Sally Simmone, teacher at J.W. Arnold Elementary School, in Jonesboro, recently wrote a book about the abuse she endured as a child.
Sally Simmone, a teacher at J.W. Arnold Elementary School, in Jonesboro, said she was 4 years old when older kids living in her neighborhood, in Knoxville, Tennessee, started to sexually molest her. The abuse lasted until she was 7 years old.
Now, Simmone is unveiling her pain in a book she has written called, “Guilty As Charged … Forgiven As Promised,” published in January by Crossbooks Publishers.
The book tells about her journey of overcoming molestation, depression, learning to forgive, and finding inner peace through God’s healing powers.
“Learning to forgive yourself and others is just as important as learning to accept God’s forgiveness. I hope to provide inspiration for others, helping them claim the freedom they can have through Jesus Christ,” said Simmone.
The abuse as a child, she said, left her in pain, felling guilty and ashamed. “I lived behind a mask for 38 years, pretending that everything was OK,” said Simmone. “But, I was being eaten alive on the inside.”
She said no one in her family knew about her abuse — not her mother, father, her two daughters, or her husband — for more than 20 years.
“When you experience abuse, it affects you emotionally and as an adult I made some bad decisions,” she said. “It was a deep dark secret and I didn’t want anybody to know.”
It was in 1993, Simmone said, she could not keep holding onto the torment she was feeling on the inside, and that’s when she said God brought her down to her knees, and she revealed her secret to a close friend. “It all started coming out of me like an explosion,” she said. When it came time to tell her family about her abuse, Simmone said, it was difficult.
As a child, Simmone said her life seemed perfect on the outside. She said she grew up in a “loving Christian home.” Her father was a minister at a Baptist church and her mother a devout woman of God. With a picturesque Christian upbringing, she said when she told her parents about her abuse, both were shocked.
“My mom had no idea, but how could she? I never told her. But she felt guilty like she should have done something to protect me, but there was nothing she could have done.” Her mother passed away in 2007. Her father, now 92, still remains inspirational in her life she said.
Simmone said she was frightened to tell her husband, who is also a minister. “When I told him what happened to me, he looked at me and said, ‘Did you think I would not love you anymore?’ ” she said. “That’s when he was able to understand some of the problems we had had in our marriage.”
After unveiling her secret, Simmone said she finally collapsed under the burden she had carried most of her life. She said she sank into a deep depression, endured years of counseling, and was even hospitalized. However, she said her journey led her to discover the depths of God’s love. Simmone said she emerged, knowing God’s healing and forgiveness would help her through.
She added the title of her book came from a dream she had, for which she credits God. She said in her dream God showed her a gavel that represented her guilt and shame and then, she said he showed her a cross which represented his forgiveness.
Simmone said she does not go into details about the molestation in her book but she does share about the wrong choices she made as an adult. She said she does not reveal any names of her abusers.
“This is a Christian testimony,” said Simmone. “I don’t want to ruin the reputations of other people or their families.”
“I know there are many people who have been sexually abused. I want to give them hope through my personal story. I try not to dwell on the abuse, but on God’s love and forgiveness. My book is about how [God] can pick up the broken pieces and make you whole again,” said Simmone.
Simmone has four grandchildren and is currently expanding her career as an inspirational speaker. She said she has dedicated her life to sharing her story with others struggling with hardship.
Copies of her book, “Guilty As Charged … Forgiven As Promised,” can be purchased online at amazon.com or www.christianbooks.com.