Sometimes you meet someone and think, “Wow, that person looks at the world in a totally different way. I wonder why!”
When sexual abuse happens, that person’s worldview changes for life.
Even if the abuse stops, that person wears scratched lenses with which they see and react to the world.
The people living in a survivor’s entourage often do not understand what a survivor is going through. They might feel frustrated wondering why the survivor cannot get over what happened.
Some might claim that time heals everything, but obviously, those people have not been abused, since time actually magnifies what happened if it is not tackled delicately and correctly.
Other people with good intentions pray with you once, assuming that all needs to be well after that one prayer. If it’s not, they start blaming you with phrases like, “Where is your faith?” or “Leave the past behind.”
Recovery is an ongoing process. It takes time: sometimes a long time. Victims need to deal with loss, sadness, anger, shame, guilt and a lot more.
Since one in four girls and one in eight boys are sexually abused before the age of 18, we need to be aware of what is called, the culture of abuse.
Being aware might save a life. Being aware might prevent that person going to a dark place of rejection, shame,, and loneliness
Here are 8 traits of the culture of abuse:
- Survival Lifestyle:
A constant preoccupation with death. The culture of loving life might suddenly become the culture of suicide. People who have been abused don’t care anymore if they live or die. They feel life is worthless since they have lost something very precious and is not even allowed to mourn the loss. A survivor might have an attitude of carelessness. They might drive their cars madly or take humongous risks.
The brain gives the survivor a false message that death is the route for peace.
- Dysfunctional Relationships:
The victim feels guilt and shame towards the abuser. The girl who has been abused by her father, or by a family member would rather keep her guilt and shame than give her father away.
- Traumatized sexualization
Causing problems in sexual identity, issues in handling sexuality.
Deep anger or deep sadness are common.
- A sense of betrayal
This causes deep distress in the survivor. It also creates a deep sense of loneliness because, we as human beings, are created for relationships. The sense of betrayal increases if the predator is a trusted person such as a father, a coach, a teacher or clergy.
- A deep sense of powerlessness leading to anger.
This feeling of helplessness leads to anger, anger becomes shame and shame stigmatizes a survivor.
This pattern might cause the survivor to become an addict.
Many survivors believe that people can actually tell that they have been abused just by looking at them.
- Toxic Shame
Shame connected with sexual abuse is different from your everyday shame. It is a toxic shame that leads to self-destruction. It paralyzes the survivor.
This is why our organization is called NOT Guilty. We want every survivor to believe it was not their fault, that the shame belongs to the predator and not to the victim.
A survivor might become addicted to sex or addicted to NOT having sex.
Many survivors turn to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain of abuse or the pain of the memory of abuse.
Others turn to pornography, or to same-sex relationships.
I have seen many young girls cutting. I remember one girl told me, I only feel relief when I see my dirty blood flowing.
Is there a balm to heal a broken heart? Can the broken pieces be put together again to form a whole heart? Yes, only Jesus can heal your heart completely.
The worst thing that can happen to any survivor is to believe that God is the cause of all his/her problems.
I can understand if you feel that God is not to be trusted because you prayed incessantly that the abuser will not enter your room or resume his/her abuse, yet your prayers were not answered.
The hardest thing to understand is that man was created with a free will. This free will and can, unfortunately, hurt those around. I often wondered why God would give us a free will fully knowing how we will use it messing up the lives of those around us. Yes, I have learned to fully trust His goodness in spite of all the mess I see around me.
Can we look at survivors not with a judgmental or accusing eye, but with eyes that radiate the love of Jesus?
Let us join hands to abolish sexual abuse.
And remember: forewarned is forearmed.
If you want to know more about how to protect your children, consider buying my book, What Happens After #MeToo– Tackling The Iceberg available on amazon and kindle.
If this blog has spoken to you, consider sharing it with your friends and with your email list.
Consider donating to Not Guilty Inc here to support the work we do in abolishing sexual abuse one child at a time, one parent at a time, one teacher at a time.