From one of our HEART clients:
“Jesus saved me on July 10, 2011 while I was in the midst of an argument with my husband. Most memory is foggy except for the “divine union” I experienced for about a month… The world more vivid, life just worked “as it was meant to be” and filled with much joy and peace.
Then my journey started: a Beth Moore Bible Study at a church through an invitation from my best friend. God put in my heart an appetite for His Word. Started counseling, but sporadically, because hiding this from my husband (knew he’d disapprove) and felt deceitful spending money behind his back.
Was led to Theophostic Prayer Ministry and that was where my past abortion issues were dug up. (I had repented and felt forgiven by God when saved, but it was here that I sought help at Eve Center (FREE!)…
HEART Group and Peer Counseling in January 2013. I was my Peer Counselor’s first client there; applied, but backed out of the HEART Group. Sessions with my Peer Counselor were/are a true gift from God. A lot of hard, painful things learned and made aware of my broken life, but then much freedom experienced. At one session, I just could not hold in God’s fire and we danced to the song “I’m Alive” by Peter Furler.
Thank You, Jesus!!!”
You entered my life unexpectedly
No one knew or could even see
You were hidden to everyone but me
Even though I chose not to even give you a start
You made a mark on my heart
A mark that will not depart
Weighed down with remorse and overwhelming guilt
Been carrying it around; building like silt
Longing for your love to wrap around like a quilt
Forgiveness I have found through my Lord and Savior
Forgiveness from Him for my sinful behavior
And the promise of meeting you because of His favor
Hidden child, no one could see
Jesus holds her now, my baby
My sweet daughter Anne Marie
Moving back to Northern Kentucky in late 2012, after being away for 5 1/2 years, I knew I wanted and needed the Eve Center. I was feeling depressed, lonely, fearful, anxious, and stuck; unable to get out and enjoy life.
Help to build confidence to face life back here is why I called the Eve Center. Filling out the intake form, I noticed a sign for the HATCH group: “Healing Abuse Through Christ’s Help”. In my heart God was saying it was the right time to go further with Him in my healing journey. I was sexually abused as a young child, but never confronted that truth within myself until age 30.
Through the HATCH group, I received SO much! Unconditional love, acceptance and grace of Christ came from the leaders and
the other ladies, all of whom were strangers to me when we began. The group was a very safe place to explore, share and discover. I felt free to be vulnerable and open up with my own pain, knowing I was not alone or being judged. Weekly topics brought clarity to what I had always
experienced as pervasive and negative impacts from the abuse. Most of all, my HOPE was being restored: God was indeed continuing His
healing work in my life, not all at once, but faithfully, as part of His process, in community, through the comfort and power of His Holy Spirit, in His perfect time and way. I was shown that I do have choices, and I am NOT a victim, but an Overcomer.
The authentic, caring women volunteers at the Eve Center helped me through a very difficult time in my life, and I am grateful! Later in the
year I participated in a few book studies, and they, too, have provided help and encouragement to work through anger and forgiveness. I
have also benefitted from one-to-one Peer Counseling. Her example of letting Jesus help her is an encouragement that I can trust Him to
help me. I aim to continue growing and healing, and I desire to give back from what HE has given me. “The Lord is good, a stronghold in
the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” Nahum 1:7 ~
Life was unraveling and there was nothing to hide behind any longer. I was broken open for all to see the dark emptiness as I drowned in the pain. Life and all I knew it to be was falling apart and like a puzzle was strewn across the floor in a thousand pieces. It’s a daunting task and at 43 with three children a secure, safe life seemed impossible; however, it was only then in the darkest corners of my life I found grace, faith and hope. The 23rd Psalm was the first Bible verse I memorized at eight years old, but it was the 13th Psalm 13 verse 1 that I identified with as my world crashed…’How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?’ God did not forget me, but instead
pursued me and met me where I was hurting.
This world broke me with abuse, a failed marriage, depression and witnessing my child battle addiction. It was God who rebuilt me and
God who called me to the Eve Center as a trained Volunteer Peer Counselor to walk alongside other women who seek healing to grow
closer to Him. I am humbled by the courageous women who walk through the Eve Center doors every day to share their story despite
their hurt and fear. This is a unique place where Christian women are committed to promoting emotional, spiritual and relational healing for women, while reminding them they are not alone for we have walked where they have walked. Women gain the confidence to look back to
understand, and hope to move forward with God’s love to bless themselves, their family and friends. I know where loneliness can take
us and I know how hopelessness makes us feel; however, I also know loneliness can be God’s way of calling us to walk closer to him to
receive his love.
The result with God’s unfailing love at the Eve Center is women start the process of leaving the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and
step out into the invincible future with Him as one of God’s treasured daughters – forever grateful.
Peer Counselor & Eve Center Board member – Jen C.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Paul writes, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” (New Living Translation)
I’d like to take a moment to share with you a little of my story, how God has comforted me, especially through the Eve Center, and my hopes of comforting others with that same comfort.
When I got engaged, 14 years ago, I had so many dreams of life together with my husband, as I’m sure many of you did when you got engaged: dreams of doing ministry together – working with youth or couples, areas that both of us were so very passionate about, dreams of growing closer and closer to God together as we spent years praying together through good times and bad, dreams of searching the scriptures together for answers to life’s difficult questions, dreams of growing old together, surrounded by family and loved ones. I simply had dreams of being together.
I certainly never expected to wake up three weeks into my marriage to find my Christian husband viewing pornography in the next room. My dreams of a life lived together were shattered as I learned that his personal struggles were pulling him in the opposite direction, in a direction of extreme isolation. At the time I did not realize the depth of his pain, the intensity of his suffering or how long he had been living with this secret. I would later learn that it had been going on for a long time. Though he tried many times to stop, before and after our marriage, he simply felt powerless over this area of his life. His hope, when we married, was that marriage itself would help him achieve victory over this stronghold.
At that time, he was unwilling to admit that pornography was a problem in his life or in our marriage, but I believed him when he said he was sorry and that he would stop. I told no one, thinking that it was not mine to share. The isolation was excruciating though and my health began to deteriorate rapidly due to the stress that I was living under. I woke every day wondering if that were the day he would start again. Eventually, that day did come and I was completely unprepared to deal with it: emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually.
A pornography addiction is similar to other addictions in that tolerance levels build up and more exposure, more excitement, more illicit material is necessary to experience the same reactions. Additionally, pornography addiction is rarely simply about pornography, but instead about a need for acceptance or about loneliness. It is about turning to something besides God for comfort. Eventually many will move from pornography to other forms of sexual sin in order to meet that need. This was my husband’s journey. In time pornography was no longer enough.
In 2008 he deployed with the Navy Reserves to Kuwait for nine months. While there he began a series of online relationships with women that he met on singles dating sites using false identities. When I look back now, he gave me many clues about his character and what he might do, but at the time I felt blindsided by the lengths to which he would go. After learning of his infidelity, I began counseling with a pastoral counselor at the church I was attending, but I felt torn. This was not my sin to disclose. Should I be sharing this with someone when he has not, especially someone who would be interacting with him in an ongoing way in the future? In my anger and hurt, I also began preparing for a divorce.
God intervened through a dear man at this point. I was so angry and so hurt that I could not see past my own pain how much my husband was suffering. I could not pray for him or his relationship with God. I couldn’t even pray for our marriage. My elder could though, and did so with such great compassion and empathy that it broke down the wall that I was building around my heart. At this time we began the reconciliation process. I continued counseling here in the States, and he joined an Every Man’s Battle group and began one on one mentoring with a chaplain in Kuwait. When he arrived back in Virginia, he asked me to marry him all over again and I joyfully said yes.
When he approached me less than 2 years later and told me that God was asking him to return to Kuwait I was confused and heartsick. Surely God would not ask me to send my husband back to the land where I had almost lost him once before! He persisted, saying that he felt he needed to prove to God that he could be trusted with my heart. So, later that year I said good-bye again as we prepared to be apart for at least a year. When I learned of his relationship in Kuwait I was not quite as blindsided as the first time. I gave him the option to stay or come home. He quit his job and came home and I held him as he cried and apologized for slipping again. There are consequences to sin, though, and without his job we had to declare bankruptcy and surrender our home to foreclosure.
As a result of this, life took a wholly unexpected turn and we moved to Fort Wayne for a start fresh. Although I fought this move fervently, it was one of the most powerful ways in which God comforted me. In Fort Wayne, we met an incredible Christian counselor and her husband, a pastor at the church we were attending. Having a similar life story, they loved us, accepted us where we were, and poured into us. We met weekly for prayer, dinner, conversation, mentoring, and counseling. Eventually, we were as close as family. This godly man served as my husband’s accountability partner for almost 2 years and prayed passionately for him. And in July of 2014, he officiated over our vow renewal service.
The cracks were beginning to show, though, and by August I was asking both of them whether they noticed anything strange going on with my husband. He was staying up late, being secretive with his computer, and being extremely defensive if I asked questions about his struggle. In the beginning of October, I opened his computer to do homework and found a messenger app open with dozens of women from singles sites listed, along with the chat transcripts. Sadly, although I offered him a chance to tell me the truth about the situation, he lied until he realized that I already knew.
I was heartbroken. We had spent the last two years focused on rebuilding trust and intimacy our marriage. We were both in individual counseling and were meeting once a week with our dear friends, the counselor and pastor. Yet, for at least six months, my husband was living a double life again and, when offered the opportunity to be honest about it, he chose to lie in order to protect himself.
After much prayer and advice, I once again offered my forgiveness in the hopes that my husband would find lasting change through the power of God. Putting boundaries in place, I told him I could no longer live with his lies or the double life and that he would need to make a decision. Sadly, his response was one of self-pity, loathing, and perhaps even desiring of freedom. He told me that I had always been too good for him and he was holding me back. He was tired of hurting me over and over and I deserved better. I should move on. Then he offered to help me pack. Two days later, I moved back to the Greater Cincinnati area. I would learn a few months later that he met a woman online in May of 2014 and was involved in a physical relationship with her until after I left in October.
Knowing the emotional turmoil that would come when reality set in, I met with a dear and trusted spiritual mentor of mine, who happens to be on staff at the Eve Center, Sue Dermody. As is often the case with the staff, she immediately thought of someone who would be good to help me deal with the pain of what I was going through. Someone who had been where I was.
Just weeks later, I found myself sitting across from a Volunteer Peer Counselor at the Eve Center’s West location. The reality of divorce was simply much too big to deal with on my own. I needed help and my VPC was so helpful. She walked through the valley with me and reminded me of my worth in God’s eyes when I felt like a failure. I spent the first month crying hysterically through all of my sessions. I was in so much pain: emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. By the last month, though, I was laughing through my sessions because through God’s comfort, I had joy again.
Now, I’ve been to a number of Christian counselors through the years and I’m a Psychology – Christian Counseling major myself, so I’m fairly equipped with the techniques to deal with difficult situations in life. I have found, however, that I tend to put up walls with Christian counselors. I question how they can help, as they’ve never been through what I’m going through. At the Eve Center, this is NOT the case.
At the Eve Center, we strive to match the client with a VPC who has specifically gone through something very similar to the client. This way the VPC can come alongside the client and say, “I’ve been where you are”. It offers hope to the client in the face of despair. Here sits living proof that what the client is going through will not kill her. After all it didn’t kill the VPC! With God’s comfort, she has overcome and is doing well enough to offer God’s comfort to others. This was certainly true in my case. It was a great source of comfort to know that infidelity and adultery in her marriage had not ruined my VPC’s life. Yes, it was hard. Yes, it was painful. Yes, it took work to overcome. But God was so much bigger and, once again, here was living proof.
As I’ve shared already, going to a counselor at one’s church for help dealing with your husband’s sin can be difficult, especially when he has not confessed it to others yet. If the pastor is the only one who does pastoral care or the pastoral counselor knows both of you, going for help can be awkward or even impossible. It can leave women feeling, as I did, isolated and left to deal with their pain alone. The Eve Center offers a uniquely safe environment for women to receive the Godly counsel they need to deal with their pain, hurt and anger, learn to take ownership for their part of the problem, and to move forward in a healthy manner. The confidentiality offered to our clients allows them to share, safe in the knowledge that what they share will not “out” their husband.
My story isn’t over yet. I signed my divorce paperwork a week and a half ago and the reality of the situation truly set in. Now, however, as an intern and VPC trainee at the Eve Center, an incredible sisterhood surrounds me. A sisterhood who loves to comfort others with the comfort they themselves have received from God. You see, when you have been where others are, and received God’s comfort, the next step is to comfort others.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” (New Living Translation)
In fall 2013 I was searching for biblical counseling resources. That’s how I found a blog on the Eve Center website. I remember taking the print out to dinner with a friend who was struggling in a dating relationship. Although I was single at the time, I had also experienced similar dynamics to what she was describing. The guidelines in the blog were helpful in noticing the temptation to project my feelings, and in discerning if I was leading my friend to God’s ideas.
I heard about the Eve Center again in early 2014. I came on-site and met some staff members for various reasons, and vaguely thought about the Volunteer Peer Counselor training since I had already experienced group dynamics and ministry skills training. Yet, I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to apply for the training and see what happened. I participated in the fall 2014 training where I met my present-day prayer partners.
Quickly, I began to see the difference between biblical counsel and spiritual abuse. The truths that I recognized from Scripture allowed me to make sound decisions when delivering feedback because I was equipped with a truth-filled perspective. I was reminded of the power of the Holy Spirit to help me, and others through me. In short, I began to see God’s standard for godly relationships and it caused me to desire more truth in my life.
After graduating from the VPC training, I enrolled in HATCH so that I could facilitate a group at CityLink. I had previously worked with a counselor and did my own work to overcome the negative impact of abuse. Yet, the emotion and coping mechanisms that began to surface made me aware that I could indeed experience an even deeper level of freedom in my intimate relationships with others, myself and God. At times I didn’t want to work through the material, it was cold to commute to class by bus, and I was sick with a bad cough which made me feel overwhelmed with work and the HATCH homework. I was hurting and I could not make it stop.
About week 10, I realized that the benefit of being in HATCH would be for me. That’s when I found new motivation to release myself from disappointing outcomes and broken trust by forgiving others a debt they would never be able to repay. Through prayer and written exercises, I felt openness in my mind to begin imaging new opportunities for myself in my friendships, work and community lifestyle. Today, I have a stronger voice to express my boundaries and I am pursuing my life with greater reliance on God’s protection and provision of my emotional and relational needs.
In time, I did volunteer at CityLink to facilitate studies on Boundaries and Codependency—also growth areas for me. The outcome was renewed confidence in what God has accomplished in me and the joy of watching the participants experience freedom and a desire to lead other women as VPCs too.
My name is J, and I was a part of the Boundaries group that started in January that Lorraine Charbonneau led. I saw the evaluation form and I do not feel like it really gives you a true picture of how impactful this class has been for me. I wanted to be sure to share that with you.
A year ago in the spring I was helping a teenage girl work through some struggles; this triggered some things in me and threw me into dealing with some major anxiety because of unresolved things that have happened in my childhood.
When I checked out the [Eve Center]website in December, I noticed the boundaries class. Boundaries are something that I thought might be a good idea to set with my parents- especially my mother… little did I know how much what I would learn would turn my world upside down- in a good way. I truly mean that.
There were red flags all over the place that I had some major work to do. I realized that I have had poor boundaries myself in taking on responsibility that is not mine… and I have come to learn in this group that my mother had and continues to have some MAJOR MAJOR boundary issues. Sometimes I would leave class crying because I could check off almost every single [boundary violation].
I never really knew how to handle my mother growing up- but I am learning how to deal with her now with these new boundaries I am putting into place. She does not like it AT ALL. She is fighting back and throwing “trantrums,” but this group has helped to support me in the midst of this. I do not think anyone can set boundaries like this without support from other people. This group is not just a class about learning a cool new idea… This is serious life-changing work!
I figured out in this group that boundaries were a BIG answer to a lot of my anxiety and depression. I am finally dealing with pain that has happened through the years that I never have before. I am not totally on the other side to freedom yet, but I am taking steps and feeling more and more hope.
I am so so thankful that I found the Eve Center. I look forward to hopefully being able to serve there in the future and help other people with the issues that I have dealt with in my life. My friends are probably sick of me giving them lessons about boundaries and talking about how awesome the Eve Center is! :
My testimony is I was a lost young adult. The year I got married, bought a home and worked a wonderful job was the toughest year. So tough that I landed in the pits of Depression. Why? At the time I had no idea. Everything had been checked off the “this is what I am going to do list” Absolutely zero reason to feel so tried, so fearful, so alone, such anxiety, such lost of control, such a disconnect. Literally every step took so much energy I wondered how one step could be made.
I wanted to not move, but the stillness wasn’t comforting. It was like being frozen in stone cold concrete placed in quick sand. In my case, the lack of movement seemed to cause me to sink faster in the quick sand. My depression was as dark as it could get without suicidal thoughts. Although I could feel the erieness that those thoughts very well could come next. It was like at any moment, those demons would be released.
I went for professional help and had prescription drugs. Meeting with the professional and consuming the medicine did absolutely nothing to help me. I Got to the point to where I had to ask God, help me along please. I wasn’t a follower of Christ but knew His reputation that He was the answer to all things. He was nice and helped. I got to function again.
Years later as a new Christian I was attacked again with deeper depression. This time I could at least explain why I was depressed. I couldn’t have babies. No reason as to why, which made it feel more as a punishment. A team of Doctors couldn’t help. I took the medicines, no help. Had test and surgeries, no help. This depression I don’t even bring up into words. It was the darkest time of my life, I have refused to ever speak it in my atmosphere. It has remained my battle won by spiritual warfare. Even though at the time I didn’t know what I was doing much less what it was called.
I had my past experience and again I asked,I asked, I asked, and asked…. years of asking. I kept going to God, standing on what I knew of Him amd His promises. Eventually He answered, twice with the most beautiful, to me, girls.
Since those time, I have learned so much from what I now call the great depression. I understand why each bout was different and the reasons I went through that time. I am so grateful for my equipping experience. Had I not have been broken, I wouldn’t have known pain or have any game plan for getting fixed. Of coarse the depth is greater than this, and what was accomplished as an outcome of the brokeness is what was defined as a “Mosaic”
When we shared each testimony at the end of training. God spoke to me and said look at the brokeness that occurred. Without these broken pieces there would be no mosaic. I was confused. Mosaic? Lord I have never heard you refers to our brokeness as Mosaic. Cracked pots, yes, because you are the Potter’s hands that remakes us. There is scripture that supports pots. Why mosaic Lord? His response, look it up.
I looked up the definition; Mosaic – is the art of creating an image with broken pieces. In awe I sat still trying to soak in that revelation. He spoke
” I am the Master and with your pieces I have created a Masterpiece.”
Each of our broken pieces are colored and shaped differently. If we hold on to those broken pieces the sharpen edges will cut deep. The dull edges will rub us raw. We will forever feel pain. When we focus on the colors, the redness of hate glows, the blackness of loneliness looms, and the unfriendliness of grey lurks. These colors will steal, kill and destroy our light.
When we surrender broken pieces to the Master, the mosaic image created is the image of Christ.
Those sharpen and dull edges fit perfectly together as if chiseled to perfection for such placement to draw the clear image. The colors bring the image to life. The red now becomes love of the blood shed, the black turns white as the purest lamb, and the grey transforms into the color of the brights of rainbows.
Surrendering the broken pieces to the greatest Creator results in the most beautiful Masterpiece. It is a pleasure and honor to work with the Eve Center to help women place their pieces into the Master’s hand.
I haven’t seen you in quite a few years, but I enjoy keeping up with the happenings of the Eve Center through the email newsletters. Never thought I’d ever make use of what you offer, yet recently I have.
My husband and I have been struggling in our marriage and last fall started seeing a therapist. I felt I needed something more, something just for me, something that would connect me with other women that I can’t find at my church. So I checked out your website and filled out the intake form.
Merrie Beth (her Volunteer Peer Counselor) gave me a call and it has been a delightful journey, though still a short one at this point. I have enjoyed her support, encouragement, and ideas; we have shared laughs and sorrows in just 2 visits so far. She’s incredible! I am SO THANKFUL she chooses to volunteer with Eve Center.
Somehow I will get through this….
Just recently I became aware of what I thought was “inappropriate behavior” between an older neighbor and I when I was 6, was in fact sexual abuse. I was speaking with a friend from Church and I told her about this. Her response, “you were sexually abused.” She went on to encourage me to say the words, “I was sexually abused.” She happens to be a peer counselor at the Eve Center.
A few weeks later, she gave me a flier about an upcoming HATCH group. I tucked it into my folder and went home. Later when I looked at it, I knew that I had to call. I was afraid. I had just accepted that I had been sexually abused and now I was going to tell some stranger that I was interested in joining this healing group. I didn’t call right away but I made that phone call and it has changed my life
At the pre-session interview with the facilitators, I felt at ease. They were so warm and welcoming but also gave the right amount of distance. They asked me why I was joining the group and what healing work had I done previously. My answer was simple, I just felt that this was where God wanted me to be and this was going to be the beginning of my healing journey. They told me that people were praying for the group as it was being assembled and I am so thankful! Their prayers brought me to where God wanted me to go. I don’t fully understand the power of prayer, other than it results in amazing things.
I have only been walking with God for about a year and a half. God showed up in His perfect timing, just when my husband asked for a divorce. I was devastated. We separated for 6 months as God began making me into His image. I got baptized. God was able to mold me to the point where my husband and I reconciled just before our 10th wedding anniversary. Though we still had work to do on ourselves and in the marriage, we were living together again.
As I went through the HATCH program less then 6 months after we reconciled, I began to realize that this was my core issue. I was angry! I had been angry for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t my husband’s fault, though I repeatedly lashed out at him. Working through the curriculum, I was crushed when I became aware of how severely the sexual abuse had affected me. I was sick to my stomach; I thought I was going to vomit. That same curriculum guided me to healthy coping mechanisms, validated my feelings, and encouraged me to “play.” This program is so well thought out, that it must be from God. For me, there is no doubt in my mind.
Halfway through the program, when I was at a really low place, my husband was baptized. God answered my prayers just when I needed it the most. HE went on to bless me with His beautiful presense that evening and into the next day. Words cannot describe the peace, joy and love I felt during those magnificently magical hours. It was just what I needed to strive onward.
God brought this all together so seamlessly. He healed me, He restored me and He used the Eve Center and staff to complete this work in me. Thank you to everyone who is a part of this organization. Either directly as a counselor, facilitator, staff or prayer warrior and to those who give so generously. The Eve Center is the epitomy of the body of Christ in action.
And may the LORD our God show us His approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful.
I am 29, a wife, mother living in the wide open country air of Mt. Orab. My dearest friend Erin has known me for 15 years and saw me losing hold of my life. She told me I needed to go to the Eve Center. I called After a couple days of hesitation I called. At the end of the phone conversation we were both crying and praying. At that moment I knew I needed to go, needed this healing she was talking about. I was greeted warmly by my wonderful peer counselor Karen. She asked me why I was there. The first words out of my mouth were “I want to do more than just exist.” I had been existing for so many years. It had become the only thing I knew how to do. My childhood had taught me fear, pain and brokenness. I felt like I had to apologize for my very existence on the planet. I was bound by every chain imaginable: an alcoholic father, severely abusive brother, sexual abuse and then later in life an abusive relationship. As I began to peel back these layers of hurt and sin, then to fully release my brokenness to Christ he changed everything. He showed me my value and beauty in him. He gave me the courage to live a life free of fear. Now I can raise my daughter without the excuse as to why I wasn’t the right mother for her. As I cracked myself wide open before God and my precious counselor, He gave me back a peace that passes all understanding. I marvel now at the woman God has created in me. The shell of a woman has been filled completely to over flowing with his goodness. It took me 9 months to come through my healing process and at the end God told me ‘It took 9 months because I was growing a new life in you.’ I feel so blessed that God carried me for 9 months and then birthed a completely new woman. Later when my now former, peer support counselor suggested I take the training and become a peer support counselor myself, I jumped at the opportunity. I am so honored that I now have the chance to pass on this amazing gift to someone else who is hurting. If I had to endure my own life so that I could have empathy for someone who is hurting, it was so worth it. I am a blessed woman. I am married to an amazing man who loves me unconditionally and our precious daughter gets a whole mommy to build into her.
I am a 29 year old single mother of two young boys. I live on the Westside of Cincinnati. I was living my life just going through the motions, emotionless and detached. I did not trust anyone in my life. I kept everyone at a distance and this was keeping me very lonely and alone as a single parent. I always felt as though I was grieving the girl I once was before the abuse and never knew how to explain all the feelings I had kept inside for so long. I knew I wanted more for myself and for my boys. My children deserve the best mom I could be and I knew I was not capable of that where I was in my life.
I was already signed up to receive newsletter emails from the Eve Center and one day I was going through my email and opened a newsletter announcing an upcoming group for women survivors of childhood sexual abuse. That was ME. And I heard God whisper to me, “Its time, this is your time to go through this class!” So I emailed the director of this group called HATCH and made a commitment to myself to go through this group and give it my all and hope that I would get some kind of healing.
Through this class, I was reborn. God has made me NEW. I am an active participant in my own life now. I can now have amazing days with my children filled with joy and peace. I kept my boys forefront in my mind while I was going through the classes. With God I was able to begin to heal this wounded heart of mine. The Eve Center had three volunteer leaders that were creatively selected to be God’s assistants in educating and walking the group through the healing process. It was truly through Christ’s help and His gracious merciful love that I have begun to heal from the traumatic effects of sexual abuse. And for this I am forever grateful, thank you God, HATCH, and the ladies of the Eve Center. You made me new. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7
My name is Jeannette and this is my God and Eve Center story.
My marriage was breaking up and my daughter was heading off to college. I felt scared, alone, and insecure. Regardless of those feelings, I trusted God and called the Eve Center. I surrendered all I had to God and left the consequences to Him.
Trusting God and calling The Eve Center was not an easy decision but a necessary one if my life was going to change. The Center equipped me with tools to reach past myself to gain a closer relationship with my own needs and greater relationship with Christ. One big thing was though I had a relationship with Christ I did not trust Him enough to really take care of me. As time passed I came to realize for many years He had been providing for me. I just did not know it. Piece by piece He revealed things He had done.
This does not mean the last few years have been easy. It means God does love me and is faithful. I did not think anyone cared about my circumstances or me. Nevertheless, He has proven, as I Corinthians 13: 5-7, says Love always protects, which is what I needed to know the most.
Life with Him has been an adventure, some days dark and others bright. There are times when I know things will be difficult. Nonetheless, I follow the road He has laid out before me because the struggle provides needed growth and He will get me through it. Sometimes the hardest things we face are the very things needed to increase in our faith and in ourselves. In the end, I choose to trust Him in every circumstance knowing His joy and personal growth are the rewards.
Many do not see Christ in their lives. The Eve Center’s peer counseling offers a caring, human, womanly touch to reveal Christ to those who lack this experience. Seeing Christ’s unconditional love in another allows growth opportunities to feel secure in one’s own decision-making.
My peer counselor encouraged and guided me to make some tough decisions. There were probably times when she wanted to break my legs to get me to follow her as the sheep herders did in Biblical times but she did not. She permitted maturity in choices at my own pace. She did not want to control or hurt me, just hear me.
Although, I have grown, I continue to ask God to make me whole. In addition, I know the women at The Eve Center will be there to help in this process no matter where I am. Sometimes to mature we must live and die all on the same day.
About a month ago I made a huge decision to die to an old area of life that I might live in a continual adventure with Christ. My own decision happened because of TRUSTING Christ and COUNSELING at Eve Center.
Thank you both for being there when I had nowhere else to turn.
I was married right out of high school and was in abusive marriage for 9 years. When I finally left my husband I went to Branches…a local domestic shelter for women. I was in for a shock there. I only stayed one night and left the next morning. I will tell you about my experience there later…when I came across the Eve Center I was thrilled to see a place like this exists for women. If only I had found a place like that when I was going through many things in my life. What a breath of fresh air the Eve Center is.
I went to live at my parents, where my 2 1/2 year old daughter was molested by my brother the first evening we were there. Her 2 brothers knew that something wasn’t right. My brother had a mobile home on a lot beside my parents home. I was inside talking with my mom and my kids were with my dad in the game room. Upon noticing the kids had gotten quiet, I went to check to see what was going on. My dad said they went outside to play. As soon as I opened the front door I could hear my boys screaming and kicking at the mobile home door. I knew something bad had happened…
I ran as fast as I could to the mobile home. My son yelled Brianne is in there and Uncle D won’t open the door and let her out. You could hear her crying. The door was locked. I couldn’t get to her. Finally he opened the door and she came flying out of the door and her little fingernails scraped my neck like nails as she hugged me. She screamed he tried to put his pp in my pp. All I wanted to do was get my kids out of there. But my mom insisted on checking her.
Her underwear was gone…my mom said she is not torn apart or bleeding…she is okay. I about died. I grabbed my kids and went to ER. My mother wanted to go…I yelled and told her NO she wasn’t going. I pressed charges and went through the court system. I was ostracized from my family…they wanted nothing to do with us. We were treated as if we did this. It was a lot to deal with. But the kids and I survived that. My brother went to prison for 2 years and got no therapy.
I have been through a lot and I have had a lot of problems finding what my purpose is here on earth. I have forgiven my brother. My parents and I had a strained relationship due to this because they wanted to pretend it didn’t happen. The local news station wanted to do a news story on what happened to let other parents know that when things like this happen you don’t hide it. I did do the interview with them…I had people tell me how strong I was…they had no clue of the woman who was dying inside.
I thank God I was able to spend time with dad before we lost him in 1996 and my mother passed away in 2010. I realize they did the best they knew how to in this horrible situation…no parent should ever have to deal with something like this. I spent many years (decades) holding a grudge and hating that all these things happened to me and my kids. I am at a point in my life where I am closer to God than I have ever been in my life and I understanding things in a different light. I would love to help make a difference and give what I can of myself to help other women who are going through difficult times. I would love for someday an Eve Center opening here in our area. I am 5 minutes from Proctorville, Ohio. I am not sure what the regulations are for WV as opposed to Ohio. I do know that helping other women is something that I feel God has called me to do. I wanted to follow-up on this due to his calling me to do so.
Jesus saved me on July 10, 2011 while I was in the midst of an argument with my husband. Most of my memory is foggy except for the “divine union” I experienced for about a month… The world became more vivid; life just worked “as it was meant to be” and I was filled with much joy and peace.
Then my journey started: a Beth Moore Bible Study at a church put an appetite in my heart for His Word. This prompted me to start counseling, but sporadically, because I was hiding this from my husband (knew he’d disapprove) and felt deceitful spending money behind his back.
I was led to Theophostic Prayer Ministry and that was where my past abortion issues were dug up. (I had repented and felt forgiven by God when saved, but it was here that I sought help at Eve Center…which I joyfully discovered was FREE!)…
HEART Group and Peer Counseling in January 2013: I was my Peer Counselor’s first client; I applied, but backed out of the HEART Group. Sessions with my Peer Counselor were/are a true gift from God. A lot of hard, painful things were learned and made aware of in my broken life, but then much freedom experienced. At one session, I just could not hold in God’s fire and we danced to the song “I’m Alive” by Peter Furler.
What freedom! Thank You, Jesus!!!
I wonder how I get myself into such a big mess. But it’s amazing how only God through His love and grace can take my stupidity and turn it around to give Him the honor and the glory. What a glorious God we serve. And I now know, for myself, it’s not out of obligation, but because He deserves my love and praise. And He is the only ONE who can give the peace that surpasses understanding.
Thanks for your leading in HATCH. God has used this group to set me free. I know I still have MUCH more work to do, but I’m confident I have found a place that will walk with me through the journey.
I work full time, have an 8 year old daughter, take care of my mother with dementia and am going through a dissolution (of marriage) – pretty hectic. I am now attending groups at my church and am stronger than I was when I first came in. thank you for your strong encouragement!! I have learned a great deal! I have started taking life changing steps. I want to give when I get back on my feet.
Blessings to all of you.
I want to say Thank You for your vision to help other women in the complexity of our lives. Having a Godly place to be able to unpack the weight of our limitations, worry, and our sorrow so throughly was a gift I doubt many of us expected. I spent several months with [a volunteer] walking through land mines of my life and realized by the grace of God that I was still the walking wounded. He brought me to the Eve Center to help me with the shattered places of my life to mend all the broken places of my life. Amen and Thank You.
I had wanted, again, to end my life. I had a plan and I put it into action. I didn’t realize then that regardless of my plans, God’s ultimate purpose will always prevail.
Nevertheless, I was so angry with God and blamed Him for everything. I thought He had healed me from thoughts (and past attempts) of suicide, but felt like He deserted me once again. I went back to questioning if He ever was there. Even though, I thought I was saved in 2007, I felt further away from God than I ever had.
I stayed with a friend until I transitioned back to going to work and “independence.” I still did not feel any peace or joy but I had to get back to my own life. I finally found a counselor that I felt comfortable talking to about my past sexual abuse and the continued shame and guilt I felt. I tried to start picking up my Bible in the a.m. before work but was not interested in what it said. I knew the words “I am fearfully and wonderfully made….” etc… but I did not believe them in my heart.
I soon realized that I could not continue with the counseling due to the cost. A friend of my suggested trying to find a church for counseling so I started searching groups and counseling on the internet. After much searching I found a program called “Hatch” at The Eve Center. I had no hope that this group would have any positive effect on my life. I had already been in multiple sexual abuse groups with no apparent change.
I contacted the Eve Center about joining the group and set up an appointment to meet with the leader. During my initial meeting, I knew that there was no way that I would ever be able to make the progress through my abuse the way she had. But I decided that one more sexual abuse group wouldn’t hurt anything so I joined the hatch group.
As we continue to progress through the group there were multiple times that I wanted to quit and that I felt like I was getting worse rather than better. When the leader started talking about the celebration to come I was not very happy about it. I’m thinking, what the hell, I just rehashed all this abuse and now you want me to celebrate?
After the hatch group ended I began meeting with a VPC (one on one) once a week. I had a feeling if I just left that I would either be dead or back to using drugs again. While I was meeting, I still went back to my old ways of coping. I got into a relationship with a man that I knew that God wouldn’t approve of. I started having sex with him after making a commitment to God many years back to abstain until marriage. I was smoking cigarettes again, not eating right, and not exercising.
I continued to meet with my VPC throughout my rebellion against God. She was not judgmental but encouraged me to be obedient to what He was telling me. I knew that I needed to end the relationship but I was so bound up in the fear of being alone. As I continued in the relationship, I wasn’t sleeping because I knew that I was being disobedient. I knew that I was back in the same patterns of believing sex was love and looking to someone else to make me happy.
Through my months of disobedience the VPC was always there. Saying the things I needed to hear in love. I never felt judged by her or any of the women at The Eve Center. She continually lifted me up in prayer and had others pray for me. They knew through their own testimonies that God had this all under His control. One day I listened to the Holy Spirit and decided to be obedient to what God was telling me to do and my life changed dramatically.
My transformation started happening immediately after my obedience. My eyes were opened and everywhere I looked I saw Jesus. I am earnestly seeking a relationship with Him and I feel on fire for the Lord. I give thanks to God every day for bringing me to The Eve Center.
Once upon a time, I was a hurting and fearful little girl. I became a bewildered, desperate woman. The rubble of my broken life had all but buried me. Seeking professional Christian counseling changed my life. Though I did NOT believe I could find healing, because of the counselor’s faith and dedication to listening, encouraging and (in love!) challenging me to seek God and His healing, I am a healed and changed person today.
After that I asked God how I could serve Him despite the fact my data entry job brought me no enjoyment whatsoever. I felt stuck with no regular outlet to use my God-given gifts. Time went on. One summer morning I woke up with a strong sense to look into volunteering at the Eve Center. It was God nudging me to take a step. I signed up and the rest is history!
At my peer counselor training interview, I felt it was far more important than any job interview I could ever have. It was a milestone – an Ebenezer of God’s faithfulness. I felt I was stepping right into my divine destiny. When classes began, I was thrilled week after week by the content and the teaching. Not only did it resonate with much of my personal experience, but I was so excited that I had the privilege of taking it to the next level, where I could apply it with women just like me.
Soon enough, I completed from the training program and received my first client; then my second, third and fourth. Every woman has a different story and experience, but we all have a lot in common at our core. I have gained a wealth of experience from listening to women tell their stories. It is an honor and privilege to hear them and very humbling to be able to respond as I believe God would, knowing what I know of His heart from the Bible.
As I continue to see more clients move from crisis, pain and despair to stability, healing and hope, I am encouraged and know that all the hard work, careful thought, prayer and time spent on each woman is not in vain! It is a joy to see lives changed, minds renewed, and life altering decisions made.
The beauty of the Eve Center is God has gifted us all and will use these unique experiences to directly minister to another. A woman needs only be willing and hungry to bless, just as God is hungry to bless, in order to serve at the Eve Center!
To be honest, I have been putting off writing this letter. I’m not really sure if it’s because I’m afraid of what will come out or that I’m still healing, but I know this is something that I must do. I want every woman to know that with God, you can overcome any obstacle that comes your way!
I will start off by telling you my story. I began my healing process in 2012 with going to counseling. This was a big step for me because it would mean making myself deal with everything that’s happened, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into. I had been battling depression since 2009. After breaking up with my boyfriend of 3 years, my life spiraled out of control! I began drinking heavily and withdrew from friends and family. On the outside I was still me, the loyal friend and dependable daughter, but inside I was dying! What was worse is that no one seemed to notice I had begun to withdraw. I felt I had no one to talk to about my problems, and felt more alone than ever. The fact that people still came to me about their problems and what was going on in their lives made it worse, because I felt like I was being used. Through counseling, I came to find this was because I was not setting appropriate boundaries…but we’ll get into this more later. I knew I had to do something, but I wasn’t crazy so why would I need to see a counselor? And I didn’t want to burden my family and friends with my problems, they had their own issues to deal with and I felt I would be a burden. So for 3 years, I suffered in silence.
Finally in Sept 2012 I went to see a counselor. I was nervous because I felt that she would judge me, so it took me a moment to warm up to her. Once I did, I started to tell her how I always felt alone, that I had no one to talk to, share my day with, or be a shoulder for me to cry on when I had a bad day. I was that person for others but I had no one to be there for me. I shared with her how my biological mother walked out on my dad, brother and I when I was 4 years old. She had begun to do drugs and eventually chose that life over her family. I remember feeling so alone and angry because I didn’t know what I could have possibly done to make my mom leave me. Later, I came to the conclusion that I was not meant to be loved. If the woman who carried me for 9 months and went through labor to bring me into this world could walk out on me, then why would anyone else stick around? In my mind, everyone I loved would eventually walk out. I began to keep everyone at a distance, so when they eventually did leave, I wouldn’t get hurt.
As we started to dig into these feelings of abandonment, I started to realize something else was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something else was causing me to be bitter and keep everyone at a distance. Even my counselor knew something was up. She let me know this healing process would be an emotional roller coaster, and that things would get worse before they got better. She encouraged me to push through and not give up. As the following weeks went by, we dealt with the issues of my mother walking out on our family and I thought I was ready to forgive, but still something was holding me back.
It was in November of 2013, the worst session of my counseling. I had finally realized why I was having the feeling of uneasiness during the last couple of weeks. I remember going to my session and just sitting there, I couldn’t even speak. My counselor was asking me questions and I just stared at her, not knowing what to say. Finally halfway through the session, I finally blurted out what was bothering me: when I was 6, I was molested by my grandfather, and later that same year, by an uncle. That was all I could say. My counselor acknowledged that this finally all made sense, why I was so protective of myself and why I wanted to keep others at a distance. I expected to feel sad in all this and even disappointed, but the anger I felt not only towards my grandfather and uncle, but towards God, shocked me. I never knew that I was so angry with God for allowing this to happen to me.
Over the next year, my counselor and I starting working through the effects of the abuse. I remember feeling so betrayed, I knew what was happening was wrong but I felt so powerless to stop it. My voice was also taken from me, I said no but that didn’t stop either of them. I never felt protected, I mean no one was there to stop this from happening, and for it to happen by more than one family member made me feel worse. I couldn’t even count on my family to take care of me. I had been hurt by my mother, my grandfather, and my uncle. By the age of 6, I learned that family could not be trusted. I was afraid to turn to my father and grandmother in fear that they would take their side over mine, or would find some way to excuse it and sweep it under the carpet so that no one else would find out. I learned at a young age to suffer in silence.
Now the anger with God came with the knowledge that He allowed this to happen to me. I know we’ve been told God will not put more on you than you can bear, but what on earth made Him believe that at age 6, I was able to handle all of this? He was not there to protect me when all this was happening, and I was not sure why my counselor was pushing me to trust in Him through this process. As far as I could see, God caused me to be the way I was. For whatever reason, He wanted me to be alone and I resented Him for that. I went months without praying or reading my bible. How could I ask God for anything after what He allowed to happen to me? Finally my counselor gave me an assignment, she told me to write a letter to God. She wanted me to talk to Him as if He were sitting right in the room with me. What would I say to Him? What would I ask Him? She told me to pour out my heart to Him and let Him know exactly how I was feeling and what it was that I wanted from Him. So I did just that, I lashed out at Him for talking my mother from me, for allowing me to be molested, for sitting back and watching this all happen to me, and having the nerve to feel bad about it. I told Him if He had protected me then He would have nothing to feel bad about. I could have been married by now with children, living the life I felt I should have had by this time, but I couldn’t even think of allowing someone to get that close to me to hurt me. And what if I turned out to be the mother my biological mother was to me? What if it was hereditary, and I walked out on my children? I finally asked the one question that has been burning in my head since the first day: WHY ME???
After writing this letter to God, which was 10 pages long, I cried on my living room floor. I don’t remember how long I sat there, but after letting out all this pent up anger and aggression, all I could do was cry. It was very healing and cleansing, as if I was washing away all the hurt and anger I’ve felt for the last 26 years. When I got up from crying, I realized in that moment that I could not do this without God. I needed Him to get me through this season of my life, otherwise I would go right back into my depression and I knew I didn’t want to go back. Around this time, I had stopped going to counseling because it was getting to be too much for me. However after not seeing my counselor for 2 months, I knew I had to get back to my counseling. My counselor suggested a group for me to join that was for women who were sexually abused. It was during this time that I got the answer to my question I asked God in my letter.
In 2014 I began to fast and pray to God about His calling on my life. I knew I wanted to go into counseling but I wasn’t sure in which capacity. As the youth president at my church, I figured if I was going into counseling I would want to help troubled teens get their lives on track and pursue the education they needed to reach their goals. I was fully prepared to become a high school counselor, and was starting to take steps to go back to get my master’s in school counseling. Even though there were many road blocks in my way, I was determined to run through them. I mean I can do anything I can set my mind to right? However during my fast, I heard God tell me to stop! I wasn’t sure what He was telling me to stop doing, but I knew He wanted me to stop doing something. So I stopped all my plans to go back to school, stopped studying for the GRE, and any other plans I had at the moment, I stopped them too.
In October 2014, I joined the group therapy my counselor suggested, and what was amazing about this group is even the leaders had dealt with sexual abuse. It was nice to know the people who were going to help me through this next stage of my life could identify with what I was going through. I learned a lot about myself in this group, not just about why I kept to myself and did not open up to others, but the fact that I did not want to do that any longer. I wanted to get out and meet new people, to date and eventually get married and start a family of my own. I wanted to live life to the fullest, to travel, and most importantly, I wanted to help other women who are where I was to find healing and deliverance in their lives. I put my all into my counseling at that point because I realized my healing was not just for me, but for all the women I stood to help in the future. That is why God told me to stop earlier in the year, my calling was not to go into school counseling, but to go into women’s counseling.
Now here we are in 2015, my counseling completed. I am stronger than I’ve ever been, and I realize that I have been cutting myself off from so much love and support! I finally had the courage to tell my mother (my dad remarried) and my sisters about the abuse. They were hurt that I had endured that pain by myself, but it also gave them a lot of insight about me and made them understand me more than ever. I even have a few friends that I’ve been blessed to have and was able to share my experience with. What is crazy about this is that they too, have been dealing with issues and had been wondering if they should get counseling. By sharing my experience and how counseling has been beneficial in my healing, some have reached out for the help they need. Iron sharpens iron, right?
I am currently still going to my counseling center doing a book study on boundaries. Earlier I mentioned how I felt like I was being used because I was always there for others and no one was there for me. I am learning through this study that having good boundaries is more than not letting people walk over you, it’s also about learning how to let in the good. My boundaries were walls, I was shutting everything out thinking if I didn’t allow people to get too close they couldn’t hurt me. What I didn’t realize is that I was also shutting out love, support, encouragement, friendships, and marriage – all things that I want. I realize boundaries are gates, which swings both ways to let out the bad, but also let in good. This is why I was feeling so alone, I was keeping out the bad and not allowing anything good to come my way! I am learning now to open up to people and ask for help, to take risks and not be afraid to fall, and realizing that the bad that does happen is just a learning tool for me to better myself! Who knows, maybe soon I will be ready to allow myself to date! Baby steps, lol
So my next step: I will be applying to become a volunteer counselor at the women’s center where I received my counseling this fall. They give women the opportunity to work with other women who are where they’ve been, and to help them get to the breakthrough they need to live a full and prosperous life. I know now that I deserve to be loved, to have someone who I can confide in, and to feel safe. I want to pass this along to other women, that they can have whatever their heart desires within God’s will. So I guess God was right after all – He really did mean this for my good. I am a living testimony that He will never put more on you than you can bare! Trust in God always. We do not know the plans He has in store for us, but if we want the life He’s destined for us we need to follow His plan. Life is an ongoing journey, and we should enjoy the ride! I pray anyone who is reading this will be blessed, and find the encouragement they need to pick themselves up right where they are and deal with whatever it is that is holding them back from their God ordained destiny. God loves each and every one of us, let Him love you, and let Him lead you. You can never go wrong with that!