A Survivor’s Story: Finding Love

A Survivor’s Story: Finding Love

Like many others, I was born in a Christian home. I got baptized with my two older brothers when I was five or six, and I remember the pastor asking me:

“Who is Jesus to you?” without any hesitation, I replied,

“My Savior!” To tell you the truth, I didn’t really know what that meant. Honestly, I didn’t really know the guy at all. I said it because that’s what you’re supposed to say, and because I was a good little churchgoer who knew all the churchy answers. I had never needed a savior before; I lived in a Christian bubble without any knowledge of pain or heartbreak.

Pretty soon that bubble started to shatter.

Within a few years one of my brothers started getting forceful. Not like normal older brother stuff where they make fun of you and push you around—that I was used to. It became so violent that he would punch me if I made him mad, or mock me until I sobbed. He was always angry, always wanting things his own way. Every time my parents left him as babysitter my little brother and I would try and avoid making him mad, or just hide from him altogether.

We hated him—we were terrified of him.

I remember the first time I woke up to him crouching by my bedside.

Eventually, I just got used to it and assumed this is how families treated each other. He had become so threatening to me I wouldn’t dare say anything for fear of getting hurt. As the years went on, things got even worse.

I remember the first time I woke up to him crouching by my bedside. It was late, maybe two in the morning, and I felt a tingling all over me that always happens when there is someone around I can’t see. I opened my eyes and he was right there.

I told my parents the next day, and my dad thought I had been dreaming. I insisted I wasn’t, but they thought nothing of it. It happened again, over and over. He would be in my room late at night and always make up some excuse. Some nights I would have dreams of someone touching me, and I would wake up to him sprinting from the room.

I kept insisting to my parents that I wasn’t dreaming, but my dad didn’t really buy it. He ended up putting a lock on my door—one of those that doesn’t have a real key, you can just open it with a tiny screwdriver. After that didn’t help, I took all the screwdrivers from my house and hid them behind my closet door, hoping if he couldn’t find them then he couldn’t get in.

I finally reached a turning point—up until this point I was able to pretend that nothing was really happening, but even that small comfort was stripped away as I lay in the darkness of my room that night.

I was so consumed with fear that I would try to sleep anywhere but my own bed. I slept on the couch—though it was more out in the open, my room felt so much darker. I was too old to tell my parents I was having bad dreams, so I couldn’t get in bed with them. Sometimes I would wrap myself so tightly in my blankets, thinking that if he couldn’t get through them he couldn’t touch me: it would get so hot I couldn’t sleep and eventually had to unwrap myself. For months on end I would lock my door, only to have it mysteriously opened. When I woke up, when I got out of the shower, there was no peace. One night, I broke. I woke up to his hands in places that I didn’t know existed. I was paralyzed: unable to move or cry or even breathe. It felt like fire was running through my whole body as I tried to comprehend what I should do. I finally reached a turning point—up until this point I was able to pretend that nothing was really happening, but even that small comfort was stripped away as I lay in the darkness of my room that night. Before school the next day, I wrote my mom an email. I was too scared to tell her that her beloved son was sexually assaulting her daughter.

After that, the bubble was burst for good.

The first, and most awful thing was having to go to the District Attorney’s office. I went in to a cold bland room with a man I didn’t know. I stared down the camera in the corner as a man told me to draw “draw an X where he touched you,” and other such humiliating things. I walked out with a stuffed teddy bear and that was that.

It became a world of secrets, of not being able to tell my friends what was going on: of me being left at friends houses and at practices because one of my parents was busy, and the other couldn’t leave him alone. I became emotionally numb: I was embarrassed, and faked my way through court ordered therapy visits and stared blank faced as many of my family and friends asked me questions with tear filled eyes.

I ripped the head off that poor teddy bear.

Suddenly, it was over. I had refused to feel anything—convinced everyone that I was fine—he was moving back into the house. For the length of time it went on, it seemed that in the blink of an eye the biggest tear in my family life was taped up and thrown in the back of a deep dark closet, never to be spoken of again.

That was when I decided that no one could take care of me but me. 

I felt worthless—the only people that professed to love me spent all the time I could remember in denial of what was happening to me. When they finally did believe, they spent the rest of the time taking care of my brother—the problem—instead of helping me as the victim. I was so angry that my parents were never there, that my brothers didn’t seem to care, and that my friends couldn’t know. I decided that the only person I could trust to care of me was myself.

Then came high school, where I entered into an extended period of bad decisions, numb and spiraling. My freshman year I met a boy. He wasn’t good looking, charming, or even tall. He wasn’t anything special, or even smooth talking. But he was the only person who ever paid attention to me. We started dating, and my parents were against it. I wasn’t allowed to see him, so I would sneak him in my room at night through my window, or sneak out and go to parties with him and his older friends. They introduced me to alcohol and drugs—things I had been so sheltered from I didn’t even know what they were. I was desperate to seem put together and cool, so I would do almost anything. Little did I know, this entire time he was manipulating me.

He was untrusting and always seemed hurt by me, threatening to leave me regularly, and always being offended if I didn’t sneak out to see him. He told me that if I professed to love him vocally, I had to show it physically.

This was the only love I’d ever known—the love I thought I deserved. I accepted him cheating on me, spreading lies about me, making me do things I didn’t want to do. I had never wanted to have sex, I wanted to wait until marriage like a “good Christian” would do: he didn’t care.

I had gotten myself into a pattern of doing whatever he wanted, and so when he wanted sex I couldn’t say no. I thought that if I didn’t, he would take it from me anyway. I thought it was better to be a slut than a victim again.

I thought this was love, and once I felt it I wanted nothing to do with it ever again.

I got away from him, but I carried the shame, memories, and pain from my youth with me all the way to college, shoved so far down that I didn’t even know how to feel it. I self-medicated with drugs, alcohol, destructive-relationships, even sports. The fall semester of my sophomore year was when everything changed. Within the span of two weeks my life exploded, in every possible way. I was injured working out, my credit card was stolen after my car was broken into, my apartment was broken into while I was inside, my roommate was getting stalked, I literally could not pay for meals, and to top it off, my boyfriend didn’t like me “not being happy,” and broke up with me. After a mental breakdown and crying all the tears I had held in for almost a decade, my roommate called a guy I hardly knew, who stayed up with me almost all night, and told me something I will never forget. He looked me square in the eyes and said,

“Katie, I don’t know what’s going on in your life, but I know that God is telling me that if you just let it all go and chase him, he will make it more beautiful and more amazing than anything you have ever experienced before.”


My story of healing is really a story about meeting Love.

Love is a person who has taken every flaw, every mistake, every thing I want to be ashamed of and turned it into a beautiful story of redemption, that I have seen change lives. Love is a person who despite me shoving him away my whole life he never stopped chasing me down. Love is a God who gave me every ounce of himself to save me even when I continually broke his heart.

When I found true love, my life was over. At that second I became someone new. I was able to feel, connect, even speak about my experiences. I experienced radical healing mentally, emotionally, and even physically. I became someone who had never been jaded by worldly love and wasn’t broken to pieces. He even restored my relationship with my brother, and helped me forgive the boy that destroyed my heart.

I finally, truly understand what it means to say Jesus is my savior: it means that he fell so in love with me that he couldn’t bear being in heaven without me, so he came down to earth to die in my place, so that I could live with him eternally. When he died, he took pain, sin, and death to the cross with him—he buried my past a long time ago, and no matter how deep someone digs, they can’t revive a past that’s dead.

This story is submitted by Katie Mackey, a Stetson graduate whose digital photography work, “Driftwood,” focuses on stories on survivors of sexual assault. 

Our organization has become the proud owners of these pieces. See Driftwood here!

A Seat At the Table

A Seat At the Table

You are invited to join a small group of women for our 1st fundraising brunch event. With limited seating for a few women we will gather together, over a lovely meal, to discuss feminism today and how it can continue to support the mission of violence against women.

On display at the brunch, you will also be one of the first to view “Driftwood” art work. These beautiful pieces of work created by Stetson University students depicting their stories of sexual assault.

There is seating at the table for only 10 Women that want to be apart of this important conversation and part of the solutions.



Join us at the beautiful Maya Papaya Organic Community Farm, 245 W. Beasley Road, Oveido, FL 32765 Saturday, June 17th from 11am-1pm.

Reserve your Seat at the Table!

If you have any questions about this event, feel free to email us at info@forgottenwomenproject.org.

See you there!