Shame Off You: Healing from Childhood Sexual Exploitation

By Amy Kratzer

God's Brave Women - Amy's Story


When I share my story of childhood exploitation, I’m often asked, “How could this happen to you?” The answer to that question isn’t an easy one, but I do know this: Despite my circumstances, God has redeemed me and continues to heal me each and every day. He is Jehovah Rapha—the God who heals!


To understand the how, I have to take you back to my childhood and the circumstances that gave my abusers the opportunity to hurt me.


My parents each had struggles of their own, even before I was born. My Mom loved the Lord but lost her Mama at the age of 6. While life was difficult, she kept her eyes on the Lord and was the one to lead me to faith in Jesus. For that, I’m forever grateful!


Everyone has both good and bad tendencies, but for my Dad, the bad seemed to overtake the good most of his life. He loved women and battled sexual addictions. This erratic behavior led to an unstable home life, and by the time I was 18, I had lived in 19 different homes.


I was the baby of four ragamuffin kids, just trying to survive. As a gregarious, tow-headed girl who just wanted to be loved, I was an “easy target” for the neighborhood acquaintance who seized on an opportunity to take advantage of me. A day that took my innocence away, causing me to hide away from everyone—even myself—for so many years.


I carried the guilt and shame of what had happened to me for 30 years, all the way to a little mud hut in Africa nine years ago. One childhood memory that had always stayed with me was reading National Geographic magazines. I remember looking at those beautiful brown-faced women with the prettiest white teeth and beaded jewelry. The images stayed with me all through my life. Little did I know, God was speaking to my heart at an early age, knowing the work He would eventually call me to.


 

"I carried the guilt and shame of what had happened to me for 30 years, all the way to a little mud hut in Africa nine years ago."

 

There I stood while on a mission trip to Africa, ready to share a message on brokenness to the most welcoming, brown-faced women who carried an undeniable light in their eyes. Little did I know, the message I was teaching them was first meant for me. As the women sang, it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard.


Warm, buttery tones, piercing my heart as the Holy Spirit spoke tenderly to me. The first chain of shame fell off and I started to heal. God was loving me back to life, He always was, I just needed to receive it. It was easy for me to tell someone how much God loved them, but so much harder for me to believe that for myself.


 

"God was loving me back to life, He always was, I just needed to receive it. It was easy for me to tell someone how much God loved them, but so much harder for me to believe that for myself."

 

When I came back from my mission trip, I felt God call me to start a non-profit organization that empowered exploited women. I’m just an ordinary girl loved by an extraordinary God who took Him at His word. I was living out my redemption story, and I wanted that so badly for others as well.


 

"I’m just an ordinary girl loved by an extraordinary God who took Him at His word."

 

I knew God was doing something new and shortly after I returned home, I felt Him speak Isaiah 43:19 as a rhema word over my life and what was to come.


“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness and streams in the desert.”


God took this broken girl and set me free in a Mozambican village. In six years, the Girl Set Free mission touched nine countries, thousands of artisans through micro-enterprise and job skills training, and empowered the rescue and restoration of 400 exploited women and children.


So here’s my invitation to you as I continually speak this over my heart too: Our greatest witness is our “with”ness with people. We don’t have to do something impressive to do something impactful, and we don’t have to do something big to do something important.


 

"Our greatest witness is our “with”ness with people. We don’t have to do something impressive to do something impactful, and we don’t have to do something big to do something important."

 

We just have to take God at His word:


* You have been created in the Imago Dei, the Image of God.

* You are a person who has been redeemed, chosen, adopted, and qualified.

* Your weaknesses are not a liability but a way for the strength of God to be displayed through your life.

* You are intimately known by a God who has anointed and appointed you, for such a time as this.


Let’s not underestimate what God can do through us as we are obedient to him. Let’s cling to God’s redeeming grace and mercy— a total replacement of shame and the “not enoughs” that keep us from becoming who God knows we are: His.


 

Have you signed up for this month's BRAVE WOMEN SERIES GIVEAWAY yet?!


We want to celebrate the THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the BRAVE WOMEN SERIES by blessing TWO LUCKY WINNERS! 💛


Every month until the end of the year, we will be featuring key women who have written for the series and shared their courageous God stories with us. We just love what He is up to with His Girls, and that includes you, our BRAVE READERS!


Enter this month's giveaway by clicking HERE for a chance to win one of TWO incredible prizes: https://kingsumo.com/g/cmg2eu/october-brave-women-series-giveaway

Winner 1: $225 Gift Card of Your Choice!


Winner 2: Brave Women Bundle (valued at over $200!) including:


* Brave Mug from Becky Beresford’s Brave Women Boutique

* No Shame Shirt from Carla Edmisten

* Raising Arrows Necklace

* The Right Kind of Strong by Mary A. Kassian

* Breathe Again by Niki Hardy

* em.bold.en by Amy and Blair Debrucque

* Alone But Not Alone by Maria Fonseca

* Praying Through the Storms of Life Bible Study and Prayer Journal by Wendy Wallace

* Victory Over Affliction by Wendy Wallace

* Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

* Be Still by Sarah E. Westfall

* Hey Mama! Pray by InstaEncouragements

* 21 Days of Fasting and Praying by LaVonda McCullough

* Write the Word Cultivate Prayer Journal by Cultivate What Matters

* I am Loved 4-Week Bible Study Course by Alicia Michelle

* Hand Made Natural Gemstones Beads Genuine Leather Wrap Bracelet

* $15 Starbucks Card


What an incredible list of prizes! Make sure to share this info with a BRAVE friend (or 10!) so they don't miss out.


This month's Brave Women Series Giveaway runs 10/21-10/29. Random winners will be selected via KingSumo on 10/31/21 and notified within 72 hours. US residents shipping only. This is not endorsed by anyone except the bunch of us. By entering you agree to receive email encouragement from the featured Brave Women. Feel free to unsubscribe at any time. Thank you for entering, friend! You are valued, brave, and loved! ♡


 

About Amy


Amy Kratzer is a social entrepreneur, visionary and sought-after speaker and activist. Known for her ability to effectively communicate a message of hope, Amy has a heart for reaching the lost, strengthening the local church and championing the cause of justice. Alongside her husband, Amy founded Girl Set Free after a life changing trip to Africa.


Having been exploited as a child, Girl Set Free flows from her passion to empower the rescue and restoration of those in sexual slavery so they can be given freedom, independence, and the chance at a better story. Amy is called to champion women in their stories, and she often sees the person in the room who's over-looked. Having dedicated her life to humanitarian and international work, Amy brings conversation of faith and social-justice to the table.


She loves spending time with her family and being outdoors. She is currently working towards a biblical studies degree and lives with her husband on 10 acres in the countryside of Dalton, Ohio. You can connect with Amy on her website amykratzer.com or follow along on Instagram and Facebook.


To learn more about Girl Set Free, visit their website girlsetfree.org, as well as Instagram and Facebook.