Julie Woodley: A Clean Slate
By Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club
“He would threaten me with guns when he would sexually abuse me. That if I told anyone, he would kill me.”
Julie Woodley grew up in the Rocky Mountains. But her life was far from picture perfect. Beginning at six, her father began to molest her.
“My father would tell me that this is how daddies show their girls love,” Julie says.
Most of the sexual abuse occurred when Julie’s mother was away.
She says, “Whenever I knew my mother was gonna leave, my stomach just sunk ‘cause I knew something may happen.”
As Julie grew, the sexual abuse continued. The lines between “love” and “abuse” began to blur.
“This was the only time he ever said he loved me. So it became very confusing for me, because I thought this was the way I get loved by my dad. I then began to want him to be sexual with me or to hold me or to love me, because I was so absolutely hungry for love.”
By high school, Julie discovered that alcohol and marijuana seemed to numb her pain. But she never quite figured out how to be loved.
“I was very sexually addictive. I did everything I could to be held and to be loved by a man,” Julie says. “So I remember I would make a star in my diary when I would have sex.”
At age 17, Julie became pregnant through a high school fling. Her parents forced her to have an abortion.
“I felt like a rag doll that was just to be tossed to the side. It didn’t matter how much pain I was in; they didn’t care.”
After the abortion, Julie’s father became more violent…. One night he nearly killed her.
“I stumbled in the door, and he drug me to the fireplace. My father began to smash my head against the fireplace, [saying] ‘How dare you disobey me!’ My mother was there, and I remember the last thing she said before I became unconscious was, ‘My god, don’t kill her.’ I knew that she wasn’t saying it because she wanted me to live because she cared. I knew that she was saying it because she didn’t want that to be known that he killed his daughter. Status was absolutely everything in our family.”
Julie ran away to a friend’s home. The day after high school graduation, she bought a one-way train ticket out of town and would not see her parents for the next 17 years. In order to survive on the streets, she turned to prostitution.
“Now, I didn’t even have enough self-esteem to ask for money. I’d just ask for whatever I can get. A place to sleep. A place to survive. So I just ran from man to man,” she recalls.
One night, Julie received a phone call that a close friend had been murdered. She went on one last drinking binge and decided to end her life.
“I had a special bottle of pills in the medicine cabinet for this special night when I would take my life. I remember that night just frantically pacing back and forth and digging my fingernails into my hands just to stop from killing myself. I just sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. Finally, I had the courage to take the pills and throw them in the trash can. I remember that night just saying, ‘God save my life.’ Finally, I cried myself to sleep.”
In the middle of the night, Julie was startled awake by a voice.
“The voice said, ‘Julie, I love you.’ The voice got louder and louder until it woke me up, and it said, ‘Julie, I love you.’ I should have been afraid, but I was not afraid. I felt all this hot love just run right through my body and I thought, ‘Who could ever love me?’”
Julie began to search for the source of that voice. She enrolled in a local college where she met a Christian girl who invited her to a Bible study.
“They talked about the love of God, and I knew that they were talking absolutely to me. I knew that everybody else had this, but they talked about being born again. They said that I could start over again. My slate would be clean, and I accepted Christ into my life.”
As Julie started growing in her new faith, God began to remove the pain of her past and give her a new identity.
“It’s like all that had been taken away from me He began to replace it with His love. To my femininity. He began to replace the beauty that He had given me. He began to replace everything that had been ripped away from me.”
Julie married and had four children. But she knew she still had to forgive her father whom she hadn’t seen in 17 years. Finally, she went to his house to see him.
“My Dad was standing there, and I said, ‘Dad, I need to say that I forgive you for everything.’ For the first time in my life, I saw my father just begin to sob. He just collapsed on the ground and began to sob. He looked at me and said, ‘How could you ever ever forgive me?’ I said, ‘Dad, I can forgive you, because God has forgiven me for so much.’ I left and said goodbye. I felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted from me.”
Today, Julie is at peace within herself because of her relationship with Jesus Christ.
“I found someone that could love me, that understood me,” Julie says. “I found someone that wanted to be my best friend, that would never ever leave me. Someone that would forgive me for all of the sins that I had done.”
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