NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next, an excerpt from Listening In. This week, a conversation with Kay Warren, co-founder of Saddleback Church with her husband, Rick. She’s a speaker, a best-selling author, and a vocal advocate for those living with mental illness.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: She’s also a survivor of childhood abuse. In this excerpt of her conversation with Warren Smith, Kay Warren speaks of the long process of healing.
WARREN SMITH: Did the church intervene and say: “You guys need to get some counseling?” Did friend intervene or was this just something y’all were dealing with yourselves?
KAY WARREN: No, we were dealing with it ourselves. I’d been open about the fact that I’d been abused so it wasn’t a secret by that time that I had experienced abuse, but I just didn’t talk about it. So, what we said was, that it’s come to the place that Kay in particular, Kay and Rick feel like this is something they need to focus on and there’s some healing that needs to happen.
So we didn’t make an announcement to the church but, you know, there were quite a few people close to us who knew.
SMITH: Yeah, so keep talking. Walk us through what was happening there.
WARREN: It just took such a long time to really understand that what had happened to me was not my fault. Saying those words, even after all this time, sometimes saying the words: “It’s not your fault” is so powerful. Because I think we tell ourselves that really it was our fault in some way. I know some women feel incredibly responsible for the abuse that they’ve endured, and to have somebody say to you: “No, it wasn’t your fault and you don’t bear responsibility for that…”
That’s a message that takes a really long time to penetrate into our souls and bring the healing. So that one took a really long time, to also then to move from that to: “No, what was done was evil.” That’s another level, because then you have to grapple with the reality of evil—and its not out there, and it’s not in the news— no, the evil was done to me, and that is a stark reality to begin to accept.
And then to know that even some of the ways that some of the choices I made…they were acting out, by—
SMITH: They were consequences…
WARREN: —they were consequences of evil that had been done to me. And I didn’t have the cognitive ability as a twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen year old girl to know all of that. And then grieving the losses. Grieving the loss of innocence. Grieving the loss of sexuality that’s not tainted by evil. Grieving the loss of my own view of myself. Grieving the loss in marriage. So there’s just so much grief, and that takes time to process, to feel. To recover. To heal.