Mercy and Sexual Assault

Devon’s husband and children.

Devon Larkin works in ministry. Not in a sanctuary but with sexual assault survivors. Devon is a sexual assault forensic nurse examiner for the Women’s Center of Jacksonville. Devon meets with survivors of sexual assault, both women and men, within five days of their assault to collect possible evidence from their bodies, regardless if they are reporting it to law enforcement.

These are her words. I really have nothing to add to them. They are mercy.

It can be such a hard job, witnessing what one human is capable of doing to another.  When I first started, I remember calling my dad, wondering what the point of it all was, knowing most would never receive the justice they deserved and desired.  It was through that conversation that I came to realize, the biggest part of my job was being present. I would never be able to control how the investigation or prosecution would go, but I could be present. I could perform my part with compassion and excellence. I could listen to someone’s painful experience, let them know they were believed, listen without judgment, treat them with dignity, and let them know this experience does not define them. 

I may be one of the first and only persons they ever speak of about their experience and I have the opportunity to start the healing process by being compassionate while conducting my exam.  WCJ is a non-profit and the Rape Recovery Team which I am a part of, is one small component of their services. I am grateful, God put me here and I truly receive more than give from my work.  As I remind my children, to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48).  This life is a stepping stone and not permanent.  We are all called to serve others as much as possible. 

As an aside, I can remember Laura Holtz Rellihan saying something along the lines of “Gosh you must have such a chance to evangelize” and it was after that conversation, I began letting my patients know I would pray for them.  God works in amazing ways.

The phone number for the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800.656.HOPE (4673)

Note from me: If you did not know Laura Rellihan, she was a young mother of two boys who passed away from lung cancer. She touched everyone she knew with her grace and wisdom. One of the reasons I wrote my new book Simple Mercies, is because oftentimes I think we fail to recognize the way small acts of kindness can make a difference. For the next few weeks, I am highlighting simple ways that others are sharing mercy as an organic part of their daily life. While Devon’s testament hardly seems simple to most of us, it is a beautiful account of someone living their faith in daily life. If you or someone you know would like to participate in this series, please email me at to share your own story of mercy. If you would like to learn more about the ways that mercy can bring peace and fulfillment to your life while answering God’s call to serve, preorder Simple Mercies, at this Amazon link or San Marco book store ~ love, Lara

Devon and her husband, Sean.