Tag Archives: sexual abuse

Overcoming Childhood Sexual Abuse: One Powerful Story

A little while ago, I answered a reader’s question in a post titled Q&A with J: Surviving Childhood Rape & Building Sexual Intimacy. That was a tough post to write, especially because I can only imagine the emotional pain of my readers who have gone through childhood sexual abuse.

To take an innocent child and abuse them in the most vulnerable way is a heinous kind of evil I simply don’t understand. And It breaks my heart.

Yet I believe in my Redeemer. I know my God is capable of bringing people out of the pit and into the light. I’ve seen it in my own life, and I’ve seen it the lives of others.

So when one of my readers responded to that Q&A post with a link to his personal testimony, I watched the video with both deep sorrow for what he’d been through and great rejoicing at how God had walked him through healing. Today, all I want to say is watch this video.

 

It’s important to recognize the horror of sexual abuse, to provide a safe and restorative place for those who are hurting, and to celebrate what God can do once we let Him work in our lives.

Thank you to the reader for sharing this video with me and for his permission to share it with you. His testimony is powerful, because our God is powerful.

Q&A with J: “My Wife Gets Aroused from Abuse Fantasy”

What a tough question we have today. It’s from a husband who wants to know how to help his wife enjoy sex with him. I was heartbroken when I found out that she can get aroused but it’s mostly from imagining herself as a sexual abuse victim. Here’s the question:

[My wife] is a very quiet person and finds it hard to express anything verbally in bed or out of bed. Years ago I found out that she was getting high 99% of the time by thinking of abusive situations. She battles that because she knows it is not of God, but her heart mind and body craves for the God gift of orgasm. I also found out that she does not feel much so it may be that there are issues with her clitoris. We have [several] kids so this could be part of the reason, but it has been so many years that she has used wrong thoughts that she is not sure when or if clitoris stimulation was ever the reason for her getting high. We do talk. We do read. Many talk about her exploring that area and understanding her own body and what stimulation gets her going. She may have done this, but she has never admitted it to me. She receives pleasure from me gently kissing and sucking on her breasts. We are both aware that she has the potential to have an orgasm from breast stimulation, but when she gets stimulated it gets to be too much for her and she has never tried to flow with that to see if that might be a way to get to orgasm. So, year after year goes by and she struggles with the moral dilemma of needing and wanting to get high, but seems to only be able to do that with going to the wrong thoughts.

It is very hard for us both. She does not give me clues that I am pleasuring her by touch or sex. When I ask her she says yes. “Do you like that?” – “Yes” – “Is that ok?” – “Yes” So for me it makes me feel selfish. Receiving pleasure and wanting so much for her to receive even more, but powerless to do anything.

Q&A with J--My Wife Gets Aroused from Abuse Fantasy (woman with thought bubble)

Having written this long about sex in marriage, I know what’s going to show up in my comments section if I don’t address it head-on: How can a loving husband continue to have sex with a woman who is putting herself through abuse fantasies (or nightmares) in her head to get aroused? Because I have to admit that I don’t see how I could continue making love to my husband if I knew he was getting off on images of being sexually attacked.

To the inquirer, I know that may seem harsh, but it’s a question I guarantee someone — perhaps including you — is asking. But when I go back through the question, I sense a strong desire from you to work out this issue. It seems that you’ve talked, read, explored, pleaded, and longed for her sexual setting to change. It’s also seems clear that you’re not abusing her sexually, but that she willingly engages in the marriage bed. Albeit under terrible mental circumstances. And your eight children are definitely a blessing from your physical unions.

So I applaud you for continuing to desire what God wants your wife to have and for seeking it out in whatever ways you can. Yet I also encourage you not to enable these awful experiences for her, meaning that you must figure this out somehow.

As often happens, I wish I could talk to the spouse. The wife is the one with key information that would help to illuminate what’s happening and reveal possible solutions. But since I don’t have that access, I’m going to throw out a few ideas and see if any stick. That is, one or more of these options might be a pathway to getting her the help she needs.

Has she seen a physician about this issue?

Since your wife’s arousal seems fueled by mental imagery, and she reports not feeling much with her clitoris, I’d first want to know if there are physiological issues impeding her sexual pleasure. She should see her primary care physician or gynecologist and ask to be examined with this in mind.

By the way, two important thoughts about seeing a physician about sexual issues:

  1. We tend to get embarrassed about bringing up the topic of sex with doctors, but I assure you that you’re not going to shock them. They see all kinds of stuff, so you saying, “I need to know if there are any physical problems preventing me from engaging in pleasurable sex” ranks about a two on the 10-point scale of shockers.
  2. Sadly, some physicians don’t take sexual dysfunction seriously enough. I wish it weren’t the case, but I’ve heard about and experienced doctors shrugging off such problems. Thus, I encourage wives, and husbands, to be advocate for their sexual health, pushing for answers and even changing doctors if needed.

(Related post: Finding a Good Gynecologist)

Was she sexually abused in her past?

Sexual abuse is so confusing, especially for children. A friend who was molested when she was young once explained to me that it wasn’t all bad — that is, since God primed us to experience pleasure when our sexual organs are touched, her body responded positively in some ways to what was happening, at the same time that she felt discomfort and revulsion.

If your wife’s early experiences with sex were abuse, it’s not uncommon for victims to have difficulty differentiating that experience and their sexual arousal. Some survivors report being later aroused by abuse or rape fantasies, and usually feeling shame afterward because they know this is a twisted version of sex. And yet, it’s how their bodies first experienced any kind of sexual pleasure, because their biology just did its job without regard to the circumstances.

This linking of abuse and arousal can continue into adulthood, and the answer to breaking this connection is to heal from the abuse. Your wife should seek help from counseling, a support group, and/or resources like Dan Allender’s The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Abuse. She will need to relearn sexual responses that are in line with a healthy relationship and God’s design for marriage.

What did she learn about sex?

Another source of sexual abuse or rape fantasies is good girl guilt. Many women were brought up to believe that pursuing or even enjoying sexual pleasure makes you a “slut.” The message could have been direct or implied, but too many Christian wives still have a subconscious feeling that it’s not good to desire or enjoy sex.

Given that your wife seems reluctant to express her pleasure or let breast stimulation continue, even though she gains great pleasure from it, I wonder what messages she received about sex growing up. Was the prohibition against sex before marriage so aggressively preached that she sensed sex wasn’t good even in marriage? Was she told that sex was for the husband, while the wife’s role was surrendering her body to the act? Was she convinced sex’s primary purpose was procreation, and gaining sexual pleasure was selfish? Was she taught that sex was carnal, thus in opposition to the spirituality God desires?

A wife who desires sexual pleasure but feels that getting it is selfish, bad, or impure might have abuse fantasies that allow her to engage sexually without feeling that she’s making the decision to do so. After all, in her mind she’s being forced. During a sexual encounter, such imagery can alleviate the guilt of wanting sexual highs, but of course they result in a different kind of guilt. And this is clearly no way to live a sex life that honors God’s design. If this is the problem, she must confront the wrong messages received and replace them with God’s truth — that sex is good and holy and beautiful within the embrace of marriage.

What does she believe about men?

Another component is what she believes about men. Did her previous experiences convey that men are predators? That a woman’s value is in being used for his sexual pleasure? That a hefty imbalance of power is to be expected in the bedroom? Some women, oh so sadly, believe they are not worth sexual pleasure for themselves; they sense that a man pressuring a woman into sex is how things should go.

That message might conflict with everything she knows about her own husband, but if it’s been implanted deep enough, she can still have that belief. Even if she doesn’t recognize it at a conscious level.  And such a belief obviously keeps her from understand the mutuality of sexual intimacy as God intended. Once again, the answer is to challenge these false beliefs and welcome a better, more truthful perspective of men.

Whatever the cause, I suspect flawed, deep-seated beliefs have affected your wife’s view of herself and sexuality. Uncovering and addressing these problems is really the only way to deal with her situation. Tough as it may be, sometimes the only way out is through.

I’d encourage her to create an intimacy timeline, deal with her sexual baggage, find resources that address her struggle, and pursue outside help if needed. A quality Christian counselor could peel back more of what’s happening and help her through her difficulties.

What’s not okay is settling for the status quo. Sex should never be about abuse, not physically and not mentally. God longs for His beautiful daughter to see sex as He created it — a healthy, mutual sharing of bodies, hearts, and souls in an intimate act that honors Him and strengthens your marriage.

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.

Sexual Mistreatment Should Have Never Happened to You!

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who bear scars in the sexual arena.  I believe this is an area of special pain because it involves the most vulnerable parts of our bodies and our emotions.  I’m thinking of the child molested, the woman raped, the spouse discarded.

But what always strikes me as worst is when those wounds are inflicted by someone who claims to know Christ.  It’s a sad truth that there are plenty of people in the world who have been personally hurt by a “Christian.”

We’ve all heard the stories of misbehaving people of faith — the preacher who had extramarital affairs, the priest who molested children, the church leader who paid for prostitutes, and the like.  Even more prevalent is the spouse who goes to church every Sunday and then views pornography for hours during the week, visits strips clubs, or has online sex chats.  Or a spouse who has been unfaithful while continuing to believe herself on the side of righteousness.  Maybe a spouse has completely wrong ideas about sex, either demanding distasteful acts or withholding entirely from their spouse.

For those of you who have painful memories of sexual mistreatment at the hands of a believer, I want to say:  I’m sorry.  I know that I didn’t cause that hurt, but such behaviors are extremely troubling to Christians trying to live out the high standards to which we’ve been called.  I wish that tomorrow I could snap my fingers (and I know a lot of believers would join me) and make that entire nonsense stop.

Now here’s a question I have for you:  How can you make sure that such mistreatment doesn’t skew your perception of God’s gift of sexuality?  Because I am here to tell you:  Whatever sexual pain you have experienced at the hands of others, whether they claimed to be Christian or not, is not what God has in mind by providing us with sexual intimacy.

The misuse of sex is like taking a bat, beating someone with it, and then saying, “See, this is a baseball bat.”  You would know what a bat is, but you wouldn’t have any idea what it was really intended for. 

How do you move past that bad experience?  How do you recover?  I am not an expert, and many people who endure such pain need professional help from a doctor, counselor, or pastor.  If you believe that you need help, get it.  If you feel you cannot afford these services, some churches offer counseling on a sliding scale or for free.  Ask around.

But from a layperson’s perspective — and assuming that abuse is not extreme or ongoing — I suggest you list the things you now believe about sex.  Be completely honest.   Then ask how much of that opinion has been formed by your negative experiences?  How much has been influenced by your faith or belief system?  How much is based on factual information?

You may need to correct your inner voice and replace negative presumptions about sexuality with God’s ideas.  For instance, “sex is dirty” is simply not true.  It is a blessing in the confines of marriage, and the Bible always speaks of it positively in that context.  Sexual abuse is evil indeed, but that is a perversion of what God gifted to His people.

Coming from the lesser, self-inflicted wounds of my past (see My Personal Testimony), I know that a less-than-perfect history can throw your brain and your heart off completely.  The best way I know to correct mistaken assumptions is to do things right and see how much better that is!  Like taking you out to the baseball diamond, pitching you an easy one right over the plate, and watching you slam a line drive double.  Then you know what a baseball bat is for.  And you might come to enjoy the sport of baseball.

Do not let the bad experiences you’ve had at the hands of another determine your sexual future.  Let God heal your wounds and show you what the gift of sexuality is really about.  He intended it for good.  And it can be.