By Annette Tomlinson
Sponsor Relations Coordinator
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. As I sit as my desk, tears streams from my eyes, and a pile of painted jean skirts lay beside me. Each a different size, but all representing a topic that none of us want to discuss.
The jean skirts tell a gruesome story that young girls never could. They speak loudly of rape at early ages of 3 and 4, and share shocking stories of girls being prostituted by their own relatives, in exchange for a drug fix. They scream out the torture that children who should be playing with baby dolls have experienced. They talk of the secrets they were forced to keep. They rage of anger, shame and fear that pushes many adolescents and teens into the drugs, sex and rap culture that is so rampant today.
Some of the Haven of Hope and TCM girls painted these skirts as a project connected with an organization called Jeans for Justice. It was based on a 1999 court case where a rape victim wasn’t believed because she claimed she was wearing tight jeans while being rape by her Driver’s Ed instructor. She was left with the shame. He was let off the hook, to prey on yet another girl whose life should have been just starting out, not ending!
Why paint the picture? Why say, “I was put under a bridge, raped, and left for dead.” Why tell, “My step-father would rape me late at night.” Why bring such darkness into light? You see, I know the girls who painted these skirts. I know them personally, hug them daily, and want to see healing come to their lives.
As my hands trace the words rape across these jeans, I am once again reminded of the pain that I too, experienced at ages 13 and 17. I am reminded of the self-respect I was stripped of, the pain I endured, and the haunting memories and fear that have taken several decades to fade. God has healed me over the years, and even helped me to impact scores of others just like me. Seeing the pain painted on these jeans screams of justice for each victim around the globe.
You see, it’s easier to paint the picture than it would ever be to speak it. Then others can help stand up against a violent crime happening every day. Please let the picture of these jeans be a reminder to pray for the children who call Tupelo Children’s Mansion and Haven of Hope their home. Hurting children who are desperate to be loved, respected, and taught what is right. Yes, it is hard to see the jeans but with them we are working to paint a new picture of healing and restoration that comes through the love of Jesus Christ!