Attention Survivors of Abuse: You’re Not Alone!

Haiti 2013 393
Guilt. Shame. Burdened. Sad. Lonely. Addicted. Marked. The more I speak with survivors of child sex abuse, the more I understand the weight that so many of you feel. Now, I’m not one of those people who will say, “I know exactly how you feel.” The reality is I don’t know exactly how you feel, and I never will. Neither do I pretend to know exactly how you feel. But I can say emphatically that Christians be damned if we don’t begin to try and understand. It’s time we church leaders search into the depths of our hearts and minds and start to understand exactly why Jesus surrounded himself with people who were labeled as the social outcasts.

It’s sad that so many Christians overlook the people who Jesus closely associated himself with. Let’s start with Jesus’ own family tree. Matthew mentions Tamar who, by the way, dressed as a prostitute and had sex with her father-in-law. There’s also Rahab, whose profession was a prostitute, followed by Ruth, the woman who spent the night under the blankets with Boaz. And then there’s Bathsheba who cheated on her husband with King David. All of these women were foreigners, too. Not exactly the model family tree for the Messiah. These are not the women that someone would say, “Tah dah!. . . Meet my family, everybody.” Yet Matthew includes them in Jesus’ family tree precisely because Jesus came to heal the wounded.

Let’s not forget the woman who was caught cheating on her husband. Jesus vehemently defended her in John 8. We cannot forget the Samaritan woman, either, who Jesus pursued at the well. You know, the one who had 5 former husbands and was living with man number 6 (not her husband). Or what about the woman who fell down, wiping Jesus’ feet with her tears and hair. Luke does not mince words concerning her: “And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner. . .” (Luke 7:37). What exactly was her sin? We’re not positive, but we know how she was viewed by the townspeople when the owner of the house said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him. . .” (Luke 7:39). What’s Jesus’ response? Jesus rebukes not the sinful woman, but the religious man who looked down on this woman. Then Jesus offers the most healing words to this woman that she could have ever heard: “Your sins are forgiven.” I imagine a woman who felt both ashamed by past abuse and by who she’d become because of it. She felt so crappy about herself that she finds herself in a humiliating position–on all fours wiping the dirty feet of this man with her hair, as tears and snot fall to the ground. My heart breaks for her. I imagine that she, like many of you, had never been empowered to feel loved.

As I talk with survivors of abuse, many of them share how they are not able to speak to anyone about their abuse. They feel ashamed, scared, broken, guilty, and downright ugly inside. This is why it’s called abuse. Abuse sucks. And I believe this is why Jesus is so kind to all of these women I mentioned. He does not excuse their sin. He understands its source. Rather than force them to keep hiding it while feeling ashamed, he frees them by bringing it out from the pits of their soul. It’s only then that they can begin to heal.

I wonder just how many of you are out there waiting to tell someone about the burden you’ve been carrying for so long, waiting for someone to show up who will simply listen. As a minister, I often ask myself what our church can be doing to help survivors of abuse be empowered to talk about their abuse and to begin healing. Should we begin a support group for survivors of abuse? Would people even come, or do they feel too ashamed? I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that doing nothing is just plain wrong. My heart breaks every time I hear people who turn to sex, or drugs, or porn simply because they are trying to find a way to cope with their abuse. My heart breaks even more when they are ridiculed for their sin without church leaders ever caring to find out why they are caught up in them. I truly believe that if the church was as gentle to the abused sinners and as harsh to the abuser sinners as Jesus was, people would actually trust in God and His church again.

I commend my new friend Mary DeMuth who turned her childhood rapes into a healing book specifically for survivors of child sex abuse (really for any kind of abuse, but she writes from the perspective of one who endured brutal rapes as a child). Her newest book Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing After Sexual Abuse will be in print next month. I couldn’t wait, so I ordered the e-book and I’ve got to say, I cannot put it down! Survivors of abuse need to hear from Mary. You need to know that there is hope. You need to hear that there are good men out there, and that you are worthy of them!

My prayer is that you can be empowered to begin speaking about the abuse and that churches will be open to being a vessel of hope and healing! You are not alone and you should never feel like you are!

10 thoughts on “Attention Survivors of Abuse: You’re Not Alone!”

  1. I am a survivor of sexual assault for years by three different men. One was my grandfather whom we (My mother and I–no dad) lived with.I blocked it from my memory until I hit a crisis point and it came to surface and set me in a tailspin and two weeks in a psych ward. It was during a session with a counselor from “New Day” in Johnstown. We really needed a New Day in Somerset. I consented to tell my story to a “conselor training session” they were conducting. I did such a good job that they approached me about traveling with one of them to tell my story in many Somerset churches and other groups, One of the amazing things that occured was after I spoke I was approached by a line of ladie saying “I never told anyone about this before”,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, I said all of that to say that a good way to motivate and encourage survivors to come forward is give them a chance to listen to another survivor in person. I was amazed at the response to my story. They were willing to open up to me when thay had never told anyone before. When they saw a person that had experiences just like theirs, and who was open about it and the damage it caused, they were willing to open up. Many of them were no longer afraid to speak about it and their healing began. If you can find a survivor(s) to share openly with others, it opens doors and ladies are willing to share. I was overwhelmed at the time at the number of ladies(and men) who opened up to me. Again, a short answer to your problem is personal sharing. I believe you will be surprised at thr results.

    1. Thank you, Laura. These are the things we need to hear. I thank God for people like you who are brave enough to speak. I’d love to have you speak sometime! God bless you.

  2. Why do you equate prostitutes with those sexually abused? Huge difference in that prostitutes have a choice. Why assume the sexually abused are girls abused by men. That isnt always the way it happens. There are boys abused by men, boys abused by women and even girls abused by women. Forgive me, I know your heart is in the right place but equating being abused with a prostitute or “sinner” does not really help.

    1. I did not equate prostitutes with those sexually abused. My point was that Jesus defended the vulnerable and sought to heal them, including prostitutes. While they (some) do have a choice (don’t we all?), many prostitutes are brought into the business by people who specifically look for women who have been sexually abused. The world of human trafficking is insane. There are pimping manuals out there that teach pimps how to look for women who have been sexually abused as children, who are especially vulnerable. You should read Annie Lobert’s about page on her site hookersforjesus.net. She is not alone. While society labels prostitutes and tears them down, Jesus rescues them. In the examples I gave, Jesus is treating all the women with empathy, love, and respect. Neither did I equate being abused with a sinner. There certainly is no sin for a child who has been abused. However, as I speak with survivors and read their stories, many of them suffer with sin as a result of trying to cope with their past abuse. Jesus stepped in for this woman who was labeled a “sinner” by the host and tells her that her sins are forgiven. I think he knew that she had accepted what society had labeled her, and he freed her from that bond. And I do not assume that the sexually abused are girls abused by men. I believe you made that assumption since I only mentioned women who Jesus encountered. I know that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused as children. I was simply giving examples of people who were vulnerable, treated poorly, or seen as outcast–either by society or by themselves–and who Jesus rescued. Believe me, I’m on the same team as the abused! Hope this clears it up. Grace and peace.

  3. Jimmy, Thanks so much for this post. You’ve opened the door for so many to be able to think about speaking out about their abuse. The more a person opens up, the less power the abuse holds over him/her. I really appreciated what Laura said about personal sharing. It’s so hard to share, though, until another person does. Once it happens so many doors are opened to healing! I can’t wait to get a copy of Mary’s book, too!

  4. thanks for including the hookers for Jesus site. I checked it out and then linked to it from my facebook page. I had at least one response to it. I especially appreciate their ministry to girls who are vulnerable to that.

    1. There are quite a few great ministries starting up from courageous people who have been sexually abused as children and who wound up in the adult industry. Annie has quite a story, and she is very brave. It’s great to see these ministries taking root!

  5. Thomas Wayne Rapanos- child molester

    White American pedophile in his 50s living in India.

    He has a prior history of child molestation in India, has been caught a couple of times.

    He was caught a few years ago in Cambodia, molesting a couple of 12 year old prostitutes, and spent a year in a Cambodian prison for it.

    His Email: tattva108@yahoo.com

    His Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tattva108

    He also goes by the sanskrit name “Tattva Darshan Das”.

    Couple of news articles about his past history:

    http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2008-03-19/india/27774596_1_cambodian-police-child-abuse-charges-thomas-rapanos-wayne

    http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/03-08/editorials2646.htm

    http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/editorials/02-10/editorials5732.htm

    1. Disturbing. . . story after story shows that these things don’t “just happen.” There are years of planning, grooming, organizing, and carrying out these acts on young children. And it looks like he’s free and at it again. Thank you for shedding light on this.

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