Sunday, April 15, 2018

Holding the Broken

Photo by Kristine Weilert on Unsplash
“Everyone has had a taste of what depression feels like. Everyone feels the blues at times. Sadness, disappointment, fatigue, are normal parts of life. There is a connection between the blues and clinical depression, but the difference is like the difference between the sniffles and pneumonia.” – Richard O’Connor, Undoing Depression
The darkest and loneliest time in my life happened last August. I, like everyone, have felt the blues, but in my 30 years of life, I hadn’t once come close to feeling the crippling effects and emptiness of depression, until then.

It was during summer, my favorite season. It was warm and sunny outside—which when you live in Washington, is reason enough to feel joy! Our boys were home for Summer Vacation and I got to spend each day enjoying them and the beauty outside. Friends surrounded us hiking or at the pool each day and yet I felt empty. The only person who knew what I was going through was James and he himself was going through a dark time as well.

James has dealt with depression throughout his life. Sexual abuse as a child can do that to you. But now his depression was more severe than ever before. In July, the month previous, he finally took those first steps to getting help—counseling for his depression and sexual abuse as a child.

My depression lasted almost a month and then just like that it was gone as quickly as it came. The night before it left me, after our kids were in bed, James and I lay on the floor, holding each other, both with tears in our eyes, both feeling the emptiness. It was a moment of despair and a moment of beauty. For a period of time, there was an empathetic connection where we both understood what the other was feeling.

The very next day my feelings of depression had faded. The challenges were still there and the future was still unknown, but the emptiness was gone. I look back at this experience and am so grateful for it. I know it was a blessing from God that helped me empathize with my husband. I understood on a deeper level a little of what he had been feeling his whole life.

That morning, as I was studying in the Bible, Romans 8 stuck out to me. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ...Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” I began to make the spiritual connection between this and what James was going through. In my own thoughts and feelings, depression is Hell, and Hell is the absence of love. Over the course of the next six months, this understanding would make all the difference.

As time went on, James’ counseling sessions got more intense. They began to uncover the deep wounds from childhood. As this happened, his depressive episodes were more frequent. When he would fall into that dark place, I could see it happen right before my own eyes. In just a matter of minutes, he would change from my kind, humble husband to an angry bump on a log. James is my other half, and in those moments, I felt more alone than ever before in my life.

One night, when James had fallen into a depressive episode I pleaded in my head with God to help me. I felt helpless, angry, and sad. The answer that came to me was distinct. It was a thought in my head, “Go give him a hug.” I was annoyed. I was angry with him. I did not want to go give him a hug. After a few minutes, I walked over to James and wrapped my arms around his shoulders. I held him. Within a minute or two, I felt him melt into my arms and change back to himself.

Throughout the next few months, there would be many more episodes like this one. Sometimes I was humble enough to go hold him right away, other times I stubbornly sat and watched, making myself the victim, feeling angry and alone. No matter the case, every single time I chose to heed the prompting I had felt before—to hold him—it made all the difference.
“...people with depression usually experience a lowered self-esteem, feel hopeless, and blame themselves...[you] feel you don’t deserve any better.” – Richard O’Connor, Undoing Depression
When James would go into a depressive episode he felt worthless, undeserving of love. He told me when I put my arms around him and held him, he felt like I was his Savior holding him.

When a child is sexually abused it has deep lasting effects. I wanted to write this article for a few reasons. First, to help people understand that when a child that has been sexually abused they need professional counseling to heal. Second, abuse affects everyone, not just the victim. And maybe the most important reason of all for writing this article, I want people to know, we all can help others heal. We can be His hands.

Megan Huntington is one of the founders of Run for Innocence.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Break the Silence: Post 3

This post is part of our "Break the Silence" campaign.  Please be aware that the following may contain descriptions of abuse that may be graphic in nature.

I come from a good size family of seven kids. I'm the only girl and the youngest. I grew up in a typical Utah Mormon family. My parents were active in the church and my father was a high priest. Everyone looked up to my parents. They were a great example of two happy, loving people. My father was always willing to help with projects outside the house and fixing cars. I had a great childhood. All my siblings are now grown and we all have children of our own. There is no one I would trust more than my own parents with my children. Or so I thought. That all changed 5 years ago when one of my brothers showed up on my doorstep. His 8 year old daughter had confessed that grandpa (our father) had been sexually abusing her. It was a downward spiral from there. We found other grandchildren that he had abused.

I want to make something very clear. I would have never, ever thought my father would have been capable of the things that we found out. I trusted him and my mother with my own children. There was never any signs while growing up. I was never abused. It is the biggest misconception to think the pedophile is someone "down the street" or "a stranger". It can be the very people you trust more than anyone in the world.

It tore my family into pieces. Some were in denial. No one could understand. Siblings started to pick sides. As a daddy's girl, I could not come to terms with what was happening. Throughout the court process I was able to see my father in a light that was inconceivable. He is a pedophile. He would say, "sorry" for his actions and then shortly justify them by saying that "she never told me no". This is an 8 year old innocent child we are talking about. It was heart breaking on so many levels. Especially for the victims.

To this day, my family is still in shambles. Nothing will tear a family apart faster than the devastation of child sex abuse. The most important thing you can do is to talk to your children! Not just once, all the time. It is a common talk I have with my children. I talk about that it can be someone they love and trust. Someone that I love and trust. And that NO ONE touches where there swim suit touches. We talk about it often so that they can feel comfortable talking about it at anytime. I do not want them to feel ashamed or embarrassed.

Please, please educate your child about child sex abuse and talk about it often! It's the only way to prevent or stop child sex abuse.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

April: Childhood Sexual Abuse Awareness Month

April is Childhood Sexual Abuse Awareness Month.  Please use this time to raise awareness to those in your communities, neighborhoods, and families.  Take time to talk to the loved ones in your lives, especially those precious children.  Help keep them safe.  If they are going through abuse, be their hero!  Let's break the silence that surrounds this topic.  It is difficult to talk about, but talking about it is the only way we can begin to change it.

As we move forward in this month, we renew our efforts in our Break the Silence campaign.  Whether you have been a victim, had a loved one affected by abuse, or simply want to speak you mind about CSA, we encourage you to send us a message and we will share it on this site.  Every person and every story can make a difference.  We just need to open our mouths.

"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats it children." - Nelson Mandela

If you wish to tell your story or share your opinion, please email us at

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Power of One - Recap

We just wanted to say thank you to everyone that came out to the event a month ago.  It was a great turn out, and I hope everyone that I attended was able to walk away with something, I know I did.  The one thing that hit me the hardest was a comment by Detective Russell.  I am paraphrasing, but he said, "Until we care enough to start talking about child sex abuse more, nothing will change."  I am more determined than ever to continue to talk about and fight against childhood sexual abuse.  Everyone at Run for Innocence has a renewed resolve to break the silence.  We hope you do to.

Check out the pictures from the event here.

-James Huntington

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Power of One... Breaking the Cycle of Abuse

Hello everyone!  We hope everyone is having a fantastic summer.  Well, it's time for another event!  Here are the details.  We hope you can make it!

A topic that has come a long way over the past 20 years but is still rarely talked abuse.  Everyone wants to believe it doesn't happen but the reality is it does and it can happen to any family.

Join us on Thursday August 22nd from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Sandra Lloyd Community Center Riverton Parks & Recreation Auditorium.  Hear from a former SVU Detective, a member from the District Attorney's office and a member from the Board of Pardons as they share valuable in site and experience in dealing and prosecuting abuse.  James Huntington, founder of Run For Innocence and Preston Jensen, two survivors of childhood sex abuse, will share their stories of hope and the power that one individual can have in breaking the cycle of abuse.

Following the presentations, will be a short Q&A session.  Everyone is welcome, adults and children! Let this be an opportunity to start talking openly about the reality of sex abuse within the home.  Free admission and light refreshments will be provided.

Date: 8/22/13 from 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Address: 12830 S 1700 W Riverton, UT 84065

If you have any questions, please contact Preston Jensen,, or James Huntington,

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Break the Silence: Post 2

This post is part of our "Break the Silence" campaign.  Please be aware that the following may contain descriptions of abuse that may be graphic in nature.

My name is Preston, I want to talk to you today about something that has affected me in a huge way throughout my entire life.  The topic has come along ways over the past 20 years but its still something so many people try to avoid.  So many people are affected by it but as a society were taught that it's a hush hush thing.  I'm here today because as a kid I was not taught about sex or anything pertaining to sex which ultimately made me the perfect victim for my perpetrator.  I was sexually abused as a kid, it started when I was 8 years old and went on/off until I was 13.  The abuse itself was pretty typical, it was someone I knew and trusted--my best friends step dad.  He gained my trust and little by little he began to manipulate me, the abuse started with small things, to be honest as a kid I didn't realize that what was taking place was bad or wrong until it was too late.  Once I realized what was going on hurt me, scared me and made me feel uncomfortable he began to threaten me with a knife.  The threats didn't happen every time but enough that I truly thought if I told someone he would either hurt me or my family.  So I did what any other kid would do, I put up with the abuse.  As I got older the abuse worsened and the times I tried to resist he made it tens times harder.  I was lost, I was a scared kid who had no one to turn to so I kept it inside and internalized it.  I wasn't his only victim, in fact the number is endless.  He abused my friend, his siblings and a hand full of cousins that we are aware of.  Once the abuse ended no one ever asked me about it so I kept it a secret, I felt some many different things.  I was scared, ashamed, confused, I felt guilty inside and I was mad at my parents for not protecting me but as I mentioned I was never asked about the abuse so I tried to move on with my life.

After I returned from a LDS mission in 2002 I started having seizures and the seizures became my way of dealing/coping with the abuse.  Over the next 7 years the seizures were my life, I did test after test and everything came back normal but they decided to put me on seizure medication.  The side effects were horrible I had blurred vision most days and fatigue to a point where I could barely function.  I slept 12 hours a day, I couldn't drive so I depended on my family/friends everywhere I went.  I could only work part time when the seizures were more under control.  My life became so restricted, I couldn't imagine living another 60 years like this I had hit rock bottom so many times that I was finally to a point where I was ready to deal with the abuse head on.  I started seeing a counselor in 2008 and over the next few months the memories/flashbacks of the abuse came flooding back.  I wondered if I was strong enough to endure this pain and agony.  At this point I was faced with a decision that would change my life forever, I finally decided to report it to the police.  From 2009-2011 I went through the court system, sometimes I wonder what was harder the abuse itself or now dealing with it 20 years later facing my perpetrator.  I think it helped tremendously being an adult, I finally realized that if anyone was going to stand up for me, it had to be me.

I would like to share with you 3 days that made me who I am today, first was the preliminary hearing.  This was the day I went head to head with my perpetrator, I finally got to tell my story.  It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done having to testify of the things he had done to me, I was scared, I thought I was going to have a seizure but I made it.  I testified that day and walked out of the courtroom in tears, tears of relief I felt like a weight had been taken off my shoulders.  I finally got to stick up for that kid who had been so badly hurt.  The second day I'd like to talk about was a week before the trial, he ended up taking a deal and part of the deal with he was willing to admit to it and go to prison.  So instead of the trial they scheduled a hearing where he did admit to the abuse.  It was a relief in a different way, I couldn't believe it was actually going to be over with.  I walked out of the courtroom that day in tears that day but I felt a happiness I've never felt before in my life.  Last day I would like to talk about is the day of sentencing, I was able to speak at it.  This helped me so much, I stood up for that kid one last time.  I wasn't scared, I didn't feel seizurey most of all the things I said I said it was confidence.  As the hearing ended they handcuffed him and took him away, it was over.  I walked out of the courtroom in tears but this day it was different, I left that day a man.  I learned so much going through all of this, I learned that abuse doesn't just affect the victim it affects everyone around my family/friends.  I learned that everyone deals/copes with abuse in their own way, with that being said it's an individual decision to decided to move on.  Lastly I learned that you can't do it alone, once I realized this it made things so much easier.  I had so many people play apart in me getting through this some did more than others.  From my family, my friends, the detective over my case, the DA's office, the DA counselors over my case and the counselors I saw.  They all gave me the strength I needed to deal/cope with the abuse.  Early on in the case I was struggling, I felt hopeless and I didn't know how much more I could handle.  I met with the detective and he wrote something down on a piece of paper, he said to keep it in my wallet and whenever I was struggling to look it.  It says you're not alone!!!!!!!  Short and sweet but to the point, I hope every victim out there knows you're not alone.  Listen to me, having been through it and made it through I'm here to say that it gets better and easier.  It's ok to tell someone, find someone you trust and let them ease the pain and heartache you feel because you're not alone!!!!!!!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Break the Silence: Post 1

This post is part of our "Break the Silence" campaign.  Please be aware that the following contains descriptions of abuse that are graphic in nature.

I grew up in a household of one boy and five girls.  I was the youngest.  It was kind of known amongst us sisters not to be alone with dad.  He was kind of a "hands on" kind of guy.  Back rubs, shoulder massages, they were something we all grew accustomed to. But as soon as he had one of us alone, it became bad news quick.  The "funny" thing is, we never took the abuse we received from him as a serious threat.  I kiddingly asked my sister once about it and she said, "its just dad being dad." I never knew the seriousness of his actions until later in life, even though the abuse was very disgusting.

Once when I was 11 I broke my leg.  Dad spent many nights helping me change my clothes.  I didn't realize he was grooming me into letting him see me naked, also giving him access to my body.  Once the cast came off, he still found ways to see me naked.  Often times he talked about my developing body.  Fondling became more and more frequent under the disguise of tickling.  Then the clothes started coming off, followed by giving and receiving oral sex.  He told me he just wanted to make each other feel good.  Nothing wrong with that right???  He was really sick.  It didn't happen more than once or twice a month, but that was because I learned he was also doing this to my older sisters.  It did however continue until I moved out of the house at age 21.  By that time he was having full fledged sex with me.   I hate myself sometimes for not knowing how terrible this all was.  I have no idea how he got away with it for so long.

The reason I shared this with you today is because you guys look like your around my age.  Also, you run.  I learned at a young age that running is about the best thing I could do for my body, as well as my mind.  I got away from "it all" by running a few miles every day.  It has helped so much and continues to help today.  Please continue your work in fighting against sexual abuse.  I think the more people talk about it, the more young people will know it is wrong.  I never had access to the internet like many girls do today.  I didn't know my dad was an evil person.  Your work will help someone like me.  Thanks so much!