By Tim Ruffner
I have had the pleasure of meeting the fine group of “founders” for Healing Voices and become one of them. We aren’t just people collaborating on an amazing newsletter; we are people who have stories to tell from previous experiences in our lives. I am actually quite young (or at least seem to feel that way at 34 years old) and came forward about my abuse much quicker than many people I have spoken to in the past, or even as part of this group. With that being said, I was able to transform my (what I would call) “hate” into something phenomenal with the help of many individuals in my life. This is the story of how I overcame what I felt was the most horrific time in my life, and how I took something bad and turned it into something good.
I will begin when I came forward to tell my story to the Archdiocese; I parked in the lot walking, with my legs trembling, back and forth to my car wondering if this was the right thing to do. I then pushed myself hard enough and gained the courage to speak about the abuse that happened to me when I was 13 years old. I hadn’t told anyone about what had happened to me up until this time. It was just my own courage, and it was about time I told someone about the pain I was put through.
Shortly before I came forward I got in trouble with the law on again something that I was using to escape from the pain I was put through. I was smoking marijuana at the time to heal myself; of course we all know that was and is the wrong way to heal anything in life. You have to face it straight on and follow what we are given. This wasn’t the only time I had been in trouble; early on (after my abuse) I started to cause trouble and even stole from the church just days after I was abused. Why did I do this? I suppose it was because I didn’t even want to be there anymore, and I wanted to tell someone the story but was afraid. My father and basically his whole side of his family were very religious, so would he believe me? Would he say I should forgive and forget? There was too much going through a young teenager’s mind then, but what I did know was that by “breaking the law” I was able to escape from what really happened to me. It was my outlet at that time to deal with the confusion, pain and fear I was feeling. Luckily for me (and unfortunately this isn’t the case for many other victims), my abuse had only happened one time. However, we all know once you lose that trust you have in someone, you almost lose it for life.
Shortly after I came forward with my case, I told my wife about what happened to me and was given the name of a therapist. This particular person transformed me mentally in so many ways that I can’t even describe them in words. One way was that she started a group therapy session that I was part of. This session made me feel much stronger hearing everything from the good to the bad. My wife even attended to better help her understand how I was feeling.
I immediately made a choice to change my life forever, but how was I going to truly do that and make sure I stuck to it? I still hadn’t told anyone (but my wife and the Archdiocese) what had happened to me that day. This means I still couldn’t rely on most of my friends and family for any support. I was relying on the system and what the Archdiocese had in place for victims like myself. Years of therapy and closing out legal issues in my life were finally coming to an end, but was I truly healed? What did I have to do next…? I had to tell my loved ones what had happened to me.
Still, till this day, how I told my loved ones about that day makes me chuckle. I put on this movie, maybe you have heard of it, called “The Passion of the Christ.” Probably not the best movie to play when I am about to tell my story of abuse, but hey let’s see what happens. At this time, my wife had already been told about this event. (She has been—and still is—extremely supportive and understanding of all the things that have happened in my life because of my trust issues.) She sat there with me waiting for me to tell my family, I couldn’t tell who was more nervous her or myself.
When the movie had finished, I told my family I had something to share with them. I spoke of the day that I was abused and the steps I have taken to heal myself. At this time in my life, I was working a very steady job doing sales and was traveling quite a bit so I was able to keep my mind off the abuse pretty easily. They were obviously saddened, but I still remember what my sister said, “Tim, you told me about this after it had happened and I swore I wouldn’t tell anyone.” I was happy to hear my sister kept her word, but I could tell my father was angry, maybe even stunned. How could he not be? He had trusted in Jesus and the Catholic Church for years. We went through CCD and were in the Church two to three times per week.
Now, many years have gone by, and I would consider myself very successful. I have my amazing family. My wife and I have two beautiful children. They are always here when I need them—which is one of the greatest gifts someone can get when they need to heal. I overcame one of the hardest hurdles in my life with a great support group but, most importantly, allowing myself to stay positive. It can be very hard to stay positive when I had something so terrible happen to me, but I am a firm believer that if I am positive, along with others around me, then only positive things can come of my life. Being successful isn’t always about money, let’s face it, as long as we are happy with who we are and can overcome obstacles while staying positive. Then we can all live a very successful life. I am very thankful every day I am here not only to support my family and friends but also to hopefully support you, the reader, as well. Please follow us on this amazing journey of healing and become a success story with me.
I have much more to share with you about this healing journey of mine. I really hope you and others can join me with this healing process we have put together as a group to prove that sometimes good can come from the bad, as long as you stay positive. I have much more to share with you, and, in the next newsletter, I will share how overcoming my trust issues were able to help me become successful in my life.