Since then, Patty Hite has joined the OSA team as a facilitator. In our first year, we were overwhelmed by the response to Overcoming Sexual Abuse. We were amazed by the number of people, both men and women, who seemed eager for someone to bring up the topic so they could tell their own stories. Some of them had never told anyone of their abuse and others had shared their past, yet were still living with its crippling effects.
Though our journeys are far from over, we’re well on our way to embracing new life. The things we share are the tools we’ve picked up along the way, the truths we’ve found useful. The new life we’ve found is thrilling, exhilarating, sometimes scary, surprising and it’s ours! If you share our history, our sincere hope is that you join us along the healing path.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the truth. Truth is stability in a chaotic world; it stands solid in the midst of brokenness. Truth is safe.
As a kid, my hero was teen detective, Nancy Drew, who boldly investigated clues and lived to solve mysteries. Nothing fascinated her more than finding the truth. In my teen years, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple was my favorite amateur sleuth. A sweet, unassuming, grandmotherly-type, nobody could fool her. Miss Marple always saw past the deceits and facades, even when the police were stumped. I still enjoy crime novels and picture myself catching the thieves and murderers next to the fictional detectives.
Though I’ve always loved the truth, my childhood sexual abuse meant most of my life was based on lies and secrets. Instead of the criminals hiding the truth, it was my own mind concealing it. For years, I repressed the memory of my own abuse and denied my daughter’s abuse as well. I imagined myself an eagle-eye detective, yet the truth remained hidden to me.
My recovery from sexual abuse has been the discovery of truth. Telling the truth about my past was the first step in healing. Every step has come by overturning the lies the abuse taught me. Each painful feeling leads me to a clue; each haunting memory is a puzzle piece that leads me to the truth. The healing process reminds me of a murder mystery, except that my goal isn’t to find out “Whodunit?” Rather, it’s about “Who am I?” My restoration is the process of uncovering my distorted image to find my true, genuine self. I love truth.
I live in Los Angeles with my husband, Don. We share two sons, a daughter and four grandchildren. I’m delighted by sunset walks on the beach, chocolate, people-watching, chai lattes, cozy spaces, goofy adventures with my daughter, scented candles and purple pens. My passion is writing and speaking about personal growth and inspiring people toward wholeness.
When I meet people and they ask what I do, I typically roll my eyes. I live in Hollywood – Land of the Superficial. I don’t want to be just a job title or a stepping stone to someone. I want people to ask who I am as a person. So, who am I? I’m a girl who’s pretty spunky at times – maybe even mischievous. Yes, I was sexually abused by my father, but that’s not who I am.
All my life I had grand ideas of who I wanted to be when I grew up. Then, I actually grew up and found myself stuck. I was living the 9 to 5 office life that my dad always wanted for me, all while dreaming of the day I could break free and let my creative juices spill over.
And one day it all happened. When I was 24 I finally made the decision to report my dad to authorities. It was my first “No” to him and oh, it felt good. I was no longer under his control and who he destined me to be. My “No” to my father was a big fat “YES” to my dreams and the life I always wanted to live. I could do what I wanted, be the person that I wanted. I was finally free to be me. I’m still in the process of finding who I am apart from what the abuse taught me, but this journey has been one that is well worth it.
The search for who I am has led me down that creative path I’d yearned for so long. I picked up my brushes again and got to work as a freelance makeup artist – something my dad said “No” to long-long ago. I’m finally being the me I’ve longed for, but was never allowed to be.
So, who am I? I’m Bethany Ruck – artist, jokester, performer, fighter, with a touch of eccentric. I love to push the barriers of creativity. Bring on the art! Everyday I get to ask myself, “What are we going to make today?”, and I think to myself, “Yes, I’m finally who I want to be.”
As the youngest of eight children, I saw and experienced many dysfunctional things. The most life impacting was walking in on my dad having sex with my sister. I grew skilled in keeping the ‘secret’. I was sexually abused by many family members and friends, though I blocked out those memories that were too shocking. By the time these memories came back, I had already been in a physically, emotionally and sexually abusive relationship for ten years.
Fleeing my childhood memories and my abusive ex-husband became my greatest goal. Without the internet and or any money, my only resource was the library. I grew stronger as I read stories of other survivors and I was able to escape my abuser. Though I left him and his control, also left me with a shattered identity. I believed I was no good, worthless, weak, fearful and hopeless.
With the same tenacity that kept me alive during the abuse, I continued on my quest to find myself and to grow strong enough never to succumb to abuse again. For thirty years I have continued to heal and with the help of God and all the information I could obtain, I feel safe. It is easier now to relive the past and it is wonderful not to blame myself. I feel whole again and honestly say that I like who I have become and love myself enough to stand proudly and shout to the world that I am an Overcomer.
I am an advocate against abuse of any kind and will pull others along, walk beside those that need a shoulder to lean on, or gently push those who may be stuck in a rut of abuse.
I found true love in my late husband, Lonnie. I’ve been blessed with four wonderful children and five grandchildren. Through my healing, I’ve discovered hidden talents. I spend many hours locked up in my wood shop creating masterpieces for my family and also enjoy crocheting and quilting. Life is good!