Childhood Sex Abuse: The Choice to Heal

choice to healYou have a choice to heal, even when you’ve faced childhood sex abuse, among the most awful experiences a woman can have. In this article by acclaimed author Dawn Scott Damon, you’ll discover potholes on the road to recovery.

BONUS: BOOK GIVEAWAY! If you’d like to enter the giveaway for Dawn’s latest book, When the Woman Abused Was You, leave a comment at this blog post or contact me. Use the words, “I want Dawn’s book!” I’ll contact the winner through email by Friday. Thanks! –Lucy 

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Some women live for decades unaware of their abusive past. Others who were abused as children live in the shadows of shame, afraid to confront the monsters of the past. Still other women let their abuse define them.

But there is another choice: the choice to heal. The choice to heal can be difficult, yet it is the only choice that brings healing and new life.

So what things hold us back from making the choice to heal?

Potholes on the Road to Recovery

FEAR: We are afraid we will slip into an emotional “hole” and never get out again. Or we’re
afraid to give up our old coping mechanisms or to be seen as “weak.” Or we may fear going
crazy, losing a relationship, or facing the truth or allowing ourselves to feel. No matter the
fear, denial is destructive. Ignoring a wound only brings festering. Commit to honestly looking at your past and grieving your losses.
PRIDE: We’re unwilling to admit we have a problem. We’re not one of “them.” We don’t want to be identified as weak or a sexual abuse survivor. Everyone else has a problem. We default to control and manipulation, and we are afraid to trust people.
NEGATIVE ATTITUDE: We develop a victim mindset. We stake a claim for what we believe we deserve and build a case for ourselves. But our attitude is our choice and the basis of self-control. We can refuse to think like a victim by refuting “thought saboteurs.”
THOUGHT SABOTEURSanger, apathy, blame, criticism, depression, dishonesty, fear, guardedness, hatred, indifference, intolerance, irresponsibility, jealousy, mistrust, pessimism, pride, resentment, revenge, sadness, self-pity, shame, skepticism, suspicion, and a victim mentality.

Self Evaluation

Are you struggling with pain from your past? With childhood abuse? Is it time to take steps toward
healing? Pray through the areas above and ask God to help you face your fears and recognize pride,
negative attitudes, and thought saboteurs. You’ve taken your first steps toward healing, and your life
will never be the same

You’ve carried scars long enough. It’s time to shed the layers of pain that hold you captive and find freedom and healing.

In When the Woman Abused Was You, author, pastor, and survivor Dawn Scott Damon openly shares from her own abuse experience and serves as a guide to help you make your way through the arduous healing journey. With raw and honest transparency, Dawn helps you take the necessary steps that will lead you to your own powerful breakthrough and personal healing encounter.

Experience new freedom you never thought possible. The journey may be difficult—even exhausting—but you’ll find reward and fulfillment as you transform into a confident, fulfilled, and overcoming woman.

  “You’ve carried scars long enough. Its time to shed the layers of pain that hold you captive and find freedom and healing.”  ~ Dawn Scott Damon

About Dawn

Dawn Scott Damon is a pastor, speaker, and author whose most recent book, When the Woman Abused Was You, released in 2017 and is the second book in a series. Dawn’s first book in this series, When A Woman You Love Was Abused has touched thousands of lives – both men and women.

Dawn worked closely with New York Times bestselling author Cecil Murphey (90 Minutes in Heaven, When A Man You Love Was Abused) and together they presented a conference, When Someone You Love Was Abused, Help for Those Suffering from Childhood Traumas, in Michigan and Georgia..

Dawn also writes a blog for women who have experienced trauma. It is named Freedom Girl Sisterhood at freedomgirlsisterhood.com.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

ABUSE: Can An Abuser Change? (part 4)

abuserABUSE and the abuser: Can an abuser change? Keep reading to find out if an abuser stop his abuse. And if so, how? In part 4 of this four-part series on abuse, biblical counselor Jim Newheiser evaluates common statements made about abuse. His article appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition and is used with permission. Read part 1, part 2, and part 3.

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ASSERTION: There is nothing you can do to change an abuser.

Are Some Men So Stubborn to Ever Change?

A valid concern: This statement is making the point that there are some men who are so stubbornly sinful that no matter how nice you are to them, they will continue their angry abuse.

It is made to refute the false counsel some women have been given that if they simply could learn to be kinder and quieter, then their violent husbands would stop hurting them. However, Scripture does describe some men as violent, hard-hearted, and refusing to receive correction (Prov. 16:29; 29:1,22).

A man of wrath stirs up strife,
    and one given to anger causes much transgression. Proverbs 29:22

The Bible Gives Hope to All, Even to an Abuser

The harm that can be caused: On the other hand some so-called experts have asserted that there is nothing a victim can do by changing her behavior to change the abuser and his behavior.

While I agree that in many cases it is true that changed behavior will have no effect on a wicked, hardened man, the Bible explicitly gives hope that the Lord can use the godly behavior of a victim to soften the heart of a sinful spouse. First Peter 3:1-2 says a disobedient or unsaved husband might be won by his wife’s treating him better than he deserves. Proverbs 15:1 tells us that a gentle answer may turn away wrath.

I know that these verses have been misused to wrongly send women back into dangerous situations. But it is also true that God can use the Christ-like behavior of a wife to reach an angry husband. Again, a distinction needs to be made based upon the degree of sinful anger (and the resultant danger), rather than quickly saying that a situation is hopeless and that the woman ought to give up and move on.

If there is any doubt as to whether a woman is in danger, I would encourage church leaders to err on the side of safety by helping her get away (hopefully temporarily). Then work with the husband to gauge true repentance before trying to restore the marriage and bring the couple back together again.

All Sinners Can Be Forgiven

It would be better to say: The gospel gives hope that sinners can be forgiven and transformed. Also, those in whose lives God has worked will show signs of true repentance (including patience).

Saul, the murderous persecutor, was transformed into the great apostle of grace. First Corinthians 6:9-11 tells how sinners of every kind have been cleansed and changed by the power of the gospel.

We believe that abusers who had been characterized by the wicked deeds of the flesh can become servants who bear the fruit of the Spirit. Abusers are often masters of manipulation (i.e., worldly sorrow). A truly repentant man will hate his sin more than its consequences; he will be more concerned about the rights and safety of others than about his own rights, and he will be patient as those whom he has previously hurt learn to trust him (see 2 Cor. 7:9-11).

(Friend, are you in a controlling, destructive, or difficult marriage? Why not get the help you need? Learn more about confidential, compassionate, effective biblical counseling by Skype or in person.

Contact me today.–Lucy)

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

ABUSE: When Should You Leave the Marriage? (part 3)

abuseAbuse is patently wrong, but when should you leave the marriage or relationship? Keep reading to find out when — and if — you should leave. In part 3 of this four-part series on abuse, biblical counselor Jim Newheiser evaluates common statements made about abuse. His article appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition and is used with permission. Read part 1 and part 2.

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If You Feel You’re Being Mistreated, Should You Leave?

ASSERTION: If you feel that you are being mistreated or controlled, leave the relationship.

A valid concern: This statement is made because there are so many women who stay in dangerously abusive relationships when they have every right to seek safety and refuge.

Possible Harm of Believing the Assertion

The harm that can be caused: Those who are seeking to protect victims of abuse sometimes fail to distinguish between the degrees of sinful mistreatment that can take place in a marriage relationship.

The message some women get is that if your husband is to any extent controlling, manipulative, or angry, then you are in an abusive relationship and you need to get out. Women are told that an angry husband has broken the marriage covenant, and they have the right to divorce.

I affirm that a battered wife has every right to get away from a violent husband and that his failure to repent and to live at peace with her can eventually lead to the breakup of their marriage (1 Cor. 7:15). Sadly, however, I have seen women who are in difficult, but not violent marriages—in which there is often anger on both sides—who use the claim of abuse to divorce their husbands on less than biblical grounds.

The reality is that marriage brings together two sinners. Because of the fall, many marriages involve a struggle for control as described in Genesis 3:16. In many cases, both partners are guilty of sinful anger, which Jesus calls murderous (Matt. 5:21-22).

Wisely Investigating an Abuse Charge

It would be better to say: Wisdom needs to be exercised in distinguishing between degrees of sin in an allegedly abusive situation.

Just as the act of adultery is a greater threat to a marriage than a lustful look (Matt. 5:27-28), there is a difference between physical assault and a harsh word. Because Jesus declared, “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matt. 19:6b), every effort should be made to preserve marriages and to help both men and women who have fallen short of perfectly keeping the marriage covenant to change.

Church leaders shouldn’t swing from the extreme of sending women back to abusive situations to the other extreme of encouraging the breakup of marriages which might be restored. A man who refuses to repent of controlling and angry behavior may be put through a process of church discipline. This process will often give the time and space needed for the abuser’s heart to be more clearly revealed.

(Friend, are you in a controlling, destructive, or difficult marriage? Why not get the help you need? Learn more about confidential, compassionate, effective biblical counseling by Skype or in person.

Contact me today.–Lucy)

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

If You Feel Abused, Were You Abused? (Part 2)

abusedAbused? Were you abused, phyically or sexually, in your marriage? In part 2 of this multi-part series on domestic violence, guest writer Jim Newheiser carefully looks at common assertions and takes a balanced view. This post appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is reprinted with permission.

Read Part 1 here: When to believe the victim, when to believe the abuser

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I am thankful to God that many necessary and important books and articles are being written to increase awareness of physical and sexual abuse. Abuse affect both the society at large and the Christian community in particular. Spiritual leaders have been rightly admonished for their failure to protect at-risk women and children.

Battered wives have been wrongly told that if they were just more loving and submissive, their husbands would change and the abuse would stop. They are then wrongly sent back to take further verbal and physical beatings. Many church leaders need to repent of their failure to “rescue the weak and needy; [and] deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).

While I affirm the importance of understanding the dark nature of abuse and protecting the victims of abuse, I am concerned that some, in their zeal to correct the failure of the past, have swung too far the other way. This can lead to false accusations and unnecessary family breakups.

I would like to give a few examples of what I believe to be common overstatements, and for each one, I will describe the good intention behind the statements, the harm which can be caused because of imbalanced thinking, and a more balanced way of expressing the same concerns.

If You Feel Abused, Then You Were Abused?

ASSERTION: If you feel abused, then you were abused.

  1. The valid concern: This statement is often made to express the reality that abuse may have taken place even if the abuser does not recognize or acknowledge his behavior (yelling, pushing, bullying, coercion, threats, and intimidation) as wrong.
  2. The harm that can be caused: On the other hand, the Bible teaches that it is possible to wrongly interpret the words, actions, and motives of others (1 Corinthians 2:11).

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11

For example, Eli falsely accused Hannah of drunkenness because her lips were moving as she prayed (1 Samuel 2:12ff). We cannot judge one person merely by the subjective feelings of another. For example, a man may be in a rush and accidentally bump into his wife (with whom he had had a recent conflict) as he turns a corner. She may accuse him of doing it deliberately to harm her when that was never his motive.

Words also can be misunderstood. What is taken by one person as angry and abusive might have never been intended as such. Nor might it have been interpreted this way by an objective third party.

Scripture reminds us: “Love hopes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7); in other words, love seeks to assume the best.

3. It would be better to say: A person who feels abused should be helped to objectively evaluate what has happened and to get assistance if genuine abuse has taken place. Part of this objective evaluation involves considering the ongoing pattern and cumulative effect of the accused person’s behavior, as well as the immediate accusation at hand. Proper evaluation over time keeps us from wrongly escalating the consequences for one individual incident while also not dismissing the whole situation because one incident wasn’t deemed as abusive.

Sometimes a Victim Has a Sin Issue Too

ASSERTION: It is never the victim’s fault.

  1. The valid concern: Many abusers claim that their victims are to blame because the victim provoked him or failed to be as good a wife or child as they should be. Many victims suffer from false guilt. There is no valid excuse for physical or sexual abuse.

Even if the abuser believes that he was provoked, he is never authorized by God to take physical or verbal vengeance.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

2. The harm that can be caused: Some victims have sin issues which also need to be addressed. I counseled in a case in which a wife would berate and insult her husband, saying “Come on Jesus man, hit me!” She admitted that she felt that she had won the argument when he finally struck her. Again, I emphasize there was no excuse for him hitting her. But she also needed to address her personal sinfulness.

There have been cases of sexual assault in which the woman got herself into an extremely compromising and dangerous situation (i.e., drunk, alone, and making out with a man with whom she is not married). Again, the man should have stopped when she said, “no” (also see Habakkuk 2:15). If he assaults her, he is guilty of a crime and should be punished. But she also needs to acknowledge before God her personal sin in the situation. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 addresses situations like this.

3. It would be better to say: Abuse is never justified, but victims may need to examine themselves to see if they have any sin for which they also need to seek God’s forgiveness.

(Friend, if someone has abused you, please seek help from a caring pastor, a spiritually wise woman at your church, or from a biblical counselor, who counsels the compassionate, effective Word to your hurting heart. Learn more about biblical counseling by Skype.–LAM)

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

 

Believe the Victim or the Abuser? (part 1)

victim
An abuse victim needs loving support from friends and spiritual leaders. In this multi-part series, guest writer Jim Newheiser
 recognizes a pendulum swing in addressing this very difficult problem. And he provides balance. Read on and let me know: Do you agree with him? Disagree? Please leave a comment or contact me.

This is part 1 in a multi-part series, which appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and is reprinted with permission.

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I am thankful to God that many necessary and important books and articles are being written to increase awareness of physical and sexual abuse as they affect both the society at large and the Christian community in particular. Spiritual leaders have been rightly admonished for their failure to protect at-risk women and children.[1]

Abuses which should have been exposed have been covered up, leading to more unnecessary suffering which grieves Christ.

Battered wives have been wrongly told that if they were just more loving and submissive, their husbands would change and the abuse would stop.

They are then wrongly sent back to take further verbal and physical beatings. Many church leaders need to repent of their failure to “rescue the weak and needy; [and] deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).

While I affirm the importance of understanding the dark nature of abuse and protecting the victims of abuse, I am concerned that some, in their zeal to correct the failure of the past, have swung too far the other way. This can lead to false accusations and unnecessary family breakups. I would like to give a few examples of what I believe to be common overstatements, and for each one, I will describe the good intention behind the statements, the harm which can be caused because of imbalanced thinking, and a more balanced way of expressing the same concerns.

Always Believe the Victim?

ASSERTION: Always believe the victim.

  1. The valid concern: This statement is made out of sympathy for many victims of abuse whose claims have been rejected as unbelievable when no one could imagine that the perpetrator, who seems like such a nice guy, could have done such a bad thing. Or those hearing the claim may prefer not to get involved in the messiness which will surely follow if the claim is substantiated.
  2. The harm that can be caused: Innocent people have been harmed by false claims of abuse. Some alleged victims have learned how much harm they can do to another person with an accusation of abuse. I had a counseling case in which a fifteen-year-old girl threatened that she would falsely accuse her stepfather of molesting her if he didn’t give her what she wanted. We had another case in which an alleged victim had someone else scratch up her face so that she could call the police and accuse an innocent party of doing it. To be falsely labeled as an abuser can destroy a person’s reputation, damage his career, and potentially lead to false imprisonment. The Bible teaches that a high standard of proof is necessary before we can treat someone as guilty (Deut. 19:15).
  3. A better way to say this would be: All claims of abuse must be taken seriously. When hearing an allegation of abuse, we should immediately offer compassionate care, ensuring that the threatened party is safe. Allegations need to be investigated, in many cases by the civil authorities (Romans 13:1-7); however, it is not biblical to treat the accused party as guilty without proof.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1-4. ESV)


[1] Because most cases of abuse involve women I will refer to the victim as being female. I acknowledge that men can also be victims of spousal abuse and have counseled men in such situations.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

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