didn't know what to do with me. Rape wasn't something you talked about. A girl who would sacrifice her body to her boyfriend to avoid his anger because she didn't think her body had any worth anymore wasn't a subject anyone knew what to do with. I felt like I was constantly out of step with the world around me and after a while, I was convinced I would never figure out how to make it right.

Near the end of  my senior year, I finally broke it off with my abusive boyfriend. He began stalking me, waiting for me outside my workplace, driving up to my house and standing outside my window at 3 in the morning. I was scared. But more than scared, I was just tired. So tired. Of trying to be something I wasn't. Of pretending I could ever clean myself up enough. Scrub off the shame and the labels and finally figure out who I was originally created to be before my grandfather's sin shattered my life. One night, I became convinced all it would take to heal my family and make everything right was my death. I didn't even really sit and think about it. The idea felt so right to me, I just got up at 2 a.m., walked downstairs, opened a new bottle of ibuprofen, and shook a huge handful out. I figured if I died in my sleep, it would be easiest on my parents. No mess to clean up. Just a peaceful exit to a life I didn't really want anymore.

My dad, who is a hard sleeper, came downstairs just before I tossed the mouthful of pills down my throat and asked me what I was doing. I told him I had a headache, slid all but two of the ibuprofen back into the bottle, and went back upstairs. I didn't feel like I'd escaped anything. I didn't feel disappointed either. In fact, I barely knew how to feel anything at all. The black, gaping numbness inside me had nearly taken over. I was a shell who knew how to go through all the motions.

I went to Pepperdine University that fall and promised God I would actually spend time getting to know Him. And that I wouldn't date again until I knew he was the man I was going to marry. I no longer had any faith in my own screwed up instincts. I'd always seen God as a distant, judgement-delivering entity who must be obeyed but who had no idea how badly I hurt inside. He gently began showing me that instead of keeping his distance from the leprous rape victim, He was holding me and crying along with me.

I still had a long way to go. I had to get counseling for multiple personality disorder. And just a few years ago, I entered treatment for post traumatic stress disorder. I'm not whole yet. I know that. But I'm married to a man who asked me to be his wife even while he realized I had a multiple personality and he's never wavered in his love and commitment to me. I'm surrounded by a community of Christians who openly talk about the harsh, crappy stuff that sometimes hits us and who aren't afraid to be totally authentic about where they are. I've learned how to push my secrets out into the light where they can start to heal.

Maybe SPEAK isn't Dr. Scroggins' cup of tea. Maybe the idea of having his children read about a highly dysfunctional family is upsetting. Maybe the thought of having rape be a terrible reality in the life of the book's main character offends him. That's his right. But for every child who is blessed with a non-dysfunctional home and who hasn't been broken by something as awful as rape, there's another girl like me. A girl who can't find the words to describe how shattered she feels. Who doesn't even know if she has the right to feel shattered. Who's learned that bringing her secrets to the light results in more pain. That girl needs books like SPEAK to be on the shelves. She needs to know there are others out there like her. She needs to see someone else's path so she can have the language to start thinking about her own outcome.

As a Christian and a rape survivor, I want SPEAK to stay on the shelves. And I want others to write books about rape. Incest. Child abuse. Eating disorders. Multiple personality disorder. Post traumatic stress disorder. Because those are just as real, just as present, for some kids as worrying about grades and peer pressure are for others. Books can give children the language they need to be able to describe themselves and the things they're facing. To silence the book could be to silence the child.

I've had enough silence. Have you?

Author Veronica Roth has an incredible post that sums up how I feel even better than I managed to do myself.

195 comments:

  1. Wow. Thank you so much for Speaking Loudly. You are one of the most appropriate people to do so.

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  2. <3<3<3<3 So much love for you right now, CJ.

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  3. It's hard for me to type right now through the tears. Your story is so powerfully wrenching. Your courage is amazing to me. To put this out here for the world...wow. It's mindblowing and heroic. I've been very sensitive to this subject lately after finding out of a student's abuse this past week. I think of your story and think what girls or even guys are sitting in my classroom in pain. I pray God will give me the strength to reach out to them and help them, so they don't have to go through what you did.

    I'm also amazed that you were able to rebuild your faith in God. You are a true testament to what a survivor and a true Christian really is. May God bless you and continue to hold you close to him. I will be praying for you and that you guys will have a child in your arms very soon!!!

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  4. You are an amazing woman. *hugs* I am so glad that you have a loving husband and a church family that loves and supports you and that you are getting the help you have always deserved.

    Thank you for not being silent about this.

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  5. CJ, my words here feel shallow. I'm speechless and in tears, but I just wanted to let you know I read this. I can't even begin to know or understand the depth of the horror you've lived through. Thank you for sharing this with the world and being willing to #speakloudly.

    People like Dr. Scroggins think that if you ignore something, it'll go away. That some things are just too unpleasant to discuss with children.

    Your experience shows what happens when you don't SPEAK and, if you do, what happens when people don't LISTEN.

    ((Hugs)) to you, CJ, my brave, brave writer friend.

    ~Laurie

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  6. I read this and I am so sorry. I want to thank you for SPEAKING UP!

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  7. C.J. Thank you for speaking out. Your words will touch someone's life and you may not even know it. Just like the man who preached love, forgiveness and hope and opened the doors to the unloved, the broken, the hurting, and the outcast.

    God Bless
    Robin Covington

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  8. You're a beautiful, beautiful woman, and this is a beautiful post. Thank you for writing it.

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  9. Rock on. This is a powerful and wonderful piece.

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  10. What a moving decision you made to post this. Your courage trumps the blindness of Dr. Scroggins. Thank you.

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  11. I wish I could hug you right now, but I'll settle for thanking you deeply. For sharing, for being honest, for standing up for these important books. I can't even begin to imagine how hard this was for you, but you are amazing in my eyes. I wish you only the best.

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  12. Thank you so much for speaking out. Your story is heartbreaking and so, so real. I applaud you for your strength, and wish you luck and love on your continued journey.

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  13. Thank you for speaking out. I am sorry that you have had such tough experiences, but you are clearly a very strong individual. I am extremely glad that you have chosen to share your story with us.

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  14. Like a lot of posts I've seen today with people who have very bravely spoke out about what has happened to them, I cannot find the words to write. Your post was very powerful and brought me to tears and I'm so sorry something so horrible happened to you. I also think it's amazing that you have the courage to tell everyone this story. I admire your strength and pray that you always have it.

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  15. I think you are courageous beyond measure. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  16. Hugs, hugs, hugs, CJ. I'm so sorry you had to go through that and so glad you've gotten to where you are now.

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  17. Thanks for sharing your story. I am cryingI admire your strength and courage to post this.

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  18. Wow. I'm speechless. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I've been trying to publish a novel about a victim of incest who tries to find her way to a happier place--and it's not a topic people want to publish, so I haven't had any luck. Your story has renewed my faith in that manuscript. (If you're interested, you can read the first chapter on my website: http://jasminedenton.webs.com/apps/blog/show/4789619-another-life-ya-contemporary)

    You're very brave, and it's people like you who deserve to have SPEAK on the shelves. If we deny the books, it's just as bad as denying the people the books are written for. And that's just unacceptable.

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  19. My heart broke reading this. I can't imagine what it's like to go through that or anything remotely close to it. I pray that God will heal you and make you whole, and that what others meant for evil, He will use for good. Thank you for having the courage to speak.

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  20. CJ, you have a powerful story that should be told. Thank you for having the courage to speak out about a subject too often shoved under the rug.

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  21. You amaze me in so many ways for speaking out.
    Thank you for this post, C.J. <3

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  22. CJ, I just want to cry for what you've gone through and then come give you a big hug. This was such a brave post, and exactly the reason why these attempts at banning books so infuriate me. If people don't want to read books, or their kids to read them, fine. But stop trying to dictate what others can read.

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  23. You are an amazing woman and this was an amazing piece of writing. Thank you for speaking up.

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  24. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm glad you found out about the God I know-the kind who weeps with us when we cry and who celebrates with us when we are happy. No child deserves to go through the horrific events you suffered. No one does. I have tears in my eyes thinking about all you have gone through. To open your heart like this for us is incredibly courageous. Bless you and a hug from your virtual supporter.

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  25. Thank you so much for sharing. Stories like these are never easy to tell and it took extreme courage for you to put it out there.

    I work with kids who have emotional/behavioral disorders and the majority have been abused. It angers me beyond words to have people pass judgement on victims or question material that may help express themselves. While SPEAK may not be for everyone it is very important for some.

    Thank you for being brave enough, strong enough to SPEAK.

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  26. Thank you for sharing your story...I know it wasn't easy. I'm sorry you had to go through that, but I'm glad that you can use your experiences to shed light on this issue. I've had SPEAK on my TBR list for a while, but it's now moved to the top.

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  27. Thank you for sharing your story. I think it's important that we speak up and let others know that this happens. And that we let the survivors know that they can not only survive, but thrive. It takes time. It takes knowing you're not alone. It takes work.

    Most of my memories hit me at age 29. And I'm now working on a book based on all of that - almost 20 years later.

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  28. Your post has moved me to tears CJ! You are an amazing women and a huge strength so many! I'm so angered by Mr S's ignorant comments by the article that I posted about it on Mundie Moms. Thank you for sharing your story. You are a VOICE that may bring hope and comfort to other victims.

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  29. Thank you for sharing your story. It's given me the courage to tell mine on my own blog. I sincerely hope that people Speak Loudly for this issue, and we can work to get this book off the banned list. Lots of love to you, and hugs too.

    =Brittany

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  30. You are an amazing person! I love seeing you grow and just get stronger when you overcome things like this! I truly believe YOU can get through anything thrown at you , especially with a husband like Clint at your side. I love you , and I'm proud to be your friend!!

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  31. Thank you so much for posting this...... I too am a rape survivor, and it has effected me as well..... I am afraid of men now, and have gone all through high school being afraid to get near a boy. It has been rough, and its nice to know that you aren't alone..... Books like SPEAK are informative and every single teenager should be required to read it....... so that they know what is going on, because frankly i dont think many of them do.

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  32. My dear, brave sister, I love you. You don't know how proud I am of you for choosing to write this post. I'm so sorry for all the times I was too caught up in my own pain to see yours. As horrible as our childhood was, I'll always be glad you were the one I went through all that with.

    I think it's beyond ridiculous that someone is trying to get this book pulled off shelves. He is just like all those people who told us to just be quiet and act like nothing happened. People like that often times do more damage in the aftermath than the actual rapist. I was extremely vocal about what happened once I'd found out that you'd told and gone through all that crap with the court. I had numerous people, especially at church and school, try to silence me. I'm not saying that I went about it all the right way, we both know I was just exploding all over everything, but the importance is in the SPEAKING.

    You are a survivor, and inspiration and an amazing woman. You have come through this all with love, humor and perseverance. I'm going to buy SPEAK now just on principle alone.

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  33. I'm teary, proud and humbled by your courage and your stance. You are so completely right. Silence is intolerable.

    I've taught kids who've been through similar situations, kids who deal with PTSD because of abuse, kids who don't know how to deal with kindness and love and joy.

    The world should be safe for kids. No one has the right to make it otherwise. We have to keep talking, keep helping, keep reaching out.

    My shelves at school will soon hold a copy of Speak. Thank you for doing this. *hugs*

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  34. Speaking outloud is the best payback you can give to the men in your life who tried to break you. I'm sorry if I offend your Christianity with this, but I hope they both burn in whatever Hell there is to offer them.

    Thank you for your bravery and your honesty. Your courage is inspiring.

    - Liz

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  35. Found your post via Twitter #speakloudly. Thank you for sharing your story with other readers who believe that SPEAK belongs on bookshelves, and that there should be more literature available for teens on topics like this.

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  36. Thank you for being so courageous as to share your story.

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  37. Bravo for telling your story.

    I, too, want this book on the shelves of every school library in the country, because there are young women who need to know that they aren't some sort of dirty, slutty freak for 'allowing' themselves to be sexually abused.

    Before I moved to Illinois over five years ago, I worked as a para in an elementary school back in Kansas. I wasn't supposed to know the 'deep dark secrets' of any of the students, not being a certified educator. But I was told anyway.

    One of my girls that came in mid-year had come because she'd been repeatedly raped by her grandfather, and when it came to light, she was sent to live with other relatives.

    At the end of that school year, I took her aside. I told her, privately, that I knew what had happened to her and why she was here.

    She bowed her head in shame and nodded.

    It broke my heart.

    I gently lifted her chin and told her - don't ever, ever, bow your head in shame like that. Never again. You didn't do anything wrong. You have no reason to.

    I told her to walk with her head high, and reach for the stars, whatever her dreams were, she should go after them.

    I told her I was only an e-mail or text away if she ever needed me.

    I never heard from her - and I moved away, so I've never seen her.

    That doesn't mean I've ever forgotten her. I wonder about her often - wonder if she's remembering what I told her, and walking with her head high... or lowered in shame.

    I truly hope it is the former.

    I truly hope she finds this book.

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  38. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I'm crying as I read it because I've heard it so many times before - different girls, different abusers, different locations but same story. It needs to be told, and it needs to be heard, until that distant time when rape stops and it's no longer relevant to our children.

    My girl thinks I'm exaggerating the dangers she faces from her classmates and authority figures. She still thinks she's invincible. I knew better at that age, I knew that the people you love will abuse your trust and destroy you. So even while I worry about her self-preservation instincts, I give thanks every day that she can afford to be so innocent. That she's had a far better childhood than I did.

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  39. Wow CJ. I'm having a hard time typing because I'm so choked up at all you went through. Thank you for writing this, for sharing your story, for having the strength to do so.

    Shame on anyone for listening to this man who would say that people don't have the right to read a book that takes on an issue that makes him uncomfortable. What a small minded man.

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  40. What a powerful story. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  41. i have tears in my eyes you have been through so much, things that i can not eve imagine you are a extordinary women and yes indeed a survivor never loose hope becausee you are a lovely special women, thank you so much for sharing you are a inspiration to many

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  42. I'm so glad your story has a happy ending (relatively speaking), that you found God, got counseling, found support in a wonderful husband. So many girls don't. We need this book.

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  43. Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so sorry for everthing you've been through. Thanks for Speaking and I agree with you. This book needs to be on the shelf for our kids.

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  44. CJ,

    Your bravery in sharing your story says volumes about you. I've read your blogs, and it is clear to me that you are a wonderful writer, wife and mom. But this post shows your incredible courage, courage that can help others who have suffered.

    You are right. We cannot remain silent. Thank you for speaking out.

    Blessings to you and your family.

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  45. Thank you so much for speaking out. Your bravery is incredibly inspiring.

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  46. Thank you so much for this brave post.

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  47. This took a lot of courage and heart. I'm in awe of the strength you've found to speak out against the horror and those who try to stuff it back in the closet. Thank you doesn't begin to say how grateful I am.

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  48. My eyes are filled with tears. Bravo for speaking up! I am so glad you found your voice and your way back to God. *hugs*

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  49. I cried reading this. You are so brave. Just ... That's really all I can say.

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  50. Thank you for Speaking Out. Incredably inspiring. God Bless you and continue to help you heal. Stories like yours are exactly why silence isn't an option.

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  51. Beautifully, and bravely, said. Thank you for sharing this.

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  52. You are a strong brave woman, CJ Redwine, deserving of admiration and respect. Thank you for writing this.

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  53. I'm so sorry for what you had to go through. I totally agree with you, that there needs to be resources like this available to those who need them.

    The wonderful thing about being an American is the freedom of choice. If this book isn't someones cup of tea then they can choose not to read it.

    Hold your head high and know that you are worth everything. ((HUGS))

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  54. Honest Christians are behind you. Christ is beside you holding your hand. Keep on keeping on.

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  55. I can't say anything more than has already been said. Brava!

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  56. I can't even say how awesome I think you are for putting this out there. (Really. I've been trying to write this comment for ten minutes.) So: thank you. I learned more about God through you today.

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  57. You are incredibly brave and compassionate to share this part of yourself to help others. Praying for you.

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  58. Thank you for this, CJ. Your courage is an inspiration, the kind of inspiration that bores through complicity by acquiescence and forces us to acknowledge that doing nothing is not an option.

    SPEAK must stay on the shelves.

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  59. Dude, I'm trying so hard not to burst into tears and failing so miserably. I'm so angry that someone would want to hide the truth from the world. People may not want to know that bad things happen in the world, they may be content to ignore those things and their life might allow that, but for those people who have gone through these things, who have seen the horrors of life, they need books like these to be out there.

    Anyway, I'm a big mess right now, but thank you for writing this post. My mom always says that you shouldn't get back at people when they hurt you because God will hurt them a lot more than you can, that He knows what He's doing, and that things will play out the way they should--and I tell her it's so tempting, to get back at someone who has hurt you so much, but she's right. And though you've hurt a lot more than your grandfather's been hurt, though he's escaped the punishment he deserves to have handed out to him by humans, he won't escape God's punishment for hurting you and your family.

    Thank you again.

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  60. As a mother, I want to hide all the ugly parts of the world from my children but, that is not a reasonable way to live. I cannot imagine the depths of disappointment my girls would feel when they figured out otherwise. I think books like these are a tool to help us discuss the parts of life that scare even us grownups. Read it together and let your children know you are there for them no matter what. We are their soft place to land--good times or bad.
    Thank you for your bravery.

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  61. Thank you so much for your post. You're very brave to have survived and now to have spoken out so that even one more person might survive also. Again, thank you.

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  62. I came from a Twitter rec, and I am very glad I did. Thank you for writing and sharing this.

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  63. Absolutely blown away by your courage. Thank you for posting this and telling the truth. After reading this how anyone could think a book like SPEAK can be anything but a mind-opener for the sheltered and a lifejacket for the injured is beyond me. May your healing continue...

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  64. It hurt my heart to read your story. I can't imagine what it took to write it down. You are very strong. And you are absolutely right about SPEAK.

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  65. I found this post through Twitter. I cannot put into words how moved I am by the courage it took for you to write this. You have endured so much, and through it learned to speak an important Truth-ignorance of something does not eliminate its existence. Thank you for SPEAKing out.

    May you be blessed.

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  66. You are a wonderful woman. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. <3

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  67. Thank you for your courage in speaking up.

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  68. This is so beautiful ... I wish I could just pour love over you. YOU AREN'T alone. I was a hurting, broken little girl too, and God healed me. Books helped me. Thank you for your story and your courage in speaking out.

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  69. You are an amazing person, thank you so for speaking out and sharing this story. <3

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  70. Thank you so much for telling your story. It matters. And books like SPEAK matter, too.

    Peace be with you....

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  71. Thank you so much for this. You AREN'T alone. It's a very powerful and touching story and I'm honored to read it.

    ~M.A.Chase

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  72. Thank you for speaking out and sharing your story. Rape statistics are heart rendering, and not enough is being done to make girls aware. I too have heard too many stories of girls who are covered with shame, when they should be emboldened to speak out and bring the sick perpetrators to justice!
    Thank you.

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  73. You are so brave to Speak. I am in awe.

    And, even for those of us who haven't had your life experiences, books like Speak teach empathy for others, warn of dangers that are around us in the most benign-seeming events, and are good fiction worthy of being read.

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  74. Your courage is amazing and inspiring. Yes, SPEAK must stay on the shelves in schools, libraries and homes.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  75. You have amazing courage and I hope you continue on the path to healing and peace.

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  76. My what a post. You know writing all this down may be a new start for you, it was your decision to write about your life so in doing so you may feel a whole lot better, My daughter when 9 was abused my a family friend, he worked with my late husband and we knew nothing until another girl told her mother what had happened.
    At the time my daughter seemed to cope but it was only when the person concerned comitted suicide she went to pieces for a while.
    She is now 38 yrs old have a 11 yrs old boy and a wonderful partner,You were brave to write this post and I am positive you will feel differently.
    God Bless you
    Take care.
    Yvonne.

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  77. CJ, thank you for posting this. I am so proud to know you.

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  78. You're not alone.
    http://writerswanderings.blogspot.com/2010/09/speak-out-speak-loudly-speak.html

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  79. What a beautiful, beautiful post. The system is very messed up re: prosecuting sex offenders, and I'm just so sad to see that your grandfather got a slap on the wrist - not nearly as much as he deserves. Not even close.

    This is an inspiring post, and you're an inspiration. Thank you for writing it. And I'm so happy to see you pull your life back together and be strong for all the girls that aren't right now, in writing this post. Thank you.

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  80. Wow CJ, this was an amazing and beautiful post and I'm so glad you wrote this. The ability to SPEAK is a powerful thing and reading that story had me convinced that SPEAK should be REQUIRED reading in every high school--it's the last book that should banned. *hugs* You're an amazing person!

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  81. Awareness takes its root in the words of those that speak up.

    http://christigoddard.blogspot.com/2010/09/time-to-speak-up.html

    I'm with you, sister. You're not alone.

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  82. I don't know you, but I am crying ... and I love you with my whole heart.

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  83. Before I taught public high school, I lived in my cushy little "perfect Christian bubble." I had a nice life, a great family, and thought everyone else grew up that way too. Then I started teaching, and I realized that I was the exception to the rule. I suddenly encountered students whose day to day lives were exactly like what you just described. Exactly what the book SPEAK is all about. And I knew I had found my calling. The teaching part is really secondary. Because life is HARD and these kids are going through HELL- just like you said- and they need someone in their corner. Someone to be there for them, to support them, to be their cheerleader. And MORE books need to be written about this too. I agree with you one million percent. Because I have taught girls who have read Speak, and then come up to me and said that they are rape victims, or have friends who are rape victims. I teach girls who cut themselves, who are anorexic/bulimic. Every year, I teach at least one girl who gets pregnant, and at least one girl who gets an abortion. In the past 5 years, I have had 4 students die- either from suicide or from drunk driving. Books that deal with these issues MUST NOT BE SILENCED!

    Thank you for speaking out in your post. It takes SUCH amazing courage. I wish that I could be sitting with you now so that I could hug you, or at least hold your hand, and say thank you. Quite possibly, this post has given other women the courage to speak out as well.

    Amanda
    @AmandaLBurford

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  84. You are brave and amazing and a role model. Thank you for sharing this.

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  85. You are so brave for sharing your story like this. I feel like giving you a hug!

    As a Christian and a mother, SPEAK is one of those books that I wanted my daughters to read so that we could discuss it together.

    It is good to be reminded, too, that no matter what we go through in life, our God is there every step of the way with us.

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  86. How brave of you to share your story with others. This is such a touchy subject, but one that should not be silenced and pushed into a corner. Girls of all ages need to be aware of what's out there and know it's not their fault.
    Thank you for sharing such a private time in your life to help others.

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  87. Thank you so much for sharing your story. This is probably one of the most powerful posts I've read in a long time.

    I hope by sharing your story that it gives strength to others - and that SPEAK does need to be read and discussed - because if it helps just one person come forward and realize they are NOT alone- it's a victory.

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  88. Mine was an uncle and I never spoke up. He went to jail for less than a year for the molestation of the daughter of a woman he'd been dating -- many years later. If I'd said something, could I have saved her the trauma? I doubt it. My parents were never willing to believe he'd done anything wrong. Not even after he went to jail.

    I have almost no memories of my childhood -- all hidden deeply enough I learned to pretend to remember people each time they went away again.

    I have to agree that the story needs to be heard. I cannot read it, but it should be read. It would be nice if the rapists could start feeling guilty and the victims could stop. Because the way things are, I would bet that every commenter on this blog knows someone who went through something like this. Maybe not a family member that destroyed great portions of their lives and memories, but I bet every one of you know someone who has been raped and has kept silent.

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  89. Thank you for being brave. We might be strangers, but I love you. My daughters were sexually abused and the best healing that I could give them was to listen and believe them. The so-called professionals ignored them for five years. We need to speak up about this. Thanks again. Love and peace, Simon.

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  90. You have me in tears. Thanks for speaking out. I hope that SPEAK remains on the shelves for the other children going through the same thing right now.

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  91. Thank you so much for sharing your story and for speaking up so beautifully and eloquently against banning books!

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  92. The crime is real and it happens, and just like people latch on to story characters dealing with or overcoming other issues, there is tremendous value to showing how people respond here. At the very least, it might make someone feel just a little less alone. Maybe even a little braver for it.

    You are very brave to tell your own story in defending the book.

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  93. Thanks for speaking up! May God bless you today and always! <3

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  94. I am so sorry for what you had to go through. I truly feel your pain deeply, literally. But you are loved and admired by many now, even by strangers and I'm so glad your healing, even if it is slowly. Thank you for speaking up about such an important book but more importantly for sharing your story. I'm sure this will help someone out there who's grieving on the inside just you like did and it will help those to not ban the book, I'm sure of it.

    I want to hug you now but I'll settle for virtual hugs. *HUGS*

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  95. Your post is beautiful and moving. I applaud you for your strength and not turning your back on God.
    ((HUGS))

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  96. It hurts to read this, but it was so, so necessary. Thank you and God bless you.

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  97. My heart is with you for sharing this. I too believe books like Speak need to be on the shelves for teenagers to read. I have been blessed with a safe life, but I have four daughters and I know the odds - probably at least one of them will encounter some sort of abuse or at least sexual harrassment. Thank you for sharing your story. I am a believer too and am always saddened by other Christians who are so burdened with fear that they feel they have to strike out against something that is raw and real. With Jesus, we should not have to live in fear - He gives us freedom - and you've found it, never forget it. Thank you again.

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  98. *hugs*

    This post made me cry.

    Thank you for telling your story. I hope it helps others who have been victims of such abuse.

    <3,
    TL

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  99. I'm so glad you spoke out. My thoughts and prayers are with you. *hugs*

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  100. Thank you for having the courage to SPEAK LOUDLY.

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  101. God bless you for speaking out. God bless you for taking a stand and refusing to let other girls push the mute button on their lives. I stand with you--with SPEAK.

    Take care and thank you--with all my heart.

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  102. I commend your courage on speaking out. I can't imagine what you went through or how difficult it is to talk about it, but you're doing a service to females everywhere. Thank you.

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  103. This was an amazing post and you are such a brave person for sharing your story with us. Words are escaping me right now, but thank you.

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  104. Thank you for this post. Like so many others, I'm in tears too. And terrified, for you see? I have four little kids, and I live in fear that something like this may happen to them. I read Speak last year for the first time, and I haven't stopped thinking about it. I'm a Christian, and I don't want any other person who calls himself a Christian telling me, in the name of religion, what we or our children should or should not read. Keep Speak on the shelves. For all of those who don't have a voice and don't know how to speak.

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  105. I came over from Jemi's blog and found an amazing and strong woman. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  106. CJ, I know this was so difficult to write. Did it help? Do you feel like a weight is off of you, having put this out there? The thought of opening a book to my childhood gives me chills and makes me nauseous! You are so brave and strong! I am so glad the misery in your story dies out, and is replaced by lots and lots of good! I am especially looking forward to all the parts of your story about your daughter! Love ya girl! :)

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  107. I, too, want to thank you for telling your story. It fills me with such sadness, but I am grateful for your strength, your courage, and your healing. May God bless you richly as you continue to speak out.

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  108. CJ, my words feel so inadequate right now. Thank you. Thank you for your courage and honesty and bravery. Thank you for the love you feel and the strength in your soul. Thank you for speaking, and no remaining silent. You are exactly the reason why this book should and does exist. You are braver than you know and I have more love for you in my heart than I can show.

    Thank you.

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  110. This post makes my own letter in defense of Speak seem as stale as yesterday’s bagel. Really, this is a stunning testament of trauma and faith and courage and the need for children to be heard.

    You’ve been silenced all these years, but no longer. Blessings, and thanks.

    P.S.
    Your story reminded me of Meg Tilly’s, which you can read of here and here. The more we speak, and the more we listen, the more wisdom and compassion will be there for our children.

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  111. This post is amazing, I'm crying righ now. Thanks so much for speaking out. Lot of hugs and love to you!

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  112. I went through grade school and high school with a C Redwine, and while I know you are not her, I picture her when I think of you.

    As I read your article, it struck me - this could easily have been her life, or the lives of so many of the kids I grew up with. I didn't have a clue what was going on in the outside-of-school-lives of so many of the people I knew.

    I knew some kids who went through these things, but they weren't the "perfect" kids. Your story brings home to me that the "perfect kids" probably were covering up as well.

    I'm so sorry you had to go through being raped and being victimized multiple times as you told your story, and then watching as your grandfather only got a slap on the wrist.

    I think you were brave then, especially to have considered suicide so strongly and then to have decided against it. I think you are brave now to write and publish this post. I hope it helps someone who is going through the same things.

    And to "my" C Redwine, one of the "perfect kids" I admired, wherever you are, I feel awfully empty right now. I wish I'd gotten to know you better. I hope that your growing up years were as good as mine, and that I did not add to your pain in any way, shape or form if they were not. Please forgive me if I did.

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  113. I came here via another blog that wrote about Speak, and good for you to talk about this. I can't believe what he compared the book to, and I am horrified.

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  114. Thanks for being so brave and sharing your story - courage and acceptance are so hard. Bless you.

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  115. Your courage and honesty are truly amazing. I have no words.

    Thank you for sharing.

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  116. I just came across this post via a link on Twitter, knowing nothing about the censorship controversy or even the book SPEAK.

    But I want to commend you on sharing your story and such a beautiful and honestly written piece.

    It touched my heart this morning.
    x

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  117. Dang...

    I know there should be better words to say but...you have so much faith and courage. Thank you for sharing something so personal with us.

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  118. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope you`re happy. I wish you all the happiness, for you are a person that deserves it. ♥

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  119. Thank you for posting this. Your bravery and courage are astounding.

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  120. Thank you. For your courage, your story and the life you are living.

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  121. Thank you for posting this! You're very brave. You gave me the courage to share my own story. I think it's so important these books stay available to those that need it.

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  122. Oh my. It is hard to find the words even typing, because not only can't I see the screen because of tears but because I have no idea what to say. Than k you for your courage and your post. You are incredible, and I wish you all the best for the future, remain brave and strong and I wish you happiness and peace. Thank you for speaking up!!

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  123. Thank you for writing this, C.J.

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  124. I liked you before when you had fun posts, cupcakes and talked about your love of lemon bars, but now I am in total and absolute girl love with you. Hugs for you, your wonderful husband (see part about cupcakes again) and your kick-butt bravery. I wish you years of happiness, peace, and a bone-deep knowledge of how wonderful you are and how glad I am that your dad woke up that night.

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  125. Thank you for being so open and honest. Your post gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. I'm glad you're getting help and you seem to be in a good place. Stay strong. And thank you for standing up for those who haven't found their voice. I was lucky to not have gone through anything near like what you did, but as you point out rape is sadly common, and I read books like this as a teen to help me understand my friend E who was raped, and so I'd have some clue about what to say to her. Even teens (and adults!) who don't experience this themselves gain invaluable insights from books that help explain the trauma.

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  126. CJ,
    A great big cyber hug to you and thank you. Thank you for Speaking Out Loudly and with heart, thank you for sharing your truth. You're an amazing woman and writer.

    Rashda

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  127. CJ, Bless you for sharing your incredible story.

    My biggest beef with this banning is the idea that Christians shut themselves off from suffering. That's just Pharisaism--not wanting anyone's mess to dirty me. What kind of good Christian parent wants to raise kids who are so clueless about suffering and as a result grow up to be insensitive jerks? The Jesus I know goes deep into places of suffering and asks his followers to do the same. Christians, of all people, should be about truth-telling and offering hope to every hurting person. It grieves me deeply that you didn't have that kind of support from your church community in your teen years, but I rejoice with you that you have it now.

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  128. Thank you for sharing this. I know how hard it is. I wish I were as brave as you are. *hugs*

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  129. I'm overwhelmed. By your story, by your never-wavering faith, and by what amazing people I've found through Holly. I really related to the idea you used to have that God is someone to be obeyed but not necessarily someone who cares. Usually that's not the case now, and I know that good and kind can't be separated from him. Thanks for writing this brave, beautiful post. I wish I'd been online yesterday to #speakloudly for you.

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  130. I don't think anyone could share this better than you did. I am in awe of how you've made yourself so vulnerable to speak about something this important. We cannot let anyone be silenced. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  131. I can't imagine the strength and courage it took to share this with the world. You are an amazing, strong, beautiful person. I'm so grateful you have a loving husband and that you have such a miraculous faith in God despite all that has happened in your life. Thank you, thank you for sharing your story. *Hugs*

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  132. Beautiful, articulate and courageous post. Thank you for opening yourself and sharing your story. Silence is often the demand of the fearful to be forced upon the victims of unspeakable actions. Time for these things to stop being unspeakable; time for them to be addressed over the loudspeaker. Again, thank you for your courage.

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  133. Thank you. I've been staring at this comment box for a long while now, but I can't express what I want to say. Just like I'm not able to write an entire blog post about this... I'm just not there yet. So I will simply say thank you. You're a beautiful person. ::hugs::

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  134. You are an incredibly brave woman for sharing this with the world, and I am so sorry that you had to go through what you did. I honestly don't know you, and I've never been to your blog before until today, but there is so much light shining out of you, and I can tell how amazing of a person you are. Although it's unforgivable and unbearable for young girls to go through what you went through, I'm so glad that you came out of it, and that you have a relationship with Christ, and that you're going to go on encouraging girls as well. I never went through this. I was blessed with a wonderful family and with a wonderful life, but reading this and other books helped me learn what I can do if this ever happens to me, or my children, or my friends. I agree with you. If SPEAK is what it takes to make a girl speak up about what she's been through, then by golly, leave SPEAK on the shelves.

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  135. CJ, thank you for sharing your story. I know how hard it can be to SPEAK. I have only suffered a sliver of what you've been through. I can only imagine the horror and pain you must feel inside. I'm so happy that you have found God and that you have a husband who supports you the way you are. Thank you, thank you for sharing your story and giving other victims the courage to SPEAK up themselves.

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  136. You are the bravest person I know. Speak on, CJ. Speak on.

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  137. Thank you for this post and thank your for sharing. This is powerful post and I think Speak is a powerful book that is needed in schools. This is happening in my own area and library district and it's so frustrating to see someone do this in the name of Christianity. It's one thing if Mr. Scroggins wants to live in a sheltered world, but it's another to take these books out of the school because you're afraid of them and are trying to shelter others.

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  138. Thank you for your post. If there were more people like you then maybe this wouldnt be a subject people are afraid to talk about...

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  139. Thank you for sharing this. I teach young children and some of them go through life situations that I can't fathom. I can see anyone's point for steering their own children away from a book they find "dangerous" for their own personal reasons, but for that person to be in complete denial that this book is a good read or could actually be a lifeline to a wounded young person is selfish and sad.

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  140. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Thank you for your bravery.

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  141. You are so brave and strong and amazing, CJ. You've had a long and difficult journey. Thank you for speaking out, for lifting up all the girls who have not yet found their voice.

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  142. CJ
    I should know better then to read anything you post at work. I cried and cried and tried to pass it off as allergies to my boss. I admired you in high school as this great girl, but my admiration goes even deeper now. You are an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing your story. It gives me hope that some day I can speak mine out. I believe by what you spoke you have given many hope to believe they can walk through this valley themselves too. I do not know what kind of Dr. this guy is, but he needs to have his head examined and his heart examined. Bless you CJ.

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  143. Thank you for sharing.

    I really can't believe the things some people call for in the name of Christianity.

    You'll be in my prayers.

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  144. Thank you for the sharing your story. Your strength shines through in every single word. Thank you for speaking up and speaking loudly.

    SPEAK needs to remain on the shelves for those who suffered like you, for those who are suffering still, and for those who may one day suffer.

    -Nikki

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  145. I just found your blog and already know you're an incredible writer. Thanks for sharing your story. I was appalled to learn about the SPEAK controversy as well. It really is depressing to know that even in such an "enlightened" society, there are still people who remain, voluntarily, ignorant. Or idiots. Whatever fits.

    -Sarah

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  146. I am a Christian, a mom, a daughter, and can only hope to be half as brave as you. I am one of those normal girls, who grew up just fine, and really REALLY feel that stories like Speak (and yours) are SO IMPORTANT. Thank you for sharing, and for reminding us all that we need to speak up and provide a place for people to feel safe. ***hugs*** You are amazing.

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  147. Incredible post - you have demonstrated an unbelievable amount of courage and strength not only for sharing this, but for every step in your recovery.

    SPEAK needs to be on the shelves in libraries where any child who has suffered can find it, and maybe realize they aren't the only ones to have suffered (that others know and share their pain).
    KM

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  148. Wow. You're so brave for sharing your courageous story with us. Thanks. :)

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  149. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope your bravery helps give more young girls the courage to Speak.

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  150. You are a brave and wonderful woman. Thank you so much for speaking out and for sharing your story.

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  151. CJ, *Hugs* to you. What a brave and moving post. I wish I could think of something to say to make you feel better, but words are so inadequate sometimes. *hugs*, *hugs*, and more *hugs*

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  152. CJ,

    Thank you so much for your courage in speaking out. SPEAK must not be banned. I loved the book, and recommended it to my then 12-y/o boys to read for a class project in 7th grade. We talked a lot about the behavior of the boy in the story, what rape was, how it made a girl feel, what sex felt like when it was hurtful...the book created a great teachable moment at an important time in a young man's life. Most of the kids in their school have read it.

    I also allowed it as one of the choices of reading material for my freshman comp class at a local university when I was still teaching there. Several students decided to write about it, and one of them even revealed her own experience as the topic of her paper, an experience she hadn't ever spoken about before, had never named "rape" until she read this book. She said it was cathartic and for the first time, she was able to talk about it and seek help.

    The book is a seminal piece of literature that will be around long after the censors have their hay day, like Anne Frank's Diary. Sadly, there have always been people who can't tell the difference between pornography and art, and that will never change.

    Again, thank you for adding your cogent, intelligent, heartfelt voice to those speaking out against censorship.

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  153. You're an extremely strong, courageous person, and I thank you for sharing your story. Best thoughts as you continue your healing.

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  154. People like that made me think twice about how I would describe my own experiences. I toned down any sexual scene in my book about abuse, but I don't know if that is the way to go. If we keep lowering the limits of what's acceptable in books, we will end up with very boring books.

    I recognized much of your story, even though I am a man. Certain parts of my life between 9 and 11 are a blur as well, but I survived, mainly because I decided to write about it. And although I created a fictional character and a fictional setting, the essence of what I experienced is in there, and somehow it helped me to deal with my past.

    I hope writing your experience here, for everyone to see, has the same effect on you.

    http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/davidthyssen

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  155. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for speaking out.

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  156. Thank you for sharing.
    I have worked in a psychiatric hospital with adolescents for the past 14 years. I wish every one of them could read this. To me, it spells HOPE. That there are people who've been through hell and back and survived it. Who are able to have a life full of love. I'd like to read SPEAK and pass it on. Perhaps we can use it as a platform to share on our unit.
    Thanks again,
    Christy Longmire

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  157. No one could sum this up better than you. My heart aches and there are tears in my eyes. I'm sending you healing thoughts and prayers for a wonderful life.
    God bless.

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  158. Thank you, CJ. That was incredibly brave of you. I absolutely ache for the pain you've been through, and rejoice in the healing you're walking in. I had two friends growing up who endured similar trauma, and it devastated me to see them self-destruct. They didn't know each other, but I watched the same base thing happen to both. Disregard for their self-worth displayed in self-injury, choosing and remaining in abusive relationships, eating disorders, and for one, repeated stints in various mental institutions where they loaded her up on drugs but didn't bother addressing the root cause. I had no idea how to help them. I didn't understand the nature of the beast they faced until I met it myself.

    That query you just helped me through is for a YA book that includes a scene of sexual assault. I wrestled with keeping it in there --with mentioning it at all-- knowing that I would take flak and disapproval for it. But I finally decided that it was too important for me to not be honest. It happens to too many women. 1 in 4 before they reach the age of 24. And so many are crippled by the lies that get lodged in our heads in the aftermath. Darkness has to be brought into the light in order to be confronted and overcome. We are not statistics that need to be swept under the rug. We are Daughters of God, who Satan evidently felt threatened enough by that he uses someone to try to handicap us.

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  159. CJ, your post brought tears to my eyes. Your courage and your bravery in posting this to help others is inspiring.

    Inspiring enough to share my story, as well. I wasn't raped and I certainly didn't go through what you have, but I was sexually assaulted, twice, as a teenager. Once by a boy I knew, and another time by a boy I didn't.

    My own experiences shattered much of my self-esteem and as you said, the belief that my body was worth more. That I deserved the privacy of choosing when and who was allowed to touch my body that we should be able to take for granted. And I went on to a destructive relationship that furthered my broken sense of worth.

    I know how profoundly my experiences affected my life. Had there been a book like SPEAK when these things happened to me, perhaps I would have found the strength to find a voice. Maybe a lot of other girls would have, too.

    This book NEEDS to stay on the shelves. There is nothing pornographic about rape. It's not sexy. It's not smut. It's a CRIME.

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  160. You are a courageous, strong woman for sharing your story and speaking out about something that can destroy people if they stay silent.
    Speak needs to be on the shelf.
    Thank you for being so brave, and for reminding everyone that victims stay victims forever especially if they are battered down into silence.

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  161. You have me with tears in my eyes. I don't even know what tot type here, but I felt it was important to type something to let you know that I heard your voice and I am applauding your courage. May the God who cries with the broken continue to heal you everywhere you hurt.

    SPEAK is an important book. Thank you for saying this and so much more.

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  162. You are absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your story. I can't tell you how in awe I am of you for being so courageous. Thank you.

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  163. You are amazing! Brave! You don't know how much you're helping just by writing this post.

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  164. *hugs* I have teary eyes now :( this is really inspiring, and you're amazing and brave for writng this. I'm glad you found a great husband, someone who deserves you. *hugs again*

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  165. I honor your courage and wisdom on your journey to find your higher self. Thank you for sharing this painful story.

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  166. The truth is amazing and powerful. Thank you for sharing it. Your brave story has brought me to tears.

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  167. I have known since the day I met you that you were one of the special ones, the ones who stand as a lighthouse to all of those people who are so lost in the vast, dark ocean of heartbreak. Every day of your life is a beacon of hope to you and everyone who knows you. You are pure light, pure love, pure faith and proof that a brave heart transcends all the sorrow and pain life's devils can muster.

    Much love to you, my Pixie Sister!

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  168. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you continued healing, peace and every happiness.

    Love,
    Lola

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  169. One day. Soon. I'll be brave too.
    Wish SPEAK had been on a shelf in my library.

    LML

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  170. What an amazing, powerful post. Thank you so much for putting yourself out there. I've felt this book was important pre-emptively--that the first time a girl encounters the reality of rape SHOULD NOT be when it is happening--because maybe if she'd thought and talked about it, she'd have a better idea of how to avoid it, but you've really made me think about the after-effects too. I'm glad you are making your way back.

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  171. Thank you, thank you for writing this. You are a strong woman. These words proved it.

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  172. Thank you for writing this post. I know it had to have been difficult. There are so many women out there who will be inspired and comforted by what you have to say. I am a survivor too and I think that others need to know that they are not alone.
    Hopefully, the school will get the message and keep the book in the library.

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  173. I have just happened upon your blog and this post. God bless you! May God use your words and your trials to help others.

    My heart is heavy, but also lifted that you are an overcomer. My prayers are with you and your continued healing and also success in your career as a writer.

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  174. I think that we should never ban any book from any shelf. As someone who also strives to know and love our Heavenly Father I know that we need to be careful about what we read and what influences we are letting affect our minds. But that doesn't mean we impose our opinions on others. I'm amazed and so very grateful you wrote this. Our own hurts and suffering can always help others. Thank you for being so brave.

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  175. I will be buying your book based on the writing in this post alone. You are so brave and so talented. Looking forward to reading DEFIANCE.

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  176. Choking back tears. Pain from my own past. Thank you for this. I haven't had the courage to share my haunting memories. They eat me alive. Maybe I will someday have the courage to share as well.

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  177. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  178. Thank you for speaking out. You are truly an inspiration.

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  179. This was an amazing post that truly touched me. It was an inspiration for me to write a post about how I deal with postpartum depression and negativity. I mention your blog in it.
    The post is here: http://daniellewam.blogspot.ca/2012/05/how-i-deal-with-postpartum.html

    Thank you for all that you do. People like you help others to have the courage to speak up.

    ReplyDelete
  180. Thank you, C.J., for sharing your story. It will do so much to help others. And thank you for advocating for an important work of fiction. Kids need to read stories like Speak; they need to know that stuff like that happens, if it hasn't happened to them, and if it has, they need to know they are not alone.

    ReplyDelete
  181. Thank you so much for posting about this. The fact that rape is taboo - especially for victims - is a true tragedy. Thank you for being brave, and for making a huge step for change.

    ReplyDelete

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