Were You a Victim of Sexual Abuse?

Very little rips my heart like sexual abuse. I’ve long thought sexual abuse was among the most heinous acts perpetrated. It hits a victim with the full force of assault in the most vulnerable of places. It breaks my heart to think that in the next 24 hours, some of our most precious treasure — children — will be sexually abused by adults who should be caring for them.

You know who else’s heart is broken by this evil? God’s.

I genuinely believe He has a tender spot for the youngest of His children and a vengeance brewing for those who mistreat them. He does not want this to happen and will right every wrong in the end.

Yet too many of you were that child. Sex was used against you as a weapon. And left deep wounds.

When you enter marriage, how can you flip the switch to enjoy sexual intimacy as God intended? Between a husband and wife in covenant marriage? With trust and respect?

If only there were a switch. Rather, abuse victims report that it takes intentionality, time, prayer, rewriting scripts in their head, and — almost always — help from others to re-gain the healthy view of sexuality so wrongly stolen from them. Thankfully, they also say that open wounds become closed scars, and healthy sexual intimacy in their marriage overcomes the past. They can truly see and enjoy sex as God intended.

All month long, our marriage memory verses will be aimed at our difficult pasts. I wanted to start with the scenario that pricks my heart the most. Were you a victim of sexual abuse? I am so sorry that happened to you. I wish I could take that memory and the burden away. I am moved to tears by what you went through, yet I believe you are so strong for making it to the other side.

Now I want you to have what God always intended you to have — healthy sexual intimacy in your marriage.

Whatever that past abuse has done to make sex difficult in your marriage, those challenges can be addressed. You can seek mentoring, counseling, and resources that will help you process the pain. You can be honest with your husband about what happened and request his patience and compassion in rewriting the sex script in your head. You can re-learn what it feels like to be touched sexually and see your husband’s hands as protecting and pleasuring, not disrespectful and damaging.

It may be a long road, but step out on that road. Walk in the right direction. Your destination is healing and the health of your marriage.

And know that God is bigger than anything that happened to you. He will walk that road with you and heal your body and your heart.

That’s why I’ve chosen a verse this week that we should all learn, but it feels particularly relevant to victims of sexual abuse:He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Marriage Memory Verse 3-5-16God knows what you endured, and He mourned with you. (See Luke 7:13, John 11:35, Psalm 56:8, Psalm 23:4.) He will be there as you pursue healing and wholeness. You can trust Him, and those who represent Him in your life, to help you recover and find the beauty that He intended for you.

You can enjoy sex with your husband in marriage. Don’t let your abuser take that away from you. Let God bless you with healing instead.

Memory Verse Help

Today’s memorization idea is brief and to the point: Highlight or underline the memory verse in your Bible.

Yep, that’s it. But marking up the verse in your Bible sends a message to your brain about its significance. It plants it a little deeper in your mind.

Since I mostly use a Bible app now, I highlight on the screen. I can then access all the scriptures I’ve marked on one screen and scroll through what I deemed worth paying extra attention to and memorizing. But you could do this as well by flipping through your Bible.

However it works for you, emphasize that verse in your Bible.

17 thoughts on “Were You a Victim of Sexual Abuse?

  1. Keelie Reason

    This really hits home for me J. I thank you for writing this post. I know a lot of women who have dealt with this in their past. It can be conquered, but it takes a lot of prayer and intentionality to feel freedom from the sexual abuse.

    Reply
  2. Mark

    My heart goes out for women who have been sexually abused. I was an instructor at the Air Force Academy in 2003 when a large sex scandal happened there. It was tragic and I can only imagine it is a small snap shot of what is going on at the rest of our college campuses.

    In the post event research, one of the problems they had was in defining what sexual abuse is. Can you please define it for your audience? Thanks

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Great comment. The United States Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”

      Sexual abuse can also include prolonged harassment.

      Reply
  3. Amanda

    I pray, I am in therapy and nothing is changing. The thought of my husband touching me sexually makes me feel sick, it makes me want to run and hide. I hate sex. I hate men for wanting it all the time. Just the thought of it makes me feel used and dirty. And worst of all is the shame and guilt for not “functioning the way I should”. All the christian pages saying how important sex is and how you’re not to withhold yourself. Its made me feel like such a loser of a wife. The worst wife ever. I feel so pressured to have sex with my husband that I am having anxiety attacks, I think about it all the time and I worry so much. I turn to pages like this one in search of help but I just end up feeling more guilty. Because you all are good wives and I am not. And it makes me hate God for wanting me to do something that hurts me so much. Christian marriage pages focus on sex so much that it makes sexless wives like me feel like total crap. Like my marriage is rubbish. But I love my husband and he loves me. Even if we dont have sex. There is more to marriage than sex. Of course I would rather be like all of you, I would like to enjoy sex. But I cant. So what am I supposed to do? It always seems that there is no room for for people like me, for marriages like mine. Yes God wants us to enjoy sex. Its His design for marriage. But does he want me to force myself to do something that makes me feel like a worthless piece of dirt? Just because of a bible verse? I dont think so. Marriage is also about grace and patience and unconditional love. About loving each other despite of all difficulties. Not giving up on each other no matter how hard it gets. And thats why our marriage is good even though we dont have sex. My husband loves me so much that he is willing to walk through this nightmare by my side. He is willing to live without sex until I am healed because he could never enjoy something that would cause me so much pain. And I am the luckiest wife in the world. I hope and pray that one day I can share true intimacy with my husband. But sex isnt the most important thing, it really isnt.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I’ve never said sex is the most important thing. In fact, I wince a little when we stress it being a “need” for men. Because while I entirely understand it being an emotional need in a marriage, it doesn’t really rise to the level of breathable air, food, and shelter. And sometimes we give the wrong impression that it does. Trust me, you can live without sex.

      Yet it’s a fabulous perk, and it’s a unique connection that binds marriage and distinguishes it from other relationships. Thus, God wants you to have sex — but not sex you hate. He wants you to enjoy sex with your husband as the blessing He intended it to be!

      Honestly, if your counseling isn’t working, get different counseling. Find mentors. Read The Wounded Heart by Dan B. Allender (which I have not read, but is repeatedly named as an excellent resource by people I trust). Look for support groups. Read scriptures on God’s compassion and healing.

      You are not the worst wife by a long shot! You obviously understand the important of intimacy in your marriage — all kinds — and have been seeking help. Breathe easy and give yourself time to get through this difficulty. I am so very saddened that abuse happened to you. I know that God, your husband, and others who care about you want to hold your hand and help you walk this difficult road…knowing there is hope and healing in the end.

      Continue to love. Continue to seek answers. Continue to walk in the right direction. You can get there. I have complete faith in this promise from God — that He can heal the brokenhearted. Also see Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” I am praying.

      Reply
    2. R

      I’m 20, and not married yet, but i am getting married soon. I can’t pretend to know your situation entirely, since i’m not married yet, but I was sexually abused as a pre teen and a teenager, and for a long time I was angry at anything and everything, I blamed myself, the person who abused me, and eventually God. I got really depressed, I started self harming, I just wanted my pain to end. But I eventually repented of my anger. And with a lot of tears, a lot of prayers, and a lot of listening to an amazing Godly women who had been through even worse than me, I have gotten past it. When the memories plagued me I prayed. I forgave and released the person with Jesus’ strength and courage in me. I asked God to remove the dates and memories from me, and He has. There is more to a marriage than sex, Ia gree with you. But I just wanted to encourage you, to tell you there will be a day when you won’t hate sex, when just the word sex won’t make you sick to your stomach. There is hope, there is a light at the end of the long tunnel. I’m praying for you. Your sister in Christ

      Reply
      1. Amanda

        Thank you so much! I guess the biggest problem for me is, that abuse made me feel like I am only lovable if I give a man sex. I wanted to be loved so desperately and I gave myself to many many men. And I saw such an ugly side of men and it haunts me so much. Sex has only been about pretending. Gritting my teeth while it was being done to me. Feeling used and dirty after. Over and over again, for years. When I became a christian I stopped having sex, met my husband and we married. I hoped that somehow God would make everything work but it has been a tough ride full of tears and mental illness (depression, psd, anxiety)…my husband is an angel for walking through this with me, I really hope that one day I can let my guard down and share true intimacy with him.

        Reply
  4. lulu10

    Dear Amanda, please feel assured that you are not the only one that feels that way. As a survivor of child sexual abuse I can feel for you and with you. Anyone who has not been abused but tells you to get over it or that it can be conquered with prayer and intentionality does not understand the depth of this wound.
    Yes, some women and men who have been abused can heal and can live relatively full lives, but sadly lot of us will never be able to feel free, the memories of abuse will come back when we least expect it or want it. Feel blessed that your DH understands your pain and loves you enough to keep validating you as a person and his beloved wife. Sadly lot of us are told to forget, not to talk about it, or made to feel like we are defective. I have asked many many times over and over why?, I did
    not ask asked to be abused, it was not my fault, I was just a little girl, why am I to carry this huge burden of shame for rest of my life. One on one therapy that deals with abuse can take a very long time, so don’t give up yet. Another suggestion that I can offer from personal experience is to join a
    “Sexual abuse survivor therapy group.” This can be very helpful since all the members can relate.
    Sadly IMHO world today has gone from silence and secrecy of abuse to tolerance of abuse, and that needs to stop.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I don’t think anyone here is saying that it’s just prayer and intention that gets you over this. Even those of us who have not walked in those shoes feel deep, abiding sympathy for the victims of abuse. It is a very terrible thing. But I personally know women who have, though seeking continued help and healing, moved from a place of open wounds to scars. I pray, pray, pray that abuse survivors do not give up.

      Thank you for your empathy and compassion, lulu10. I absolutely agree that abuse needs to stop. Immediately. Everywhere. Forever.

      Reply
  5. S

    I don’t know if this will help, or add to the conversation at all, but just wanted to speak from my own personal experience.
    I was around 12 when I was seduced and used and abused by a man far more than twice my age. It was consensual, and the relationship continued until I was about 20. I had thought until very recently (28 years after it began) that at least some of the blame still fell on my shoulders. While I still have nagging doubts sitting there sometimes, I feel very freed from that lie.
    My husband and I have been married for 15 yrs, and I don’t believe our sex life has really been inhibited because of my abuse, thankfully. Obviously that is not often the case, and I believe part of my own good experience comes from accepting the love and grace my husband has shown me since the beginning, as well as being honest and truthful to him about my past. But everyone’s own experience is so different, so I don’t know for sure.
    There have been a few blockages, though, and I’ve wondered what the problem was. After reading “Sheet Music” by Kevin Leman (highly recommend it!), I discovered the “little black book” we each bring to our marriage beds, and that was helpful for me to see that some of my crazy thoughts and ideas came from that previous relationship, and they needed to be dealt with.
    I’ve never had counseling, but wondered if it wouldn’t still be helpful. I’ve had anger and depression issues over the last few years and wondered if it was related – especially as our children reach the age where I was when I was abused.
    I do feel mostly healed. I doubt i will be completely healed before I get to Heaven. That part of the history of my life takes up very little of my thoughts. Stormy Omartian wrote a book called, “Lord, I Want to be Healed” that was helpful to me as well.
    I hurt for the men and women that come with abuse in their past, and/or abuse in the past of their spouse. I pray for healing for the others who have commented on here as well.

    Reply
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  7. Eric V

    Please be mindful of the fact that there are an awful lot of silent male survivors out there.

    I’m one of them.

    I was molested on a camping trip by a family ‘friend’, a single man. I kept that to myself for years.

    While my mother didn’t touch me, at least that I remember, she never allowed me any physical privacy until I was an adult and even tried to watch me after that. I clearly remember her watching me in the shower well into my teen years and commenting that I had a good body. How creepy is that? And I saw it as okay.
    That wasn’t the only abuse I suffered from her as a child.

    Since I was a people-pleaser who couldn’t say ‘NO’, I was twice sexually assaulted while serving in the armed forces. I was even asked if I enjoyed it. Note that she, the female sergeant who assaulted me, was punished for what she did. For years, I suffered flashbacks which were often horrific and took a long time to get over. It’s been thirty years and I still don’t like to think about it. At least, I no longer blame myself for what she did.

    Sometimes sex is not easy at all. My wife is fortunately, understanding.

    I really should stop reading social media about this since it rarely talks about female on male sexual abuse. At least, I’ve not seen a lot. Not a lot of positive portrayal of male sexuality.

    Thanks for your blog. I sometimes take a while to work up the courage to read a post if it’s too difficult like this one was. Thanks for discussing this.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thanks for shedding light on this. I tend to write to wives more than husbands, so that’s why there’s more of that on my blog. But I agree wholeheartedly that this type of abuse happens — female on male — and it’s inexcusable.

      By the way, when my boys were younger and I was looking for babysitters, many friends thought I was crazy to want male babysitters. Since I wanted my sons to have good male role models, I thought why wouldn’t I hire a quality, trusted young man to watch them? Especially since I knew someone molested by a female babysitter as a child, so I knew it didn’t just go one way.

      I’m so sorry for what you endured. Stories like this break my heart — that never should have happened to you. May God be with you and heal you in every way.

      Reply

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