Dorothy began as a wide-eyed, little girl; innocent and dressed in gingham. She loved her family, she loved her dog, and she dreamed of a wonderful place beyond the rainbow.
She didn’t plan a fearful encounter with Elmira Gultch, and she didn’t expect the unsympathetic responses of her family and friends. She wasn’t prepared for the cyclone that would sweep her away and leave her in an unrecognizable place called Oz.
Everything that happened to land Dorothy in Oz was not of her making and completely out of her control.
But once she was there…like it or not…she had to decide what she was going to do. She had to decide whether she would listen to those who said they wanted to help her. She had do decide whether to stay where she was, or begin walking towards a hopeful exit. She had to decide whether to allow others to share in her journey, or try to go it alone. She had to decide whether or not to take the road out of Oz.
Once she made the decision to leave Oz, she quickly found it would not be an easy road. There would be times when hope would seem just within her grasp, only to cruelly slip out of reach at the next stop. On this road, bright meadows and the lush cornfields would suddenly be replaced with dark woods and ominous castles.
The road out of Oz didn’t bring Dorothy to a place where everything was made right. Instead, the road out of Oz brought her to a place where things were made better. She was wiser, stronger, and no longer needed to run away when she felt threatened. She came to realize that what she needed was already with her. When the final credits rolled, Dorothy hadn’t left the farm, but she was in a better place.
The road out of Oz is the same for victims of sexual abuse. Though every woman’s experience is unique to her, there are some things about the road that are the same for all.
You didn’t plan to be victimized sexually. You didn’t plan on the wide variety of reactions your abuse would produce in you, or in others. You didn’t plan to get caught up in this whirlwind, nor did you plan on winding up where you are now.
But now that you have awakened to what has happened and where it has left you, you have some decisions to make. Will you decide to listen to those who can help you, or will you decide to reject their help out of distrust? Will you decide to stay where you are, or will you decide to start walking out of your Oz? Will you decide to let others who are in need join you on your journey, or will you decide to go it on your own?
Like Dorothy, your road out of Oz will not be an easy one. There will be times when you will experience the bright meadows of hope, and times when you will experience the dark forests of despair. There will be times when arrival at the Emerald City seems within your reach and times when the dark castle of resistance stands in your way.
And when you come to the end of your journey, everything will not be “right” or “fixed.” The horrible injustice of your abuse will not magically evaporate. Your abuser may never pay for what they did, or even acknowledge it. But when the credits roll, you will realize that you have what it takes to find your way. You will be better. You will be stronger. You will be in a better place.
If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, I know the thought of making this journey can be fearful and overwhelming. I know there is a level of uncertainty about the journey that can feel unnerving.
But I also know you can make this journey. I know you can take your road out of Oz. I’ve seen many women reclaim themselves and their lives by making this journey, and it’s my prayer that you will find what you needed to step out of the rubble of the cyclone of abuse and start taking steps on the road out of Oz.