Help for Victims of Sexual Abuse
During his talk this past Sunday, Tim Chambers spoke about the recent news of widespread sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention. We mourn with the victims of this abuse and recognize that the issues are not confined to one sector or denomination.
If you have been sexually abused or assaulted in any way, we want you to experience healing and hope in Jesus, and we want to serve you well as you walk that path. If it would be helpful to talk or pray with someone from Christ’s Church, there are mature leaders (both men and women) who would be happy to meet with you. One way to start that process would be to send a message by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also understand that sometimes, due to the nature or circumstances of a person’s abuse, that may not be the ideal scenario, and we want to help you find other options, too. Below, you’ll find an excerpt from a recent blog post by J.D. Greear with some guidance and resources you may want to consider. J.D. writes:
Realize you did nothing wrong. Abuse is never the fault of the abused. The appropriate response of anyone who is representing Jesus to you should be care and compassion.
It is understandable to be afraid. When people who should be trusted (like church leaders) violate that trust, it can make an already fearful situation (like abuse) even more disorienting.
Speak with someone who can help you process the abuse and resulting trauma. For immediate guidance, here are three numbers where you can reach trained professionals who are available 24/7:
The National Hotline for Domestic Violence number is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
The National Child Abuse Hotline number is 1-800-422-4453.
The Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network number is 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
For ongoing care, identify a counselor near you who is experienced in working with abuse and trauma. If you need help finding a counselor, here is guidance on finding a trusted Christian counselor near you with experience in your area of need:
If you are not ready to speak with someone yet, consider reading On the Threshold of Hope by Diane Langberg or The Emotionally Destructive Marriage by Leslie Vernick. Both of these books do an excellent job of describing the healing process after abuse and would provide a taste of the benefits you would receive from working with a Christian counselor.
If you were abused as a child, then a report to Child Protective Services (or the equivalent in your state) will need to be made. If you are fearful to take this step alone, the counselor you speak with can help you do that.
If you are an adult who has been abused, the offense against you is no less wrong. Know that you have a choice about when in the process of your recovery that you choose to seek justice.
Taking the steps in #4 or #5 ensures that the crime (not just sin) your abuser committed against you shows up on a background check. This helps protect others. Reporting a crime is not just a matter of protecting others, though. It can also be an important step in restoring your voice.
When you are ready, involve your current church in your recovery journey. This assumes you are not in the same church where your abuser is in leadership. It is understandable if you do not take this step for a while. Don’t feel rushed. Your first step in this direction might be inviting a Christian friend to be an advocate in your counseling sessions. God is a patient Shepherd who walks at the pace of his sheep (Psalm 23:4).
Whether we know your story or not, we’ll be praying for victims of sexual abuse this week, that you will know the height and depth and breadth of God’s love for you in Jesus Christ.