I’m so excited to have Rachelle Croft and Rhonda Cahill here today on my blog. They are doing something outrageous and audacious, raising awareness about sexual abuse while participating in something difficult. They are full of courage and verve! I had the privilege of asking them a few questions.
What spurred you to take note of the issue of sexual abuse?
RACHELLE: Unfortunately, I was a victim of sexual abuse from a young age of 5 to about 13 years old. There were about 3 different people in that time span. So right away, your title “Not Marked” struck a nerve in me, because I agree, it feels like a target has been placed on you once you have been a victim even once.
I chose to bury my sexual abuse and pretend it never happened until about 3 years ago. I am 30 now, married my high school sweetheart and we have 3 boys. After struggling with depression for most of my life, I was ready to be DONE. I knew God created me for more in this life than just, ‘getting by’, and I wanted my full identity and purpose of who I was made to be. Since that decision and talk with God, it has been quite the journey. I have always wanted to help others that were victims, I just wasn’t sure how or when God would use me for that. I am so honored I get to do what I love, be adventurous, and be a voice for those who have not found theirs through this Rallye!
RHONDA: I have also been a victim of sexual abuse. My abuse was from a 14 year old babysitter when I was three. It happened again with a male cousin when I was around the age of 7. I had nightmares for the next 17 years of my life until a friend in college (who was going through the first steps of her own sexual abuse healing) encouraged me to tell my parents. She had someone help her, then she helped me and I then wanted to help others. Something clicked in that moment for me. I needed to tell my story so others would have the courage to tell theirs. I can say that after that Christmas, when I had the courage to talk to my parents about my sexual abuse, I stopped having all of my nightmares reliving the trauma. It was as if a thousand pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. I have spent the last 10 years encouraging friends who have suffered from sexual abuse to seek healing, prayer, and counsel. When Rachelle told me about her vision of campaigning against this issue I knew it was something that I had to be a part of. Every time I hear another story of a woman who has been freed from her past or a child that has been lifted out of a violent situation, it’s as if I have been given a new gift. I cannot wait to keep sharing our stories of survival so that others will have the courage to come forward.
How do the two of you know each other?
Rhonda came into my life about 4 years ago. Right at the time I was ready for healing and desperately needed a friend. God goes before you. She and her husband went on a trip to Uganda with my husband, Clay, for the “Uganda Orphans Fund”. Clay was hired to film a video, Rhonda and Scott were there to love on the kiddos and take pictures for the organization. I wasn’t able to go on this trip, I was pregnant with our 3rd boy, Eli. They came home and Clay told me that he thought ‘Rhonda and I would hit it off’. They had us over for dinner one night and the rest is history! We clicked right away and also found out we had both been victims of sexual abuse.
Rachelle shared how we met, but I would like to add what fused our friendship. We definitely have a friendship that was forged from God knowing exactly what we needed. We both were in a season of praying for a friend. I laugh when I look at the two of us. Outside of our hobbies and love for anything involving extreme motorsports, we could not be more different. I am outspoken, love crowds of people and wear my emotions on my sleeve. Rachelle is strong, has a quiet reserve, and loves her time alone. It is these differences that have made us the friends we are today. Every area I struggle with is the exact area that Rachelle is strong and vise versa. I see this combination of personalities as such a dynamic influence to the women we speak to. Sometimes they need a women who will boldly fight for them and others just need a safe place to land. I look forward to a lifetime of iron sharpening iron as we walk this road together.
What is the thing you love the best about the other?
I love Rhonda’s ability to raise me up. I know she has my best interest in mind and she loves me enough to not let me be anything other than what my creator intended. She is HILARIOUS, and (I’m actually tearing as I write this), knows my heart, and how to ‘flip’ any situation for God’s glory.
I absolutely love Rachelle’s ability to listen first. I know when she speaks to me her words have weight because she has taken the time to respond. I am an external processor and I know that I have complete freedom to work through a situation out loud with her. She is always a safe place. She always encourages and she always give the benefit of the doubt. I have never laughed as hard or as long as I have with Rachelle. Its as if we have the ability to find supernatural joy in the midst of pain.
When/how did you decide to do the all women off-road rallye in Morocco?
I actually drove in this Rallye in 2012 with an amazing woman I met briefly while working with my husband on our show. I was in the beginning stages of discovering who I was again and this looked like something I had to try for. God gave me permission, my husband gave me his blessing, and Julie and I went for it. I did it for me. I had always been adventurous and I had buried it over the years of abuse, marriage, and kids. It was one of the hardest, most rewarding things I had ever done. I knew at the end I wanted to go back, I just didn’t know when or how. I started X Elles Racing in 2012 to run that race and then set it aside for when God would tell me what to do with the company. Now I know, at least for this year 😉
I did not know that I was doing this Rallye until July of this year. I had not planned on going. Rachelle had another teammate at the time and I was so excited to be their biggest cheerleader. I had known all along that I wanted to help her with the campaign of the race. Due to other circumstances, her teammate had to back out. I had a dream the night before Rachelle asked me to be her teammate that I was in a race with her. In the dream, we had to get 20 miles from the mountains all the way into town in the middle of the night. We had the ability to run as fast as cars and fend off wild animals that tried to hurt us. The dream ended with us crossing a finish line with huge smiles on our faces. I believe this dream was the Father showing me that I would be doing this race, but also, a picture of the bigger race we are running with this campaign. I have to say that joining this race with Rachelle has already increased my faith in ways I never imagined. I do not tend to chase after adventure, so if it wasn’t for Rachelle’s courage, I would never have done something like this. I cannot wait to see everything that God unfolds for us.
What do you hope to gain once you’ve crossed the finish line?
I hope to be an inspiration for anyone that feels lost, hopeless, or ‘dead inside’. I am nobody. Really. If I can do this, anyone can. Let God fight for you, He will.
I hope to gain an even deeper friendship with Rhonda, you can’t go through something like this and not come out stronger on the other side.
I am also very excited for the relationships that will be built with the other teams from around the world. You never who God has in store for you to meet.
I hope to gain back that part of me that used to never fear the unknown.
I want to learn to trust the dreams that God gives me.
I want to see Rachelle and I’s friendship come to the place where our love and understanding is tangible to the women we meet.
I want to have many more opportunities to share my story and watch others be set free.
What is Voice Today?
“Voice Today” is a non-profit organization breaking the silence and cycle of sexual abuse through awareness, prevention, & healing programs & resources”.
Angela Williams, the founder of Voice Today, is a survivor of 14 years of sexual abuse and the author of “From Sorrows to Sapphires”.
I messaged her after finding her website and she was so excited about partnering with us for the Rallye and of course, our mission. We are honored for “Voice Today” to be have our ‘Tilte Sponsor’ place on our race vehicle this year. 5% of everything we raise to fund the Rallye goes directly to ‘Voice Today’ to help continue the work they are doing. I strongly urge anyone to check out their website.
How can we partner with you?
WE NEED PRAYER!
We also need money
To participate in this Rallye costs about $35,000 and since we are not taking sponsors this year, only donations, we need some miracles. The first year I raced my teammate and I took on sponsors, which is the normal way of doing it, think NASCAR. However, this year, we wanted ‘Voice Today’ and our mission to be the focus on our vehicle. That way, it will not get lost with other sponsor logos on our race truck, and we have the freedom to focus 100% of our efforts on being ‘1 in 4′ and awareness to sexual abuse.
Please go to our website and click on ‘donate’ or you may go directly to www.voicetoday.org/donate. Fill out the donate form and put ‘X Elles Sponsorship’ in the ‘first or last’ name lines. All donations are tax deductible through ‘Voice Today’, a registered 501c3.
To find out more about the Rallye you can also go to www.rallyeaichadesgazelles.com. Just be careful, you may be next! Any woman can do it!