Surviving Sexual Abuse
You can experience freedom from the pain of sexual abuse in your past in ways you may have never imagined possible. As the condemnation, shame and embarrassment disappear, you are free to enjoy others and minister to their needs. The shyness that has plagued you since childhood may begin to fade away. Instead of withdrawing around others, you may become more self-confident and socially involved. It all begins with these important first steps:
- Tell it like it is: You have been sexually abused. You must clearly acknowledge to yourself and a trusted friend or counselor what happened to you. You must state what the experience has done to you without trying to explain it away. Once you get it out in the open, you will be able to start the healing process.
- Stop the abuse immediately. If the abuse has not stopped, take immediate steps to stop it by notifying the police, a Christian minister or counselor, or a child-protection agency in your community. A trusted person in your life will likely be glad to help you take this step.
- Place the responsibility where it belongs. Do not blame yourself for what someone else did to you. The person who abused you is solely responsible for his or her actions, no matter how that person tries to shift the blame to you. You are the victim. It was not your fault.
- Turn to God as the source of your healing. Acknowledge that God did not cause the abuse, but that He is the solution to the trauma brought on by the abuse (see Ps. 18:2-6, 25-30).
- Allow yourself to grieve your loss of innocence. A caring friend or adult can help you work through the denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance that will come from your loss. Instead of turning from such feelings, confront them, express them and resolve them through the understanding and comfort of those who love you.
- Seek fellowship with God. Pursue and maintain a daily appointment to be with God in prayer and Bible reading. Determine to rely on His strength, learn from His Word, and fight any destructive thoughts and feelings with the attitude of Christ (see Phil. 4:4-9).
- Seek the help of others. Spend time with those who genuinely love you and desire to help you through the healing process: understanding parents, a youth leader or minister, a close friend, a Christian counselor or a support group.
- Realize that healing will take time. The process of healing from sexual abuse may be painful and take several weeks or months. But you survived the abuse; you can also overcome the trauma of recovery with God's help.