Healing Victims of Sexual Abuse

Most of us can empathize with those who have suffered sexual abuse in that we can recognize the trauma associated with the actual experience. But few of us realize the depth of devastation that even one abusive experience can have on the life of its victim long after the actual abuse has ended.

Victims of sexual abuse often live with emotions that keep them in bondage to the wounds of molestation. This lesson explores this milieu of feelings and the resultant common responses.

Healing the heart of the victim requires time and perseverance, as trust has been fractured. Intercession is an essential ingredient in ministering, as we pray to prepare the heart of the wounded one to receive the healing and blessings of the Lord.

...For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell In dark places, like those who have been long death Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart is appalled within me. Psalms 1 43:34

See also II Samuel 13:1 -20 Tamar is raped by her brother Amnon. This gives you an idea of how devastated she is and how his supposed great love for her turns to hate. He never loved her. He lusted for her, and once he satisfied his own lust the conviction of his sin took him over. He had a choice at this point to fall on his face and repent and do what was right or do just what he did, and blame her and disgrace her.

Please Note: We are focusing on the sexual abuse of a female, but the feelings, emotions and devastation would be the same if a young boy was sexually molested. The feelings and healing process will be the same.

How does a victim of abuse feel?

, She feels betrayed by others. She expects to be protected by parents, and God. She is unable to trust. Mother may not believe her because of jealousy, fear, or denial.

The girl may not even tell anyone, due to fear of being blamed, or punished for lying. No one is gentle, loving, or protective. God in this ease is shown false. The child is abandoned in her pain. Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. Psalms 142:4

All Christian truths are questioned. Authority no longer offers sanctuary, hope or reliable direction. Tyrannized by her present pain, she has no capacity to transcend this moment. Fear overcomes any positive memories and thoughts, and prevents hope from lifting her up.

She begins to depend on her own heart and mind for strength and protection, and makes an idol of her feelings.

"... You have seen their . . idols . . .Beware lest there should be among you a man or woman, or faintly, or tribe, whose [mind and] heart turns away from the Lord our God... lest there should be among you a [poisonous] root that bears gall and wormwood; and lest... he flatter and congratulate himself in his . . . bean saying, 'I shall have peace and safety, thou I walk in the stubbornness of my [mind and] heart Deuteronomy 29:17-19

If the girl should cry for help, she won't be able to receive it. She may compulsively find fault with people whose love begins to melt her heart. She may create fantasy pictures of love that make her vulnerable to hurtful relationships, which when they fail, strengthen her attitude of "I don't need anyone." She may often be preoccupied with sex.

She may experience feelings of helplessness and fear. This is created by all of the above conditions, even when the abuser is no longer a threat.

Her response to her family and others would include anger toward mother and anyone who would be mother like. "Where was she?
She must have known".'

Anger at God would be common. "How could You let this happen God?"

Anger may be suppressed. The victim may have made a vow not to be angry, but no emotion can long remain unexpressed.

She may experience some ambivalence toward her father. There may be a sense of pain and anger and switch to no feeling one way or the other. She accepts that what she is feeling at the moment is the truth. She also may experience confusion concerning identity.

The following adjectives might describe her feelings toward self as intruded upon, disrespected, unclean, used, trapped, manipulated, robbed of glory and dignity, worthless, and unlovable.

She might feel guilty or angry with self She might think or say, "Why didn't I tell?" "'Why didn't I resist?" "I must have caused it!" "
I shouldn't have felt pleasure..."

She may even feel responsible for the abuse. Guilt may be reinforced by family breakup, and by accusations from the abuser.

She tries to escape the guilt feelings, by irrational running, or she might withdraw. The abused may even exhibit Performance Oriented behavior to cover her true feelings. However, she may try suicide, alcohol and drugs, or self-mutilation.

Her relationships with peers may reflect her own crippled self-esteem. "People won't accept me if they know what has happened to me."

She may indulge in extremes to keep men away i.e., excessive weight gain, and poor hygiene. She might avoid former friends, or shun church. Promiscuous behavior would be the other extreme i.e., signals of her need for affection are misinterpreted, or continues to defile herself. She tends to punish herself, and others. She may not see it as defilement, but she thinks that she is defiling her partner. She might say, "They are not using me, I am using them!" She may believe that her only worth is in sex, or she simply responds to non-threatening persons who promise to care, once again setting her self up for abuse or rejection.

She may fall into lesbianism, or homosexuality.

Flight mechanisms are common to victims of sexual abuse. Fantasy is used to cope with actual experience of abuse. Sexual problems often develop during marriage. The abused might actually suppress the memory of the trauma. Frigidity may occur when suppressed inner vows make the victim unable to participate in marital sex.

Healing Victims of Sexual Abuse

Rarely will you be asked to get involved in a recent sexual abuse case. Normally a PDM will only see adult clients who have been abused as children. They may or may not have ever been counseled concerning the abuse. Go very slowly and allow the client to open up to you concerning the abuse. We ask this question, "Have you ever been touched inappropriately by anyone, in the past?" Sometimes the fruit will scream abuse, but unless the client admits it, you won't be able to minister hilly in that area. We might tell her that the symptoms that she has been experiencing suggest that she may have been touched inappropriately in her past. Watch her body language very closely to see how she reacts. If she doesn't look surprised, then proceed to ask questions in a very non-threatening way, such as, "Would there have been an opportunity for you to have been touched inappropriately?" "If so, who might that have been?" If she has no idea of who might have touched her, yet has always felt as though she had been violated, then have her say, "I forgive anyone who might have touched me inappropriately."

Important note!!!!

Do not suggest that a father or any other family member abused this person. If the client does not have a clear picture of who it might be, you will open up a can of worms as well as a lawsuit from the person that you have accused of the abuse. Even if the Holy Spirit tells you that it was the father or mother who abused your client as a child, this information is for your intercession, not publication.

Here is a scenario: The Holy Spirit tells you that her father has molested the client. You say "The Holy Spirit told me that your father molested you when you were a child." She goes to her father and mother and confronts them and the world explodes. They get crazy and get angry with the client, first calling her a liar, and kicking her out of the house. The client feeling battered and abused once again, she ultimately needs the approval of the parents, so she recants her story saying, " I am sorry, but it wasn't my fault. It was this counselor that told me you molested me. I never thought that or even considered that terrible thing." Now we have someone to vent our anger on! Guess who?

Now you hear from dad's lawyer saying that you are being sued for defamation of character. What is your defense? The Holy Spirit told me. Be wise as a serpent, gentle as a dove. Be very careful and sensitive in these areas.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; To comfort all who mourn.. .Giving them garland Instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a Spirit of fainting So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lor4 that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3, Isaiah 51:3

Intercessory prayer is needed to prepare the heart for healing. Isaiah 30:18; Matthew 18:14; Ephesians 1:18-1 9; 3:16

Plant the cross of Christ between sowing and reaping. Intercession keeps the door open for God. The abused are often angry with Him. It also blocks Satan's interference.

Be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The client must be ready for healing to come. Sometimes she will simply like to tell her story for pity and to work herself up into a self-pity emotional state. Don't join in on the pity party. Acknowledge that she has the right to be angry, but this is the time for healing. If she is not ready to be healed then give her permission to leave.

Give comfort, but don't join in on the anger and rage toward the abuser. Let her know that she has nothing to feel guilty about, and that the abuser is the guilty one, however it is forgiveness that will set her free... not him.

Teach her what forgiveness is. Emotions don't have to accompany the forgiveness. It is a work done by the cross. Forgiveness does not take away the accountability of the abuser. Let her know that if she doesn't forgive at some point that she will be bound by the abuser's sin. Unforgiveness gives power to the abuser.

Help her to forgive the abuser as well as those who did not respond appropriately to her abuse. She must also forgive God for allowing it. We must let her know that God cannot over-ride man's will, just as He could not over-ride her will when she chose to sin in her life, so God could not over-ride the sin of the abuser. However, He was there, and kept her safe, and alive. Share with her that God allows the tares to grow with the wheat but at the harvest He will separate the taxes from the wheat and burn those tares. Let her know that she is the wheat.

If the victim feels guilty for any reason, ask them to forgive themselves, Sometimes the victim's body will betray them by responding to the physical touch of the abuser, causing guilt, shame, blame and regret. Although she is not guilty, if she feels guilty she must be forgiven. Pronounce forgiveness over her, and once she has received it, let her know that she had no blame.

Pray for cleansing by the living waters of Christ.
Pray with vivid pictures Hebrews
10:21-22. Pray for comfort and for the healing
of spiritual and emotional wounds.
IICorinthians 1:3-5; Romans 12:15

Pray to bring to death the lies about herself speak truth to the inner being. Bring to death on the cross old habits, patterns and structures, of coping and flight mechanisms Colossians 3:1-17. Make sure that she crushes
all inner vows
Matthew 16:19; 18:18

Sever the ungodly soul ties from the abuser
I Corinthians 6: 16-20

Many victims repress all memory of sexual abuse. It is not uncommon, however, for these people to find themselves burden-bearing for other known victims, and strongly identifying with their hurts. Others might begin to see images of events in bits and pieces; unaware that these might be actual memories of their own. In various dreams and daydreams, they may appear as a victim, or their perpetrator may appear as a victimizer.

In these ways, the Holy Spirit will gently bring truth into the light so healing can be accomplished. Rarely is it God's intention that victims relive their past experiences; this is necessary only to the extent that they know enough to be aware of their need. PDM's who try to force repressed memories to the surface may only succeed in further wounding
the one to whom they minister.


Genesis 2:24 - For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

Deuteronomy 29:17-19 TAB - And you have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them. Beware lest there should be among you a man or woman or family or tribe, whose mind and heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a [poisonous] root that bears gall and wormwood; And lest, when he hears the words of this curse and oath, he flatter and congratulate himself in his [mind and] heart saying, "1 shall have peace and safety, though 1 walk in the stubbornness of my mind and heart bringing down a hurricane of destruction and sweep away the watered land with the dry."

II Samuel 13:1-20 - The Violation of Tamar

Psalm 22:9 - Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.

Psalm 118:7 - The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies.

Psalm 139:8-10 - If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 111 make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 142:4 - Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life.

Psalm 143:3-4 - The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 NAS - He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work, which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

Isaiah 30:18 - Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all that wait for him!

Isaiah 42:22-23-But this is a people plundered and looted all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them; they have been made loot, with no one to say, "Send them back."

Isaiah 49:15 - "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget
, I will not forget you!"

Isaiah 51:3 - "The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing."

Isaiah 53:4 - Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

Isaiah 61:1-3 - The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lords favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty (NAS: a garland) instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.


Matthew 16:19 - "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Matthew 18:14 - "In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost."

Matthew 18:18-"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and what-ever you loose on earth
will be loosed in heaven."

Luke 8:17 - "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."

Luke 11:46 -Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you your-selves will not lift one finger to help them."
John 10:10 - "The thief comes only to steal and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

John 11:44 - The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."

John 20:23 - "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."

Romans 12:15 - Rejoice with those who rejoice
mourn with those who mourn.

I Corinthians 6:16-20 - Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

II Corinthians 1:3-5 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of com-passion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives,
so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Ephesians 1:18-19a. Pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you. the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Ephesians 3:16 - . . .pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

Ephesians 3:17-19 - . ..so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the Jove of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 5:13 - But everything exposed by the light becomes visible...

Philippians 1:6 - ... being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13 - Brothers, I do not consider my-self yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead...

Colossians 3:1-17-Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed...
Therefore, as Cods chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear wit each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to Cod. And whatever you do. whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to Cod the Father through Him.

Hebrews 2:18 - Because he himself suffered when he was tempted1 he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 7:25 - Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to Cod through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Hebrews 10:21-22 NAS - . . .and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

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Site Last Updated: October 23, 2023