Welcome back! We are in Week 2 of Break Free Recovery; a free online Bible study for survivors of sexual abuse. I am honored to come along side you as you take part in this seven week journey of recovery. If you haven’t registered to receive my weekly study guide, and other helpful information, please take a moment to do that here. If you are just now joining us, you can view Week 1 of this study by clicking here.
Let me start by opening us up in prayer:
Sweet Lord, we need your healing touch today. I ask for your presence in this cyber community here, and pray that your words and your truth will be revealed in a powerful and very personal way in the lives of every survivor who takes part. In Jesus name, Amen!
Last week you were asked to start a journal and write down what you can remember of your story, and who was involved. I imagine if you took that step you have come to realize how difficult it can be to pen painful memories to paper. If you haven’t completed this step, I encourage you to do so. This was to help you collect your memories and emotions involving the events that took place and prepare your story to eventually share with others, as you feel led.
So, what exactly defines sexual abuse?
One of the clearest definitions I have seen yet is from Dr. Dan Allendar, a survivor and the author of The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse. He says,
“Sexual abuse is any type of non-consensual sexual contact. Sexual abuse can happen to men or women of any age. Childhood Sexual abuse is any contact or interaction (visual, verbal, or psychological) between a child/adolescent and an adult when the child/adolescent is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator or any other person. Sexual abuse may be committed by a person under the age of eighteen when that person is either significantly older than the victim or in a position of power/control over the child/adolescent.” (The Wounded Heart, Dr. Dan Allendar, p47)
When I finally came across the definition of sexual abuse and assault in my own journey of healing, it opened my eyes to what really happened to me and helped me to realize that I could not have been to blame for what took place.
I was powerless, and so were you.
Whether you were sexually abused as a child, or assaulted as an adult, it is important that you recognize you were not to blame. There is nothing you could have done to stop it, prevent it, or cause it to happen. Even though you might feel in some way responsible because you kept silent, complied or even responded physically to the abuse, you were not at fault.
As we learned last week, in our study, taking even part of the blame can leave us with an overwhelming sense of guilt and shame. The Bible teaches us that we do not have to live in shame. God has better plans for each one of us. Isaiah 54:4 says,
“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth.”
In order to silence the feelings of shame, we have to redirect the blame where it truly belongs: with our perpetrator(s). As you have taken time to remember the events that took place, who was involved and side-effects abuse has had on your life, I want you to consider sharing your story with someone you can trust.
This person should be one who has experience with or wisdom concerning this form of abuse. It could be a seasoned counselor, close friend, mentor, or pastor. The key is finding someone with whom you feel safe, and who has an understanding of what you are going through.
By telling your story you help yourself to move ahead in the journey to heal.
Many of us were never given the chance to fully express what happened. We were either told to be quiet, to forget about it, to not overreact, or other such nonsense. As a result, we’ve been imprisoned by a sense of shame, believing that somehow we were at fault.
You may feel overwhelmed by the idea of sharing your story, but I encourage you to do just that. If you have not yet read my story, I hope you will take time to read it here. It took me years to get to a place where I could share this, but when I did it had a profound impact on my recovery.
Taking this step will empower you to:
1) Unpack your story and the secrets you’ve had to keep for so long
2) Untangle some of the emotions involved
3) Redirect the blame where it belongs (your perpetrator).
I am praying for you, and for the courage and strength you will need as you move ahead in the recovery process. If you need someone to talk to, and you are not sure where to begin, I am happy to help. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve registered for this online study by subscribing to my blog (here), you will receive this week’s study guide in your inbox today.
I look forward to meeting here next Monday, where we will look at some common secondary symptoms of abuse and how to break free.
In His Love,