ANGELIC JANUARY 2018
SPEAKING OUT AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT
Y R A U N JA @
INE AGAZ M C I L ANGE
This issue is for every woman and man who's ever been sexually assaulted. We will not be silent.
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EDITOR LETTER WE WILL NOT BE SILENT J E S S E A N A Y A
I write this editor letter with a heavy heart. The editor letter is the last task I have to finish be issue is complete and posted for people to see. I'm going through each page, making sure everythin see the images that the photographers captured f photographer put their hearts on the line in capturing t grateful for their courage. Healing. Sexual assault. Jesus. These were the wor capture in their photographs and I see these words c each page. I read through the testimonies shared of overcoming wish I didn't have to do an issue like this. I'm so so who's ever been sexually assaulted. We posted on social media for people to share their from sexual assault inside of this issue and the num responded were scarce. And I realize to share your thing. I realize that though they didn't share with their words they support this issue. We are doing this issue for everyone who's ever been family members of those who've been victims of assau In the build up to doing this issue I had to have conv people who revealed to me their stories of being rape so sorry that you were hurt. Our magazine will not be silent in your name. We will not be silent in the name of Jesus.
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The photos featured inside this issue were captured by 6 women photographers from across the U.S. Each photographer was given the task of capturing "healing'' from the perspective of overcoming sexual assault. What you are about to see is raw and real.
rescued PHOTOGRAPHY BY B REE CO TA MODEL
: BRIDGETT EYMANN
A CRY TO THE LORD FOR RESCUE W O R D S B Y A N G I E L A N G
Always, Lord, have you sought me: Braving mountains and deep valleys, you run towards me Covering me with your wings, Drawing me close. Even though I run from You, still You come to my rescue Finding me in the midst of my mess. God, you are faithful and gracious Honouring me even when I dishonour You. In the midst of my struggles Joy finds me. King of Kings, and Lord of Lords Make haste to save me again! Numerous are the ways I have fallen. Over and over again Preferring the world instead of You. Quickly, Lord, Redeem my failings. Send your angels to deliver me, To rescue me from where I have fallen. Unless you come, oh Lord Visiting me in this darkness Weeping will destroy my heart. Xenial concern from you is what I seek. You, oh Lord, are where my help comes from: Zestless will I be until you answer.
Sexual assault is the violent crime that is least often reported to law enforcement officials. A study from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 3 out of 4 victims never report their sexual assault to the police.
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ANGELIC GUY OPINION
A RALLY CRY TO MEN I'm a quick draw when it comes to gathering my thoughts. But I had no response for her when she asked me. She asked, why do men rape women? When I was 18 I was at a drunk filled party that I DJ'd that drifted into the early morning hours. We were seniors in high school with the desire to embrace the unsupervised freedom that we were given. The setting from this scene is still vivid in my mind all these years later and that night I walked down the stairs of this party and a drunken girl with dyed black short hair and light skin approached me. She was completely naked no socks, underwear or bra on, and she asked me if I could help her put her clothes on. She was slurring her speech and it was obvious even to the most inexperienced drinker that she was drunk out of her mind. She didn't approach me because we were friends, I just happened to be someone nearby. I'm not certain she even realized I was a man and I'll never know the details for why her clothes were missing. There wasn't time for me to think, there wasn't time for me to premeditate my response, I had to be a quick draw with my reaction and what I did brings me no shame today. There was a blanket on the couch near me and I rapidly grabbed it to wrap it around her. Though she was unclothed, my eyes never saw what wasn't meant for me to see. In those split seconds I never violated mine or her honor. I wrapped the blanket around her and in that moment a drunk girl who I did not know and who will never recognize my face today was in my care. Coming out of the hallway to the left of me were 2 girls from a high school across town. I called out to
them and told them she needed to be taken care of, if they could help her put her clothes on. These 2 girls from the high school across the highway were sober and vehemently said yes. I never saw those 3 girls again after I walked away from them in those moments that night. Why do men rape women? I now have my answer. It's in a man's individual instincts. He either protects or he preys. It's instinctual. I've heard it plenty times before that she got drunk and he raped her. Was it her fault for drinking too much? Was it her fault that she couldn't handle her liquor? Was she asking for it? No. A man either protects or he preys. A few years passed and I was now a senior in college. My closest female friend invited me to a Halloween party and people always thought we were going to date, my close friend, her and I, but we were really just friends. By this point in my life I very rarely ever attended parties so it was an odd sight for people to see me out on Halloween night. The party started casual and as most college parties transition to, alcohol lowers people's inhibitions and bad decisions, sometimes life altering decisions are made. My very good female friend who invited me to this party got drunk taking shots of vodka and the guy who was hosting the party had his eye on her. In the midst of the party crowd I was trying not to be the 'overprotective guy friend' – but I couldn't help but notice the girl I knew was fading away with every drink. As the night waned he led her back to his bedroom. He had been drinking but he wasn't drunk, he knew very well what he was doing. He was about to have
B Y J E S S E A N A Y A
WE MUST END RAPE sex with my friend when she was overtly intoxicated drunk. Some would say maybe she wanted to have sex with him, she was at a party and went willingly into his bedroom – at least he didn't force her, but as a guy, you're not a man when you exploit someone weaker than you and when their mind and body are impaired. A real man won't do that. I went into the bedroom and confronted the guy. The confrontation led to people hearing and soon enough his buddies responded to the shouts and had me surrounded. My confrontation with him turned into a shouting match of he in my face and I in his with a pack of guys ready to react on me. It turned into a scene. I made a scene that night and my blood was boiling. It was now fight or flight and I was not going to walk away. She and I never spoke about that night in the years after college. I was embarrassed that I created a scene and I think she was embarrassed that I had to pull her out of the bedroom of some guy. I wondered if nearly getting in a fight over something that happens at college parties on a weekly basis, drunk girls having sex with guys was something to even fight for? I've had to stream these stories to my surface in order to write this piece and thinking about it now, yes, it is worth fighting for. Because as men we either protect or we prey. I analyze this from the perspective, what would Jesus want me to do? Look the other way because it always happens or speak up because He who is in me is greater than fear? Do I back down when other men accept predator behavior or do I confront them? Am I the pack of
guys that get a thrill because their buddy is about to take advantage of some drunk girl? Do I stay silent when I know something is wrong? I have my answer. I am not the pack of guys. I am going to stand up for women. Fight for them against other men if I have to. My own sister was sexually assaulted and I wish someone would've stood up for her. Jesus has not called me to be silent and I ask for any man who reads this article to no longer be silent about the behavior our male peers deem acceptable when it comes towards the sexual treatment of women. Prey on the weak. Rape them. Act like nothing ever happened. It's not okay. I ask you to be men of integrity. To do the right thing whether or not anyone is watching. To have the courage to have integrity when other men don't. To protect when other men prey. To respect women. To respond to the call every time you're called upon to show the Jesus that is in you. Why do men rape women? Because they choose to prey. When a man rapes a woman and other men look the other way, they are just as guilty as the man who committed the crime. We are just as guilty when we accept the predator behavior of other men who sexually assault women. I do not accept it. We must be willing to stand up for women in the sight of men. Speaking up for a woman is not displaying weakness, but strength. And as such we are to protect, not prey. I cry out to men to no longer be silent. We must end rape. We must not be silent.
BETHANY STANKO OVERCOMING SEXUAL ABUSE
eing sexually abused as a child by family members, my innocence was taken from me in addition to the ability to trust others to take care of me. The wounds in my soul were deep and they caused me to struggle with insecurity, fear, anxiety and feelings of abandonment. The pain left me feeling like “damaged goods” and overcome with depression and panic attacks. No matter how hard I tried to feel normal, I didn’t know how to get past the horrific reality I faced every day. I didn’t tell anyone about what happened to me for quite some time out of fear of rejection and large amounts of shame and selfhatred that also weighed me down. I tried drowning out the truth of my reality with large amounts of alcohol but it never worked, it just made it worse. A question I often asked myself over and over was…What if they really knew me and what I’ve been through? When I did share my story, initially I faced rejection from those closest to me, which added to the pain and despair. But then oneday things began to change. I went up for prayer at the end of church service and a woman came to pray with me. She shared part of her story with me and for the first time I realized I wasn’t alone and it changed me forever. I wasn’t happy that she had also gone through abuse, but hearing how Jesus helped her overcome gave me the courage that I needed to begin my journey of healing and restoration. As I came to know God the Father’s love and what Jesus endured on the cross for me, I decided to accept Jesus into my heart and began reading the Word of God daily. I began to find meaning and purpose in my life and was excited to learn more about the truths I was reading in scripture. As I read the Word of God, my heart and soul was comforted and I began to see my life from a different perspective and I felt HOPE rising. When I read Isaiah 61:13, I realized that Jesus came to heal my broken heart, to open the prison gates that kept me bound and to
"GOD WANTS ME TO TELL YOU TODAY, HE SEES YOU. HE SEES YOUR PAIN AND HE WANTS TO HEAL YOU THE SAME WAY HE HAS ME. YOU’RE NOT ALONE. THE PAIN OF THE PAST DOES NOT HAVE TO BE YOUR OUTCOME, BUT IT CAN ACTUALLY POSITION YOU FOR PURPOSE" create something beautiful out of what the enemy intended for evil in my life. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” The story of Joseph has also brought me great comfort. His family sold him as a slave and then he was mistreated, wrongly accused, and placed in prison for many years. BUT GOD turned all the bad in Joseph’s life around to provide for the needs of others and to save them (Genesis 50:20). As I read Joseph’s story, God spoke to my heart and told me that He desired to heal others through my story too. He led me to start sharing my story with others and that is why I am here today, sharing with all of you. I have found purpose in my pain and I am grateful for His work in my life. God wants me to tell you today, He sees you. He sees your pain and He wants to heal you the same way He has me. You’re not alone. The pain of the past does not have to be your outcome, but it can actually position you for purpose. Are you an overcomer? ME TOO!
ShELIA hAIL INNOCENCE
"MY INNOCENCE MAY HAVE BEEN ABRUPTLY TAKEN, YET MY HEART AND MIND HAVE BEEN RESTORED. THE DEEPEST YEARN FOR MY HEART IS TO NOW PROTECT MY CHILDREN AND THE CHILDREN AROUND ME. THROUGH EDUCATION, CONSTANT COMMUNICATION, AND UNCEASING PRAYER" Our innocence can be quickly taken from us in the blink of an eye. Innocence is one of the sweetest things to experience and watch in our children. Seeing through their eyes the wonder of this world that is viewed with the depth of purity and joy, with no distortion to film their view is truly a gift. For many of us, our innocence might have been stolen from us at the youngest of ages. My lens was abruptly changed when I was 8yrs old. Unknowingly my world changed, and my adolescent mind and heart weren’t ready to process the impact of the unwanted assault. College. My heart and mind were in a place ready to begin their healing process. I believe that God in His graciousness knew the timing of when I needed to begin to unpack my brokenness and also the amount, it began Junior year. Through my dear mentors who were gifted and educated in counseling walked me through the beginning of healing. First step, was the renewing of my image of my purity and worth. The purity of innocence was being restored. Marriage. One of the deepest ways God can use to unveil the deepest layers. Images of my assault and the aftermath replayed through my mind. Terrifying me and shaming me. I googled, “how do you know if you need counseling?” The answer was in my search engine, it was time to heal continue my healing. Processing through who I was, my identity and Christ was sealed through prayer sessions of counseling, literally stepping my way to freedom. The Lord released me of these images allowing me to step forward in strength. My freedom of sin and moral wrong done was renewed. My innocence may have been abruptly taken, yet my heart and mind have been restored. The deepest yearn for my heart is to now protect my children and the children around me. Through education, constant communication, and unceasing prayer I pray they will live in a world of innocence. Educated, yet joyfully innocent. Knowledge and education of how to protect our bodies, our minds and hearts is one of the strongest tools we have to protect our growing families. Choosing to reach for help is the best place to start for healing for yourself, and to help protect the innocent around us. In the end, we are made righteous, we are made pure. No sin cast upon us can triumph over us. No man or woman can rule our identity or future. Our truth and purity, and innocence is held within the caring hands of the Lord. He never wanted you, or me to feel the pains we’ve felt. Jesus however so desires to mend these wounds and bring healing and restoration to the design of wholeness He set forth in the beginning. Pure innocence and the deep joy of living with no distortions.
freedom PHOTOGRAPHY BY CAND ICE CO NRAD
: CONNOR LOCATION: NEW MEXICO MODEL
Freedom in jesus B Y A N O N Y M O U S
e all love freedom, whether it’s leaving work or seeing people rescued from horrible situations in movies. It’s this nontangible thing that throws off any kind of restraint, there’s no good way to describe the feeling other than knowing that you are not being held down anymore. Freedom takes away any kind of oppression or weight on or within us. Freedom breeds genuine, unadulterated, pure, and never selfseeking love. Without the option to not love, we cannot know what love looks like. The most painful type of oppression is the one no one can see. The type of oppression where someone comes in and steals your peace and innocence. There is some evil in the world that seems like it cannot be fixed or undone, it’s so painful and horrific that it rips away people’s freedom. The kind of evil where a child’s innocence is removed before they are old enough to know what that even means. For me, this was the case. And because I hated the wounds and scars inside of me, I never let anyone in. A Physician treats most wounds the same way, they simply open up the wound, take out the dead tissue, clean out the wound, and then sow it back together. Then healing will come to the wound. This simple process can prevent a small wound from becoming infected and becoming a much larger problem. Oddly enough, flesh wounds are treated almost identically to soul wounds. First, a soul wound must be opened up and revealed, the dead parts must be removed and cleaned out, and then it must be put back together in order for healing to take place.
Wounds that are unseen are in actuality the worst type, because they have weight no one sees. They shut us down to love, and they make sure we never ever trust anyone, or else we will get hurt again. This seems like wisdom, going through life conscious of your wounds so you don’t get hurt again. But really, without knowing it, you’ve wrapped yourself up in chains to make sure that no one can get in to you. Unknowingly chaining yourself into a dark, cold, and smelly place. And the more you protect yourself the worse you feel, and the less freedom you have. The path back to freedom seems impossible and out of reach, but there is a simple thing that brings freedom to oppressed people, truth. For me, this meant opening up about sexual problems and issues that festered out of having my innocence taken at seven years old. It meant having a gutwrenching, painful, and excruciating conversation with someone I trusted so much, who may never trust me after. It meant opening myself up to someone and ripping out the stiches on a painful area to show my ugly side to someone who wanted to help. It hurt. But the pain was temporary, because as the chains fell, and the pain subsided I was left with four things; a savior, healing, freedom, and a testimony powerful enough to heal others. Two years ago I opened myself up to a friend who had the risen king living inside them. And nothing has been the same since, I invited and begged for this King to come inside, and fix what I had because it was so broken. But he would only do it if I let him. I had begged and pleaded for him to come fix me for years,
but shut myself to him because of shame. I was asking for something I wanted, but I didn’t actually open up to receive it. Until I surrendered myself to Him, I put my hands in the air and let him remove the stitches and take out the ugly, and replace it with innocence and purity. Something I hadn’t had in years, and in doing so he returned to me my freedom. And I love him, because it’s my choice to love, because I am truly free. For men, there is a pride that comes in having our lives together, and having all the answers. Showing someone that weakness feels like kick in the gut, because it’s your pride getting ripped away from you. That’s what it seems like at least, it is so difficult to open up, because we are so good at helping others with they’re issues that it doesn’t seem ok to have them ourselves. It is ok to let people in. It is ok to admit to being in pain. Freedom can only come through opening up, it took me fourteen years to let anyone in, and it ruined my life for a long time. But now I’ve got the opportunity to bring the same healing I received to so many others. Jesus said himself, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” There comes a point where we all just need a doctor. He loves you and wants to help, but He will respect your freedom and will only heal you when you open up and show him who you are. He doesn’t care what you’ve done or how you’ve been hurt, He wants you just as you are.
"I HAD BEGGED AND PLEADED FOR HIM TO COME FIX ME FOR YEARS, BUT SHUT MYSELF TO HIM BECAUSE OF SHAME. I WAS ASKING FOR SOMETHING I WANTED, BUT I DIDN’T ACTUALLY OPEN UP TO RECEIVE IT. UNTIL I SURRENDERED MYSELF TO HIM"
Approximately one in six men will be victims of sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. Being a victim of sexual violence does not make a man less “manly” and does not have implications for his sexual orientation.
WHAT IS THE VALUE OF A WOMAN? B Y H A N N A H T H O M A S
The experience of sexual assault is not one that is common to all women. However, speaking as a woman, it is true that every one of us has experienced and received messages from the world and others about who we are and our value that can create both a positive and a harmful perception of our identity. Even sometimes the church has sent confusing messages about womanhood that are not based on Biblical truth, but rather on the traditions of men. At the same time, those of us who know Jesus recognize that He gives light and truth and a vision for womanhood that is both full of grace and strength. In an effort to hear from women about their perspectives regarding these issues, I asked several women to share about their experiences. In the excerpts below, we see a diversity of perspectives as women both celebrate positive changes that have been made and the impact of their faith on their life, but also acknowledge the negative elements of society that can still be improved upon. 1. What messages does the world (society/culture/media/etc) give women about who they are? ~ “Women are…expected to have it all together and be able to balance being a wife, mom, employee, etc. I feel as though women are under a lot of pressure, especially as there has been a shift in recent years allowing women to be a “girl boss”. Although I absolutely love the idea of empowerment for women, I think it is difficult as all of the more old school roles/ expectations are still there.” ~ “Women are subject to a barrage of messages about what is essential to their identity… Despite the widely disparate nature of the messages, the one commonality is that almost without exception, women’s identities are established largely by their relation to others rather than independent of their connection to others. An example of this might be the tendency of discussions of women’s careers to feature consideration of work/family balance. For married women and mothers, this would involve agonizing over how to enrich the lives of husbands and children while pursuing one’s own career ambitions. For single women, discussions of career are often framed in the idea that choosing to pursue professional ambition means they somehow missed their chance to “land a man”. So the working married mother is judged by society as short changing their family, and the single working woman is deemed somehow incomplete.
Discussions of men’s careers just don’t focus in the same way on what happens after they clock out.” ~ “In my experience the main messages that I have received about myself as a woman are that my body determines my worth, I should be in a relationship, the way to get in a relationship is to cater to the wants and needs of a man all while being adventurous (men hate basic and boring females *insert eye roll here*) and that if I am assertive it is offputting to others.” ~ “Up until the last couple of decades a women being…a national leader wasn’t even considered. However, as our culture has adapted, women are seen more than just an accompaniment to men in marriage/relationships or a way to procreate our earth —we are now being seen more as…valued based on our talents/ skills and understanding that we are more equals with our men counterparts, if not superior in certain areas. A lot of the messages out there insinuate that…women are to be to be defined solely by how they look, women cannot be leaders or successful if they decide to be mothers…women should only be sensitive and are deemed “irrational”…” 2. Have you had an experience in a mixed gender setting (either with just a man/men or with men and women) that made you uncomfortable? Has this experience changed how you view the opposite sex? If so, in what way? ~ “When traveling alone in London in my early 20s, I took the advice found in all my travel books and placed my tickets and passport in the safe of the front desk of the hostel in which I was staying. The night before my return flight, I went to retrieve them and the young man working the front desk told me that wouldn’t be possible unless I performed a sex act on him…Ultimately, I sought the help of a male traveler I had befriended at the hostel. He came with me back to the desk and threatened the desk clerk with physical violence and/or police involvement if the documents weren’t returned. I thanked him profusely, but was left with the gravest feeling of injustice… This hasn’t changed the way I view men in general, because I really strive to keep perspective. This was the action of one disgusting individual, and not indicative of how men behave as a whole. Sadly though, these incidences happen enough and impact us so greatly that they (consciously or unconsciously) shape our choices every day. We avoid being out after dark by ourselves…We make sure that office door is open when we
"IT IS TRUE THAT EVERY ONE OF US HAS EXPERIENCED AND RECEIVED MESSAGES FROM THE WORLD AND OTHERS ABOUT WHO WE ARE AND OUR VALUE THAT CAN CREATE BOTH A POSITIVE AND A HARMFUL PERCEPTION OF OUR IDENTITY." meet with that supervisor who looks at us a bit too appraisingly. Men are largely unburdened with these daily, selfpreservatory calculations. Often times, they are completely unaware that we’re making them.” ~ “In a group setting there have been instances where men have spoken freely about their stereotypes regarding women…such as saying things like, ‘Women are so dramatic and everything is much bigger than it actually is. I think women have a unique ability to create a problem when there isn’t one.’ I’ve learned to take each man for who they are with the understanding that their worldview is shaped by a multitude of things and not all men fit into one ideal…However, I feel that each man should be held to individual standards and not viewed as a whole.” ~ “The main feeling I have from negative interactions with society and with men, is that my body could be a tool for someone else’s pleasure if I am not careful…This vulnerability has been taken advantage of before in my life, but also has been deeply respected by another.” ~ “I have experienced being uncomfortable in many settings. Some of the ones that stand out to me the most have happened on a date, at a party, at a gas station, the gym and grocery shopping…This is everyday life and can happen whenever a male decides to act on his thoughts, feelings, desires… and disregard your personal feelings of safety... I think having experienced these things I am guarded against men…” ~ “In high school I regularly experienced harassment from male classmates, and then in a significant romantic relationship in my life, I experienced pressure to meet unrealistic expectations based on the images viewed in pornography and eventually thate person was willing to leave our family in pursuit of that vision. This reinforced the idea that us women are just sexual objects and that sex is the most important aspect of a relationship.” 3. If you are a person of faith, how has this part of your identity shaped how you see yourself as a woman? ~ “I so wish that I could say that my Christian community helps to counter the negative experiences that arise from the unequal power dynamic between men and women. In the interest of fairness, I am sure there are churches and organizations that do just that… But recently… Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of behaviors ranging from the sexual harassment to sexual assault of minor teen girls, had very vocal defenders in the evangelical community. One
blogger defended his actions on the grounds that Mary, mother of Jesus was so much younger than Joseph. npr.org/2017/11/13/563894803/roymooressexualmisconduct allegationstestingwhiteevangelicalstolerance) Unfortunately, making the default setting to defend men and hold women accountable drives them away from their churches at the time they need the most help…Because of this, it’s one of my fondest hopes moving forward that the Christian community takes experiences of women seriously and becomes the vanguard for the rights of women to lead happy and productive lives, free of the burden of fear of harassment and assault.” ~ “My value and meaning belongs to my relationship with Christ, not in society and what they want me to be/do/say. It is a fallen world filled with broken people and in order to establish a healthy and truthful sense of self and identity I have to be rooted in Christ and not in society/governmental/cultural expectations.” ~ “Sometimes I feel like the church has reinforced the idea that women are more “decorative” and are left without agency. That while no one in the church would openly support any of the hypersexualization of the media, women seem to be relegated to the sidelines and not given much of a valuable voice.” ~ “I have had to wrestle with God about my body and my identity in him. I’ve always seen my body as something I have to hide away…otherwise I could be taken advantage of, or seen for just my curves. It’s been a process of realizing that I am a powerful and confident woman of God that is strong and beautiful because I am defined by no one but Christ. Being confident in Christ has given me the ability to be vulnerable where needed as well, both with my body and my mind.” ~ “For me, my faith makes me see my life of “just being a mom and wife” as having a purpose that the secular world views differently.” ~ “I know that God created each of us with different gifts or strengths…I understand that society is going to have a skewed view that is always shifting in regards to gender roles. However, when I hold tight to the truth of God’s word, I am reminded of God’s purpose for me and that is what I have to focus on.”
y t i n u m m o C
SIMS CHARIS PHY BY A R G O T PHO RDSON A RICHA E R D N A : MODELS NCH E AMY FR MBE EDGECO KELSEY OMAN ERICA R ILLE, TN
1.3 million women have been raped in the last 12 months.
SOURCE: RAPE RESPONSE SERVICES
H E A R T P R O B L E M .
DOZENS AND DOZENS ARE FINDING THE COURAGE, THE STRENGTH TO RISE UP OUT OF THE ASHES LIKE A PHOENIX. B Y D A L L A S S C O T T
Silence. Speechless. Stripped. For weeks I have wrestled with the thoughts, the emotions, the insight to express with words to paper, the wreckage left behind from the uncountable instances of sexual assault. Those two words alone typically trigger a change of subject; someone’s cue to exit the discussion and again someone else’s pain is swept under an already crowded rug. Cheated. That has been the recurring image in my mind as I consider the soul who has been a victim of this offense that has scarred the earth since the early days of mankind. Cheated of peace. Cheated of free will. Cheated of innocence. The city of Corinth had become a community of immorality leading Paul to pen letters to the people telling them to “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18 NLT) The sorrow I feel in my heart for the boy or girl, man or woman, who carries this unrelenting shame and brokenness, runs deep. You are so valued, so precious, so unfathomably loved by Abba, our Heavenly Father. We can blame culture, the transgressor, the media; some will even blame the victim. However, the true fault falls on a commonality that transcends all fleeting trends. It began in the purest of surroundings, yet led to the greatest fall. All eleven ounces of the human heart… Jesus doesn’t mince words as he addresses the Pharisees and teachers of religious law in Matthew 15:1819 (NLT) “But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.” We have a heart problem. The prognosis worsens with each syllable of the headline news. Decades of deceit and abuse that had
been hidden behind the closed doors of perversion, now excavated from the rubble of what was once aspiring hope and dreams. Dozens and dozens are finding the courage, the strength to rise up out of the ashes like a phoenix. Hurt people, hurt people. The depth of our brokenness fills the cracks and crevices so often created during childhood. I imagine that even the offender was once wounded by another, leaving confusion, hurt, aloneness that was never brought to the light of the Father. Instead left shackled to shame, succumb by the overwhelming feelings of losing our voice, our worth, leaving a fragmented life. Forgiveness. If we never raise our heads from the position of defeat, we will never know the redeeming power of the love of Jesus Christ. There is no substance more purifying, more powerful, more life giving than the blood of Jesus. When we surrender our fears, our pains, our guilt and shame at the foot of the cross, the enemy has no ground to take, no weapon to use against us. You see, the accuser wants to keep us in a position of despair and convince us that we’ll never be more than the worst names we’ve been called, forcing you and I to carry the weight that is too burdensome to bear. Freedom. Jesus came to free us from the bondage of sin, whether it is from our own actions or that which has been done against us. We can be redeemed and made whole again, living eternally under the cover of His grace. Paul encourages us along with the Corinthians that “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT) We will face many battles in this life. Overcoming those trials and healing wounds will require us to lock arms in love and allow God to wash over us in His Spirit. My prayer is that whether you have been sexually assaulted or if you have sexually assaulted someone, you will seek forgiveness and run with all your might to the welcoming arms of Jesus. You are loved.
ABUSE, ASSAULT, AND RAPE ARE THE FRUITS OF LUST. WE MUST ADMIT WE’VE PLANTED ALL THOSE TREES OURSELVES. WE THOUGHT WE COULD CONTROL AND CONTAIN IT IN OUR ORCHARDS, BUT IT GROWS LIKE WEEDS AND DEVOURS ALL THE LAND. B Y J O N N Y G O R A S H
It’s a venom that turns your blood to stone, hardens the heart and brittles the bones. It’ll make a ghost out of you, drifting through the ruins of bodies, minds, and relationships. It’s the enemy of loyalty, colonies eating through the insides of the falling forest of devotion. It’s the god of human societies, bodies of tendon and marrow sold and traded to hungry eyes and hands. It’s always too much and never enough—a mirage, a drug. It’s like drowning in a puddle; you thought it couldn’t kill you, but you can’t lift your head anymore. It’s water on a grease fire—watch it burn the things you said you loved. We can’t hold love in the hands of lust—we’re clenching coal, hoping it’ll turn to diamonds. In a selflove world, who can we trust? I’ll love me first and hand you the dust. Whatever happened to sacrifice? This is lust and it’s never innocent—never brief enough. Will we let it take us under? Will we give our minds over to our bodies and let our skulls be the ceilings of our thoughts—our ribs the walls of our hearts? How long will we sell sex? As long as sex sells? Welcome to the sexual revolution; the trading of rationale for instinct in the name of liberation—we are only animals, so act like it. This is not okay. There’s a truth beyond what your mind can create. We are souls in need of love and purpose, not just flesh to be exploited. Sex is not love, but it must be loving—sacrificial, devoted, and selfless. Abuse, assault, and rape are the fruits of lust. We must admit we’ve planted all those trees ourselves. We thought we could control and contain it in our orchards, but it grows like weeds and devours all the land. Now we’re covered in this bitter, rotten fruit, shocked by what we have become. Tear these trees out of your life and set fire to the orchards you’ve desperately tried to fence. Pull the roots from this crusted land—flee lust and run. Run home; he’s waiting for you. Our Father sits through every cold night on the front steps with a lantern in his hand. If you cannot run or don’t remember the way, cry out from deep within your soul; he’ll carry you home. He hasn’t forgotten you—he never will.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY M EG VAN KAM PEN
: KAYLEIGH VANBERGEN LOCATION: COOPERSVILLE, MI MODEL
1 in 3 women who are raped contemplate suicide.
SOURCE: HUFFINGTON POST
THERE IS NO EXPIRATI
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL POLICE DEPARTM
P L E A S E
ION DATE FOR JUSTICE
MENT TO REPORT YOUR SEXUAL ASSAULT
S I L E N T
light PHOTOGRAPHY BY M ICHEL L E CO PPINI
: SYDNEY LOCATION: NEW MODEL
Call of the hidden heart Ambient light seeps through a small crack. Unassuming. Gently awaiting the invitation. An Invitation to enter. To heal. To offer golden warmth to the hidden areas. To the rooms cold with closure. Ones concealed and locked in cavernous depths. The fragile areas. The broken. The bruised. The cracked and fractured. The hidden heart is the draw. Each cry mirrored. Every pain felt. A tender longing to encounter every memory.
B Y M I C H E L L E C O P P I N I
To hold them with loving embrace. An offer to listen. To enter and feel. To attend with extravagant care the before, during and after. Your past, present and future. Cherishing the offered trust. Weighing not apprehension and doubt. An invitation to keep company in the process. Present during all facets of the healing. To repair the irreparable. Bring wholeness to parts. Build bridges over gaps. Newness to the old. Beauty for the ashes.
70% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. 90% of adult rape victims are women. Data shows women are at the highest risk for sexual assault and their assaults are often at the hands of men they know. Men need to stop sexually assaulting women.
SOURCE: HUFFINGTON POST
It's not your fault you were s NO MATTER THE CIRCUMSTANCE D O N O T B L A M E Y O U R S E L F. Y O U A R E L O V E D. YOU ARE AN OVERCOMER YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL
NO ONE ASKS TO
O BE ASSAULTED
joy PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALYSHA MILLER MODEL
LAS VEGAS DESERT
GOD AMONG US B Y K A Y T I E G A U S
I'll be honest, the topic of sexual assault is a tough one for me to discuss. It's an issue, like many others in today's world, that can cause arguments between family members, put wedges between friends, and can become a political argument in the blink of an eye. But I will always stand up for what is pure and right in my Father's eyes. I have been married to the most amazing man for four years now, but thinking back to my dating days, there aren't any "defined" moments of sexual assault or dominance with other men. Sure, there are a few men, who were then boys, who tried to cross my established line, but I never felt threatened, or demeaned by their attempt. I never felt afraid to put anyone in their place or know when it was time to leave and not look back. But it's not that easy for others. It's hard for me to write on a topic in which I feel I can't relate. But I do know that I can sympathize with those affected. As more and more victims of sexual assault come forward, I am honestly shocked and concerned at how many high power figures have been the assaulter in these cases. Many men who were once looked up to by the public, figures in business, even church leaders are being accused and convicted of this crime and sin. One thing I do not appreciate about the media, is some stories tend to paint the victims as the problem. She was the reason she got fired. She was the reason she got drugged. She was the reason she got raped. They say she was the problem. She (or he in cases) is not the problem. The problem is the attacker, the assaulter, who for some reason wasn't taught what's right and what's wrong. The problem is the attacker thinking he can silence his victim because of money, wealth, or status. The problem is the attacker doing whatever he wants for a moment of pleasure. The problem is not the victim. You can talk about her wearing a revealing outfit, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or leading someone on. At the end of the day, if someone says "no", or is unable to communicate, it is assault. My question is this... why have victims become the problem? Why have people began to defend the attacker? Why have people been disqualifying people's stories from 30 years years ago? Did we disqualify the story of Jesus hanging on the cross because it was a recollection of the past? Did we say Jesus was asking for his beating and crucifixion? Did we say that even though he was God's Son that we was in the wrong place at the wrong time? Praise God for grace. Praise Him for the grace that he is able to offer for the broken and ashamed. Praise Him for the healing, comfort, and freedom He gives. And even praise Him for the hearts that can be transformed and changed.
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