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Sexual Abuse: Trusting God with My Past Hurts

Dawn Wilson

Dawn Wilson | 05.28.13
Twitter: @HeartChoices

52 comments

“You need to learn to trust men again.”

When she said this just moments after I admitted I had been sexually abused as a child by a man I trusted, I got mad . . . really mad! She didn’t understand the depth of my fear, disgust, anger, and helplessness. She didn’t even acknowledge my emotional scars.  

As with many women, my scars of abuse felt unique. I was confused about what was normal and used a variety of defense mechanisms to get through life.

If you’ve been sexually abused, you may be coping in one or more of the following ways. You hide or keep people at extreme distances, afraid of being hurt again. You remain numb through adulthood. If married, you find it difficult to respond sexually. You fear biblical submission—afraid of losing control.

You may feel damaged, see yourself as a sex object, flaunt your sexuality, and descend into promiscuity and other sexual sins. Or, like me, you pour yourself into being “good” or embrace ministry. You may not understand the power of the Gospel, and focus instead on pleasing God to gain His favor.

You might respond to your abuse with anxiety, depression, self-loathing, self-harming actions, intimacy problems, homosexuality, fear, indecisiveness, perfectionism, a need to control, eating disorders, or addictions.

Satan doesn’t care how we react to the sinfulness of sexual abuse . . . as long as we don’t turn to Jesus. The enemy knows when we find our identity, security, and dignity in Christ, we can live in victory.

It took me awhile to get there, though. For years, I felt the need to protect my abuser and not hurt others who loved him. It was twisted thinking, but the enemy delights in warping thoughts. In high school, I had poor interpersonal skills. By college, I felt suicidal and alone. Abuse distorted my image of God and affected my ability to seek and trust Him. My confidence was shattered.

After college, I joined Life Action Ministries and began a journey with God that changed my heart and life. One day as I was singing “Do You Know My Jesus?” on stage with the team, I suddenly realized I knew all about Jesus, but I didn’t know Him. I left the microphone, went to the prayer room, and placed my life in Jesus’ hands.

The most astounding changes came as I learned to trust Him with my past hurts. Some basic lessons I learned:

I’ve grown in Christ, but it hasn’t always been easy. Although Jesus said He came to give me abundant life (John 10:10), sometimes I resort to survival mode when I allow myself to feel ashamed. In those moments, I forget who I am—or rather, Whose I am. Jesus bore my shame on the cross; I don’t need to bear it for one moment.
Though scars remain, God gives healing grace.

Topics: Sexuality, When Life's Hard

Comments

  1. Thank you for this. I would add one more verse, as another survivor who still struggles to know I am accepted and not dirty or worthless. Isaiah 43:4 - You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you (NIV). God pursues me, willing to constantly remind me of my value in his eyes.
    posted by still healing
    on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 7:49 am
  2. As someone who has never experience sexual abuse (praise be to God), and as a man, I admit that I struggle to understand why women who've been sexually abused often feel "dirty or worthless" as the above poster put it. My lack of understanding in no way diminishes the reality and destructive strength of those feelings, and please know that I'm not denying them or criticizing any woman for feeling that way. I just don't understand it.

    Anger? Sure. Sorrow? Definitely. Distrust of men? Seems reasonable. But we're talking about something done *to* you and not something done *by* you. Why feel guilty or dirty about that? It's not *your* fault someone committed horrible sins against you. There are certainly times when I feel "dirty" because of sexual sin, but it's always because of sexual sin *I* committed and not sin that was perpetrated against me by someone else.
    posted by buddyglass
    on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 9:20 am
  3. I love the scripture "still healing" shared. Understanding our value to God, His love for us, is part of the healing process.

    It's true that sexual abuse is something done "to" a woman, but the sad truth is that some (not all) women feel "dirty or worthless" when they have been abused, because they secretly wonder whether they have done something to cause the abuse. They might ask, "Was it how I dressed?" "Did I say something to lead him on?" "Did I appear weak and vulnerable?" Questions are a normal part of examining the heart, but it is important to let the Spirit of God answer those questions for us - not the culture.

    It's also crucial to understand a girl or woman can be TOTALLY without guilt and still be attacked. And a woman is not responsible for her abuser's sin ... ever!

    To be fair, these secret thoughts are not only in women's minds; men who have been sexually abused ask similar questions, more related to concerns about their masculine strength. The media tends to downplay this; and men are more reticent than women to discuss it, because men are expected to be tough, independent and resilient (not "victims").

    Regardless of our gender, the healing power and grace of God can make us victors, not victims.
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 9:59 am
  4. My favorite name of God is, El Roi, God who sees. Used by Rahab, in Genesis 16:13, for God who saw her affliction, it's also been most comforting to me through the years.

    When the angel of the Lord asked Hagar what she was doing, her response was, "running away", and I can see myself in Hagar. It's so much easier, I thought, to run away from painful abuse.

    But the angel told Hagar to return and submit, then she could say, “I have now seen the One who sees me."

    We can't run away from our past hurts. Only by turning and running into the arms of the one who sees, who heals, who comforts and who has given His Word to do more than we can ever think or imagine, only then can we begin to show the grace and mercy to others which was freely given to us. It's not easy, but it's truth.
    posted by Psalm42:8
    on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 10:57 am
  5. Thank you so much for sharing about "El Roi." That scripture (Gen. 16:13), which is unfortunately sometimes used as a hammer on people - "Be careful... God sees you" - was one of the verses God used to encourage me as I thought, "Be comforted... God sees you!"

    God sees everything, even our most painful moments. And just as He provided for Hagar, He will provide for us when we turn to Him. As Dr. Bill Elliff says, "Everything flows from the presence of God." The promise of His presence is powerful, and in Him, we find everything we need.
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm
  6. Buddy,
    I was sexually abused as a child and have experienced feeling dirty and shameful. It's a very complex thing and part of it is the fact that our bodies betray us (victims). We know with our minds that what is going on is very wrong but to our body it feels good. Children cannot sort all of this out and feel shameful that they sort of enjoyed something that they know is sinful.

    To the author- I have never told my family of my abuse out of concern for our family's well being and I do not think this is wrong. Only my husband knows. I believe my abuser has repented and I have forgiven him. I still deal with many insecurities as an adult, but I do not believe hurting my family with the truth will set me free of those things. Only God can heal and it will be God who brings justice to the unrepentant.
    posted by Brenda
    on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm
  7. One of th reasons why sexually abused children and teens feel "dirty and shameful" is because this is the root that satan intends for sexual abuse. He LOVES it when we self-loathe. One of the reasons he uses sex abuse so effectively is because it destroys a woman's beauty, the part of God's image she portrays. Remember, he was a BEAUTIFUL angel before he fell. This is one of the reasons he chose Eve instead of Adam. He HATES a woman's beauty. So when he robs her childhood, her feminity, her sexuality and replaces it with shame, guilt, fear through sexual abuse he wins. This issue is at EPIDEMIC proportions today, with boys and girls. Thank you, Dawn for spekaing out. You have helped many. Under His Wing, Laura Petherbridge
    www.LauraPetherbridge.com
    posted by Laura Petherbridge
    on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm
  8. I was sexually abused as a child by my father who was a minister. I too felt as if I were nothing & ugly & was EXTREMELY SELF-CONCIOUS! I KNEW what was right & what was wrong--I had accepted Christ at an earlier age & had been taught.... It's been sometime ago now, that God did a HEALING WORK in my life & the FEAR that gripped me is GONE! Since then, OTHERS don't like the fact that I am FREE! Family...people in the church...etc.! (Course, there are MANY OTHER issues going on...) It SEEMS they feel threatened by me! I KNOW it's satan using them to bring me back down, using their frailties against them & me! Until you've been SET FREE from the bondage that has chained you for so many years, you can ONLY IMAGINE! I liken it to when the Israelites were set free--it was like "a dream!" (Sorry, I can't remember the scripture!) AND that is just how it is, LIKE A DREAM!!!!!! :)
    http://tladydesigns.blogspot.com/
    posted by Becky Green
    on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm
  9. Bless you, Dawn. You not only have grown in Christ, but you have done it beautifully. You are a lovely, godly woman. Praise be to His Name.
    posted by Sarah
    on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm
  10. Yes, Becky. I understand what you are saying. Those who are in bondage sometimes struggle with others' freedom. I have learned to be careful and gracious in what I share, and with whom. Growing in grace teaches us to be wise, to speak truth in love, and to allow others time to grow as well.

    Brenda, my heart aches for you and for all who have suffered sexual abuse. I totally understand what you explained - the mixed feelings. And I think it is up to each individual how they deal with "exposing" the abuser, after receiving wise counsel and seeking the Lord. Certainly, if an adult knows about child abuse, this must be reported. Sometimes - as in my case - a child never tells, but simply grows up with the guilt and confused feelings. It's never too late to tell, but sometimes God says, "Let me handle it."
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 8:25 pm
  11. Becky and Dawn,
    I was in abused by 10 different people, both men and women by the time I was 18 years old. Talk about conflict of mind. I had no clue who I was or what I was.
    I believe I was saved at a young age, I loved church, the Lord, and His people. In was in 1979 the worst abuse came, I was sent to a "Christian" girls home, where I was attacked 2-4 times a week. This minister would get up to preach, and be in our clothes the same day. It made my relationship with the Lord, His church and His people very difficult. I trusted no one.
    Due to all of this, Satan took me down a very horrible path, a path I wish never would have happened. That life style was devastating, and now that I am right with the Lord, I still struggle with the church, because I am now treated as a threat. The Lord has changed my life in so many ways it's been 18 years now, and I am praying the Lord will send me a wonderful Christian husband. God is and has been so good to me.
    It's true we must be careful what we share with other's. I have a hard time believing that most people in the church have no clue about grace, they would not be able to treat people so badly, if they did.
    posted by Mary Crawford
    on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm
  12. Mary, my heart breaks when I read this. And I know your story breaks God's heart too. It is devastating when the abuser is someone we know and trust, especially someone in Christian ministry. The scars of your life are deep, and Satan would love to scratch at them and keep you hurting.

    As you continue to study who you are in Christ, you will find the strength to stand, even when you are misunderstood. (If you will go to my website under "Free Resources," you will find my study on who we are in Christ -- a study that helped me so much.) The abused, so crushed by others' sin, need to understand the dignity they have in Christ.

    There will always be church leaders and members who abuse the grace of God and hurt the flock. It is up to the church to discover and deal with them biblically, and when necessary, to call in other authorities. They leave a trail of hurting people, and other believers must come alongside the abused to assist in recovery and show them the love of Christ.

    One of the great outcomes of my abuse was to learn to pray for my abuser -- that he would repent, seek the Lord, and learn to live a godly life. Whether he did or not is entirely in God's hands. It was tough to pray these prayers, but the choice to forgive and pray for him ripped apart my bitter heart and gave me greater freedom to love and minister to others.
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 12:52 pm
  13. Dawn,
    I thank you for the most tender loving, encouraging words.
    I had been looking for my abuser for years, and I believe I found him a couple of years ago. He either was the real person, or like he said, he has a brother with that name. When he asked me, why am I looking for him, and I told him what he did, there was complete silence, then he asked me my name,( this really got to me) I told him. With a soft quiet voice he said, Mary I am very sorry. I told him, I have been looking along time and that I want to give his brother a message, if it was really him, I have made a choice to forgive him, and I just wanted him to know that.
    You see , Dawn as long as I was looking for him in anger, the Lord would have never been glorified, it was just me seeking revenge that only belongs to the Lord. God had to change my heart. I pray it was him on the phone.
    posted by Mary Crawford
    on Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 12:07 am
  14. Thanks for writing this article, Dawn. It takes courage. I too am a former victim of sexual abuse and have written to encourage other survivers to allow God to heal them.

    God repairs the damage one piece at a time. It isn't an easy journey--but it's extremely rewarding.

    I used to feel shame for what others did to me. Now I feel unashamed.

    I used to feel ruined/dirty. Now I feel redeemed.

    I used to hide in fear. Now I let God's light shine through me.

    I used to struggle with not liking myself and didn't even hope that I could someday be loving with myself. God's healing surprised me in this area. I do like myself now. What others did to my body, didn't change who I am or how God sees me.

    God is The Great Healer--far more compassionate and capable than we can imagine. We can trust Him.
    Http://dazzlingwings.blogspot.com
    posted by Tanya Warrington
    on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm
  15. Tanya, you expressed the emotions of abuse and reality of healing so well. Thank you.
    There is quite the journey between "used to" and "now" (no matter the struggle) when we are trusting God. We are washed and sanctified in the name of Jesus (1 Cor. 6:11), and we can pray our abusers find the same transforming grace. Bless you, Sister, as you continue find your refuge in our Savior.
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn
    on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 11:10 pm
  16. I "happened" upon this blog n comments just now. THANK YOU SO MUCH!! powerful and beautiful sentiments and healing, gracious truths. Been the victim, wasted many years, but learning to live freely, little by little. God is faithful. Bless you, Dawn!
    posted by Learning and Growing
    on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 6:18 am
  17. God bless you, "Learning and Growing." You're right - it's those little, daily choices that make a difference. Like deciding to live in truth rather than listening to the enemy's lies, or trusting the faithfulness of God to transform what was meant for evil into beautiful growth and ministry. That's true freedom!
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm
  18. Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey, dear friend. The Lord continues to display His mighty power through your life and ministry. Truly He has redeemed the ashes of this trauma and has given you a crown of beauty!
    posted by Carrie
    on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 8:39 pm
  19. Thank you, Carrie. It really is a "journey," as you say. And God gives me opportunities to walk beside others who are in pain on their journeys.

    I am praying this week for a woman who experienced the ashes of trauma far more than I did. Though transformed by God's grace, her scars run so deep, and she keeps experiencing the fallout -- the consequences -- of some choices she made after the abuse. She is learning to trust God one day at a time, and I pray God will give her a "crown of beauty" too. She needs to live in the freedom only Christ can bring.
    UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 12:50 am
  20. Thank you, thank you. I ran across this as I was searching for help with truly trusting God & dealing with past hurts. I was in an abusive (emotionally, physically & sexually) marriage. Even though it's been 7 years since the divorce, I am just really, truly dealing with my hurt. I thought that if I ignored it, it would maybe go away. My pastor and his wive are counseling me through the Word of God and praying for me daily. I believe that your article will be an instrumental part in my healing, I am gonna use it as a part of my study time with God. There are lot of things that I am dealing with as a result of that marriage and have just now found the courage to deal with and admit to myself and God that I need him. Again, thank you. I will keep this site in my favorites.
    posted by Katrina
    on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 4:57 pm
  21. Katrina, I am praying for you right now. There are so many kinds of abuse - and God hates them all. He loves you and wants to be in the center of your healing process, so I am glad you are being counseled with the Word of God. And I am thankful for a pastor and pastor's wife who care about you and are praying. And my prayer for you today is that the Lord will give you clear direction about the daily choices you can make toward becoming a victorious, vibrant woman of God.

    Ignoring abuse never makes it go away. God wants us to face it (with Him) so we can overcome what the enemy means to use to destroy us. He is giving you the courage you need, and He will give you the grace to move forward in ways that will be for your good and His glory. Blessings to you!
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 6:50 pm
  22. I was abused as a little girl. I know that the only way I can be healed is through Christ but i have such a hard time truly trusting Him. I am so lost.... I have no idea where to begin or even HOW to begin...
    posted by Kayla
    on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 11:04 am
  23. Kayla, I hear your hurt. There's so much I'd love to say to you, Dear One.

    I had to learn (and choose to believe) that trusting Jesus is not like trusting any other man. Jesus, God's Son who died for you, will never abuse you.

    One thing I want you to know right now is that if you have a personal relationship with Christ--knowing Him, not just knowing about Him--the Holy Spirit will continue to work in your life. In fact, He will interpret your hurting, confused prayers to our Father God (Romans 8:26-27).

    God understands your pain and emotional struggle, and how hard it is to trust after being abused. The Spirit of God is praying for you according to the will of God - and it is God's will that you trust Him. He will work in your heart to help you trust Him, and one of the ways He does that is to reveal more of Himself--who He really is.

    So begin with God-focus, not self-focus. As long as we continue to gaze inward, we will always see our scars, but when we gaze on Jesus, we see His scars and remember that He died to save and heal us and make us whole again. We can trust this One who loved us so completely.

    We gaze on Jesus in the Word of God. I encourage you to go back through each of the scriptures I listed in the article and ask God's Spirit to reveal their truth to you. You have to know truth before you can walk in truth. Don't miss the sixth point - be intentional and study who you are in Christ.

    One other thing that might help. Write the words "in God's hands" on a file card and put it in your Bible, envisioning that you are handing over your questions, pain and need for healing into God's hands. It's an act of surrender to His greater purposes in your life. You might want to write a scripture about trust on the back of the card (ideas: Psalm 56:3-4; Isaiah 26:3; Psalm 91:2). Then, whenever the enemy brings memories to your mind, you can say, "Get lost, Satan. That's all in God's hands now."

    I love you in Christ, Kayla, and I'm praying for you right now - for faith, for hunger for God and His Word, and for peace.
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm
  24. i will ask a child like question that is the center of my grief now:

    why didn't you make it stop, god?
    were you just in the corner watching?

    i've spent the last 33 years proving how "good i can handle things" thinking it was my cross to bear. that the goal of my life is to show god how well i can roll with the punches.

    i've embraced the "mystery of god" fully without feeling the love of god.


    the question that comes in tears that i hardly recognize is

    where were you, god?!?!?!?
    posted by kristin
    on Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 9:04 am
  25. Kristin, these are always tough questions, “Where was God?” “Didn’t He care?” “Why didn’t He stop the ____” (pain, abuse, tragedy). I’m going to answer your “child-like” question in the hope that God will give you (and others who may read this) peace and courage.

    I use to wonder, “If God could do miracles in the Bible like turning water to wine or making the sun stand still, why couldn’t he come to my rescue? Why wouldn’t He?” I struggled with these feelings and thoughts for so many years. There are no easy answers – at least, no easy answers I like. I did come to understand that I didn’t do anything wrong; it was someone else doing something wrong to me. And that God hated their sin. He hated it so much He sent Jesus to die for even THAT sin.

    I don’t like it that Christian martyrs die for their faith either. “Why would God allow that?” I ask. Every time I see a heart-rending tragedy on the news—wars, crimes, murders, genocides, famines, 9/11—my heart screams for answers. But the “why” questions aren’t new. The book of Job in the Bible is full of them. You’ll find some questions in the Psalms too.

    People ask, “If God is so loving … so powerful … why isn’t He rescuing people? Why isn’t He stopping the senselessness and pain?” And it’s not so abstract when it hits home with someone we love, or in our own experiences. Sometimes He does directly deal with sinful behavior; other times, it’s not time yet. God is sovereign in how and when He deals with sin, and I do know He is patient and, in love, wants to give people time to turn to Him … even our abusers.

    Jesus said we’d all face some kind of suffering (John 16:33). He was gut honest. God didn’t create evil and suffering. It was all good. But in order for us to experience His love, God had to allow us to choose to love Him back. Those who choose to reject Him also reject his love, goodness, holiness, right thinking, and so on. So there are sinful choices, and then there are things that happen because of sin entering the world (“natural” disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes). Nature and sinful man are basically in revolt against God, and the consequences of that revolt sometimes includes spewing evil all over each other.

    Kristin, I don’t know why God didn’t make the abuse against you stop. My thinking is so imperfect, this side of heaven, and though I search in the Word to understand God, I don’t yet have his “mind” or thoughts. Someday I will, according to 1 Cor. 13:12, but not now. My vision of His purposes is still cloudy right now. But I do know, because this is God’s character, He wasn’t just “in the corner watching,” as you suggest. He was hovering over you, angry and grieving. He hates sin. Jesus understands abuse. He suffered great abuse – for you—to give you hope and a future, despite your ugly circumstances.

    That may not comfort you, but it did me. God was present in my abuse, just as He is present when my family faced financial struggles, when my body went crazy with sickness, and when my Daddy died. His presence was real and comforting. As a pastor, Bill Elliff, says, “Everything flows from the presence of God.” When I “abide” (live in, intentionally) His presence, I find everything I need to cope with my circumstances. When I allow the enemy to distract me, I can question God’s control and love. I do see signs of who God really is in the midst of all the evil, and it’s nothing like we’ve distorted Him to be.

    And I really do believe that God can enable each one of us to make the choice to hand over our pain and tragedies to Him, to accomplish good. We don’t have to prove we can “roll with the punches,” as you say. But we can surrender it all to Him, surrender our lives to Him, and watch Him transform it into something beautiful. I can’t help but think of Joseph here (Genesis 50:20). But we may not see that “something beautiful” in this life. That is where faith comes in. God is going to reveal “glory” in us from our “present sufferings” – if we trust Him with them (Romans 8:18).

    God doesn’t look harshly on your questioning, either, Kristin. He understands your heart. But you do have a choice. Your choice is to either turn by faith to Jesus for the peace and courage you need so you can move forward with joy; or to allow bitterness to fester with your questions. I love the way Corrie ten Boom faced her questions after being imprisoned and abused in a Nazi prison camp. She wrote, “No matter how deep our darkness, He [God] is deeper still.”

    You said you’ve embraced the “mystery of God” fully without feeling the love of God. To be frank, God cares about your feelings, but your feelings are less important than your thoughts and beliefs. Feelings are fickle. Faith is choosing to consider and believe what God says, and the scriptures tell us plainly that He loves us. I’ve found my feelings changing toward God when I chose to believe the truth about His feelings toward me.

    God can give you courage for this. John 16:33 says we will have suffering, but Jesus is telling us the end of the story. Your life is more than the abuse. Your life is wrapped up in the greater purposes of God—Jesus overcoming the sins of the world. If you know Him, you can trust Him. Your pain is His pain; your abuse is His abuse.

    And someday God will deal with all of the abuse and hold abusers accountable. Justice will be served because He is a perfect judge. He will make it right for you. The story isn’t over yet. YOUR story isn’t complete. God will make it all clear in eternity. If you know Him in an intimate relationship (1 John 5:13), being with Him will be worth it all (1 Corinthians 2:9). I’m so glad He has the last word.
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm
  26. I was abused by my stepfather for years as a child until he went to prison. My mother stayed married to him after he went to prison and told me to testify to the judge that he did not do anything. She said God had forgiven him and could not see his sin and therefore, I would not be lying by testifying this. What I have so much trouble getting over is the worthlessness I feel. I have a husband who loves me and I know in my mind that God loves me, but I can't see how why anyone should love me. I know people want me for my body... that I am used to... but I push away those who actually love me because I feel like I don't deserve it while I crave love from those who don't. I wish I could understand all of my feelings but I don't understand them and the worst part is that I feel like I always have to "act" okay when I know that I'm not. I want to give it all to God once and for all and to finally feel secure in his love. I want to stop feeling worthless. I don't even know why I write this because I know I may be rambling but I feel like I don't have to act perfect here after reading all the posts and it feels like such a relief. Thank you for speaking and sharing your stories and encouragement.
    posted by Katrina
    on Friday, September 20, 2013 at 10:20 pm
  27. Katrina,
    It sounds like you had the double hurt of not only abuse, but someone you love telling you to cover up the sin. I do understand that pain. But more than that, God understands your pain.

    I want you to understand the dignity (sense of worth) that God wants to give you, but like all His good gifts, you need to receive it. If you know Jesus as your Savior, you have a new identity and absolute security, but you also have God-given dignity in Christ. Others may hurt you or try to destroy you, but just like a royal princess who knows who she is, regardless of how she is treated, you can know that you are a royal child of the king (1 Peter 2:5, 9-10), an heir of God (Romans 8:17; Galatians 4:7), an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20), a child of promise (Romans 9:8; Galatians 3:14; 2 Peter 1:4), and a disciple on a mission (Matthew 28:20) and designed with special purpose (Ephesians 2:10).

    This is who the child of God is, in Christ. It's not something we have to try to drum up within us. It is our identity. When we don't "feel" worthy, that doesn't change God's truth about us. Maybe you feel it would be "playing a part" to act like you are loved and worthy, that you can be a loving person. That's how I felt for many years. But one day I did embrace my new identity in Christ. At some point, playing a part transformed into living my role. And whenever the devil came to make me feel dirty, ashamed, unlovely or incapable of loving, I asked Jesus to remind my enemy where he is headed! Then I embraced the victory and love that are mine as God's adopted child.

    As hard as it sounds, loving others is a choice. Even people who have never been abused find difficulties in relationships that make them draw back instead of moving toward others in love. I choose to love my husband with the love of Christ when I cannot love him from my own selfish, hurting heart.

    You're right, Katrina. You don't have to be perfect here at True Woman. But the truth is, you don't have to be perfect anywhere. Only God is perfect. But remember, our Father God doesn't just see you ... He sees you through what Jesus has done for you and in you. You can relax and breathe. You can rest in Him. And you can simply obey Him and make the choices (love, forgiveness, hope, peace, etc.) He asks you to make, one day at a time. I'm praying for you right now, that God's Spirit will encourage you and continue to transform your mind and heart.
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Sunday, September 22, 2013 at 10:39 pm
  28. Thanks all of you for sharing your experience of being abused. It is encouragement for me to hear about the pain, hurt, confused feelings towards people, God or myself because I don´t feel out of my mind or crazy when I go through these painful emotions after being abused as a child and then in the church again. I loved the Lord, I was so happy with him, he was healing me completely with his beautiful tender love and it was all shattered to peaces when I was abused by my worship leader who was my spiritual father in fact. It devastated me, my relationship with God as a loving father-I became scared of him, coudn´t open my heart again to accept his love, I felt betrayed by him, by people, by me too. It devastated relationships with people, church. People in the church didn´t believe me, I stayed all alone in all of the pain. I am starting again with God, but this time it is so hard. I don´t feel any hunger for him and I still feel like I have to do something for Him not because of love but because I have to. I think it is still the influence of the abuse as I was forced to do something I never wanted to do. It is just chaos. But thank all of you. Every day I keep repeating to myself : God is with me and for me not against me, trying to go on somehow.
    posted by Ivana
    on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 3:21 am
  29. Ivana, my heart hurts for you. I am so glad this has become a place where women feel free to share their pain from abuse. Too many keep silent, burying the pain.

    It is especially tough to deal with abuse by a Christian leader we respect. And you didn't get the help you needed in your church. (God's people may fail us, but God, never.) The enemy, Satan, wants to keep you shackled to the chains of pain and confusion, and he will continue to try to hurt you. He is the ultimate abuser. But God's grace can rescue and heal you. It's important to believe the truth about Him and not the enemy's lies.

    Like so many others, it sounds like you are struggling with moving forward. Your statement, "God is with me and for me, not against me," is so true! That is the truth that the enemy does not want you to believe. The enemy wants you to turn your anger on God -- to make you fear Him in an unhealthy, unbiblical way. That is always Satan's purpose. He wants us to believe God is not good, that He does not care. The enemy wants to obscure the truth about God's love, Jesus' sacrifice, and the power we have in Him to overcome temptation.

    Whenever we are hurt by others, three steps that can help. The first step to move beyond the pain is recognizing and accepting the fact that you were abused ... you were hurt. You are doing that, acknowledging the pain.

    The second step is to get others involved -- God first and then others who can help with the healing. The very Person who can help us with all our feelings after abuse, our Father God, is the One so many turn away from and reject. It helps me to remember God was with me when I was being abused - loving me and grieving over the awful sin of abuse. It also helps me to understand that God is often abused/hurt/neglected by those who say they love Him; so was Jesus. So they understand this pain. When we bring our pain to God, we find the comfort and clarity we need. The Holy Spirit desires to minister to us, comfort us and teach us. And He gives us other comforters "with skin on" to help us too (2 Corinthians 1:3-5) -- often, people who have struggled with the same pain. Only God can heal our damaged hearts, but wise counsel encourages us in the process. I would encourage you to continue to seek out biblical counselors' but really, the help I needed came as I saturated my life with the truth of scripture. I encourage you to go back to the original article here, Ivana, and actually study the scriptures. They can guide you through this process. God uses His Word to heal our hearts.

    The third step to moving forward is to take action. Yes, there are things we can do - choices we can make. Our action strategy includes forgiveness. (We need to release our abuser to God; He is the judge, not us.) We may need to seek out others to help us understand why and how we forgive. Our action may also include reaching out to others who hurt. As God gives victory and freedom, we can encourage others who are still struggling ... those who are "further back" in the process. I found that this "encouraging" of others helped me deal with my own thoughts and emotions.

    There are many resources on this website, Ivana, that can help you too. May God encourage you as you walk hand-in-hand with Him - "For I am the Lord , your God, who takes hold of our right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you" (Isaiah 41:13).
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 12:21 pm
  30. Dear Dawn, thank you for your encouraging words. In fact after the abuse I supressed the trauma so hard that it took God several years to explain to me what really happened in my life. I started to live without my heart, hated all emotions, became angry and full of hatred and bitterness. After 2 years of leaving the church, hating Gog and church, God found me again. He gave me strength to forgive, he cleansed me, he said, that he will heal me. But I am stuck-I don´t know how to have relationship with God again-I feel like I don´t have a heart anymore, I don´t feel the Holy Spirit, I work hard to find God but I am going nowhere. My heart isn´t so open and sincere as it was for the first time I came to Him. I often ask Him to forgive me and to help me hunger for Him again, to help me see His love again, to live how He wants me to live but something is terribly wrong in me. You are right: I have to read God´s word and believe what it says. Thank you for your loving words and the Scripture from Isajah-I often repeat this verse to myself. I feel like I have to be strong standing against bitterness as it wants to grab my life again. I feel weak but I ask the Lord for help very often. Bitterness makes everything much much worse. Thank you very much.
    posted by Ivana
    on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm
  31. Today I am a woman who has the most horrific sexual pictures and thoughts bombarding my mind and making me feel so disgusting. When I have rare times of intamacy with my husband I think of the horrible things in my past and I either freeze or I let go and then feel disgusting afterwards. Everyday I feel bruised and I long to be pure and the things in my past to be erased. I have been a Christian for 13years and God has taken me through so many healing works and transformed me, I was a drug user and alcoholic from the age of 14 and had come from a broken background which led me to being in a psychiatric unit and a childrens home. I have experienced so many horrible sexual experiences from a young age and groomed and abused when I was 14, I thought I looked older and did not realise it was abuse until 3 years ago.I had more sexual experiences which damaged me and even led to me having an abortion. I know I belong to Christ the problem is not Christ it's me! My mind, I want all those pictures to go away, I want to make love with my husband and not feel disgusting the next day, I want to be free. I'm at a point now where God has shown me clearly to come out of work and rest in Him but I feel so under attack.. My pastor tried to help me but after one session with Him and my husband I think he felt out of His depth and didn't meet up with us again, this has left me feeling like the things I struggle with are too much and too disgusting for help. I've had enough of all of this and I want so much to be healed.
    posted by Sue
    on Sunday, December 1, 2013 at 10:47 am
  32. Sue,
    Sexual images are tough, because our brains are wired to remember. Remembering is actually a blessing - but our wiring can be damaged by sin.

    One of the most helpful things for me in dealing with sexual images was reading Erwin Lutzer's book, "Putting Your Past Behind You" (Moody Press). It is a book full of insight and hope. Lutzer says, "We've all met people whose past is tattooed onto their souls. They've experienced abuse, lived in immorality, or acquired addictions. ...

    "Like holes left in the wall after nails have been removed, the gaping wounds of sin often leave ugly sores. God wants to bandage our open wounds so that they might be healed. When those wounds have become battle scars, we will know that healing has taken place. Guilt, regret and bitter heartache can be put behind us -- there is a land of beginning again. Our past need not control our present nor future...."

    It sounds like God has already begun this work in you ... but the sexual images are like stubborn holes in the wall. Satan is a deceiver who desires to destroy you, but God desires to change you! When Satan comes to me with ugly pictures from the past, I remember where he is going. He is already a defeated tormentor.

    To be honest, what has worked for me is to not give the enemy any room to work, and I do it through praise. When an image comes to my mind (and yes, that has even happened in the midst of a sweet time with my husband), I use that image as a trigger to praise God that I am not captive to Satan's strategies. I can't stop the images from coming, Sue, but I can certainly choose how I respond to them. The enemy hates it when we praise God! I've found I have fewer instances since I've practiced praise.

    I saw this in Lutzer's book too. He speaks of the "memories" that come (and those memories would include images). He says, "Memories can be reminders of God's matchless grace... God can break the power of these memories and eventually relegate them to the 'no longer active' file of the mind. We just don't have a right to remember what God forgets .... God is greater than our memories."

    If your heart condemns you, God is greater than your heart and anything in the "world" (1 John 3:20; 4:4). Don't give up and don't give in to feelings of hopelessness, Sue. Saturate your heart with cleansing scriptures, and place your hope in God! The one who saved you is now interceding for you (Romans 8:34), and He can set your heart at rest (1 John 3:19). Though some people don't know how to respond, many understand exactly what you're describing. And remember ... you will never be too disgusting for God's grace and help. The things in your past cannot be erased, but they can be transformed.
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Monday, December 2, 2013 at 12:04 am
  33. Dear Dawn,
    here is Ivana again. (I´ve already posted some comments on this page. Is it ok to write here again?) I just want to thank you for so much encouragement you are giving to all of us, Dawn! From time to time I come back here and read again all the comments and your answers. Thank you very much for tenderness, compassion and love in your heart! Abuses are different but you know something about it and you don´t say silly things so we would be hurt more. Thank you Lord for healing Dawn and thank you for healing all of us because you love us, because you are with us and for us, because you are good and you love your children especially when they are hurting and broken you are there to help, to heal, to have compassion on us, you are a good god, good father. Bless all these precious sisters, help us, comfort us, give us strength and help us to see your wonderful love for us through your son Jesus,help us to understand you word and to see us through your eyes. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
    Dawn, it is really encouraging for me to hear from you that healing is not an easy path beause people told me:Come on!Get over it! Forget, forgive and go on! But I was so broken (and still on the way towards being healed) that I even didn´t know how to go on again. People don´t know how damaged people are after being abused and they think that it is an easy way to come out of all the consequences. But as you said :It is not an easy path. But it is possible step by step every day. I say everyday to me:Nothing is impossible with god,nothing.
    Thank you once more for being such a blessing (I believe) for all of us, Dawn! God bless you in everything you need.
    Ivana.
    posted by Ivana
    on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 5:43 am
  34. Thank you, Ivana, for your encouraging words. No, it's not an easy path. It takes time to heal.

    But - on the other hand - we do need to keep our eyes on Christ every single day and, as I tell women, "cooperate" with God in His ongoing work in our lives. We are 100% "justified" in Jesus when He forgave our sin and imputed His righteousness to us; and we will someday be 100% "glorified" and perfected when we see Him as He is. That is all God's work. We don't contribute a thing. We are saved and kept by His good grace. Praise God!

    But in a sense, every day we have the opportunity to partner with the Father in our becoming more like Jesus through our faith and obedience - and that is our "sanctification." It's an up-and-down process, but we can make choices for righteousness.

    To make this practical, when Satan comes to me, reminding me of where I've been in the abuse, and seeking to make me feel "less than," I remind him where he's going, and that I am God's redeemed daughter and now, an ambassador in Christ--made worthy and given dignity to serve Him. A second example ... When I am tempted to give in to a sin that was ingrained in me since the abuse: I fix my eyes on my Deliverer, Jesus (Hebrews 12:2); I place my faith in Him and trust God for strength and wisdom (Proverbs 3:5-7; I speak the truth about that sin (1 Corinthians 10:13); and then I act out my righteousness in Christ. I do something practical and immediate to "be holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16) as God is holy (pray, read scripture, quote something I've memorized, etc.)

    In other words ... we partner with God in our sanctification by LEARNING more about Him, TRUSTING what He says, intentionally CHOOSING to respond with godly character in our position in Christ, and ACTING out in obedience ... and we do that over and over again.

    No, it's not an easy path, it takes time to heal. But, praise God, change is possible because Christ lives in us. The wonder of that just captures my heart today ... and I hope it captures your heart too. You may be broken, Ivana ... but you are beautiful in Jesus. May you shine as His light in this dark world.
    www.heartchoicestoday.blogspot.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm
  35. Thank you, Dawn, for your answer. Here´s Ivana again.
    I would like to ask you something: I struggle with legalism and condemnation a lot and I must admit that I often struggle to have really faith in Jesus. This started after the abuse, I lost my joy of salvation, I lost relationshp with God, I felt really rejected by Him as a father. Could this still be one of the results of the abuse? I try to be good in my own stregth and have difficulty to trust God. I don´t feel Holy Spirit work in me like before. I confess all these things as sins, ask for forgiveness but I still feel like I am not moving forward. It seems really complicated to me. Just to rely on God´s love and trust again is really hard. Sometimes it is better but then I feel stuck again. Little light comes and immediatelly I feel scared of loosing everything again. The more I try the more it gets complicated.
    Thank you for your comment. God bless you.
    posted by Ivana
    on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 5:44 am
  36. Ivana, your struggle with trusting God is not unusual.You mentioned in an earlier post that your abuse also occurred in relation to the church. When sexual abuse is coupled with spiritual abuse, the results are similar - a victim feels fear, distrust, loss of hope and often is inhibited in growth; but there is another side effect. Victims may have a distorted image of God. Be sure you are seeing him as He really is.

    That's why I studied who I am in Christ ... and He restored the wonder of my salvation. But also, I prayed that God would restore my wonder of who He - my Father and Creator - is. I wanted to see Him as the Bible describes Him, not how my culture or my own broken mental images portray Him. That has been an exciting journey, because the more I learned about my Father God, the more I loved and admired Him ... and the more I loved and admired Him, the more I wanted to trust and honor Him.

    But I had to stop focusing on my abuser and the "scripts" going through my mind about God. I had to realize my abuser was just as broken as I was, and God would deal with him. That wasn't my job. No one but a loving, Sovereign God can take our pain and make us whole again, and give us opportunities to be a walking testimony to the grace of God, able to encourage others in their struggles (2 Corinthians 1:3-5) and give them hope.

    Also, I mentioned our "sovereign" God. That idea of "sovereign" may be tripping you up too. Because abusers function by controlling their victims, the abused may feel they must never yield that kind of power/control to anyone again. Unfortunately, that self-protecting instinct (the desire not to be controlled) can shut God out. Satan will do everything he can to keep you separated from God and not trusting Him, Ivana. He is a liar and destroyer (John 10:10a) who wants to keep you in bondage; but you don't ever need to fear coming home to the Father. He will not hurt His children. And abundant life waits for you at every turn in Christ (John 10:10b).
    www.heartchoicestoday.blogspot,com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 9:46 pm
  37. Diane M WaltmanGOD give me strength

    December 31, 2013 ·
    .

    When I think about where I was and how God rescued me and brought me through all of my pain and misery, I want to help as many people as I possibly can to have hope and believe what God can do for them. If you’ll trust God to write a beautiful story through your life, you’ll find purpose in your pain as God takes your mess and turns it into His message. My motive in telling my story is not for you to go out and buy my book or feel sorry for myself. I’m sharing my story because many, many people have been through similar struggles. God wants to share my story so you may be restored by God’s mercy and grace. I’m living proof. To learn more about The Little Girl Inside, go to my Facebook and click on the link...I have a dream to be a voice for all these innocent children. Remember, for every book I sell that's one more day closer in saving an innocent victim. God Bless...
    The Little Girl Inside
    posted by Diane M Waltman
    on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 6:47 pm
  38. Thank you to the gentleman who so politely admitted that he does not understand the pain of sexually abused women - I think that your admission is so honest and real, and perhaps many others need to admit it openly also. Loved ones who have never been abused especially need to allow themselves to be open and honest about their true feelings. I believe "honesty" is the beginning of empathizing and understanding.

    I also want to offer something that might help others who also do not understand: From my personal experience and exposure to so many people who say that they cannot comprehend it - the shame, embarrassment, sorrow, and grief comes in because of the many frowns, sneers, jeers, ridicule, criticism, and hatred of others, (sometimes even family members) who vie to keep it "quiet" or seem to feel that telling the truth about what happened is a sin and a disgust. When "no one" agrees with you, it is hard to look at yourself (sometimes) as normal - especially when you are already feeling very "not normal" in your emotions and even as you attempt to function normally in your own life. Like it or not, we are connected to each other, and need the approval, love, and acceptance of each other. Try as we might to be different than that, we all need for someone to understand us, take the time to listen, care about us, and believe us. People generally need to feel "important enough." When that doesn't happen, an abused, and already vulnerable and often weakened person internalizes it, and begins to wonder "What is wrong with me?", Why "do" I feel the need to talk about it when no one else cares? Why "am" I so different and odd?

    The good news is (...and I'm stepping out on a limb here), I believe that most abused victims/survivors "know the truth" deep down; that they are worthwhile, that the feelings they are having are valuable, and that they are right (and have a right) in being angry and hurt. They just have to learn how to get inside of themselves (their own hearts), learn to trust God in the process, and learn to let go of "needing" others (because many do become needy) in the way that they have needed them in the past. It's all about process and patience with themselves and belief in themselves - and that begins with belief in God and in what He tell us about who (and whose) we are.
    posted by Crystal L. Miller
    on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 10:38 pm
  39. I'm glad I found this website, but still find my struggle with trusting God different than others. I was abused by my father as a child. Had unwanted attention and touches from different older man as I grew up. I was invited to a youth group at the age of 16 and accepted Jesus as my saviour. I was elated, my life would be different! I learned that I was now a new person and experienced the freedom of being able to tell my father I forgave him and tell him about Jesus. Learned all about following jesus and how he could brake the chains of my past. Prayed so hard to have those chains broken and that my future family wouldn't have to experience anything close to what I had to. I learned that if I obeyed God and married a Christian He would bless us, so I started praying for that future husband. I trusted with all my heart. Married a friend I had known since I started going that youth group. God centred man, worship team member etc etc. 5 years into our marriage I found out that he had molested my little sister for about 2 years. You can imagine how this broke me, I didn't understand! Hadn't God broken the chains? Hadn't I married the right person? Well even after all this, (him being in prison, taking therapy, never denied it, etc) because he seemed to be doing all the right things, I forgave him. Again I trusted God and felt He was leading me to trust that He could use this for his glory and that we could be a great testimony of his healing power. Well after five years, I could not take it anymore, as far as I know he hasn't done anything again but I couldn't live with him. We have 2 little girls and he is a great dad to them but it's hard for me to trust that God will protect them, even though I'm trying my best not to transfer my fears on to them and allowing them to enjoy a relationship with their dad, I came to recognize in him that he didn't see what he did as child abuse and the way he apologized to my family was horrible. I practically had to push him to do it. So we have recently separated and my kids hate me for it because thy don't know anything. It's so hard for me right now. I feel that if I pray it doesn't matter because God still will allow those things to happen to me. As people tell me... To make me grow stronger or wiser etc. he knows why he is allowing them. I think I could take it all, but now that my kids are suffering it brakes my heart and don't know what to believe.
    Well sorry if this is too long, if anybody out there has experienced a healed marriage after something like this , please give me some advice!! I feel so alone in this, I don't know anybody who has gone through exactly what I have
    posted by Ally
    on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 8:52 pm
  40. Ally, I have not experienced what you have - and if there is a godly woman who loves the scriptures who HAS experienced pain like yours, I hope she will write you here to encourage you. I just have some general thoughts to share with you.

    1) Friends and caring family are a treasure, but I do encourage you to find a strong, biblical counselor to help you sort out your feelings and fears from a biblical perspective. It does matter what you are thinking and feeling, and you don't need "pat answers," even from well-meaning people. You need to see how the Word of God speaks truth into your circumstances and gives you principles to deal with all of this.
    2) Be careful not to stand in God's way if He wants to deal with your husband. Allow the Lord to do His work in His way in your husband's heart.
    3) Don't allow Satan to cloud your thinking. This wasn't an affair with a consenting adult. Molestation isn't a "fling." So keep that in perspective and don't ever think molestation isn't a big deal to God.
    4.) It's OK to set boundaries you feel will protect you and your children ... even to separate (not divorce) while you all work through this, and to give God time to work in your husband's heart. But keep praying for him!
    5) Don't give up hope. Even in the most desperate of circumstances, God can work.

    It may take a while for you to trust others again—and some people are never to be trusted—but God is completely trustworthy. Sometimes we don’t understand why He allows things to happen this side of heaven. But as I study the stories of Joseph and Job, I see that His purposes are often far beyond our comprehension. I choose to trust God who is present even in my struggles. He is the righteous Judge and I can safely leave “my case” with Him.
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 11:04 am
  41. Dawn thank you so much for taking the time write me back and in such a thoughtful way. I am doing everything you mentioned. I have sleeked help and thankfully have a great circle of caring friends and family who support me in any way they can. All I can do now is take it day by day. Sme days are really awful to the point of me having suicidal thoughts and other days I am able to pray and function like a normal human being but most days I'm in cruise mode. And unfortunately so lonely in my experience. I will keep you posted on my progress.

    Blessings
    posted by Ally
    on Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 1:02 am
  42. Dear Dawn,

    I am so glad I was sent this link via text. Reading all the stories, make me feel not so alone. I was abused by step dad and like many other never told anyone, I was also abused by my brother in law. I never told anyone up until 5 years ago my family knows on my mother's side but I never told my dad. I still till this day have not told him and I live in constant fear, I fear God, I don't feel like I have the child like faith that a believer should have, because the person I was supposed to trust and see as a father abused me. I feel stuck and I don't know what to do? Do I say something or do I stay quiet after all these years. I just know that I want to have the relationship that God wants me to have with him and not be afraid. There are times I just want to be wrapped in my Father's arms and hear him tell me everything is okay. My relationship with my read dad is not as good as I am sure it could be. I know he loves me and we do spend time together but I think this secret makes me keep a wall up.

    Do you have any words of advice ?
    posted by Cindy
    on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 4:38 pm
  43. Cindy, I know how difficult that must feel for you to trust God, since the men in your past abused you. Somehow, it just doesn't feel safe to trust God. Even if there was no sexual abuse, a critical or unloving father figure can cause a woman to question God's love, provision and/or acceptance.

    As you likely know in your head, if not your heart - God is not a father in the same way you've come to know earthly men. Earthly fathers/step-fathers/father figures can and will fail us in so many ways (just as we fail them as daughters!); and even a "nearly-perfect" earthly father cannot compare to the Father in heaven. Our Father God loves us with a perfect love. And we can trust His love. He loves us so much He gives us the freedom to make choices. And if we are His child, He will not reject us, even if we make wrong choices sometimes.

    There is so much to consider when I read your words, and frankly, I am not qualified to give you the counsel you need. (I encourage you to share this with a godly Christian counselor or pastor/pastor's wife that you do trust.)

    But one of the issues you have is, "Do I say something (to my dad) or do I stay quiet after all these years?" I can't give you that answer, but there are many other questions you might also want to consider as you determine this.

    For example: Do I have the kind of relationship with my real dad that I can tell him anything and he will accept me? Why do I need to tell my real dad; what is my motive? Am I hoping my dad will confront my abuser/s? Am I prepared for what might happen if he does? Will telling my dad relieve my unhealthy fears about God? Will my dad be able to help me have a biblical perspective of fatherhood? Will he be able to help me trust God more? (A lot of that depends on whether your dad is a Christ-follower, and whether he is committed to your spiritual health and growth.)

    I am sure some people would advise you to tell your real dad, and some would say not to. But have you prayed and asked God what to do? If you are committed to obey Him, He will give you wisdom (James 1:5). He wants all His children to base relationships in godly love, but He also can give us insight into whether a situation is "safe" for us too.

    Have you shared your questions with a godly pastor (or pastor's wife) you trust? Also, are there godly (though imperfect) Christian men you can observe at church who might help you visualize what godly fatherhood looks like? That might help you determine whether to trust your information and your heart with your real dad at this point.

    Cindy, the truth is, if you are "in Christ," if you have received the free gift of salvation that comes from trusting in Jesus' sacrifice for sin on your behalf (on the cross) and His resurrection to give you eternal life, then you already ARE safe in the arms of the Father. He has embraced you with perfect love because of Jesus. You are completely safe in the comfort and refuge of your Father God. Letting go of your fears to rest in Him is releasing yourself to a Love that will not let you go! You can confidently choose to "walk" (move forward) in that truth.

    And if you want a better glimpse of what the Father in heaven is like, just keep focusing on Jesus; because Jesus said, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:8-9). The proof of our Father God's love? "The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world" (1 John 4:14) for one simple reason: "...God (the Father) so loved the world...." (John 3:16). If you are His, He dearly loves you, Cindy, and He wants to redeem your past pain for His glory and your good.
    www.heartchoicestoday.blogspot.com
    posted by Dawn
    on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 11:53 pm
  44. Thank you Dawn actually I have an appointment to see a Christian counselor next week. I have also thought about talking to my previous pastors, that I look up to as spiritual parents. Everything you said makes so much sense, I just need to learn to receive the Lord's love me and accept how He sees me. I am definately at a
    Point in my life that is being purged of past hurts. I know my savior will heal me as I learn to open up my heart fully to Him. Thank you again for responding back, I did reveice some confirmations, that I now need to follow through with.

    In Christ
    Cindy
    posted by Cindy
    on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 12:20 am
  45. Dear Dawn,
    here´s Ivana again. I would like to ask you how you magaged to forgive the abuser. I struggle with unforgiveness and bitterness again and again. Why is it so difficult?
    posted by Ivana Horáková
    on Monday, September 1, 2014 at 11:56 am
  46. Ivana, whether we're dealing with sexual or verbal abuse, slander, gossip, or any other hurtful actions against us, the Lord still wants us to learn to forgive. Please re-read my original post and some of my responses again, and you will see that forgiveness isn't making less of what was done to hurt us; it's simply making much of the grace of God. It's turning our hurts and memories over to the Judge of all the earth - the Lord who loves us - believing He will deal righteously with our offenders.

    Forgiveness is as daily as our offenses, and as moment-by-moment as our Enemy, Satan, brings it up in our minds. While my forgiveness for my abuser was a once-and-for-all-time act in my heart (as an act of obedience toward God), sometimes memories in my mind bring me to that point of pain again. But then I simply say, "I have already forgiven that sin and placed my abuser in Jesus' hands. I am free in Christ to move forward in my life." This is important because the Bible tells us to be careful not to let a root of bitterness spring up in our heart (and bitterness comes from an unforgiving spirit--see Hebrews 12:15). Bitterness will not only continue to torment us, but the vines of bitterness will grow and spread; they will defile and damage our relationships with others. Our feelings come and we can't stop them, but we have a choice: what will we do with them? We can linger in our bitterness and continue in pain ... or embrace grace and forgiveness by releasing our bitterness to the Lord.

    Ivana, there is a free resource for you ("Choosing Forgiveness") if you would like it. Email me at info@ReviveOurHearts.com with your postal address to request and receive this gift. It is my prayer that you will find peace the wisdom you seek in the Lord and His Word.
    www.UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 12:22 am
  47. I, too, was molested and sexually abused from the age of 2-8 by my older brother and then again in my teens by a brother-in-law. I had pushed the memories so far back about the abuse by my brother that I had convinced myself they were not real. They were just nightmares. It wasn't until I spoke with another one of his victims that the reality hit me. That realization was in the last few years. I have been trying to deal with "my reality". It is so hard. He is dead now. I feel guilty for saying it with him not being around to defend himself. The abuse that happened when I was a teenager, I actually told my mom about. To which she replied to keep it to myself. I have been in mental hospitals for trying to commit suicide.
    My husband was a preacher and I ended up leaving him for another man. We divorced but are now remarried. I feel so bad for the choices I have made. I want to share my story with all the people who judge me harshly for what I did to my husband. I love him and I didn't want to do the things I did. I was unaware that some of my behavior was coming from my subconscious self that was "tormented" by childhood abuse.
    I can't go to church any where in my small town for the glares of the "Christians" that don't know anything about me except what they have heard. I didn't even share my abuse with my husband. He actually found out by reading an email I sent to the Dr. Phil show. I want to help others who have been abused. But I can't even help myself yet! The hurt is so fresh since I just allowed myself to acknowledge it. I am still searching for how to deal. Prayers are very much appreciated
    posted by Angie
    on Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 8:21 pm
  48. I was molested when I was 11 years old by my cousin who was like a brother to me. I loved respected and looked up to him my whole life. The day it happend was a day that has effected me my entire life and I hadn't realized that until recently. In My teen years I had hardly any friends I had one boyfriend for 4 months and we never talk cause I had ( have) trust issues. Ive just recently told what happend to me to a close friend. Its still like it happendyesterday. .. with God I know it will get better but right now its like I'm screaming help but nothing is coming out! All. These stories are so encouraging and I hope one day to be able to be where some of u are at.
    posted by Katelynn Hiatt
    on Friday, October 17, 2014 at 12:20 am
  49. Dear Katelynn, I do understand. The "trust issues" thing is so hard. The only way I made any progress is by focusing on a bigger "Trust Issue" - needing to trust the Lord for my future. We get so trapped in our past sometimes, and we forget that God uses even these tough, hurtful situations in our past to shape us into a woman He can use for His glory. We can't change our past, but by God's grace, we can shape our future.

    You can scream your "Help!" to God and know that He understands too. He is not a powerless Grandfather in the sky. He heard your cries when you were molested, and He hears them now. Until Jesus returns, he allows men free choice, and it was your molester who chose to hurt you. It's the same with those who murder; they have that free choice, and in their choosing they kill people and sometimes, destroy whole families.

    I'm sure God grieves over our choices in this sin-saturated world. I know the Holy Spirit grieves over my pride and rebellion sometimes, just as much. But the Lord promises He will make all things right--He is the Righteous Judge. "The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed" (Psalm 103:6) and He rewards people according to their deeds (Jeremiah 17:10).

    I encourage you, Katelynn, to seek Him, cry out to Him, trust Him and thank Him that He is working in your heart today. And I do encourage you to seek out a Bible-believing, God-honoring Christian counselor you trust, perhaps a woman you respect. God has plans for you.
    UpgradeWithDawn.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Friday, October 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm
  50. I have struggled with my past abuse for sometime now. I have gone to a few counseling sessions with pastors in my church, but men don't fully understand the depth of how being sexually abused effects a woman. I have tried so desperately to rid myself of insecurities and self-loathing through Christ, but it is difficult. This summer I fell into sexual sin that I repented of. It was heart breaking and I'm still in so much pain. This article has helped me so much in understanding that these problems are deep-rooted. I feel as though they will never go away. And I believe my case of abuse is rare. I was sexually abused by my mother so although the women in my church are lovely and excellent godly women I preferred to be around men. After being used and dumped this summer I don't like men either. I feel so hurt. I want to be a good witness of joy to the world for Christ, but I just don't know if I will always be hurting. Is that normal? Or should I be healing faster if I'm a true child of God? Am I the only one who has been abused by a woman? Will a good godly man ever want to marry me? I know Jesus understands me completely, but I wish there was just one other person who understood me as will.
    posted by Allison
    on Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 11:14 pm
  51. Allison, in some ways, your abuse is an uncomfortable topic. Most people just don't want to believe that this is possible, to be abused by a mom. Moms are supposed to be more nurturing and protective of their children--wired that way by God. This is not always so in our sinful world. Just as men are not the only users of pornography, men are not the only ones who abuse others sexually. And it is just as sinful, regardless of the gender. Maybe you are asking , "How could my own mother abuse me that way? What was wrong with me?" As in any abuse situation, you were not bad and did not deserve that treatment--no matter the perpetrator. It is the enemy, Satan, who is instigating that self-loathing you are feeling. He is the author of all lies.

    I understand your desperate, profound need for true love (godly love) and the conflicting feelings you have about that need. The sexual relationship you chose (not "fell into") was your acting out of the need for that love, but in a sinful way. Sin only leads to more hurt. Jesus (not people, not religion) will always be a safe place for you to place your trust. God may or may not bring a husband to you. (God didn't bring my husband until I was considerably healed of my desperation for human love!) But understand that you ARE deeply loved, Allison. Yes, you may always have to deal with consequences (the emotional anguish, some insecurities and trust issues) of your mother's sin, but you do not have to continue to be victimized by her sin.

    What most people don't understand is this: sexual abuse is not just about the abuse of the body. It's about the abuse of the mind and emotions of a person--manipulating or controlling someone for personal gratification. This is why it is so important to work on conquering the lies of the enemy by transforming your mind (Romans 12:2) through the Word of God and His truth. He can heal your heart. He knows the timetable for that to happen, but you can cooperate with His work in you by saturating your mind with biblical truth. What helped me was to memorize many of the scriptures that I shared in this article, so I would have God's Word ready when lies came to my mind. Godly counselors are trained to help us recognize those lies too.

    Allison, I truly believe the "depth" of the abuse is not the issue as much as how we respond to God's grace, wisdom and power to overcome its lingering effects. Another suggestion: Slowly re-read the bulleted points in this article (especially points 6, 9 & 10) and then turn all the "I can" statements into "I will" statements. Yes, you are a broken vessel, but the Light can shine out best from within a broken vessel. The world will see God's grace in you.
    heartchoicestoday.blogspot.com
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Monday, October 20, 2014 at 9:29 am
  52. I have been horrifically abused in my life, starved, neglected, poisoned, tortured, emotional, physical, sexual abuse, drugs, alcoholism and prostitution, child pornography forced motherhood were thrust upon me from as early as I can remember. I had even witnessed attempted murder through torture of my newborn sister (who I mothered most of my childhood) And that is just the beginning. I have been raped and and exploited more times than I can count. I have permanent physical and mental disabilities from the 20 years of abuse. And only this year have I even learnt basic human thing like how to take care of myself (even toileting and brushing my teeth were things I was never taught). In short I've seen hell on earth and have never felt feminine, strong, respected or even a part of society. I have felt like a freak my entire life, and I'm only 21. I now have no family at all and am in rehabilitation. God has performed numerous outstanding miracles in my life, sent me an angel of a husband and shown me that even the most devastated person like me can find salvation and love in Christ. For someone like me, who is blessed to be alive each day, reading this blog tonight has in a way helped to save my life. Thank you to my sisters here who have shared. I hope to post again, I have prayed for you my sisters in Christ to receive healing and strength, to reclaim your self worth, will power, innocence and feel whole. In Jesus name Amen x
    posted by Gloria
    on Friday, October 24, 2014 at 8:45 am

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