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A Voice for the Sinned-Against, Part 2

Ministry to survivors of sexual abuse
A Voice for the Sinned-Against - Part 2

Childhood sexual abuse victims experience lifelong battles to gain understanding of what happened to them and why. Statistics show that 1 out of 20 boys are sexually abused as children, and the number is much higher for young girls: one out of five girls is sexually abused, 60 percent by someone they are familiar with and 30 percent by a family member. The abuse young girls endure will stay in their memories, tormenting them well into adulthood. If one out of five young girls is sexually abused, is it safe to assume a large number of women in church are living as adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse?

In her dissertation (Fuller Theological Seminary, 2001), Dr. Leah Coulter wrote, "A Christian woman sexually abused as a child feels like a theological exile in her relationship with God. The adult Christian victim finds it difficult to trust God because she believes the reason God did not stop her abuse is because she was bad. She feels helpless, trapped and angry. She may constrict her world and withdraw from church relationships in an attempt to feel safe—yet while she is alone, her isolation reinforces her belief that no one cares."

In The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of ChildhoodSexual Abuse, Dr. Dan B. Allender helps us understand "the need in church to replace the model of simplistic sanctification with an understanding of the gospel that is both simple and penetrating, reaching with power into sinful damaged souls." More often an adult childhood sexual abuse victim is offered a "trust God" Scripture to "get over" their hurt; however, this approach ignites more anger and questions about Christianity and gives no hope for healing.

As a new Christian, I wanted connections with other women in the church, but everyone seemed perfect. The women in church seemed to have great relationships in their walk with Jesus. I had not experienced fulfilling earthly love, so my view of God was distorted and caused me to distance myself. I didn't want to be around women whom I perceived God loved more than me. A woman living daily with the memory of childhood sexual abuse has the same distorted view of God and will not thrive in church unless the church begins to understand how hard it is for victims to trust God. They need a loving hand to help them realize Jesus is here for them.

While I believe the church and women's ministries’ intentions are great, having an event every day that offers no opportunity for growth and healing becomes nothing more than a social gathering. After a victim of childhood sexual abuse attends each "social gathering," she goes home to more pain because she wants to feel the same love, have the same relationship with Jesus, and be happy like everyone else.


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