Jan 09 2014

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Survivor ignites hope: Author, teacher shares how to survive sexual abuse and other life’s devastation

Ronda Henry’s calling is to work on the international campaign for the uplifting and empowerment of women. Like John the Baptist she is the voice heralding a movement, but this one has been going on for generations, one that in a way is similar to John’s declaration of the ministry of Jesus Christ.

“If it wasn’t for Him I don’t know where I’d be now,” she said. It’s still not easy all the time.” She dedicated herself to her cause after a childhood marred by sexual abuse by a previously trusted uncle, leaving her with low self-esteem and a poor body image. She felt compelled to embark on a quest of self-discovery, and this led to a spiritual awakening, personal achievement and relational success. All this enables her to do what she does now–share her powerful, inspirational chronicle and strategies for success with endless audiences.

At age 15 Henry reported her abusive uncle, and a Harrison County court sentenced him to 10 years in prison on two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. She soon found that forgiving her uncle was another route to recovery.

“A lot of people asked, ‘How do you forgive?’ It wasn’t for him, it was for myself. I’m happy with who I am. I love myself,” she said.

As busy as this personal crusade keeps her, she finds time to work as a kindergarten teacher at Longview’s Bramlette Elementary School. She rebounded from her unfortunate childhood and earned her credentials for this vital job by starting out as a 2007 Hallsville High School graduate, where she won National Honor Society recognition and was voted Miss Jabberwock for 2006 by the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. To accomplish all this she had to overcome a severe lack of self-confidence.

“I didn’t think I’d graduate. I didn’t think I’d make it through college,” she said. “I suffered through depression, weight gain, weight loss–no in-between. Many times I wanted to give up on life.”

Her emotional crucifixion lasted 11 years, but the strength she derived from the Holy Spirit brought her healing and deliverance from the pain and misery. After a personal counselor advised her that writing is an excellent path to healing, she is now revealing this hard-hitting story of hurt and healing through her first published book, The Caged Bird Does Sing. See rondalynnettehenry.com.

“The hardest thing is to get over it and establish the fact that it did happen, and find your self-worth, and find your strength,” she said. “If I touch [just] one person, that’s fine.”

Born in nearby Marshall on 3 March 1990, she is a home-grown East Texan who followed up her sparkling high school career by taking (in May 2012) a Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Tyler. In December of 2013, she received her Masers in Educational Leadership with a Principal Certification. Her educational credits add strength to her already-powerful message of self-improvement and the rewards that come from it.

Her words come from the heart. During her young life she has endured much, sometimes leading to temporary discouragement that led her to wonder if her life was even worth living. She reassures those who feel this way to hear her reassurances that a new and better quality of life is available to everyone. Her own life experiences motivates her to preach a gospel of a better life to come in this world.

She makes it clear to others scarred by childhood sexual abuse that their past need not dominate their present and future–life can go on positively even for those who have had their innocence stolen at a way-too-early age. After searching for and finding the answers on how to achieve healing she successfully applied them to her own life. She is now sharing these secrets of success.

“My hope is that my story will help you recover from the hurt and pain,” she said. “I am here today to show you that you can survive.”

Henry makes it clear that no degree of negative childhood experience can make it impossible for victims to recover and then lead and enjoy life. An unfortunate past is something to be buried and abandoned while moving on to a beautiful future. There was a time when she herself would not have believed this message of hope.

“For awhile I didn’t think I would survive, let alone live long enough to tell my story,” she said. “Through the years I have experienced things I would not wish on my worst enemy.”

After years of struggle she overcame her feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth, moving past them and also past an attempt to find self-worth through others. She came to realize that in some cases those around her might be able to help, but for the most part she would have to help herself. Still, she hopes to provide rescue and healing to others who are enduring past trials–those who may still be afraid to tell.

She stresses to her listeners that the abuse they may suffer is not their own fault, that they must move past any lingering self-blame and accept the fact that bad things sometimes happen to good people like themselves and Job. Losing hope is never a solution nor option.

She assures audiences that the abused among them must never let what they have suffered define who they are, or prevent them from become the outstanding persons they are capable of becoming. They must move past the dark, possessing past and accept the future God has in mind for them. She now uses her abusive background as a God-given opportunity to help others.

“You can turn your storm into a rainbow,” she promises.

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