In 1973, Patricia Hearst was kidnapped. As daughter of millionaire publicist William Randolph Hearst and heir to Hearst Publishing she was held for ransom. The kidnappers were an organization that called themselves the "Symbionese Liberation Army" or the "SLA", of which my father Donald DeFreeze (alias General Field Marshal Cinque) was the leader and organizer. In 1975, my father and several members of the SLA were killed during a controversial confrontation with the Los Angeles S.W.A.T. team.
The earliest memory I have of my father is of him reaching down into a swimming pool that I had fallen into and pulling me to safety. He had saved my life. I have a similar memory of my "Heavenly Father" reaching down from the heavens to save me from drowning in a life of depression, abuse, abandonment and despair.
God has truly touched the deepest part of my soul and restored me in every area of my pain. He has taught me through his word that I have been "fearfully and wonderfully made", that I have value because he created me in His likeness. God showed me that I am truly "loved with an everlasting love" as He began to heal my broken life. Through His son Jesus I have been forgiven and my life has been changed forever.
At my father's funeral I couldn't shake the overwhelming feeling of guilt for not being able to cry for him. He had been an absentee father. A part of my life yet never there. I could not understand the wailing and grieving of so many people I have never seen before.
I felt ashamed that whatever it was that had taken my father away from me, whatever it was that he had died for, was more important to him than I was. I carried that guilt and shame for a number of years. It began to fade, as my new stepfather seemed to fill the void of the need to be loved and accepted by a father. But the relationship changed, as I grew older. He no longer saw me as "daddy's little girl" and began to make sexual advances and suggestions in exchange for favors. I began to experience bouts of depression and suicidal tendencies. At 17, I thought that running away from him to get married would be the beginning of my happiness and would some how ease the emptiness I felt inside. It wasn't the end of my sorrows as I had thought it would be. It was only the beginning. The dream ended in a few short months when the abuse started again by yet another man that I thought was supposed to love and protect me. I endured that life for three years and then finally gained "inner" courage to run for my life, the life of my three-year-old son, and that of my unborn child. I remarried seven years later in to yet another abusive relationship. The turmoil in my life swept me into hopelessness and I wanted to die.
But God saw my pain, He knew my suffering and He shed His grace on me. He said, "My grace is sufficient". I was adopted into "His" family where I was given a new hope. "He" saved my life.
Note: Dawn lives in Northeast Ohio with her family and is available to speak to your church or group. Call 216-221-1865.