193: Lisa Saruga | Sexual Violence Victim & Reform Advocate

Lisa Saruga | Sexual Violence Survivor and Reform Advocate

Lisa Saruga | Sexual Violence Victim & Reform Advocate

Lisa Saruga is a Licensed Professional Counselor and EMDR therapist who specializes in sexual trauma recovery. She is also a legal and ethical specialist, educator.

Following an unexpected life twist, Lisa also became a speaker, author and legislative advocate.

She has two books pending publication. The first is a book on trauma recovery and the second is her own personal journey of trauma and healing.

Lisa believes the journey from victim to survivor is not a quick and easy process, but is achievable even when this world offers no happy ending.

She has an active bill in the Michigan House of Representatives. Michigan HB 4493, 2021 could help to bring justice to many victim/survivors of sexual assault in this state.

She is working with several members of congress in Washington DC to create safer conditions for sexual assault victims whose perpetrators remain free. 

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Lisa Saruga and Amber discuss the sexual violence she experienced as a college student and the way God is using the experience to bring change.

Sexual Violence Victim and Reform Advocate Questions Discussed:

  1. (2:32) As a college student in the early 1980’s you experienced a traumatic life changing event.  Take us back and share as much or as little about that experience with us.
  2. (4:37) What were the days and weeks like following?  
  3. (9:47) Christ does begin to become a friend to you. What was that process like?
  4. (13:11) Your perpetrator remained unknown for 35 years.  What was day to day life like for you during those years of waiting? And how did you discover his identity?
  5. (16:47) Your cold case was reopened and eventually solved.  Share that part of your story with us?
  6. (21:59) When and how did it end?
  7. (24:45) Did your perpetrator ever face justice?
  8. (26:38) What was the tension like in your relationship with Christ at that time?
  9. (29:39) You’ve said, “…[H]ealing can be attained even when the world offers no happy ending.” What do you mean by that?
  10. (32:51) Now you are someone who advocates on the behalf of other survivors of sexual violence. Talk a little bit about your advocacy work, what you do and how it has been a part of your healing process?
  11. (39:08) Does he know who you are?
  12. (41:14) What keeps you pressing on when the journey is so difficult?
  13. (44:02) Let’s close with how you’ve experienced the grace of God in the midst of such trauma?

Quotes to Remember:

“I was raped, knifed, and nearly suffocated by this man. I did not see his face….The investigator really kind of thought my story was too far fetched and sensationalized…. So the investigation was short and not very thorough. And then it ended. That was it. Nobody was arrested. “

“My image of God was this person up in the clouds who had a quiver of lightning bolts, and he was just waiting for me to mess up and I was gonna get zapped.”

“I was pretty sure I was gonna die.”

“That incident changed the course of my education, I became a counselor. And I think that some people knew I became a counselor as a result of some trauma, but I just didn’t talk about it.”

“I would write whatever was on my heart. I did not filter it. I wrote raw. And then every time I ended writing, I would look for the themes in what I wrote…. [Then] I would Google scripture on whatever I was writing about, and let God speak back into it….I did that for a year and [it] was the most healing thing I could have done.”

“When I looked back at my black paper, I realized that God and I had written a brighter future onto those dark pages.”

“The truth is, when it comes to sexual violence, only 2.5% of rapists go to jail. The vast majority of us don’t get a happy ending. And we don’t have to have a happy ending in this life, for God to be able to heal us and make us whole.”

“But what God did teach me was in the absence of closure and justice, he still can find purpose.”

“We tend to call everybody who’s experienced sexual violence a survivor. And the truth is, we’re not all survivors….There are some people who are still very much dead inside, so I do use the word victim. But I want everyone to be a survivor.”

Resources Mentioned:

Related Episodes:

We tend to call everybody who's experienced sexual violence a survivor. And the truth is, we're not all survivors....There are some people who are still very much dead inside, so I do use the word victim. But I want everyone to be a survivor.
The truth is, when it comes to sexual violence, only 2.5% of rapists go to jail. The vast majority of us don't get a happy ending. And we don't have to have a happy ending in this life, for God to be able to heal us and make us whole.
But what God did teach me was in the absence of closure and justice, he still can find purpose.

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