FanStory.com
"Beauty for Ash and Stone"


Prologue
Introduction

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

If you've picked up this book, it's likely you know someone who has been a victim of rape or sexual assault or you have been sexually abused. Please know you are not alone. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.

The American Psychological Association defines sexual abuse as unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent. Most victims and perpetrators know each other. Immediate reactions to sexual abuse include shock, fear or disbelief. Long-term symptoms include anxiety, fear or post-traumatic stress disorder.

The abused person you know may think they are fine or you may believe you're handling it without any repercussions. Physical effects after assault may include: bruising, bleeding, soreness, difficulty walking, broken or dislocated bones, sexually transmitted diseases and infection, or pregnancy.

Mental effects may include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts; depression, including prolonged sadness, feelings of hopelessness, unexplained crying, weight loss or gain, loss of energy or interest in activities previously enjoyed; suicidal thoughts or attempts; dissociation, including not being able to focus on work or on schoolwork, as well as not feeling present in everyday situations. If you or someone you know is suicidal, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Emotional effects may include changes in trusting others, anger and blame, shock, numbness, loss of control, disorientation, helplessness, sense of vulnerability, fear, self-blame/guilt for "allowing" it to happen, or feeling that these reactions are a sign of weakness.

Other circumstances can develop after being sexually assaulted or raped. A survivor may develop a negative outlook and feel "damaged" or unworthy of a better life. Drug or alcohol abuse may also become an issue as a way to cope with the overwhelming feelings. Women may also have trouble with their menstrual cycle and fertility. In addition, survivors may also experience chronic fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle tension, involuntary shaking, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, or sexual dysfunction.

The above list is not exhaustive, and you may be experiencing something other than listed above. Every survivor responds in their own way to the trauma they have experienced, whether it happened once or numerous times. The symptoms can be mild or severe, and short-term or long-term.

If you are keeping the abuse a secret, I urge you to seek help through a counselor and/or sexual abuse support group. The symptoms will continue and become worse, until the trauma has been acknowledged and worked through. The path of healing can be a long and difficult process, but if you are willing to do the work, it is possible. I know, because like you, I am a survivor -- and I've found healing.

This devotional book is not meant to be the primary source of your healing, but a single tool used in conjunction with other resources as you seek counseling and/or a sexual abuse support group. It is intended to be read from the first to the last page, but you may find that you want to go to the problem or emotion you are dealing with listed at the top of the page and found in the contents list.

As you work through this book, may you find answers, comfort, healing, peace, and most of all -- hope. You are not alone, my friend. I'll be here walking down the road with you. I'm thinking of you and praying for your ash and stone to be replaced with beauty.


Blessings,

Melissa Brown

Author Notes I'm writing a Christian devotional book for survivors of sexual abuse to use while going through counseling/support group. Looking for thoughts, and help as I work through, particularly from anyone who is a survivor of sexual abuse. If there isn't enough interest, I will pull it. Thank you!


Chapter 1
Loneliness - Day 1

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Day 1

~ Loneliness ~
 
You've been sexually abused, whether one time or numerous times, and you may think you're alone. It hasn't happened to any of your friends, and you don't know anyone personally who has experienced it. But, the truth is, you are not alone. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old. One in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. One in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. In eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the person who sexually assaulted them.

Since many keep silent, the number of sexual abuse and rape cases are much higher than as noted above. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, rape is the most under-reported crime; 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police. Only 12% of child sexual abuse is reported to the authorities. More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.

From the statistics above, you are definitely not alone. No one understands feeling alone more than Jesus. In his darkest hour, Peter denied him three times. The other disciples left him, and one, Judas Iscariot, betrayed him for money (Luke 22). Peter and the two sons of Zebedee couldn't stay awake, as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing he was going to die (Matthew 26:36-46). As Jesus was being crucified on the cross, he cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)

God will never leave us or forsake us, even in our greatest times of trouble.* As you go through this process of dealing with your current or past abuse, I encourage you to journal your feelings. Maybe, you've never told anyone what happened to you. You may feel there is no one you can trust. God is with you, my friend. He wants you to know you can trust Him. He cares about everything you are feeling. If you are unsure what to journal, pretend you are writing a letter to a friend. Write your every thought. Before you begin to journal, pray this:

Dear God, I've kept quiet for so long about what happened to me. Will you help me start to work through what I'm feeling? Please help me not to be afraid. Help me to be strong and courageous. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

*If you are angry with God, and feel like He abandoned you when you were abused, God understands. Be honest and get it out as you journal. Tell Him exactly how you feel/felt. We will return to this topic later.

Author Notes * When I have a page number, I will include it in the note at the bottom. That way, the reader can go directly to the Anger at God page, if they would like to.


Chapter 2
Speak Out - Day 2

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Day 2

~ Speak Out ~
 

If you are being sexually abused, please tell someone you trust immediately!  It will not stop until you speak out.  Perhaps, the abuser/s has/have told you no one will believe you or has/have threatened to harm your family members or pets.  The truth is they will continue to harm you, until they are stopped.  They may also be sexually abusing someone else, so your voice will help not only you, but that person/s too.       

If you’ve been abused in the past, and you haven’t told anyone, now is the time to find someone you can trust.  It could be a spouse, parent, sibling, relative, teacher, pastor, co-worker, bible study or group leader, or someone else.  The key is it should be an individual who is able to keep it confidential, and comfort and support you through this process.  It should not be a person who says they don’t believe you, who places blame on you or make excuses for the abuser. 

When you find a trusted individual, break the silence and tell them what happened.  It will be hard to get it out, and you may not be able to do it without shedding some tears.  There is no special way to say it -- just get the words out.  It’s not necessary to go into great detail about what happened, unless you feel you must.  You also don’t have to name the person who abused you.  When you break the silence, if the person says they don’t believe you or tries to blame you for what happened -- stop talking!  They are not someone to be trusted, and you need to find someone else.  Don’t give up though!  Find another person.  Keep looking, until you find someone you can trust.       

You can also break the silence at a sexual abuse support group and/or with a Christian counselor.  A Christian counselor can help you through the healing process and recommend a group to you at the right time.  It’s important you find a counselor you like and feel you can trust.  If you feel you can’t trust anyone, this is normal.  Sexual abuse is a violation of your personal boundaries, and if you know/knew the abuser/s, trust was broken.  Before seeking help, pray this:

Dear God, please help me to not be afraid.  Give me the strength and courage to speak out against the one/s hurting me.  Help me to find someone I can trust, and who can help me through this process.  Lead me to the right counselor and support group.  Hold me in your Mighty hand, and don’t let me go.  Amen.       

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Author Notes I plan to visit: shame, self hatred, denial, betrayal, fear, anxiety, anger at self, anger at God, forgiveness/unforgiveness, depression, control, trust, guilt, doubt, and more. I'm just not sure what order yet.

If there is a subject or topic you would like to see added, please let me know. I want to cover everything that survivors go through. Thanks for reading!


Chapter 3
Denial - Day 3

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Day 3

~Denial ~

If you admit to yourself you were sexually abused, then it did happen.  It’s easier to fool ourselves into thinking it didn’t happen, it wasn’t really abuse, or that we allowed it.  Shame, guilt, fear, control, and denial play a part in keeping an abuse victim silent.  If you were sexually abused as a child, you may have heard, “it’s our little secret” or “this is what people who care about each other do” or “you’re my special girl.”  This is what you were told by your abuser/s to make you think the abuse was “normal” and to keep you quiet. 

When a child is sexually abused, it is not uncommon for the memories to be “suppressed” for many years or decades.  It is too painful for the young child, so the memories are “stored away” in separate compartments in the subconscious mind for a later date.  There are no recognizable or explicit memories of the abuse, but it is there and can be “triggered” by anything that is a reminder of the abuse.  The memories may not surface, but instead trigger as a panic attack, anxiety, fear, hyperventilation or some other response.  For example, a touch of the skin, a hug, the smell of perfume or cologne, a song on the radio, or even words spoken can elicit a response. 

Memories or flashbacks will resurface and will either have to be dealt with or pushed back down into the subconscious.  Jeremiah 6:14 says, “Feelings buried alive will never die.” (Living Bible)  According to Dr. Paul Hegstrom, of Life Skills International, a program designed to help and give hope for domestic abuse, “Childhood wounds not acknowledged and dealt with will automatically drive adult behavior negatively.”  

I was sexually abused at age 8.  I suppressed the memories until age 20, when my abuser leaned toward me and spoke soft words.  I had two vivid flashbacks before he pulled away from me.  Before that, I felt awkward around him, but had no recollection of anything else.  I went into denial mode, and it took me another 5 years to admit the flashbacks were real -- I had been sexually abused. 

An acronym for denial is -- Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying.  Whether you were sexually abused recently or many years ago, it’s time to stop lying to yourself, and admit what happened to you.  Until you can do that, you will be locked in a prison that only you have the key to unlock.  Write “I was sexually abused” in your journal.  Underneath those words, explain how the abuse makes/made you feel.  If you haven’t found that trusted person yet, go find them today.  Before you journal, pray and ask the Lord to put you in touch with every emotion you feel/felt.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

Author Notes Christian Devotional for Survivors of Sexual Abuse


Chapter 4
Guilt - Day 4

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Day 4

~ Guilt ~

If you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse or rape, guilt and shame can be debilitating.  Guilt and shame have similar definitions, but there are some clear differences.  Dictionary.com defines guilt as a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.  Shame is the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.  Guilt says, “I did something bad.  Shame says “I am bad.  I am a mistake.”  Let’s tackle guilt today.

Many victims of sexual abuse experience guilt, because they feel the abuse was somehow their fault.  As a counselor, I hear so many survivors say, “If I wouldn’t have gone to that party” or “if I hadn’t talked with that guy” or “if I hadn’t worn that dress.”  Others feel guilt because they “froze” in fear during the rape or sexual abuse.  Some survivors feel like they should have said “something or fought back.”  Others did say, “No, and fought back.” 

It doesn’t matter that you went to that party, talked to that guy, or the type of clothing you wore.  I’ve read cases of girls wearing sweatshirts, and sweatpants, with their hair in a ponytail and no makeup on, and being raped in their dorm room.  You did nothing wrong!  Whether you froze in fear or fought with everything you had, it’s still not your fault.  The person/s that chose to do this to you is/are the one/s to blame!

Guilt can also surface from the victim responding to physical touch or sexual pleasure, even though they didn’t welcome it.  God designed us to be sexual beings and we were made to respond to physical touch.  That doesn’t mean you welcomed it or that what the person/s did wasn’t wrong.  The abuser/s is/are still the one/s to blame.

If you were a child when you were sexually abused, you may feel guilt for taking part or doing what you were told by your abuser.  According to Darkness to Light (d2l.org), 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser. If you knew the abuser or were related to them, guilt will be stronger.  It’s likely this person was older than you, and you trusted them.  They broke that trust, took advantage of you, and there is nothing you could have done to change the outcome.  They made the wrong choice and are the one to blame – not you!  They are the one who should shoulder all of the guilt!

Draw a picture in your journal of what it looks like to carry guilt/shame.  Close your eyes and imagine yourself letting go of guilt and shame.  Draw a picture of it.  Put an X through the first picture.   

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”  Hebrews 10:22  

Author Notes Guilt weighs heavily on survivors. Please let me know if I left anything out.

There won't be chapters in the book, so these "chapters" are short.

Thanks for reading!


Chapter 5
Shame - Day 5

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Day 5
 

~ Shame ~
 
To recap from yesterday, guilt says you have made wrong choices.  You are not a bad person; your choices are bad.  Shame is a strong sense of feeling uniquely and fatally flawed, and will make a person feel isolated and alone.  Shame from sexual abuse is the most intense, but a person can also experience it from physical, emotional, and/or verbal abuse. 
 
According to Chester and Betsy Kylstra, Restoring the Foundations: An Integrated Approach to Healing Ministry, “Shame is present any time a person rejects or abandons you, if you have/had abusive parents, if you are/were the scapegoat (the one blamed) for someone abusive, from an illegitimate birth, poverty, an alcoholic in the family, shaming from an authority figure, arrest of a family member or from any kind of handicap.” 
 
“If you were raised in a dysfunctional family, you were “caused to stumble.”  Unrealistic expectations or abusive treatment taught you the lies that you are the kind of child who deserves disrespectful or dehumanizing treatment, parents can do anything they want to you, and that God doesn’t care.  And the more extreme the level of inadequate parenting, actual abuse and distortion of reality, the deeper is your sense of being innately different and deficient.”  (‘Released from Shame’ by Sandra D. Wilson, Ph.D.)
 
I grew up in a dysfunctional family.  In addition to the sexual abuse I endured as a child, I also went through verbal abuse from my mom who hadn’t yet been diagnosed with major depression.  As a teenager, I started down the path of physical, emotional, and verbal abuse.  What began in childhood -- anger, rage, depression, anxiety, fear, hatred of men, disrespect for authority, and trust of no one – had escalated by my teen years. 
 
Have you ever thought you are a magnet for abusers?  I sure did.  There is a reason these people were attracted to me, and why they are drawn to you – shame.  If you want to be free of shame, you need to first reject it as your identity.  Second, you will need to put shame where it belongs – on the person/s who abused you.  It is the abuser/s to carry, along with what they did to you.  Third, you will need to accept your new identity – and that is found in Jesus Christ.  Jesus will allow guilt to draw you close to Him, but he nailed shame to the cross.  That means you don’t need to carry it any longer!
 
Go back to the guilt/shame pictures in your journal.  Write these words above, “I let go of guilt and shame.”
 
“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.  Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.  You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.”  Isaiah 54:4
 

Author Notes I know the subject of sexual abuse is hard to read, so I appreciate your support!


Chapter 6
Fear - Day 6

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Day 6
 

~ Fear ~
 
Sexual abuse is traumatic, and it’s normal to feel afraid after being assaulted.  Sometimes, a victim may have been assaulted with a knife held to their throat, or at gunpoint, and feared for their life. Fear can be a dominate emotion, and force survivors to change their lifestyle, which may make them feel less freedom and angry at this loss. 
 
Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD can be caused by traumatic events, particularly, sexual assault.   PTSD is associated with war veterans, but according to The National Women’s Study, one-third of all rape victims develop PTSD.  The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress states that PTSD is a “normal human reaction to an abnormal situation:  traumatic experiences bring to the fore survival skills which are valuable and useful at the time of the trauma, but which usually become less valuable, less useful and less effective with time.  Sometimes survivors become stuck in problem behaviors when their pain is not acknowledged, heard, respected, or understood.
 
PTSD sufferers can have impairment to the hippocampus which is important for learning and memory.  It can also affect the medial pre-fontal cortex which regulates our emotional reaction to both fear and stress.  According to Help Guide.org, some of the symptoms may include:  nightmares, flashbacks of the event or the times surrounding the event as though one were reliving it, physical manifestations of the fight/flight response such as sweating, increased heart rate, hyperventilation or nausea in reaction to any reminder of the event, feelings of great distress and depression, intrusive memories which cannot be controlled, failure to recall important details of the traumatic event, heightened startle responses, great anxiety and fear when discussing the traumatic event, sleep problems, a feeling of emotional numbness or inappropriate affect to talking about the trauma, and difficulties with memory and concentration.

If you are keeping silent about the sexual abuse you are/were experiencing, you may be fearful that others will find out.  I can remember the overwhelming and paralyzing fear that friends and family would find out I was a fraud.  No one wants to feel different than others, and sexual abuse has a way of making you feel defective, flawed or like “damaged goods.”
 
An ancient Chinese proverb says, “If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.”

Every time I spoke out about what happened to me, it lost power over me.  Did you catch that?  Each time you speak out about the abuse you experienced, it loses power over you!  Practice saying it right now out loud.  If you haven’t found that trusted person yet, find them today.
 
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
 

Author Notes Christian Devotional for Survivors of Sexual Abuse


Chapter 7
Control - Day 7

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Day 7


~ Control ~

Sexual assault is a traumatic loss of control.  An individual’s right to make decisions about their body and contact they have with another person is destroyed.  Your whole life has been turned upside down and you may believe you will never have control over it again.  After the assault, this loss of control may result in difficulty making decisions or asserting feelings and needs.  For others, there is a subconscious decision to “never let another person control me again.”  This can result in controlling everything in your life, and everyone around you.  For some survivors of childhood sexual abuse, mostly boys, an extreme form of control ensues by becoming the abuser, ensuring they will “never again be the victim.”

In day 5 and 6, we discussed shame and fear.  Shame, fear, and control go together and form a stronghold of a counterfeit identity in our mind.  Great Bible Study.com defines a stronghold as a faulty thinking pattern based on lies and deception.   Deception is one of the primary weapons of the devil, because it sets the stage for a stronghold.  Strongholds are designed to cause us to think in ways which block us from God’s best for us. 

Shame, fear, and control were first introduced to mankind in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6-10).  When Adam and Eve were tricked by the devil, into eating fruit from the tree God had instructed them not to touch, they immediately felt shame and realized they were naked.  They were fearful and took control by making fig leaves to cover themselves.  When they heard God walking in the garden, they felt fear and shame and hid from God.  The human race has been hiding from God since. 

I tried to take control of my life by pleasing everyone else around me.  I had difficulty making decisions, and thought others would approve of me if I never had an opinion.  I was perfectionistic, a workaholic and worked out at the gym for two hours a day, six days a week.  I tried marijuana, got drunk on alcohol, and suffered from an eating disorder.  I was ashamed of my body and the abuse, and I was afraid others would find out my secret.  This kept me in a perpetual stronghold of shame, fear, and control for 30 years.

So, how do we get rid of a stronghold?  Since a stronghold comes from the enemy, we counter it with God’s truth.  The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:4, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”  In John 8:31-36, Jesus tells us that we can be held in bondage due to strongholds in our lives.  But God’s word is truth, and as we meditate on it, strongholds are broken!

What’s your biggest struggle right now?  Google search scripture on it.  Read the scripture and pick out the verses that stand out to you.  Write them on a 3 x 5 card and renew your mind by reading them every day for a week.     

Author Notes Many more subjects to cover. Do you think this will be helpful for survivors of sexual abuse? Which exercises do you like best?

Thanks for reading!


Chapter 8
Perfectionism - Day 8

By MelB

Day 8 

~ Perfectionism ~

Perfectionism is defined as refusal to accept any standard short of perfection.  Perfectionism is unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors we use to hide our flaws.  In ‘Released from Shame,’ Dr. Sandra Wilson states, “Perfectionism is intended to compensate for poor self-concept and the painful sense of binding shame underlying it.  When we do inevitably fail, the resulting self-criticism leads to loss of self-esteem.  This often triggers episodes of depression.  As perfectionists, we can’t tolerate criticism from others in any form, so we react defensively and alienate those close to us.  This only reinforces our belief that we must be perfect to be accepted and loved."

Perfectionists believe they will be loved based on their performance, as more than likely this was modeled in their childhood.  If they can look perfect, act perfect, get perfect grades in school, are the perfect employee, etc., then everyone will love them.  The problem is when you step up on the pedestal, sooner or later, you are bound to fall and fall hard.  Perfectionism is a status we will never achieve, because one can never please everyone.  Sooner or later, you will burn out and become bitter.  This is exactly what happened to me in my 30’s.  I ran the race for so long, and like a mouse on a perpetual wheel that spins faster and faster, I eventually couldn’t keep up and fell off. 

Perfectionism is paralyzing!  When we can acknowledge we are not perfect, and give it all to God, we can begin to receive the grace that only God offers.  Romans 3:23-24 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”  When we can accept the fact that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect in order to be loved by Him, it shatters the chains that keep us locked in bondage.  We are then free to become all God has called us to be and seek His plans for our life.

Today, write a resignation letter to perfection in your journal or better yet, write it and say it out loud.  Try something similar to this:  Dear Perfection, you’ve held onto me for far too long, and made me feel like I can’t measure up.  I believed that I don’t have what it takes for people to love and accept me.  Today, I call you out as a lie!  I no longer believe you, and I’m letting you go.  I resign from being a perfectionist and a shame-based person effective immediately!  Sincerely, Your Name 

How do you feel?  Do you feel free?  If you don’t believe this yet, say it out loud every day until you do.  You’ve got to receive it to achieve it!  I have faith in you.  If I could break free from perfectionism after 30 years, you can too!

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

Author Notes I appreciate all the great feedback! These are short chapters, because devotional books are small and don't have chapters. I didn't know how else to link it all together as a book.

Next up . . . People Pleaser


Chapter 9
People Pleaser - Day 9

By MelB

Day 9

~ People Pleaser ~

 

A people pleaser is one of the nicest and most helpful people you will meet.  They never say “no.”  You can always count on them for a favor or to help others.  Similar to the perfectionist, the people pleaser learned at an early age that love came by doing what others asked.

The people pleaser becomes the ultimate human doormat in order to please others.  They never offer an opinion and never do or say anything that could rock the boat.  They are submissive and often, extremely apologetic.  Have you ever met the person who apologizes for everything by saying, “I’m sorry?”  It’s almost as if they are sorry for breathing air and will take blame for everything, even when it isn’t their fault.

The intense need to please others and care for them is rooted in fear of rejection and fear of failure.  Fear of rejection comes from feeling that you have to do everything right and make a person happy or they will leave you.  Fear of rejection comes from having emotionally unavailable parent/s, a parent/s who gave conditional love, or rejection/abandonment by a parent/s before age 9.  Fear of failure comes from thinking if you make a mistake you will disappoint people and/or be punished.  Fear of failure comes from having highly critical parent/s or being punished harshly as a child for making a mistake.

What’s wrong with helping others?  Nothing, until it is done at your expense.  When you don’t have time to take care of yourself properly, that’s when the problem occurs.  You need to be able to eat healthy, exercise, have time for some fun, and get proper rest.  Psychology Today states, “People pleasing can turn into a vicious cycle of chronic stress and unhealthy behaviors.  If you have the constant feeling like you are too busy and doing everything for everyone else but yourself, you might be stuck in this cycle.”

By always saying yes, you put yourself at risk of others taking advantage of your kindness.  Even worse, exploitive people will take advantage, because they will see you cannot say no and take as much as they can from you.  You may feel guilty when you start to say no, but it’s necessary to get out of this unhealthy pattern for your well-being.  You may have heard, “I can only please one person a day.  Today isn’t your day.  Tomorrow doesn’t look good either.”  The good news is we don’t have to please people.  As a Christian, the only One you have to worry about pleasing is God.  The two greatest commands are to love God and to love others.  Notice it says love others, not please them.

Stand in front of the mirror and practice saying, “No.”

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  Galatians 1:10

Author Notes Thanks for reading!


Chapter 10
Isolation - Day 10

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Day 10

~ Isolation ~

 “I’m all alone and no one understands me or what I’m going through.”  “If I tell, no one will believe me anyway.”  “If anyone finds out, they’ll think I’m weird or a freak.”  Adult survivors isolate themselves for many reasons.  If you were neglected or abused in your home, isolation for self-protection is common.  For those that don’t receive love or support at home as children, they learn to stop asking for it at all.  Survivors can also believe they don’t deserve the good things in life, like healthy relationships or romantic interests.  If past attempts at breaking isolation have failed, learned helplessness can result.

Survivors can also isolate themselves from romantic relationships due to triggering from past wounds.  As a child, my mother hadn’t been diagnosed yet with major depression, and had fits of rage, crying, and screaming, followed by crying and remorse.  In my teen years, when someone raised their voice at me or even near me, I started shaking and had to bolt from the room.  After counseling, I no longer “trigger” at angry people, but I can still walk in a room and know right away if someone is angry.  For those who don’t get healing, they will sabotage relationships in order to avoid being the one who is rejected and abandoned or eventually isolate themselves altogether.

Adult survivors can also isolate from themselves – disconnecting from their own emotions and thoughts, because thinking and feeling can bring emotional distress.  When emotional pain occurs, survivors can remain guarded around others, stay away or seclude themselves. Food, alcohol, drugs or other coping mechanisms can also be used to comfort while in seclusion (more on coping mechanisms on another day).

I’ve seen women who also try to make themselves as unattractive as possible to isolate from others.  Some will wear large baggy clothes, cut off all their hair, put on a baseball cap, and not wear makeup.  Others will seek comfort in food, overeat, and gain weight.  Sometimes it’s a conscious decision and other times, it is in the subconscious mind.  But, the intention is the same – if I make myself unattractive, no one will be able to hurt me again.

If you’re isolating yourself, take things slow.  Continue to journal your feelings.  If you haven’t sought out a person you can trust, find one.  Keep talking about what happened if you’ve already found this person.  A Christian counselor can help you to start working through the healing process.  Hearing other survivors’ stories at a sexual abuse support group will also be helpful.  God didn’t make us to be alone.  We are to have fellowship with other believers.  We are also to help, support, and encourage each other.  By reaching out to others, you will unlock the door to your prison of isolation and work up enough courage to leave. 

 

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10     


Chapter 11
The Tough Girl - Day 11

By MelB

Day 11

 

~ The Tough Girl ~

 

If you aren’t a tough girl, you probably know one.  She is a take-charge, task-oriented, hard-hearted person who lives behind walls so thick that a sledgehammer couldn’t break through.  The Tough Girl is suspicious of others’ motives, and angry and arrogant in her assessment of others.  She finds human needs and emotions weak and pointless.  She believes in ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ and wouldn’t spend time comforting a crying baby.  She’d sooner put the child to shame to “toughen up” or help the child “get over” the problem.

The Tough Girl views herself as a good wife and mother, and wants to be respected, but refuses to be dependent on anyone.  Her feelings and emotions must be conquered, so that no one can control her again.  She can watch a sad movie or go to a loved one’s funeral and not shed a tear.  Her attitude can be standoffish and downright hostile.  She is suspicious and critical, and will see any kindness toward her as an attempt to dominate and control her.

The Tough Girl doesn’t want your opinion and doesn’t ask questions.  She knows how to do everything and does it herself.  The Tough Girl is aloof and distant; she is the ‘no vacancy’ sign at the motel.  Don’t challenge her or get in an argument with her, because she will have to win at all costs.  She sees the world in black or white, and there is no in between.

The Tough Girl is valued for what she can accomplish, but she is not a good friend, and leaves others feeling lonely and kept at a distance.  Her critical spirit and hardened heart become a liability and keep others away.  The Tough Girl is a lonely person at her core.

The Tough Girl has been a victim of sexual abuse, and has made the self-vow that she will never be wounded or controlled again.  So, she will take control, dominate, and intimidate.  Eventually, others will leave her or become vengeful and retaliate against her.  After many years of trying to run my own life, I got worn out.  I wanted close relationships with others, but couldn’t understand why they were distant.  I was the princess in the tower, but I had closed the windows, raised up the drawbridge, and slayed my own dragon. No one was coming in!

Let go and let God.  Trust me – He can do a better job of controlling your life than you can!  Pray this:  Dear God, I’m letting go today.  I don’t want to control others or my own life anymore.  It’s too hard! I’m opening the windows, and lowering the bridge, and asking You to come into my heart.  Thank you!  Amen.

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11 


Chapter 12
The Good Girl - Day 12

By MelB

Day 12
 

~ The Good Girl ~
 
The Good Girl is kind-hearted, gentle, and a wonderful helper.  She is a peacekeeper and will do whatever it takes to keep others from becoming angry and abandoning her.  Finding out others are upset with her will cause anxiety and make her lose sleep at night.  She is the professional apologizer, needing constant validation and proof of her worthiness.  Internally, she keeps her emotions in check, by not allowing herself to experience too much pleasure or pain.  She appears controlled, but is numb.
 
The Good Girl is organized, dependable, loyal, and a hard worker.  Her hard work is generally to dazzle others with her commitment, but it is seen as subtle manipulation.  She has a tendency to be taken advantage of, as she has a hard time saying no to others’ demands.  When others become upset, she will blame herself for allowing it to happen.  It’s hard for her to accept help from anyone, as she believes no one could do it as well as she could anyway.  She would rather work herself into the ground, than to admit defeat and ask for help.
 
The Good Girl wears a plastic smile on her face, and takes good care of her outward appearance.  However, on the inside she is filled with critical hardness and self-hatred.  She has handled the abusive action of others by remaining pleasant, but emotionally detached.  The Good Girl has learned the hard way not to trust others, and would like to put faith in herself, but she is not able.
 
The Good Girl is destined to live a life of loneliness and suffer repeated abuse, if she continues down the same path. 
She is more prone to depression, and will recoil in her own shell if attention is drawn to problems in a relationship with her. 
 
Jesus spoke these words on the Sermon of the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Peacemakers strive to create peace and attempt to reconcile things and people that are at odds with one another.  Peacekeepers, on the other hand, strive to keep peace at all costs.  The Good Girl will need to make peace, instead of paying the price to keep it. 

Our self-worth often comes from what other people tell us about ourselves.  “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold … but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18, 19).  God was willing to pay the highest price to redeem us – with His Son’s blood.  We must be important to God to give that huge of a sacrifice! 

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1).

Author Notes Various issues and emotions that sexual abuse survivors go through are covered in this devotional. Devotionals are small books, so a lot of information is covered in a small space. This is a series and each day builds from the previous day.


Chapter 13
The Party Girl - Day 13

By MelB

Day 13

~The Party Girl ~
 
In ‘The Wounded Heart,’ The Party Girl is described as a good-time gal; easy-going, inconsistent, hard to read, and impossible to pin down in a close relationship.  Sometimes, she is intense and other times mellow.  She draws a person in, and then turns her back on them.  In an instant, she can go from warm and inviting to demanding and whiny.  This is a complex, complicated person, who not only has contempt for others, but also for herself.  The Party Girl is a master at hating you and herself at the same time.

The Party Girl is unstable and you don’t know what to expect from moment to moment.  Her mood changes on a dime and depends on who she hates more at the moment, herself or you.  Brief agony over hurt or loss may be allowed, but she views it as pointless.

The Party Girl will use seduction as a tool, but it is meant more to entice or enmesh into a relationship and keep the other person interested.  She will lure through lust and guilt for the purpose of enmeshment, control, and power to destroy.  Her loyalty remains only as long as she benefits, and when it no longer does, she will be on to the next relationship.  Once there is no longer enjoyment in a relationship, she will sabotage it, and start over again.  She will “attach” to someone else to satisfy her needs and “detach” when she has run the well dry.  The problem is her needs are never satiated. 

The Party Girl wants your involvement, but intimacy sends her into fear and rage.  She will use intimidation to abuse others, but she is also abused by others.  Her harm of others will cause them to eventually become frustrated and withdraw. 

The Tough Girl, The Good Girl, and The Party Girl have all been victims of sexual abuse.  A survivor of sexual abuse can have one of these styles of relating to others or have a combination of two or all three.  These styles of relating are normal ways of protecting ourselves from ever being harmed again.

We would like to think that our belief in God would encase us in a plastic bubble and we would never go through anything harmful.  We are fallen people in a fallen world, where we were given free will.  Free will means that fallen people will sometimes, make bad choices.  Your abuser made a bad choice and chose to do evil.  You didn’t want to be abused, and neither did I, but we both paid the price for someone else’s bad choice. 

You do have a choice now – stay locked in the prison you’re in or make the choice to heal.  Getting healthy is a hard, painful process and it doesn’t happen overnight.  Sometimes, it can take years.  If you quit now or give up along the way, you lose, your abuser wins, and someone else wins – the devil.  Who do you suppose was behind what your abuser did?  He came to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).  Give yourself the best gift –choose to heal. 

Author Notes For more details on: The Tough Girl, Good Girl, and Party Girl see 'The Wounded Heart' by Dr. Dan Allender.


Chapter 14
Powerlessness - Day 14

By MelB

Day 14

 

~ Powerlessness ~

 

Dictionary.com defines powerless as lacking power to act; helpless.  When a child is molested, the mind splits from the abuse, burying it in denial and suppression.  When a child is abused in the home by a family member or outside the home, the loss of power came prior to the abuse.  Children who are sexually abused tend to live in controlling homes that instill fear, and emotional neglect.  The child is in a position without power, strength, control, or hope.  This sets the stage for abuse to happen either in or out of the home. 

Home is deemed unsafe; the child loses the ability to trust, particularly if abuse occurs in the home, and remains silent.  Powerlessness results because leaving the family or escaping the pain is not an option.  Trust is destroyed, and sets up many failed relationships as an adult.  Due to loss of control as a child, the adult will cope by holding onto relationships, demonstrating obsessive traits such as being a workaholic, perfectionistic, and excessive hand washing as noted in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  Addictions and co-dependency are also common, creating acceptance of bad treatment that a healthy person would not tolerate.      

Those who have been abused can remain in a victim mentality into adulthood due to lack of boundaries.  Abusive relationships are repeated with controllers, and loss of power and control will continue for the victim.  Self-doubt, self-hate and loss of judgment cause the abused to ask, “What’s wrong with me?”

Fear and powerlessness eventually produce emotional numbness and a dead soul -- giving up on life and people.  Pain is forfeited for emotional emptiness.  Fear and terror not dealt with will manifest as anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, and fearfulness.  Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops when a person becomes emotionally stuck. 

The first step in gaining power back in your life is to decide you are worth it.  For too long, abusive people have been telling you it’s your fault, you deserve it, you made them act that way, or some other excuse.  Make the decision today to break the cycle of abuse!  Find a Christian counselor (if you haven’t already), who can help you work through the trauma you have experienced.  The extent and duration of abuse, will determine the time to recover and heal. 

When you were sexually abused, your boundaries were violated.  So, you may need help in learning to set boundaries with others.  Read the book, ‘Boundaries’ by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  Once you start setting and maintaining boundaries, you will learn how to avoid bad treatment from others.  Self-confidence and judgment will improve.  Releasing self-hatred and rebuilding trust of yourself and others will take more time.

 

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”  Psalm 56:3


Chapter 15
Betrayal - Day 15

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Day 15

 

~ Betrayal ~

The opposite of betrayal is faithfulness, loyalty, protection, and support – all of which are destroyed when sexual abuse occurs.  According to Darkness to Light (d2l.org), 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser, and 30% are abused by family members.  The more intimate the relationship, the more pain it will cause, the deeper the betrayal, and the harder to trust another person and form deep, lasting relationships. 

A parent is supposed to love, nurture, and protect their children.  When basic needs are met in infancy, like food, clothing, and shelter, a child learns to trust their caregiver.  If the parent, who is supposed to love the child, begins violating that child, trust is shattered.  For the child coping with betrayal, a deliberate unawareness, through denial or in extreme cases, suppression of partial or complete memories can last years.  A child may also remain loyal to the offending parent, and lie for years or cover up the abuse.          

Betrayal is just as debilitating, when it comes in the form of one parent abusing the child, and the other parent denying its existence.  The non-offending parent doesn’t have to suspect or know the abuse is occurring, for it to be considered betrayal.  In some cases, the non-offender chooses their own comfort, fear, or self-protection over preventing their child from harm or providing a safe environment.  This parent may have experienced domestic violence, and may be co-dependent on the abusive parent.  I’ve read other cases where a parent is on drugs and has prostituted their child to fulfill their fix.  I met a lady in one of my counseling courses, whose mother had done this very thing.  She described in great detail how “johns” picked her up in their vehicles, and drove off, but then denied that her mother had allowed it.  

Victims of Crime.org reports those with a prior history of sexual victimization are extremely likely to be re-victimized.  Some research estimates an increased risk of over 1000%.  When a child is raised in a dysfunctional home, the treatment the child receives is considered the “normal” standard for a family.   The child is forced to lie to self and others and to deny any feelings of inappropriate behavior. 

Dr. Paul Hegstrom, of Life Skills International, states a child who is abused before the age of 8, will believe that the abuse is their fault and the result of being a “bad” child.  Three important chemicals at pre-puberty called serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, produce reasoning or abstract thinking, enabling a child to make their own choices, and reason that the abuse was not entirely their fault.    

Recovering from betrayal, involves first healing from the trauma of sexual abuse.  Childhood wounds can affect us for a lifetime, making us double-minded and unstable in everything (James 1:8).  We are fixable, if we are teachable!

Author Notes This is a Christian devotional book for survivors of sexual abuse. It is not meant to be the primary source, but a single tool used in conjunction with other resources, in addition to counseling and/or a sexual abuse support group. The "chapters" are short because they will be pages, not chapters in the book. Each day is meant to build on from the previous day. If you are reading a single "chapter," you may not understand the full intention of this book.


Chapter 16
Ambivalence - Day 16

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Day 16

~ Ambivalence ~

Ambivalence is two contradictory attitudes or emotions at the same time.  Sex was designed by God.  In Genesis 1:27-28, God created male and female in his own image, and said to be fruitful and multiply.  Sex was also designed to be enjoyable between a husband and wife.  The sexually abused may think of sex as repulsive and need to avoid it at all costs.  It may also bring comfort, distraction from problems, or a temporary release from pain.  This can result in sex outside of marriage, adultery, or pornography use.  Pornography is addictive, promotes lies and deception, guilt and shame, and can lead to adultery.  (If you are involved in pornography, sex outside of marriage, or adultery, please stop immediately and seek help!) 

The sexually abused child may have felt physical pleasure, even though touch was inappropriate.  The child may feel tricked or betrayed by the body, but this is a natural response to touch.  They experience false shame and guilt for the physical response, responsibility for the abuse, and a feeling of cooperation.  Some abusers will use the child’s physical response to convince the child they “wanted or enjoyed it.”

Ambivalence is prevalent when the victim and abuser have a close relationship.  A child who has a home lacking love, evident neglect, or with emotionally distant or unstable parent(s), is open to receive affection, albeit abuse, from another relative or family friend.  Sexual feelings are connected with confusion, powerlessness, and betrayal.  This carries into adult relationships where flirtation or sexual pleasure is enjoyable, but also revolting.

Adult relationships can vacillate between flirtation and strong signals of attraction, and pulling away -- leaving the other person confused.  Everyone wants to feel love and cherished, but the risk is too great for the abused.  There is a need to be in a loving, committed relationship, but the pain and betrayal that came with the abuse returns.  Some victims will use sex as a tool to gain power over the other person.  This may be subconscious, but a self-vow of ‘I will never be a victim again’ or ‘I will never let another person control me’ is made.  The victim takes control of sex and/or the relationship, to avoid being violated again. 

Friendships can also be distorted by the victim “sexualizing” relationships.  I did this into my twenties, as I had no idea how to relate to men.  As an 8-year-old, I was told the abuse happening to me was ‘what people who cared about each other did.’  I flirted and gave off mixed signals, which caused confusion and misunderstanding with men.  It resulted in a few unwanted males following me home and one stalker who kept showing up where I worked.     

 

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."  Phillipians 4:8

Author Notes Thank you to those who are following this! I appreciate your wonderful feedback.

Porn Industry:

12% of Internet websites (4.2 million) are pornographic (Internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics.html)
The Internet accounted for US $2.5 billion of the adult industry‚??s $14 billion in U.S. revenues in 2004. (Dirty Downloads Ready to Go on iPods, Ron Harris, www.macnewsworld.com, 2005)
Study shows that in 2005 and 2006, the United States pornography industry generated $12.62 and $13.33 billion in revenue respectively. (http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics-pg2.html)
2006 Worldwide Pornography Revenues ballooned to $97.06 billion (http://www.enough.org/inside.php?id=3K03RC4L00)
Every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography (http://www.enough.org/inside.php?id=3K03RC4L00)
Every second 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography (http://www.enough.org/inside.php?id=3K03RC4L00)
Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the U.S. (http://www.enough.org/inside.php?id=3K03RC4L00)

Internet & Television Pornography:

70% of 18 to 24 year old men visit pornographic sites in a typical month. 66% of men in their 20s and 30s also report being regular users of pornography. (First-person: the culture of pornography, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Baptist Press, 28 December 2005)
40 million U.S. adults regularly visit Internet pornography websites, and 10% of adults admit to Internet sexual addition (Internet Filter Review, 2006).
20% of men admit accessing pornography at work (Internet Filter Review, 2006).
The number of television sexual scenes has almost doubled since 1998. 70% of all shows have some sexual content ‚?? averaging 5 sexual scenes per hour compared to 56% and 3.2 scenes per hour respectively in 1998. (Sex on TV 4, a Kaiser Family Foundation study, November, 2005)
56% of divorces involve one spouse‚??s continued use of Internet pornography
(Family Research Council, The Effects of Pornography, 2009)

Christians and Pornography:

According to pastors, the 8 top sexual issues damaging to their congregation are: 57% pornography addiction, 34% sexually active never-married adults, 30% adultery of married adults, 28% sexually active teenagers, 16% sexual dissatisfaction, 14% unwed pregnancy, 13% sexually active previously married adults, and 9% sexual abuse.
(More Sex, Please, Christianity Today International, Winter 2005)
53% of Promise Keeper men viewed pornography in last week (http://familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html#anchor5)
47% of Christians say Internet pornography is a problem in the home (http://familysafemedia.com/pornography_statistics.html#anchor5)
50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography. (Market Wire. August 7, 2006. ChristiaNet.com. December 7, 2006http://www.marketwire.com/mw/r‚?¶e_html_b1?release_id=151336)
51% of pastors say cyberporn is a possible temptation. 37% say it is a current struggle (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, December 2001). 4 in 10 pastors have visited a porn site (Christianity Today, Leadership Survey, December 2001).


Chapter 17
Anxiety - Day 17

By MelB

Day 17

 

~ Anxiety ~

Anxiety is worry, nervousness, or unease about an event or uncertain outcome.  Physical symptoms can also manifest, such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.  Anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.  

 
Darkness to Light (d2l.org) states children who are sexually abused are at significantly greater risk for later posttraumatic stress and other anxiety symptoms, depression, and suicide attempts.  For some, there is no clear source for their anxiety.  For sexual abuse survivors, the loss of control over what happened to their body, along with fear of a similar attack, can cause intense anxiety.  This could result in panic attacks, symptoms of physical anxiety, or chronic fear of the type of person who abused them.  Others may develop agoraphobia – an intense fear of leaving home.   
 
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from sexual abuse is described as anxiety, depression, and intense memories of the abuse.  Flashbacks may occur, which can cause a survivor to lose track of their surroundings.  PTSD can also be coupled with chronic fear of abandonment and/or personality disruptions.
 
During my healing journey, and in counseling other abuse survivors, anxiety worsened before it improved.  It will lessen with time, and if you put in the work it takes to heal -- it will resolve.  Matthew 10:31, says we are of more value than many sparrows.  Can you believe God even cares about little birds that appear insignificant?  He cares even more for you and me! 
 
Look up the scriptures below and write them in your journal, a notebook, or on 3 x 5 cards.  Read them out loud when anxiety strikes.  You may want to choose the verses that speak to you the most and tape one to your bathroom mirror, put one on your refrigerator or in another place where you will see it and can say it often.  Don’t just say the words, let their meaning soak in and permeate your mind.  Verses for Anxiety:  Philippians 4:7, Psalm 56:3, Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9, Psalm 34:18, Proverbs 12:25, Colossians 3:15, Psalm 29:11, Isaiah 26:12, and Galatians 5:1.
 
Dear God, thank you that I’m worth more to You than even little sparrows.  Please help me not to worry, as You lead me through this healing journey.  Amen.
 
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7
 

Author Notes This is a Christian devotional book for survivors of sexual abuse. It is not meant to be the primary source, but a single tool used in conjunction with other resources, in addition to counseling and/or a sexual abuse support group. The "chapters" are short because they will be pages, not chapters in the book. Each day is meant to build on from the previous day. If you are reading a single "chapter," you may not understand the full intention of this book.


Chapter 18
Depression - Day 18

By MelB

Day 18

 

~ Depression ~

Childhood sexual abuse survivors develop depression and other mental health conditions that follow them well into adulthood.  WebMD defines depression as an episode of sadness or apathy along with other symptoms that lasts at least two consecutive weeks and severe enough to interrupt daily activities.  People who suffer from depression often are sad or uninterested in anything; sleep a lot and would rather spend time in darkness, rather than light. 

Psychology Today states, in nearly every case of significant adult depression, some form of abuse was experienced in childhood, either physical, sexual, emotional or, often, a combination.  Recovering from depression involves revisiting some, but not all of the details of the trauma involved.  Without doing so, the person will remain stuck in depression and other medical conditions.

Psychology Today reports scientists know that traumatic experiences such as child abuse or neglect change the chemistry and even the structure of the brain.  They sensitize the stress response system so that those who are abused become overly responsive to environmental pressures.  They shape wiring patterns in the brain and reset the sensitivity level of the machinery. 

Eventually, even small degrees of stress provoke an outpouring of stress hormones, and these hormones in turn act on multiple sites to produce the behavioral symptoms of depression—the vegetative state, the sleep disturbances, the cognitive dullness, the loss of pleasure.  They push the brain’s fear center into overdrive, churning out the negative emotions that steer the depression’s severity and add a twist of anxiety.

Both depression and abuse have a tendency to run in families, and can be passed down from generation to generation.  If you suffer from depression, seek a doctor for proper diagnosis.  Educate yourself about depression and abuse.  If you haven’t already done so, seek a Christian counselor to help you work through your trauma and family history.  You won’t have to work through every single traumatic event, but you will need to highlight the major ones.  Surround yourself with supportive friends and family or other survivors during this process.  It helps to be able to talk to and lean on others through this difficult process.   

Look up and write out the following verses:  Psalm 42:11, John 16:33, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 30:5, Psalm 30:11, Romans 15:13, Philippians 4:4, Matthew 11:28-30, Psalm 40:2, and 2 Samuel 22:29.  You can also do your own search on depression verses and write out the ones that give you hope.  Meditate on them daily!

Thank you, Lord, that I can come to You with my burdens and find rest.  Amen. 

Author Notes This is a Christian devotional book for survivors of sexual abuse. It is not meant to be the primary source, but a single tool used in conjunction with other resources, in addition to counseling and/or a sexual abuse support group. The "chapters" are short because they will be pages, not chapters in the book. Each day is meant to build on from the previous day. If you are reading a single "chapter," you may not understand the full intention of this book.


Chapter 19
Addictions - Day 19

By MelB

Day 19

~ Addictions (Part 1) ~

Sexual abuse survivors have an increased risk for addiction and substance abuse.  According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), sexual abuse victims are 26 times more likely to abuse drugs  and 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.  The likelihood of suffering from depression is 3 times greater than someone who was not sexually abused.

When sexual abuse occurs, a great deal of guilt and shame are involved.  Guilt comes from feeling the abuse was the victim’s fault, it could have been stopped, and/or the victim’s body betrayed them for responding to touch.  A victim may have not feel safe to tell anyone.  Feeling trapped and having no way out can weigh on a victim’s heart, mind, and soul.  The need to escape the traumatic memories, pain and fear brings intense anxiety.  To numb the pain, although temporary, some victims will self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol. 

Using drugs and/or alcohol brings short-term relief and the victim may not realize what they are doing, only that the pain goes away.  This type of self-medicating can have detrimental effects depending on the substance and the potential for addiction.  Most of the time the person does not realize they are dependent on the substance.  In many cases, drugs or alcohol become the only way the victim can boost their self-esteem and feel good again.  In other cases, substance abuse is a form of self-harm.

Amethyst Recovery.org reports a study that examined the relationship between a history of physical and sexual abuse and drug and alcohol-related consequences found that past abuse was significantly associated with more addiction consequences.  The American Journal on Addictions stated that 75 percent of women who enter treatment programs report having experienced sexual abuse.  According to another study, women who had a history of childhood sexual abuse were 3 times more likely to become dependent on drugs or alcohol when they are adults.  This means that there is not only a connection between adult incidents of sexual abuse and addiction, but also between childhood sexual abuse and addiction. 

According to a study by Kilpatrick, Edmunds, & Seymour in 1992, rape victims are 3.4 times more likely to use marijuana when compared with non-victims.  They are also 5.3 times more likely than to use prescription drugs for non-medical purposes and 6.4 times more likely to use cocaine.  The study also concluded that sexual abuse victims are 10 times more likely to use hard drugs other than cocaine.  According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape report, 60 percent of women receiving treatment for substance abuse also survived physical, sexual or emotional abuse as children.

Alcohol and other substances play a huge role in sexual assault and related abuse.  When a person has been drinking, the ability to make good decisions is impaired and it makes a person more vulnerable to unsafe circumstances.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357),(also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

                                                                     

Author Notes This is a Christian devotional book for survivors of sexual abuse. It is not meant to be the primary source, but a single tool used in conjunction with other resources, in addition to counseling and/or a sexual abuse support group. The "chapters" are short because they will be pages, not chapters in the book. Each day is meant to build on from the previous day. If you are reading a single "chapter," you may not understand the full intention of this book.


Chapter 20
Addictions - Day 20

By MelB

Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of sexual content.

Day 20

~ Addictions (Part 2) ~
 
One who has been drinking or using drugs is less likely to ask for help and may assume the abuse was their fault.  Alcohol and/or substance abuse can lead to further victimization. 

Addiction and sexual abuse have stigmas attached.  A woman at a party, who is raped, can be viewed as at fault for her “bad decisions.”  She may have avoided sexual assault if she weren’t drinking, but no one desires to be raped!  Those with addictions can be viewed as weak, even though others don’t realize what this person has experienced.  This puts more guilt and shame on the victim of sexual abuse and further hinders seeking help and healing. 

We need to have more compassion for sexual abuse survivors.  We should realize they have been traumatized in the most personal and intimate way.  They did what they had to do to get through and survive.  To stop sexual abuse, we need to educate ourselves on the devastating effects and ramifications it cost the victim.

I was 8 years old when I was molested, and at some point, raped.  I remember the molestation, but have no memory of rape, other than being asked to be penetrated, to which I said no.  I’m not sure how long the abuse occurred, but in prayer, God revealed it lasted 4 years.  I suffered from depression, anxiety, fear, nightmares, and low self-esteem, self-hatred, and anger, fits of rage, suicidal thoughts, isolation and loneliness.  I battled with anorexia in high school, tried marijuana and drank alcohol in college.  I was a people pleaser, perfectionistic, a workaholic, and went through a phase of excessive working out at the gym 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. 

I never tried drugs, because my mom gave me a diary of a girl who overdosed on LSD.  When I read the girl hallucinated about bugs crawling all over her body that was enough to scare me.  I later told my mom, the best thing she could have ever done to keep me off drugs was to give me that book!  When I drank alcohol and used marijuana, I let men use me.  I believed if I let them do what they wanted, they would care about me.  These kinds of men are not worthy of even your time!  No matter what I tried to rid myself of the pain … nothing worked! 

My marriage was in trouble, my life was a wreck, and I hit rock bottom.  I was angry at the world and hated life.  I hated myself more.  I was 38 years old, and came to the end of myself.  I was 25, when I told my husband the secret I had been carrying my whole life.  When I spoke out, something changed and the burden lifted some.  If you get anything out of this book, please don’t miss this:  When I turned my life over to Jesus Christ, and gave Him my anger, sorrow, and pain … it is at that moment – I started to heal!  Nothing else worked!   

Are you ready for God to take away your pain?  Even if you are angry and blame God for what happened, He understands.  He still loves you.  He wants to heal you. Will you let Him?  If so, pray:  God, I’m ready to heal.  Please come into my heart, and help me.  Amen.

“They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:11

Author Notes This is a Christian devotional book for survivors of sexual abuse. It is not meant to be the primary source, but a single tool used in conjunction with other resources, in addition to counseling and/or a sexual abuse support group. The "chapters" are short because they will be pages, not chapters in the book. Each day is meant to build on from the previous day. If you are reading a single "chapter," you may not understand the full intention of this book.

Thank you for reading! I know this is tough material, but I am writing it to help others heal the way I have. Some of you may worry that it upsets me to write the details of my life. I've already written a novel about my life called 'Abuse No More: A Journey of Healing. It is posted on FanStory, if you'd like to read it. For those that don't know, I am a Christian counselor and facilitate a sexual abuse support group. I am used to talking about my life, the abuse, and the mistakes I made. It doesn't bother me at all. It's like another lifetime ago or as if I'm telling someone else's story. In essence -- I am. I'm not that person anymore. Praise God!


Chapter 21
Eating Disorders - Day 21

By MelB

Day 21
~ Eating Disorders – Anorexia ~
 
Mirror-Mirror.org reports a high number of people suffering from eating disorders who have also experienced some form of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.  Around 30 percent of victims that have a form of trauma in their lives suffer from an eating disorder.  Trauma comes in the form of neglect, abuse, accidents, and sexual assault or rape.
 
Sexual abuse victims feel hopelessness and loss of control; so, will drastically control their weight.  This comes in the form of restricting food or starvation in anorexia nervosa or overeating and binging and purging food in bulimia nervosa.  Women are more likely to develop eating disorders, including bulimia, binge eating and anorexia. 

Anorexia involves irrational fear of food, as well as life threatening weight loss.  Body image is distorted and there is an obsessive fear of obesity.  Food intake is rigidly controlled, even though hunger exists.  The victim may believe if they are thinner, the abuser would be happy and stop harming them.  It may also be a form of punishment, believing they don’t deserve anything good.  The person may feel “dead” inside and restrict food to “starve” the pain out of their body.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders states between 85 and 90 percent of those who suffer from this dangerous psychological disorder are female.  It commonly starts in the teenage years or young adulthood.
Food is the anorexic’s enemy.  Refusal to eat around others, cutting food in small pieces and rearranging it on the plate to avoid eating or refusal to eat are visible signs of this disorder.  The anorexic often disappears into the bathroom after a meal.  Excessive exercise, purging, laxatives, diuretics, diet pills and other methods are used to lose weight.

Anorexia sufferers refuse to acknowledge their condition, keep their weight under normal (85 percent or less than normal), have intense fear of being fat, obsessed with weight loss, and refuse to see the danger of being underweight.  Common physical signs are severe muscle loss, thinning hair, brittle nails, extreme sensitivity to cold, and yellow, dry skin.  There may also be bone loss, dry mouth, low blood pressure and alopecia.  Missed or stopped periods are common in females.  Slowing metabolism, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, lack of physical strength, chronic fatigue, kidney, liver or thyroid problems, and other nutritional deficiencies may present.  Slow thinking, inability to concentrate, and depression may occur.  Anorexia can be a deadly disorder and the suicide rate is also high.

 

“But I call upon God; and the Lord will save me. He will deliver my soul in safety from the battle that I wage.”
Psalm 55:16,18

Author Notes This is a Christian devotional book for survivors of sexual abuse. It is not meant to be the primary source, but a single tool used in conjunction with other resources, in addition to counseling and/or a sexual abuse support group. The "chapters" are short because they will be pages, not chapters in the book. Each day is meant to build on from the previous day. If you are reading a single "chapter," you may not understand the full intention of this book.

Seek medical treatment if you or someone you know is in immediate danger or Bulimia.com at 1-888-232-6949.

UP NEXT: BULIMIA


Chapter 22
Eating Disorders - Day 22

By MelB

Day 22

~ Eating Disorders - Bulimia ~
 
The National Institute of Mental Health reports 1 percent of adults in the United States suffer from bulimia.  Another 2.8 percent experiences a binge eating disorder without purging.  Younger women are more likely to develop bulimia; however, it affects individuals regardless of gender, age, economic status or lifestyle. 

Bulimia nervosa or bulimia involves binging, or excessive overeating followed by purging—to get rid of the food consumed by vomiting and/or taking laxatives.  Binge eating can fill a void inside, or stuff down hurt and anger.  Food may be viewed as the only friend the victim has and one that won’t turn on them.  Purging is used to manage weight or prevent weight gain.  Purging may release emotions or be a punishment for something the person feels they don’t deserve such as love.  Food can be a weapon to gain control and forget the pain.  Excessive exercise, enemas, fasting, laxative use or a combination of purging methods are used as alternatives to vomiting. 

Bulimia.com states frequent binging and purging puts severe stress on the body.  Stress on the heart from laxative use and daily vomiting may cause arrhythmia, heart palpitations, heart attacks, or death.  Repeated vomiting erodes tooth enamel, leading to yellow teeth, mouth sensitivity and rapid tooth decay.  Bulimia in women often causes infertility.

Repeated binging stretches the stomach and increases the amount of possible food intake.  In extreme cases, binging rips the stomach lining and causes stomach acid to spill into the rest of the body, often with fatal results.  Chronic painful stomach problems may develop as a result of bulimia.  Chronic gastric reflux is also a common problem.  Inflammation of the esophagus is also typical.  Bulimia may cause gastroparesis, a partial paralyzing of stomach muscles.  Chronic health issues do not disappear after overcoming bulimia.

A preoccupation with weight, including the fear of gaining weight is a strong indicator of bulimia.  Bulimics often eat alone and hide the evidence.  Finding a stash of food wrappers, spending a great deal of time in the bathroom, and excessive time at the gym are telltale signs.  Those who induce vomiting frequently may have cuts on their hands from their fingers hitting their teeth.  There may also be red marks on their face from broken blood vessels.

The addition of recreational drugs creates a dangerous and deadly combination.  Induced vomiting and stimulants, such as cocaine, can lead to heart attacks.  Binge drinking and bulimia also increases the risk of heart attacks.  Laxatives mixed with weight loss drugs and recreational drugs, can lead to dangerous drug interactions.

Seek medical treatment if you or someone else is in immediate danger or visit Bulimia.com or call 1-888-232-6949.

 
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 14:17     
 

Author Notes This is a Christian devotional book for survivors of sexual abuse. It is not meant to be the primary source, but a single tool used in conjunction with other resources, in addition to counseling and/or a sexual abuse support group. The "chapters" are short because they will be pages, not chapters in the book. Each day is meant to build on from the previous day. If you are reading a single "chapter," you may not understand the full intention of this book.


Chapter 23
Self-Harm - Day 23

By MelB

Day 23

 ~ Self-Harm ~

Self-harm refers to one who does harm to their body.  It begins in teen or early adult years as cutting or burning.  Cutting involves using a razorblade or sharp object to cut the skin on the arms, legs, or torso.  The cuts bleed and generally cause scarring.  Some cutters state they feel a surge of energy and a pleasurable wave of feelings.  Some harm themselves a few times, and then stop.  Others engage more often and have trouble stopping.  Self-harm is related to trauma, in that those who self-injure have been abused in childhood. 

Other forms of self-injury are interference with wound healing, infecting oneself, punching/hitting self or objects, inserting objects into skin, bruising or breaking bones, and some forms of hair pulling.

The National Center for PTSD estimates that 2% to 6% engage in self-harm at some point in their lives.  Among students, the rates are higher, ranging from 13% to 35%.  Rates of self-harm are also higher among those in treatment for mental health issues.  Those in treatment who have PTSD are more likely to engage in self-harm.

Those who self-abuse have fear, worry, depression, and aggression.  There is also a link between feeling numb or feeling outside of the body.  Often, there is low self-esteem and an inability to express their feelings. 

Higher rates of PTSD and other mental problems are noted in those who self-harm.  There are also higher rates of childhood sexual abuse, childhood physical abuse, emotional neglect, long separations from caregivers, and unstable or unsecure caregivers.  More severe, frequent, or longer-lasting sexual abuse is linked to an increased risk of self-harm in adults.

Reasons for self-harm are to reduce stress and tension, decrease numbness or feeling outside of the body, to block upsetting memories and flashbacks, express and release distress, reduce anger, punish self, avoid hurting others, a cry for help, to ensure safety and protection.  Those who self-harm will try to hide it and may not want help.  Self-harm is often seen with other mental health problems like PTSD or substance abuse.

In Mark 5:2-5, a demon-possessed man cried, cut himself with stones, and was healed by Jesus.  This doesn’t mean you are possessed by a demon, but the enemy wants to keep you stuck in depression, feeling worthless, and hurting yourself. 

Call 1-800-DON’T-CUT or go to www.selfinjury.com.  Google cutting verses, write them out and read daily.

 

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

Author Notes This is a Christian devotional book for survivors of sexual abuse. It is not meant to be the primary source, but a single tool used in conjunction with other resources, in addition to counseling and/or a sexual abuse support group. The "chapters" are short because they will be pages, not chapters in the book. Each day is meant to build on from the previous day. If you are reading a single "chapter," you may not understand the full intention of this book.


Chapter 24
Who I Am in Christ

By MelB

Until now, your personal sense of worth may have come from your family, friends, people you’ve dated, school teachers, co-workers, or what authority figures think of you.  As a sexual abuse survivor, you’ve carried a tremendous amount of guilt, shame, and fear, in addition to so much more.  This is a false identity!  It is God’s opinion of you that truly counts.  Your identity doesn’t depend on something you do or have done.  “Your true identity is who God says you are.  Knowing who you are in Christ will transform your life like nothing else.” – Dr. Neil Anderson 

Perhaps, you’re reading this book, and you’ve never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Salvation does not come from a religion, going to church, doing good deeds, or by living a good moral life.  The Bible says there is only one way to receive Salvation.  You must be born again, by accepting  Jesus Christ, into your heart as your Lord and Savior.  It is a free gift!  Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

God has a wonderful plan for your life.  He stands knocking at the door of your heart, but He won’t enter until you invite Him.  If you’d like to do that now, please pray the prayer below.  (It doesn’t matter that it is a written prayer that you’re reading.  It is what is in your heart that matters.  God knows your heart.)  Read this out loud:


Dear Lord Jesus,

I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness.  I believe You died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead.  I turn from my sins now and invite You to come into my heart and life.  Make me a new person, more like You.  I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.   Amen.

Let’s find out your true identity.  The following are taken from ‘Who I Am in Christ’ from Freedom in Christ Ministries (www.ficm.org).  Read daily, until you believe them in your heart:


I AM ACCEPTED . . .

John 1:12  -                          I am God’s child.

John 15:15  -                        I am Christ’s friend.

Romans 5:1  -                       I have been justified.

1 Corinthians 6:17  -             I am united with the Lord (one spirit).

1 Corinthians 6:19-20  -        I am bought with a price; I belong to God.

1 Corinthians 12:27  -           I am a member of Christ’s Body.

Ephesians 1:1  -                   I am a saint.

Ephesians 1:5  -                   I have been adopted as God’s child.

Ephesians 2:18  -                 I have access to God through the Holy Spirit.

Colossians 1:14  -                 I have been redeemed and forgiven.

Colossians 2:10  -                 I am complete in Christ.


I AM SECURE  . . .

Romans 8:1-2  -                    I am free forever from condemnation.

Romans 8:28  -                     I am assured all works together for good.

Romans 8:31-34  -                I am free from any charge against me.

Romans 8:35-39  -                I cannot be separated from the love of God.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22  -        I am established, anointed, sealed by God.

Colossians 3:3  -                   I am hidden with Christ in God.

Philippians 1:6  -                   I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected.

Philippians 3:20 -                  I am a citizen of heaven.

2 Timothy 1:7  -                     I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.

Hebrews 4:16  -                    I can find grace and mercy in time of need.

1 John 5:18  -                       I am born of God; the evil one cannot touch me.


I AM SIGNIFICANT . . .

 Matthew 5:13-14  -              I am the salt and light of the earth.

John 15:1,5  -                      I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life.

John 15:16  -                       I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.

Acts 1:8  -                            I am a personal witness of Christ’s.

1 Corinthians 3:16  -            I am God’s temple.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21  -       I am a minister of reconciliation for God.

2 Corinthians 6:1  -              I am God’s co-worker (1Corinthians 3:9).

Ephesians 2:6  -                   I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm.

Ephesians 2:10  -                 I am God’s workmanship.

Ephesians 3:12  -                 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Philippians 4:13  -                I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Author Notes This will be added after 3 days in the book. Every third day, more scripture will be added about our identity in Christ. Sexual abuse affects the body, mind, and soul. It's important for those who are healing from abuse to renew their mind with the Word of God. It is an integral part to healing and one of the many ways my counseling is different than most Christian counselors.

Many more issues to come. Thanks for reading and for the great feedback!


Chapter 25
Day 24 - Lies About Self

By MelB

Day 24
 

~ Lies – Self ~
 
Most abuse survivors have come to believe numerous lies about themselves, others, and God.  When we are hurt and wounded, it is the greatest time the enemy of our soul whispers lies to us.  In our times of pain and sorrow, we tend to question God the most and go our own way.  Like a predator stalking its prey, Satan lies in wait for us and tries to convince us that God doesn’t care about our pain.  Satan prowls like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).  Let’s look at some common lies sexual abuse survivors may believe about themselves, and then replace those lies with God’s truth.
 
1.  Lie:  It was my fault; I deserved it.
 
TRUTH:  Sexual abusers are masters at making victims feel responsible, but no one deserves to be abused by someone else.  Abusers are responsible for their own choices and actions.

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 9:9

2.  Lie:  I’m a bad person.
 
TRUTH:  You may have been told you were a bad person by your abuser, but you did nothing wrong and the abuser is the one at fault.
 
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
 
3.  Lie:  I was sexually assaulted because I flirted, because of something I said or the clothes I wore.
 
TRUTH:  It doesn’t matter if you flirted, what you said, or the clothes you wore.  It happened because a sexual predator was present. 
 
“The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.” Psalm 34:22
 
4.  Lie:  If my body responded to physical touch, I must have wanted or enjoyed it.  My body betrayed me.

TRUTH:  Our bodies were made to respond to physical touch.  That does not mean you asked for it, you enjoyed it or your body betrayed you.

“Leave your troubles with the Lord, and he will defend you; he never lets honest people be defeated.” Psalm 55:22

TO BE CONTINUED . . .

Author Notes A devotional is a small book, covered in days, months, or a year. It contains scripture and is meant to bring inspiration and comfort to the reader.

This is a Christian devotional for sexual abuse survivors. It contains emotions and problems specific to those who have been sexually abused. Each day is meant to roll into the next day.

If you're a survivor and think of a specific lie you believe(d) about yourself, please let me know and I will include it in the book. Thanks for reading!


Chapter 26
Day 25 - Lies About Self (Part 2)

By MelB

Day 25

~ Lies – Self ~


 
5.   I didn’t fight back, so I must have wanted it. 
 
TRUTH:  Some survivors “freeze up” or experience tonic immobility – an involuntary paralysis, where individuals cannot move and in some cases, not speak.  If the perpetrator had a weapon, you did what was necessary to remain alive.  You did not ask for or want what happened to you. 

“The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.”  Psalm 11:5
 
6.  I could have stopped the abuse.


TRUTH:  If you were a child when you were abused, more than likely the perpetrator was bigger and stronger than you.  Whether you froze or fought back, you couldn’t have stopped it.  If you called out for help, raising the volume wouldn’t have made a difference.  There is no way you could have avoided the situation, the location, or the person.
 

“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”  Colossians 1:22
 
7.  I’m afraid if I tell I was abused, no one will believe me.   

TRUTH:  Statistics support a low incidence of false accusation of a sexual predator.  Find someone you trust and tell them what happened.  If someone doesn’t believe you, keep telling until someone does.  If you remain silent, the abuser will continue to harm you and/or others.  Silence protects the perpetrator! 

“Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.” Acts 18:9
 

8.  If others knew who I am and what happened to me, they would reject me.
 
TRUTH:  The mere mention of the words “sexual abuse” or “molestation” can bring deafening silence to a room.  These words make people uncomfortable and they often don’t know what to say, if they haven’t gone through it.  It’s not something everyone needs to know about you.  Work through it with your counselor and/or support group.  If you need to tell someone else, make sure they are a safe person.  (One example of an unsafe person is someone who is known to spread gossip – make wise choices!)

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”  Ephesians 1:4
 


Chapter 27
Day 26 - Lies About Self (Part 3)

By MelB

Day 26

~ Lies – Self (continued) ~

 
9.  Lie:  You can’t trust anyone, people will only hurt you.
 
TRUTH:  Trust was broken when you were abused. Learning to trust yourself and others  requires time, practice, and patience.  Listen to your feelings and communicate them with someone close to you or write them in your journal.  Combat negative thoughts and feelings by meditating on positive scripture.  Start slow and guarded with others, eventually taking more risk.  We were made to have relationship with others, but it’s impossible to avoid hurt in life.   No matter what others do to us, God will always be faithful, true, and trustworthy.
 
”The Lord is on my side, I will not fear.  What can man do to me?”  Psalm 118:6


10.   Lie:  All men are bad and only want to use/abuse my body.
 
TRUTH:  A string of abusive relationships reinforces this, but not every man is abusive.  There are good men who desire a committed relationship with a woman.  If you’re single, I recommend putting a hold on dating, until you’ve completed the healing process.  It complicates matters, as you work through the trauma.  Don’t fret if you have a supportive boyfriend or husband.  You may want to ask him to read the effects of sexual abuse, so he will know how to best help you through this process.  Patience and understanding will be required to best assist you in recovery. 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13


11.  Lie:  If a man knows I was sexually abused, he won’t want me.
 
TRUTH:  Everyone has past wounds.  The right man will care about you and not what happened to you.  Surrounding yourself with supportive people who listen, encourage, comfort, and help you is important during this process.  If necessary, you may have to distance yourself from critical friends or family who deny you were abused, make excuses for the perpetrator, or hinder your healing. 

“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,” 1 Peter 2:4


12.  Lie:  I’ll never be normal/have a normal life.  I’m permanently defective.

TRUTH:  I believed this lie wholeheartedly for years.  I tried every way I could to stifle the pain and rid myself of the misery, but it worsened over time.  It affected every aspect of my life.  Inviting God into my heart, and asking Him to heal the pain transformed me.  Oh, how I want that for you, dear friend!
 
“LORD, my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.”  Psalms 30:2
 

Author Notes A devotional is a small book, covered in days, months, or a year. It contains scripture and is meant to bring inspiration and comfort to the reader.

This is a Christian devotional for sexual abuse survivors. It contains emotions and problems specific to those who have been sexually abused. Each day is meant to roll into the next day.

If you're a survivor and think of a specific lie you believe(d) about yourself, please let me know and I will include it in the book. Thanks for reading!


Chapter 28
Day 27 - Lies About Self (Part 4)

By MelB

Day 27
 

~ Lies – Self (continued) ~
 
13.  Lie:  I don’t deserve any happiness.

TRUTH:  Do you feel guilty when people help you?  Can you accept compliments?  It’s hard to receive a compliment or a kind gesture when you don’t feel worthy.  Sexual abuse skews our perception of self.  If we can’t love ourselves, we won’t be able to receive or extend love to others.  We were made to enjoy relationship with others, but God desires we seek Him first.  He will grant our heart’s wishes in His perfect will for us.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4


14.  Lie:  I don’t deserve anyone good.

TRUTH:  Survivors of sexual abuse tend to get caught in a vicious cycle of abuse.  It’s common to also experience physical, emotional, and/or verbal abuse.  Victims move from one abusive relationship to another, choosing a different form of abuse, which appears normal at the onset.  Once healing has occurred, survivors will choose healthier relationships.  The Bible tells us God has prepared and stored up goodness just waiting to give it to those who love Him. 

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:19


15.  Lie:  I’ll ruin all relationships.

TRUTHIt’s a struggle for sexual abuse survivors to trust others.  A person may say they want to have a deeper relationship, but inner turmoil, fear of abandonment and rejection might cause self-sabotage.  These self-defeating behaviors reinforce beliefs they will get hurt and people cannot be trusted.   Healing from self-sabotage requires working through abandonment and rejection issues. 

Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6        


Have you believed any lies?  Perhaps, you thought of others not on the list.  Did you know these came from the father of lies?  Would you like to break the power of these lies in your life? If so, pray:

Lord, I’ve believed (name the lie/s) for too long!  I’ve felt (emotions/feelings).  John 14:14 says if I ask for anything in Your name, you will do it.  I break (name the lie/s) in Jesus’ name.  Please reveal Your truth to me (pause for truth).  I receive (truth/s revealed) and I thank you for speaking truth in my life.  Amen.    


Chapter 29
Day 28 - Lies About God (Part 1)

By MelB

Day 28

~ Lies – God ~
 
 
Let’s look at lies we believe about God.  If you think of more lies about yourself, others or God, write them in your journal.  Go back to Day 27, break each lie and let God speak truth to you.  If the lie returns, repeat the prayer.  The lie will lose its hold on you, and eventually, disappear.  Draw a line through the lies you write down and replace them with the truth you receive in prayer.  Highlight the truth or write it in all caps, so it stands out to you.
 

1.  God doesn’t care about me.

TRUTH:  This is the biggest lie the devil uses against us.  He wants to keep you wounded, defeated, and far from God.  If he can accomplish this, he can keep you from living life to the fullest and rob you of every good thing God wants to do in your life.  God created you and He loves you.  How much?  He loved us enough to send His son to die a horrible death in our place, even though we didn’t deserve it.  God will be with you, but He won’t draw close to you without your invitation.  In James 4:8, God promises to draw near to you, if you draw near to Him.  How do we do draw near to God?  Read His word and pray. 

“The Lord your God is with you.  He’s mighty to deliver.  He takes great delight in you.  He will quiet you with His love.  He rejoices over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

2.  God hates me. 
 
TRUTH:  God doesn’t hate people, but He does hate sin and unrighteousness.  These things are described as an abomination to Him:  a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19).  God hates sin because of what it does to us.  Sin is a deceiver and a destroyer, and God hates it for that reason.  “God is love” (1John 4:8), but also “a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).  A fire can be comforting, but also destructive.  In order to love one quality, you have to hate the other.

“This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”  1 John 3:16 

3.  God abandoned me.

TRUTH:  How do you view yourself?  Did your parents abandon or reject you?  Parents are supposed to be an extension of God’s love.  If you don’t like yourself, it will be hard to accept God’s love.  There is a direct correlation to how you see your parents and how you view God.  Abandonment and rejection from parents will cause you to believe God has done the same.  A parent that is emotionally distant will cause us to think God doesn’t care or have time for us.  I’ve found this true in my own life and in those I’ve counseled.  Read the verse below:

“My father and mother may abandon me, but the LORD will take care of me.”  Psalm 27:10 GNT 


Chapter 30
Day 29 - Lies About God (Part 2)

By MelB

Day 29

~ Lies – God (continued) ~

 
4.  Lie:  God is disgusted with me.
 
TRUTH: What was it like in your childhood home?  If one or both of your parents were angry, or if verbal or physical fighting ensued, you will automatically believe God is angry and disgusted with you.  If your parents were critical, more than likely, you believe God is a judge and jury ready to bang the gavel down any time you make a mistake.  The truth is God loves you and understands you.  He is slow to anger, offers forgiveness when we confess our failures to Him, and He does not hold them against us.

“The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving-kindness.” (AMP)  

 

5.  God is punishing me for being a terrible person.
 

TRUTH:  We live in a fallen world.  This means bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.  When we broke away from God and went our own way, we chose a path without God.  And where God isn’t, suffering and evil prevail.  God often uses evil for good.  In Genesis 37, Joseph was hated by his brothers, because of his fathers’ love for him.  Joseph had a dream that he would rule over his brothers, and they were jealous of him.  They sold Joseph into slavery, but Joseph ended up ruling all of Egypt.  Joseph saved his family and the people from starvation and fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham for the creation of the Israel nation.  I don’t know why God allowed you to be abused, but I can tell you He will use it for good.  It might be so you can help someone else in the same situation.

“God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31).  He has good plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11), and He loves us with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3).
 

6.  I can’t trust God because He didn’t stop the abuse.
 

TRUTH:  God never promised we wouldn’t have trouble, but He did promise to be with us during dark times in our lives.  God allows “free will” in this world.  He did this so people could make their own decision whether they come to Him or not.  God could have made us all like robots, where we had no choice to love or follow Him.  If you are a parent, would you want your child to love you because they were forced to or would you rather they love you because they chose to do so?  Because of this free will, it means people also choose not to follow God.  Man’s heart without God tends toward evil and that means bad things will happen in this world.  God has promised us that one day He will make all things right.  We have to trust that He will keep His word.
 
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

 


Chapter 31
Day 30 - Lies About God (Part 3)

By MelB

Day 30

~ Lies – God (continued) ~

 
7.  God doesn’t care about my pain. 
 
TRUTH:  God doesn’t enjoy watching us hurt.  He loves us and wants the best for us.  Trials and suffering are allowed in our lives for one purpose – to mold and shape us into the best we can be.  Gold is refined by taking a dull, lifeless piece of metal and burning it many times in the fire.  The impurities are removed and the end result is a beautiful, shiny piece of gold.  In the same way, we are allowed to go through testing and trials.  In the end, we come out at our best and more like Jesus.  The apostle Paul was shipwrecked, beaten, stoned, whipped, jailed and tormented and yet, he was still convinced that nothing could separate us from God’s love.  No trial we go through will ever change that.

“I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.  They will call on My name, and I will answer them.  I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God’” (Zechariah 13:9).


 
8.  God is to blame for my abuse.
 
TRUTH:  A person who abuses another person is doing evil, and this doesn’t come from God.  Evil comes from Satan who intends to oppose God in every way.  Satan wants to do everything he can to deceive and destroy us.  Jesus called him “a murderer from the beginning … and the father of lies” (John 8:44).  Evil can also come from our hearts and minds.  When we do something evil, such as abuse a child, it doesn’t come from God, but us.  Each one is tempted when, but his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (James 1:13-14).  People who do evil can change, if they come to know Jesus.

“When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone." James 1:13


 
9.  God is bad.  He’s just like my parents.
 
TRUTH:  Misunderstanding who God is will affect many areas of your life.  It may also make it difficult or impossible for you to seek a relationship with God at all.  In Jeremiah 31:3 the Lord declares that his love for you is “everlasting.”  If you’ve been shown no love or inconsistent love from a parent, it will be hard to think of God as consistent.  But God is not moody.  God is perfect (Matthew 5:48) and unchanging (James 1:17).  Hebrews 13:8 tells us that He is the same “yesterday, today and forever.”  1 John 1:5 says, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”  However, as any good parent, God will discipline his children.  Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.”  Regardless of how you may think or feel, God is a good Father who dearly loves his children.  You can trust Him.

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in him.” Nahum 1:7


Chapter 32
Day 31 - Lies About God (Part 4)

By MelB

Day 31
 
~ Lies – God (continued) ~
 
 
10.  God doesn’t care about child abuse.

TRUTH:  Rather than control us, God gave us freedom.  Imagine you’re driving down a highway.  You see guardrails on the side of the road, where there are dangerous cliffs or sharp turns.  Bumping into the guardrails may dent your vehicle, but will help keep you safe and on the road.  If the guardrails weren’t there, you might drive off the road at night and may plummet to your death.  The guardrails serve to protect you.  In the same way, God has “guardrails” to help us get through life without harm.  There are those who refuse to follow God and His plan.  God doesn’t interfere with those choices, but he has made it clear there will be consequences for them.  God is just and He will judge those who do evil.  In the verse below, it is clear what God thinks of causing a child to stumble or sin and what will happen to those who do.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.”  Matthew 18:6


11.  God can’t heal me.

TRUTH:  This is one of the biggest lies the devil uses to keep us silent, wounded, and distant from God.  If we hide the truth about the trauma we experienced, it festers and grows.  Think of a minor cut eventually turning into a major open wound requiring surgery.  Time does NOT heal ALL wounds.  Acknowledging our hurt is painful, but God promises through our relationship with Him that we will be healed—in this life or the next (Philippians 3:21). Why wait?  God can redeem a broken life.  I’m living proof!  Jesus can dynamically transform you so others would never know you walked that painful path!  You won’t heal on your own, but you do need to make the choice to move forward.  Jesus understands suffering like no one else, because He endured horrendous abuse and the most painful death.  Jesus has the power to set you free from your painful past, but He’s waiting on you.

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:4-5

Did you find any lies you’ve believed about God?  Perhaps, you thought of some lies that weren’t listed.  Write each lie down in your journal, and let’s break their power over your life with the following prayer: 

Lord, I’ve believed (name the lie/s).  I’ve felt (emotions/feelings).  I break (name the lie/s) in Jesus’ name.  Please reveal Your truth to me (pause for truth).  I receive (truth/s revealed) and I thank you for working in my life.  Amen.    

 

Author Notes This wraps up the lies section.


Chapter 33
Day 32 - Anger at Abuser

By MelB

Day 32

~ Anger – Abuser ~
 
It’s normal to be angry at your abuser, but many survivors also carry unresolved anger at themselves and God.  Strong feelings of anger occur from sexual assault, being manipulated and abused; feeling no one cared; betrayal of trust; failure of family members to protect you; no consequences for the abuser; that no one stopped it; injustice of the court system; and living with the memories. 
 
Anger is a normal emotion and reaction to an injustice and can mask fear, weakness, inadequacy, sadness, powerlessness, and distress.  Anger can impact relationships negatively and push others away.  It can also be destructive, causing fighting, depression, anxiety, increased blood pressure, tension, rage, and loss of control.  Transference of anger occurs when a person close to us reminds us of someone who hurt us or when a similar situation is “triggered” which caused us pain before.  Anger is a problem when it festers into resentment and bitterness, and in some cases, contributes to cancer. 

After years of pent up anger, survivors walk into my office and say, “I’m not angry” or “it doesn’t affect me” or “I’m fine.”  My response, “If you’re fine, you’d be the first one I’ve seen who isn’t affected at all by sexual abuse.”  After many years of suppressing or stuffing their anger, they are numb, but it’s hiding under the surface.  I remember my counselor saying our anger is like an iceberg, the tip is what everyone sees, but ninety percent is below the surface.  It takes some chipping away, but eventually, it’s like opening the dam to a river—a rush of anger flows.

When sexual assault occurs by a stranger, it’s easy to get angry at the perpetrator.  However, most sexual abuse is not at the hands of a stranger.  It’s difficult to get angry at someone we know, particularly if the abuser is a family member.  If you were molested by a parent (the worst form of betrayal), you may have been afraid to tell, worried something bad would happen to your parent, or felt responsible to hold the family together.  This might have overshadowed your anger, and it may have been transferred to others, God, or self.  That doesn’t mean the anger at the perpetrator isn’t buried deep inside your heart. 

In order to truly heal, anger needs to be released.  You’re not angry?  Are you sarcastic?  This is repressed anger.  Do you suffer from depression?  This is anger turned inward.  Do you hate men?  This is transference of anger.  Notice a pattern?  Friend, I was the Queen of Anger!  “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” - Anonymous 

Write a letter to your abuser on a piece of paper.  You won’t send it, so say whatever you want.  Get in touch with your anger, and get it all out.  Hold onto this letter.  We‘ll come back to it later.

“For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  James 1:20

Author Notes Next Up: Anger at God, Anger at Self.


Chapter 34
Day 33 - Anger at God

By MelB

Day 33

~ Anger – God ~
 
When I was seeing a counselor, she kept asking if I was mad at God.  My response was always no.  Christians aren’t supposed to get mad, right?  The truth is I was mad at God.  I blamed Him for what happened and for not stopping it.  I felt abandoned and that God didn’t care about me.  Are you angry with God?  Read the poem below by Jessica Shaver:

‘I Told God I Was Angry’

I told God I was angry.
I thought He'd be surprised.
I thought I'd kept hostility quite cleverly disguised.
I told the Lord I hate Him, I told Him that I hurt.
I told Him that He isn't fair, He's treated me like dirt.
I told God I was angry, but I'm the one surprised.
"What I've known all along," He said, "you've finally realized."
"At last you have admitted what's really in your heart.
Dishonesty, not anger, was keeping us apart.
Even when you hate Me, I don't stop loving you.
Before you can receive that love, you must confess what's true.
In telling me the anger you genuinely feel,
it loses power over you, permitting you to heal."
I told God I was sorry and He's forgiven me.
The truth that I was angry has finally set me free.

 
Be honest with God--He won’t fall off His throne!  God already knows your heart and how you feel.  There is nothing you can say or do to make Him stop loving you.  Write out your anger and disappointment in a letter or talk to God as if He’s sitting in front of you.  If you have trouble writing or speaking to God, draw a picture of what you feel.  When you admit your anger to God, it starts to lose power over you.  Then, you can truly start to heal.  Pray:

Dear Lord, there is so much hurt and anger inside of me. I'm tired of living this way. I'm giving it to You to heal my hurt. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Author Notes I will cover if we have the right to be mad at God in another post or in the forgiveness section. Oh yes, we are going to cover forgiveness!

Up Next: Anger at Self


Chapter 35
Day 34 - Anger at Self

By MelB

Day 34

~ Anger – Self ~
Anger is a healthy response to being sexually abused, but many survivors have a hard time placing anger where it belongs – at the perpetrator.  Anger at God for allowing it to happen and feeling abandoned by God are more common, although not all realize its presence.  Survivors of abuse identify most with anger at themselves or containing it, believing they were somehow responsible.  What happened to you was not your fault.  It’s healing to recognize the anger you feel toward yourself is false.  It’s also healing to feel, process, and integrate the anger you should have been feeling toward your abuser/s, but couldn’t express.

You may have been abused as a child and were never able to get angry.  It was more important to survive back then.  You may have had to cover for a parent or other family member who abused you or may have broken the silence and were accused of lying.  Perhaps, you were raped, and just tried to forget and go on with your life.  When anger is suppressed or stuffed, it will turn into resentment and bitterness and eventually, come out as disease in a major organ of the body.  So, the sooner you can get rid of your anger, the better it is for your health.

You may struggle to get angry, but it’s not because you don’t have anger.  You do have anger buried inside of you, but may need to find a way to release it.  You might be afraid of what will happen or feel you will lose control if you allow yourself to get angry.  Righteous anger is not sinful and should not be associated with abuse.  Anger mishandled can certainly lead to a sinful, abusive response, but it is a sinful heart, not the emotion of anger that is the root cause of abuse.  “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27 

If you haven’t been able to get in touch with your anger through letter writing or speaking to God, revisit Day 32 and/or Day 33.  You might try other anger releasing exercises such as yelling, hitting a punching bag, or throwing rocks/bricks at the ground.  If you don’t have access to rocks or bricks, you could buy inexpensive plates at a local dollar store, and find a place to throw and smash them.  Don’t forget to clean up the mess when you’re done.

If you’re still having trouble accessing your anger, look at a picture of yourself at the age you were abused.  Perhaps, it’s easier for you to imagine seeing someone else abused at the same age, and then claiming the anger for yourself.  It may take several tries or a combination of exercises to get things rolling.  The longer you’ve stuffed anger, the harder it will be to access.  You may have to stick with these anger releasing exercises for a while, until the anger surfaces and you direct it away from you and toward your abuser. 

After a release of anger, nourish your body, mind and soul, by taking a nature walk or bike ride, soak in a hot bath, watch a funny movie, read a good book, listen to some praise music, or get a massage.  Play catch with your dog or go on a walk together or cuddle with your cat and soak in the rhythmic purring while petting your cat.


Chapter 36
Day 35 - Self-hatred

By MelB

Day 35

~ Self-hatred ~
 
Every child wants to feel loved and cherished by their parents, and it’s this love that is an extension of God’s love. But, what happens when a child doesn’t feel a positive sense of self? What happens when a child is verbally abused or neglected by parents? What if a child feels hated instead of loved? What if a child is sexually abused by a parent and told this is love?
 
When a child feels hate instead of love, they have trouble blaming their parents, so they believe it must be their fault. Children internalize everything and deduct they are somehow bad, deserving the abuse, particularly for anything happening before the onset of puberty. We discussed before, the three chemicals released around age 9 (dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine), which help a child to reason.
 
The more a child is treated with hatred, the more they will begin to hate themselves. A child that is told they are “worthless” or “won’t amount to anything” will take in these words and they will seep into their core being. Each wound will compound onto another one and build self-hatred in the child. Some will turn to drugs, alcohol, self-harm, or other self-destructive behaviors as a way to stifle or numb the pain. Others will have a difficult time accepting love from anyone and will have suicidal thoughts or may even attempt to take their own life.
 
If you struggle with self-hatred, you may want to revisit the sections on blame, guilt, and shame, which all play a part. So, how do you let go of self-hatred? It starts with embracing the truth. Before you can embrace the truth, you must first stop believing the lies. Write down every negative thing you have ever thought about yourself or heard someone else say about you on a piece of paper or in your journal. If you have trouble thinking of anything, pray and ask God to help you remember. When you are finished, let’s break the power these lies have had over you. As you read through this prayer for each lie, draw a line through the lie and write the truth over it. You may want to write the truth God reveals to you in all caps or highlight it. Read these truths God has revealed to you every day until you believe them.* Remember friend, God doesn’t lie!
 
Lord, I have believed the lie (name it), and I refuse to believe it any longer. I ask you, Lord, to forgive me for believing this lie. I choose to forgive (name the person) for speaking this lie over me, and I also forgive myself for believing it. I break (name the lie) in Jesus’ name and I receive Your truth (pause for truth and name it) today. Thank you for this truth! Amen.
 

”For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10

Author Notes Up Next: Sin/Repentance, Forgiveness.


Chapter 37
Day 36 - Forgiving Your Abuser

By MelB

Day 36

~ Forgiveness - Abuser ~
 
How can I forgive for something so awful? What if my abuser doesn’t ask for forgiveness? If I forgive, does that mean I’m saying what the person did was okay? Forgiving others is difficult, particularly for something so personal. We won’t forget the damage, so why should we let them off the hook? Shouldn’t they have to pay for what they’ve done?
 
Forgiveness is not an emotion—it’s a choice we make through a decision of our own will. It’s not something we feel like doing—we forgive in obedience to God. We are to forgive because God forgave us. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”(Colossians 3:13). Jesus said we are to forgive not seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22 NLT). God forgave us while we were His enemies (Romans 5:10), and we should do likewise with one another. If we don’t forgive others, God will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15). We are also to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling, slander, along with every form of malice (Ephesians 4:31).
 
Forgiving your abuser doesn’t mean forgetting or they are getting away with it. Forgiveness is also not dependent on the other person apologizing. Extending forgiveness means you take the person off your hook and put them on God’s hook. It’s saying, “God, I give this person to you to deal with them and what they did.” Romans 12:19, says not to take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath. Sometimes, God will wait to deal with someone, until you forgive them. God also can repay that person better than you or I ever could. God is loving, but also just. God will avenge; He will repay (Deuteronomy 32:35).
 
God knows how much damage anger, resentment, and bitterness does to us. That’s why we are told to not let the sun go down on our anger and do not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:26-27). A foothold unchecked will become a stronghold. Satan wants to destroy and kill you through the stronghold of anger. Wherever there is a fruit, there’s a root. The root of anger means you will kill and destroy people literally or figuratively through your words, actions, lack of action or silence. Anger keeps us in a prison, and if we will let it go, we are the one who is set free! If you choose to forgive, I promise you will start to feel love and peace in your heart. Remember Friend, I’ve been there. Forgiveness is a process, and sometimes, it is a lifelong one. Give it a try, and see how you feel:
 
I choose to forgive (name the person) for (what they did).It made me feel (name the emotion). I release (name the person) to you, Lord, to deal with them as You see fit. Please forgive me for hanging onto resentment and bitterness, Lord. I ask you to heal those places in my heart.Amen.

 

Author Notes A devotional is a short book that goes by days, not chapters.

Please let me know if I missed anything in this one. It is probably the single most important subject in the whole book. Thanks for reading!

Up Next: Forgiving God, Forgiving Self.


Chapter 38
Day 37 - Forgiving God

By MelB

Day 37

~ Forgiveness - God ~
 
God doesn’t do anything wrong and doesn’t need our forgiveness. “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4). Our finite minds cannot possibly understand God and all His ways. Most of us understand God has the power to do anything, but we wrestle with why bad things are allowed to happen. The story of Job details great suffering. Job was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. Satan told God that Job only praised God because he was blessed. Satan said if God would strike everything from Job, he would curse God. So, God allowed Job to lose everything. Job lost his servants, his family, his livestock and everything he owned, but Job still would not sin and charge God with wrongdoing.
 
I’m no Job. I was angry at God for not stopping my abuse. God wasn’t behind the evil that happened to Job and He doesn’t cause people to abuse others. “Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong” (Job 34:10). It is Satan that is behind evil. Job made a choice to trust God and praise Him, even when he didn’t understand what was happening.
 
Unresolved anger puts a wedge between us and God. We need to understand that sometimes God doesn’t put a stop to things, because He has a larger plan. We are only able to see the present. God sees the span of our entire lives. I was given this analogy years ago by a wonderful counselor. Our life is like a tapestry –all the threads are woven together and hidden inside the completed work. We see the back side of the tapestry which looks like a tangled mess with the threaded strands going in all different directions. It appears to make no sense. When the front of the tapestry is finished, it reveals a complete picture. God sees the ugly mess on the back, but He also knows what the outcome will reveal when it’s finished. Just like the tapestry—God is weaving and threading our lives to reveal a beautiful masterpiece.
 
Were you able to vent your frustration in the previous anger sections? If not, pray and tell God how you are feeling. You can be honest because He already knows. Remember, forgiveness is a choice. You have to decide whether you want to hang onto anger, resentment, and bitterness and continue to be miserable or whether you want to forgive and start to live an abundant life of joy, happiness, and peace in your heart. I can guarantee you’ll never regret letting it go! If you’re ready, let’s pray:
 
Lord, please forgive me for being angry at You. I understand my abuser made a choice to go outside Your will and harm me. I know it made You angry too. Please go into all the broken, shattered places in my heart, Lord, and apply Your healing balm. Amen.

Author Notes I started forgiving through gritted teeth. I didn't feel like it -- no one ever will. But, I did it. Eventually, my heart caught up to my mouth! LOL I can honestly say, truly letting go of your anger toward someone is the best gift you can give yourself!

Thanks for reading!

Up Next: Forgiveness for Self


Chapter 39
Day 38 - Forgiving Self

By MelB

Day 38
 
~ Forgiveness – Self ~
 
For the abuse survivor, the most difficult and critical act of forgiveness is of self.You must learn to accept what happened, and forgive yourself with focused determination.Once you can extend forgiveness toward your abuser, God, and yourself, you will be able to heal.
 
If you haven’t forgiven your abuser or God, please go back to Day 36 and Day 37.You may have to go through the prayers several times or daily, until you can release anger, resentment, and bitterness.If you haven’t yet made the decision to forgive, let’s look at the greatest story of forgiveness ever told.
 
Jesus was in anguish about His upcoming death, asked if the Father could take it away; and sweat drops of blood.He was arrested, slapped in the face, blindfolded, taunted and spit on.After a sleepless night, Jesus was stripped of His clothing, and His hands were tied above His head.He was beaten with a whip with heavy leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each.The whip tore Jesus’ flesh and left flaps hanging from His back.Jesus was half unconscious and drenched in a pool of His own blood.
 
The Roman soldiers laughed, threw a robe over Jesus’ shoulders, put a stick in His hand to represent a scepter, and placed a crown of thorns on His head.The thorns dug into His skin and produced copious amounts of bleeding.They mocked and hit Jesus in the head with the stick, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp.The robe stuck to Jesus’ dried blood and wounds like a bandage, which was ripped from His body causing the wounds to reopen and bleed.The heavy beams of the cross were tied to Jesus’ shoulders and He was forced to carry it.He fell from exhaustion and blood loss, so someone else carried the cross.
 
Heavy wrought iron nails were driven into Jesus’ wrists and feet.The weight on the nails in the wrists sent excruciating pain into the fingers, arms and nerves.  As He pushed upward, the same discomfort took place in the feet.  Fatigue and cramps overtook the muscles, which prevented Him from moving.  With paralyzed muscles, He would have fought to take one breath.  It was in that moment, where Jesus’ asked the Father to “forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Why did I give you the gruesome details?
 
If Jesus can forgive something so horrendous, you and I can forgive the sins against us.The ones that killed Jesus didn’t ask for forgiveness, but He forgave.God also forgives us—we just have to ask. If God can forgive us, we can certainly forgive ourselves. Pray and ask God what you need to forgive—then forgive. After forgiving, go back to the letters you wrote. Tear them up and burn them. You’re free!

 

Author Notes Sorry for the gruesome details, but I want survivors to think about what Jesus went through. He did this for each one of us. Unlike us, Jesus did not sin--not even once! But, He took our sins upon Him. He felt the weight of every sin, in addition to the brutal death He endured.


Chapter 40
Day 39 - Sin

By MelB

Day 39

~ Sin ~
 
Sexual abuse is a disturbing reality of living in a sin-stricken world. We’ve covered some psychological, emotional, spiritual, and physical damage, which remains long after the abuse ends. Often those who molest children have also been molested. Perpetrators may have been hurt in other ways as well and choose to victimize others to gain power or control. Molestation can also be a misguided way to find intimacy. Sexual abuse is a sin against the victim, at the fault of the perpetrator.
 
The victim is never at fault for sin committed against them; but sin against us, particularly as a child, may cause us to stumble and fall into our own sin. You may feel damaged, see yourself as a sex object, flaunt your sexuality, and descend into promiscuity and other sexual sins. You might respond to abuse with anxiety, depression, self-loathing, self-harm, fear of intimacy, homosexuality, indecisiveness, perfectionism, controlling behaviors, eating disorders or addictions. You may also be stuck in anger, resentment, bitterness, and rebellion against God.
 
I was trapped in many of the above behaviors and coping mechanisms for years. I felt bad, flawed, and dirty, and believed I deserved to live a substandard life. I went through the motions, but lived defeated. Releasing my pain and allowing God to comfort me, helped me see what the enemy meant for evil and to destroy me, God used for good and to help others who have been abused (Genesis 50:20).
 
Satan knows our weaknesses, and uses them to trap us into a life of sin; keeping us away from the only one who can truly heal us and transform our lives. God doesn’t want us to hide in our sin because we won’t prosper, but if we confess and turn from it, we receive mercy (Proverbs 28:13). The devil knows when we find our identity, security, and dignity in Christ, we no longer live defeated, but a life of victory. Christian pastor, teacher, and author, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, says, “Christ is the only one who can forgive you, declare you to be righteous, scoop you up out of the pit of sin, and place you right before the throne of God.”
 
Write down things you’ve done or ways you’ve coped that have kept you away from God. Before you begin, pray:
 
God, thank you for loving me so much that You don’t want me to live a defeated life. Please bring to my mind, every way I’ve strayed from You. Amen.
 
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” Psalm 103:6

Author Notes Sorry for the delay! Uncle Sam wanted my taxes done. I've also been trying to fix some issues with the Kindle version of Sylvia: In the Cellar.

This chapter may upset some of you. Remember: I am only the messenger. I didn't write the Bible. I'm just quoting it. As a biblical counselor, it is the first reference I use with those I counsel and all other Christian references falls second. One sin is enough to distance us from God. It is my job as a counselor to draw people closer to God. As this happens, I've watched people heal from abuse. The transformation is nothing short of amazing!



A devotional is a short book containing scripture and designed to be read each day. There won't be chapters in the book, but days. Each day is intended to build off the previous day. If you are reading a single "chapter," you may not understand the full intention of this book.


Chapter 41
Day 40 - Repentance

By MelB

Day 40
 

~ Repentance ~
 
Repentance is a sincere regret or remorse, and many believe it’s “turning from sin.” The biblical definition of repentance is to “change one’s mind” and also to result in a “change of action” (Acts 3:19).
 
Do we need to repent to have salvation? And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).Peter calls for people to change their minds from rejecting Christ and accepting Him as their Lord and Savior. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, means to change your mind from rejection of Christ to putting your faith in Him. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
 
Repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” While repentance does not earn salvation, it does result in good works. A person who has truly repented of rejecting Christ will show evidence of a changed life. Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards Jesus.
 
Take out your list from yesterday, of things that have distanced you from God. Pray out loud and ask God to forgive you for each one. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Imagine your sins written on a chalkboard. After you ask for forgiveness, picture each one being erased. That doesn’t mean you are free to go do the same thing again. Your request for forgiveness means you change your mind, turn from that sin, and put your faith in Christ instead. Not only will you be forgiven, you will also lose the guilt and shame you feel. If you have thoughts that you’re not forgiven or feel pulled  back again, it’s the devil trying to defeat you.  Remind him he’s a liar and you are forgiven!  Pray for each item on your list:
 
Dear Lord, Your word says if we ask for forgiveness, You will grant it. Please forgive me for (name it). I know it has kept me far from You. I ask Jesus to come into my heart, and guide me down the right path in my life. Amen.
 
I’m so proud of you! Do you feel like a burden has been lifted off you? That’s freedom, my Friend! You are redeemed!
 
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 

Author Notes As a biblical counselor, I find sin is a direct correlation of how a person feels about themselves. When they are able to ask forgiveness and receive it, it takes a huge burden off the person. They start to have improved self-esteem, and it also helps them to forgive themselves.

Personally, I had a long list of things to repent initially. When I did it, I felt like 100 pounds of baggage came off my shoulders and back. It was so freeing!


Chapter 42
Day 41 - Grief

By MelB

Day 41
 

~ Grief ~
 
Grief tends to be associated with the death of a friend or family member, rather than trauma from rape or sexual abuse. Most survivors don’t think of going through grief from rape or childhood sexual abuse. A sexual assault victim mourns their own loss—loss of their own identity, loss of a “normal” life before the assault, and if they knew the perpetrator—loss of that person in their life.
 
Individuals in grief go through five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Denial is the initial response to rape or sexual abuse. A victim of rape will most likely suffer from shock and have trouble coming to terms with what happened. A child who is sexually abused will want to believe the abuser, even though there may be a sense something isn’t right. It’s normal to doubt the memories or to ask “Why did this happen?” Second, the victim will become angry with the abuser, angry with the situation and/or have misplaced anger toward self. Bargaining occurs next with attempts to minimize the emotional trauma experienced.It’s common to ask “What if” questions. As reality sets in, emotions surface--depression, hopelessness and despair are experienced. Finally, the victim moves onto the acceptance stage, where they are able to live a “new normal” and begin to live life post-trauma.
 
There is no set pattern for going through the stages of grief. Each person is unique and will process through each stage of grief in their own way. It’s common to go through one or more stages of grief at the same time and not necessarily in the given order. It’s also normal to skip a stage altogether. Some individuals will go through the stages of grief fast, while others will take longer to process through each step. Please do not let anyone tell you how long your grief should last. The amount of trauma from sexual abuse is never the same for any two people, and will take longer than expected to heal. This process cannot be rushed!
 
Look at a picture of yourself at the age you were when the abuse started. Allow yourself time to grieve for that child. Mourn the loss of innocence and the childhood you missed. If you knew your abuser, grieve the loss of that relationship and what it could have been. It’s okay to cry, get angry, shout, and/or hit a pillow or punching bag. You may also want to journal your feelings or write another letter to your abuser (but don’t send it). You may need to revisit days 32-34 on anger and days 36-38 on forgiveness. Sometimes, forgiveness is a lifelong process. Take as much time as you need to go through the stages of grief. You’ll know when you’re ready to move on to the next step. Hold on, friend. It will get better. I promise.I’m praying for you!
 
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

Author Notes I have 15-20 subjects left. Is there a subject you would like to see covered?

Thanks for reading!


Chapter 43
Day 42 - Comfort

By MelB

Day 42
 

~ Comfort ~
 
Expressing your grief is an important part of overcoming it and finding comfort in God. I love the book of Psalms, because David pours his heart out to God. Psalm 13 may be the deepest of the pits of life David endured. David was hunted by Saul and an entire army that wanted to kill him. He was alone and felt that even God had abandoned him. Read Psalm 13:1-4 in the paragraph below. Can you relate to David?
 
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall.”
 
Dark times can make us feel God has forgotten us. You may have felt God hid His face from you when you were abused. We’ve discussed before how God hates abuse. David found hope in his dark hour because troubled times always pushed him closer to the Lord. In verses 5 and 6, even though David felt alone, he discovered that God was still there with him in the storm. “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”
 
Let’s try an exercise to see how God will comfort us in our pain. Find your favorite blanket and a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. Limit any distractions. Play some soothing Christian music or Christian soaking music (Soaking music is also called soaking prayer or worship music). If you haven’t tried this, may I suggest going on www.youtube.org and finding Julie True. She has wonderful healing soaking music. Turn on the music, fold your blanket, and wrap it around your neck or arms. Turn down the lights, sit in a chair, on a couch, or wherever you’re comfortable and close your eyes. Imagine the blanket as God’s arms wrapped around you. It may take you a couple songs to get relaxed, that’s okay. Don’t be surprised if God reveals something to you during this time. Just receive what He gives you (you may want to write it down in your journal) and accept His love. Before you begin this exercise, pray the following prayer:
 
Dear God, please come reveal Yourself to me. Wrap Your loving arms around me and let me feel Your presence. Come into those broken places, Lord, and comfort me. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.
 
“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:1-2


Chapter 44
Day 43 - Victim Mentality

By MelB

Chapter 43

~ Victim Mentality ~
 
Once you have been abused, raped, or misused, the door of victimization and trauma is open in your life; it remains open until you slam it shut through Jesus Christ. The enemy loves to put you in self-pity and the role of a victim by reminding you of your negative memories and making you feel responsible for what has happened to you.
 
Memories are built on lies about who you are:assuming identity as a “victim”, judging and demeaning ourselves embracing we are “worthless damaged goods”, false guilt believing we could have done something about it or that we deserved the abuse. Instead of realizing the world is full of ungodly people, we blame God for what happened. We think God abandoned us in our trauma and we distrust God and man.
 
Someone with a victim mentality has a pervasive sense of helplessness, passivity, loss of control, pessimism, negative thinking, strong feelings of guilt, shame, self-blame, and depression. A person struggling with a victim mentality tends to blame others, unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions, believes others are happier, has a “why me?” persona, gains pleasure from self-pity, feels sorry for self, or elicits pity from others. Common victim traits are: negativity, self-absorption, defensiveness, categorizing others, learned helplessness, stubbornness, and putting self-down more than others do.
 
In John 5, Jesus went to Jerusalem, where sick and disabled people would lie by a pool called Bethesda. An angel would come down at certain times and move the water. The first person to get in the water was healed of their disease. An invalid man had been there for thirty-eight years. Jesus asked, “Do you want to be made well?” The disabled man had many excuses. Jesus told the man to get up and walk; the man was healed. Later, Jesus saw him in the temple and said, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, or a worse thing will come on you.” John 5:14
 
Do you have a chip on your shoulder? Are you mad at the world? Are you cynical and sarcastic? Do you verbally assault others with angry and venomous words? Do you retreat and withdraw from others to self-protect? It’s tough to hear our disease could be due to our sin, but Jesus was clear when He told the man not to sin again or he would risk falling back into old patterns and become even worse. Jesus knew this had become the man’s identity. God wants to heal you and make you whole. Are you ready? Pray:
 
Father, please forgive me for every negative thought and for how I’ve hurt others. I’ve felt sorry for myself and believed that I am a victim. I refuse to believe this lie any longer. I choose Your truth – I am a victor! Amen.
 

Author Notes A victim mentality is also called a Victim Spirit. I've chosen to use the word mentality, because the word spirit tends to make some people uncomfortable.


Chapter 45
Day 44 - Hope

By MelB

Chapter 44
 
~ Hope ~
Sexual abuse creates a perfect storm of betrayal, distrust, fear, shame, and guilt; washing away dreams, goals, and aspirations.  Anger, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness and discouragement crowd in the heart of an abused person.  When “perfect storms” form, hope is hidden.  Hope deferred creates a harmful climate, unhealthy relationships and a stormy future.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”  Proverbs 13:12 
 
When storm clouds gather and obscure hope in life, God wants to break through suffering and build hope in you.  Romans 5:2-5 says, “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us.”  Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope.  God built hope through the struggles and suffering of the apostle Paul.
 
Paul's story is one of redemption and that no one is above the saving grace of God.  Paul was born Saul, studied Scripture from a rabbi at age 13, and was present at the stoning of Stephen.  A great persecution broke out against the church, and Saul became determined to eradicate Christians.  Saul put many Christians in prison and was filled with murderous rage.  On the road to Damascus, Saul encountered Jesus.  He saw a bright light and Jesus asked, “Saul, why do you persecute Me?”  Saul replied, “Who are you Lord?”  Jesus answered, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”  Saul was blinded and told to meet Ananias in Damascus.  Ananias followed the Lord’s instructions, found Saul, laid hands on him, and told him of his vision of Jesus.  Through prayer, Saul received the Holy Spirit, regained his sight, and was baptized.  Saul immediately went into the synagogues and proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God. 
 
Saul became Paul and went on to write many of the New Testament books.  Paul spent his life proclaiming Jesus, often at great personal peril.  Paul eventually died a martyr’s death.  Paul’s story proves God can save anyone from anything—no matter how bad.  Second, anyone can be a humble, powerful witness for Jesus.  Finally, anyone can surrender completely to God.  Through the hardships and suffering, Paul surrendered his life fully, trusting God for everything.  He wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
 
Life doesn’t always go as planned; suffering is inevitable.  When this happens, people can get stuck and move away from God.  The tragedy of walking away, is God wants us to build relationship with Him.  Suffering then gives way to perseverance and perseverance to character.  In the character formation stage, God is deepening His character in us so that we look more like Him--that finally leads to hope.  Life does at times leave us without hopes and dreams fulfilled, but we can trust God to walk us through the hope building process.


Chapter 46
Day 45 - The Choice to Heal

By MelB

Day 45
 
~ The Choice to Heal ~
 
The human body has a wonderful ability to heal itself.  A cut in the skin or a broken bone will heal itself.  A cold or virus will heal with rest and fluids.  The old adage “time heals all wounds” is not always true for emotional and spiritual wounds.  Some wounds just don’t heal with time, and I’ve seen plenty of people in my counseling office who have progressively gotten worse before seeking help.  Jesus is the Great Healer, (“I am the LORD, who heals you” Exodus 15:26); the Great Physician (Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” Mark 2:17), and the Wonderful Counselor (“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6)

Zig Ziglar, the famous salesman and motivational speaker, once said, “The first step in solving a problem is to recognize that it does exist.”  We must be honest with ourselves and first, admit that sexual abuse took place.  Second, we must realize that it does affect us physically, but also does emotional and spiritual damage.  God is able to heal us physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but we hold the key to one thing in our hands – choice.  We must make a conscious decision to heal.   Everyone needs healing at some level.  God can heal us from the trauma.

Did you know pain is a gift from God?  Without pain, touching fire or a hot burner on the stove could turn into third-degree burns.  Pain tells us not to continue to walk on a broken leg.  Pain lets us know that something is wrong or needs to be fixed.  Emotional pain is also a gift from God.  We don’t like to feel pain and will seek ways to prevent ourselves from feeling it.  Bars are full of people drowning their sorrows in alcohol.  Others will attempt to numb pain with drugs, sex, food, money, gambling or other things.  “We must feel before we can heal, or we will stay wounded and in turn wound others who get too close.”  Stephen Arterburn, ‘Healing is a Choice.’

Up until this point, what stood in the way of you getting healing?  Have you grown too comfortable being broken or do you want to heal?  Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?  Are you comfortable living in bondage or are you ready to be set free?  Sexual abuse damages the body, poisons the mind, and deadens the soul.  Have you reached the point of wanting to feel alive again, instead of sickness in your soul?  When you hit rock bottom or come to the end of yourself, you will truly be ready to seek healing -- you will make the choice.

 

Author Notes Somehow I forgot this subject. This will be moved to Day 1 in the book, as it is an important decision to make.

For those who haven't read the entire book, this is a devotional and is represented with 'days' and not chapters. Each day is meant to build from the previous day.


Chapter 47
Day 46 - Submission to Authority

By MelB

Day 46
 
~ Submission to Authority ~
 
 
Sexual abuse of a child by a teen, parent, grandparent or other family member, teacher, pastor, or any other person in an authoritative role, produces difficulty submitting to anyone in authority. Parents, police officers, teachers, judges, physicians, and pastors are given special rights and authority in our society. These rights should produce a higher standard for protecting the innocent lives in their care. Becoming the victim of someone in authority deepens emotional scars, and adds to the confusion, and the secrecy of sin.
 
AllPsych.com states, “To be a helpless victim of this crime by an adult you are taught to respect, to believe in, and to trust only adds immeasurable weight you are forced to carry throughout your life. The child is often left with a great deal of confusion between right and wrong, combined with self-blame, powerlessness, and shame.” The effects do not disappear, but instead stick with a child and play a role in every thought, decision, action, and relationship, until it is recognized and healed.
 
If the authority figure was arrested for the crime, a sense of justice and empowerment help the child realize there are consequences for sin. Since sexual abuse is still our best kept secret in society, the majority of the time an arrest is not witnessed by the victim. God advises us to submit to “governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1). We are also advised that rebelling against authority is rebellion against God (Romans 13:2).
 
In the case of a parent, we are told to honor our mother and father, so that we may live long (Exodus 20:12). It may appear God is sadistic, but let me explain. God’s call to show love, honor, and respect to others represents how He envisions His Kingdom on earth. He desires for us to live life to the fullest (John 10:10) and promises us a glorious and eternal life (John 14:2-3). However, God does not call us to honor abuse. Honoring an abusive parent may mean setting boundaries, having limited contact, sending an occasional card, or divorcing parents altogether. Cutting off relationship should not be done without speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and giving the offending parent several opportunities to repent.
 
‘No More Christian Nice Girl/Guy’ by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer D. Degler, PhD, lists numerous examples of Jesus not acting nice. Jesus held nothing back when it came to dealing with the evil Pharisees. They did not deserve respect and honor, and Jesus didn’t give it to them. He instead spoke the truth and disapproved their hypocrisy and wickedness. Jesus rebuked them in public, comparing them to “white-washed tombs, beautiful on the outside but full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.” (Matthew 2:27-28) He called them hypocrites, and a “brood of vipers.” If Jesus didn’t honor evil, we are not expected to do so. One way to honor an abusive parent is to recognize them as a child of God and pray for them.

Author Notes It is not an easy thing to pray for someone who has hurt you, but we are told to pray for our enemies. I've also found it is hard to pray for someone you are mad at.

Love for Enemies - Matthew 5:43-48

You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


Chapter 48
Day 47 - Bold Love

By MelB

Day 47
 
~ Bold Love ~
 
 
If you were abused by a parent or family member, what does it mean to “honor” that person? How do you love an abusive person without opening yourself up to more damage? From our earliest days we are taught to “forgive and forget.” It’s not possible to forget. What if you can’t forgive? Then, it becomes necessary to unleash bold love, but what is it? In Dan Allender’s book, ‘Bold Love,’ the biblical answer for loving an evil person, a fool, and a normal sinner is modeled.
 
Love is not forgetting or enabling; it’s admitting the pain and hurt someone has caused us and confronting it. The confrontation must be done not out of anger, but out of love. The reason for the confrontation is to bring that person back to God. In the process, hopefully, they will feel remorse and repent for their sin. The underlying belief is that no one is beyond salvation and no one is beyond the hope of reconciliation. This is the model of God’s agape love. Is each one of us worth it?
 
‘Bold Love’ models God’s reconciliation with man. Even though we sin against God, He still loves us. God does not deny sin committed or the consequences. He does not look the other way or simply forgive and forget. Jesus never gave up on those who sinned against God. He never said we were beyond hope. Jesus intercedes, saying “Father, forgive them” for fornicators, adulterers, drunkards, murderers, and yes, even abusers. God’s reconciliation with us, His perfect love, should be our objective for seeking those who have emotionally, physically, sexually, and verbally abused us. This is the true definition of love.
 
An abuser is selfish and intends to do harm. They are not a fool or a regular sinner—they are evil. Abusers will not change on their own accord and more than likely, will not change from a “bold love” confrontation with you. Confrontation does offer the abuser opportunity to repent. In all likelihood, it will take a change of heart that only God has the power to accomplish. If the evil person is not humbled and broken by the weight of the guilt and shame, does not desire to right the wrongs and restore the relationship, ask for forgiveness and work at rebuilding trust, the gift of excommunication becomes necessary.
 
Excommunication is a kind gift of withholding relationship from the abuser, so they can feel loneliness and the weight of their sin. It also removes the immediate opportunity to sin against you again.It destroys sinful inclinations (1 Corinthians 5:5) and intensifies shame.“ Do not regard him as an enemy, but to warn him as a brother” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15). Being cut off from relationship is a small dose of hell. Cutting off relationship should not be done in anger, not without significant time spent in prayer, and not without offering the opportunity to repent again. The most important thing you can do for your abusive family member is to pray for them. Their soul is at stake. Would you be willing to pray for them now?


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