Together We Can End Slavery . . . Again!

Revenge? That Would Put Me in Prison

Besides, I Don’t Want Revenge Anymore

I Want My Story to Help Someone


Look for Rick Smith on social media and you will find a guy raising puppies and training police dogs. He is the picture of a patient, gentle man. What you won’t see are Rick’s four black belts, his military career that stretches back to age sixteen, or his civilian life as a sought-after bodyguard for the rich and famous, and top-notch law enforcer in Las Vegas.


Look a bit further and you will find the fighter behind the baby face.  His Vegas cohorts did the first time Rick asked a man to leave a bar. The muscled fellow placed his professional-boxer card on the table as a warning to Rick who responded with, “That don’t matter none to me; I don’t have gloves.” The boxer took on the 6’ 4”, 200 lb Smith and found his face in the floor with Smith’s knee in his back as his wrists were cuffed behind his waist. That took Rick less than 18 seconds.

There is one man Rick cannot bring to justice. “I dreamed about killing him; I had to leave town or I would have. My stepfather stole my childhood and my innocence.”

Before the abuse, Rick was an energetic, generous little boy, earningpocket money mowing lawns, and sharing the earnings with his friends, “Enough to treat everyone to a Ray Charles and a Belly Buster,” RC Cola and a Moon Pie.

After the abuse, the addiction started— drugs, alcohol. By twenty-five Rick could say, “I have had more women than most men have socks.”

In Vegas, Rick saw his childhood abuse played out again and again in the sexual violence and threats pimps used on the young people they prostituted. “They are tortured, shamed and threatened into compliance; if they try to get away, bad things will happen to their families.  Same tactic my stepfather used.” As a law enforcer, Rick took a special interest in “messing up pimps, kidney kicks, liver punches, ribs, anything but the face; we need that in good shape for pictures.” Much like pimps with prostitutes: cigarette burns to the back of the arms, beatings in places that don’t show.

By the time Rick was ready to open up about his own abuse, he was living close to his childhood home in North Carolina. When he wanted to bring his perpetrator to justice, police told him, “It was too long ago, would cost too much money.”

For solace Rick returned to nature. “It’s therapy for me.”

Except, Rick’s idea of therapy is just as dangerous as an armed military man with a few black belts.

A professional arborist, Rick admits tree felling isn’t safe. “Yeah, it’s dangerous work; they don’t call ‘em widow makers for nothin’.”  The day after Thanksgiving 2009, Rick felled his last tree—a

lethal, 110 foot tall oak. Rick cut the notch at about 60 feet from ground level with a chain saw.  The guys on the ground held the ropes to guide the top 50 foot portion to a clear landing. Only it didn’t fall the way it should have. Instead it twisted. “One more notch.” Rick reached down for his chain saw, then applied it to the trunk and snap! The 20 inch diameter trunk lunged from its base, swung around wildly and walloped Rick on the back of his head leaving a 5 inch compound skull fracture and two subdural hematomas.

Miraculously, Rick got to his feet inside of his half-crushed cherry-picker bucket after having been cracked like a t-ball by a 1,700 lb baseball bat and then bounced back and forth as his bucket ricocheted between two giant tree branches. His head hit the bucket about 25 times. Somehow he stood up and asked his crew, “Do you guys have your ropes?”

He should have been dead.

“No one walks out of here with an injury like that,” doctors told Susan, Rick’s wife. Funeral plans were made. But Rick didn’t die. He did lose 15 years of his memories, and spent 3 years recovering at home. “I read this book,” he says, as he holds up a worn copy of the Bible.

Ask him about the meaning of his life, and Rick is clear: the love of Christ. “God’s love healed me.” The hope of sharing that healing brings a magnanimous joy that makes him say, “If my story can help someone, it would make my suffering meaningful.”

Some childhood abuse victims become perpetrators, others defenders of the weak. All need healing. And all have stories that can help bring healing. If you know someone who has been victimized or you have made someone a victim, start the healing now by talking about it today. There is help for sex addiction, at For victims of human trafficking, call: 1 (888) 373-7888.


About Marilyn Luinstra

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