Crucial things to know in order to begin healing from child sexual abuse
Friend, I wanted to talk about something a little heavy today that I hope will bring you some encouragement. So I’m sharing these seven statements with you that you need to hear if you haven’t already. Maybe you need to hear them again if you already have.
1. It was not your fault
Even if you have heard this before, it bears repeating. It was not your fault. Many kids can blame themselves even into adulthood, and this belief, aside from being extremely damaging, couldn’t be further from the truth. As children, the adults in our lives are responsible for keeping us safe.
2. It’s ok if you did nothing to stop it once it began
Whether the abuse was a standalone event or recurring, you can’t beat yourself up for being unable to stop it — because chances are you couldn’t. Every child may respond to the abuse/perpetrator differently in different situations. It’s ok if you froze up. It’s ok if you didn’t scream or kick or try to free yourself of your perpetrator’s grasp. It’s ok if you went along with it. Children oftentimes cannot fully comprehend what is happening and do not know how to respond — They simply are developmentally unprepared.
3. It is not your identity
Often children will internalize the abuse and start seeing themselves as a victim and as dirty, bad, etc., but this is not who you are. It is very important to distinguish the sin committed against you from who you truly are: God’s beloved creation.
4. You don’t have to be ashamed
As child sexual abuse survivors, we can hold on to a lot of shame for something done to us for all the reasons stated above and more. When you can separate yourself (your identity) from the abuse and step into who God says you are, along with His infinite grace and love, the shame begins to fall away.
5. Forgiving doesn’t mean they didn’t do anything wrong
Yes, you can and should forgive (Matthew 6:14, Luke 6:37). There is a lot of misconceptions about forgiveness, and one of them is that if we forgive someone, we are saying what they did was not that big a deal, and we are leaving the door open for them to do it again. That is not what forgiveness is about, friend. Forgiveness is letting go of the anger and bitterness in your heart. As for your perpetrator, God sees all and is a just God and mighty judge.
6. You are not alone
As cliché as this sounds, it is unfortunately very true. Child sexual abuse is much more common than you may think. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys experience sexual abuse at some point in childhood, and 91% of child sexual abuse is done by someone the child or their family knows, and in many cases a member of their own family. (CDC.gov) These numbers are insane. It is a tragic epidemic, especially considering that most cases of child sexual abuse go unreported. See, child sexual abuse has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the sin and evil of this world. You are not alone.
7. You need to talk about it
I used to be sure I would be taking some secrets with me to my grave. Keeping it all inside was wreaking havoc on my mind, body, and soul, and I allowed it to go on this way for too long. As Jennie Allen puts it in her book Get Out Of Your Head,
alone in the dark, the devil can tell you whatever the hell he wants.
In the dark, these things fester and grow like cancer and the enemy loves it. It is only when something is brought to light that it can begin to lose its power over you, and healing can begin.
So, friend, find someone to talk to! Whether it be a trusted friend or family member, a therapist, a pastor, etc.
Though we may be strangers, you can always talk to me. I am in no way, shape, or form a professional, counselor, or psychologist, but I can offer my support and listening ear 🤎