Added Pain

Regardless of the form scars take in a particular case, regardless of the critical role forgiveness plays in recovery, we add to the pain that sexual abuse victims experience, if we urge forgiveness upon them prematurely.

Well-intentioned though this advice may be, it fails to take into account the legitimate anger victims experience, thereby reinforcing the silence to which all too many victims are condemned.

A second error by those who counsel the victims of sexual abuse involves urging that victims put the suffering they have endured out of mind.  This approach dismisses out of hand the impact of suffering on the lives of victims, relegating that subject yet again to silence.

A third error frequently encountered relates to the sexual consequences of abuse.  Whether out of ignorance or embarrassment, Christians may avoid a discussion of these altogether, again enforcing silence.


Copyright © 2001-2019 Anna Waldherr.  All rights reserved.


17 responses to “Added Pain

  1. jacqui

    So true Anna! it is layers of forgiveness, memories can spring up any time of things forgotten. I’m not there yet but I am always willing but I want to at least feel what I am feeling instead of covering it up. This is being truthful to yourself. thanks Anna x

    • I feel very strongly about this. From what I have observed, the church has not educated itself about child abuse. If it had, the Catholic Church sex scandal would never have occurred. But even in terms of abuse by family members or strangers, there is bad — and unbiblical — advice being given to victims, causing them a great deal of harm.

  2. I believe God led me to your blog today–I have so much healing yet to receive (age 63), as I’ve buried deep wounding beneath the commands to forgive…and somehow forget or set aside. Thank you for being here, God bless you.

    • God put us on this earth to care for one another. If anything in my blog has been of help to you, I am deeply gratified. Many abuse victims are poorly advised, regarding forgiveness. Above all, do not give up hope. God loves you dearly. Your life is far from over. And you are not alone. ❤

      • Thank you again, so much, Anna. Just those last words, “you are not alone”, mean a great deal to “survivors”–as most of us have hidden in an isolated shame too long. Bless you ❤

    • Lady Quixote/Linda Lee

      Dear Ziona, I, too, am 63. Like you, “I’ve buried deep wounding beneath the commands to forgive…and somehow forget or set aside”…

      Soul-searing traumas that have been buried for so long — not forgotten, but covered over with the busyness of raising a family, and hidden behind the bandaid of “forgive and forget” — now, in the autumn of our lives, these deep wounds demand attention, validation, understanding, and healing, before it is too late and we are gone from this world.

      I am struggling now, trying to write a memoir. I feel very strongly that I need to write this story, for several reasons. But the PAIN of breaking my silence is so hard. That, and the marrow-deep belief that I “must not tell,” that I must forgive and forget, honor my father and mother, turn the other cheek, love my enemies, judge not, leave everything in God’s hands, and think only on good things. All of which are good biblical principles, and yet when I pray and ask the Lord what to do, and especially when I ask Him to help me let go of my memoir idea, if I should not write it, the thing that keeps coming to my mind is “write your story and do not whitewash it, even as the stories of the people’s sins in the Bible were not whitewashed.”

      But I don’t know if this thought is coming from God in answer to my prayers, or if it is simply coming from me. I am so… frustrated! It would be much easier to just give up on the whole idea of writing a book. Yet, when I try to do that, I feel like I have a 51-year-old SCREAM frozen in my throat, strangling the life out of me.

      However, it does feel good, in the midst of this confusion, to see that I am not alone. Although I would not wish this pain on my worst enemy, so in that sense it would be much better if I were alone. But since the sad reality is that I am not alone and neither are you, there are in fact a multitude of us… it is wonderful that we can find each other here through the miracle of the internet and this terrific, affirming blog. ((HUG))

  3. Thank you for visiting my blog and I am so glad I found you and several others who KNOW. I don’t know how far you got, but if you’d like (I am so not used to just leaving my links behind…) the Why I am Here page has all I have written on my story so far:

    What a blessing this has been this morning.

  4. Finally, my Dear Anna, a point on which I Dis-Agree with You. Viz,

    I would say, and am Convinced, after Decades of Priestly-Retreat-and-Counseling Ministry,** that ‘Forgiveness’ is something to be practiced as early as possible.

    That I do not just sympathize, but Empathize with the Victims must be apparent.

    Forgiveness is what brings Healing. It is a ‘Divinely’ taught activity, after all.

    Also, Forgiveness does not mean that the person cannot Mourn.

    I do not believe anything can be actively ‘forgotten.’ Things disappear from the mind by themselves, particularly if there is No re-enforcement by way of recall.

    ** I want to add to the above: FROM MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. My Traumas are not the result of Sexual abuse, but by Rejection, by which I suffer to This day. To all practical purposes, I have been denied Public Ministry by the church.

    Much Love and Regards to You in the wonderful ministry of Yours. Yesudas. 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing your views, my friend. Not only do you have great wisdom, you have great love. ❤

      • Very, Very Kind of You, my Dear Anna! Your words come to me as God’s own encouragement in my Lonely and Difficult ministry. Regards.

      • Loneliness and discouragement are two of the weapons Satan uses against abuse victims, as well. Unfortunately, I know them all too well. But loneliness and discouragement can, also, be seen as opportunities for us to grow closer to God. We may not be able, but God always is. And He is always w/ us. God bless you, Swami. ❤

  5. These are such good, helpful observations for those of us that minister to hurting souls coming out of abuse. There is rampant abuse in the culture where I live. I’m grateful for your insights.

    • Having lived through child abuse myself, I have firsthand knowledge. Whatever clarity I can bring to the subject, whatever insights, God deserves the credit. He is the One who has sustained me.

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