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171: Christina Patterson Wood | Finding Your Voice After Sexual Assault
Episode 17111th April 2023 • Purpose Through Pain • Joseph James
00:00:00 01:05:28

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Christina Patterson Wood is a dance instructor and directs one of the studio outreach programs that work one on one with at-risk youth. She also does admin support for Lousiville, Kentucky ministry that helps incarcerated men transition out of prison and back into society. Christina has the heart to use the arts to help at-risk youth around the world. Christina is a long-time friend of mine whom I just reconnected with after she shared her story about sexual assault that happened in a past relationship. We talk about how she, and many women, suppress their sexual assault experiences for years until something happens that triggers the memories, and they are faced with confusion, denial, and ultimately the truth of what happened to them.

Christina was in denial of the fact she was sexually assaulted by her ex-fiance 20 years ago. In her mind, sexual assault only happened by strangers in an aggressive way and not in relationships, not by someone you are in a relationship with. This misconception in her mind suppressed her mind kept her questioning what really happened. In the dance industry, there are many women coming out years later and joining the #MeToo movement by talking about their instructors who abused them as students, children, and young adults.

Years later she was triggered. Seeing her well her husband treats her made her realize how badly she was treated in the past. She realized what happened to her years ago, and came out with her story publicly because she wants people to know that they deserve to be loved, not treated unwell.

On this episode:

  • Christina shares her experience of realizing she was sexually assaulted.
  • How she told her husband, and he showered her in love, care, and support.
  • Why do many women keep quiet about their sexual assault.
  • Why many women question if what happened was sexual assault.
  • The Me Too Movement and how prominent it is in the dance community.
  • Why Christina stayed quiet for so long, and her fear that if she told her story people would minimize it.
  • Her work in the at-risk youth community.
  • How she helps her ministry support men transition out of prison and back into the community.

Key Takeaways:

  • You deserve to be loved, not treated unwell.
  • How telling your story can help others tell theirs.
  • Finding a purpose in your pain to help others.
  • Why we say getting into a new relationship can help you heal from a past relationship.

Quotable Moments:

  1. “The painful things we experience have a purpose, so changing the question of what was the purpose of that happening to me, to how do I find purpose through it changes the perspective a lot.”
  2. “You deserved to be loved, you deserve to be loved well, and in the way that God loves you.”
  3. “He was my fiance, he said he loved me, this is not the context of how sexual assault happens.”

Connect with Joseph James:

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Joseph: Hey everyone, and welcome to another great show of Purpose Through Pain Podcast. I have a long-term friend with me here today, Christina Patterson Wood that we've just recently got reconnected over Facebook and she shared a story about herself, about her past that really just reached out to me and really touched my heart. But Christina and her husband reside in Louisville, Kentucky. She is a dance instructor of a local studio and directs one of the studio outreach locations where she works one-on-one with at-risk youth. She's also provides admin support for ministry that helps disciple incarcerated men as they are transitioning out of prison and back into society. She has a heart to use the arts to help at-risk youth around the world, Christina, thank you so much for coming on the show and just really about to dive into sharing your story, thank you.

Christina: Yeah, yeah. Thanks for having me. I appreciate how you're reaching out. Has been, it has been amazing to see the support and, just all of the positive feedback from when I shared my story a few days ago, Jess only just a few days ago.

in years ago. It's back about:

Christina: Yeah. This is probably, all of this took place about 20 years ago. And I it really surprised me that I went for so many years and had no recognition really of what my experience actually was, and what brought this all to the surface was twofold. I think the first thing was I mean, it's probably layered, this Me Too movement that started and I even wrote about this in my blog that I read and I knew the gist of what the Me Too movement was about, but I did not identify with it initially. And, I just was not in I wasn't consuming myself with it, but I knew it was out there and I knew that there were some really tragic stories, but I didn't identify with it, then I come, then you come to, I was a gymnast growing up, and so with the huge scandal in USA Gymnastics with Larry Nasser and all the abuse that took place as the team doctor for decades, that started to come out. And I followed that a little more closely because I've been following gymnastics since I was a kid, and so that I was following a little bit more, it wasn't until I started dating my husband we just got married a couple of months ago. Newly wed,

Joseph: Congratulations.

Christina: So thank you. So last year when we were dating, I noticed just a couple of times I felt really triggered by very, like almost nothing. And it was surprising to me what, why am I being triggered and going back to this relationship that I had over 20 years ago that I don't think about really on a daily basis? And a couple of these triggers started to happen and I was already in counseling for some other things. And so as I started to, I take notice of those things, this is something that I started to learn as I was just dealing with other things in my life that I was struggling with at the time. I paid attention to those triggers, and then I was talking to my husband, his name Donovan, was talking to Donovan about these things, and as I'm starting to talk about it and I'm hearing the words coming out of my own mouth, and it hits me like a ton of bricks that I had been in this relationship. I was engaged to this man, it was nearly four years, it ended while I was in Bible college actually. And I had this realization that through the course of that relationship that there were times when I had been sexually assaulted and it finally realizing that there's a ton of emotions that go with it. Number one, you feel a little bit stupid at first, like, how could I have not realized this or recognized it at the time? And then it's, now what do I do with this? That I've come to this realization and then there's questioning, you question yourself like, am I just overreacting? Am I, and I started to go back to what I was doing In the course of that relationship, I was minimizing what really happened because nobody ever wants to think that's, that you're a victim of something like that. This was a safe place, this is supposed to be a safe place in the context of this relationship. All those years ago, he was my fiance. He said he loved me, this was, this is not the context where sexual assault happens. I just, my grid at the time was, that only happens with strangers in a violent way, in that it doesn't happen in the context of a relationship. And so when I realized it and it it hit me like a ton of bricks, and then I didn't, I took it to my counselor, of course, she gave me some really good tools to work through it and processed through it. And then I just tucked it away and I just tucked it away, and with the Olympics being back and a lot of talk with the gymnastics, of course, and all of this starting, starting to come up again. And it's mentioned throughout the broadcast about. Some of it, not a whole lot, it's mostly focused on, the com, the competition itself, but it comes up. That's when I started to really think about what do I do with this now? Because I started to feel like I needed to share it and finding a purpose for it. I think, and I like what you said in the beginning and the name of your podcast it's the painful things that we experience have a purpose, and so changing the question from what was the purpose of that happening to me, to how do I find purpose through it changes the perspective a lot. But with that, it's still scary to share. It's still a scary thing to share because, you just don't know that the internet can be really mean and everyone's got an opinion and everyone has something to say about, everybody's experience and they're just sitting behind a keyboard and, saying all sorts of things. And it was scary, it was scary to try to share, not knowing if, someone was going to minimize my experience, in a sense try to take my voice away from me again as I'm just starting to voice to have a voice, feel like I have a voice in it. So that's how it came about and why I decided to share it. I just felt like it was time to use my voice and hopefully it will help other people along the way.

Joseph: Yeah, absolutely. So this goes back to you were roughly 17 years of age, correct? So at, yeah, you were sharing, about not knowing, without going into a lot of detail what was going on in the relationship now with your husband that was triggering, or that you came to that realization like, oh my goodness. These are the things that happened, even though at that time I didn't know that's what it was. What was coming to you?

Christina: One particular, one particular time that I remember is we had my, we had taken my dog, my mom's dogs to the park. And this is a park that I had not I don't go to a lot, but just the local park. And we had walked to a back part of this park and we, and there was, we found a dog run and all of that but I had remembered this part, this, there was a particular incident that happened with my ex-fiancee in the woods at this park. And I had, because I didn't really go to it and I probably had not been to that part of this park in, many years. All of a sudden I'm walking and we are just having fun with the dogs. We're not talking about anything serious, we're enjoying each other's company, we're still getting to know each other, and all of a sudden, I'm having this memory recall of this incident that happened and I was getting a little bit anxious. I was feeling a little bit anxious, and I'm feeling like I need to share it. And this is still pretty early on, but, bless my husband, ‘cause I just, I told him, I said I feel like I need to tell you this, and maybe because part of me was still a little bit like, I'll see if I can if he's gonna be scared off, if I scare him away or if he's gonna hang in with me. And so I told him what happened and I think me, talking about that led to other memories that followed after that particular incident, and that's when I started to realize, no, this was more than just simply like taking advantage of somebody, I was, he wasn't, my ex was not just taking advantage of me. There was, this was actual, like sexual assault that was taking place. And that was it, it was not it was like a it, it took place over the course of time. It wasn't just like one particular moment. But I think that one was one that was pretty crucial in it as I was describing this to him. And I'm hearing myself talk about it, and it's the first time I've ever talked about it out loud to anyone, I think that's when the realization started to happen and then, just the more, because I'm thinking about it and I've talked about it now, it's out in the open, it's in the light, now there's no hiding from it anymore. And so now I'm having to walk, through the whole of it and think it all through, and that's when I think that's when I really started to discover it, just being with my husband and while we were dating and him treating me so well. And that was the first time that had ever happened was, oddly enough, a trigger for me, for me to start realizing how poorly I had been treated in the past.

Joseph: Yeah. What was your husband's response?

Christina: His response was, his demeanor is always very calming and he's very just, he's just steady. And so nothing he does not get overly emotional about things. And he said, he basically just told me, he said, I am so sorry that ever happened to you. I think he, he just, and he wanted me to know that, he was ne he was never gonna treat me that way. He told me at one point that he knew that I had, I handed my heart to him and I was trusting my heart with him, and he took that very serious and he wanted me to know that, and so he just loved me through. It really is what he did. He was just there and he continued to always make me feel safe, and that was a huge thing was just to feel safe, and so his response was just very gentle and I don't think in the moment he really knew what to do with that, like I had just told him, really.

Joseph: Most people who don't.

Christina: A horrible experience, but he just he said, I'm so sorry that happened to you and he was just there. And that was the best that he could have done at the time. And that's what I needed, I just needed him to be there. There, I didn't need him to fix it, I need him to just be there.

Joseph: Which most guys want to do. I know by nature, just by growing up in the abuse and the rejection, I'm a fixer, and it's crazy that you bring up triggers because when I started to date last year I didn't really even know what triggers were, and then all of a sudden somebody says, you triggered me, I'm like, what do you mean? And I'm like, the only trigger I know is to a firearm, and it keeps on, but it was different because I, at the time was dealing with a lot of stuff internally. So I felt like it was always my fault. So I couldn't be the safety net. I could, I had to learn how to be the safety net, I had to learn how to make her feel safe, a lot of people can sit there and say, how could you not know? But what was it, I know you had the circumstance there, but while you're in it, okay. Was it so subtle that it just felt normal and that's what you thought was supposed to happen, or you just dismissed it because you didn't think it would go worse or it would get worse? Is that when the mindset, not that you purposely did it because nobody does, but is that what you go back saying and it just gradually happened, so I thought that's what was supposed to happen.

Christina: Yeah, I think that it's probably a combination, I think that it's definitely part of it, I think I'm the type of person that I invest emotionally very quickly. I am too. And so I think that I probably, and I was really young, I was really young and I was totally naive and really just in experiencing green and he was not. So he came in with a whole, I think, different mindset potentially. I can't say for sure but I think it was a subtle it was, it escalated quickly, but also it was subtle at the same time in that, he didn't start off pushing the boundaries, pushing that boundary line that we had talked about before, what boundaries I, we were setting in terms of our relationship, especially physically. And so it was like slowly. But not really slowly, but slowly, he would push that line a little bit and at first it was, it's did that, did he really, did he do that? Or was I just because we talked about this and but I love him and he loves me and so then it just picks up where you leave off. Yeah. And that's just what happened until it finally got to a place where he pushed a boundary that I was very uncomfortable with, I was very uncomfortable with it, and I did not in the moment because I feel like in those moments, you feel, that's where you feel like you lose your voice, you just feel choked. I think at the time I felt really choked in terms of, I can't verbally say no, but I was very obviously resisting physically, and he just would consistently push and consistently push until it, it like wore me down and I was just tired, and so things would happen. And after this one particular incident, and I just, I curled up like in a fetal position and I was just visibly shaken. I don't remember, I may have been crying, but I don't remember, but I was very obviously disturbed. And he had said to me you are acting as if I raped you, and he didn't say it in like a, it, like in a caring way and concerned way.

It wasn't necessarily like in a dismissive way, but it was almost the subtext to me felt like you're overreacting. I'm sorry that you're feeling like this? Like I could sense that there was some, a little bit of regret, but also a little bit of, I feel like you're overreacting, this is normal. And but again, it's but I love him and he's, I don't think we were engaged at that time particularly, but I was so invested emotionally at this point, and he said he loved me, and so I'll just work past it, and that's when I think subconsciously you start to dismiss what happened and you justify it in whatever way you have to deal with it. And then it just, but it continued, not every time, it was a very toxic relationship, but not every time things were physical. I will not say that this happened every single time. There were times when it was consensual, but I think when that, that muddies the water even more, and it causes you to feel like it's just it's, that's not what that is. You tend to dismiss it and justify it. And now when I look back with a little bit of life behind me and maturity, I can look at it for what it really was. And, but yeah, at the time there was just no, how did I not recognize it? Because it was subtle in that way, and because when you're in a, when you feel like you're in, you're supposed to be in a safe place and with someone who's safe, I think what helped me to put the pieces together as well is when I was listening to some of these gymnasts talk about their experience with Larry Mather is they're going into his into this room with him and he's a doctor. This is a place where it is supposed to be safe. Its supposed to be trusted. He's a doctor and I heard prominent voices. In the sport saying, I wasn't even sure what was really happening to me. And to hear someone else say that helped me to think now I don't feel so stupid, number one, because you are in a place where you're just totally thrown off because sexual assault only happens in this violent way. Not in this safe way, and I was in this relationship with this man who said he loved me, so that's not where that happened. And I'm just overreacting and so it's an interesting it's interesting to look back on.

e in Bible school, so back in:

Christina: Yeah. We broke up when I was in Bible college. He had moved back to Florida where he was living before we met and he ended up cheating on me and that's what really caused things to fall apart. And it devastated me, at the time because I had spent, this was a nearly four year relationship and so I had felt like at the time I didn't know who I was, I suddenly realized that I had put all my identity in being his girlfriend or fiance, and I did not know who I was anymore. Apart from him and, thankfully being at BRSM and being at Brownsville, it's just a very intense spiritual atmosphere. And so I think I did go through some healing because I remember thinking to myself about two weeks after we broke up, I felt mostly okay and that was really unusual, cause I expected to have to deal with this for a long time. But I think for me it was more of just trying to think about where I was currently at in my life and where I was going and the things that I wanted to pursue. And just being in this really intense spiritual atmosphere I think helped. Did I bury some things. Sure, I obviously, I buried some things and it wasn't a conscious thing, but I and, sometimes I think that maybe it was just the Lord that he didn't allow those things to surface, like the timing I think of when it happened for me and when I realized it was probably maybe the best it could have been because I had distance away from it in terms of years. I was, I had a really good counselor at the time, so I had a safe place to take that to really process through it, and I had this amazing man in my life who was treating me so kind and the way I deserve to be treated. And I think all of those things really helped when it surfaced to process it and heal from it, if that makes sense.

Joseph: Yeah, absolutely, it's interesting because, a lot of times when we get hurt in a relationship, we go to the point of, I don't want to be in a relationship because of I get hurt again. But I was amazingly, I was reading today actually, someone sent me a video of a lady that does a lot of teaching on trauma and shame and guilt and things like that on Instagram. And she talked about where when we get hurt in a relationship, the best place, and I'm paraphrasing this, but the best place to get healing and receive healing from is in a relationship, is in the context of a relationship. Be because it's, if you think about your situation, you had fiance number one or boyfriend and fiance number one, do the hurt, okay. And though that it's not that you couldn't receive healing on your own or you couldn't do it on your own, but it really didn't surface again, until when you're back in a relationship. And the very thing that kept you in the current relationship is the fact that individual being your husband now made you feel safe. And that's where the healing came from. And, I didn't, I dealt with rejections so much when I was a younger kid from my father. And so when I was with Tommy, I looked at him as a spiritual father, but it wasn't there, there just wasn't something there. But I did get it from Pastor Romeus, pastor David, and he was a spiritual father to me. There was a lot of healing. But, and I received healing from that in terms of rejection, but really the majority of my rejection, healing came when I started a relationship, and I started to recognize and understand that even though this person was doing things that made me feel rejected, it wasn't her fault. It's what I was feeling on the internal side, I had to know and understand that, when it came to my healing is my biggest thing. Had nothing to do with anybody else, but had everything to do with me, and I had to, number one was forgive myself, and then I asked God for forgiveness, for thinking that way, thinking that I was alone, thinking that I was abandoned. Where his word says, I'll never leave you nor forsake you. So that washes the fact of ever feeling abandoned because God says, I'll never abandon you, I'll never leave you, I died for you, I love you, I died for you. So that takes away the rejection. And I had to get through that, but I didn't quite understand it until I was actually in a relationship, that was rejection was circling around. Not because of the individual, but because everything that I associated with rejection. If you said you were gonna call me, or if the girlfriend said she was gonna call me in 30 minutes, and it's an, Hey, at 31 minutes, I'm starting to feel it, 32 minutes, man. It's starting to get, I'm 45 minutes, I'm boiling. I'm like, my patience is on the edge at an hour, I'm like, I'm picking up the phone, I'm like, you said you were gonna call me in 30 minutes, oh my God, I'm like, I ran past my call, I got outta work later. All these different things, and I'm not thinking of those things. I'm thinking of how I'm feeling at that moment. But it took me being in a relationship to realize and understanding when I heard this today, I'm like, oh my God, now I'm figuring things out.

Christina: Yeah, yeah. And it was very, and it was true for me, and there have been, there was one particular moment where I dive and witnessed an anxiety attack. I had told him I have it, I have some, I have some anxiety in this area. And May, and it could even be mild PTSD. I don't know, because I like the anxiety is real and he experienced it. We were driving back from Ohio where he's from after a visit to his hometown and he experienced it and I told him, after, things were over and I had settled down. I told him, I said, I just keep feeling like because this is true, there was this rejection and this expectation because, my ex was not the only man to do, to treat me in a way that made me feel like garbage, like I was worth nothing, I was worthless, the only thing I'm good for is to get what you want and then throw me in a ditch, like a piece of trash. And so I kept, not that I expected him to do, not that I expected Donovan to do this, like on a on a subconscious level, it was almost like I tried to prepare myself that this could happen. Not because of anything he did, but because of my own past experiences. And I just told him, I said, I just keep waiting for my crazy I'm gonna do one more crazy thing and you're gonna walk away. And he said the most profound thing to me, that I had to have been the Holy Spirit, and it is so much the way, I don't always relate to God and I need to, and he just looked at me and he said, but you're saying that I'm keeping score. I'm not keeping score, I'm not keeping account of this, if I love you. And I, and it was like it, I was speechless, oh and that's the same way that I think I have been relating to the Lord even Is that like he's keeping score of all the times I mess up. That's he's not keeping score. He's not writing it all of it down and just waiting until I get to this number of things that I've done and then I shoving me away and rejecting me in that way. And there's a lot of, some rejection issues for different reasons, obviously, but yeah and the hard part about, the hard part about finding healing in a relationship is trying to get, is trying to get into a relationship and trusting it, and that was a really tough thing. My personality, I lend itself to just, I will just dive in, I'll go for it even if I'm afraid. But I don't, but I didn't wanna be that way, I don't wanna approach every relationship with fear. And but I noticed of course, just along the way how that fear's still there and it shows up in the weirdest way.

Joseph: Yeah, absolutely, and the thing is like when we, I have a thing called, and I don't think I coined the phrase, but I've heard it or I've said it enough where I claim it is we have to feed our faith and starve our fear, it's things come into our mind that we can't control our left brain, okay, or even things that we imagine are on our right brain, and when we sit there and we think okay, relationship number one did this, relationship number two, or even this person in my life did this. If they did that and I pair a scenario, or I pair a circumstance or that, then it must, gonna happen again, because every guy's this, or every girl is this, and if it happens with two or three, it's gonna happen with number four, five or six, and ultimately what we're doing in the midst of that is we're cursing our relationship, because even though, yes, I get it, there might be a reality to that person may do that. But what's their heart intent? We've all crossed boundaries. Yes, some sort of way in time in a relationship. We've crossed boundaries with our parents by lying to them, we've crossed boundaries with friends by lying to them or saying we were gonna do something or yeah, different things. We've all crossed the boundary, but just because we do. And I'm not saying it's right, it doesn't make us the other person, it doesn't make us that we're gonna cross all boundaries or that we're going to live exactly like your the last relationship and right. But going in with that mindset versus, okay, alright, I know these things can happen, they probably could, okay. But I'm not going to live in fear of waiting for it to happen because the thing about preparation and waiting for it to happen, what do we naturally do in preparation and waiting for something to happen in a relationship? We build something, we build a wall. We build a wall to keep, a wall is definitely there to protect, but it also keeps out, and the thing about a wall is when we build it emotionally, it'll keep out whoever that we want it to. Good, bad, or indifferent, and that's the struggle from the person being, in your case, building the walls and not the trust, but then also on, for your instance, don’t of inside of why are you building a wall against me? I'm not doing those things, that's not me. I understand, and I'll tell you, for me, it's taken me a good amount of understanding to come to that point of the wall wasn't built for me, and because we all do it, we all and I'm like you, I'm like, Hey, here's my heart on a platter. Do what you want to with it, and I'll just pick up the pieces, yes. And go into my prayer closet and ask God to heal me afterwards, yeah. And I'll do that time and time and time again. And that's also that also gives me the mentality of let me fix it. Oh you're, you gotta crushed, tart, let me help, I know how to fix mine. But so what was it for you that got you to the point of being able to trust your fiance now husband, to get to that point of I am now getting past this because, y'all just got married, but you just wrote this block, so you really just came forward with this aspect, and this is another, this is a true definition of vulnerability, because vulnerability is not exposing things that's okay to talk about. It's exposing things that you're not okay to talk about that you're uncomfortable with. So you just went into a new level of healing because I am a firm believer that vulnerability releases healing and brings forth you.

Christina: I agree, I agree. For me, I think really what happened is that I think it was layered, I think my counselor being with a good counselor at the time, I think was really crucial for me that there was a lot of groundwork that I had laid prior to meeting him that helped. But I don't know that I recognized at the time, but there was a lot of groundwork that I think the Lord really used this. I had amazing Christian counselor, and so a lot of what we talked about were issues that I was struggling with and how I was relating to God and my faith and those kinds of things. But I think really another thing that just really helped is the fact that he, if I was starting to build a wall, And by, me telling him for the example I just said, I'm waiting for you to just for me to do one more crazy thing for you to walk away or you just decide, you can't handle this and you don't wanna deal with this. And his, it's always been his response that as soon as I start laying the bricks, his response takes those bricks right back, back away. He just able to really respond in that way, and I was just, I think only the Lord could have, put us together in that sense. That kidding, he knew what both of us needed. And then I think just over the last, probably few years, as and the reason I started counseling was I went through a really tough season of burnout and just a lot of the fallout from that. And I was learning how to be finally, this was another, I think this was a really big thing, I stopped faking. How I was feeling, and what I was experiencing, I stopped pretending. When you stop pretending and you're just real about it, then you can finally start to deal with it. And so I had finally gotten to the place where I was brutally honest. I was brutally honest with the people around me. I was brutally honest with myself, I was brutally honest when I was praying, and this, what I learned in the, in that particular season, that I think really helped me as I started to date my husband and just since we've gotten married, is that, God can handle me beating on his chest, he can handle my questions, he can handle my frustrations, he can handle all of it, and he's not afraid of it. And he didn't walk away from me in those times. And when I think about the, it was a really, it was really dark. It was a really dark period. And this was before I met my husband, and so I think that laid the groundwork, just being honest and I had posted this actually just came up on my memories, but I had posted this three years ago when I was really struggling. And I found it to be, at the time, very life-giving and identified with it for the first time in my life. But I had read this quote and I wanna read it, I think it just applies so well, is when life is tough. They tell you to be strong, don't be strong, be weak, unclench your fists, dare to be vulnerable. Honest weakness takes courage, it affirms our common humanity deepens friendship and I elicits grace, and I found that to be so true, and I think that is part of too why, when I got into this relationship with my husband at the time, is that we were very honest with each other, and because we knew, and we started from the very beginning, we were very open and honest and communicated really thoroughly with each other that anything that we went through that was any kind of struggle was just something we talked about. And it was a safe place to talk about. It's, he's still a safe place, I don't have to worry about explaining to him how I feel about something and then his reaction going sideways. Because it's never been what, it, he's it's been consistent, and so I think that's what has helped me to get the healing and to, and for my insecurities and those things that I was struggling with, not to sabotage this relationship. It's a combination of, I think all of that, just the Lord working in the midst of it, bringing that healing.

Joseph: Yeah, absolutely. To the listeners that are out there that have may have found them self in, realizing they've been in a abusive relationship, or are currently in one, what would be something that you would encourage them with right now?

Christina: I think first of all, it's very important to know that this is not what you deserve. It's not what you deserve. You deserve to be loved, you deserve to be loved, you deserve to be loved, so in, in the way that, that God loves you, and I think I also, I think my biggest encouragement is to really look at the situation and be honest about. You've got to be honest with that, that's where you have to start, you have to be honest about it and be honest with what's really going on. And get out of it because you don't deserve that, and, that is the biggest thing is being aware and refusing to tolerate being treated less than what you deserve. And finding that worth, ultimately it's through the Lord, he gives us that worth and he values us so much that you don't deserve to be treated, but in any less of a way than the way the Lord treats us, and I think those are the biggest things, and then I also, one of the, one of the bigger reasons that I wanted to come forward to and this is what I want to. To make sure that other people know, other women know you're not alone. I think one of the reasons that I wanted to find my voice in this is because the, when we experience trauma, it is so tempting and it is so easy to isolate. And to feel like I'm the only one and nobody else knows how I feel. No one gets this, and when you know that you're not alone, something powerful happens. The saying like it takes a village is usually equated to raising kids, and I think that's applicable. But also God designed us to be in community. And there is something so powerful about community. We are not meant to be alone and, hanging out without anyone else around us. He meant for us, and he made us and built us to be in community, and so just know that you're not alone as much as you wanna feel like you might be alone. And I think for me, it was amazing, the private messages that I got of people saying, that happened to me. And these are people I've known that I never knew this about. And here I am thinking I'm probably the only one in my friend's circle that this has happened to and it's many people. So it's so important to know that you're not alone.

Joseph: The thing about that is I just did an interview with a young lady out of Atlanta and she went through some domestic abuse and some domestic violence, and this falls right into it, the sexual abuse and things like that is one in every four women experienced this in their lifetime, one in every four. That's incredible. That's mind boggling. That's just that. So I want the listeners to really understand that, and this goes both ways. This isn't just for females, okay? Males get sexually abused too, one in every four women. So I can't imagine what it is for men, okay? But that is a lot of people going through the same exact stuff. Now, here's the thing, you don't ever have to compare pain. And this is what I, listeners, I want you to understand this, you never have to compare pain to apples and apples. It's not okay. Yes, my pain of going through the death of my wife and dad all in the same month may be totally different than somebody else's pain that they experienced going through the death of a spouse, okay, or a abusive relief, and that's completely okay. But what you're not, you're not alone in experiencing what you experienced. Pain will always be different based off of the individual, okay. For me, I don't make emotional attachments to certain things in life, okay. But it doesn't mean that it doesn't sting or doesn't hurt, there are other things like me being, okay, here's my heart. Do what you want to with it, when it comes to a father figure, when it comes to a relationship with a, a female to be a spouse, yeah. That's really, and then of course my kids itself, that's something that will really touch home, but it's way I perceive the pain is what I perceive it as, on a, let's just say the whole pain scale of one to 10, but it's the fact that, multiple people. One in every four women, since we're talking about women will go through this, we'll go through so you're not alone and vulnerability. I know it's so hard to talk about things, especially in different aspects that you can feel why didn't, because that's number one question that, that, that gets hit with everybody. ‘Cause I've talked to people that are in abusive, physically abusive relationships, women, I'm like, at what point, how could you not leave? Why didn't you leave? And the number one answer I hear is, I didn't know that this that I thought this is what relationships were.

Christina: And you feel trapped, I felt so trapped in that relationship because I thought all this has happened. I have to marry this man now, I felt really trapped. And it's amazing that you, that I can look back and I feel I can see that so clearly that I was trying to make something work because I kept trying to say, the God spoke to me and Laura and this is whatever. No, it wasn't, I was trapped and I felt really trapped. And going back to what you were sharing about pain and people's different pain, I think also there's not a competition and whose trauma was worse. And I think sometimes we don't wanna talk, and I felt a little bit of that before I shared my story. It was like mine's not so bad, there's people that have gone through way, I work with kids that have been through way worse. But it's not a competition, trauma is trauma, and if something traumatized you, it traumatized you, and there's pain there. Now, can somebody's pain be greater? Potentially, but that's just not an or that's not a competition that we need to be, that anyone needs to have.

Joseph: The pain ultimately does damage, more damage to certain people based on how, because listen, a woman has a baby, which is a joyful thing to me, it's a joyful thing. Not necessarily her going through it, but yet, you have, there's a thing called postpartum. The depression the fact of now I'm no longer carrying this, what does my body look like? All this different stuff, and it is taking people years to get over postpartum. My wife suffered with it, she suffered with different bouts of depression from her physical looks to, the up and down, you lose weight, you get pregnant, you gain it all back, you lose it, you get pregnant again, you gain it all back. I'm like, Is it my fault for wanting kids? Yes, but pain can definitely take us down roads that keep us longer in certain places, but this is what I say about pain, and I do coin this from Pastor Randy Fassal is let be life's inspiration. Let your pain that you've gone through, listen, I promise you this, I'll promise you this about pain, okay? And I'm stepping out on a limb, nobody has not gone through what you've gone through. There's 7 billion people in the world, everybody has the experience abandonment as a child. My parents never left me. Here's abandonment right here, here's a clear picture of abandonment. As a child, you bend down as a child, you're in the grocery store with your mom, you're in Walmart, and you bend down to tie your shoes and you look up and she's gone. That's abandonment right there. The spirit of abandonment hits us. Now, it doesn't become a pattern if it happens a couple times, it'll under the age of seven, it will then, if it occurs from seven to 12, it will then become a pattern that sticks with us. So we can't sit there and say I've never been abandoned. I lived with my parents my whole entire life. My parents were alive until my and my mom passed away when I was 27. So my parents lived together, but yet I remember the time of, I went to football practice, okay? I was a freshman in high school, went to football practice, mom and dad worked crazy hours, okay? Football practice ended at six o'clock, okay? I didn't get picked up until nine 30 that night. Tomorrow I sat I fell asleep on the curb, the sidewalk of the school where they pick up students, and I had been there for so long, I had cars stop and wake me up to say, make sure I was okay. But yet I felt abandoned. I'm like, mom and dad left me, nobody came to pick me up. They forgot about me, especially when I woke up and it was dark outside. So pain happens to everybody across the world, when we hear the words, no, we may not recognize it at that time, but when a parent says, I wish you never got pregnant, or I wish you never had the baby, that's rejection. So no one understand that everybody has gone through some sort of rejection, pain, trauma, shame, it's just, we all go through it at different degrees, but we're not alone, and that's the biggest, I think that's one of the biggest things that anybody can take away from this story. About with you, Christina, is that you are not alone in this. And the fact that you allow this to happen is gonna open up so many doors for you to be able to minister to people, because you're gonna realize oh my God, I wish I would've spoke about this years ago. Yeah. I know, for me, and I'm a little bit more outspoken, let's set you to say, he's you never shut up. I'm like, I'm gonna get paid to talk one day, I always said, that was always my response, I'm like, I know. I don't ever be quiet that's what God put in me, so the moment that she came down with cancer, the moment she came down with cancer, I knew right then in my spirit, I was just speak about it. I haven't shut up since, But share your story, share it, to the listeners that are out there, don't be afraid, because I will tell you this. Even if you are scared to say this, I'll give you a tip about public speaking, okay. Listeners, if you are afraid to share your story because you're afraid of what somebody else may think, tell your story to yourself in a video or in the mirror and then listen to it. And when you do it, when you speak it for the first time, you don't even have to go back and watch the video. But when you speak it to your first time, there's just gonna be something that lifts off of you and be like, that wasn't as hard as I thought. And even if it was hard, okay, tell your story. And tell your story again, I remember when I first started preaching years ago, way before Bible college I would set up stuffed animals, that was my crowd of people, we weren't even, the phones weren't, around then to start recording. Oh yeah. I would set up, or I would, I'd go outside and start preaching to the dogs, and if I didn't have a tree I different had an audience. I'd preach at a tree, I kid you not I would do it to a tree or stand in front of the mirror, but that what's got me, and I'm not perfect at public speaking, but that is what got me over the fear of being in front of people, of talking and sharing my story. So before we wrap up here, you work with at-risk youth, okay. How has what you've gone through and it now really coming out, how has that been able to help these young kids? That I assume they're troubled teens that possibly in and outta jail, in and out of foster homes.

Christina: Most of these kids that I work with, they're on the younger side, as far as I know, I don't think any of them have been in jail, okay. Thankfully, we try to, we're trying to prevent that. But they have all gone through some type of trauma in their childhood, the particular area where I'm working, there's a lot of drugs and alcohol. So parents have been in and out of jail, some of them are being raised by grandparents, some are foster kids, I think only maybe a couple. I've had a couple of foster kids, they're on the younger side, so I have to be careful, they inspired me to go back to school. I'm actually back in college getting a degree in social work because I find that I'm, these kids are dealing with things that I felt very unequipped to really effectively handle, and so I decided to go back to school. But I think what it, what will happen is that, because trauma, especially when you're young, you don't have a voice, you don't know how to voice it. Not that you don't have one, you just don't know how to use it or you don't know how to use it appropriately. And so for me, the biggest thing is that I'm there and I'm consistent. And when, if they open up to me and I they, some of them have been slowly starting to make comments to allude to things that have happened. Now there's a place, depending on what the trauma was, where I can identify and I can say this is, I understand. Because it happened to me, but also, this is the other side of it. To let people know that this is the other side, that life gets better, that there's hope that you don't have to drown in this trauma, I think is big, and then also giving them, because it's in the form of dance, giving them a way to express their feelings and learn their identity in a way that if they don't know how to verbally share it, there's still an outlet for them to express it. And then allow, you have to just allow as kids, because, their brains are not fully developed. You have all kinds of behavior issues, even allowing it to be a safe place to come in. And if they're gonna act crazy, I'm not gonna freak out because they're acting crazy. We'll deal with it, but we are aware, that the reason behind the acting out is underlying trauma. And it's a slow process because these kids have to learn to trust and that's a really hard thing when they're young, when they're that young and they've experienced really unspeakable things. But just being there and being consistent and being that safe place for them, I think is the best that we can do, and then providing them with an outlet to express themselves instead of keeping all of those emotions and all those feelings on the inside.

Joseph: That's amazing, and then of course, also, besides that, you're also connected with a ministry that's helping rehabilitate incarcerated men. In the process of getting back out, now I've got a little special connection with that because, before I started Bible college. And even while in Bible college, my first year I actually worked at a state prison. And so I know to a degree, I know one side of the bars, I got to go home every eight hours. But, so share with me about what y'all are doing in the ministry with that and how that's been able to, again, your story has been able to help you in working with these men.

Christina: Yeah it's an interesting place to find myself for a number of different reasons for my husband's a public defender for the county here oh my goodness. And he worked with juvenile, so that was an interesting the connection was really interesting, and then me social work, it's still very new. I've only been doing this for about maybe a month and a half now, okay. But the fact that I can go into, I can go into the facility and I've been in a couple of times now to do some photography work and just see what they do. So it's Tony and Kim Cash Ministries, and they also are starting Freedom Lake Ministries, which is gonna be a transitional home for these men once they get out, but they do a lot of just heavy discipleship and their testimonies are amazing and how they got into this ministry and Tony, who is the husband out of that team was incarcerated for in and out of prison for nearly 40 years of his life. And so he is definitely in a place where he can minister to these men. And then, Kim has got her own her own set of testimonies, but the fact that I can go into a place like that and I can look at these men and see them the way God sees them. And not look at them for their offenses. I think to me, has really it's just, it makes me happy to know that there's that much healing that I can go in there and with some apprehension a little bit, but not because of the men themselves, but just still my own process of healing. But for the most part, I can go in there and I can look at these men for who God made them to be. And not define them by, whatever, put them in there. And I think that's one of the biggest things, at least for me in terms of my story, I think that's still developing. I think what we hope will happen in the future is that when it's appropriate and some of these men are going back home to wives or relationships that they've been in, or kids that Donovan and I have a place to speak into that. With my experience and how and then how he's able to relate to me and treat me. And that's, how I treat him as my husband, and I think those are, those are things that we're hoping will happen at down in the future as things start to progress with the ministry itself.

Joseph: As that happens, I'd love to have the both of you back on as guests again and share, what you guys have done, but then also what you're building for people that are in a relationship or even married that may be going through some struggles, and from a guy's perspective is how to get a woman to set down her defenses, by the action of love and things like that. How to properly respond, and then of course, on your side is how to let him do it. Because that's the key is you have to let him do that, ‘cause if not, it doesn't matter how loving he is, he can say all the right words, do all the right things, do all the, act all the right way, but you have to be a, you have to be the willing vessel to allow it.

Christina: Absolutely, absolutely.

Joseph: Christina, thank you so much. Listeners. I just wanna thank you so much for being a part of this and listening. Please don't forget to rate subscribe and review our podcast. You can also reach out to us on Instagram and meet Joseph James. Send us any questions that you may have about our podcast or even things that you may want to, people you may wanna see on here, or issues that you may be having. Christina, if people wanted to reach out to you just for, maybe they're going through the same thing and they just feel comfortable kind of reaching out to you, what would be the best way for them to do so?

pretty regularly is CPatterson:

Joseph: Awesome. And her email, again, everyone is C that's her initial, her first name, CPatterson3515@ Don't be afraid to reach out to her. Reach out to us on Instagram at meet Joseph James, and we cannot wait to have you and your husband on for a future episode as things continue to evolve. But we also can't wait to have our listeners tune in on Monday for this live show and then also for future episodes. So Christina, thank you so much. I'm just honor and privileged to have you on.

Christina: Thanks for having me.