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Rape Survivor Discovers Joy In the Midst of Depression

Stunt double Laurie Singer Harper has performed hundreds of dangerous crashes, falls, and spills in her career.  She has to have courage, strength, and self-confidence – things she had plenty of as a teenager growing up in North Carolina.

According to Laurie, “I found my joy in the gym, in gymnastics, it was so much fun learning new skills.  I felt so much joy when I was in the air flipping.  I felt confident.”

That all changed when Laurie was 15.  She was at a party, when a boy she knew asked her upstairs to talk.  Instead, he trapped her a room, put a pillow over her hear, and raped her.  No one could hear her scream.

Laurie says, “I remember laying there on that bed thinking, why?  Why has this just happened to me?  Why?  Why me?  These are the things that don’t happen to people like me.  But I hated myself walking into a room not knowing what was going to happen to me.  I hated the fact that I was in a position that I was helpless.”

Laurie felt too ashamed to tell anyone.    

She says, “I just remember being so sad, so sad about it and so depressed about it that I didn’t know what to do about it, but I didn’t want to talk to people.  I didn’t want to talk to anybody about it.”   

With a growing sense of shame and self-hatred, Laurie isolated herself from family and friends, falling deeper into depression.

For Laurie, “Depression to me felt like why wake up when you could just be dead?  It felt like why get out of this bed when you’re happier when you’re asleep?  The joy comes out and the-and there was just no hope.”

Then she started cutting herself.

She explains, “I would look in the mirror and I would take thumbtacks, and I would scratch on my cheek until it bled.  And then I would stop.  I couldn’t really understand why I was doing it.  I hated myself so much that if I wasn’t going to die I was going to suffer.”

A few months after the attack, Laurie confided in her best friend.  But that trust was quickly broken.

Laurie says, “Next thing you know, people online started messaging me about the rape.  And that put me to the very end of my rope.  I couldn’t believe that my best friend, that I trusted, would tell somebody.”  

On impulse, Laurie downed a handful of pills she found at home – a decision she questioned right away.  

She remembers, “After I took those pills, all of that sudden that boldness of I want to die became, do I want to die?   And I went downstairs and I told my Mom.”

Laurie’s Mom called the poison control center, and learned there wasn’t any danger.  But she knew Laurie needed help, so she took her to a psychiatrist, who put her on medication for ADHD and depression.

Laurie says, “As opposed to always depressed, I started becoming more even.  But just because I went on medication didn’t give me joy in my life again.  It didn’t.  I was going along living life, but I didn’t feel good inside.  I didn't feel great like I used to.  I just still felt on autopilot.”

One day at school, Laurie met a college student who invited her to a Christian youth group gathering called Young Life.  At once, Laurie noticed there was something different about her.

Laurie says, “I was like this girl, I’ve never seen a joy like that in somebody.  I mean, this was more joyous than who I was before the rape.  And so I was thinking that girl has got something special.  And whatever it is, I want it.”

So Laurie went to the meeting, and discovered what her new friend had: faith in Jesus.

Laurie says, “When I started to learn about who Jesus is, I started to receive joy in my heart again.  No matter what it was that was dark that had happened in my life, that He loved me anyway.   I said yes Lord, come in my life.  I’m ready.  I’m at the darkest place I’ve ever been, and I accept You fully.  Bring it on!  After I accepted Jesus, it felt like the depression went away.”

Instead of giving into depression, she learned to depend on God for strength and joy.

She says, “God’s presence gives me the confidence to know that He’s going to be there and He’s going to protect me.” 

And Laurie says it was God who led her to a dream career as a stunt woman, and also to her husband, Will Harper, who happens to be a stunt man.  She’s learned that when she seeks God through life’s trials, she’ll find joy.

She says, “Now I am hopeful for the future.  I know that He has a plan and purpose for my life.  Everything’s changed.”

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