Friday, August 28, 2009

The Third Floor Window ~ A Survivor's Story of Hope

Recently I was the recipient of a book by Colleen Spiro, titled The Third Floor Window. It is a true story and based upon Colleen’s life as a child of sexual abuse. The added heartbreak to this abuse is, it was at the hands of her father, the man who was supposed to protect her.

As someone unfamiliar with abuse, it is hard to fathom one would harm a precious child. As a person of faith it is crushing to find that child’s innocence, love and trust being violated. We are taught our bodies are temples of God, and these impure acts upon those abused are a desecration of God’s temple.

One portion of Colleen’s book is the crux of my beginning to understand. On page 72 she wondered where God was during her abuse. She sees Jesus in the corner of her bedroom, and He is crying. She saw pain and sadness on His face. It was then she knew Jesus was with her, and He knew her pain and suffering. She goes on to write it is important to her for others to understand what she’s been through. She doesn’t want to be minimized, to be alone.

And the shared suffering with Jesus, helps me see where we minimize others and desert them. When we do these things, we are doing it to Jesus too.

It’s true, only those who have similar experiences in life can relate to each other. I believe this book is significant because Colleen wants people to know the abuse still happens, and no matter how much time passes it is not something to be packed away and forgotten. It is a lifelong commitment for survivors to move forward in hope and healing.

The message I sent her after the first reading included this phrase, “…now I understand why some people don’t make it.” She responded that is what she wants her book to be about. It is not only for other victims, it is definitely for the rest of us. It is for us to see why some people deal with lack of trust, fear of rejection and questioning of friendship and love. It’s a lesson we need to remember and write on our hearts.

Finally, I still wondered why God didn’t intervene. I know there are many things that are a mystery, but I fear Our Lord will give me the following answer. “You Margaret, have not prayed enough, sacrificed enough and loved enough.” It is true; evil gets a foothold when we allow it. Why do I say this? Because we are the Body of Christ, we are His hands on earth. We are family, and we are responsible for each other. So for those reading this, please add these children and adult children to your daily prayers. Offer acts of kindness and sacrifice for them. And though it is difficult, pray for their abusers too.

Thank you Colleen for writing this book, I needed to read it and so do many others.


Colleen Spiro is a certified spiritual director, a Benedictine Oblate and is employed as a parish secretary. She leads retreats and has written several articles that have been published in Christian magazines. Colleen lives with her husband in Florida.

Visit Surviving by Grace to learn more about Colleen and how to order The Third Floor Window.


Karinann said...

Thanks for sharing a bit more about Colleen's book. While this horrible thing never should have happened to her, God has brought about great good in and from Colleen's suffering~this book being among them.
I enjoy Colleen's writing immensely and will put her book on my "must read" list.
Awareness and compassion are so important in so many areas of life. As the Body of Christ when one member hurts we are all affected.
Thanks and God Bless!

HeartfeltHeartLook said...

Karinann, you are so precious. "Awareness and compassion are so important in so many areas of life. As the Body of Christ when one member hurts we are all affected."

Patricia Singleton said...

I just finished reading Colleen's book last night. As an incest survivor myself, I felt like Colleen was telling my story. I knew that Colleen was an incest survivor but still did not know that we had so much in common. Colleen is a very courageous lady whose faith in God is an inspiration to me.

Just Be Real said...

Great review and so very true! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Blessings....

sarah said...

I asked God why for a long time. Why did/does He allow these horrible things to take place. I stopped asking why because everyone has free will - even free will to hurt others. Thanking God Colleen survived and is using her life to help others. Sarah

Tannia E. Ortiz-Lopes said...

Margaret I had the honor and pleasure of reading and reviewing Colleen's book. Yes, I felt the book was well written and took a lot of courage for Colleen to let those bad memories resurfaces again in her mind. In today society where many still think the child made it up, many abuses go unreported and the victim never had the chance to heal properly. One of the thing I loved about the book, was Colleen simplicity and nakeness while opening up her innerself to strangers and still be able to walk on the street while revealing this dark secret. I admire her encourage to continue spreading the word about this wickeness in our society. It takes time to heal. However, when Jesus comes to our lives He helps us to understand and answer the question. Why? Where was God when all this happened? It takes time, prayers, and willingness to listen, to act, and to move forward that give these victims the strenght to move on.

I pray many read this valuable book and learn from Colleen's mom mistake and her father sickness and find a way to prevent it and/or to help in the healing of the victims and family. In this case not only the victim suffer, also the family since they are many who judge without understanding the situation. To fully understand and gasp the feelings, you have to walk a mile and then some on the victims shoes and then in grace and thanksgiving honor the Lord.

In Christ we pray for the healing of victims like Colleen and others. Amen.

HeartfeltHeartLook said...

Patricia, I am happy that Colleen, you and others step forward, because I think one of the worst things in the world is feeling alone, like you're the only one having to deal with struggling. Thank you for visiting! Hugs and Blessings to you!

JBR, You are another light shining in the darkness. Keep keeping on! Hugs!!!

Sarah, Good point. Free will, used by some, becomes a prison for others. And through Christ Colleen has allowed good to come out of the bad by helping others. With Him all things are possible...Thank you Sarah ~ Hugs your way too!

Tannia, Beautifully said! Thank you...In Christ we pray for the healing of victims like Colleen and others. Amen Hugs!!!

Lisa Marie said...

What a wonderful review of this book. I read Colleen's blog and have put much thought into reading her book, as I too am a child of sexual abuse... butI am just not healed enough yet to read of other peoples hurts. I am still wondering what you have written:

"Finally, I still wondered why God didn’t intervene?"

~ Judy ~ said...

A wonderful review of an excellent book written by an awesome woman! Colleen's strength, courage, conviction, compassion, forgiveness, and LOVE OF OTHERS is such s blessing and good example in my life. I'm thankful for her writings and I'm glad that you had an opportunity to read/review her book here on your blog.

HeartfeltHeartLook said...

Lisa Marie, What you say makes sense...about not being healed enough. But I do have to say Colleen's writing is sensitive to what might disturb you. We'll pray in time that you will be able to read it, because as you know she is a wonderful woman and willing to help you any way she can.

My question for God?! I think from my side, hopefully you see, where the rest of us have let you down.

Lisa Marie I stopped here and waited for God (in prayer)because I didn't know what to say. This is what I received; Our Lord wants you to know, He did intervene through His Cross. He wants you to know He knows your hurt and pain. And he is grieved that you, his precious one is wounded. He asks that you put all your trust in Him. His plan for you will unfold, but He will not move until you allow Him. (What I gather from that last statement is, He will not infringe on your free will or force Himself into your heart. He is willing to wait for you as long as needed.) I'm praying for you!

Judy, Thank you, I felt the review was so inadequate, because there is so much to learn from her book. Colleen is exactly as you say. God is working through her and many others. Because these amazing people are stepping forward, others will not have to be alone. Hugs to you!!!

RAnn said...

I'd like to invite you to participate in Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of bloggers who share our best posts with each other weekly. Check us out at

HeartfeltHeartLook said...

Thank you RAnn!