Child Sexual Abuse: Help & Healing for Adult Survivors
Lorraine* had suffered in silence for decades. Finally she found the courage to tell someone. She confided to her counselor that when she was a child, her father physically and sexually abused her. It began when she was 12. It ended when she was strong enough to fight back. Her mother knew about it but chose to ignore it. Her father had died a few years ago, and now she was caring for her elderly mother. And all the painful memories and emotions came rushing back.
Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is more common than we realize. Some studies say that 1 of 4 girls and 1 of 7 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse by the age of 18. This does not mean that each one of these children will experience what this woman endured. This abuse may take the form of regular, suggestive comments by a relative. It may involve being allowed or forced to watch pornographic videos. Or it may be a father or grandfather or uncle or brother touching them in a way and place where they shouldn’t be touched.
Like Lorraine, many suffer in silence for a long time. Let’s face it—surviving the trauma of CSA is not a badge that people wear with honor. There are no brightly colored T-shirts that say, “I am a CSA survivor!” It is not something that comes up in casual conversation.
Even though the trauma is experienced as a child, the effects may be felt later in life. It may be when the person begins dating or gets married. It may be when that person has children of her own. It may be when that person experiences a different traumatic event that triggers all the emotions and hurt. It may be when the perpetrator finally dies.
The good thing is that there is hope. Many have worked through the pain. Many have healed from the hurt. Many have moved from being victims to being survivors. But like any wound, seeking proper care is often critical. And the sooner the wound is treated, the better.
Perhaps you have experienced CSA. Maybe you have a friend who was sexually abused as a child. If it interferes with your functioning in life, if the memories persist even though the years have passed, it would be wise to seek professional treatment. You may feel like you are captivated by the past—but you can be free. You may feel brokenhearted by the abuse—but there is healing. With the help of a caring pastor and a professional counselor, you can find the hope and healing that God promises in these words from Isaiah 61:1-3:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captive
and release for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and a day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
If you or someone you know is suffering the effects of Child Sexual Abuse, Christian Family Counseling can help. Please call us at 800.438.1772 to find the nearest Christian Family Counseling clinic near you, or find out ways to connect with one of our Christian counselors via secure video.
*Not her real name. Some details have also been changed to protect confidentiality.