Resolving the Effects of Abuse
"And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea."1
A Daily Encounter reader writes, "Could you please lend some encouragement for those of us who were sexually abused as young girls by a family member. I know it is a 'taboo' subject, but in my case, because of the abuse, I am still unmarried and I don't understand why God has not answered my lifelong prayer for a mate, especially since he knows the crippling emotional pain that I faced and how desperately I need male love."
I have often wondered if the words of Jesus in today's Scripture verse didn't apply to adults who abuse small children. Child abuse, whether it is physical, emotional or sexual is a grave offense against helpless children and is psychologically very damaging—often extremely damaging.
In my work, I have worked with many a victim and have seen first-hand some of the devastating results. One woman had been used in child pornography by one of her parents in order to make money! The struggles this victim has gone through in both her personal life and marriage have been horrific. Fortunately she is both committed to God and to the healing process, and after years of hard work is now a qualified counselor herself helping others.
Those of us in the work of ministering to others could give numerous other examples. Sad to say, abuse is in the church as well as outside of it. The reality is that hurt people hurt people. And so often parents who themselves were abused as children, unless they resolve their hurt, tend to abuse others including their own offspring.
So how does an abused victim overcome her or his problem?
First, prayer. Some say that God uses prayer and prayer alone to bring abuse victims healing. I wish this were always true. However, I haven't personally witnessed this. Yes, I believe solidly in prayer and I believe strongly in making prayer the foundation for any and all healing. But we need to pray the right prayer; that is, if I am an abuse victim, I need to ask God to confront me with the truth of what I may still be contributing in any way to my situation, to reveal to me all that I need to know about my problem, and lead me to the help I need to face and resolve all of my self-destructive feelings and beliefs and overcome them.
Second, I need to quit the blame and self-pity game. Yes, we need to acknowledge the fact that we were abused, and deal with and resolve our hurt and anger so that we get to the point of forgiveness. If I stay in the self-pity blame game, I will B – LAME.
Third, most abuse victims need qualified and skillful counseling to help them work through their struggle, get to their buried feelings and express them creatively, and then to reprogram their feelings, negative thinking, and beliefs about themselves so they learn to trust again. This is not easy. It needs God's help, determination, and a solid commitment to healing, growth and recovery, and most often the help of a skilled and qualified counselor.
Suggested prayer: "Dear Heavenly Father, there is such a need for the healing of wounded, broken souls all around us. Please use me to be a 'wounded' healer and grant that the Church will become a healing center for us all. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name. Amen."
1. Mark 9:42 (KJV).