Lois Wagner was brutally raped, and left for dead. She lost a business and went bankrupt, forced into retirement, and experienced many other challenges…

In her inspiring TEDx Talk below, she reveals a small portion of her journey from victim to freedom.

Lois learned to forgive (she forgave herself, the rapist, and the business partner who betrayed her) and to move on to a more rewarding and fulfilling life).

“This journey is not linear,” she reminds listeners. “There are many roadblocks, hazards and changes on the road ahead. There are many other people on the same journey but they will face different challenges to you, but you’re all going towards the same destination. Let’s find freedom together.”

In the TEDx Talk, she focusses on the brutal rape and how she eventually met and forgave her rapist at his parole hearing.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

Lois outlines her key ‘sign posts’ on her journey, and how they can eventually lead to freedom and healing.

“Acknowledge what has happened to you,” she says. This is the first step. What happened, happened and you cannot change that. Separate your feelings from the event and acknowledge it.

Next, accept your emotions. In ‘victim mode’ you will experience a wide range of emotions. Rage, fear, anger, blame. Work with them. Rate them on a scale of 1-10. Describe them. What does your rage feel like, what does it smell like? What does it make you want to do? Accept these things and then you can progress to resilience.

“It’s not bouncing back to where you were before the trauma,” says Lois. “You can never quite get back to where you were before. It’s dealing with the situation. Finding your courage, strength, creativity.  It’s about reframing and refocussing and redirecting the experience.”

Eventually, the two final sign posts are the toughest.

“Forgive yourself,” says Lois. “Forgive yourself for the emotions and behaviours you’ve developed to cope with the trauma.”

Forgive others – even the perpetrator.

Lois describes how she eventually met up with her rapist at his parole hearing 13 years after he was jailed.

“The rape happened in 1996. Thirteen years later I left SA for the middle east. I returned for my first holiday a year later. For some reason, I contacted the authorities to find out what had happened to the rapist. He was coming up for parole a day after I arrived in the country.”

Despite doubts from family and friends, she decided to attend the hearing.

When the authorities invited her to have her say, she looked her rapist in the eyes and said:

“Rashaad – You are and were totally responsible for your own thoughts and actions.”

“I have carried the shame and guilt for you. I leave the shame where it belongs – with you, for it has nothing to do with me. You are heavily burdened by the rape, your family too. That is a heavy Fate which they and your descendants must carry. I wish you and your family well.”

“I now have the courage to live a happier, guilt-free life. I do not condone what you have done. I am giving you back that responsibility now, and I release all the demands and conditions and expectations.”

“I release you to your own highest good. I send this love and compassion out from my Higher Self, that part of me that has protected me, loved me and nurtured me. And I send it to you just as you are and have been, and I release you to your highest good. I am choosing to be free of it. I accept back my power to express love and goodwill in a healthy way. I TAKE BACK MY FREEDOM.”

Watch the inspiring talk below.

You can also contact Lois for help in your own healing journey. Find more information HERE.