As a life coach, mentor, and speaker involved in ministry over the last 20 years, I’ve been privy to the private and painful stories of countless women and teen girls caused by abuse. From emotional to physical to sexual and even spiritual abuse, theses precious souls have opened up to me as they searched for hope and healing. But what’s interesting is that abuse isn’t the reason they started the conversation. If they did, I’d send them straight to a counselor, who is trained to walk with them through the healing process.
The abuse part of their story seeps out later on, after we’ve discussed their main issue — usually feeling stuck in their thinking and living.
They can’t figure out how to move forward with confidence, experience emotional intimacy, take on a professional risk, and embrace life not afraid. Even if they feel like they’ve healed from their past, there seems to be a part of their soul that’s still chained to it. They can’t seem to get beyond feeling “less than.” They can’t get their heart, soul, and mind around who God designed them to be . . . around who they are today. But why?
The wounds of abuse may not be visible, but they do exist.
No matter how good things might look on the outside, these wounds of abuse fester beneath the surface. Besides the health ramifications (see below), a woman who has been abused in the past or witnessed abuse of a parent or sibling, is often burdened with shame, guilt, fear, trust issues, low self-worth, bitterness, anger, and insecurities. Yet how often are these “emotional issues” dismissed in our Christian communities as having a lack of faith or not being spiritually mature? There’s an unspoken message of “just try to be more Christ-like,” yet the issue isn’t more faith or more effort. The need is for healing from the past by owning the pain, grieving the loss of what should have been, taking the steps to embrace the process of forgiveness, and learning how to move forward in Truth.
I understand this journey all too well. As I’ve shared in Meet the New You, my beloved parents sought to provide me the best life they knew how. Unfortunately, they were broken with wounds from their past inflicting pain on my life. The abuse I suffered was never on purpose. Yet it shaped my life, my outlook, and the way I functioned, before I came to Christ and after. To this day, I’m certain that my struggle with insecurity and sense of worth is linked to the experiences of being abused as well as the choices I made in search for security.
So what hope is there for healing from abuse if as a middle age woman, I am still living with the impact?
There is hope, my friends, for those of us who carry the wounds of abuse to heal. It’s a slow process that begins with owning the implications of experience and then seeking the proper channels for help. Through the support of a Christian counselor, who sought to help me get to the root of my pain and heal, and the power of God working in my heart and mind, I’ve been in process, learning how to live with a new identity in Christ and according to His truth every single day.
It’s not a once and done experience. It’s an ongoing process as I put into action the Trap & Transform Principle described in Meet the New You. Daily I seek to TRAP my thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5) and be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of my mind according to God’s Word (Romans 12:2). I’m motivated to live this way because I see how God is writing a new legacy for my family line. The cycle of abuse has stopped in my family. My children are first generation set free! What a miracle! I want that for you, too.
The impact of abuse may never go away, but the implications can, as God transforms our identity and sense of purpose according to His truth.
I also believe that there is hope for healing as we become advocates for stopping the cycle of abuse by bringing to light what it looks like and how to get help. While I know this is a uncomfortable topic — it feels so subjective when the wounds aren’t on the surface. And of course, we don’t want to offend or shame or embarrass anyone who has been an abuser. But the fact is, both those who have been abused and those who have been abusers need Jesus’ hope and help.
[Tweet “None of us should live a wounded life. Christ’s redeeming work on the cross is for all of us. “]
We can forgive and experience freedom from the past. And we can do it together, not as victims, but as women who have been set free by the Truth and God’s healing power at work through Jesus and His body on earth.
The Truth About Abuse Series
Over the next week, we’re going to look at the topic of abuse with the valuable input of professionals as well as those passionate about raising awareness. But before we jump in to deep, let’s consider some of the facts:
- 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime (source).
- More than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year (source).
- Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (30% to 60%)(source).
- Without help, girls who witness domestic violence are more vulnerable to abuse as teens and adults (source).
- Without help, boys who witness domestic violence are far more likely to become abusers of their partners and/or children as adults, thus continuing the cycle of violence in the next generation. (source)
The implications of abuse is pervasive, yet not always apparent on the surface. That’s because the abuse inflicts unseen or uncorrelated pain. In the case of domestic abuse between partners, the research proves there are dire implications for abuse victims as well as those who’ve witnessed abuse:
“Physical, mental, and sexual and reproductive health effects have been linked with intimate partner violence including adolescent pregnancy, unintended pregnancy in general, miscarriage, stillbirth, intrauterine hemorrhage, nutritional deficiency, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal problems, neurological disorders, chronic pain, disability, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as noncommunicable diseases such as hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Victims of domestic violence are also at higher risk for developing addictions to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.” (source)
As we consider the topic of abuse in this series, we’re looking at it in light of these definitions:
Emotional / Domestic / Physical / Spiritual Abuse
“Abuse is a repetitive pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over an intimate partner” (source). Physical abuse is when bodily harm is inflicted. Spiritual abuse is when the abuser maligns and misuses the Word of God and spiritual authority. GET HELP
Sexual Abuse / Violence
“The term “sexual violence” is an an all-encompassing, non-legal term that refers to crimes like sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse” (source). Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim.” (source). GET HELP
Symptoms of Abuse
Abuse victims often experience emotional and physical side effects, often diagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is treatable. To learn more about PTSD signs and symptoms as well as treatment, click here.
In taking the time for this series, it is our hope that you’ll gain the courage to embrace the healing process for yourself, if necessary, and also be informed so that you can help others.
Join us for Part 2: The Lesser Talked About Abuse.