The Search for Healing

Eight months later I found myself standing in a crowded court room. I had been told that going through the legal process would feel like being raped a second time, but actually it was worse. Even after sharing every intimate detail of the rape, Jack was still found not guilty—insufficient evidence. Case closed.

After that I fell into a deep depression. The college I attended said Jack would be allowed to register for classes. Innocent until proven guilty.

In the months that followed, Jack stalked me. He followed me to my classes, to the cafeteria, to my dorm. The helplessness I had felt during the rape was now multiplying, as I felt more and more helpless on campus.

Finally I reached a breaking point and started contemplating suicide. Around that time I attended a chapel service on campus.

A man named Stephen Arterburn was scheduled to speak. I expected him to talk about some recent missions trip or share his published study on a biblical text. Instead, this man—the founder of New Life Clinics, treatment centers for Christians struggling with depression, suicide, and abuse—spoke on the reality of pain.

Stephen’s words caught my attention. He said that even though everything might look OK on the outside, he knew some of us were thinking about suicide. Then he said something I’ll never forget: “There’s no shame in doing everything it takes to choose life.”

I realized that a trip to one of his clinics was exactly what I needed. But the clinic was expensive; my parents’ insurance wouldn’t cover the costs and they didn’t know what to do. However, one of my mom’s friends—a counselor—told my parents I’d had an “emotional heart attack.” She explained that when someone has a heart attack, you don’t wonder what to do; you get her to the emergency room in time to save her life. That put the money issue into perspective for my parents; three days later I checked into a New Life Clinic.

During the first week I sat in the hall and stared at the floor. On the outside I looked emotionless, but on the inside I was screaming with rage. Rage that demanded to know why I was the one in a psychiatric ward instead of the man who’d raped me. Rage that wanted to have my life back. But instead of the rage coming out, it all just brewed inside me—until Mark approached me.

I’ll never forget his face. It glowed with a certain peace. He was a fellow patient getting ready to go home in a week. Mark walked up to me, introduced himself, and said, “Me Ra, the longer you deny your pain, the longer it will rule your life. Look around you. All the other patients here are twice your age. Why? It’s because we did what you’re doing now for most our lives. We ignored our pain and stuffed it down. But one day it exploded, and that’s why we’re here. Do you see how much you have to gain if you invest yourself into your time at this clinic?” His words burned into me.

That night I couldn’t go to sleep. As I thought about what Mark had said, I let my pain and anger surface. Tears finally came, followed by sleep.

For the next few weeks, I went through 8 to 12 hours of therapy a day—sometimes in group sessions, sometimes individually. It was really hard—hard to face my fears, hard to let all my emotions out. But through the process God brought a lot of healing.

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