Grappling with Sexual Assault

Almost a year ago, I met a new friend at a work conference on the Gulf Coast in Florida. She was a strong woman and we shared common interests and perspectives. After one particularly delicious dinner, when I mentioned sexual assault, she asked me if I was a survivor. Yes, I said - almost 20 years ago now. Then she asked if I was a writer. It was a magical question, full of possibilities. I wanted to say Yes. I write sermons every week and have for years. I write weekly newsletters for my churches, quarterly and annual reports, stories for my children’s bedtime, and emails - I write mountains of emails every day. But I have never been published, so I didn’t feel like a real author. Ever optimistic, and not wanting to admit defeat, I went with: “Not yet.”

The woman happened to be an editor at the conference looking for new talent. She had a series in mind which is now called Out of the Depths. These 7 little booklets (about 60 pages each for less than $6 apiece) offer a companion for surviving Divorce, Grief, Infant Loss, Addiction, Depression and Anxiety, Chronic Illness and Sexual Assault. The first half of the books are written by clinical specialists, the second half by pastors who have experienced the trauma and lived to write encouraging devotionals to those going through similar situations.

It took me AGES to churn out 30 devotionals, despite my normally high content output. I agonized over each story, every word. The work felt bigger than me, more important than the first-person narratives or fantasy fiction I had envisioned myself writing. I dug through old journals and tiptoed through my own memories in the middle of the night, typing furiously while my husband and 2 children slept sweetly upstairs. My book was conceived and born in darkness and prayer, with raw honesty (and an EXCELLENT editor - thanks, Nancy!!) I am so proud that you can get it in paperback or eBook formats, and from Amazon, Walmart and even a retailer in the UK.

My excitement is not about selling (I don’t profit at all from your purchase). It is about the timeliness of this release. On the heels of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, and while still treading in the wake of floodwater from the #metoo and #churchtoo movements, it seems like sexual assault will always be a top news story. I hope and pray that it is someday no longer true. But for now - we need one another. We need to tell our stories, to comfort one another, to create healing by risking vulnerability and trust with one another.

Halfway through my draft, I called Nancy in a panic. “I don’t think I can finish this,” I said. “I’m not sure I want the whole world to see me as the pastor who was raped.” “Take a deep breath, Emily,” she responded, “if the whole world buys a copy of your book, you and I can both retire!” As we laughed together, I realized that mine is just one little story that will likely not change the whole world. But if you think it could help you or someone you know and I love, I hope you will pick up a copy today. Not just of my book, but each one in this series. I believe each one will bless you.

Emily Flemming2 Comments