Tag Archives: abuse and trust issues

Satan and Abuse Victims

Image of Satan by Gustave Doré, in John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1866), Source https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/milton/john/paradise/complete.html (PD)

“All hope abandon, ye who enter here”

-Motto over the Gates of Hell, from Dante’s Inferno

Abuse victims know Satan all too well.  We have met him in the form of pedophiles and panderers; parents and caregivers who did not know how to love; partners who used and discarded us like so many unwanted toys.

Truth and Lies

We have been tormented by Satan in every way possible – mentally, physically, emotionally, sexually, and religiously, to the point that some of us have come to view death as a relief.

That statement about death is, of course, one of Satan’s lies.  But we have been told so many lies, we no longer recognize the truth.

Trust and Control

Where there is a history of abuse, the desire for control can be heightened.  Having been grievously harmed, we are determined not to be harmed again.  Which means trust is an issue for us.

Our wounds are so deep that some of us have vowed never to trust again.  In the interest of safety, we have willingly traded freedom for isolation.  A high price to pay.

But isolation is no guarantee of peace or safety.  That is just another of Satan’s lies.

Cries for Help

Most of us have cried out to God in our anguish.  Many have concluded that He long ago rejected us or simply does not exist (more of Satan’s lies).  A few of us have come to believe Satan is the stronger (a lie he gladly endorses).

Faith and Fear

It takes enormous faith to let down our guard, lay our defenses at God’s feet, and allow Him sovereignty over our lives.  Victims’ reluctance is more a reflection of fear than stubbornness; more a measure of the sins to which we were subjected, than those we committed ourselves.

Legalism and Self-Esteem

Acutely aware of our defects – real and imagined – and often rejected before, abuse victims are intensely sensitive to rejection.  Fearful that God will reject us, if we do offer to submit to His will, victims are flooded by feelings of inadequacy.

We must reclaim our self-esteem before we can surrender freely to God.  Otherwise the concept of surrender is likely to feel too threatening to us.  We were forced to submit to the evil inflicted on us.  The thought of submitting again – even to a good and holy God – can be overwhelming.

In the aftermath of abuse, we hardly dare assert ourselves, as it is.

This is not to say that we must be “perfect” or even “good” before God will come into our lives.  That is yet another of Satan’s lies.  God meets us where we are.

A frantic effort to “please” Him by doing good works (or flagellate ourselves for every failure) is unnecessary.  It amounts, in fact, to legalism – adherence to the letter of the law, at the expense of the spirit.  God does not ask this of us.

Our value in God’s eyes is not something to be earned at all.  It stems from the family relationship we have with God.  We are His beloved children.

Recognition of that profound truth can go a long way toward healing the wounds left by abuse.

“…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” (Isa. 40: 31 NIV).

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Beautiful in His Sight

“Face of Christ” by Claude Mellan (1649), Rijksmuseum Amsterdam (PD)

Abuse frequently destroys the faith of victims, undermining our capacity to trust.  While we may reject God or despise Him, He loves and values us.  It can be difficult for us to reconcile God’s love with our experience.  But that love is real.

Let me try and explain what I mean.

Self-Worth and the Cross

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3: 16).

As abuse victims, we were taught at an early age that we were worthless.  Our needs were insignificant.  Our feelings did not matter.  Our bodies were not our own.

These were the inferences we drew from our experience with those who rightly should have loved and cared for us.  God, however, sees things differently.  To Him, we are of infinite value.  He proved it by giving His Son, Jesus Christ over to a death on the cross for our sakes.

Our value is not governed by a predator’s opinion of us.  It was established for all time at the cross.  No one need add to it.  No one can detract from it.

God’s Unconditional Love

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies” (Ps. 36: 5).

God’s love for abuse victims is limitless and unconditional.  The concept of unconditional love may be foreign to us.  We were taught that love was unreliable.  It had to be earned, over and over again.  Most of us paid a high price for a counterfeit version of love.

Sin and Our Relationship to God

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8: 1-2).

God’s love is not withdrawn when we make mistakes or fall short.  We grieve His heart at such times, but He does not turn away from or reject us.  We are His beloved children.  Even when our relationship with Him is rocky, He continues to love us immeasurably. Continue reading

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Lovelorn, Part 1

Chocolate box (

Chocolate box (“OK, not exactly the gift…”), Author Chrys Omori (CC BY-2.0 Generic)

Society glorifies romantic love, but is rather harsh toward those who do not succeed at it.  The lonely.  The heartbroken.  Unfortunately, many abuse victims fall into this category.  Strangers to real love, we tend to stumble in our pursuit of it.

There used to be advice columns for the lovelorn.  Miss Lonelyhearts – a Depression era novel by Nathanael West about such a column – has been the basis for several movies, an opera, and a Broadway play.

There is still a great deal of poetry written about lost love.  Just Google the topic.

These days, anonymous sex and hard core pornography are readily available.  Craigslist has discontinued its infamous “adult” section.  But ads for prostitution (included among them ads trafficking children) can easily be found online [1].

While pornography and anonymous sex reflect on the decadence and dehumanization of our society, they offer no real solution for problems of the heart.

Relationships – challenging enough for non-victims – can be a minefield for abuse victims.  This is an overview of the problems victims may encounter with relationships and intimacy.

Boundaries

Having been repeatedly violated, we are likely to have difficulty with boundaries.  We are either wholly without defenses or guarded by high walls.

The first (a total absence of screening, since our childhood boundaries were so often ignored) allows others to take advantage of us easily.  The second (over-compensation, in an effort to protect ourselves from further violation) makes it hard for anyone to approach us.

Trust Issues

Consistency and faithfulness were not modeled for us.  We, therefore, expect betrayal; see enemies where there are none.  This can result in needless insecurity, jealousy where there is no cause.

Even the most loving partner will tire of proving his/her devotion in the face of repeated, groundless accusations.

But accusations need not be limited to infidelity.  We may experience innocent statements as hurtful or insulting; may strike out at a partner who is at a loss to understand what s/he has done wrong.  We, in turn, may be at a loss to explain.

Control Issues/Violence

Of course, there are individuals who are genuinely controlling.  Abuse victims may, unconsciously, select for partners like this – responding to what is familiar to us from our families of origin. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Prostitution, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women