UPDATE, 8/3/13: As of this writing, most of the links to “Women of Grace” episodes in this post are no longer operational, as the Women of Grace apostolate’s website was streaming them for a limited time only. You can still watch Part 1 online, while the other episodes are available from the apostolate’s online store.
Original post follows:
If you or a loved one have suffered any evil, and especially if you or that person has suffered childhood sexual abuse, I urge you to watch Johnnette Benkovic’s interview with me for “Women of Grace” on the topic of forgiveness. It’s Part 4 of her five-part series talking with me about my book My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, and you can watch it on the “Women of Grace” website by clicking the image below.
You will see me share with Johnnette about the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation, the freedom that comes with discovering that it is possible to forgive regardless of whether you feel forgiving, and the ways in which our forgiving unites us more closely with Jesus in the Eucharist and with all the holy martyrs. Although the program doesn’t officially premiere on EWTN until this Thursday, Johnnette has graciously made it, along with the rest of the five-part interview, available for free on WomenOfGrace.com for a limited time.
In the rest of the episodes (see links below), Johnnette interviews me in depth about the message of My Peace I Give You. The shows, which are premiering this week on EWTN (at 11 a.m. and 11:30 p.m. EDT, but see the network’s website for times in your region), are an effort on my and Johnette’s part not only to help adult victims of childhood sex abuse find healing, but also to show concerned family members and friends how they may help those who have suffered such evil.
I am deeply grateful to Johnnette for seeking to bring to light this vitally important issue, one which affects so many people. One in four women and one in six men report having suffered contact sexual abuse in childhood, and many more have suffered non-contact abuse, such as being exposed to pornography, adult nudity, or graphic sex talk. Any one of these things can have lasting toxic effects when perpetrated upon a child. Thankfully, as I share on “Women of Grace” and in My Peace I Give You (read an excerpt here), the grace of Christ and the Communion of Saints are available to us at every moment to show us the way to healing and peace.
Here are links to watch the rest of Johnnette’s interviews with me on the Women of Grace website before they are set apart for the site’s members only. Click on an image to open the episode in a new window:
Part 1 is the first half of an episode that originally aired live on May 3. I talk about how the effects of childhood abuse showed forth in my behavior as a teenager and young adult, and how healing began as I discovered my identity in Christ.
In Part 2, Johnnette asks me about the childhood environment that enabled my abuse to take place. This is an important show for parents who want to know how they might better protect their own children. I also talk about why, to this day, I am deeply disturbed to hear people cuss. It brings back memories of the abuser who cussed in my presence as part of his efforts to groom me, breaking down my personal boundaries. I believe that all people—especially Catholics, who are especially responsible to witness to holiness with their lives—should be conscious of how using cuss words creates an environment harmful to the dignity of the human person.
Part 3 has me sharing about how a saint’s intercession led me to enter the Catholic Church, which leads to a discussion of Catholics mean when we talk about venerating saints. Johnnette and I also discuss the process of healing of memory, and why Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) wrote that “memory awakens hope.”
Part 5 is the second half of the live episode, in which Johnnette and I answer questions from viewers who call in. Questions include how to begin the process of healing, and how to deal with post-traumatic stress when it affects one’s relationship with one’s spouse.
Please, forward these shows to anyone you know who may benefit from them, and especially to priests. Many people who enter the confessional tell of having suffered abuse, and it can be challenging for a priest to convey to them that there truly is hope for healing in Christ. I have been told by a priest who has preached about the message of My Peace I Give You that my book helps him show those who bear the wounds of trauma that it is indeed possible, with God’s grace, to reach a better place.
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Looking for my upcoming speaking dates? You’ll find them on my personal blog, The Dawn Patrol.