The actions of abuse have lifelong consequences.

I grew up in a large family with three older brothers who raped me whenever they wanted. One of the brothers often flew into a rage, and I was his punching bag.

My mother blamed me for everything. She called me names and treated me like a slave. Who says words don’t hurt?
When I was young, I told a trusted friend’s mother a little of what went on. My mom said I was lying and kicked me out. But I had nowhere to go.

Where was God in the midst of all this pain?

Whenever I hear about a person who experienced abuse, horrible memories come flooding back.

I tried talking to my family. One brother said, "I did that in my youth, and all my sins are forgiven." There has never been any remorse, let alone an apology, from my mother or any of the brothers. The brothers continued to abuse their wives and kids, even their grandchildren. They are all divorced, for which my mother blamed me too. When one grandchild, who was not yet school age, told me she was abused by her grandfather, I called the police.

The whole family was up in arms.

My sisters deny they were abused, but I know better. I was the only "crazy" one, because I went for counseling. They pretend they grew up in a loving family. I don’t talk to many of my siblings because I can’t deal with all the lies.


My first three counselors, all Christians, loaded me with Bible texts and said that I had to forgive, which made me even feel worse. They never affirmed that what happened to me was wrong. But how can there ever be reconciliation when my abusers don’t acknowledge that what went on in our household was against God’s will?

Before he died, my dad called me to his hospital bed and apologized to me. Dad said he couldn’t go against my mother.

Three weeks before my mother died, I asked why she hated me so much and let all that bad stuff happen to me. She stuck her tongue out and turned her back to me.

It took me a very long time to believe and trust that there was a loving God. I beg God to help me. I still go for counseling because I am haunted with terrible nightmares.

So many Christians live with the pain of abuse. The actions of abuse have lifelong consequences for those who are abused. So why is the church not preaching about these sins?

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Dear Anonymous,

Your pain is very real, raw, and understandable.  I pray that God will comfort you and heal you.  It is gravely wicked that you had to suffer such abuse, and particularly heinous that this abuse happened at the hands of your family, the very ones whom are most intimately charged with nurturing and protecting you.  You have known suffering in ways that I am unlikely to ever experience.

 

In many of the Psalms the author calls out in anguish and also asks: Where is God?  To be in lament and anguish is very much a part of the human condition.  Time and time again we see in the Psalms that the author turns and leans on God's promises.   I am encouraged that you have not run from God.  In Jesus you will find one who knows your anguish and has experienced rejection and abuse like none other. 

Thanks for this article on abuse and the whereabouts of God in the midst of it.  David, of the Old Testament, on occasion laments the hardships that he experienced in life, as well as questioning the success and good life of many who felt no allegiance to his God.  Life just does not feel fair on either side of the spectrum, whether in success or in hardship.  We know the same frustration as David.  We see the success and happiness of many people who could care less about God, as well as the hardship and abuse of many who do love the Lord.  Christians do not get preferential treatment in this life, as many, if not most can attest to.  Christians can pray their hears out for deliverance from abuse or pray for even a small measure of success in life, but, in reality, they experience nothing different from anyone else, whether it is success in marriage, deliverance from abuse, or healing from disease.  It would seem as though our prayers go as high as the ceiling.

So you ask, why does the church not preach more about the sin of abuse?  To many it seems obvious, the church doesn’t have a good answer.  When you went to a Christian counselors, they suggested forgiveness.  And the abuse continued.  Maybe a counselor who wasn’t a Christian would have been more helpful.  When dealing with such people, forgiveness can come much later, but at the time, perhaps the police, rather than the church, would have been a better alternative.  Christian platitudes do little to bring comfort, but concrete action often does.

Sexual abuse is experienced by one in four girls and one in six boys. This article raises a very good question, why isn't the church talking about it? Why are we not taking a stronger stand against it? I long for the day when our congregations can become places of healing for those who have suffered abuse (it's a lot of people!). And I know that it can never happen as long as the silence remains. Thank you for sharing this one story. Lord, give us open ears, and open hearts, willing to listen to the stories of so many others who now suffer in silence among us.

Your letter breaks my heart. To have been treated so horribly by family is just heartbreaking. I am so sorry your first few therapists didn't fully go into the benefits for you of forgiveness. As a victim of abuse it was the hardest thing to forgive, in my heart, my abuser. It wasn't for his benefit at all, I thankfully am not related to him and not in the same social circles so I don't have to see him. But the weight taken off my soul by letting go of that pain was life changing. It's wonderful you kept looking for a suitable therapist, they and God do wonderful things freeing one from a painful past. Continue being a champion for the young in your family. 

Sincerely, 

A work in progress in Illinois. 

I'm sorry that your family treated you so badly, and especially that your mother blamed you for everything.  Obviously she had her own issues, but that does not excuse her behavior as the adult in charge since your father doesn't seem to hve been in the picture at all.  And the therapists were not helpful either.  I have had difficulty overcoming verbal abuse from my father, and one of my pastors told me that forgiveness is a process, and not a once-for-all event, and I found this to be true.  I have had to forgive my dad over and over again for the wounds his words did to me, and it's not easy.  Fortunately, he lived long enough to understand that I had an illness, and I was not just being lazy, and he lived long enough that we could be reconciled.  

However, that is not possible for everybody.  Some people are just too toxic to associate with whether you're related to them or not, and your family seeems to fall in that category.  I pray that God will lead you to a group of people who will accept you and comfort you and help the healing process to really begin for you.