It is very common for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and rape survivors, to experience what is clinically defined as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many of those suffering from this mindset do not recognize the symptoms, and never seek help.
The typical symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Mayo Clinic) include:
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Irritability or anger
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much
- Trouble sleeping
- Upsetting dreams or bed-wetting
- Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time
- Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Avoiding activities you once enjoyed
- Hopelessness about the future or thoughts of suicide
- Memory problems
- Trouble concentrating
Seeking Healing Through God's Word
Once I realized that PTSD was something that affected me in a real way, I was able to seek help, and healing from God's word. These verses were just a few that I meditated on to help me through times when I felt very anxious and depressed.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done." Phil. 4:6
"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:29-31)
"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." (Psalm 91:4)
I found a moment of calmness when I realized I could not go on living life like this any more. God could comfort me, but the first step to healing was FORGIVENESS. It wasn't until I was able to fully comprehend that what happened to me "wasn't my fault", that I began to find freedom in forgiving myself. I had done so many horrible and sinful things to cope with the shame, grief, guilt, fear, and confusion I felt from the devastating blow to my self-worth that was caused by being abused. I was able to ask God for forgiveness, forgive myself for coping in that way, and then begin the process of forgiving the one that took that power from me.
I learned something incredible from God's word....that held a special promise for those who suffered from shame all their lives....he promises to restore us and give us a double return for all the pain we've been through! Which brought me to the next step...FAITH.
Isaiah 61 promises us a "crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning" and goes on to say, "Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs."
Encourage yourself, or someone you know who has been affected by abuse, to open the word and discover how God perceives each of his children, the truth about forgiveness and the freedom it brings, and challenge beliefs of being a "victim" or worthless. God gave his only son Jesus in exchange for the bad things that we have done and those that have been done to us.
If you know a friend or family member who has been affected by sexual abuse, please share this article with them.
I have been there. It does get better, when you make the first step to seek help. In my book "Prayers & Pillow Talk: A Rape Survivors Journey to Self Worth" you will find an intimate journal of poetry and reflections to help one cope and realize that they are not alone.