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Pam's Story

Removing the Debris Against the Odds
    From Victim to Victor Through Christ
        From Depression to Deliverance
     AimForTheStars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If people only knew the damage they did whenever they molest someone, especially a child, they’d never do it. They’d never do it!” Elaine Baker, PhD, who was Pam's professor of Human Sexuality at Marshall University, Huntington, WV, said (1984).

Little did Pam realize the significance of Dr. Baker’s statement to her life until years later whenever she realized she had been a victim of early childhood sexual abuse. Maintaining healthy relationships had always been difficult for Pam. She could not understand why until she broke through denial and chose to take the long road to recovery. Pam also has experienced physical, emotional, and psychological abuse in her lifetime. Through Pam's journey of recovery, she realized most of the actions of her perpetrators were out of ignorance or of other people acting out of prior abuse in their own lives. Thus, Pam chooses to keep the identity of her perpetrators unidentified, as Pam has forgiven everyone in her life who has abused her in any form or fashion.

If a person would have asked Pam years ago at her high school graduation about her early years, she would have said she had a “typical” childhood. She grew up living with her parents and one brother. As far back as Pam can remember, she and her family attended church most Sundays. Furthermore, as a “star” student headed for college, Pam avoided falling into the vices of alcohol, drugs, and promiscuity.

Pam's recovery journey began Sunday, June 26, 1988, the day that changed her life forever. Pam lived in Nashville, Tennessee and was a member at Two Rivers Baptist Church at that time. On this date, on her way to church Pam fainted and fell down a flight of stairs crushing her left ankle. Ten days later July 6 doctors performed surgery that included a bone graft from her hip and the insertion of 2 metal plates and 16 screws to rebuild her ankle. Doctors told Pam that she would probably never walk again. They said if she did, she would have to use a cane. As is evidenced now by her being able to walk without a cane and even run at times, Pam knows the Great Physician can heal when modern medicine fails. Throughout Pam's recovery after the accident, she struggled with depression but didn't seek immediate help. Not until the following year after. Pam's cousin the late American country music entertainer Keith Whitley died May 9, 1989 did she reach out for help. At the time of Keith's death, Pam was feeling exceptionally low, even to the point of contemplating suicide. 

"If you have a problem...It doesn't have to be alcohol and drugs...any problem, whether it's alcohol, drugs, psychological, or emotional, get help," said Ricky Skaggs, country music artist during Keith's funeral. "Don't let this happen to you. I know this is what Keith would want me to say." 

The words spoken by Ricky penetrated deep into Pam's soul. Shortly after the funeral, she sought professional help. Doctors diagnosed Pam with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, accompanied by Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, and Codependency. .Then about six months later November 12 her paternal grandmother passed away.The death of Pam's grandmother hit her hard as she was still in a cast from a second surgery on her ankle and unable to return to Kentucky for the funeral. Nevertheless, Pam leaned on the Lord to continue her recovery journey.

Nehemiah in Scriptures gave Pam the biblical basis for looking back to remove the debris from past abuse. Recovery from any type of past abuse is similar to the grieving process depicted by Nehemiah. In Nehemiah 1:4, Nehemiah began his journey with weeping, mourning, fasting, and prayer, all key elements in the recovery process..Nehemiah 1:6 reveals how Nehemiah continued his journey with repentance for his sins and those of his people. Repentance involves breaking through denial, which many individuals prefer to live in after being abused.

Before anyone can move on from being a victim of abuse, the damage from that abuse must be surveyed as Nehemiah went from gate to gate viewing the devastation of the temple walls. This scene is depicted in Nehemiah 2:13-15. On any road to healing, you can expect opposition just as Nehemiah (v.2: 10, 19; vv. 4:1-3; vv. 6:1-14) faced opposition on his journey. Nehemiah responded to opposition with four things. First, Nehemiah turned to prayer for deliverance when faced with opposition. Secondly, Nehemiah called for help and unity among the Jews (vv. 2:16-18). Thirdly, Nehemiah and the Jews building the wall kept watch for their enemies and were always ready for battle (vv. 4:16-18). Fourthly, Nehemiah and the others helping persisted in working to complete the task (vv. 6:15-19).

With Nehemiah as the scriptural basis for needing to ponder or recount the effects of abuse, how can a person apply Nehemiah's journey to move forward in the recovery process? Complete recovery of "removing the debris" left by abuse requires a connection with and release of one's emotions. Recall how Nehemiah wept over the devastation. The recounting process for Pam involved three things, which allowed emotional connection and release. First, keeping a journal helped her discover her feelings and unlock repressed memories. Keeping a journal also will help any individual keep track of his or her progress through recovery.

Secondly, emotional connection and release were found for Pam through psychotherapy with several different professional counselors. Different counselors and therapists have different styles and specializations. Pam recommends anyone considering counseling find a qualified therapist he or she is comfortable with, preferably one who incorporates Christian ideology and techniques.

Thirdly, emotional connection and release can be found through the help of a support group. Recall how Nehemiah recruited and organized other Jews to help him complete the building of the wall. Pam's primary support group became the TRBC church family. Other common support groups include the numerous 12-step groups, such as Celebrate Recovery, Codependents Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, etc.

Before a person sets out to rebuild a life that was damaged by abuse, the losses and damages to that life must be surveyed. Recall how Nehemiah surveyed the damage before rebuilding. Abuse can result in losses in five different areas of life. First, losses from abuse can come in the form of missed opportunities. Pam thinks of how the chance for having a "normal" life was stolen from her. Secondly, negative effects of abuse may be cognitive in nature. For example, sometimes Pam experiences problems concentrating. Thirdly, negative effects of abuse may include stress-related physical illnesses. Pam has had problems with TMJ, gastroesophageal reflux, nervous bladder, and other similar health issues. Fourthly, abuse damages an individual's emotions. For example, Pam often felt that she could never be good enough. She became a perfectionist, which is unhealthy because perfection is impossible to attain on earth. Fifthly, relationship problems also occur as a result of abuse. The lack of trust created during abuse is a key factor here.

The "surveying" process should include education. A person who has experienced abuse needs to be continually educated on his or her particular issues. Education can come from reading books and articles, viewing documentaries, and tapping available community resources (for example, support groups and specialized counselors).

A quick "forgive and forget" mode encouraged by some does not lead to ultimate peace. The injury and its consequences must be acknowledged. Offering forgiveness does not condone the actions of the offender. Forgiveness acknowledges the complete work of Christ's blood on the cross.

Even with the help of a therapist, a support group, etc., relapses will happen. A person in recovery can expect to face opposition on the journey to wellness. For example, opposition can come in the form of family or friends embarrassed by the abuse. When Pam first entered psychotherapy, some people discouraged her from looking back. However, she knew she had to in order to find peace and the answers she sought. Not until Pam learned the truth of her past abuse and her own past mistakes could she be FREE to move forward in her life (See John 8:32.).

Another example of facing opposition in recovery is how Satan will throw stumbling blocks on the road to recovery (I Peter 5: 8). Just as Nehemiah faced attacks of criticism and ridicule (e.g.: vv. 4:1-3) and even an attempted assassination plot (v. 6:10), we too can protect ourselves from Satan's attacks. How? There are three ways to guard against Satan. First, put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11). Our spiritual weapons of defense based on Ephesians 6 include truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God. Secondly, resist the devil (James 4:7) and thirdly, never compromise your convictions and try to deal with the devil. Note how in Nehemiah 6, Nehemiah held fast and refused to give in to the enemy's tricks.

Before concluding Pam's testimony about her moving through depression to find deliverance from the effects of abuse, she stresses that when a person has been victimized or experienced loss similar to Nehemiah, that person must recount the experience and survey its effects before offering forgiveness and moving on with one's life. Pam would add two important points to remember. First, although circumstances may seem to get worse before they get better in recovery, it is only through Christ that one can grow to become a survivor rather than a victim of past abuse. Pam bases this on John 15:5 (NKJV): “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing”. Secondly, although relapses occur, it's important to move on and not get stuck along the way. Pam found motivation to move on from her past in Philippians 3:12-16 (NKJV):


12. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

Just as Nehemiah and the Jews reached their common goal of rebuilding the wall, Pam believes anyone with the help of God and others can rise above past abuse.

After completing treatment for the depression and other related issues, Pam surrendered to a call into full time vocational ministry (counseling and education) in 2000. Pam quit a full time position working at Thomas Nelson Publishers to return to graduate school at Morehead State University in Kentucky where she completed her M.A. and her Ed.S. degrees in Adult and Higher Education, Counseling Specialization.

After finishing her Ed.S. degree in 2009 and unable to find work in Kentucky Pam decided to return to Nashville. She came back to Nashville under the pretense of having a position working as a counselor working with women in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction at a retreat center. The position was to provide housing and a car to drive with a small income. When the position turned out to be a scam and she refused to work with the con artist, she ended up at the Nashville Rescue Mission. Having joined a Nazarene Church in Morehead because there were no Southern Baptist Churches there like TRBC, Pam started attending Nashville’s First Church of the Nazarene where she could walk to church from the mission.. That’s where her husband Milton comes into the story. They met in a new members' class at First Nazarene Church. Within two weeks of their meeting, Milton had proposed to Pam and she accepted. That’s how sure both of them were that God was calling them into matrimony together. On December 5, 2010 Milton and Pam married. They are now general partners in their home business, ABC's Ministries. Since April 2015 Pam has been blessed to not only have her home office, but she also opened a counseling office at her and Milton's home church, Madison Church of the Nazarene.

 

You too can experience healing and deliverance!

To God be the Glory for all the healing and miracles He has worked in Pam's life. That's her testimony, and what she desires to share with other victims to encourage them that they too can become victorious through Jesus Christ.