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Edie Doepel was just five years old when her
stepfather violated her.

She was fondled, forced to exploit herself in
photographs and degraded by the man who
was supposed to love and protect her.

Later, her own brother took advantage of her
sexually, which left her feeling powerless, as
well as mentally, emotionally and spiritually
destroyed.

She transparently shares the heartbreaking
details  of her journey.

This is Edie's story in her own words.
Edie Doepel
The "No More Secrets" campaign is sharing the stories of courageous women who survived sexual assault
and are now using their voices to let other survivors know, they are not alone. Warning: Readers may find
sexually graphic details extremely disturbing
I was 5 years old (maybe younger), before I started first grade when my stepfather violated me. It happened many times
over many years.

One evening, he even invited other men over while my mother and little sister were gone one evening. He placed me in
his recliner in the living room like a child would place a doll, unclothed, with my legs spread apart and let the other men
stare at me. They didn't touch me. They just started. To this very day, I can’t stand to be stared at, or looked at by
strangers. I rarely, if ever, meet the eyes of a stranger.

In the beginning I was so young that I don’t think it occurred to me to question the authority and rights that this man had
over me.  He had always been my “daddy” from before I had memory. He was the real dad of my baby sister, so I never
really questioned. Then, as I got older and began to protest, he would tell me that my mom would throw me out of the
house if I told and that she probably wouldn’t love me anymore.

I didn’t want that, did I?  

Though there was never any threat of bodily harm and I was never afraid of physical abuse, I
was terrified of losing my
momma and her love, so I stayed quiet so I could keep my momma.

MY STORY
When the abuse started, at first, there wasn’t any penetration. During the early years I was photographed naked with
props, like a corn cob or cucumber inserted into my vagina part way, or naked with my hands on my non-existent breasts.
I was propped up naked for other men to stare at.  And I was made to touch him, to perform oral sex on him. He would
masturbate over my naked form, laying on a hay bale in the barn, or in the dirt in the garden.   

I remember a trip we took to see his family once. I don’t remember the pretense he gave for only taking me, not my sister
when I was in second or third grade. It was a 5 hour journey and he drove an old Chevrolet with the old fashioned bench
seat in the front. He had me lay on that seat beside him, naked, the whole trip and he “played” with my body for the
whole trip.

Penetration started when I became a teenager, like some twisted rite of passage. I remember the blood and how when he
saw it, he seemed to realize what he had done and for just a moment, there may have been remorse. Maybe just a
moment, but it didn’t last.  

As I grew up and my breasts filled out, they became his focus, and he would masturbate with them and ejaculate into my
face. When I began to menstruate, he would “pull out” of me before ejaculation. I remember once looking at my belly in a
mirror of my bedroom, wondering if it should pooch out like that.  I must have been 13 or 14 at the time. I didn’t know it,
but he was watching me through a crack in my bedroom door. Later that night when he snuck into my room, he assured
me I couldn’t be pregnant because he was careful to pull out.

At some point, between the ages of 10 and 12, he got my older brother involved. He would watch as my older brother
would have sex with me and take Polaroid pictures. After my brother was convinced it was “okay," he would approach me
for sex many times during one summer, day and night.  He never bothered waiting for our stepfather.  We lived way out in
the country, so it was very easy to find places to have sex away from the house and my mom.

I was about 15 when I told. I had been taken by momma to a psychologist for some behavior problems. As badly as I
wanted to keep my secret from my doctor, he was much smarter than me, and figured it out pretty easily. So my mom
started the process of hiring a lawyer to prosecute my stepfather, but at some point during the proceedings, my half-
sister and my stepsister (both his “real” daughters) begged me not to put their daddy in jail.  For days and days they
begged and harangued and pestered.  I finally walked out of one examination by a lawyer, just to get them to hush up
and leave me alone.

He was never prosecuted.

HOW IT IMPACTED ME

For all of my teenage years into young adulthood, when normal girls were dating and marrying, and having new babies, I
thought that in order to be loved, I had to have sex with a man. So I was having sex with anybody and everybody, just so I
would be loved and cherished and cared for.

It took God years and years and years to convince me that I could be loved just for who I am and for no other reason.
Honestly, I still struggle, but He has been so very good to me that it gets easier and easier.  For many, many years I
thought God was mad at me for what I had done. Every time a storm would come into my life, I believed God was
punishing me for what I did growing up. I’ve only just this year come to believe, really, truly believe, that He’s not mad at
me and never was. That He loves me.  It’s taken Him decades to get me to trust Him, even if I don’t trust anyone else.

One of the saddest things in my life as I look back is that I never knew the loving protection of a Dad. I never knew what it
was like to bound out of a school at the end of the day and throw myself into a Dad’s arms, laughing and completely
safe.  Learning to trust my Heavenly Father has been a very, very hard road -- terrifying, if I would tell the truth. It’s still
hard sometimes, but as I’m looking back over my life, I can see how He has led me, ever so gently into a closer
relationship with Him, and how I’m learning day by day, year by year,  to trust Him with more and more of my private self.  

Due to the abuse, somewhere along the line, I learned to be passive and not question “authority” figures, I never fought
back when wronged, I just became a floppy shadow of a human, because I wrongly thought that good girls don’t tell.
Good girls don’t fight back. Good girls take what they get and keep quiet and accept.

I also was a teenage drug user, because I didn’t have any sense of self-worth. I didn’t care if an overdose would kill me. I
figured it would put me out of my misery.  I spent most of my life with a very low self-image and destructive behavior was a
symptom.


WHY I AM SPEAKING OUT IN THE "NO MORE SECRETS" CAMPAIGN

There is a very real evil in this world that seeks to harm innocent girls. The innocence of a child is closest to how God
wants us to relate to Him, and the enemy hates that innocence, and will do whatever is necessary to destroy innocence.  

This evil will use those girls’ daddies, their uncles, sometimes their own brothers to harm them. But this evil can only exist
if it’s hidden. Once we bring it out into the open and let the light shine on it, it can no longer harm us.  

And on the other side of the coin, we need to purge all the pent up emotions this type of abuse causes us. Otherwise, it
will fester. Healing an emotional wound is just like healing a physical wound; it has to be cleaned out before it can begin
to heal.

MY WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVORS

I know the heartache you feel.  I know the deadened, dull place you go to keep the pain away.I’ve been there and I’m
walking back to you on that path that is so dark. But I’m bringing you a light, dear. I’m bringing you The Light of the
World, and I promise you He will not hurt you. He will walk with you and me, and show you a way out.  

The most important thing you and I can talk about is forgiveness.  It will also possibly be the hardest thing you will ever
do.  But you must, you must forgive the one who hurt you so, the one who betrayed you. The Lord will help you, as He
helped me.  It will only be words at first; they won’t really mean anything.  But ask Him, ask our Lord and Savior Jesus to
help you forgive, to forgive through you.  

Some days you will have to forgive every minute. Every hour.  Some days you won’t want to forgive.  But the only way to
heal, to be whole again, is to take Jesus’ hand and forgive the man who hurt you.  Place that person in Jesus’ care, to do
with as He sees fit. The battle from now on is in your own mind, dear heart, but it’s a battle you can win.  And you are not
alone. Please, please know this.  You are not alone. There are thousands of us, sisters in Christ, who have been where
you are now, and each one of us is praying for you. Praying that God will give you the strength you need to find your
voice. To tell your story. To someday walk back along this path to find another broken little girl and help her up. Help her
heal.  

You are loved and cherished by a Heavenly Dad who longs to comfort you. And it’s comfort and love you don’t have to
take your clothes off to receive.  He is longing for you, longing to sing songs of love over you, longing to fight for you, to
protect you.  Please let Him.  Please accept His offer, and please forgive. All my love.
© 2015 EEW Magazine. All rights reserved. Award-winning urban faith-based media specialist Dianna Hobbs has launched the “No More
Secrets” nonprofit campaign to make it safe for sexual abuse survivors to open up.
DISCLAIMER: The personal accounts of sexual violence you see on DontKeepSecrets.org were voluntarily submitted by participants in the
national “No More Secrets” campaign. These descriptions are based on their individual experiences and memories. EEW Magazine and
RAINN shall not be held liable for any statements, views or information shared. Testimonies do not necessarily reflect the views of EEW,
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