Healing from the Emotional Scars of Sexual Abuse

God has given me a strong desire to reach out to others who are struggling from the trauma of sexual abuse. I say “others” because although I am 51 years old, I still struggle with emotional scars from the abuse I went through as a child. Unlike physical scars, someone traumatized by sexual abuse doesn’t “look” like he or she is hurting. Those who have been abused are often left with emotional scars that transcend all areas of their lives. Most of us have learned how to hide our secrets, our struggles and even our feelings, so we end up being numb and silent. Unfortunately, this silence exacerbates many of the unhealthy consequences of abuse.

I was 28 years old before I spoke of the abuse to anyone. Doing so was the beginning of a healing process that is still ongoing. Since then I have learned many things about sexual abuse, not only from my own journey but from that of others I have met. For one, the person abused is not the only “victim” of the sexual abuse. Sexual intimacy in marriage is one of the most common issues encountered by someone who was sexually abused. Because of this, spouses of those who were abused may also become “victims” of the abuser. At 51 years old I still struggle from this emotional scar. I have been married for eleven years to a man I love and adore. But my brain still can’t convince my emotions to relax and not tense up every time my husband wishes to be intimate.

Being a member of the LDS Church made my years of sexual abuse much worse. President Kimball’s words in his book “The Miracle of Forgiveness” haunted me for years: “It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.” One of the most difficult consequences of my abuse was being overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and shame. Even though I was four or five when the abuse started, I still couldn’t convince my emotions I wasn’t at least partly at fault. For most of my life I was driven by my desire to be washed clean, forgiven, to somehow be restored to normal. But, deep down, I knew that I could never be normal. (To read how Jesus healed me from the shame of abuse, read the Post “God Doesn’t Lie–You Have Been Forgiven!!!” In the Topical Guide on the left, click on the Topic “Sexual Abuse”.)

I am very thankful that I no longer believe in the words of LDS prophets and apostles. But at the same time, my heart cries out for members of the Church who do. “The Miracle of Forgiveness” is still one of the more prominent books in Mormonism. As well, one of the Twelve Apostles gave a talk in General Conference that actually heaps more abuse on those who have been abused! Elder Richard G. Scott claims

“These are some of the principles of healing you will come to understand more fully: Recognize that you are a beloved child of your Heavenly Father. He loves you perfectly and can help you as no earthly parent, spouse, or devoted friend can. His Son gave his life so that by faith in him and obedience to his teachings you can be made whole.” (Link to talk:)

Telling someone who has been sexually abused that they can be “made whole” through obedience is just another form of abuse! Don’t you believe him! Not only do Elder Scott’s words expose the fact that he knows nothing about those who have been abused—it also shows that he doesn’t know the true mission of the Savior! Isaiah prophesied of our Savior’s mission—and it’s not through our obedience that we receive His healing:

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

There is a parallel between being healed from sexual abuse and being healed from sin. “With His stripes we are healed!” Elder Scott would hold this healing ransom—to gain your obedience, before being healed. But he has it backwards. Jesus already gained both my and your healing—through His obedience. Those who hope in the Lord and Savior living a life of thanksgiving, in part by being obedient.

The Savior of the world does not use obedience as a bargaining tool to heal the abused! When I found out I had been washed clean through Christ’s atonement, I gave my life to my Savior. It is because of my love for Him and gratitude for His forgiveness that I am obedient.

Being sexually abused as a child is the most traumatic thing that has happened in my life. But, amazingly, God used what happened to me as a child to draw me to the Savior whose blood covered not only my shame, but most importantly, my sin!

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My niece Kristina designed and created this beautiful stained glass panel to help raise money at a local shelter for abused women. The colors symbolize the various emotions that victims of abuse go though—from pain, rage and eventually to peace. Unfortunately, this healing process is something that she is also dealing with personally.

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9 Comments

  1. jkalliyan169 said,

    April 23, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    I can’t imagine all of that abuse you had gone through in your life. It is just so very disheartening and terrifying as well … I also hope you are doing okay too. Here are some great websites that had helped me tremendously and I hope it will help you to heal as well…

    http://www.mindspring.com/~scottr/nde/debbie.html

    http://www.mindspring.com/~scottr/nde/my_nde.htm

    http://www.near-death.com/experiences/research06.html

    http://www.mindspring.com/~scottr/nde/_accounts.html

    http://www.fromthestars.com/page83.html

    Much Love, Peace, Joy, and Happiness to you,

    Jessica

    PS. Please feel free to email me if you’d like.

  2. jkalliyan169 said,

    April 24, 2010 at 12:00 am

    …or you can comment/let me know what you think about it… I really do hope this helps a little…

    Jessica

  3. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    April 24, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Thanks Jessica

    I will take some time to look at it later today. God’s blessings,
    Becki

  4. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    April 26, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Hi Jessica,

    You wrote: “…or you can comment/let me know what you think about it… I really do hope this helps a little…”

    I really appreciate your concern for me. You mentioned that you gave me these links because they had helped you tremendously and you hoped that it would help me to heal as well. I could really relate to what was written at the link: http://www.fromthestars.com/page83.html. Going back about twenty years in my life, I could easily have been the author of that page. I used to believe much of what is written there. It wasn’t until I met the “God of love” that I learned that many “religions” are man-made attempts to define God. Even the many different forms of spirituality don’t truly represent the God of love.

    After I left Mormonism, I spent a few years searching for the true church amongst the protestant religions. After I decided that Christianity didn’t “feel” right, I went from one form of spirituality to another before I finally gave up searching for the truth. I could never stop believing that there was some kind of God. Merely looking around me at the marvelous universe was enough to convince me that there had to be a God who had created everything. I finally determined that God had left us humans to ourselves.

    Looking back, I realize that through all my years of searching, I had always used the LDS method of determining truth—trusting in my feelings. Going back to the page you sent me to, the last thought shows that whoever wrote this also used this LDS method of determining truth—your feelings. After showing the differences between religion and spirituality, it asks:

    “WHICH ONE FEELS BETTER TO YOU? SPIRITUALITY OR RELIGION? GO TO YOUR HEART FOR THE ANSWER. IT WILL NEVER LIE TO YOU. THE REAL GOD MADE IT THAT WAY”

    I spent three decades searching for truth using this formula. Instead of finding the “real God” I found many different people whose hearts gave them very different answers as to what was truth. I found those who sincerely believed in Shamanism, Mormonism, Buddhism, New Age thinking, Deists, Atheists and Agnostics. All truly had faith that what they believed in their heart was true. They based their faith on very strong feelings that what they were following was the true religion.

    This page you led me to gives many different examples of those who have trusted in their feelings to determine truth. Take the crusades where millions were killed and persecuted in the name of God. These people who were murderers were zealots who truly believed they were doing what God had told them to do. They believed this by listening to their feelings and to their hearts. Take the men who bombed the World Trade Center Towers. These men believed so strongly that their hearts would never lie to them they committed suicide doing what felt right. Look at the billions of Mormons who have trusted that their strong feelings are God’s answer to their prayers.

    I finally came to the conclusion that a person cannot determine what is true by using their feelings. Everyone feels they are doing the right thing and yet, each believes differently. Your feelings and your heart DO lie to you and you cannot trust your heart to figure out what is true. In all my searching I realized that humans are messed up. There were many horrible aspects brought up on the page you referred me to which defined “religion”. But each of these has nothing to do with God—it is always just man claiming to act on God’s behalf.

    Like you, I had believed that all those horrible “religions” defined the Christian God. But I was wrong. The day I met the God of love, I found a God that I had never even dreamed of. The one true God loves me unconditionally and came to earth to give me a life of peace and love. Despite all the many horrible things that I have done in my life, this God of love actually chooses to dwell inside of me. His love fills my heart despite all the times I forget to trust fully in Him. There is not one thing that I did to gain His love. Amazingly, Jesus came to earth because He wanted to show me just how much He loved me.

    The Son of God came to earth and became a human because of His unconditional love for us. Our Savior gave His life so that we could grasp just how much He loves us. Jesus told us how to determine truth—by comparing everything to already revealed scripture. When He met the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He didn’t tell them that their hearts would never lie to them. Nor did He tell them to trust their feelings as the way to determine what is and isn’t true. Instead, He pointed them to scripture. (Luke 24:25-28).

    I can barely fathom His love for me, but I trust His promise that it is unconditional. Unfortunately, those who have not met Him are those who run and hide from Him. Jessica, I pray that you will place your trust in this God who loves you so much that He came to earth to die for you. I love these words about our God of love:

    “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:3-7

    Believe in Him and you will know of all the love that He so longs to lavish on you.

  5. jkalliyan169 said,

    April 27, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Hi Becki,

    Thank you so much for your comment. I read the quote at the end of the page as well and I completely understand what you mean. I guess what the author from that page meant to say was that people should learn to make decisions based on the feelings of kindness, compassion, and unconditional love. What you said about people making decisions based upon their feelings, really makes me think about the different emotions that we as human beings truly have. After researching and reading the third website and some of the NDE’s stories, it seems as though religions has both its positive and negative sides. In other words, it can both good and bad. Often time the people who follow the negative aspects of religions, tend make decisions based upon the feelings of hatred, anger, pride, fear, etc.

    I found the third website to be such an eye-opener for me. It really made me more open to god and spirituality as well. I agree with you that the real god is about unconditional love. Jesus did actually came down to earth, but he came to here to teach us about unconditional love, compassion, kindness, and spirituality. He taught us that there is love, light, and divine connection within all of us. Over time, it seems as though people started to forget his message and religions became more and more and like you said before, “man-made”. I’ve read so many spousal, sexual, and even other abused stories among mormons… there was one story that was so sad and terrifying, it made me cry so much. If you would like to read it, I can send the link to you.

    This another good page from the same website:
    http://www.fromthestars.com/page65.html

    Peace, Love, Happiness, Joy, and God’s Blessings to you too,

    Jessica

  6. jkalliyan169 said,

    April 27, 2010 at 1:22 am

    Often time the people who follow the negative aspects of religions, tend to* make decisions based upon the feelings of hatred, anger, pride, fear, etc.

    Jesus did actually came down to earth, but he came *here to teach us about unconditional love, compassion, kindness, and spirituality

    I apologize for my grammar (: … I’m up at 12:21 am right now (but the computer says 1:21, oh well) I think I’d better get some sleep now. (:

  7. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    April 27, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Jessica, you wrote: “Jesus did actually came down to earth, but he came *here to teach us about unconditional love, compassion, kindness, and spirituality”

    Isn’t it awesome to know His love!!?? And the way He taught us about love was by giving His own life unconditionally. He lived for 33 years as a human because of His love, compassion, kindness and spirituality–for us. We are able to love because God first loved us:

    “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:7-11 (NIV)

    Spirituality is all about our relationship of love with God. “Religion” is all about those who try to manipulate people to action through guilt. Guilt does not motivate us to love God and others–love does. “Christ’s love compels us.”

    God’s blessings and love to you, Jessica. (I have a daughter named Jesica, she is my youngest and will be 27 next year.)

  8. jkalliyan169 said,

    April 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Hi Becki,

    How interesting, surprising, and amazing that is all at the same time… I think that’s wonderful you have a daughter name Jessica. (: I’m actually 19 ( though almost turning 20 pretty soon).

    I also just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the time and consideration you took for reading the websites and writing a very thoughtful message. I truly enjoyed reading your comments and it was definitely a great eye-opener for me as well. Again, thank you so much.

    Much Love, Peace, Happiness, God’s Blessing’s to you too,

    Jessica

  9. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    April 29, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Jessica,

    You turn 20 soon, is your birthday in May? My daughter Jesica’s birthday is May 16th. In my earlier comment, I said she turn’s 27 next year, but I meant next month. You have two ss’s in your name, but I spell my daughter’s name “Jesica”. She so often gets the comment: “Hey, you spelled your name wrong”. She always replies, “No, my Mom spelled my name wrong”. Her last name (before she got married) was “Levi”. Her nickname is “Jesi” and I just thought that in some way, the “Jesi Levi” would be more balanced with one “s”. I think I must have been kind of weird when she was born.

    I found it enjoyable to read the info on the sites. As I mentioned, the one showing the differences between “Spirituality and religion” really hit home with me. It so reminded me of my life, both as a Mormon and during the nine years after Mormonism and before God came to dwell in my heart. It reminded me of how I was tossed to and fro by the teachings of man-made religions as well as by using my own feelings to determine if something were true.

    It also reminded me of what a blessing it is to have the very Word of God to guide me in my life today. It was fun to look closely at each comparison. Much of what is written there I believed at one time or another. All that time I never even realized that the way to discern truth was right under my nose. As a Mormon, I had never been taught to go to the Bible to find truth.

    I certainly never knew that Jesus also compared “religion” with true “spirituality”. One example is when Jesus compared how God “lightens our burdens” but “religion has taught us to fear their God”.

    In talking about the religious leaders of His day, Jesus said: “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” Matthew 23:4

    In Matthew 11 Jesus said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

    What a joy it is to live in God’s love. May God bless your every hour with His love, peace and happiness.
    Becki


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