I was about 19 when a new friend of mine mentioned offhandedly that she had been raped. I was rather sheltered and didn’t quite know how to process this. I don’t remember what I said to this friend, but I do remember her adding something that disturbed me: “It was my fault. I was stupid.”
I soon lost touch with this friend but often think about her and that conversation.
I don’t know a great deal about sexual assault and abuse, but I do know one thing. Despite all the talk in Christian circles about responsibility and modesty, there is one thing I’m certain of, knowing the Bible and the nature of God. It is a truth that I believe is at the core of every healing experience, the truth I wish I would’ve told my friend. If you have been sexually violated in any way, shape, or form, IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT!
Does that mean that we go around blaming and never forgiving? No. Does it mean that modesty and good choices are not important? No. However, we should never heap blame and shame on ourselves for someone else’s evil actions against us, even if some of our choices were far from wise. Shame says “I am bad”, and is at the root of a lot of the difficulties we face (Read the Soul of Shame by Curt Thompson for more on this). God knows everything about us, and has since before we were born. He loves us and treasures us. He can take our shame and make us whole. ( Psalm 139 shares this wonderful reality).
Jesus takes abuse very seriously, and he modeled treating women and children, and all people for that matter, with utmost respect. Scripture also speaks a lot to the topic of healing. Psalm 9:9 says, “the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 10:17-18 reminds us that the Lord hears the desires of those who are abused, and that he will protect and care for them. He will give them strength. My favorite healing scripture is Psalm 147:3: “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
God is so good and compassionate, so much more than we could ever imagine. As you accept this new reality — that what happened to you was not your fault, but only the fault of the perpetrator who went against God’s law — also begin to embrace the hope and healing that Jesus offers. Abuse is not the end. There is healing, and healing can be the beginning of something new and beautiful.
If you would like to talk about your experience with someone who will respond with compassion and understanding, please don’t hesitate to speak to an online mentor by filling out the form below. You don’t have to go through it alone.