I’m Sick of Being Silent

I’m sick of being silent. Long post alert! Personal account and painfully honest.

When the #metoo movement first surfaced, I had more than one reason to join, but at the time I needed to pray about it. I had gone years in silence already and I became more wrapped up in hearing other women’s stories, which were horrific, and didn’t allow myself to relive my story, instead I immersed myself in theirs. I never really was led by God to share then. And for that reason, I have refrained from posting. I have continued to pray though it and now for whatever reason I know the time is right. 

God did use the half-time show at the Super Bowl, which was sexually  saturated and very inappropriate, to move me to a place of speaking. To me it was an in-your-face degradation of women. Objectifying women—whether they willingly participate or not –– is wrong. Crotch shots, sex simulation and pole dancing are an affront to women. The deepest part of my being NO LONGER WANTED TO REMAIN silent…I am not sharing in an effort to name names, or for sympathy, but to inform and raise much awareness, that if it happened to me six times (and currently I am choosing to share four of those), I can promise you there are countless others who have sat in silence, and many who have not gotten the help they need to live a life of significance that God intends them to lead. The time is right to share my truth which comes with a heart that has forgiven, but desperately desires to take pain suffered and use it to serve a greater purpose. I love what we read in the book of Esther when Mordecai challenged Esther to speak up, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) I know I am not in a royal position, but I am a woman who can speak up in hopes of saving someone else. 

Currently I am 57 years old. When I was 17 and a senior in high school, a man who I was supposed to trust in an authority position walked up to me, grabbed my crotch and groped me. At the time I was so naive and in shock at his approach that I just froze. After a few minutes, I stepped back in a daze and could barely speak, but said I was sick and left. I threw up on the way to my car. This was a man who supposedly was helping me to prepare for America’s Junior Miss, instructing me on how to walk on a big stage by watching me walk and keep my head up. I had just won South Carolina’s Junior Miss. That is all I will say other than, at that time, I never told anyone…the shame of thinking I did something wrong and the embarrassment of it all overwhelmed me. My mother had shared with me about sex in a marital relationship, but never about the possibility of men ever being inappropriate and what that might look like.  I was very protected growing up and so I was very, very naive.

He never had an opportunity again to touch me because I never allowed him to get within 10 feet of me, even though I still had to interact with him for a short while until after the national pageant. Right after I competed in America’s Junior Miss that summer, I headed to Clemson. Neither of my parents experienced college and my sister was already a senior in college so I had little advice given as I headed out into the world, away from home to college. It was just a few miles down the road, but for sure a bigger and different stage of life.

My freshman year got off to an amazing start. I pledged a sorority, made great friends in the sorority and outside. Surprisingly I became a junior varsity cheerleader. I am always thankful for the people who encouraged me to try, but things went south when I got back my third paper that I had written for my English 101 class. On it was a note stating, “make an appointment to see me [the professor] in my [his] office. We need to discuss your ability to write.” 

I had made my first bad grade in college. So, innocently, and not thinking a thing about making an appointment with my professor, other than a pit in my stomach about my bad grade, I called, made the appointment, and went. The first time I went he was very nice and complimentary and encouraged me, stating that he would help me. He indicated it would take several private one-on-one appointments in his office to make good grades and be a more “creative” writer. He told me how pretty I was and that I would need his help to make it through English 101, but not to worry because he was committed to helping his students.  He asked me a ton of questions about me and my family, saying that if he got to know me better he could help make me a better writer.

Now after being older and wiser I see the perversion of his questions, especially after the second office visit. On this visit he got out from behind his desk and walked in front of me, leaned back on his desk and said, “I’m going to ask you some personal questions now that will really help stimulate your imagination.” He asked me if I had ever seen a naked man. I was a little taken back and said that I had in biology and then he said, “No, in person” …to which I said no. Then he said, “Well, I am taking that to mean you have never had sex?” He continued to tell me that I was in the minority of girls and no wonder I had no creativity and imagination in my writing.  He leaned in and touched my upper thigh and said, “I can help you develop your imagination.” with a smile and a wink. I stood up and backed away almost falling and said, “This isn’t helping me. In fact, I’m not comfortable. ” 

He stood up and turned angry and smirked, “Well, if you are not willing to be uncomfortable, then you will not make a good grade in this class.” I picked up my purse and my papers and backed out of his office. I remember getting to my dorm room and having trouble swallowing. My mind raced and I experienced a sleepless night and decided to tell one person whom I trusted, an upper classman, what happened, and they told me how to drop a class. Needless to say I dropped that class. I never told anyone until years later. After all, he was a doctor and I felt so small and stupid…and I knew it was his word (a doctor) against this little freshman. Several years later I remember reading in a local newspaper, of his firing…thankfully another girl whom I knew had more courage than me back then, spoke up! 

Me Too Number 2

After graduating from Clemson at age 22, my first job was in Columbia at a state agency. I was hired as an administrative assistant. This was before I won Miss South Carolina. Just a few weeks into my job and not knowing anyone, I would go downstairs to the canteen and bring back lunch to my desk and eat. I was new to Columbia and had no friends to go to lunch with so I would just sit at my desk and eat my lunch. I started getting notes left on my desk when I would leave to get lunch, which was usually peanut butter crackers and a Diet Coke. I was Miss Liberty at the time and watching my weight in preparation for the Miss South Carolina pageant. Lunch time everyday became miserable because of the notes. They grew more and more aggressive sexually and they were unsigned. There were several men who worked around me and I became so self-conscious, terrified and ashamed.  The last note I received was my final day of never returning to work void of giving a 2-week notice. The note I received read, “You can eat crackers in my bed any day!” Back then I had never heard the term “sexual harassment!” I was repulsed. Thankfully this time I told my mom and my dad, and my dad said, “Don’t go back and I will handle this!” I do know he made calls and I got another job, but I never asked what happened. I just wanted to forget. Somehow when this happens you start to feel guilty and responsible for no good reason. No one made me feel this way, the only people that knew were my parents, and they were supportive.

I qualified again as a #metoo victim after I became Miss South Carolina…back then when I was competing in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, I wasn’t allowed to see my family much –– only a few minutes several times during that week. I was sequestered most of the time with a chaperone. After I became 1st Runner Up and flew home to South Carolina, I realized my parents had been courted by a man who was married to a former Miss America in hopes of recruiting me. He had given them a business card with an NBC logo on it and promised them I had a future in television and he would be calling even though I didn’t win the crown. Little did they know, and I certainly didn’t know, he was a calculated, well-dressed, kind, and gentle predator. I had never met him or seen him. He carefully planned, deceived and manipulated my parents and handpicked me as his next victim. He wooed my parents the entire week and won their trust, so much so that they planned to fly me to Palm Beach, Florida to meet with him about my “bright” future.

So several weeks after the Miss America pageant, my mom made all the plans and sent them to me. I remind you back then there was no Google, no cell phones (only land lines and pay phones), no Uber, etc. During this time, I was making appearances and being told where to go and what to do. It was so expensive to travel that I went alone and was promised that the former Miss America would pick me up at the airport. When I arrived, it was the husband, not the wife, at the airport. No alarms went off. I was a “lamb being led to the slaughter” …I had no idea. I got into the car with the handsome man in the suit and was driven to this remote warehouse and was told that this is where all the photos and training would happen to prepare me for my interviews and job opportunities that were already booked. 

When we arrived, there were several people (all men) walking around with cameras, lights, and other “official” looking things. The very kind man in the suit guided me, with my suitcase, to a room where there were comfy chairs, a mirror and a lighted table. He told me to change into my swimsuit that I wore in the Miss America contest and we would graduate to all my clothes, but we would start with a swimsuit to photograph. 

I went into this room and changed. At the time I thought it was weird that there were dark, blacked-out windows on one side of the dressing room. Much later, years later actually, I realized they were two-way mirrors. I walked out, after putting on my swimsuit, and all the lights were off except a bright spot light shining in my face. It was eerily quiet, and I sensed that we were alone, no one around but the suit man behind the camera. I could hear him and see his silhouette. He had me sit and stand and snapped a few pictures before he stepped in front of the camera and told me to lay on the sofa and I said, “What?” 

I didn’t understand. He then started telling me that I wasn’t relaxed enough, that I didn’t have enough color in my face. He then startled me by asking me if I had ever masturbated. I didn’t even know how to respond, and I started to feel very scared. He offered to get me water, and to leave the room if I would consider masturbating so that the blood flow would produce better quality pictures. He continued to tell me something that resonated from my college experience with my English teacher ­­–– he said I was new, and I would learn in the industry that all girls did this to get great pictures and that by resisting I would be in the minority and would not have quality work.  While he was talking, I was thinking, “God, why am I here? Please save me! How do I get away?!” My arrow prayers were interrupted by him grabbing my arm to pull me down on the sofa –– it happened so quick I can’t tell you how I ended up behind the sofa struggling to get out of his reach! As I backed away, I found myself in the dressing room. I slammed the door and fortunately it had a lock. Click. And I just slid down to the floor. I started screaming as he beat on the door. I was screaming leave me alone, take me home. I was crying scared, angry tears. I was scared literally for my life. 

I don’t know how much time passed, but I stood after a while, when I could scream no more and put on my clothes. I even put on more clothes over my clothes. I had my whole suitcase, so I put on two pairs of underwear over my swimsuit, shorts, then pants and two shirts. I layered myself in clothes, and then I started screaming again with my nose running and tears flowing. While I felt like I was sweating blood, it was only water. 

Through what became my whimpering from exhaustion, I thought that I vaguely recognized a different voice say, “I am here to take you to your hotel.” I was even more terrified that it would be more men and a lie, just to get me to open the door.  I stayed in that room for hours and finally the same voice on the other side convinced me to open the door and promised to take me to my hotel. I so wanted to believe him and go home that I opened the door with my suitcase in one hand and a belt in my other hand ready to fight, for what I thought was my life…as I opened the door, the lights were on and I pushed the strange man away and ran past him to the only door I saw, and it led me outside to the only car I saw.  I looked around and there was no one in sight and nowhere to go. The stranger walked up and simply said, “get in!” in a very scary voice. He didn’t open the door or help me, but I was so relieved he didn’t try to touch me. He never really looked at me and I didn’t want to make eye contact with him. I literally had no idea at that point where he was taking me.

For at least 30 minutes we rode in silence and I felt sure I was riding to my death. By the grace of God through my quiet tears a Holiday Inn appeared, and he stopped and let me out. This is going to sound very strange and bizarre, but when I got to the hotel I have little memory of my actions, except for placing a “collect call” to my mother after I got to my room. To this day I have zero memory of how I got to the airport and got home. I can vaguely remember being on the plane and sweating because I never took off all the layers of clothes until I got home. I remember telling my mom and her anger helped me. She didn’t want me to tell my dad about it. We had no idea what he might do to this man. We were both afraid of his reaction. I can remember mom calling the man who had won her trust and hearing her threatening him. I can remember her telling the officials of the Miss South Carolina pageant about his calculated lies that won their trust and lured them to send me into a terrifying situation. She peppered me with many questions and so did the officials and they promised me they would work to get to the bottom of it. 

I remember talking to my mom for hours and praying for the fear to leave me. We never made it public and we never told my dad. It was a year of silence, and then a phone call came from the then Miss South Carolina President. I was told to turn on the national news. There was monster man, age 38, being led away in handcuffs by FBI agents. His charges were not for sex crimes, unfortunately. He was good at what he did. Sexual exploitation back then was hard to prove when you preyed on young females like he did. Back then, women had no way to broadcast what happened to them if they didn’t have really good proof. He did go to prison and his Miss America wife divorced him.

I do not desire to make this man famous for his wicked heart…but I want to say…women don’t speak up very often. I was so young and innocent. I was so naive and so were my parents. I felt shame, embarrassment, and fear.  Back then, I had no proof of what happened to me. It was NOT a favorable climate for women at all to accuse men of anything  without major proof and then more often than not, women were accused of inviting the advances. I was so weary and when things like this happen you just want to forget…and push it out of your mind. The trouble is…it comes back and back and back. You push it down and it comes up…

But I want people to know, you cannot say how you would react until it happens to you. You can neither predict nor imagine until you are a victim. I have watched countless people judge the stories and reactions of victims and question them…and it angers me. YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU DO NOT KNOW! PERIOD!

I can tell you that when the sexual advances and bullying stuff came at my daughter I was livid. It started with her phone when she was in the 8th grade. A boy she knew, and I knew, who was older, sent her a picture of his genitals.  She experienced bullying in college by her coach who called her the “P” word when no one could hear. Thankfully she told me, and I believed her. I knew it was true. I knew his kind, I had experienced it myself and I’d be damned if I was going to stand by and allow it to happen to her. I watched him like a hawk after I learned of his calculated words to her and how he isolated her to say the very cruel words, and inappropriate name calling so no one else would hear but her, and his bullying threats. When I saw him lean in and whisper to her right before she teed off at a tournament, I watched her face and the tears…I knew his tactics…I was not going to allow history to repeat itself with my daughter and he didn’t like it one bit that I personally called him out. She ultimately suffered by his tactics but not near as bad as she would have if I had allowed his verbal abuse to continue.

Let me say this…all the horrible things that have happened in my life…some I just shared and some I don’t care to share…God knows, and He sees and He despises it. If you are or have experienced trauma, abuse, sexual assault or attempted assault, it matters, and God hates it. It doesn’t matter if it happened today or 40 years ago…it happened, it should not have happened, you did nothing wrong, there is no shame…Shame is instant delivery from the pit of hell…and it is Satan’s fierce weapon that he uses to steal, kill and destroy you. Reject the shame that Satan projects onto you…Speak up to someone…You only can heal from what you reveal…God is light and in Him there is NO darkness. Walk into the light by facing your pain…it may be uncomfortable, but I promise that is only temporary compared to the pain of stuffing and silence. 

You can pray. He sees and He hears, and there is much help available and access to find it through the internet. Silence it NOT the best medicine. To the person that a victim might choose to break their silence with…LISTEN and believe them. Take a deep dive into yourself and ask, ‘Why did they decide to tell me?’ Ask God to guide you in order to guide them to the appropriate help. The one thing that is so good that has come from all the evil that I have experienced is my desire to lead a surrendered life to Jesus and I can say the same about Collins. I am a proud #girlmom and a fierce defender of her. We are bothalways  a work in progress. Scripture calls it sanctification ­­–– a daily process of seeking Jesus, repenting often and seeking to please Him.

Silence about HORRENDOUS stuff only allows it to continue…when good women do nothing, evil prevails. Please know this: when you want to judge…or have an opinion…YOU don’t know what you don’t know…

There are hundreds of thousands of silent sufferers…I have been silent to the public for over 35 years. It is never too late to REVEAL so that you can heal…God hates the darkness…and Satan’s ploy is shame and silence to the victim to allow the evil to continue…don’t buy the lie!

I pray this post motivates them to speak up. It may help to prevent someone else from being a victim of the EVIL that seems to be at an all-time high. Understand, it is not just sexual abuse, it is physical abuse and bullying as well. All of it is horrific. Just because you didn’t see it or witness it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I pray every day now for God to bring to light what is hidden in darkness. It is one prayer He continues to 100% answer. Maybe not in my time and how I would have Him do it, but nevertheless, HE has done it and continues to do it!

The 2020 half-time show for sure fed the appetites of the deranged people who exploit the innocent. We already know the Super Bowl is the most known time and place for high sex trafficking. It breaks my heart to know there were innocent young watching. 

While I don’t agree with all who have joined the #metoo movement because there are some who join for the wrong reasons and motives, I won’t judge a heart. I’ve been watching for a long time and praying as well. It is easy to SEE the wrong intent of some. 

Let me just let you know as well, if you don’t know me, I’m a #boymom and a #boymominlove. I never, ever want anyone to falsely accuse my boys but I will say, if they are ever guilty, I would be very hurt, disappointed and would not defend inappropriate behavior! 

Mothers and dads, we have to be aware of the tactics of predators and stay 10 steps ahead if we can. Today, the predator comes into your home through the internet, apps, social media, television, and probably ways I don’t even know…things are progressing at such a rapid rate in many ways and because of my age I am unaware…

You have to be the ones to educate and protect, especially their knowledge and what they see! I have had many friends who don’t want to learn social media…well, you better or you will NOT be able to help protect your children. Mothers become a ‘Mom Under Cover’…do whatever you have to do to investigate…be aware…be educated. Knowledge is power! I haven’t shared all my experiences, only the ones I’m comfortable with sharing, and some I may never share.

If you are a victim, you need to know that the first thing you want to do is pretend it didn’t happen…it is that painful…to think about it or talk about it out loud is gut wrenching. The younger you are, the lack of maturity and life experience makes you process things immaturely. Satan heaps shame and guilt that is so heavy and somehow you do think it is all your fault. I can’t explain it other than, as I have grown older and matured, I look back and can unpack why I kept silent.

I know you are terrified of not being believed…and being judged and opinions given on social media by people who have the wrong heart and think because they weren’t there or didn’t see means it didn’t happen. 

As for all the sexual innuendos and the revealing and disgusting wardrobe selection, the pole and the dance moves of the Super Bowl half-time…

I have raised two boys and I can remember being pregnant with our first. I was a long-distance runner then and on my headset,  I listened to James Dobson’s two-hour interview with Ted Bundy days before he was going to be put to death for being a serial killer and abuser of many women. I listened to his interview with James Dobson and he unpacked his progression of sexual perversion and evil and how his appetite grew for the devious, sexual perversions. It started with a Playboy magazine that he found as a kid. Then after the picture didn’t help with sexual pleasure anymore, it grew to watching X-rated movies and being a stalker of women.

On and on he went detailing how what he saw, and the intensity grew for the need to have more until it led to having to rape and choke women to death in order to satisfy his sexual appetite. Find those interviews and listen if you doubt at all that the sexual innuendos of the Super Bowl half-time show doesn’t promote evil, sexual lust and perversion. You are plain in denial if you think otherwise. I might add there is a documentary that includes people who knew Ted. They were appalled and didn’t want to believe all of it was true about him just because he looked and acted like the charming boy next door.

THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT key point to engrain in your mind…people who abuse whether be it sexual, emotional, or physical are genius…in their outward behavior and appearance of kindness and gentleness when they have deep issues that you know nothing about. These issues can manifest in countless ways and REMEMBER hurt and hurting people hurt others…it is a vicious cycle. It can be just sheer evil. It can be a mental illness (genetics passed down), substance abuse or plain old sins of the father passed on through generations. 

The point is…there is intense cover up…people will go to any length to NOT BE EXPOSED. I have now paid more attention over the years to people like Ted Bundy. Maybe they were not serial killers but were abusers who have been interviewed. They pretty much have all said once they crossed the line of acting on their desires, there was no turning back or stopping…

One last story—David and Bathsheba. David was a man after God’s own heart but, in a moment of desire, he went his own way. Bathsheba was a servant of the king and really had no choice but to do David’s bidding. Read 2 Samuel 11 for the whole story.

I want to end with hope for someone who is reading this and has been abused. You are not alone. God is with you. HE SEES YOU. He can bring help and healing. PLEASE TELL SOMEONE.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)

Discretion – being known for what you don’t reveal…is #girlpower

Do we really want the attention of strangers?

“We’re not all of the things we say we believe; we’re all of the things we do about them.” ~Bob Goff

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