It's never too late to begin the healing process from childhood sexual abuse. It's never too early to fall in love with the person God created you to be. Long ago someone made a choice to take away your innocence, but today that someone can't touch your freedom to heal.

Friday, May 27, 2011

On Loving Survivors Well (Part 5: Honor)

It is an honor to bear another’s burden. To know that a survivor has entrusted you with their deepest hurt is a sacred trust—a trust that must be guarded and protected.

As with all relationships, keeping what’s shared in private, private, is important. But for a survivor, who has had their right to trust violated when they were sexually molested as a child, keeping what’s shared private is imperative to their healing.

We love survivors well when we keep their confidences. By doing this we help them trust; we help them heal.

What an honor!

Friday, May 20, 2011

On Loving Survivors Well (Part 4: Balance)

“Don’t make any major decisions when you are physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausted.” I was getting ready to make a life changing decision and the voice of wisdom wafting through the airways drifted into my ears and whirled around my heart. I was weary. Really weary. I took the advice of the voice. The decision could wait. Then I focused on nourishing myself—body, mind, and soul.

Solid relationships require time and energy. I give my best to my husband, children, friends, and others when I am physically rested and I have time to refuel my mind and soul.

Loving survivors well is no different. We will love them best when our lives are balanced and nourished—body, mind, and soul.

Friday, May 13, 2011

On Loving Survivors Well (Part 3: The Patience of Job - The Wisdom of Nathan)

“But it feels like it was my fault. I participated in the abuse.”

If someone opens up to you and tells you about their abuse, be prepared to hear the above statement. I’ve heard it many times. It is a lie that is embedded in most survivors’ hearts.

As a friend to many survivors of sexual abuse, I have found that I can’t just blow past that lie by telling them, “It’s just a lie. You need to believe the truth. It wasn’t your fault.” It may sound absurd to you and to me; we know that a child, no matter what age, is never responsible for sexual abuse. But just telling a survivor that it’s a lie won’t change their feelings. What is truth to the mind doesn’t directly translate to the heart. And chances are, our survivor friend has believed this lie for years, and the lie has gone undetected and unchallenged for just as long.

It takes patience to love a survivor well in their area of abuse and shame. We may spend hours having marvelous conversations about life and enjoying their company, but when they move the conversation to reveal their deepest wound, we must be filled with the patience to listen and listen some more. It is only after we’ve earned the right to speak by listening, and they invite us to share our thoughts, that we need to pray for the wisdom of Nathan.

Nathan was a counselor in the Old Testament to King David. When he advised David, he did so in such a way as to reach David’s heart. Nathan knew that the King David was compassionate toward others and he used this understanding to move David’s heart. Nathan used a story of injustice done to someone else to help David embrace truth.

I’ve never met a survivor who isn’t compassionate. They know pain. They care deeply for others. One of my friends was struggling with her participation in the abuse, so when my thoughts were welcomed, I told her a story about another survivor. And when I was finished, I asked if it was the child in the story’s fault. I got a resounding NO! Another’s pain touched her heart. Did it make the lie disappear? No. But she understands that the lie is in her heart, and that in her heart, is where the battle rages.

I am determined to remain a faithful, patient friend to her. I will do what I can to help her lift her sword toward the lie, not because I’m an amazing person filled with knowledge and wisdom, but because I rely on a God who is.

Friday, May 6, 2011

On Loving Survivors Well (Part 2: A Shockproof Friend)

“I keep telling you things that I think will shock you, but you don’t shock easily.”

My survivor friend was letting me in slowly, giving me more information over the course of months that turned into years. I was thankful that she didn’t see shock in my eyes because I was purposeful in keeping my eyes soft and compassionate whenever she took our conversations to her place of hurt and shame. I never wanted to be guilty of ripping the scabs off of her painful wounds. She needed a friend to listen and listen some more. She needed a friend to trust that her memories were true as she was finally able to translate her memories into words. She needed a friend who wasn’t shocked by her abuse, her abuser, or the consequences of her abuse.

I think Dr. Diane Langberg states this concept well in her book, Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse. She writes:

Calling back memories that one has never been able to voice is a massive struggle. Hearing about such things can cause great denial in the listener. Yet we who believe that sin is so hideous as to require the death of God himself [Jesus] should of all people find evil believable.
(Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse, by Dr. Diane Langberg, page 280.)

I am not a professional counselor. But I am a friend to over twelve women who are survivors of sexual abuse, and I’ve had the honor of listening to their hearts over the course of the past fifteen years.

If 1 out of every 4 girls and 1 out of every 6 boys are molested by their eighteenth birthdays, chances are, you have a survivor friend who needs a shockproof friend too.
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