Helping abused women
Helping abused women
By Karis Rogerson
The name Julie Shrader might not mean anything to you, but it means a lot to the broken and battered women of Omaha, Nebraska.
Shrader is the founder of Rejuvenating Women, a nondenominational support group where women, regardless of their religious, cultural, or social background, can find healing through therapy and group support.
Shrader wasn’t always the type of woman who could help others. Her early life was hard. “It was miserable,” she said, describing her first marriage, but that could also apply to her childhood living in poverty, her rape when she was still a virgin, the abuse at the hand of her daughter’s father or her need to turn to strip dancing to pay her bills.
Shrader was broken and battered. Even after she met her current husband and completed her GED, she was deeply unhappy. “I was living in a lot of shame,” she said, and her freedom from shame through forgiveness led to the “shame no more” motto of the organization.
Today, Shrader wants to help other women be free from shame. Rejuvenating Women offers support group meetings for women Monday and Thursday, and has licensed therapists—drug and alcohol, trauma, social services, and more—who volunteer to help them.
To say her job is challenging would be an understatement. She pours her heart into helping women, many of whom, she says, come from a history of sexual abuse, which can include rape, forced prostitution, or trafficking. It is difficult to watch them struggle to free themselves.
On average, these women go back to their situation about five times, and watching them return to a situation of pain is heart-rending for Shrader. But she pushes on because, she said, “I don’t ever wanna give up on these girls.”
“This is my heart,” she says. “I love these women, and I never thought that I would be that kind of person that would just love these women that other people have thrown away, and written off . . . I completely think . . . they are just as worthy as anybody else, and they need to be loved just like anybody else.”
Despite the challenges, there are very rewarding moments. One was watching a woman break down during a meeting and be prayed over by the others. It was the good kind of crying, Shrader said, the kind that brings healing. The woman eventually admitted that she needed God to help her forgive herself and those who had hurt her.
And Shrader says it’s God who helps her during the hard times. After a recent meeting that left her completely drained, she went home to spend some time reading her Bible. “I like to just open up in Psalms and Proverbs and I just like to come across things that just fill me,” she said. “I feel like I have to be filled back up. If I’m depleted, I’m not good for anybody.”
The effect she has had on women’s lives in Omaha might seem supernatural, and she would agree that it is not just through her own effort that things have changed. “The force behind this is God,” she said. “If it wasn’t for me just feeling like I’m doing what He wants me to do, I don’t know that I’d be doing this.”