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Abuse Victim Overcomes Confusion, Pain, and Secrecy

Shawn was molested at a young age, but revealing the abuse caused a rift in her church. She turned to drugs to escape, but she couldn't escape God. Read Transcript

I kept it a secret.

And that secret really was eating me up.

NARRATOR: The secret Shawn Sheeran was keeping

was that from 8 to 10-years-old, she

was molested by a man in the neighborhood.

He was also the pastor of their home church.

I remember walking away from that experience that happened

on several occasions feeling alone, feeling scared,

feeling confused, feeling oh why-- why me.

Why is this happening to me?

NARRATOR: Adding to the confusion

and pain was the father who was distant and uncaring.

I remember longing for his approval a lot.

And I wanted him to accept me and love me

and I never felt that I could really measure up to that.

I remember, in high school, I wanted him at my track meets.

I was in track and he never showed up.

I don't remember being angry at God.

But I do remember being angry at the church, angry at me

my father.

NARRATOR: At 16, she finally confided in the church youth

pastor about the molestation.

The senior pastor resigned, but that caused division

in the church and some blamed Shawn.

I felt hurt and I felt rejected, because this church


this church body was my family and it's

what I knew as a family.

And I felt rejected again.

I remember just--

I became more hardened as a person through that experience.

I put up self-defense mechanisms,

where I wouldn't let people hurt me anymore.

And I did things my way.

I wanted to be in control.

And I didn't care who I hurt.

NARRATOR: Deep down though, Shawn

still longed for the approval of men and became promiscuous.

When that proved empty, she got married at 22, to a pastor.

I was still angry with the church.

I was still angry with people who call themselves Christian.

And I put on a happy face.

And like, I put on my church face.

But deep inside, I was hurt.

I was struggling.

I was miserable.

Yeah, there was this deep, deep root

of just depression, rejection that I was still

carrying with me.

Am I really loved?

Am I really valued?

Am I being judged?

NARRATOR: After seven years of marriage,

the couple had a daughter, Kyra.

Meanwhile, Shawn was sinking further into depression

and began drinking.

A few years later, she began a ministry for the homeless,

hoping to make herself feel better.

She felt no judgment from people on the street

and found connection.

Feeling like, wow, this is cool.

I can really talk to these people.

And I felt--

I felt comfortable.

I felt like I had fun and I could--

I can relate to these people.

Venting my feelings, my frustrations and it

didn't take long where I was taking pills

from people on the street.

And I ran out of those and I started dabbling

with a little bit of heroin.

NARRATOR: Shawn's addictions and behavior

were destroying her marriage.

It was like I was sabotaging everything that I had.

I was-- and I didn't understand why.

But I was walking away from everything

that God had given me.

The drug took over and I was not myself at all.

And I-- I hurt.

I hurt a lot of people.

How can God ever forgive me now?

I've completely walked away.

NARRATOR: Eventually, Shawn's husband

divorced her, sold the house, and took

custody of their daughter.

Shawn isolated herself and started using crack.

I felt I was beyond redemption now.

I might as well go out and do whatever now.

There's no hope.

I was a mother.

Like, what am I doing?

My daughter is not with me now.

That's like the ultimate horrible thing

to feel, as a mother.

Ultimate shame.


NARRATOR: A few years later, she had

another baby with a boyfriend and named him Isaiah.

She kept them on the move, afraid

she was beyond even God's help.

But in 2011, Shawn finally decided

to stop running from God.

And I was laying in my bed.

And I felt this love, like I've never ever felt in my life,

come upon me and come in me and he spoke to me.

This love spoke to me.

And he said, I love you.

I have a plan for you.

I allowed you to go through what you went through.

Are you ready now?

Are you ready to surrender?

And at that moment I wept.

I wept from the depths of my being.

And I surrendered.

I surrendered to God.

I said, God, I'm ready.

NARRATOR: Shawn called her twin sister, Dawn,

who helped her get into a detox program and gave her

and Isaiah a place to live.

Shawn also found a counselor and a loving church

family who helped her heal from years of rejection.

I truly can say that I have forgiven, forgiven the pastor.

And I've forgiven people in the church.

And so every doubt, every lie that I believed was lifted off.

It was lifted off.

And that encounter with God changed me.

It changed me.

His love moved me.

And it changed me.

NARRATOR: Today, Shawn has a good relationship

with both of her children, as well as

Dave, whom she married in 2014.

I feel like I'm lovable, that I can be loved.

And it's such a beautiful thing knowing that I

belong to Jesus, that I am His.

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