Linda Settles: A Girl Among Thorns
By Shannon Woodland
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“He had a calendar in the utility room. And every time it would happen he would make me go in with him into that utility room and he’d put his hand over mine and he’d make me mark that date with him.”
Author Linda Settles was a victim of her father’s violence and sexual abuse. Living on top of a mountain in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, Linda recounts the sinister plan her father devised that held her hostage for 28 years. Her first memory of abuse came when she was five.
“I’d been placed in the bed between both my parents and when I woke up the next morning my underwear was on the floor and there was a sense of shame of just disgust.”
In Linda’s book, Redeeming the Treasures, she explains more thoroughly how her mother turned a blind eye to her husband’s abuse of her daughter.
“She definitely locked into seeing me as a rival. And that reinforced the shame, I felt so betrayed by my mom, because I knew there had been so many things, and I knew she knew and for whatever reason she wasn’t helping me.”
Raised in the church, Linda was aware that not every home was like hers, which increased her shame, but she didn’t know how to make it any different, it was her family’s dirty little secret.
“That was one of the hardest things because I knew that God was real. I accepted Christ as my savior so young that I don’t remember when it happened, I knew when there was that second work of the holy spirit in my heart and I became so committed to following Christ at the same time the trauma because I felt guilty and responsible for things that happen to me so I felt like I was letting Christ down.”
For years, Linda tried to escape her father’s assaults. But the violence would only intensify toward her mother or her brothers and sisters. So she’d give into her father’s demands to protect them. Outside of the home Linda was never allowed to have friends.
“How do I live? What is normal? I was basically in captivity even though I could come and go. So, you never had a social life.”
When Linda was 13 her mother left, a couple years later, Linda was forced to drop out of school and stay home. Her father kept guns at home to keep Linda under control. Still, Linda made no plans to escape until all the children were grown and out of the house.
After 28 years of virtual captivity, her siblings grown and gone from home, Linda had the courage to escape. She got on an airplane and flew to Michigan to live with her sister’s family. There she began a long a painful journey.
“I started screaming at the Lord, ‘where were you? Where were you?’ And just sobbing, all of it pouring out of me, ‘god where were you?’ And he spoke to me so gently, “I was in you.” I was a Christian. His spirit was in me. He says what we suffer He suffers, and my heart broke, then I cried, but I cried for him. Because he suffers when his children suffer. How do we wrap our brain around that? How do we? I won’t understand that till I see him face to face.”
In time, Linda met and married mike, a man who understood her life story and helped her heal.
“God placed this man in my life who would love me through it and he did.”
Linda learned to forgive her father, but it took years. She was also able to go back to school and she earned her doctorate in counseling. Her most recent book, A Girl Among Thorns, was written with a passion for helping others.
“As things have come into my life, as God has brought healing to me, knowing who God is so intimately had helped me to get through other things that have happened in my life. God knew from the beginning that He was going to make my life into something beautiful.”
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