The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Experience Life Without Fear

By Christine McWhorter
The 700 Club -“Growing up on her family’s dairy farm in Pennsylvania’s Amish country, Kathy Smoker loved playing outdoors. She seemed happy and carefree, but she was keeping a secret she dared not tell anyone.

"I was being sexually abused as a child. My abuser stalked me. And he was over on the farm almost daily. It was a very close neighbor,” she said.

Kathy doesn’t remember when the abuse started, but she remembers how it made her feel.

“I was scared all the time, just terrified that he would find me. It got to the point where I didn’t want to go outside alone because if he was over, he would find me, and so I was always looking over my shoulders and just you know, anxiety and fear and a lot of confusion,” she said. 

Kathy tried hiding, but the man always found her. He convinced her that what he was doing was okay.

“And so I believed it. I got to the point in life where I really completely accepted it and believed it was the truth,” she said. 

But deep down, she knew it was wrong. Out of fear she told no one and the abuse lasted for years.   It didn’t stop until she was 14, when her family moved away.  By then, her self worth was shattered.

“As a teenager I had just an extreme amount of anger and self-loathing,” she said.  I really did have a lot going for myself, but I didn’t see it, couldn’t see it. Couldn’t see anything good in myself.

She was also overwhelmed with fear.

“Everywhere I went I was scared. I was scared to sleep alone, and I was scared to drive home alone at night.  I was afraid someone would abuse me again.  I was afraid of being killed. And I always had this fear someone was stalking me,” she said.  

When she was 18, she left home and moved in with a friend. Despite her Amish background, she had never accepted Christ. One Sunday, she went to church with her roommate.

“I just wanted to know something greater than myself, because myself wasn’t doing very good,” she said.  

She gave her life to Christ and left the Amish way of life.

“As a believer, I discovered that I really need to seek God with all my heart. I got to the place where I trusted God and it deepened my relationship,” she said. 

But something was still missing. She was beginning grow closer to God, but she was still dealing with fear, and started having panic attacks.

Now 22, she married an old friend named Benji. She had never told anyone about the abuse, but she felt she had finally found someone she could trust.

“I felt safe with him emotionally. I just knew that he wasn’t going to judge me for one thing, and I also knew that he could help me. Somehow I knew that. I knew that he would care and he would take me serious and he would listen. And he did,” she said. 

One night Kathy had another panic attack.

“I just felt suffocated, just felt all this anxiety and terrible fear, and couldn’t even function,” she said. 

“I was crying and Benji was holding me and all of a sudden he felt compelled to ask me ‘Honey, have you ever talked to God in a real way about all the hurt and the pain, all the stuff, all the junk in your life? Have you ever just laid it out on the table before God and said, ‘God just take this from me’? And I said no.  And he said, ‘maybe you should.’”

“I went into the bathroom, knelt in the bathroom and I just, for the next twenty minutes, I just opened up to God and I said, ‘Just take everything’ and I laid it all out in detail I explained everything that was in there that was hurting me that was keeping me from God.”

“I just spelled it out for God and I could feel his presence so strong and he just took it from me. And I never had a panic attack again after that night,” she said. 

Kathy went to a Christian counselor and over time, she was able to shed the feelings of anger, and self-hatred.

“God gave everybody a choice and the same as he gave my abuser the choice to abuse me, he also gave me a choice as to what I will do with it,” she said. 
"I had a good counselor to help me work through things, and I had God. And I had people around me that were key and important in helping me on my healing journey."

“My thoughts about myself have really, really changed. And I can honestly say there is no self-hatred anymore.”

Today, she and Benji have four daughters. Kathy mentors young women who are survivors of sexual abuse.  She loves to tell them how Jesus freed her from the pain of her past.

“Jesus is the reason that I can enjoy life, really. He’s my hope for tomorrow and he’s definitely brought me healing form my past. And he’s the reason I’m free of the things that were holding me back, the things that were messing up my life. And I’m so thankful for that,” she said.   

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