These things include that she (we’re going to talk about girls, but the same principles apply equally to boys) has no right to control her own body; that she has no power to stop the abuse; that she must not tell anyone because either she won’t be believed or the perpetrator will hurt her or her mother/sister/friend. She learns that her abuser is all-powerful. And even worse, she often finds out that he is right. No one believes her if she tells. The abuser is typically a family member, a beloved grandfather or uncle, even a father or brother. When she tries to tell what is going on, the response is often, “Why would you make up such awful lies? He’s a wonderful man! He would never do anything like that! How can you even think of such a thing!” The girl is shamed and humiliated, often physically punished for her “lies.” And she continues to be at the mercy of her abuser because now the family has protected him.
The cycle of abuse is continued for another generation. Sexual molestation is another one of those “elephants in the living room.” They take up huge amounts of space, they stink, and they control the entire household; yet no one will talk about them, hoping that eventually it will all just go away.
It doesn’t. The pain and dysfunction among those who have been sexually abused follows them into adulthood. Typical outcomes include multiple sexual partners, multiple bad marriages, alcohol and drug abuse, self harm such as cutting and skin-picking; and, sadly, these victims can become abusers themselves.
What a girl learns in her childhood because of abuse colors her relationships with men until or unless she gets some help to change her thinking, to change the way she sees herself.
Let me explain what I mean. Here are some examples of the thinking in an abuse victim’s head:
“I’m not worth much. How can anyone love me? I don’t have any right to say NO, because of what happened when I was a child. I feel so guilty and dirty. I was a promiscuous little girl. After all, I wore shorts when I was three or four and would always obey when Grandpa told me to come sit on his lap. I was the one who was wrong!”
Here are some truths that I offer these women who are so broken. Truths from God’s Word always help to heal the brokenhearted:
1. You were made by God, for Himself. Colossian 1:16. Because God made you, you have infinite value.
2. You are His workmanship; in the Greek, the word is poema, the root word of our poem. We are His masterpiece, His literary work of art. We were created in Christ Jesus unto good works that God ordained from the beginning. Ephesians 2:10.
3. Psalm 139 says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, a marvelous work of God. There is no question about your value to Him. You are beyond price.
4. God loves you so very much that He sent His Son to die for your sin, to die in your place and then to rise again, assuring you of forgiveness and eternity in heaven when you come to Him in repentance, love, and gratitude for His great love. John 3:16.
If you are a victim of childhood sexual abuse, or abuse at any time in your life, please understand that you have not changed at all in your value and worth to God. What is done to you against your will is not your fault.
To believe that you are evil because someone else perpetrated evil against you only increases the insidious evil.