Little Girl, Soiled Dove

She plays with other girls, laughing just like them
But behind this girl’s laughter
is the echo of her pain.
Innocence lost too soon, purity just a memory
Life still fresh and new
when he tore her world apart.
Too young to say the words screaming silent from her heart,
What sin did I commit to deserve a tarnished start?

A cruel voice whispers in her ear,
“They can see right through you, girl
And the secret that you hide inside.
You bore a curse that called his name;
They can see that you are to blame.
A girl that’s dirty who will love?
You are nothing but a soiled dove.”

She smiles everyday, and dreams the memories aren’t true
Behind that pretty face
is a heart that’s black and blue.
A battered, broken girl
left bleeding in her past
He took it all from her
and never stopped to ask.
And still a crying child lives behind her grown-up mask.

A mocking voice whispers
“They can see right through you, girl
And the secret that you hide inside.
You bore a curse that called his name;
They can see that you are the one to blame.
A girl that’s dirty who will love?
You are nothing but a soiled dove.”

She teaches others to be strong, and with her presence all she blesses.
Behind that confidant woman
stands a girl who second-guesses.
Everything she’s ever done or been,
even her forgiveness
Trying to control her life, how she wished that she had then.
She prays to feel whole again,
and the pain will someday lessen.
But tears just keep falling even after her “Amen”.

Then a gentle voice whispers,
“Child, I can see right through you now
Will you hide My love for you inside your heart?
I have marked you with MY name
And for his sin, my child,
you aren’t to blame.”

So be made clean, be forgiven
Start again ’cause life’s worth living.
You are precious, you are pure.
You are worth as much as every girl.
Daughter, you’re My child, and I’ll be near
So you can live tomorrow without fear.
You will be cherished,
You will be loved.
You are so much more than just a soiled dove.

~Lauren A. Brownlee (2004)

These words were written by my 21-year-old self after journeying through the valley of my childhood trauma to ultimately experience healing and freedom on the other side of the darkest time of my life. In honor of Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, I share this with you: to remind you of your worth, tell you to seek healing from those traumas that bind you, to beg you let go of your shame and learn how to forgive YOURSELF, to ask you to advocate for the abused, and to encourage you to share your story because it is powerful.

I have shared my story in settings where I have had several young woman come to me later to thank me for my bravery, to ask for prayer and to share their own painful tales of abuse. Do not live in the dark isolation of your pain. Do not continue to settle for the lie that you are not worthy, that you deserve a life of less, or that people will reject you. GOD DOES NOT REJECT YOU. And Jesus will reach into your pain and pull you out of the wreckage if you will let Him. If you would like to talk to me further about this, please reach out to me. I promise to offer you an affirming hug and a safe space to share your experience without judgment. My college years were the battleground for my joy, and through forgiveness and God’s grace, I battled back from shame, depression, and an eating disorder to experience healing, joy and a life of freedom and purpose.

I highly recommend reading or listening to the audiobook “Love Heals” by Becca Stevens, author, speaker, priest, social entrepreneur, founder of Thistle Farms and fellow survivor of child sexual abuse. She describes her book: “We all have a story. Whether written from the hardships of deep wounds, grief, or longing for justice, your life can overflow with hope. In Love Heals, you’ll find principles that have transformed lives. Each chapter brings encouragement and practical steps for anyone going through a difficult season or searching for a deeper faith. Along with other ways that love heals, read true stories of healing and joy, where brokenness is transformed into compassion. And believe the truth that you, too, can be changed and grateful for this life you live.”

If you need recommendations for counseling, resources and support, I would love to help you find something. Do not wait, ask for help.

Here are some wonderful resources for Preventing Child Sexual Abuse:

Darkness to Light: https://www.d2l.org/
This national organization empowers adults to prevent child sexual abuse and their work is guided by the vision of a world free from child sexual abuse, where children can grow up happy, healthy and safe. They believe that prevention is possible, and believe that it is an adult responsibility to protect children. They offer online/in-person classes, trainings, hotlines and support. You can learn the signs, stats and equip your staff, friends and family to stop child abuse in its tracks.

Our local expert, Cary Rayson offers free D2L trainings in Nashville. I considered myself to be an expert on the topic and still learned so many things at the D2L Training Cary offered.
615.383.0994
cary.rayson@pcat.org
Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee
4721 Trousdale Drive, Suite 121
Nashville, TN 37220

Family, Health, Social Awareness, Uncategorized

2 responses to Little Girl, Soiled Dove


  1. Aunt Susie

    This poem was so moving. I need to chat with you sometime. I will try to set down and put it in a letter. I love you so much . Thank you for being honest and sharing.

  2. Julia Miner

    You have such a beautiful way with words. It’s sad how many women that are going through the same struggles. Thanks for sharing!

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