I was raised in a Christian family that was very involved in a small, local church. Growing up on a farm, I spent the majority of my time outdoors having adventures with my two older brothers. I was a tomboy and was often teased for it by girls at my school. From the age of 7 to 12, I was sexually abused by a close family member. I began punishing myself with self-harm as early as age 10 and acted out by sexually abusing two other close family members. Even after the abuse ended, I carried so much guilt and shame. At age 15, I began cutting to cope with the pain. I did very well in school, but I strived for attention and acceptance through academics and athletics. I was always depressed or anxious, but I felt I had to play the role of a perfect Christian because I experienced so much pressure from my classmates. I began getting involved with guys through sexting, which grew to one-night stands my senior year. I carried my promiscuous lifestyle into college and also started drinking.

I broke down and told my mom I needed serious help just two months into my first semester of college. She mentioned Mercy and encouraged me to look into it. I listened to her advice and entered Mercy a few months later. At first I joked around, laughing and acting like I was okay, but inside I was broken, ashamed and afraid to let people know I was hurting.

A huge turning point for me at Mercy came when I was assigned The Wounded Heart by Dan Allender. In it, I read this quote, A problem cannot be substantially resolved until it is honestly faced. From that point on, I became more open about the abuse I had experienced and my emotions. I had to let myself grieve and really process the hurt. I have been able to truly forgive my abuser AND myself for the abuse I inflicted onto others. I have a much better relationship with God that is not legalistic, and I now know my true identity is in Christ. My life is no longer controlled by depression or the need to pretend I am someone I’m not; I can express my emotions appropriately without being ruled by them.

After graduation, I plan to move home with my family and get involved with the worship team and youth group at my church. In the future, I want to marry a great Godly man, be a stay-at-home mom and remain active in youth ministry.

Thank you so much for partnering with Mercy. My life has truly been transformed, and I am so thankful to all the people who have made this ministry possible.