FAITH NEWS SERVICE – For years, college campuses across the country have struggled with the issue of sexual assault. By definition, a sexual assault occurs when the offender subjects the victim to any unwanted or offensive sexual advance.[i] The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network revealed female college students between eighteen and twenty-four are three times more likely to experience sexual violence.[ii]
According to a 2019 Association of American Universities survey, polling over 150,000 students at twenty-seven universities, 13 percent of students admitted to nonconsensual sexual conduct, meaning they were sexually assaulted.[iii] However that statistic is likely to be significantly higher, as the Department of Justice reports that 80 percent of sexual violence goes unreported[iv] for various reasons, including fear of reprisal, personal reasons, and not believing the police could do anything, among others.[v]
This was certainly the case for author Tracey Glenn, who through her book, Gathering the Wayward Heart, reveals the devastating trauma and the aftermath she experienced from being sexually assaulted by her boyfriend as a college student.
Glenn, a first-time author, blogger, and advocate for special needs kids and families, chose to talk about this event in her book, even though it was extremely painful. “My hope is for someone reading my story about what happened that fateful night to know they are not alone in their pain and struggle as a victim. It happens, or has happened, to so many people, women and men, and its effects are devastating to the mind and soul,” Glenn says. Glenn talks candidly about how her life unraveled and how self-loathing led her to more destructive choices, including other abusive relationships with alcohol and men.
“I wish I could go back in time and change my decision to spend the weekend with him. I wish I could save that stupid girl from her destructive choices. Recalling the details of the rape, I found myself dealing with renewed hurt and shame, but God revealed something significant to me: it may be the girl who makes the decision to be there, but it is the man who chooses to overwhelm and violate her. God places the guilt on the man, the rapist, because He does not want women exploited, then thrown away.”[vi]
Like so many other women who were sexually assaulted, Glenn chose not to report it, but she hopes more women will come forward, if anything, to get help in dealing with her emotions and begin the road of healing. “If you are a young woman in a destructive relationship, I encourage you to seek help. Healing begins when darkness is put into the light. We may have been taken by force, and I know that scars us internally, but these are wounds that only God can heal, and He will if you let Him.”
Gathering the Wayward Heart is Glenn’s story of how God redeemed her life through intense struggle and hard lessons. She uses her own stories, including those of growing up on a ranch in southeast Arizona, to tell of God’s faithfulness, healing, and provision. “God does not promise us a life without sorrow or trouble, but He does give us peace to move beyond tragedy into the life He has for us. Take it from me—I am living proof.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
After repeated attempts to heal herself from a date rape that happened in college, author Tracey Glenn decided her way wasn’t working. Tired of the self-loathing, self-destruction, and fighting for control, Tracey ultimately surrendered her life to Jesus Christ, who, looking back, had never stopped pursuing or protecting her through some harrowing, life-threatening circumstances. Now, Tracey and her husband, Link, spend their time loving their three children, four grandchildren, and the life they have built, having overcome hardships, including raising a special needs child, adopting their son, marital strife, and business struggles. Tracey has witnessed firsthand how God redeems fractured people and circumstances when we put our trust in Him.
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