A Lifetime of Healing and Redemption after Sexual Abuse with Lisa Michelle

Auntie Anne Beiler
January 11, 2022

Auntie Anne Beiler

Founder of Auntie Anne's Pretzels


When Lisa Michelle was a little girl, she would spend the weekends at a neighbor's house to get away from the abuse that was happening in her home. Her neighbor was a trusted individual in the community who ran the local mortuary. What no one knew, though, was that this trusted neighbor was actually a pedophile who sexually exploited Lisa and others.

I first met Lisa at a women’s event in San Antonio, TX, called Fear Into Faith, and when I heard her story, I knew at that moment I had to have her on the podcast. So this week on Overcome With Auntie Anne, I'm talking with Lisa Michelle about her remarkable story of survival, healing, forgiveness, redemption, and the love of God in action.

This is one story you don't want to miss, so head over to the podcast to listen to my entire conversation with Lisa. Or keep reading below for the highlights.

Growing up in a world of abuse

Lisa grew up in the suburbs of San Francisco, California. Her dad was part of the Oakland chapter of Hells Angels and a bartender at the bar he and Lisa's mother had. He was also a very violent man.

There was a lot of domestic abuse in Lisa's home--her dad would beat her mom. But there was also sexual abuse too. In fact, Lisa's dad sexually abused her for 14 years. "I was like a sex toy to him, and it was awful, and I didn't know any different." Constantly being abused was normal life for Lisa. So normal that she didn't even know it wasn't normal for a dad not to abuse his daughter.

Because she was afraid at home, Lisa would go out to the streets. "The streets felt safer, and it was this escape from that constant abuse and dysfunction that was in my home." But going into the streets left her vulnerable.

There was a man who lived across the street from her house, "a grandfather type who ran [the] local mortuary in town." He was well respected in the community, and Lisa's mom, who was being abused herself and just trying to survive, trusted him--everyone in the community did. And so she left her girls with him on the weekends.

But in reality, this man was a pedophile. "He was a very bile, twisted, perverse man." When Lisa stayed with him on the weekends at the mortuary (he and his wife had an apartment above), he would drug her with lemonade and cookies and then sexually exploit her through child pornography.

"Honestly, the things that happened to me inside that mortuary are so disturbing and so horrific that they're absolutely something I just never want to share. It's awful what happened in there."

Finding her voice

Because of the things she went through, Lisa says, "I was shut down for most of my life. I lived in shame and in fear, and my voice was the scariest thing ever for me to find."

Lisa used drugs and alcohol to cope with all that she went through and ended up dissociating and compartmentalizing all the abuse that had been done to her. And, she says, because she had been drugged by the pedophile, she had no short-term memories of what she had actually experienced.

But when she was 28, Lisa heard a woman sharing about sexual abuse and what she had personally experienced. And Lisa realized that this woman’s experience was the same as hers, and she went into shock. "It was the first time that I started to feel what had happened to me."

After hearing that woman, "it was like a little light bulb went on, a little trigger in my mind, and I went, 'Oh, I've been sexually abused.'"

She wanted to tell someone right away. So she called her older sister, a trusted friend, and shared everything that she went through and had experienced. Lisa sharing then gave her sister the freedom to share the things that had happened to her as well. Lisa says they began to find their voices, and it began building their self-confidence.

Through counseling, Lisa started to recover memories and started to recall all the things that had happened to her. "It was like all those files in your brain start to come forward." She started having flashbacks and night terrors about all the abuse she'd gone through.

Finding healing

The first step towards healing for Lisa was completely surrendering her life to God. At the time, she was in Alcoholics Anonymous and was trying hard to give up her addictions. But it wasn't working. When she surrendered her life to God, though, her desire to abuse the drugs and alcohol miraculously disappeared.

"And that's what started the healing process because now I'm not disassociating from my past. And now I'm able to be vulnerable, to be real, to be inside my own self."

Eventually, Lisa was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But with the help of a trusted psychiatrist, she was able to walk through a process towards inner healing. And even though she went on medication for a while, she eventually found deliverance. And today she is medication-free and completely sane.

She also had an incredible support system around her during her journey towards healing. By sharing the truth about what she went through, it opened up other family members to share the truth about what they went through as well. Lisa says it "had a trickle effect in inner healing for all of us."

This is why she's so passionate about sharing her story, because so many other people have gone through, or are going through, what she went through. And hearing Lisa talk about her experience openly gives others the courage to speak out as well.

Helping others heal

Today, Lisa is the CEO of Untethered Ministries, a nonprofit guiding women and children into inner healing from being sexually abused, exploited, and trafficked. They're committed to being the support system for these people. And they offer emotional and spiritual support so that others can find the same sort of healing that Lisa found.

Lisa understands that abuse survival is a lifelong journey. There's not a moment where you say, "I healed. I'm done," and just move on. It's a process. "When you are sexually abused, exploited, or trafficked, it literally shuts down your destiny, and you don't know who you are, and you're stuck in that identity. And so helping [women] find their true identity is a gift."

Another way she engages in this work is by going into strip clubs. 14 years ago, God put it on her heart to do this work. At the time, she was sick, had been in bed for three months, and was allergic to everything. (She eventually found out it was because of black mold in her home). But it brought her to a place of vulnerability with God, and she told him she'd do whatever he wanted her to do.

Lisa recalls God's answer, "Lisa, I want you to stop feeling sorry for yourself. And I want you to pick up your mat and to walk with me." She says, "That walk led me right into the front door of a strip club."

Lisa questioned why God would take her to a strip club. She was a Christian woman who taught the Bible to four and five-year-old kids. It was hard for her to understand, and she didn't think she could relate to the women there.

But the first time she went into a club, she had to walk out. "I repented right there in the parking lot because I found out that she is me, and that I am her, and that I had built walls between the two of us, and that I didn't know those broken places still in my heart I misunderstood her. I judged her."

Today, though, Lisa is able to share her own story, her journey towards healing, as a way to open the door to help these women find their own voices and their own identities. And lives are being changed..

Forgiveness and Redemption

As a part of her healing process, Lisa's psychiatrist had her write a letter of forgiveness to her dad. He emphasized that this was for her, and that she didn't have to send it. This was part of her healing journey, to get what was in her head into her heart.

Lisa didn't believe the words she was writing, but when she was done with it, she sent it anyway. She and her dad hadn't been on speaking terms for ten years. But one night, she got a call that her dad was in the ICU and was unlikely to survive. So she went to be by his side.

He ended up surviving, and Lisa got to love on him for the last eight years of his life. Her dad, being an alcoholic and a sex addict, regretted his life. But in those last eight years, Lisa got to show him what true, unconditional love looks like--she got to show him what the love of God is like. "And God used me in his life, which is truly remarkable that I could have that heart shift towards the worst person in this world that I literally hated with every fiber in me."

Lisa's dad recently passed away from Covid. But the last thing she ever said to him was, "I love you." It truly is remarkable--it's the redeeming love of God in action.

If you'd like to learn more about Lisa, you can check out her website. She has a new book about her story coming out soon, and you can keep tabs on that on her website. And her nonprofit can be found at untetheredministries.org, so be sure to check that out as well.

The post A Lifetime of Healing and Redemption after Sexual Abuse with Lisa Michelle appeared first on Auntie Anne Beiler.

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