“ ‘If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in Me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea’ ” (Matt. 18: 6).
It is easier for children to believe they “deserve” the evil done to them, than to take in the fact an adult who should care for them actually has little or no regard for their well-being.
The Statute of Limitations and other obstacles can make it difficult to hold child molesters accountable legally. Even with a conviction, however, the feeling of “sinfulness” may rebound from an abuser to his victims. This in no way implies that they were at fault. Victims, however, relive the trauma of having been treated as worthless. They are often left with a vague sense of unworthiness that can permeate their lives, and undermine subsequent relationships.
Though this feeling of their own “sinfulness” can be overwhelming to abuse victims, the conclusions they draw from it may not be accurate. Victims did not warrant or invite the abuse. They remain deserving of love.
The feeling of “sinfulness” is just one of the scars left in the wake of abuse. Other symptoms can include anxiety, depression, alcohol or drug addiction, eating disorders, and sexual dysfunction. These behaviors either stem from the pain or are attempts to numb it. All of them “punish” the victim, who was never at fault in the first place!
The symptoms of abuse may, themselves, become a cause of shame to victims. Self-destructive behaviors shift the focus away from the abuse, while silently declaring it to the world. Imperfect as coping mechanisms, these behaviors can have dire consequences but are, in effect, a cry for help.
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