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Chapel Speaker Discusses Healing from Sexual Assault

By Amanda Morad | October 7, 2013

Molly Reed-Waters shares her journey from fear to freedom.

Molly Reed-Waters was only eight years old the first time it happened. Her 18-year-old neighbor stole her innocence, her childhood and her faith, but when she spoke at Regent University's weekly chapel on Wednesday, Oct. 2, Waters told a story of hope, restoration and healing.

"I share my story of sexual abuse not to receive pity, but to give glory to God for healing me," Waters opened. Today, Waters is an instructor in the Department of Leadership and American Studies at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., and is earning her doctorate in Organizational Leadership at Regent's School of Business & Leadership.

Waters' talk came two days before Regent hosted a kit-packing night for Fear 2 Freedom, an organization that provides women who have been sexually assaulted basic clothes and toiletries with which to leave the hospital after their examination. Fear 2 Freedom director Rosemary Trible introduced Waters at chapel as one of her mentees. Having connected when Waters was a student at CNU, Trible has walked with Waters on her journey to restoration.

Waters referenced the book of Jeremiah in the Bible as being an anchor for her through her ongoing healing process. "It's a book about restoration and redemption," she said. "The people of Israel found grace in the wilderness. We get in these places where God's promises seem so far away, but that's where we find His grace."

Waters' "wilderness" continued for years as she struggled to cope with what had happened to her. "As a result of my victimizations, I developed really unhealthy relationships with people," she explained. "I didn't want to be a victim again, so I put up barriers. But they didn't save me. If anything, they slowed the healing process."

As she grew up, Waters developed an intense need for control. In high school, that need manifested in an eating disorder. In college, it came in the form of perfectionism as she got involved in as many activities as possible in an effort to maintain a certain image.

Then, the unthinkable happened. Waters was assaulted again, but this time, it didn't go unnoticed. She was taken to the hospital and went through the exam most commonly known as a "rape kit."

"It's a mortifying experience," Waters recalled. Because it's as much an element of a criminal investigation as it is immediate recovery for the victim, the exam is less than humanizing. "It is devastating physically, emotionally and spiritually," she explained. "I was one of those girls who left the hospital in paper scrubs."

Long-term recovery would take years, but Waters reached a point where she had to decide to live with fear and pain, or choose freedom. In order to do that, she underwent theophostic prayer counseling to combat her pain-filled memories.

"God recreated those memories for me, and the more I realized what the Lord had done for me, the less I was afraid of what had been done to me," she said. "I experienced such pain and looked death in the eye, but God has loved me with an everlasting love, and He was right there with me."

Waters closed the service with lyrics from a song called "Redeemed" that encapsulate her story—and the story of so many others—perfectly: "Seems like all I could see was the struggle// Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past// Bound up in shackles of all my failures// Wondering how long is this gonna last// Then You look at this prisoner and say to me '[daughter]// Stop fighting a fight it's already been won'//

All my life I have been called unworthy// Named by the voice of my shame and regret// But when I hear You whisper, 'Child lift up your head'// I remember, oh God, You're not done with me yet."

Learn more about Fear 2 Freedom.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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