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One day Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, went to visit some of the young women who lived in the area. But when the local prince, Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, saw Dinah, he seized her and raped her. But then he fell in love with her, and he tried to win her affection with tender words. 4 He said to his father, Hamor, “Get me this young girl. I want to marry her.”

Genesis 34:1-4

Have you ever wondered what Dinah did while her brothers were seeking revenge? Somehow, her story silences, but for those of us who have been raped, our stories don’t end quietly.

Dinah had a decision to make that would shape everything that came after.

And I have had that decision to make, too. Not once, but twice.

As with these few verses, Genesis 34:1-4, it all happened quite fast to me.

My mind trembling, remembering…the home invasion…the man with the crew cut and stained white t-shirt…his growling orders…the knife…my body invaded…my soul crushed?

After, I sat at the top of the stairs, holding my body tight, rocking to the hum of the large floor fan. The night was hot and oppressive, and time had just been suspended. The decision, the decision. Engage or not? Fight through or not? What was I going to do?

In my new reality, I faced a new and unexpected challenge–was this going to be the event that defined me? Was this who I was? A victim? A survivor? Was my life ever going to be about anything else? How could I break out of this cycle of difficult memories and grasping at straws of illusive control? How could I rediscover the hope I’d once had for my future?

It soon became apparent that to move forward and live my full life, I would have to break the bonds of fear, anger, and shame.

I was going to have to forgive the man who had raped me.

How do you go about doing something like that?

I had to look to mentors and friends—and significantly, in this case, my mother, who continued to model forgiveness in her own life. If she could forgive those who had hurt her so deeply, I knew she could help me break this anger, fear, and oppression I was experiencing.

She could help me free myself by forgiving the man who had attacked me.

We discussed forgiveness a lot—in very raw and honest terms.

How do you forgive the unforgivable? The answer we found was not in our power but in God’s.

One day God spoke to our hearts, and we knew it was time. We knelt together and prayed for forgiveness over the man, and that moment was the moment I was set free. I was no longer defined by this one event but rather by the God that had gotten me through it.

I realized that my mom was also free. I believe it is one thing to forgive those who hurt us—it is within our control to forgive the wrong done to us. I believe it is a greater challenge to forgive someone who has hurt someone you love.

How can anyone do that without God’s love?

I didn’t realize how hard this truth would hit me until I had a daughter of my own. My beautiful little girl was profoundly and systematically hurt by a family member starting from an early age. My anger and pain for her were so powerful I could not see a way forward, a way to forgive. But my mother’s example broke through the darkness.

She modeled the way through her reliance on God’s power to overcome. Almost thirty years after my mother and I knelt to forgive the man who hurt me, my daughter and I knelt and forgave the family member that hurt her.

Dinah likely had a decision to make, too. While her brothers brutally revenged an entire community, I wonder what she decided and if she was all alone.

Forgiveness allows us to stand and help each other step into a new place of freedom.

From Ordinary People. Extraordinary Hope.™️:

Just as bitterness holds us hostage, forgiveness sets us free. And our hope is that in those situations where forgiveness feels impossible, God comes alongside us so that we can find freedom through forgiveness.

85 Years of Influence Prayer Prompts:

Are you struggling with unforgiveness in your life or feel the need to be forgiven? We want you to have the freedom that only comes from the forgiveness found through Jesus Christ. Go to to learn more and request prayer.
Read: Psalm 32:1
Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
Pray: Dear God, we come to you with the joy of knowing our sins are forgiven because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! We give you praise and thanks today.
  • That you would find renewed joy and gratitude for the forgiveness we have through Jesus
  • Take time to confess any sin that may need to be forgiven