Someone came to buy our stackable washer and dryer some years ago, and I was nervous about being the only one home. My nerves upped a notch when a man came alone. I was handling it fairly well until he mentioned he is a pastor, and my body responses kicked into panic mode – like an automatic switch kicks into high gear – “Run for your life!” My insides shook like a frightened puppy, and I wanted to cry.
Deep breaths… You’re stronger now. This is not the same one who hurt you many years ago. Help me, Jesus! As I zoned out and talked myself through it in a matter of seconds, my body and spirit calmed down.
Before he left, he started talking more about his church and what they believe. As God breathed power into my heart and loosened my tongue, I asked him, “So if someone would come to you and tell you he/she was abused by one of the pastors, what would you do?” Gulp! Did I really just dare to say that?!
He dodged my question…
In another instance, a sincere Christian woman said, concerning news of sexual abuse by leaders, “I don’t know why they bring all that up. It’s in the past. We’re supposed to forgive.”
Ouch! What about the victims? Where is the support for them? What about the victims who have never received justice? Who are still suffering and struggling from the trauma? What if the perpetrator is still using his power towards evil? Why are abusers sometimes protected while victims are rejected and silenced?
Some people and communities want to shove this important issue under the rug. Others may be well-intentioned, but they don’t realize that even if we make it to the process of forgiving, our bodies still subconsciously remember trauma.
It’s not easy to write vulnerably, but God is nudging me to speak up for those who have been silenced, those whose rights are trampled on, those lonely souls who inwardly cry out for validation, caring support, and justice.
“Speak out on behalf of those who have no voice,
and defend all those who have been passed over.
Open your mouth, judge fairly,
and stand up for the rights of the afflicted and the poor.”
Proverbs 31:8-9 VOICE
When any person or community is more concerned for the protection of the abusers than of the victims, it hurts. Big-time. When victims are ignored, not believed, or treated as the one who did the wrong, it hurts. Big-time. When Christians tell us we don’t have faith if we can’t forgive and forget and move on, it hurts. Big-time.
Love cares about the grief and suffering of victims who are hurting. Love cries with them. Love sits in the pain pit with them. Love protects and defends them. Like Jesus does.
Jesus understands suffering more than anyone does. He bends low with us in our suffering and whispers, “I’m so very sorry.” His tears mingle with ours. He never dodges or minimizes our pain. He doesn’t treat mental and emotional pain as less important than physical illness. He doesn’t tell us we aren’t trusting Him if we need therapy or medicine. He blesses these means to help us through. He gives us grace and strength to work through the gut-wrenching grief of being robbed of the very essence of who we are. His never-failing compassion wraps us in the safe and cozy blanket of His love where it’s ok to voice our emotions. His caring support gives hope that we can be restored to who we are in Him. Through His grace, we can become survivors and finally victory dancers as His healing works in us.
RAINN – Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network – Get Help 24/7 by calling 800.656.HOPE(4673)
What Is a Girl Worth? – Lesley’s moving review of Rachael Denhollander’s memoir of her journey of courageously fighting for justice for herself and other victims.
Cecil Murphey: Abuse Survivor – “As long as I kept the abuse a secret, I still wasn’t free. But as I shared my experiences and what I had learned as a survivor, people resonated with those words, and I experienced healing.”
The Hope of Survivors – Support, Hope, and Healing for Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse
Healing Is In Your Hand