rebelling against low expectations

How do you move past abuse?


ANONYMOUS WRITES: I was sexually abused by my older brother when I was younger. I’ve recently come to grips with that, and I’m trying to move past it. I’ve forgiven him, I’ve come to see that I’m not to blame for what happened, and I realize that the fact that someone did this to me doesn’t mean I can’t still be pure.

But it’s hard to keep from holding this against my brother (who has changed completely since then) and even being mad at God for letting this happen. I find it hard to trust anyone anymore. I have it better than most abuse victims in that I have two amazing friends who have helped me get through this.

I know that if this happened to me, there have to be others like me. This discussion question isn’t so much for me as for the others. What would you say to someone who has been abused in this way?

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  • I haven’t personally dealt with this trauma…so I am incompetent to give you the advice you seek…
    I do, however, have a very dear friend who dealt with sexual abuse (though in a different context than you) and I’ve seen the trauma she went through!!! I helped her as much as I could; as did others… but ultimately what got her through was God! I know I can speak for her when I say that…Since that happened to her, I’ve seen the change come about in her and seen her relationship with God increase in an amazing way…!! It was a long and difficult process, but the Lord helped her get through…though I know she still struggles today in some areas; which is entirely understandable and expected!
    I’ll ask her and see if she would be willing or have the time to write out some encouragement for you; though she might also remain anonymous…
    To conclude, I just want to say I’m praying for you; and also, it’s natural and not something to be ashamed of to struggle with this!!!! So don’t feel ashamed for struggling!!
    I don’t personally know the struggle, but I’ve seen the struggle of others (this friend and others) and how long-lasting the effects are and how difficult it is to forgive and overcome the hurt….Please know my heart breaks for you and if only I had the magic words to heal your every hurt and help you be able to trust again!! But you know what? God has those magic words! I know you already are seeking Him for the answers, but continue to be diligent in calling in Him in your times of struggle! He WILL help you! I promise!!
    I hope I’ve at least encouraged you a little bit….!

  • First, I would say to get away from your brother if at all possible. Yes, he has changed, but you need the space to process everything and to heal. Also, ignore the thoughts that you have lost your purity – the only way you can do that is if you consensually have sexual activity with someone else.

    Now, that we have the basics down, here’s my ideas:

    1. Realize that God has a plan. (Romans 8:28) It may not seem this way right now but He really does. He has a way of turning bad things into good things, and usually the worse something is, the better you end up.

    2. You will get past this. I know you think right now that you won’t, but you will. Time has an amazing way of putting things into perspective and will make you more able to forgive and move on.

    3. Get professional help. Don’t blow this off, this is serious. One of my greatest regrets in my life is that I didn’t go to counseling when I was struggling through a major depressive disorder. They will be able to help you work through things and work on combating your specific fears.

    4. Remember that abuse doesn’t have to define you. Not only are you a child of God, but you can have so many other good things that define you. Find the things you love and do them! I play piano in church, run spartan races, observe galaxies in my backyard with my telescopes, and hang out with friends, just for an example. Learn how to dance, travel as much as you can, make crafts and sell them on Etsy, work on cars – the sky’s the limit! Follow your dreams (as long as they are not against God’s plans) and go for it!!!

    Well, I think that’s it…kinda a long post lol but hope that helps 🙂

  • I don’t have much of an idea of what this is like, but the one thing that I would say is that when you suffer something, there is always the possibility that God allowed that to happen so that you can minister to someone else in the same situation who wouldn’t have listened otherwise; that that someone can see that you actually know how they feel and can empathise and that through that they can trust you.

    Of course, there are other possibilities, such as God teaching you something through your hardships, or them leading you to do something good that you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

  • I have never ever experienced anything like this but I do have a story that holds a powerful lesson.

    St. Maria Goretti was born on October 16, 1890. She was the daughter of humble
    sharecroppers, Maria and her family moved to the little town of Ferriere, Italy
    in 1899 in search of work. Desperately seeking to support his family, Luigi
    Goretti struck up a bargain with Signor Serenelli, who had a son named
    Alessandro. The two families lived together in a building owned by Count
    Mazzolini. Maria quickly matured in grace and holiness in the eyes of friends
    and other acquaintances. After losing her father to malaria, she developed
    great strength and maturity. Her charming modesty, cheerful obedience and the
    serious, but free acceptance of a hundred thankless home chores distinguished
    her from the other children who would play in the dusty streets of Ferriere.
    Perhaps the highlight of her life was her First Holy Communion, which she
    dutifully prepared for and awaited with great anticipation. She truly seemed to
    be advancing “in wisdom, and age and grace before God and men.”
    Alessandro Serenelli started having impure thoughts about Maria. These impure
    thoughts led to the harassing of Maria Goretti several times. On July 5, 1902,
    when Maria was only about 11 years old, Alessandro would not take no for an
    answer anymore. He demanded that she do what he told her to or else. She
    refused and yelled that it was a sin and that “God does not want it!”.
    Alessandro took a long file used for sharpening the tools used in the fields
    that they worked on. He stabbed her 9 times I believe. Almost every single one
    of those 9 stab wounds went in and then out of her body. Or in other words,
    they went straight through her body. Alessandro left Maria on the ground and
    locked himself into one of the rooms in their home. Maria somehow managed to
    crawl to the door and unlatch it to scream for help. However, Alessandro heard
    her do this and he came back to stab her 4 more times. I cannot exactly
    remember how many times Alessandro stabbed Maria. These last 4 stab wounds
    would be the wounds that would kill Maria. Alessandro stabbed her with so much
    force that he actually bent the file he was using because it hit her spine.

    Doctors in Nettuno operated on Maria without anesthesia. After the surgery, Maria asked for water. The doctors could not give her any water because it could kill her
    if she drank any fluids. A Priest talked to her about it and said (These aren’t
    the exact words. I am doing this from memory.), “When God asked for drink, he
    was not given any. Do you think you could offer up your sufferings?” Maria
    agreed and never asked for anything else up until her death. 20 painful hours
    of suffering during which she forgave and prayed for Alessandro, Maria entered
    Heaven fortified with the Last Sacraments. Before she died, she asked God to
    forgive Alessandro. She said, “I want him up in Heaven with me.” Her last
    earthly gaze rested upon a picture of the Blessed Mother. It was July 6, 1902.

    Alessandro Serenelli was not a Catholic at the time. In the first few years of his imprisonment, he was not sorry for what he had done to Maria. The jailers had to keep Alessandro separate from all of the other prisoners because Alessandro would get into fights. All of this changed though. One night, while Alessandro was sleeping, he had a dream about Maria Goretti. Maria was holding 13 white lilies. One by one, she handed them to Alessandro. These lilies represented each of her stab wounds. This dream was a sign that she forgave him. From then on, Alessandro devoted his life to prayer in his jail cell. He read the Bible and was very
    devout. He was released early from prison because everyone could tell that he
    had changed. The first thing he did after he was released was go to Maria’s
    mother. He begged for her forgiveness. She said to him, “Maria has forgiven you,
    so how can I not forgive you.”

    Wow. This was longer than I expected it to be. Oops. But anyways, Maria’s story was a very inspiring one. The whole point that I wanted to make from telling you this story was: Things happen for a reason. Even though they might seem so awful, I believe that everything has a reason behind it. Because Maria died, because Maria forgave, Alessandro converted to Catholicism and repented for his sins. Good came from Maria’s death. Even though it was such an awful death, even though she did not deserve it, even though she knew what she was doing, good came from it because Maria chose to forgive.

  • As a person who had a similar experience, I’d say that forgiveness and letting go of anger are a daily process. I don’t know what you mean by your brother being a completely different person. I wouldn’t define mine that way. At the very least, he has never acknowledged or apologized for what he did. Regardless, I frequently pray for him and for love and forgiveness toward him. These are things only God can do. Jesus was tortured and murdered and while dying asked for forgiveness for His persecutors. If He can forgive them that, than He can certainly help you and me forgive. That said, I have purposefully put a distance between my brother and me, geographically and emotionally. Usually I only see him at family gatherings and I’m polite, but unwilling to consider being friends. I just don’t see a benefit to that, for him or me. I did make a point of being close to his kids when I lived closer. I was very worried that I’d take out the anger that I had for him on his kids.

    As for trusting others, I’m still working on that. I also had a very helpful, supportive friend come alongside me, which helped tremendously. Another thing that has helped is my husband. God put a wonderful, much more trusting and open person (i.e. opposite of me) in my life even after I decided that I’d never marry, partly because of issues getting emotionally close to be. While I don’t think you should rush out and look for a husband if you’re not married, it’s something you should keep in mind. A good, trusting relationship is possible.

    I made sure my husband knew (before we married, but once we were engaged) what had happened, though I didn’t go into detail. That meant making sure he was the type of person who could be trusted with that information compared to my family whom I’ve never talked to about it. At the time, I did this so my husband would understand the need to keep my brother at a distance, especially if we ever had kids. That sounds selfish, but it was necessary and has worked out well.

    As for everyone else, I work daily to find a balance between good caution and fear/paranoia. It’s been 15+ years and I still have trouble trusting people, often even with little things. I pray for assistance with this and lean on my support system. Other things that I’ve found helpful: avoiding the topic. I seriously limit watching shows or reading books that deal with abuse and such, because it heightens my fear and depression. When I hear about these things, I pray for the people involved, especially that the victims will have support and healing, but I try not to dwell on it.

    I also try not to compare myself to others; having five good friends is just as good as having 50 friends. Example: my husband is the kind of person who walks to the store and comes back with a new friend he met on the way. While I love him and trust his judgment, that’s not how I aspire to be. The same for friends who are a little too generous with Facebook. It’s okay to be a more private person. Just don’t go too far and lock yourself in a closet.

  • I will be praying for you. This one testimony blows me away every time and might be of some encouragement to you. This woman was raped at gun point several times, but her story of Jesus’ restoration is AMAZING!!! Even though I have never had to deal with anything like this, it is still encouraging to me:

  • I’m praying for you. I’m here for you. I’m happy to go through stuff with you again if you want. Remember: God is faithful. Look at how the Bible says to deal with sin in other people around us: good examples and bad examples. I didn’t realize how many there were, but in a short period of time, I was blown away by how much the Bible actually says on this topic.

    @coleshupe:disqus has it mostly right. Follow the advice given, and pray some more.

  • I was also sexually and physically abused by a family member when I was younger and it took me about 10 years to tell someone. It is a very hard and unfortunate thing to go through and it shouldn’t happen but it does. I reached out to my confirmation leader who told the class about her experience with abuse and she told me that it is hard to overcome. But the first thing you must do is forgive the abuser. Next you need to realize that God wants to take away your pain and sorrow. He wants you to let go of the pain and He will take it. He doesn’t want to see us suffer. Try opening up to a religious leader or spiritual counselor because they will help you realize God’s grace and how He wants to help you. That has made all the difference in my life. I used to be so depressed and scared of the world because of my abuse but now I am not. I used to hear him, and see him, and even feel him hurting me and it put me in a very dark and scary place. But when I opened up to God I became happier with my life. I encourage you to do the same. I will keep you in my prayers. God bless you. You are not alone.

  • My friend sent me something in response to this question; but wished to remain anonymous, so I’m posting it under my account. Here is what she said….

    “I am sorry for what you’re going through but I know that, that doesn’t make a difference having that I have gone through the same thing (yet
    in different circumstances). I hope this helps some!

    1. Continual forgiveness:
    Forgiveness is a very hard thing no matter what your situation. From my own
    experience (yet I have more to work through) you can try and try and try to
    forgive but you have to give it all to God. You can’t try to forgive without
    praying and seeking out God. Which I can tell, you have done. I cannot honestly
    say that I forgive my abusers but I AM trying and I am praying that I can one
    day forgive them. I am going to be
    honest; this healing thing is a lifelong process. You will definitely get
    better but you won’t ever be able to forget what has happened, which is why you
    continually have to forgive.

    2. Don’t ever blame
    yourself for what has happened. I did blame myself for a long time. Why I was
    in that situation but there is NO excuse for what your abuser did. It is most
    certainly not your fault.

    3. You are STILL pure.
    Purity comes from the heart not the body. A lot of things were stolen from you:
    security, trust and many other things. It was taken. If someone came and stole
    your purse. Would you say it was your fault? No, because they TOOK it from you.
    You didn’t give it to them.

    4. Holding a grudge against
    your abuser is normal and I still do it, because it WAS there fault. Which kind
    of goes back to forgiveness. Also, this crime being acknowledged plays a HUGE
    part in your healing. Whether he has asked for forgiveness or even acknowledged
    that this has happened. Your parents,
    friends and family’s acknowledgement matters in your healing also because you
    NEED their support and encouragement.

    5. No acknowledgement is
    not good because…..

    1. To those in our lives, a victim is not a
    victim and perpetrator is not a perpetrator.

    2. the suffering of the one and
    the abuse of the other go unseen.

    3. A double
    injustice occur- the first when the original deed is done and the second when
    it disappears. What I am getting at is, acknowledgment is an essential part to
    your healing.”

  • I agree Megan, love that person and forgive them, if you keep that grudge against them will cause bitterness in your heart. And that only hurts you more. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that, but God will give you grace.

rebelling against low expectations

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