Book Excerpt: Unbraided by Karla Monterrosa
Written by
Dorothy Thompson
September 2019
Written by
Dorothy Thompson
September 2019

Vulnerable, courageous, and deeply personal, Unbraided: Transform Your Pain Into Power and Purpose, will help you to identify the areas of your life that are being affected by abuse and provide a path for you to experience breakthrough and healing.

Karla Monterrosa experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuses early in her life. She was able to take those negative experiences and use them as fuel to propel her forward for a time, accomplishing personal, educational, and professional successes. Eventually, within the stresses and pressures of marriage and motherhood, her scars became utterly exposed. She realized that her past was beginning to harm her family in the present, and it was then she chose to take courageous steps to heal from abuse—to become the woman, wife, and mother they deserve.

If you’re ready to experience healing from abuse, Unbraided will help you get healthy emotionally and spiritually so you can cultivate the self-confidence and courage needed to follow through to freedom. Learn how to deal with the long-term effects of abuse—fear, shame, lack of trust, and anger—in order to build strong relationships, enjoy intimacy, and experience joy. 

Using thought-provoking journaling exercises, biblical principles, and her one-of-a-kind 7 Steps Toward Healing framework, Karla will gently guide you through a journey of self-reflection and healing—while making it feel like an intimate conversation with a trusted friend over coffee. Are you ready to step forward into the life you desire with renewed energy, unshakeable confidence, and purpose?


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Book Excerpt:

I want to begin by congratulating you for your courage to open

this book. The topic of childhood sexual abuse is a difficult and

uncomfortable one, especially if you have experienced it yourself. As

you know, those memories stay with us, sometimes only partially, but

remain difficult to revisit. It is important, however, for us to courageously

reflect, analyze, and feel through those memories in order to experience

healing. When left unaddressed, those traumatic experiences influence

our view of ourselves, how we respond to life’s challenges, and how

we either relate to or distance ourselves from each other. There isn’t a

single thing in our lives that isn’t perceived through the sense of the

victimization we experienced.


If you were sexually abused as a child, or experienced other forms of

abuse in your childhood or adult life, there are areas in your life that are

being affected right now by your trauma and you may not yet know it.

Once you are aware, you can begin to take steps to change this. Once

you are aware of the power those emotional and spiritual wounds have

over you, you can begin to do something about them.


Perhaps you find yourself well-aware, tired, and hurting but don’t

know how to get free from your past. Or perhaps you have pushed

your pain so far under the rug that you are comfortable with it and

don’t really want to bring it out and think about it again. You may be

thinking, Do I really want to read this book and have to deal with this?

I know it can feel heavy, but as with anything that involves work and

struggle, the reward at the other side is so worth it.


I want you to know that I understand. I was there once, and only

through self-reflection did I begin to connect the dots between my

painful past and the struggles I was experiencing in the present.

I was sexually abused by people I knew and trusted between the ages

of five and ten years old. The abuse I suffered early in my life turned

my childhood into a set of dark memories that haunted me for most

of my life. The experience left me feeling ashamed, angry, and unsafe.

When I grew up, for a time I was able to use the pain I felt as fuel.

I achieved personal, educational, and professional successes thanks to

that drive. I stood strong as an educated and professional woman. I

was married and a mother to two beautiful little girls. I spent nearly

twenty years working in government and helping to improve the lives of

women and their families. Our household income exceeded six figures,

and we owned a home in a quiet suburb in Los Angeles. Based on these

achievements, I thought I had overcome the trauma I had experienced

early in my life. I worked hard to break the cycle of abuse I was born

into, and I thought I had won. I had built a life and a home that looked

nothing like the one I was born into. I could see the darkness of my

childhood experiences as a distant past, and yet freedom and healing

eluded me. I didn’t yet know it, but I was actually only halfway through

the dark tunnel of my past—not on the other side as I had thought.

I had suppressed memories and ignored feelings, and fought to do the

opposite of what I had seen in my childhood for nearly three decades. I

had buried the feelings deep inside where I thought they could not hurt

me anymore. In reality, I struggled with fear, anxiety, and an inability

to trust people. For a long time, I didn’t know these feelings were rooted

in the abuse I experienced during my childhood. Meanwhile, they were

influencing my life in insidious ways and affecting my relationships, my

marriage and experience as a mother, and even my career. Eventually, I

arrived at a season when I could no longer ignore my pain.

My efforts to silence the memories proved to be unsuccessful within

the stresses and pressures of marriage and motherhood. It was then that

my scars became utterly exposed. I came into the harsh realization that

I had not healed when the memories relentlessly interrupted my time

with my children. The day my daughter was born and I changed her first

dirty diaper, I realized the abuse I suffered had wounded me profoundly

and motherhood was going to be hard. Diaper changes and bath-time

reminded me of how vulnerable children are. I struggled with this for

years with both of my daughters. For sanitary reasons, those moments

were unavoidable, and yet they made me feel dirty and ashamed, as

though I were violating them when I cleaned and cared for them. I knew

that was not what I should be thinking or feeling in those moments with

my children, but I had no idea how to stop the thoughts from intruding

in my life. It was a constant internal battle.


I struggled with memories, shame, fear, and a feeling of hyper-

protection of my children. The unresolved pain I was still carrying

inside started coming out as aggression. I was defensive and abrasive

toward my husband and struggled to discipline my children with grace

and patience. I could not control the circumstances that triggered

my memories or my automatic responses to them. In moments of

frustration, shame and anger dominated our interactions.

At the same time, I was giving everything at work, and it was never

enough for those I reported to. I was exhausted. By the time I would

arrive home at the end of my day, I would have nothing left to give but

a bad temper, which affected our entire family dynamic. Eventually,

I made a career move that brought my work closer to home in an

attempt to have more time with my family. Unfortunately, the work

environment there was such that I had to work extra-long hours to

keep up the pace, which ultimately resulted in more stress and even less

time and patience for my family. I wound up dissatisfied again. I had

had enough but didn’t know what I should do next. It was then that I

humbly reached out to God for direction.

It started with the decision to take a break from my career. I knew

in my heart for a long time that I was not walking in my purpose and

needed the space to figure out what direction to take. Not knowing

how we would sustain the lifestyle we had grown accustomed to, my

husband and I made the bold decision to trust God fully for our financial

provision, and I quit my job. The career that no longer satisfied me was

in the rearview mirror, and I was ready to pursue new things. I decided

to take some time to reflect and figure out what my next career move

was going to be. It was within that space and that step of faith that God

began to move and reveal himself. I started depending on Him for help

and guidance. He started walking me through a process of healing.

I also recognized that my past was harming my family, and that was

the greatest motivation for me to seek out true healing. I realized I would

have to resolve my childhood wounds if I was going to successfully break

the cycle of abuse and live a truly healthy life with my own family. That

realization added to the desire in me. I wanted more than anything to

finally be free from that trauma. And I had no idea how to go about it.

All I knew was I wanted more than anything to get to know God

for who He truly is, to be present physically and emotionally for my

family, and to align my work with my purpose. Little did I know, God

was about to show me the reality and depth of the damage I still held

onto and how desperately I needed Him. Once He began to connect

the dots for me, I realized the darkness I experienced during childhood

had grown tentacles and was clinging to every area of my being, silently

suffocating all of the best things in my life.

Childhood abuse has deep and long-lasting effects that manifest

themselves in subtle and devastating ways in our lives. Unless we know

it, they remain a part of us, wreaking havoc. I had seen the signs and

had my suspicions, but without the clarity of the Holy Spirit, I couldn’t

see it for what it indeed was.

One of the first things I did differently once I left my job was begin

each day with God. I would drop my children off at school and come

home to brew a pot of coffee and open my Bible. Through prayer,

studying the Bible, and the unconditional love of the people around

me, God began to walk me toward healing.

After a short break to focus on my girls and volunteer at their school,

I began considering my next steps and decided to hire professional

support to do so. I wanted to make the most of my time away from

the workforce, and working with a coach provided me with guidance,

reassurance, and an environment of discovery. It didn’t take long for me

to decide I would pursue my life-long dream of becoming a published

author. I always knew I would share my story with the world one day.

God revealed this to me long ago. I don’t recall exactly when I first

sensed or received that direction, but I have been thinking about this

book for years.

What do I mean when I say I “received direction” from God? How

do I know if a thought is my own or inspired by the one true God? For

me, it can come as a subtle nudge to say or do something, or an all-out

clear instruction to change course.

You may have already had an experience in your life where you

knew God was trying to tell you something. You may know it as your

subconscious, a gut feeling, intuition, or an “Aha! moment.” Sometimes

you listen to it. Other times you ignore it and then think, “I should

have listened to my intuition.” As Christians, we believe those “Aha!

moments” are, in fact, the voice of God or the Holy Spirit. The Holy

Spirit is a gift from God that allows us to see and think in new ways.

God’s voice comes to me in whispers I know are not my own. I

know these thoughts are not mine because they address things I have

been thinking about without having clear direction on my own of what

to do. I recognize His voice because He quiets my fears, answers my

questions, and brings peace where there was doubt. The Bible tells us

that when we draw near to God, He comes near to us (James 4:8). The

more we seek His voice, the more clearly we are able to discern it. As

we deepen our walk with God, we grow in wisdom and are able to see

more clearly the things that make us feel separated from God and those

that bring us closer to Him. The voice of God had been quietly urging

me to write my story and share it with the world.

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