New Memoir Offers Courageous Journey Of Assault Survivor Seeking Wholeness

[TW: Rape, sexual assault]

Anne Reeder Heck’s new memoir offers both guidance and solace for those seeking healing and ready to explore paths of forgiveness and spirituality. ‘A Fierce Belief in Miracles: My Journey from Rape to Healing and Wholeness‘ (She Writes Press, available Sept. 22, 2020) is a powerful and uplifting story of determination and trust. It’s for anyone who believes in—or questions—the existence of miracles.

‘A Fierce Belief in Miracles’ recounts the experience of Anne, who at age 26 was enjoying a morning bicycle ride in northern Virginia when she was stopped by a man asking for directions. She was violently beaten and raped. Heck is tenacious in her pursuit to heal the pain permeating her body after the rape, and she devotes herself to a healing quest that opens her to the transformative power of intention, intuition and trust. Her prayers for strength are synchronistically answered with a DNA match and identification of her rapist 14 years after the crime. 

Featured on the front page of The Washington Post and by Diane Sawyer on ‘Good Morning America’, Anne shares her story to offer hope and support to others navigating their way to wholeness. Gail Straub, award-winning author and co-founder of Empowerment Institute calls Anne’s work “a courageous and generous account of one woman’s healing journey and a testament to resilience of the human spirit.” In this inspiring story, readers will witness the beauty that emerges from darkness, the goodness that is born of ill-guided acts, and the perfection of all that transpires on this path we call life.

In the following interview, Anne talks about healing, her book, and why her belief in miracles is indeed so fierce:

What inspired you to write ‘A Fierce Belief in Miracles’? 

I spent years browsing libraries and later the Internet to find a true story of someone who had navigated their way to wholeness after rape—a story that could give me hope in what sometimes seemed a hopeless search. I wanted to read about those who’d been broken open and had come to discover their inner strength, their authentic voice and an understanding that our traumas are a precious part of our life experience. My book tells that story. What’s more, I consider my story nothing short of miraculous, and one that needs to be shared.

What can readers hope to learn from this book?

My intention in writing this book was to offer hope to those on a healing path. I share teachings that I’ve found invaluable and introduce the reader to some alternative paths of addressing the traumas in their life. While I can’t predict what a reader may take from this book, I know there are plenty of powerful messages available to those who are open.

What was the most challenging part of writing ‘A Fierce Belief in Miracles’?

The writing and extensive editing process were grueling. I hadn’t anticipated how emotionally draining this would be. What I learned is that writing about trauma can be re-traumatizing. I had thought that it could be healing, but for me that wasn’t the case. Writing and editing required great self-compassion and self-care.

A large part of your healing was directed by the making of dolls. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes. For seven years, I devoted myself to making dolls – medicine dolls you might call them – as part of my healing. By placing my emotion outside of myself, I could see it/myself from new perspectives, have a better idea of what I needed, and alter the course to find a new place of balance. The doll series clearly depicts a path of moving from pain and fear to freedom, vitality, strength, and wisdom.

How did you come to believe in miracles? Can you remember the specific moment?

As a youngster, I was pragmatic and realistic on the exterior and a mystic and dreamer on the interior. In chapter 11 of my book, a chapter titled “Possibility,” I write: “miracles—transformations that could not be explained by science—were a concept I warmed to cautiously. My mind required a rational basis or personal experience to give credence to something beyond reason. However, the faint and timid whisper of my heart fiercely believed in miracles. It was this heart whisper that began to speak to me in my despairing moments during the years I sought healing. It was this quiet voice that encouraged me to stay open to possibility.” 

I consciously chose to stay curious, to be expectant about what may come. It was partly a mind game to keep me focused positively, but truly, I wanted a faith in miracles, to experience proof of miracles in my own life. My transformative moments as concerns this are described in my book. They were nothing short of miraculous. This is partly why I needed to write this story.

How important is forgiveness to the healing process? 

My experience is not going to be the same as that of others, but forgiveness was an essential part of my healing. Any anger or judgment I had about the rapist or the experience of rape hurt me more than it hurt anyone else. When we forgive and find peace this helps us, and it also heals others. It’s a compassionate gift to all people to let go of our anger and open our hearts to love.

What does it mean for you to live openly as a survivor of assault? 

Terry committed a crime against me that was horrendous and hurtful in so many ways. I couldn’t cover that up and move forward knowing that it could happen to someone else. From day one, I did all I could to identify my assailant. It didn’t matter what that required of me; I simply needed to speak the truth, and be open about my experience. At this point in my journey, the rape doesn’t define me. My healing journey defines me. This is the piece that I’m inspired to share with others – that healing is available to us, and not just healing, but miracles. Yes, miracles.

Author Anne Reeder Heck

Comments are closed.