Your soul is weary; your pain weighs you down, but it has not conquered you. It is time to exhale the heartbreaking trauma of the past in order to live a life free from post-traumatic stress. 

In his book, Healing the Wounds of the Past, Jakes urges us to release the anguish of our past in order to fully occupy our present. The abuse endured has weighed heavy on us for too long; we worry about it, we relive it and fruitlessly use external measures to cope. We repress it trying to escape it, only to discover we unknowingly recreate it. It is time to inhale new air and break the cycle that perpetuates the trauma anew. Following T.D. Jakes’ insight and the examples of these four inspiring survivors, we recognize that it is possible to reconnect with our unburdened self in order to reclaim our strength.

1. Uncover The Wound: Victor Rivas Rivers, actor, author and former NFL player for the Miami Dolphins, endured brutal physical and mental abuse at the hands of his father. He witnessed his father viciously beat his mother and siblings for almost two decades. As a young man, he tapped into his inner strength to escape his father’s reign of terror. At age 12, Victor walked into a police department, took off all his clothes to show his bloody and bruised body and asked the policemen to arrest his father for what he was doing to his family. He was told that it was a “private family matter” and was driven back home. His indomitable will got him through; Victor fought until high school to be free of his father and to this day works as a vocal advocate for violence prevention.

Even at a young age, Victor knew to bring his darkness into the light. Jakes retells the story of his own other mother tending to a cut of his when he was a boy: “Whenever I think of these issues, I am reminded of what my mother used to say. [She] would take the Band-Aid off, clean the wound, and say, ‘Things that are covered don’t heal well. Mother was right. Things that are covered do not heal well.” 
Heal Your Heart By Tapping Into Your Strength!
Heal Your Heart By Tapping Into Your Strength!

As we begin, or continue, the healing process in our own lives we must recognize “things that are covered do not heal well.” Don’t bury your pain any longer, your silence is stifling you. Whether the abuse you suffered was mental, physical or sexual, don’t bury it under drugs, alcohol or meaningless relationships; say what happened to you and bring it to light. You are holding your breath instead of allowing the fresh air of truth to replenish your strength. Tell your brother what happened to you, tell your best friend that your soul is weary and if there is no one in your circle to trust, seek out help, whether at church or a therapist. As Victor’s life stands testament, speaking the truth and knowing that you did not cause this will allow you to breathe again. 

2. Embrace A Burning Desire For Your Future: At the age of 19, actress Gabrielle Union was raped at gunpoint after leaving her shift at work. She describes it as a time of great confusion and pain, but also of growth. She pushed herself to work at her craft and achieved commercial success as an actress. Despite her professional gains, she became increasingly frustrated with the media painting her as a “victim” and poor “survivor” –– she used her platform to get the message out that rape survivors should not be cast into the “helpless victim” role. She has worked tirelessly for women’s rights and was recently appointed by President Obama to the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women.

Gabrielle embodies what Jakes calls a “burning desire for the future,” as she never allowed herself to fall into further victimization; instead she used her strength in the daily pursuit of her future. T.D. Jakes writes that in order to heal from trauma, “You need a burning desire for the future, the kind of desire that overcomes past fear and inhibitions. You will remain chained to your past and all the secrets therein until you decide: Enough is enough!” When we have told our story and attempted to process the pain, it is not enough to sit on the sidelines of life. Let us be filled with a burning desire for our future. If your inner voice whispers that you do not have enough strength to pull out of the sadness, whisper back that you do –– one breath at a time! You are here, you overcame and now you can help others.

3. Allow Someone Into The Storm: For a young man from Rocky Mountain, North Carolina, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard turned his humble beginnings into remarkable success. Having won a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics, world boxing titles in five weight divisions and having earned over one hundred million dollars in purses, Sugar Ray used his platform to bring light to the horrors of sexual abuse, having survived it as a teenager. It took a lifetime to allow people into his struggle. In 2011, he publicly revealed that when he was a young man he was raped by a prominent Olympic coach and another man. His trust and confidence were shattered; he spent his whole life fighting to get back the inner strength of which he was robbed.

T.D. Jakes writes, “If you are a broken arrow, please allow someone into the storm. I know you usually do not allow anyone to come to your aid. I realize a breach of trust may have left you leery of everyone, but the walls you built to protect you have also imprisoned you.” Sugar Ray Leonard spent his life focusing on his craft and became his fiercest protector. In his autobiography, he discusses his use of cocaine and decades of emotional struggles. Now, he advocates for victims of sexual abuse to break their silence and seek healing. In your life, are you an expert at handling things on your own? Are you behind the walls you put up as protection? It is time to set foot out of your prison; it is time to “allow someone into the storm” in order to patch up the cracks in your heart. Self-reliance is surely admirable, but opening up to others to overcome your abuse does not make you weak.

4. Find The Power To Create: World-renowned writer Maya Angelou was brutally raped at the young age of seven. When the man who raped her was released from jail, she recalls speaking ill of him and was shocked to learn that he was beaten to death. As a result of her trauma, and in the innocence of a child thinking her words had made harm come to him, she stopped talking for five years. During her painful silence, she read every book she could get a hold of. The written word was her solace as she memorized various works –– whole plays and the sonnets of Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe’s works. She revealed at a conference called “Facing Evil” that, “When I decided to speak, I had much to say and many ways in which to say them ... rape on the body of a young person introduces cynicism ... In my case I was saved in that mutinous silence ... I was able to draw from human disappointments and triumphs to triumph myself.”

As a child, Maya tapped into a deep well of inner strength to survive her abuse. The written and spoken word became her vehicle of creativity and escape. Jakes writes, “Until the desire to go forward becomes greater than the memories of the past pain, you will never hold the power to create again. However, when the desire comes back into your spirit and begins to live in you again, it will release you from the pain.” If we allow it, the trauma of past abuse will rob each day of its peace. Stop replaying the criticisms of your mother in your head; stop reliving the emotional abuse suffered in a bad relationship and turn your thoughts to the stories of survivors. 


Channel the indomitable spirit of Dr. Angelou and create. Create the life you want, create the connected marriage you crave, create the workplace where you inspire; channel every thought of pain into an act of creation and self definition. As your heart rids itself of this burden, your inner strength grows; an unwritten, self-created stage of existence awaits.