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Debbie Maita

Kelly Heard



ABUSE - It comes in many forms. It is usually very difficult for us to recognize, and even more difficult for us to admit that we are its’ victims. It’s a comfort zone that we have gotten used to. The difficult, and embarrassing part, would be to step out of that zone and admit we have a problem. Then to face the hurt and healing that goes with it……sometimes it’s just easier to stay where we are……or so I thought!

I walked on eggshells in marriage/relationships for more than twenty years, denying that emotional, verbal and even physical abuse was happening to me. It took many years for me to face that fact. It was many more years after finally admitting to being a victim before I felt “worthy” enough to even seek help. I felt ugly (inside and out), hurt, unclean and hopeless. It was as if I was sitting on a cliff watching a person that I used to know and really like, now merely existing…..struggling to just live day-to-day. I didn’t believe anyone could help me dig out of the pit I had fallen into – not even God. Most days, I was numb, except for the times when I would beat myself up and fall prey to the wicked mistress named “Self-pity”. I was the epitome of a co-dependent woman.

I had made some devastatingly unwise and unhealthy life decisions. Walking away from the abusive situation, especially when you love the other person, was the most difficult thing I have ever faced in my life. My children were grown and I was already a grandmother. Now, for the first time in my life, I was stepping into a totally foreign territory with so much fear of being alone it was stagnating. I had been so deeply hurt and violated. I was so ashamed. Even though I stayed faithful to reading my Word and daily devotions and praying, it was only through acts of obedience and supplication that I was able to attend church. For months, I couldn’t sing (which is a true gift from God to me), nor could I muster up the energy needed to even raise my hands in worship and praise. I was an empty shell, faithfully going through the motions in hope that God would look down on me, recognize my faithfulness and take hold of my hand at some point.

I feel extremely blessed to know Janice Hayes personally and identify her as one of my closest friends. Being an abuse victim herself, she quickly recognized the signs and symptoms of abuse in me and jumped in to minister to me and help. She shared the story of her own abuse with me and how she overcame. She appeared so happy and strong. It was hard for me to believe that she could have possibly EVER endured a life as dysfunctional as mine and be where she is today. I pondered….How could she be so strong and upbeat all the time? There was a peace and contentment in her that I simply could not identify with at that point in my life. She then began to share with me her poetry and photographs in their original, raw form. As I began to browse through her work, the poem “Erosion” stopped me in my tracks. I remember thinking “how did she know to write this stuff about me? It hasn’t been that long since I shared my life experiences with her!” As I read more, it finally dawned on me that she really did understand and could truly empathize with all phases of being a victim of abuse, because she had been there. Not only did she have an appreciation for the life of hurt, but she had revelation knowledge of how to let God begin the healing process, how to begin to love yourself, feel a sense of worth and lead a productive, happy life. I hung onto her words as though they were nourishment to my body. I found myself delving deeper into my Word and prayer life. Soon, I was singing, raising my hands freely in worship and praise and returning to the person I once knew…..only a lot wiser and stronger.

I’m definitely not where I need to be yet, but I’m well on my way. I can finally hold my shoulders back hold my head high and walk with confidence. I’m not afraid to come home and be alone anymore. I’ve learned that there is a true difference in being lonely and being alone. I’ve grown stronger in my relationship with God through this journey. A little over a year has passed since I admitted to being an abuse victim and sought help. It’s been a long, hard road to follow. There are so many of Janice’s poems that have described my emotions and life to a tee on any given day. How fortunate I have been and continue to be to have such a work to read. Just to know that someone out there truly understands what you have been through and was bold enough to put her story into print is a blessing. But more so than that, is the fact that Janice uses her work as a ministry-tool to aide other victims, male and female. She freely gives of herself, gently helping others to understand, admit and accept what is happening to them. Once that acceptance occurs, she continues by gently guiding them through the phases of Recovery and beginning a new life. I would encourage anyone, at any phase of abuse, to read her work and know that there are people out there like you. You CAN overcome with the help and by the grace of God. But you first have to realize and admit you are a victim. THEN, you have to be bold enough to step out of your zone and seek help. I learned the hard way that you can’t do it alone……and in looking back on my own experience, why would anyone ever want to stay in a detrimental situation?????

Debbie Maita
Atlanta, GA


Dear Janice,

Thank you for so beautifully capturing with poetry and art the journey from abuse to healing. I was more neglected than abused in my first marriage, but the poem titled "Anger" really struck me. I had not realized until I read it how angry I had been at God after my first marriage was over and I was all alone. I did some foolish things in that time that I should have known better than to do. After reading that poem, I think some of my motivation for the foolishness was kind of a lashing out at God for taking me through something so painful and then leaving me "hanging" in loneliness afterwards. I did not want to be lonely and have to start all over again, even though I was blessedly free of a marriage that sucked the very life out of me. God used a car accident and an appendectomy to get my attention and pull my focus back to Him. Perhaps I could have skipped those if I had had your book and been able to see the stages in black and white. Even reading them after the fact allowed me to draw closer to the Father through understanding and repentance. I think this book will be a great blessing and light the way for those who have yet to walk the road we have walked. I am so grateful for your openness and vulnerability in writing it. God bless you, dear sister in Christ!

In Him, Kelly Heard
Atlanta, GA


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