“In 2016, my dream came true,” said Michele Naudin. “I was going to become a lawyer. I knew this was how God was going to use me to bring Him glory. I wrote my admissions essay based on my desire to advocate for victims of sexual abuse. Somebody close to me was abused years prior, and from that I grew a deep heart for victims of sexual abuse. The essay was titled, ‘The Woman with No Name,’ because many victims of sexual abuse never feel safe enough to tell their story. I was passionate about speaking up for all the women who felt nameless and voiceless. I felt I could be their voice.
“Before law school, I went to undergrad at a school in Arkansas and went to church with friends and teammates. There, I found what Christianity truly is. I learned that knowing Jesus wasn’t about having my life together. I learned that I actually needed to accept Christ to have eternal life and be forgiven for my sins (Romans 6:23). After accepting the gospel, I had to do a lot of rewiring in my life. I could no longer find my identity in attention from men, achievements, and success. It was a very confusing time to navigate a new city, my freshman year of college, and a new faith in Christ at 18 years old.
“I thankfully had a great community around me and awesome believers in my life to support me. They taught me how to walk with Jesus from square one, read the Bible, pray, and have a relationship with God. It was a great experience with people around me discipling me, and eventually I was discipling others.
“One month into law school, my own nightmare began. I became one of the voiceless women. I was raped. For years, I felt like nobody could possibly understand what I was going through. Recovering from sexual abuse is like a personal hell: nothing could soothe me, nothing could excite me, and I was just alive. Everybody around me was experiencing the joys and pains of life, but I felt empty inside.
“All of my anxiety was easily blamed on law school to outsiders. I was so bright and energetic before. Was it law school that took that from me, was it a violent rape that I hid from myself and others for years, or both? I threw myself into my studies to avoid the pain almost no one knew about. I coped in ways I’m not proud of. And I stopped believing that God was good.
“I didn’t go to church for the first two years of law school. When I was tired of isolating, I finally shared with some people close to me. They encouraged me to go to counseling and start getting help to process and begin healing.
“I came to a point where I knew I couldn’t avoid it anymore. Even though I was mad and confused, I remembered what it was like to walk with Him. I had to go back to that. Everything else I tried was not working. This was the first big thing I’d gone through as a believer that taught me that the Christian life isn’t perfect and there will be hardships. God is not a fair-weather God. I realized the God that was with me when I was proclaiming the gospel in college is the same God that was with me when I was traumatized, broken, crying, and alone. He’s not scared of my pain.
“From there, I started going to counseling and Courageous Hope, the sexual abuse recovery ministry at Watermark. My tendency was to isolate. I didn’t want anyone to see what I was going through. In Courageous Hope, I was surrounded by other women who also experienced similar pain, struggles, fear, anxieties, and hurt. That doesn’t happen many other places for believers. It was really special.
“Now, I am equipped to lament. I wouldn’t wish my story on anyone, but I am no longer ashamed of my own story. I want people who’ve experienced similar traumas to know that they are not alone and there are ministries to work through it with other people who love Jesus. You don’t have a scarlet letter on you, and you don’t have to feel trapped by nonexistent chains. God loves you and cares for you. You can be free.
“Somehow, in His perfect timing, God drew me near to Him, brought (and continues to bring) healing, and has begun to reignite my spirit. He has reminded me that a life surrendered to Him will never be pain-free, but it’s better with Him than without.
“Now, some pain has subsided, and some pain has worsened. My hope in Christ is slowly, but surely, being restored. My trust that something good will come from this is growing. And the voice that I once lost is returning.”
Led by women who have found healing from past sexual abuse, Courageous Hope provides safe space for women to process the trauma of sexual abuse while looking to God’s Word for hope and healing.
MENd is a recovery ministry that helps men be strengthened in Christ, surrounded by community, and supported in their walk towards freedom from sexual abuse.