This beautiful platform, A Deeper Story, launched a book. Did you know that?
Last year I wrote the post, “The Sexy Wife I Can’t Be” only to read your amazing, difficult, painful comments, and realize I needed to write a book addressing this very raw, real need. Nearly a year later, the book is LIVE.
I would SO appreciate your prayers, as the book launches. I’m feeling awfully naked. I definitely share my story, as raw as I ever had, within its pages. And I talk about our marriage and sex. Can’t get more vulnerable than that.
I crowdfunded this book, and one of the bonus chapters resulting from that was this: your questions and my answers. The following are four very common and painful questions about sexual abuse (and healing) that I answered in the book.
Question 1: I’ve been told that my virginity is the most precious part of me, but I lost it through someone else violating me. So am I no longer precious?
First, what happened to you was not your fault. Someone stole from you, violating your body and your trust, damaging your soul. You are not damaged goods. God redeems even sexual abuse. He cleanses us. Your virginity isn’t the most precious part of you; your soul is, the place where Jesus lives.
Question 2: What is your response to people who say things like “That happened a long time ago. Why can’t you just get over it?”
I’d ask a question back. When has someone you loved died? How long did it take you to “get over” that loss? Most of the time people who say that insensitive comment are either:
- Completely oblivious to the trauma and devastation of sexual abuse, and are simply uncomfortable when you bring it up. This is their way of shutting you down.
- Stressed that you brought it up because they have their own issues of abuse and are too afraid to admit to the pain.
- Some people truly believe that sexual abuse causes no lasting damage.
Counselor Lucille Zimmerman asserts, “Sometimes Christians are quick to expect victims to heal in a hurry. Victims are preached at, given pat answers, and expected to forgive and forget. But just as Nehemiah had to acknowledge the extent of the damage before he could begin repairing the walls around Jerusalem, survivors need to take many long steps before they heal.” Zimmerman, Lucille Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2013) 52.
Comments like these can derail you, make you feel very small, and push you further back on your journey of healing. When they happen, instead of seeing the comment as an indictment against you, see it as an indication of the other person’s warped perspective.
In other words, it’s not about you; it’s about them. Reframing their question in your mind will also help. Something like, They may think it’s simple to get over sexual abuse, but they don’t understand the process. I’m choosing today to be grateful at the amount of healing I’ve had. I’m further along than I was two years ago. I’m more resilient. I have more empathy for people. And I’m becoming healthier.
Question 3: My spouse takes it personally when I can’t drum up the interest or desire. I so desperately want to be close, but resentment has built up on both sides.
This is an extremely common problem, one that I experience frequently. What helps us is talking about our pain—Patrick sharing how he feels (rejection), and me sharing how hard it is to be healthy sexually. If we stuff our resentment, it gets ugly—then explodes. If you’ve gotten to the point that you can’t talk about it, consider couple’s therapy where you have a safe place to share your anxiety and sadness in the presence of a mediator.
Question 4: My question is how do you get over sexual abuse when a pastor held a gun at you using scriptures?
You get over it the same way others get over it—except that you have a difficult road of healing in terms of your relationship with God. I wish the church were a place of safety and protection. It should be. But often it’s not. Pastors, youth pastors, Christian spouses, priests are not immune to this sin. Like all sexual abusers, they use their power to demean and conquer, but they cloak that power using Christian words and threatening damnation if someone talks. Honestly, I think this is one of the hardest forms of sexual abuse to recover from because it skews the sacred.
And within the church, folks don’t tend to like to know the truth. They’d rather villainize the victim and protect the perpetrator.
I was shocked when I started uncovering widespread sexual abuse in closed religious communities like the Amish. I ached when I read about a prominent local church covering up a sexual abuse scandal. The church has faltered. It should be a place of truth, light and honesty—but for many it’s become the place where shame birthed and no one believed their story.
Often churches demonize victims, tell them to keep things silent. It’s wrong. And it causes many people to walk away from the very faith that could offer healing. One document may help you as you process this, entitled A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ.
It’s my sincere prayer that my story and words would bring healing for many, but I’ll be grateful for this: if you read these words and no longer feel like you’re the only one on this earth who still struggles with this.
I still struggle.
You are not alone.