My Drive to Help Others

My name is Tammy Waggoner, I am a 32 year old survivor of sexual abuse with a strong faith in a loving God who wishes all abused, neglected, and broken children to be healed as only he can heal them.

I have first hand knowledge of this kind of healing. I have been healed in the woods on a healthy sexuality retreat, I have been healed in spiritual healing groups, and I have been healed in discernment groups, times alone with God, and groups in the church as well as therapy. God heals us when he sees fit and uses any means to do that. In these times of healing I learned important things about myself and about God. For instance, on a mountain during a retreat I learned that my abuse was not my fault and that I did nothing wrong. For years I had felt that I had in some way caused my own abuse to happen, but in those woods alone with God I realized that I didn’t do anything wrong and the abuse was not my fault. God led me to that moment, coaxed me through it and then proceeded to stand beside me as the truth of those words washed me clean. In the hours after that moment, I realized that every abused child and adult needs to have a moment like that, they need to have the opportunity to set themselves free from blame and culpability.

It was in a spiritual healing group that I learned that God did not neglect me in my abuse. I was thoroughly angry with God for leaving me alone in my abuse and had mentioned this during a group time. I was led through a prayer where I had asked God to show me where he was while I was being abused. I closed my eyes and was immediately back in my childhood room. I could see myself being abused on the bottom bunk of the bunk beds. I then looked around the room and vividly saw Jesus weeping in the corner. He was weeping for and with me, and in that moment I knew that God did not neglect me in my moments of abuse but instead was with me and was just as upset by what was happening as I was.

In my discernment groups God began to show me what other people see. As an abuse survivor for a long time I only saw what my abusers showed me to be: worthless, ugly, damaged, etc. In my discernment group God showed me through others that I am beautiful, have much worth and am not a damaged being that has been ripped apart and cannot be sown back together, I am instead a broken person who God can put back together and make anew. I have worth and I have worth to give.

It was through these times of healing that my calling began to be cemented. I was put on this earth with a purpose and that purpose is to help other girls,* get through what I have gotten through with the help of God and his helpers. Through my internships I began to see the different ways in which God can work and I began to see that many women out there need to discover the healing that I have discovered in their own unique way. Once healing is brought about new life can begin and once new life can begin a woman who has been healed can begin to see for herself just how awesome she is.

*Some question my narrowed focus: why just women? Why just girls? The truth is quite simple: I am a woman. I only know my plight as a woman. I do know that men are abused, I know that they need help as well and I have led groups that have been co-ed. That said, I speak from a woman’s perspective to women. If I were to partner up with a man who was willing to talk from a man’s perspective and to help healing from his perspective I would be willing to work with both men and women. However, without that partnership I feel it is impossible for me to help both men and women, for there is an element I am missing: I am not a man.

Response to a recent article

Tammy ran across an article today on Christianity Today in the section called “Her-menutics.’ The title of the article was “Voice of the Victims: Sex Abuse Survivors and the Church.” The following are her reactions to the article.

I just finished reading this article, I was about to post in their comment section but decided that my thoughts were too lengthy for that context.

In the article the author, Michelle Van Loon discusses a recent suicide of a pastor. The pastor, Tom White, “committed suicide after allegations that he molested a 10 year old girl.” His guilt or innocence was not the focus of the article and is not the focus of this article either. The focus of the article was that the focus after his death has been on him instead of the 10 year old girl. The article suggested that instead of focusing on the crime or the abuser we, as a church, should spend our time focusing on the victims that are left behind.

The article did a good job at bringing up the need for help for victims. There was some focus on the trials that abuse victims and their family members face. I understand the succinct nature of the article, I myself could spend several pages going over the complexities that abuse survivors face and the many layers of healing that must be experienced.

Loon brought up the interesting point that, churches sometimes focus on the sins of abusers (although this is rare) but rarely speak of the victims themselves. The statistics change every year but 1 in 4 men will be sexually abused in their lifetime and 1 in 3 women will be sexually abused in their lifetime.

This is a wide pool of people that are not getting any help. By the time a person is ready to get the help that they need there is nothing available to help them.

I started this ministry for these people. I focus my ministry on women but I would welcome men to be a part of this ministry someday.

I’m sorry that this man took his life and even sadder that a child was abused but every year we hear more and more about children and adults being abused inside and outside the church. It is time that we implement ministries to help these people.

Praying in church, having survivors speak on a wide platform and providing counseling are just the beginning steps. We need to move beyond groups outside the church and start building a culture of healing within the church. We need to focus on how not only to prevent abuse but also to help those who are survivors. Survivors deal with many issues that run the gamut of relational issues, sexual issues, physical issues, and emotional issues. These issues must be dealt with on many levels and one of those levels is a healing level in a church culture.

We need to provide more places for these women and men to get the help that they need. We cannot turn our backs on them or point them in the direction of a counselor and hope for the best. We have to walk beside them and be willing to sit with them in the pain.

Support groups and therapy can be helpful but they are not enough. We must create a culture in the church that welcomes survivors and provides the much needed care and support and not just point to outside programs and groups.