Overcoming the Pain of Rape

surviving-rape-article Sometimes in the midst of extreme suffering, Jesus doesn’t seem like a “present help.” Instead He seems distant and far away. If this is true for you, turn in His direction by listening to and singing music that will remind you how God is with you. Saying and singing God’s truths out loud is one way for you to fill your mind and heart with comfort and hope.

God cares about what you went through. His own Son, although He didn’t experience violence in a sexual form, was a victim of violent assault. No matter how awful your attack, no matter how long and slow your recovery, God is your Redeemer. He is able to redeem terrible wrongs and make them right. Psalm 147:3 tells us, “He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.”

Face your reactions to what happened. You must be willing to let God enter into your reactions—to feel what you feel. A violation makes you feel violated. When something overpowers you, you feel weak and overwhelmed. You need to be able to enter into your grief, hurt, confusion, fear, and anger. Tell God all about your anguish as the Psalmist does: “My heart is in anguish within me” (Psalm 55:4).

Don’t try to face what happened and your reactions to it by yourself. Invite Jesus into your struggle. Take hold of His promise of good: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2).

You are walking in deep waters. God will walk with you. You are walking through fire. God will not let the flames consume you. Turn to him every day. Take God’s promises to heart many times each day. Every time you remember, every time you struggle, every time you feel that your heart is breaking under the weight of what happened to you, ask Him to help you.

Say His promises out loud. Speak them back to the One who is your hope. Having faith in Jesus is not something you do just once. He’s the person toward whom you reach, toward whom you cry, toward whom you bring your pain, confusion, anger, and fear. He is the direction in which you face. He’s the direction in which you live. He can bear the weight of your trouble and heartache. He also suffered at the hands of evil people. He knows what a broken heart feels like.

Another crucial step in your healing is forgiveness. What happened to you was a great evil, so forgiveness won’t come easily or in a moment. It will be a journey of many small steps. True forgiveness for a true evil is only possible because of God’s forgiveness of you. Paul explains it like this, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God, in Christ, has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Lastly, remember God has a special purpose for your life and could even use this horrible experience to help others. It’s no accident that people who come to terms with an evil like this often become useful in the lives of others. You are able to combine compassion for the terrible trouble they’re going through with a clear-mindedness about the way forward. Just living your life will bring hope to others who are suffering that there’s a way forward. You can share that this process can come out good, even though it’s dark and overwhelming right now.

More information:

If you or someone you love is a victim of rape, call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), which is the National Sexual Assault Hotline, or log on to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network site (http://www.rainn.org).

Most local crisis centers have staff trained to help you through the reporting process. They can answer your questions and, if necessary, advocate on your behalf. To reach your local crisis center, you can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

For a sex therapist who specializes in sexual assault cases in your area, visit www.aasect.org.

To learn about ways to reduce your risk of sexual assault, go to http://www.rainn.org/get-information/sexual-assault-prevention.

Support groups:

You can join support groups online (http://www.aftersilence.org has a helpful message board and chat room), or you can find a group to meet with in your own city or community.

Books:

The Rape Recovery Handbook: Step-By-Step Help for Survivors of Sexual Assault by Aphrodite Matsakis

After Silence: Rape & My Journey Back by Nancy Venable Raine

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