Dealing with Sexual Abuse


1. Talk to Someone:

Find a safe reliable person you believe you can trust to talk to. If you have not done so already, try and pluck up the courage to tell someone what has happened to you.
Aim to find a trained, experienced professional counsellor who works within a reputable organisation and is accountable, possibly someone who has been recommended to you.
Some people feel they can work through, and cope with, the damage and effects of sexual abuse on their own, but it is more usual for people to need help from someone else.

2. Break the Silence

Sexual abuse can often be kept a secret for many years. Try and break the secrecy by sharing what happened to you with a few people you can depend upon and trust.
Keeping sexual abuse a secret, can increase the effects on victims as they keep it all locked away inside them. Sharing with someone else can bring relief and then give opportunity for those who have been abused to be helped.
God knows everything about us and still loves us unconditionally and accepts us as we are.

3. Sexual Abuse Affects Your Whole Life

Sexual Abuse affects every area of your life but it can be faced, worked through and in time overcome.
Those who have been abused may feel they are different to other people: that in some way they have been stained or contaminated: that they respond differently to other people.
They may struggle to cope with close, intimate relationships. This is because sexual abuse happens within a relationship, and can affect their ability to relate to others.
Sexual abuse victims can experience things in their present lives that have become wrongly linked. Sex can be linked with pain or fear. Pleasure can be linked with pain. All men and women may be seen as possible abusers. But these wrong links can be identified and changed.

4. A Sense of Betrayal:

If you have been sexually abused you have also been betrayed. When someone is betrayed it causes a very deep reaction within them.
The effects of betrayal can be worked through and it is possible to learn how to begin to reach out and trust people again and therefore develop good, positive, meaningful relationships.
Jesus knows what it is like to be betrayed by people who were close to him, and said they loved Him. He can understand your pain because He has been there himself.

5. Learn to Like Yourself:

People who have been sexually abused can find it hard to like or even love themselves.  Try and look after yourself.
Try to eat well, regularly and healthily. If eating is difficult try to eat something light, easy to digest and nourishing. Cereal and milk is good.
Aim to get a good balance of exercise, rest and sleep.
Do something each day that you enjoy doing. If it is difficult to think of something at the moment, try doing something you used to enjoy.
Be kind to yourself and treat yourself regularly even if you find it difficult.
God has designed us as tripartite beings. We all have a body, a soul and a spirit, when things happen they affect all three parts; when we begin to deal with the effects of abuse every part of us is affected.

6.  Most Abuse Happens to Children

A lot of sexual abuse takes place with children i.e. under eighteen years of age.  If this is the case for you; remember you were only a child when it happened.
Your understanding and perception of things would have been very different to what they are now as an adult.
Children feel pain and emotions much more intensely than adults. Because the abuse happened when you were a child, your emotions linked to the abuse can be very intense and childlike.
God knew you from the day you were conceived; from when you where in your motherís womb. Because He is Lord of time He can heal you of damage from the past even when it happened to you as a child.

7.  Building Good Relationships

Although you may struggle to make good relationships, it is important that you gradually begin to reach out and learn how to build and regain your trust in people.
Join a support group: this can help to break some of the isolation and provide a measure of support and relationship.
Gradually allow others to get close to you, even though intimacy may be very hard for those who have been abused.
Those who have been abused can struggle to be able to tell who is or isnít trustworthy, but this can be discovered and learned.
Aim to discover who is trustworthy by trusting a person with something that feels meaningful but not absolutely crucial. Building trust means being patient, taking time and being willing to take risks.

8. Working Through These Issues Will Involve:

Being honest and real about how you have been damaged and affected.
Disclosing something of the detail of what happened to you.
Being willing to put the responsibility and blame where it rightfully should be.
Being willing to work towards forgiving the person / people who were to responsible and to blame.

9.  Summary

The effects of sexual abuse can be devastating, but it is possible to work through them to a place of healing and restoration.
It is not a sign of weakness to admit you need help, but a sign of maturity.
You do not have to stay a victim, you can become a survivor and then hopefully an over comer.
If you let Him, God longs to heal you and help you to have the life He always wanted you to have.

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