How Do They Feel?
- Helpless, Hopeless, Defenseless, and Powerless. They were emotionally trained to give up because they were stuck in circumstances that seemingly had no chance of change. They now gravitate to people who seem to have it all together and who will make decisions for them because they feel unable to cope with life’s complexities. They grow up with little or no confidence in their own decision-making skills. When asked to draw pictures, some abused children show themselves with no arms or legs – helpless in life.
- Self Blame and Body Shame. Children will blame themselves for a divorce, death, accident, and mostly everything. They blame themselves for this, as well. They think that this was their fault. Add in the fact that their offender (when finally confronted) will typically shift the blame onto them, causing even greater anger and rage as an adult. They want to look as bad outwardly as they feel inwardly. Looks don’t matter. As a result, they can engage in lifestyles of self-destructive or self- deprecating behavior.
- Frigidity or Promiscuity. Some become physically unaffectionate towards everyone (including their spouse or children) and they definitely don’t want to look or act feminine whatsoever in the future. On the other extreme, some have learned that their body can be a very powerful tool in getting them whatever they want. And some just want to feel loved, because it’s the one feeling they didn’t have.
- Anger and Personality Disorders. Many become a walking time bomb with such suppressed emotions that can be triggered by the smallest of items in life. A strong dominant male reminds them of their molester or abuser. A weak dependant female reminds her of their mother who did nothing when told. Sometimes, they literally create another personality in order to handle the pain that they can’t endure.
What Not To Do
- Don’t lightly use words like “letting Him come into your life” or “giving your body as a living sacrifice” or “trusting your heavenly Father” or “being used by God”. These offers can mean totally different things to a girl or woman, man or boy who has been sexually molested or abused. They will think of sexual, not spiritual.
- Don’t quickly criticize the sexual offender/family member in the presence of the child. It’s a very complex emotion in which she can still feel responsible; sometimes, she feels like she is the one being criticized.
- Don’t recite verses like Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28 about “God using evil for good and working all things together for good”. In time, God will hopefully allow her to see that liberating fact in due time but don't say that, at first.
- Don’t insist that she or he should immediately forgive the man who sexually molested or abused her or him. Again, timing is everything. Imagine your insisting that a beginning diver do back flips on the diving board on their very first attempt?
Scriptures to Know
- Fathers who exasperate and provoke their children to anger (Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:21).
- The long term effects of the sins of the fathers (Exodus 34:7; Lev. 26:39; Numbers 14:18,33; Jer.32:18).
- The Corinthian church response to incest/abuse in their midst, before and after (1 Cor. 5; 2 Cor.2).
- People who are masquerading as “servants of righteousness” ( 2 Cor.11: 1-15 and Matthew 23).
- The stories of Lot with his two daughters (Genesis 19) with the admonition in Leviticus 18:17.
- Exposing and rebuking sin when found (1 Tim.5:20; 2 Tim.4:2; Titus 2:15; 3:10; Eph. 5:11; Luke 17:3). Sometimes, speaking up is the right thing to do – even when authorities tell you not to (Act 4:1-20).
- The gentle ministry of Jesus especially to children could be used as a background to segue into this.
- The subtle and seductive lies and tricks of Satan (Gen. 3; 4-5; John 8:44) can be used as introduction.