The problem of childhood sexual abuse is not new. Millions of adults bear the emotional scars, and continue to secretly carry the emotional burden, of abuse that occurred twenty, thirty, or even forty years ago. It is common for clients in their 40’s to come to counseling and say “I have never told this to anyone before…”.
Children are, by nature, innocent, trusting, and vulnerable. When a child is abused, the abuse is NEVER the child’s fault, but children — in an attempt to use their limited understanding of the world to make sense of what has happened to them — almost always believe that they either caused or deserved the abuse. Many of them carry their misguided sense of shame and guilt into adulthood. Many successful, seemingly well-adjusted adults continue to suffer the far-reaching effects of abuse: low self-esteem or lack of confidence, difficulty trusting others, isolation, or alienation, depression, anxiety, anger, chronic relationship problems, difficulty with emotional or physical intimacy, promiscuity, self-injury, alcohol or drug use, or overeating.
A history of childhood sexual abuse does not automatically mean a life full of suffering, however. The extent to which abuse affects an individual varies significantly, depending on the severity of the abuse, the duration of the abuse, and the relational context of the abuse (who the abuser was). Many people who were abused as children struggle with spiritual isses as well as the psychological and emotional ones. They may question how a loving God could allow something like that to happen to a child, may be angry with God for allowing it to happen, or may even believe that God intentionally inflicted the abuse on them as punishment. Part of the healing journey may include looking at these spiritual questions and finding a deeper spiritual understanding of yourself, God, and the world.
Regardless of how childhood abuse has affected your life, you can experience both healing from your past and growth for your future. If you have been silently suffering the pain or shame of past abuse, a confidential relationship with a caring professional counselor can help you find freedom and relief. If painful memories from the past are robbing you of a life of happiness and meaningful relationships, counseling can help you face the past, find healing in the present, and claim abundant life for your future.