God and Sexual Assault

Shame and Forgiveness

It takes time.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1 (NIV)

Shame is something we are very familiar with as sexual assault survivors. We feel shame about what happened to us, that we are responsible. We feel ashamed to talk about it, though we shouldn’t. It’s not our fault. We have nothing to be ashamed about, yet, it is a hard feeling to let go.

Especially when people start telling us it’s time to forgive. “Just forgive and forget. Move on.” People have told me. It doesn’t work. Forgiving those who abused and assaulted us requires us to work through layers of trauma, years of anger, and shame.

Forgiveness is a final step in our very long journey of recovery. It is not expected to come soon. Though we are reminded to forgive others as Christ forgives us, God understands the hurt we need to work through.

For many, sexual abuse happened so young, trust was lost at a very early age. Trust which has led to a lack of bonding with men and with God, who for many represents a manly figure, a fatherly figure.

It is confusing and frustrating as a Christian. We want to trust God, yet we have this wall from our abuse. A wall which needs to be broken down brick by brick before it is completely gone. Forgiveness for our abusers and even for God is a struggle. One we should not be ashamed to admit.

God understands. He does not condemn us. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1 (NIV)

Yes, forgiveness does need to happen in our lives if we are to completely heal. In all honesty, I’m not there yet. My wall is still coming down.

Forgiveness takes time and God’s help. Time to work through the trauma of what happened. It also requires support from others and prayer.

God does not want us to condemn those who mistakenly tell us to forgive and forget, but to educate. We have nothing to be ashamed of. The people who sexually abused and assaulted us do.

It is not our fault we are in the situation or life circumstances we are in, but we can follow God and fight shame. We are His precious children.

Believe me, I know shame is hard to fight. I am still there with you. Just because you haven’t forgiven God, or those responsible for your hurt, does not mean you cannot follow Him, lean on Him, and ask Him to help you.

God is on our side. We don’t have to live in shame.

We can live treasured by God, and one day, when the time on your journey of recovery is right, forgiveness will come.

God will walk with us as we journey toward it.

Father God,

I struggle daily with the shame of what was done to me. The sexual abuse and assaults. I want to forgive those responsible for my hurt and lost childhood, but I am not ready yet. Please help prepare my heart and work with me so I can one day forgive them as You so freely forgive me.

Amen

© 2018 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

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