Finding Freedom from the Shame of Sexual Abuse

“…I am the LORD, your healer.”

Exodus 15:26

Justin and Lindsey Holcomb of Mars Hill Church have recently written a book which is greatly needed within the church today–Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault. I’m looking forward to reading this book and learning more about how to minister to women who’ve experienced the trauma of sexual abuse. 

In a series of articles posted last week on the Resurgence blog, Justin and Lindsey addressed several issues related to sexual assault. If you or someone you know has faced the horror of sexual abuse, I’d encourage you to look to these articles for biblical wisdom and hope in dealing with this uniquely painful form of suffering.

In the final article in the series, the authors explain how the gospel of Jesus Christ provides healing for 6 Devastating Effects of Sexual Assault–denial, identity, shame, guilt, anger, and despair. Here’s an excerpt: 

Sexual assault is shameful and burdens you with feelings of nakedness, rejection, and dirtiness. Shame is a painfully confusing experience—it makes you acutely aware of inadequacy, shortcoming, and failure.

Jesus reveals God’s love for his people by covering their nakedness, identifying with those who are rejected, cleansing their defilement, and conquering their enemy who shames them. God extends his compassion and his mighty, rescuing arm to take away your shame. Jesus both experienced shame and took your shame on himself. Jesus, of all people, did not deserve to be shamed. Yet he took on your shame, so it no longer defines you nor has power over you.

Because of the cross, we can be fully exposed, because God no longer identifies us by what we have done or by what has been done to us. In Jesus, you are made completely new.

Photo: Marinka van Holten

3 thoughts on “Finding Freedom from the Shame of Sexual Abuse

  1. thank you for this resource. I too plan to read in order to better understand how to minister and love on my sisters who have suffered in this way

  2. For victims, finding freedom from the shame of sexual abuse ultimately proves much easier with God, than with people.

    One of Justin and Lindsey’s articles mentioned above states:
    “Social psychology research on attitudes toward sexual assault demonstrates that our culture holds prejudices and negative views of victims. Thus, victims suffer from the trauma of the assault itself as well as the effects of negative stereotypes. The result is that after an assault, victims feel socially derogated and blamed, which can prolong and intensify the psychological and emotions distress of victims…Because sexual assault victimization is stigmatized in American society, many suffer silently, which intensifies a victim’s distress and disgrace.”

    In addition to learning how to minister to victims of sexual abuse, we must do our part to break the social stigma they endure, especially in our churches. Fellow believers, who aren’t looking to counsel or minister, need to be educated on the devastating effects of their responses or lack thereof, to such victims.

    Satan creates strongholds in secrets and enforces them in silence. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4 says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” How can we help the suffering destroy such strongholds through the power of God’s Word if we continue to aid in enforcing their silence with our knowing or unknowing prejudices and negative views?

    Just another perspective to consider, out of genuine, loving concern.

    • I agree, Christine. Those who’ve experienced this form of suffering should find the church to be the safest place for healing. It’s astounding to me that Christians would add to the pain already being experienced by harboring negative assumptions about those who’ve been abused.

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