Saturday, February 23, 2019


The cold, dark waves rush upon the seashore as I sit here crouched into an undersized ball.  I feel alone despite the people surrounding me.  Though I am faint, my heart is racing inside my trembling figure.

As the evening's events roll through my mind, I am unaware of the shadow creeping up behind me.  I now sense this uncomfortable presence and I freeze with fright.

Unwarned of this visitor, I try to stay as calm as possible, with the sudden realization that we are the only two left on the beach.  A voice breaks the silence.  It is a male, a male I have known for many years of my young life.

In exasperation, I promptly turn to lay my wearied head on his muscular shoulders, and the tenseness of my breathing begins to regulate.

As I slowly progress to becoming myself again, I have gained the courage to tell this man what incident has taken place on this dreadful night.

He just sits here listening intently to every phrase and letter I say.  I feel very secure knowing his total attention is on me.

I told him about the significant acts of those people who were considered to be my close acquaintances.  Their words of degrading absurdity scurry over and over in my thought-filled mind as I tell the man each and every sentence that was said against me.

To my utmost surprise, the figure next to me begins to chuckle.  This being the first move since he sat down made my body tense.  He tells me I am overexaggerating what was suppose to be harmless, and he gets up to leave my side. 

Here I am again, alone.  This time with no one around.  Can I help the colour of my skin?  Does it really matter?  I just wish I could live one day without enduring judgment, or any distinction, between me and the rest of the world.

Paula Rumbolt
October 7, 1996

Monday, February 18, 2019

Perfect Design (flawed execution)

It's been eight and a half years since I wore these rings.  And, yes, I still have them.  I considered selling them but it never worked out.  Some have suggested melting them down into another piece of jewelry, but that made no sense to me - it's still the same material.  I thought about keeping them for my daughter, but what in the world would she do with the rings of her divorced mother?  

The truth is I love my wedding rings.  In fact, sometimes I will put them on just to admire them on my finger.  

And, as strange as this may sound, I want to wear them.  

When the engagement ring was first put on my finger twenty years ago, it was with the intention that we would be together forever.  

On December 15, 1998, I was having supper in the cafeteria at the college.  My boyfriend arrived and joined me at the table.  He was acting really strange.  He said he needed to talk to me, but “not here.”  I suggested that we go for a walk and he agreed.  After getting my coat and boots on, we walked to our favourite park.  Everything was covered in snow, so we just stood there together.  My boyfriend was still acting strange and I wondered what he needed to talk to me about that was making him so nervous.

A couple of minutes later, he pulled a box out of his pocket and opened it up.  Inside was a beautiful gold and white gold ring with a diamond in the middle. I threw my arms around him and was screaming.  I couldn’t stop jumping up and down and screaming.  After a few moments, I calmed down long enough to ask him if he had actually asked me to marry him.  In my excited screaming, I didn’t even hear him ask the question. He assured me that he asked, and then put the ring on my finger.  It fit perfectly.

He is the one I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with.  

Sadly things did not turn out the way I had always dreamed of.  I imagined getting married, having children, celebrating events together, watching our children graduate, loving our grandchildren, and growing old together.  

I never dreamed of getting divorced. 

And, while I would never want to be back in the abusive marriage I was in for eleven years, I grieve the dreams that will never come true.  

Many people say, "You will find someone else."  What if I don't want anyone else?  What if I don't want another husband?  What if he was the only one for me and we completely blew it? 

I made a choice to get married - right or wrong is irrelevant - and in God's sight, he is my husband.  He is the man I became "one flesh" with... how then can we become separate flesh again?

This is not about whether or not I had grounds for divorce.  I knew that staying in the marriage was detrimental to the kids and me.  I believe I did the right thing by getting out.  Nonetheless, that is not how marriage was designed.  We should have been partners for life.  

According to Portfolio of Fine Diamonds, this is what wedding rings represent, "A circle has no beginning or end and is therefore a symbol of infinity. It is endlesseternal, just the way love should be. For many the wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. This is because the vein in this finger was believed to lead directly to the wearer's heart."

As much as I made this promise to my husband, I also made this promise to God.  I made a covenant with God to love my husband for the rest of my life.  The covenant with God was the most important one I made that day.  And, I am not ready to break that. 

So, I am going to wear my rings again.  Not as a symbol of the promise I made to my husband, but as a symbol of God's infinite, eternal, endless love for me.  He is the beginning and the end.  He is living in my heart. Even though I messed up the design for marriage, God has never stopped loving me.  And, until God says otherwise, I will wear my rings as a reminder that God and I are a team.  God is my partner.  He will never hurt me, abuse me, take advantage of me, or leave me.  God is the creator of love and He is the only person who models it perfectly.  

Tonight I renew my vows, commitment, and promise to God to love Him and live for Him all my days. I promise to serve Him with the gifts and talents He has blessed me with.  I submit my life and will to God's care and control.

Let's do this!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Living Life (but thinking death)

I thought about ending my life for 25 years. 

It started shortly after the assault in grade eight. I would walk around the harbour in our small town, and as I walked over the bridge I would stop, look down at the water streaming by below, and something inside me would create a longing to climb up and jump over into the water.  I would also bring a bottle of Tylenol to school with me and take two every couple of hours. One night I was laying on the couch, alone in the dark, and I held a knife to my wrist.  

The next instance I can remember doing something physical to express my thoughts of wanting to end my life was on my fifth wedding anniversary.  My ex said something to make me feel like garbage, he put the kids in the car, and I sat on the kitchen floor holding a large knife to my wrist. 

A few years later, when the abuse was really starting to take a toll on my mental health, I often considered driving my car into an oncoming transport truck and wondered how I could do it so that it looked like an accident. 

One would think that after getting out the marriage the thoughts would subside.  Well, they didn't.  I continued to battle suicidal thoughts almost every day. With every low, every rejection, every criticism, and every lie from the enemy, my default thinking would be to just end my life.

It's not that I wanted to die... it's that I wanted the pain to end. 

A year ago this month, my suicidal thoughts were consuming me on a regular basis, and I decided to decide once and for all whether to live or die.  Actually, I gave myself three choices:

1. Live and Follow Jesus
2. Stay and Believe in Jesus
3. Leave and Meet Jesus

I wrote out my reasons for insisting I make a decision, the Cost/Benefit for each option, and detailed processing about other implications surrounding the decision I needed to make.  Then, I gave myself a deadline to make my choice. 

On February 24th, 2018, I made the decision to Live and Follow Jesus.  

I took the suicide option off the table. 

Was it easy to maintain? Not always.  I had 25 years of thinking about death to rewrite.  I had to learn a new method of dealing with the intense feelings I did not want to face.  I had to consistently tell myself that suicide is not an option and instead find a healthy way to process my hurt and pain.  It was not easy at the beginning.  But, with time, the power of God, and the help of my accountability team, I can now celebrate one year of Choosing Life! 

For the first time in my remembered life, I go for weeks without suicide even crossing my mind.  God has done such healing in my heart and mind that I now say, "I don't want to die yet!"

I am grateful to be alive.  God has given me a purpose for being here, and I am excited to be living that out.  He has put incredible people in my life that contribute to my wellbeing more than they realize.  Is it easy? No, of course not.  Life still has the same kinds of issues, but I now have healthy strategies in place to deal with it.  My Celebrate Recovery team is absolutely amazing and I am so blessed to be journeying with them.

We sang a song on Sunday called Living Hope. A line in that song says, "Death has lost its grip on me."  When I sang that line I started to cry.  It has a significant meaning for me now.  

I can honestly say, death has lost its grip on me.  Praise Jesus!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

How I Survived Sexual Assault (and how the adults dropped the ball)

Disclaimer: This is a difficult post for me to write.  It is as honest as I can be from the memories I have.  My intention is not to inflict blame or guilt on anyone mentioned.  I understand that if they would have known better, they would have done better.  I hold no resentments towards anyone mentioned.

I did all the right things.  I said, "no" repeatedly.  I pushed his hand away.  I kept walking away.  After touching me inappropriately on five different occasions, and him getting more aggressive each time, I knew that what he was doing to me could not continue.  I knew what he was doing was wrong, and my "no" was not enough for him.

Let me back up a little.  When I was in grade eight, I started at a new school.  I wanted to fit in, and about six months into the school year, an older male student started showing me attention.  Our first interaction was not a conversation.  I was standing in the empty cafeteria as lunch was ending, and I was looking at one of those "Got Milk?" posters.  Remember those?  Famous people with a milk mustache.  Funny stuff.  As I stood there looking at the female celebrity sitting on a chair with milk on her upper lip, I felt an eerie presence.  I suddenly startled as the figure behind me began touching me inappropriately.  I turned to see who it was and walked out of the room.

Following that incident, I was on Ned's* radar.  He called me one night, he purposely showed up wherever I was, and he was sexually inappropriate with me several times.

One night I got the courage to talk to a friend of mine about what Ned was doing.  She encouraged me to talk to a female teacher, and the next day I did just that. When I told her, the first words that came out of her mouth were, "I don't believe it... well, I do, but he's one of my students.  I can't believe he would do that... I've heard of sexual abuse but I have never had to deal with it."

After telling the teacher, I went on to report Ned to the police and he was sentenced to two years probation.

I continued doing everything right.

Although I took all the right steps in bringing my abuser to justice, the adults in my life dropped the ball when it came to helping me recover from the trauma.

It was a small town and everyone knew what happened, yet none of them truly took the time to listen to me and allow me to talk about my feelings.


- The female teacher - didn't initially believe me, then blamed me for Ned's suicide attempt saying, "He feels bad."
- The guidance counsellor - tried his best, since he was my only option for help, but made light of it when I brought up a particular situation and I didn't go see him again.
- My homeroom teacher - I brought it up in my school journal to which he replied, "I'm glad you told us!" He never brought it up in person.
- Kid's Help Phone - I told my story, and he thought there was a discrepancy so he said, "Call back when you have a real problem" and hung up the phone.  I never called back.
- A lady from town - I went to her when I was suicidal, but we never talked about the cause of my depression.
- Family members - none reached out, and I wasn't allowed to be sad or depressed.


- 100 Huntley Street - I wrote them a letter, and they wrote me back an empathizing letter and included a booklet for sufferers of sexual abuse.  It was the only literature I received about what I was experiencing, and I read that thing over and over again.  It was my book of hope.

- One friend that I was able to just hang out with and exchange letters with.  I didn't talk about the emotions associated with what I went through, but I knew she was there for me.  She was my best friend.

The high school kids were no better.  Not long after I reported the abuse, an older student sat on my lap, with other students around, touched me inappropriately, and asked, "Are you going to charge me with sexual abuse, too?"  Then in grade ten when I was dating a guy, a student stood up on our crowded school bus and said to my boyfriend, "You better be careful around Paula or she will charge you with sexual abuse" and proceeded to laugh.

What I unknowing learned through the whole experience was to keep quiet, and the biggest thing I lost was my voice.  Ned took my power, and the onlookers took my voice.

So, where is the Hope in this sad story? 

First of all, I survived a traumatic experience.  I somehow had the instinct to take the necessary steps, and justice was served.

Secondly, I went on to live a fairly normal life.  Yes, I was hurt again, but I survived that, too.  I developed the heart of a survivor.  

Thirdly, and most importantly, was something that I discovered recently.  As I was going through the poems I had written over the years, there were two I wrote in grade nine.  Both poems talked about how there was no one there for me, that no one understood what I was going through, and they both concluded with how I turned to God and He listened and "paid the most attention."

My faith and trust in God are what saved me.  I knew He was there for me, and it seems I talked to Him a lot.  I listened to Christian music that encouraged my soul; songs that expressed what I couldn't.

"There's no more sunshine, there's only heartache.  Cause all you've been living for is gone now you're a victim once again.  
Crying comes easy, now that it's over.  You try to forget but still, the hurt won't heal.  It's more than you can bear.
When your burdens get too heavy, and the nights get oh so lonely. God will bring you through if only, you lay all on Him.
Funny how something so good can go bad.  How could this happen to you?  It's so amazing what God wants to do, so don't worry, I know, that He'll work it out for you.
When you feel your world's been shaken, and the best of you's been taken, God knows your heart is aching, so lay it all on Him.  No, you haven't been forsaken, so lay it all on Him." (Mike Eldred)

God was there.  He was there the whole time.  Through it all.  Yes, people failed me - they always will. But, God never did.  I believe that my relationship with my heavenly Father was solidified during this difficult situation.  My belief in Him was strong, and I knew I could turn to Him.

I survived the trauma because God was with me.  

I don't know what experiences you are facing in your life today, but I assure you that God is right there with you.  When everyone in your life drops the ball, God catches it. He's here for you.  Talk to Him... He's waiting and He's listening.  He loves you and longs for a relationship with you. Reach out to Him.

What to do if you know someone who has been assaulted:

- Reach out to them and let them you know you are there.
- Check in with them regularly (use your intuition, and read the signs from the victim)
- Listen.  Just listen.  Allow them to share whatever they need to share.  You don't have to have the answers.  Victims just want to be heard and believed - that's where healing begins.

That's a good start.  Every situation is different.  The main thing is help them feel less alone.  Be there.  Simply be there.

*Name is changed