We’ve all got it.

So WHAT is it?

Crud is the emotion caused by sin.

I was hurt sexually by my mother’s boyfriend. Some of the emotions that I felt that are attached to that abuse would be pain, fear, sadness and self-doubt. My mother finds out and blames me and physically abuses me for it happening. Some of the emotions that I felt because of that abuse were loneliness, fear, sadness, self-blame, and pain. Then, I grow up, Jesus saves me and I forgive this man. I forgive my mother.


But…my CRUD isn’t gone.

It comes and goes based on what is happening in my life and how I deal with it or if I refuse to deal with it. It can manifest itself as self-loathing, not feeling good enough, unworthiness, not trusting people, fearing that people will hurt me, feeling like no one will truly love me.


So how does that crud impact my life today?


Let’s say I meet someone new, become friends and trust them with private information and they betray that trust and share it with someone else, it can trigger emotions from my past crud. Even though I’ve already forgiven the man and my mother, I can still feel emotions about what happened to me.


Contrary to some, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t forgiven them. I HAVE.


If someone hits you, you can forgive them. But you will still feel the bruise. If someone comes up to you and raises an arm, you might even flinch for a while after that, because that’s what you felt when someone raised a hand to you before. The fear that we felt causes us to REACT even though there is forgiveness. Forgiveness is mandatory for Jesus followers. Christ forgave us so we must forgive others. 


Even when I choose to forgive the friend that betrayed my trust, I might feel emotions like, “Why did they betray me? Was I not important enough for them to keep my trust? I must not be lovable or worthy to have someone be my friend. People who should know better never do better by me because I’m not worth it.”


And so I must work through that CRUD. If I don’t, it WILL spiral out of control and become my new belief. Since we live in a world of sin, things WILL keep happening that will cause an emotional response.  Emotions will always be felt based on that sin and will continuously have to be dealt with. CON-TIN-U-OUSLY!



CRUD that isn’t dealt with, can become SIN acted out in our lives. Sin is anything that keeps us from living in a full relationship with Jesus Christ.


You can try to pretend it’s not there. You can try to ignore it. You can lie to yourself and place a bandaid on it but if you don’t clean out the wound, no bandaid in the world will help heal it. Sometimes the crud gets there at the hands of someone else. But sometimes the crud gets there because of us. And it’s that CRUD that comes out when we are squeezed by all the chaos, demands and pressures of this world. 


My heart is that we ALL would deal with our crud.


The bible says, “You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Dealing with crud is hard. It takes time. It takes prayer. It takes vulnerability and truthfulness. Jesus Christ came into the world not to condemn the world but to save the world. To save US.


Jesus Christ can handle our CRUD. He can heal, save and reconcile. He can forgive. We must DEAL with the crud – take hold of it, get our hands dirty in order to get in there and clean it out. Sharing our CRUD with others and how Jesus is healing and growing us through the crud is the most powerful story of His love and grace.



Why don’t you share and let us pray together.

Watch what Jesus can do.







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My story doesn’t seem as bad as yours, but I still deal with stuff. I was raped over several years by a close family member starting when I was about 12. By the time I was 16 I was using sex to try and cover up all of my emotional problems. I felt dirty and nasty, and like God could never love me. But, Jesus got hold of my heart, and through some intense counseling, I began to see that I am a beautiful reflection of His glory. I really have felt like I was totally free from all the stuff, (you call it crud), but something happened this week that just knocked me over, and I’m not sure how to deal with it. I found out that the guy who had been raping me died. Hearing that just brought everything back, and I think the main thing I’m feeling is anger and rage. I thought I would feel some kind of closure, but it’s like it opened up the old wounds again, you know? I know that I should forgive him so I can be free myself, and I really think I did, but I’m suddenly feeling all this. What do you think I should do?

I can’t believe that I am writing to you. I found your story in a very unusual place. Did you know that your name comes up in the middle of a porn search? If you didn’t know, sorry to break it to you. I thought it was something different. Your story was not what I expected. For some reason I couldn’t stop reading. I guess it’s true that God works in mysterious ways. I don’t know what else to say to you but I had to write. Your story is different then mine, but the same, too. I was hurt by my mother who was an alcoholic. She hurt me over and over again and I just took it. So I’ve always felt WEAK. I left home as quickly as I could and I have gone through women like they mean nothing. No matter what I do, I can’t trust them. There is a woman at my work who has been nothing but kind and good to me. I know that she cares for me and would like to take the relationship deeper. But no matter what I do, I still keep my true self hidden from her. I won’t let her in. I have pushed her away, making her feel like it’s her fault or that something is wrong with her. She scares the $%& (crap) out of me. I know that I have feelings for her but something inside me won’t let go. After reading your story, I KNOW that I have CRUD. (laughing at what a joke I am and how I didn’t know this about myself) I want to be free. I want to be strong. How do I deal with this anger and hurt inside of me? How do I forgive? I can tell that God has made a difference in your life. Is that real? What do I do?

Sonya, you don’t know me but I feel like I know you. Right now, I’m sitting in a hotel room. I have thought that everything is hopeless. Everything I’ve tried to do to better myself has blown up in my face.

I have no excuses for what I’m about to say other than I realized I’ve never dealt with my crud.

When I was 14, my uncle began to abuse me. At first I was so shocked, but then I felt ashamed because I liked it. Not what he was doing to me, but how it felt in my body. I knew that something was wrong with me and that I was dirty and believed that I was not worthy of love. I slept around with lots of guys. Last year, I got pregnant. I was using drugs and to be honest, I can’t tell you what I was on during that time. By some miracle, that baby came out healthy. I gave her up for adoption and I feel like she’ll have a shot at a happy life with those people.
Then I met a guy who, all I can say was different. He wouldn’t put up with my SX%T and he made me start going to church with him. I fought that relationship with everything I have. I just wasn’t good enough for him. He’s one of the kindest, sweetest guys I’ve ever met. Then he went and did something and I just freaked out. He asked me to marry him. I mean, why would he do something so stupid? What can I possibly offer him? He has no idea how bad I am or what I’ve done. He is good and perfect and would never hurt anyone.

So I got in my car and I drove. I didn’t know where I was going but I wanted to get out of there. I stopped at a restaurant on the highway and one of the waitresses was watching something on youtube. I heard her and another girl talking about this lady who sings and who was hurt sexually when she was a kid. So I asked them what they were looking at. I pulled up your video and watched the whole thing and sobbed till I had no more tears left. The one waitress just kept coming over and filling up my coffee. She would rub my back and make sure I was okay. I don’t know what happened exactly, but I know that I am saved. I asked Jesus to save me and I believe that he did. The waitress (her name is Vicki) prayed with me and said that she is a Christian like you and she explained some more things to me.

So I came here to this hotel. I was so scared to be rejected but i felt like God wanted me to call Jake. It didn’t even ring twice and he picked up the phone. We talked and talked. He kept saying, “I love you, baby and I’m coming to get you.” And I just kept crying.

He’s here now and we’ve talked for hours about everything. I was afraid he would hear these things about me and never look at me the same again. He told me that he loved me, that he wanted to marry me and that he had been praying for me to give Jesus my heart and he prayed that if he got a second chance to love me, that he would be man enough to take care of such a precious gift. Yes, more tears.
I feel like a brand new person. Like the weight of all of that pain is gone. I know that I’ve got a lot to deal with but I’m READY to deal with my crud. I know that I have forgiveness and love from Jesus. I’ve got Jake, now too. He’s committed to helping me get the help that I need to heal and to hold me accountable. You are the 2nd person to hear my testimony. Jake was the first. But I knew that I HAD to write to you and tell you how thankful I am for your story and for your courage to share it. You gave me the greatest gift. You made me feel hope. You told me about Jesus. Jake and I are reading your blog and I think he IS my Rick. I just can’t believe how good Jesus is to me. Someday I want to hug your neck. I’m praying that when I’m healthier, that I will be able to share my story with others like you did with me. Thank you, Sonya. I just wanted you to know you have made a difference in my life forever.

My name is Dan. I am 31 years old and I live in New York. I’m not sure how I found your website but once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I just got done watching your video and I have to say…I was blown away by your courage and how passionate you are about your faith. I’ve heard many sob stories but something about yours drew me in. Sonya, you are a light in the darkness. And your voice?!?!?! I listened to your songs. You sing your pain like you know how we all feel. That’s a gift. You have a beautiful voice! I’m thinking where in the world did this beautiful spirit come from? After all of that pain…you smile like everything’s gonna be alright. How are you so happy and how do you let people inside? Your words really got to me. I’ve never had this kind of reaction to anything like this before. I had to write to you.
I am successful. I’ve worked hard to get where I am today. Some would say that I’m ruthless in business. I wasn’t always this driven but something happened that changed my life forever. When I was 16 I began a relationship with a family friend who was 41. She was beautiful, exciting and she knew what I needed before I could even figure any of that out. She taught me everything I know about sex and women. But she also taught me that love isn’t real.
When I was 17, I had bought her a Christmas gift and decided to surprise her with it before the holidays. I found her in bed with some guy and something just snapped. From that day on I became obsessed with making something of myself. I withdrew from my family and went away to college. I graduated top of my class and was recruited right out of college by an investment firm in NYC. I’ve had lots of women in my life. I’d like to say that they mattered to me but I’d by lying. What happened with that woman really messed me up. I realized that I haven’t dealt with it at all. Yes, I have some major CRUD. I’m cold and I find myself only allowing ‘no strings attached’ encounters. But it’s getting old. I feel lonely but can’t bring myself to let go of that past.
After watching your video, I think about what that man did to you and how alone you must have felt when your own mother blamed you. How did you not give up? How could you forgive that? I know that I haven’t been able to get past what happened to me. So that got me thinking. It has to be your faith in God that allowed you to go on even after such painful abuse. I’ve never been religious but I feel like I might need to explore this more. So what do I do? Is it real? What does it mean to be saved? I feel like I need to know more. I’m hoping you have some answers.

Talk about Crud, I’ve had my fair share. I feel like my heart might explode. I have been in abusive relationships for years and seem to just always “end up” there. It started when I was 14 and I had sex with a friend of my parents at our house on one 4th of July weekend. I was convinced that this was it and we would be in love forever. I soon realized that he was using me and I pursued him to the point that I stalked him all the time. He had to take out a restraining order on me and then my parents found out. My dad hated this guy and that caused issues between me and my parents and then I finally turned 18 and moved out. Within a month, that same man was pursuing ME! I was so confused and he explained that he had to make it seem like it was my fault and that he was not interested in me because of our ages. He said that he was “in love with me” the whole time and that he knew he just had to wait.

It was a year of wild sex and drinking and then he moved on. He got married and started a family and I was left with nothing. I moved on to harder drugs and more sex with anyone I wanted to be with. I finally got arrested for possession and got some counseling.

I got clean got a good job and am in a serious relationship for the first time in my life. But something keeps holding me back.

I was talking to a girl I work with and she told me about your website. She said I should check it out so I did. I was blown away by your story. And everything just clicked that I had never dealt with my crud. I haven’t let go of the anger or disappointment that I’ve felt about that man or myself. I let my family down and things have never been the same between us. I know they love me but I can see how disappointed they are when they look at me and think “it could’ve been so different if you weren’t such a slut”.

You say that you’ve forgiven the man that hurt you and your mom. How? How did you do that?

I really want to be free from this pain and to be able to give my whole heart to this guy I’m dating. Can you help me?


Hi Sonya. I don’t know how to begin so here it goes. We just wanted to let you know that we love your blog. We heard about it from another couple that were having some marriage issues and were ready to call it quits. The thing nobody knew was that my wife and I were struggling, too. So one night we were over at their house and they came right out and asked us if we were okay. At first I was embarrassed because I didn’t want anyone to know about our failures. But they told us about this “lady” who talks about her story and openly talks about sex and “dealing with your crud.” And later that night, my wife went to your website. She started reading parts of it out loud. Your story just drew us in. We’d never heard anyone talk about sex in that way and felt like we could relate to everything you were saying. And before we knew it, 3 hours had gone by.

Your articles about “Sex – It’s What’s NOT Happening!” were right on the money about us. We were broken. We never had sex anymore. I guess I gave up trying because I was sick of the rejection. My wife feels like she’s not pretty enough. No matter what I tell her, she never believes me. I guess I got tired of that, too. I wanted her to have faith in what I say, in me. She never seemed to trust me. So we just kept reading your stuff. One thing led to another and we started sharing our crud with each other. You were right. When we refused to deal with it, it made us do STUPID things. Like withdraw.

We started going to couples counseling and we’ve been “dealing with our crud” ever since. It’s been hard. We both have issues that started way before we got together and never dealt with those and then brought them into our marriage. My wife has some self esteem issues from her relationship with her parents and I felt like I wasn’t good enough. We were not communicating. We both assumed things and didn’t know what we were doing in marriage or sexually. I’ve made many mistakes with my wife. She’s one of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever known and I almost threw that away. I feel like the Lord sent us to your website to reveal our CRUD. We feel free!

On this 4th of July weekend, we wanted to tell you that – not only are we having sex and communicating all the time now, (probably too much information) but we are expecting a baby in September. If it’s a girl, we are going to name her “Sonya.” We feel lead to do this and pray that she is strong and wise and loves Jesus like her namesake. We hope that makes you smile today. I never thought we’d be at this place. Not in a million years. A baby is what I was scared to dream about and now it’s happening.

We thank you for your courage in sharing your story and for how you love all of us enough to tell us about Jesus. We are going to a good church (we’re going to the same one that the couple who told us about you is going to-I hope that they share their story with you…you’ve made an impact on them, too) and we aren’t afraid to deal with our crud anymore. God bless you as you continue to share your story and make us deal with our crud. We’re so grateful to God for what he’s doing in our lives and yours. Happy 4th of July!

ps. My wife also thanks you for your words of encouragement about her struggles with self worth and the sex tips-as she smiles that sexy smile at me…I thank you, too! 😉

Hi Sonya. I just got done watching your story and I have to say that I was blown away by all that you’ve had to suffer when you were young. A little bit about my story – I am 38 years old, I have 4 children and a wonderful husband. When I was a teenager, I was introduced to sex by an older friend of my sisters. So, needless to say, I was sexually active as a teen. I wasn’t abused. I didn’t have anyone forcing me. I just chose to have sex with a bunch of different guys. It made me feel powerful and sexy to have that kind of power over a guy. I haven’t had to deal with anything like what you’ve gone through. I really never thought about having issues myself. I’ve felt like I should just be thankful for what I do have. But then your words washed over me “people who should’ve known better but didn’t do better by me” and everything became clear. I never had the attention from my father. I wanted it but he never gave it to me. He was consumed with working. He was always working and didn’t seem to notice me. He acted like I was an inconvenience and I knew that he didn’t really like me. I remember one time I was getting ready for a date and he said, “Livy, there are only two kinds of girls in this world. Girls who are pretty and girls who are smart enough to know that they aren’t.” He told me that guys would never want to be with a girl like ME. Guys would only want one thing from someone like me. I was 14. It was shortly after that, that I got introduced to sex and how to get a guy to like me. I never made the connection before watching your story. I wanted to be loved so badly that I slept with any guy that paid me attention. And my dad was right. They never did want to be with ME. They wanted sex. That’s it. And I freely gave that away because I convinced myself that they must have some kind of feelings for me because they kept coming around.

I met my husband at a concert and we fell in love. He’s the only one that ever saw me for me. We have a good marriage but there have been struggles. Not from him, but because of me. Now I understand why. I had kids quickly after we got married because I needed to be loved. Kids love you unconditionally. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m thankful to be a mom and to have them in my life. I love my kids with all I have but I still feel empty sometimes. And that makes me sad because my husband and kids mean everything to me. I don’t know how to explain it but I’m gonna try. I feel like no matter how hard I try or what I do, no one will ever truly love me. I feel like I’m always chasing love and having to be good enough or do something really nice for someone in order for them to love me. Something about me is not good enough. I’m tired of this.

So I watched your story and I’m bawling because I know that I was supposed to hear your words today. I’ve never been religious and I only went to church a few times in my life. I started thinking if Jesus can forgive her and she can forgive the ones that hurt her, maybe there is hope for me. I want to be the best wife and mom I can be. I know that this “crud” has paralyzed me from becoming what I want to be. I prayed and asked Jesus to forgive me and asked him to help me deal with my crud. My next step is going to be to go to counseling. I think I need to. I had called my husband to tell him what happened and he was crying happy tears because this has hurt him and he’s been so worried about me. He said that he knew there was deep hurt but he didn’t know how to help me. He said that he loved me and that he’d do anything that I needed him to do to work through this.

How can I thank you for what you’ve done for me and my family? I don’t know if you understand how much you’ve helped me and so many others with your story and how you don’t judge anyone but you simply tell us about what Jesus has done for you. You make us deal with our crud so we can be free. That’s what I’m praying for. Freedom and peace. I feel different. I feel like I’ve been released from years of guilt and hurt about my dad. I know that I have more crud to deal with but I’m not afraid to deal with it now. I know I can. You helped me to believe in myself.

Thank you and god bless you, Sonya.

I love love love you Miss Sonya!!! You are the best teacher in the world and have impacted my life in such an amazing way! You are an inspiration to all the Women out there! I love you!!

Sonya, I don’t know you but I wish I could wrap my arms around you. I’d probably hold on for dear life and never let you go. Your story. Oh my god, it’s so incredibly sad. I don’t know how you are able to share such a horrific experience but you do it with so much courage. I’m speechless. Your story has touched me in a powerful way and it’s forced me to look at my own “crud”. I didn’t want to look at it. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to forget.

My family was the typical family. Mom and dad, a brother, me and a cocker spaniel. My brother and I were not very close but I idolized him like everyone else did. He was a star athlete and the most popular kid at our school. He had a new girlfriend weekly and he would openly talk to me about what he liked them to do to him sexually. It grossed me out but I chalked it up to him being a stupid guy and I pretty much ignored his attempts to embarrass me.

One night, when my parents were out, he came home and he was high. He forced himself on me and raped me. I was 14 years old. Everything changed after that.

I withdrew. I began to drink. Drinking was my lifeline. It made me forget and it made me feel like I was someone else for a while. The problem with the drink is that it’s never just one and it never lasts. I’ve lost more jobs then I can count. I’ve been in and out of relationships. I’ve been homeless. I’ve been in jail twice. I’ve had thoughts of suicide. I haven’t seen my family in 4 years. I never go home because they all think he’s great and I’m the crazy one. Oh and this is rich, I never told anyone because what’s the point? They wouldn’t believe he was capable of something like that anyways. We never spoke of it. The next day, he acted like he didn’t remember, even though he knows something’s wrong cause he won’t look me in the eye.

And now here I am. I’m sitting in a shithole apartment that I share with 3 other girls. I’ve lowered myself to the point that I have sex for money. My only friend has been the drink. It’s the only thing I can depend on. I drink to forget, I have sex for money to pay for the drink. And all I can think of is I want to die.

So, one of other girls I live with is looking up something online and she finds your website. So she starts watching your video. She tells me to come watch this and so I do. 2 hours later, we’ve watched the video, read your blog and listened to you sing. She leaves to go out and I’m alone for once. So I watch your video again and I start to cry. I let it all out.

And then I did something that I’ve never done. I prayed. I asked god to save me. I ask god to help me to not drink again. I ask him to forgive me and to help me get out of this and get my life on track. I ask him to give me the strength to forgive my brother. I ask him for peace. I’m telling you something happened. Something changed. I feel forgiven. I feel free. I don’t know how I feel about my brother. I still hate what he did. I guess I’ll have to keep working on that. I poured out all the alcohol and I went to a meeting. And now I’m writing you. I really like your song “Lay It Down” because I feel like that’s what I’m doing. I’ve held on to the crud for a long time. Too long and now I’m laying all of that shit down.

Thank you seems stupid and insignificant to say but I mean it. Thank you for having the guts to share your story and to put it out there. It’s one thing to have it happen. But it’s another thing to relive it every time you share it. Thank you for telling me about Jesus. Today is a good day. First day in years that I haven’t had a drink. The drink is not my friend. Jesus is my friend.

"Break Your Finger OR Let Go" question

So what if when you release your fingers and let go, things get worse? What if God allows it to get even harder?


The same God who provided for you, saved you from hell, forgave your sin, came through when you needed Him last time…is still that SAME God.

I have had times where I’ve released my hold and things DID get harder. WAY HARDER! Some would say that I’d rather take my chances and depend on ME then to go through something worse then what I’m living now! But I’ve learned to be really careful about that way of thinking – it can always get WORSE. I’ve seen it happen.

There are consequences to sin. So, even when we’ve released our death grip on the thing we’re holding on to, there can still be consequences to the thoughts, decisions, choices from other people, OR ourselves. Jesus is not a “Jeannie in the lamp” where we get an epiphany to suddenly trust and “give Him the control” on this one issue and then He is somehow BOUND to do what we say He should. He is GOD. We are not. He sees the BIG picture. We see with our human/crud experienced eyes.

You might say, “I did what you told me to, Lord – SO WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?” What about the other human beings in the scenario? Are they doing what Jesus wants them to do? Or are they trusting in themselves and making choices that have NOTHING to do with Jesus? It’s not just ME in most equations.

Sin is in the world. Just because we do the “right” thing doesn’t mean all consequences magically get erased. If you get convicted about tithing and you begin to give your tithe, does that mean you’ll get a million dollars in the mail from Publishers Clearinghouse? Not likely. Could it happen? Sure. If you have a pornography addiction and you are convicted to stop that – does that mean that everything is okay between you and your spouse? Probably not. What about the pain and the betrayal that has happened because of our actions? Trust is broken. Communication and proof of living a porn-free life must happen to even begin to work towards the building of trust in that relationship.

I can’t control what others do. I can only control how I respond.


But here is the GOOD NEWS. ANYTHING is POSSIBLE with GOD.
That’s why I share my story. I should be dead. NOT just because of what was done to me when I was kid. But even from the choices that I made growing up after that. I was a dead girl because of my sin. Jesus forgave me. Changed my heart. Changed my mind. Taught me who I was IN CHRIST. Gave me hope. Gave me LOVE. Jesus taught me how to forgive. EVEN myself.

The truth is by YOU releasing your fingers and letting go of the thing you are holding on to – THINGS COULD GET WORSE. They could get harder. At least when I let them go, I have the GREATEST ALLY in all the universe working WITH ME. Walking through it WITH ME. I am not alone.

Remember the last time that Jesus walked WITH YOU through that hard thing. Cling to the HOPE that Jesus is working ALL things out for YOUR good. If it’s a choice between ME or HIM – and I was a “betting” girl – I’d put my money on Jesus any day. He has PROVEN Himself over and over.

Release your fingers and LET GO!

Please not use my name, there are people who would figure it out and I just don’t want to deal with their judgement.
I won’t drone on with the long story but I do wonder how someone, how you regained and kept your faith.
My first memories were of a very violent father stomping my kitten to death on the front porch. He hurt me, he actually broke my body with violence not just my heart.
My mother left him just to rent me out to her sister’s husband where I would be molested for several years by my uncle, his oldest son and his oldest daughter. I had never even menstruated and had no clue When she forced my face between her legs. I was 10 years old.
Later in my flight of fear I struggled with alcohol and pills, man did I struggle. I wasn’t promiscuous when I became pregnant with my son. I was very violently raped and wouldn’t tell anyone. I am pretty sure that if I had died my mother would not even have claimed my body. In my struggle I was abducted, knifed, violated and left for dead on an oil field lease. The police called my mother and stepfather but no one came. What was so wrong with me that nobody cared if I died? If no one around me loved me, how could something floating around that I had no concept of? The aunt, uncle and teenage cousins who had molested me for years dragged me to Church frequently so where does God filled in that!
Yes, I have had a great deal of therapy, many years just to get me to a livable place. I am an intelligent person and I just don’t understand what purpose all those years of grief and torture served. I know what love is and I would not stand by and watch a stranger go through what I did. When I went back to school, then began working with battered women, runaways and eventually within the corrections system, everything I had gone through begin to make sense. I had to use every bit of it to do my job well. Then a senior officer attempted to sexually assault me repeatedly on my unit. His supervisor battered me in an attempt to make me keep my mouth shut. I suffered a mental break and lostvmy career, being threatened and harassed even by state attorneys. I do not see the purpose, even that little tiny bit of hope was stripped away from me.
I pleaded with whatever must be out there to be allowed to have a child and know the joy without fear and be able to raise that child. That miracle was realized later in life, my son well into his twenties at the time. I do not think it was compensation from God for all the torture I had gone through.
I have not fully found my way back to faith and I am not sure I ever will. I do teach my daughter about Christianity as well as many other religions. I teach her tobpray and have given her a foundation upon which to build because she will not know the horrors that I have.

This is probably going to sound weird. I’ll admit it does to me, too. I can’t help it. I needed to write to you.

I don’t know if you know but when you Google your name, it comes up with porn sights. I’m ashamed to admit this cuz the reason that I know this (full disclosure) is because I was looking for a certain girl (she’s my favorite-blonde with green eyes) and your face came up when I searched her.

Something about your picture intrigued me so I clicked on it.

I saw Fifty Shades and thought “Oh good. Something new. Something different. This is the right place.” I was actually excited. (This sounds creepier as I write it.) I don’t think of it like I’m a pervert. I’m just needing to…….I don’t want to say well you know.

It didn’t take me long to realize that this wasn’t porn and you weren’t a porn star.

Then I clicked on a video. I watched you tell your story. At first I didn’t know what to make of it. I can’t believe you survived and are able to sing like that. When you got done and you shared the story about the keyboard, I was blown away. I really like your voice. Your voice drew me in and I thought “Who is this girl?”.

I can’t describe it but this isn’t me. I’m not emotional. I’m just a normal guy. I’ve always had a connection to music. I listened to your song “Lay It Down” and I was moved. But even more, I was filled with guilt and regret.

I’m 31 years old. I own my own construction company and I do well for myself. I consider myself to be educated, professional and a really good guy. My dad passed away from cancer when I was young and it’s been just me, mom and my sister for all these years. I have great friends. I’ve dated a lot but only two serious relationships. I don’t consider myself disrespectful to women and would never hurt a woman. I’m not, nor would I ever be involved with a young girl. I believe in working hard for what you want and for giving back so you don’t forget where you come from. I wouldn’t hurt anyone.

But after hearing your story, I feel like I could see your heart and how badly you’ve been hurt. It shook me up. Was it possible that I was the problem? I know I am. It’s a hard pill to swallow. You’re thinking you’re alone and no one is getting hurt. It’s not real and it’s not your fault or your problem if girls decide to make videos. Who is it hurting? It’s just an image.

I guess what I’m saying is that I haven’t ever thought of myself as hurting anyone when I watch porn. And now I can’t stop seeing your sweet face or thinking about your story. I’m like the guy that covered your face with his t-shirt. It makes me sick. I’m ashamed. How can you be so filled with hope after what you’ve gone through? Why do you care about people when you have been tortured and abandoned by (in your words) ‘people who should’ve known better’?

Your faith is remarkable. I would not be able to trust anyone if that had happened to me. I’m not religious at all. I believe in god but I don’t go to church. This is going to sound nuts (it does to me) but I know that god wanted me to find you and to get my attention. The thought of anyone hurting my little sister makes me want to kill someone. The thought of you being forced against your will tears me up.

I knew that I had to reach out to you and to tell you that I think you are the bravest woman I’ve ever known. You are beautiful and you need to be told that often. I hope that your husband treats you right and knows what an extraordinary woman you are.

I don’t want to be the problem. I want you to know how sorry I am for treating those women as images and not souls. It doesn’t change anything for you but you’ve changed me. Believe me when I say I will never be able to look at porn again without seeing your face or hearing your voice. I don’t want to be that man anymore. I won’t.

So I listened to more of your songs. I’ll say it again, I really love your voice. I also read your blog. I was surprised at the responses from men. The words you speak are powerful and more people need to hear your story. You, Sonya Brunner, are going to change a lot of people’s lives if you haven’t already. Know that you have forever changed mine.

Hi Sonya. I heard you speak Monday night and I wanted to tell you that I have never heard a more powerful message in my life. Line after line you were nailing me between the eyes with truth. I was the one ‘running’ from God. I was bound up by hurt and anger and I was the one refusing to forgive my father. Why? Because my father raped me repeatedly when I was young. It started with touching my body but went farther until he was holding me down and forcing me to do unspeakable things.
I remember the rage that I felt every time it happened. He would say cruel things to me like I was enjoying it or that I’d asked for it in some way. But the worst thing for me was the shame that I felt and still feel knowing that I could have fought harder. The truth was he scared the shit outta me. I was afraid of what he would do to me, my family or what people would say about me once they knew. I never told anyone. My mom had to put up with him for so many years, that I didn’t want to add to her burden.
We hear about women being sexually abused but we don’t talk about how men have been hurt. Men are supposed to be able to fight and defend themselves and others so it must only be the weak that ‘allow’ themselves to be ‘taken’ by someone else sexually.
Or worse, maybe we wanted it.
This is how I’ve lived my life as a grown man. In anger, so freaking angry. Shame and denial and unforgiveness. I don’t like to talk about it. I know that I keep things to myself, especially my emotions. I struggle with anger. I get that i’m cynical and probably negative. I’ve always pushed myself and worked hard so I thought I was doing okay until my wife said, “I can’t live like this anymore.” I felt hopeless. So I went to the meeting.
There you were.
I hear you open your mouth and I was riveted to my seat. I’ve heard many sad stories that whine and complain about how they should get special treatment because of what they had to go through. But you didn’t do that at all. I kept waiting for the excuses or the ‘you need to feel sorry for me’ vibe that so many people nowadays are spewing. From your first sentence, I knew I was in trouble. That man…the guy who covered your face with his t-shirt. I have no words but that gutted me. Talk about not being able to breathe, I was like ‘she knows.’ It freaked the shit out of me.
The first thing I noticed about you was your confidence. I thought it was strange that you weren’t more embarrassed to admit what was done to you. How were you so confident? And how was it not effecting you to the point where you weren’t hanging your head or crying? I was expecting you to be weak like me.
The second thing I noticed was you were real. You’ve been through some serious shit. All of us could see your pain. Who wouldn’t have pain from all that? Your power was what I saw. So much power – no weakness. I felt like it was coming off the stage and out into all of us. I’ve never seen anything like that. You smiled and it wasn’t a fake smile either. I know people that smile but it’s the kind where they’re hiding everything they’ve done or what they’ve been through. Your smile was real.
When you said that we had to release them from the debt that we think they owe us, I got mad. Again. I felt like there is nothing that anyone could do to make up for what he did to me. There’s no payment or punishment that would be equal to what was taken from me. I was like ‘there is no way that I’m doing that.’
But then you went and said this. “He hung on the cross and took it. Why? For a little girl being raped and tortured by a man and beaten by her mother…AND the man who raped the little girl and the woman who beat her child.”
THAT WAS IT. I couldn’t breathe.
That broke me. I started to cry. I never cry. I was like, “Shit, shit, shit! This can’t be happening to me.” All of the hate and anger that I had felt all these years came out.
When you said you gave him everything, it clicked for me. That was your power. It was Jesus. That’s what I was seeing in you.
When you said, “Jesus is saying it’s time. Choose me,” I knew I needed to choose him. I prayed with you bawling like a baby and asked Jesus to save me. I wanted to come down and meet you but I was too emotional. It’s taken me till now to be able to say it to you.
I know one thing, I’m not ashamed anymore. I feel strong. I feel lighter. I have more crud to work on but I have motivation to do the work. I can do this. I can do this because Jesus is with me and he’s never gonna leave me. I’ve never been loved like that.
You are a gift. That’s all I can say. I wish I could take away every memory and every hurt that they did to you. I believe that Jesus made you for those of us that were losing hope. You pulled me out of the pit and I want you to know that I will never forget you or what you did for me. Because you were brave enough to share your shame, you allowed me to see Jesus and how he changed your life. Don’t ever stop what your doing, Sonya. I get why you call your ministry Fifty Shades of Grace. It’s fifty shades of pain and sin that Jesus has painted into a beautiful picture of forgiveness and grace. That’s you, Sonya. I get it now. You are a beautiful gift of fifty shades of grace. And now I can say to you, my sweet sister in Christ, I’ll see YOU in heaven.

Dear Sonya,

I felt like I needed to write to you today because you’ve ruined everything with your “interference” and “crud” talk.

My wife and I have been married for 8 years and I thought things were fine. I came home the other day to my wife packing a suitcase but it wasn’t for herself, it was for me. I was shocked to say the least and I asked her what the heck was going on? She told me that she had been miserable for years and wants things to change or she’s done. She said that we have crud and that we need to deal with it. When I asked her what the heck she was talking about, she pointed to the computer and said, “You need to read this.” I read the article that you wrote about marriages without intimacy and it was like a bomb went off. My wife confessed that she was struggling with many things in our marriage – feeling lonely, feeling like I didn’t want her or desire her. She said that when we were intimate, she felt like she was always left wanting more. I got mad. I got defensive. I tried to blame her like she was too needy or that other relationships in her life, like with her sisters or her friends, were more important to her then me. It got so bad that I actually walked out…twice.

Then she said that she suspected that I’d been hurt by someone in my past. She directed me to your article about the guy who was hurt by his coach. I lost it. How could she know? Was I that obvious? I thought that I’d worked hard to hide it. At first I denied it. Then I was like, “We are fine! Why bring up the past?” Then I got embarrassed because the truth was, I had kept a secret from her, one that I was deeply ashamed of. The thought of letting anyone in to that pain, scared the crap out of me.

Sonya, you couldn’t know it but you unleashed a lifetime of pain because of your story. There were many moments that I couldn’t catch my breath because I was sobbing like a woman. Your descriptions of being hurt, the fear, the shame and how that felt, were unreal. I felt like you were the one person that would understand how I felt.

You wrote, “Courage is the ability to DO SOMETHING even if we are afraid to do it; even when we fear that it will cause us pain; to do it anyway.” I had never heard anyone talk about things like this so honestly or openly. Once I understood what crud was, I knew that I had it and I had to deal with it. If I didn’t, I was going to lose everything that meant anything to me.

This is me taking that first step of courage today by telling you my crud. You are the first to know. When I was 10 years old, my uncle sexually abused me. He lived with us for 7 months and during that time, he forced me to do sexual things to him and with him. My parents never knew. They thought he was this terrific man. He told me that all men have ‘urges’ and if they aren’t acted on or fulfilled, then that causes men to hurt others. I was terrified that he would hurt me or my family. I would throw up almost every time. I hated it. I was ashamed and I felt like I wanted to disappear. I hated him. I hated myself for attracting him to me. I’ve always believed that there was something in me that made him know he could do it. He ended up moving out and then got killed in a car accident. At that point I didn’t see any reason to tell anyone so I never told a soul.

I met my wife in college. I thought that those days were behind me but somewhere deep down, I carried that shame with me. I was aggressive and hard on those that were different or weak. I made sure that I was manly in everything I did, what I said or what I wore. I played sports. I was highly competitive and I had a lot of anger. I worked out. I had this drive to be physically strong, more than just taking care of my body. I was obsessed with strength. Anyone that wasn’t strong in my eyes was labeled a loser and wasn’t good enough to have a place in my life. I was a rotten human being. I justified it as ‘being a man’ but I was not a good person. I tried to look strong on the outside, but inside I was weak.

Getting married was like winning the lottery. I felt good because I would finally be rid of all of the past – marry a beautiful woman and do all the things that men like to do. My greatest fear came true though. Sex was not something I enjoyed. I loved my wife but physical contact with her made me sick. Even the thought of she and I being intimate, caused anxiety. It wasn’t her. There was something in me that pushed her away. I could handle hugging & kissing but anything more than that was too much. I kept hearing his words…”All men have urges. If you don’t act on them, that’s when men hurt others.” I had the desire or the feelings to want to have sex, but I didn’t want to be like him so I avoided sex at all cost. No urge, no problem. I know. It’s messed up. I get that but at the time, I thought I was doing the right thing. Those thoughts threw me into a life of denial. I would do the bare minimum she would want (only if I had to) because there was no way that I was going to tell her the truth about what I had done. I thought that by leaving it in the past, I had left it there but the truth is that I never left it. I carried it within me. That’s the crud that you are talking about. Because I wasn’t willing to deal with it, it caused harm to those I loved. Including myself.

The day that I have feared the most is here. I know that I need to tell her the truth but I guess I’m scared to say the words out loud. What if she can’t handle it? What if she’s disgusted and doesn’t want me anymore? What if she tells other people? What will they think of me? You said that Jesus changed your life. You said that he forgave you. Would he do that for me?

I feel like he wants me to know him. Nothing like this has ever happened to me. I don’t pray. I don’t even know how to do that. I didn’t know what to do so I just did what you said and I talked to god. I asked him to forgive me. I also asked him for the courage to tell my wife the truth. I asked him to save my marriage and to heal my pain. Did I do that right?

I know you are a complete stranger but it feels like we’re connected because of what we both went through. You helped me because you shared your story. Thank you for doing that. I’d like to think that god allowed this day to happen so that I could get free from this once and for all. I realized after reading what you wrote that you are a strong person. Sharing your pain doesn’t make you weak. It’s sharing it so that the secret can’t keep you a slave to the fear of the pain. That’s where the strength comes from. Your faith in god is what makes you strong. I see that now. I started this out by saying that you ruined everything. I take it back. You didn’t ruin anything. You maybe just saved my life and my marriage by getting me to god. Would you pray for me? I’m telling her tonight.

Sonya, you don’t know me but I know you. I saw a post on Facebook that a friend of mine shared and I just finished watching your video. I was blown away by your strength and courage. I’ve heard many stories where people insist on wanting to stay the victim but that’s not what you are doing.

I realized that I have crud, as you call it. I grew up in a home with my grandma and my mom and a sister. My mom was in and out of relationships with many different men. The weird thing was she always made us go to church. I thought it was strange to have a man stepping out of the shower or coming out of her bedroom on a Sunday morning as we were getting ready to go to church. We lived two different lives. I hated the act. It always felt fake to me.

I was angry a lot of the time at my mom because I knew what she was. She’d date a guy for a couple months, he’d get mad at something she did or hated that she had kids and then there’d be a bad breakup and I’d feel like I had to take care of her through her depression. I saw things that no kid should see. Some of the men hit her. One tried to hurt my sister. I wouldn’t let that happen so I got in his face and my mom told me that I was the one that needed to stop or I could get the hell out. I hated her. In that moment, I truly hated my mom. She was weak and stupid and I wanted to get as far away as I could.

I joined the military. Those were hard days for me. I was angry all the time. I had problems with relationships and I didn’t trust anyone. I stayed away from my family as much as possible, until my grandma passed away. I went back home for the funeral and my mom had married a man from our church. It made me mad. My sister has been in and out of relationships, being manipulated and probably hurt all the time and here’s my mom getting married to a church man like she’s this perfect christian. And here I am, not able to trust women because the only women in my life were weak and made stupid choices, always focused on what a man could give them. It was always an act. It was never real. So why would I want that? I was determined to not let anyone inside. I was fine with that.

That’s the thing. You think you’re okay because the memories are not consuming your thoughts but the truth is that you are hurting more than ever. The pain is there but you refuse to look at it. It gives you a false positive. You think, “I’m doing fine for myself” but it is actually poisoning you from the inside.

I listened to you share your story. You are different. You have a power and a strength that makes people sit up and listen. I guess I’ve never heard anything/anyone (especially a woman) like this before. I don’t know how you survived something like that. I found myself wanting to beat holes in the wall. The part about the boyfriend selling you to those men. The T-shirt guy. Man I wanted to kick his a$$. You must have been terrified and alone. I kept seeing my sister’s face and it gutted me. The pain that you must have felt I understood that pain. I felt the disappointment of wanting the person that is supposed to love and protect you to be there and do their job but they chose to not do it. They chose someone else instead of their own kid.

My attitude about the church was ruined long ago. My attitude about women was worse. Then you talked about trusting Jesus and giving him everything. I thought why? Why would you do that? I never thought about how people hurt Jesus (like me and you) so he would understand exactly what it feels like. I started feeling this pressure in my chest. I wanted to blame the emotion or stress of the situation but I knew it was more than that.

When you said that Jesus hung on the cross for a little girl being raped and tortured by a man and beaten by her mom and for that man that hurt the little girl and the woman who hurt her child, I lost it. I mean all out bawling with the snotty nose running down my face. I had been holding on to my anger so that no one would hurt me ever again. I asked Jesus to forgive me and to help me forgive my mom, and the men that hurt us and never stuck around. It was like a mountain was lifted off my chest. I asked Jesus to save me like he saved you. I wanted that peace.

Everything is different. I feel different. You were right. You have to release people from the debt they owe you so that you can be free to live your life. The only way to get that freedom is with Jesus.

Thank you for having the guts to share your pain so that I could hear about Jesus. My whole life is changed. Would you please pray for me as I try to have the hard conversation with my mom now? Thank you, Sonya.

High five to you, Sonya Brunner – Fifty Shades of Grace. I was surprised (in a good way) to hear you talking positively about men. I don’t why I was surprised but I think it was because of all the things that “men” put you through in your life I just thought you’d be a man-basher. And you would have every right to be.

I am new to your program. When I saw the words “Fifty Shades of Grace” that got my attention and I started listening. That Marine is brave and what you said to him was really sweet. The fact that you didn’t sugarcoat it or make him feel ashamed was just wow to me. I heard you say, “Sin has caused many men to do harmful, hurtful things to those they love” and I teared up.

I started thinking about my own life and it hasn’t been one that I’m proud of. My father was a hard man. He drank a lot when I was young and put my family through misery. My mother never would leave him and I left as soon as I could. I tried to be the exact opposite of who he was but I never dealt with my anger. It came out in ways that I didn’t expect.

Every time things failed or something wouldn’t work out, I got angry and I lashed out. My wife left me because of my anger. She said that she couldn’t handle it anymore. I lost the best thing in my life. Instead of dealing with it, it pushed me to work harder at my job but I have felt lost. I feel empty and I think I’m lonely.

I believe that watching you has opened my eyes to the ‘crud’ that has always been there but never dealt with. I watched a video on your website about your testimony and I couldn’t believe your story and how you could still have any happiness after that. I can tell that you believe what you’re saying about God and crud and how you have moved on from that painful time in your life. I want that.

If Jesus is the key to that, then I want that. I asked Jesus to forgive me and I wanted you to know that I did what you said. I gave him everything what I have to give. I told him every hurt every shame. It was cathartic. I’m trusting him to do what he says, too. Part of that was I had to forgive. I’ve chosen to ‘release my father from the debt that he owes me.’ I feel peace for the first time ever! I guess that is what forgiveness does to a person. I wanted you to hear it so that you can feel encouraged to keep doing what you do. I am right with god now because of your story and being brave enough to share it. I ask that you pray for me as I move forward. I want to be that man for god that you talked about. This is the best father’s day I’ve ever had. Thank you.

I’ve been struggling with drinking and I can’t stop. I’ve tried everything and no matter what I do, I always turn to the drink to ease my pain. My husband has thrown me out and I’m no longer able to see my kids and all I want to do is drink. I’m staying in my grandmother’s basement. That’s how far I’ve fallen. Even though I’ve lost everything, all I want to do is drink.

I had been thinking about killing myself, planning it out, trying to decide which way would be easiest and the fastest. I was in the internet and somehow I found you. I watched your story. It made me cry. I thought, “Here’s somebody who gets it.”

When I was 15, our next door neighbor touched me for the first time. I wasn’t afraid because I had what I thought was love feelings for this man. He made me feel things I never felt before. Unlike you, I was a willing participant but one day he made me do something that hurt me. I told him no and that it actually hurt but he said thst I was probably to immature to handle a real grown up relationship. When I begged him not to end it, he said that if I loved him I would want to do anything that made him feel good. After that, he always wanted to inflict pain with the sex. I did what he wanted because I believed he loved me and we would be together. A year later I caught him with a girl from down the street. I stood there in tears and all they did was laugh at me. He said, “I found someone better.” I believed him. I have never told a soul about this. Until now.

That’s the day that I started drinking. There was a party and I had my first taste and I never looked back. Since that happened, I have been trying to prove that I’m “better”. Better, prettier, smarter, more successful. I pushed myself to be a better wife, a better mom, better daughter and when I couldn’t be “better” the drink made me feel better.

Your story was hard to listen to but comforting at the same time. I’m not religious. I think I believed that if you were good enough, good things would happen to you. I didn’t have a belief in God. I guess I never thought about it.

When you shared about having to get real with God and telling Jesus the truth. Something inside of me knew that what you were saying was true. I haven’t wanted to listen to anyone for a long time. I heard you, Sonya. I felt like you were speaking directly to me.

You talked about Jesus taking you. I didn’t believe anyone would take me. Not after all I’ve done wrong. But then I thought if you can be forgiven after sleeping with all those men, than I know that there is hope for me. You believe what you are saying, Sonya, and somehow I know it’s true. He will take me. I didn’t know that I could be loved like that. I asked Jesus to forgive me and to help me quit drinking. I had like a wave of peace flow over me. You don’t know how hard it is to trust someone. Well you probably do.

I don’t know what will happen. I’m scared to mess it up. At least I’m not alone. Will you pray for me that I will stop drinking and get to see my kids?

I wanted to let you know that you wrecked me. I was living my life and I thought that I had everything under control until I watched your story. The weird thing about all this is I can’t tell you how I found your story. I swear to god. I have no idea how I got to it. I clicked on something and there you were. My first question was how? How did you make it through all of that? My next question was how could you forgive your mother or the men that hurt you? How is this possible? How could you believe in a God who would allow this to happen to you? I wanted to believe that you were weak and needed some kind of “rescuer” to believe in so that you could try to live a normal life.

The way that I handle life is by not letting things bother me. I keep my emotions in check so that I don’t get drawn into unnecessary drama. There is no drama when you don’t depend on anyone. If something makes me start to feel things or might make me feel out of control, I move on. I always felt that only weak-minded people dwell on the negative things in their lives because they’re too weak to move on. There’s too much of that going on in these days. All you hear about is people that say they’ve been abused, like thats an excuse to do horrible shit. My way works great. Avoid and ignore and you don’t get hurt cause things don’t bother you cause you don’t let it.

That’s fine but as I listened to your story, things started to unravel in my way of thinking. And then it hit me. Last year I ended a 4 year relationship because I couldn’t bring myself to commit to the most wonderful girl that I will ever know. She wanted me, the real me and kids and all that stuff and I felt unworthy – just like you.

I think I was waiting for you to try to make us feel sorry for you or maybe that all men are bad or something. I was like is this girl for real? I couldn’t understand how you could smile or sing. BTW, your voice is incredible. That got me. As I watched you speak, I went from hating you to wanting to hug you. I can be a cynical s.o.b at times. I admit it. This is what got me though, you didn’t act weak. You didn’t show fear. I thought you might hang your head like you could still feel ashamed, but you stood strong and looked us in the eye. You had this authority and power coming off of you. Honest to god, I couldn’t stop watching.

Then you talked about being sold for sex and a man taking off his t-shirt and covering your face to rape you because he felt guilty for what he was going to do to you. I couldn’t take it. You were like actually sold to men. Sold like a piece of meat. What kind of sick fucks do that to a child? You can’t call them men. I can’t imagine what you felt or how they hurt you. This started something inside of me that I couldn’t stop if I tried. Remember, I don’t like emotions of any kind. I do anything to avoid them. Here I was, feeling like I was having a heart attack. The only way I can describe this is it felt like someone was sitting on my chest. This is why.

When I was 10, a man in my neighborhood touched me and did other things. He made me touch him. At first, I was shocked then I was ashamed. I was angry. No. More than that. I felt rage. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to make him feel as powerless and weak as he made me feel. He was a sick bastard and it fucked me up. My shame was attributed to how I saw that weakness and not being able to stop his abuse. Why did he pick me? Did I give off some kind of “vibe” that said ‘this kid is weak and wants this kind of thing’? After that, I shut myself off from any emotions and went on with my life. I didn’t want anyone to know. It’s a secret that I have never told anyone. Until you. Like I said, you wrecked me.

Then you had to go and start talking about Jesus. I was like ‘here we go, another religious nut job’. I hate people who cram religion down other people’s throats. It’s fine for you to believe it, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else has to. As you shared what Jesus had done for you, I started to feel something. I know this sounds crazy, but I felt something like a pull to listen and not dismiss what you were saying. You talked about him as if he was there with you.

Sonya, the keyboard story killed me. To hear you sing and then to know that a keyboard represents what that bastard did to you – how can you sing like that? Why would you ever sing again? By this time I’m bawling like a girl. There is no denying what is true. You have something real that has let you be free. I’ve never heard anyone talk about god like that. You believe it! I could see the peace on your face, the truth in your voice but I don’t know what to think. What does that mean for the rest of us? If forgiveness means that I need to release that guy from the debt that he owes me, I don’t know if I can do that. I can’t even forgive myself. What he did to me is unforgiveable. Why should I forgive him?

This is what I want to ask you. Is Jesus real? I know you say he is but how do you know? If he can help you forgive those that hurt you, would he help me, too? I’ve carried this anger for a long time. I don’t want to do it anymore. I can’t help but wonder if I was meant to see this so that I can get rid of it once and for all. Do you think that Jesus can help me? Tell me what to do!