Leading Beyond the Silence
Jo Bailey is a leader of Beyond the Silence at Discovery Church. A support group for woman who have been sexually abused.
What’s a fun fact about Jo Bailey?
When I visit sexual abuse survivors who are incarcerated, I like to bring the correctional officers fresh-baked cookies. I enjoy showing care but I can also be ferocious when it’s necessary. As ladies journey through Beyond the Silence, I take a stand for them and with them. We fight off shame, negative self-image, depression, anxiety and fear.
Tell us about the book you wrote?
“A Bright New Place” is a story of hope that never let go. The three themes I felt God was speaking through my book were: the temporary nature of trauma; the truth about forgiveness; and the need for counseling and support. During my years of abuse the certainty that one day I would escape my terrifying childhood home sustained me. This season of life didn’t have to define all of me. But if I didn’t intentionally seek healing, I would be trapped and unable to move past it. Forgiveness is a powerful step we take together in Beyond the Silence. It feels impossible at the beginning, but God shows us how to take the burden off our shoulders and put it on His.
How common is sexual abuse these days?
Previously I would hesitate to say that I was sexually abused in case I was rejected over something that wasn’t my fault. One of the first friends I told about the abuse said that I didn’t look like “that kind of person.” The reality is that this type of harm can happen to anyone, including those you least expect. 1 in 3 woman and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18. Picture one third of the women in your church or workplace, a third of your friends, neighbors and strangers. Survivors of sexual assault are impacted physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally and spiritually.
What can God do for those who’ve been sexually abused?
What doesn’t God do for us? He helps us sort out the truth from the lies. God empowers us to address the consequences from the words and actions inflicted on us years or even decades ago. Beyond The Silence graduates will often contact me to report work promotions, successful romantic relationships, increased enjoyment of life, fresh creativity, healing from addictions and release from the bondage of anger.
God also works through our relationships with one another. My brother is an Urban Missionary in the San Francisco Bay Area. One of his opportunities for witness is in juvenile detention. Mark suggested we connect the Beyond the Silence inmates with “his girls”. Beauty from the ashes is lived out as these wounded teens and women correspond to each other with love and encouragement.
The older ladies want to pass on a greater fighting chance that the girls won’t continue on this destructive path and avoid further incarceration.
Beyond the Silence at Discovery Church and in 33rd St Jail is a beautiful community of comfort and understanding. We come together to create a unique space of openness. In freedom we share, cry, confess, laugh, and let go. Most importantly we can ask God where He was then and where is He now. We learn that God is big enough to be challenged and it’s okay to ask the hard questions.