Angi Reno's recovery from years of abuse as a child, doesn't exactly follow a 12-step plan.
It's more like a road of a million baby steps. Some of the steps are backward or downward into depression and fear, but thankfully, said Reno, those have only made for a stronger foundation.
Even after a long marriage to a man who would never hurt or hit her, Reno said she had difficulty fully accepting that in true love, there doesn't have to be hitting, hurting or violence, that it is OK to let those wounds heal and celebrate love and a healthy, tender relationship.
And long after the physical abuse she suffered as a child and that she saw her mother and siblings suffer had stopped, there was a haunting fear.
Can this possibly last?
Married for 22 years to Wade Reno, Angi said that it can and does has become a genuine reality worth daily celebration and thankfulness in her life
“It took me a long time to understand that what I witnessed my father doing to my mother – beating her, hurting her – wasn't my fault,” Reno told the small group gathered for the annual candlelight program honoring the survivors of domestic violence and honoring those who didn't survive earlier this month.
Reno told those gathered that her father had not believed he was her father, and so, he abused her mother throughout her pregnancy, and resumed that abuse when her mother returned from the hospital. The beatings were daily and often involved Reno and her siblings.
At age 7 Reno went to school with a broken arm and black eyes. Yet, there was no intervention.
Reno's encouragement to those gathered was to decide not to be a victim.
“Find the strength,” she said, “to walk away.”
Reno said as a child, she knew on some level that she would do what she had to do to get away from the abuse. She would not be a victim for the rest of her life. She would not allow anyone to hurt her – ever again.
Though the abuse would continue into adolescence, and once her father was out of her life go on to include a stepfather who would also molest her when she was 13, Reno's first step of her long road of recovery came with that decision.
“My innocence has never been there for me,” Reno said. “From the day I was brought home from the hospital I had been a victim of abuse.”
In October of 2011Reno said, “God laid heavily on my heart that I should share my story.”
For the past year she has prayerfully done so, hoping it will help someone who desperately needs to walk away from their abuser, and at the same time helping her close the wounds and stay on her journey of recovery.
“Not one of us is anything less than wonderfully made,” Reno said at the vigil. “By the grace of God I survived my abuse, I am married to a wonderful man who has loved me and never raised his hand to me.
“You are not to be abused. You are all beautiful and wonderfully made. Every child is a gift of God. God doesn't make mistakes.”