From Victim to Victory: Rene Michele’s Healing Journey

Woman crying

For 16 years, Rene Michele was silent about the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. While she was growing up, there was much less awareness and education about how to deal with these issues than there is now. “There was no one talking about abuse,” she said. “You swept those things under the carpet.”

Talking to Robbo and Alex on Vision’s Rise and Shine, Rene admitted that like many survivors, she tried to fill her life with harmful things like drugs and alcohol. “I was so so broken, and I had spent so many years trying to get back on my feet just to fall down again. And nothing I did worked.”

But at 26, she realised something had to change. “The turning point for me was the birth of my daughter. I looked down at her when she was born, and I was just like no, this has to end. I refuse to allow her to have any type of similar experience to what I went through.”

“I got to a point where I didn’t even look at myself in the mirror, because what I saw was nothing good. How can you operate out of that place? And I was a parent now. So how could I be a role model? How could I care for a child, and explain to her that she was amazing just the way she was, if I did not see that in myself?”

Rene Michele
Rene Michele with her new book 'Battle Scars Are Beautiful'.

Though she’d never had a relationship with Christ, the Church had always seemed like a safe place to her. She opened the phonebook, and looked up the nearest one. “That Sunday, I went in with my daughter, and it was Hillsong Church in Sydney, and the day I walked in, there were survivors on the platform, talking about their transformation.”

She stayed through both services, and cried the whole time. “I just wanted it all,” she said. “I just knew that God was speaking to me that day. I felt it. I was amongst 3,000 people, and felt I was the only one there.”

From that day on, Rene was hungry for the Truth. She’d accepted Christ, but didn’t know what that meant. She enrolled in Bible College, attending evening classes, and took notes of passages she couldn’t understand to ask for clarification. She still had years of healing ahead, but she knew she was on the right path.

She said one of the keys to her victory was finding her identity. She realised that unless we see ourselves as Christ sees us, we’ll always fall short of our potential. Once she understood that she was a work of beauty, created in his image, her journey could begin.

“That’s when I knew I had everything I needed to get through. I knew it was going to be a process, but that was my starting point, and it enabled me to strip away that negativity.”

For years, Rene felt invisible and voiceless. Now, she’s speaking up about her experience, in public engagements and podcasts. When she was asked to write her story, it came quicker than she expected. “At the outset, I said give me a year, but once I star. ted putting pen to paper, which I’d never done before, it just poured out of me. And within 30 days, we had the basic manuscript.”

She called her book Battle Scars are Beautiful, to highlight how talking about our struggles can glorify Christ. “It’s what we go through, it’s our experiences, that do form us, and form part of our message, and who we are, and what we have to share with the world.”

Rene also spoke more about what that healing looked like. Part of it was learning how to trust again, after having been betrayed by her caregivers. For that and more, listen to her conversation with Robbo and Alex below.

Rene Michele’s book, “battle Scars are Beautiful: From Victim to Victory”, is available now to buy from her website.

Tune into Rise & Shine weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.

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