Dealing with rape and past sexual abuse
I am 28 yrs. old and have been sexually abused by my oldest brother, mentally abused by other relatives. I was sexually abused by two family friends, I have a daughter that I gave up for adoption when I was a teenager. The same year I was raped by a man of another race and became pregnant by him. I decided that it was not the childs fault and decided to give him up for adoption. When I told my mother about the sexual abuse, she said “It happened to me as a child, I’m fine and you will be too, just forget it ever happened.” This is only a few of the many things I have gone through in my life. I have always been able to deal with it until now. All of a sudden I find myself in an awful depression. I’m irritable and always thinking about it and it’s really starting to effect my life. I have tried counseling and they just say “I know what you are going through and it will be better if you talk about it.”, but they don’t know and talking does me no good. Do you have any ideas about what may be able to help me?
I realize that you have suffered much abuse and that you are really be in pain.
What happens to women who have been sexually abused is a sort of syndrome….
you block out the past and become a survivor by continuing to live your life the best way you know how and deny any negative feelings which surface at times because of the abuse.
Then, all of the sudden, when you are in your twenties or thirties…. feelings begin to surface like an erupting volcano…. Something happens in your life to cause you to have to face and deal with the past sexual abuse…. because you were victimized…. you suffered loss of your virginity…. you were assaulted and shamed.. you felt you lost your dignity.
And that trauma affects you…. the way you think and feel about yourself. You probably feel like you aren’t worth much and may even feel that you deserved to be treated that way….. you feel depressed and hopeless about life because people mistreated you in a horrific way…. taking something from you that you did not want to give…. That makes you fearful that it might happen again and you continue to feel like a victim….. You may have control issues and trust issues with family and friends. If you are married or contemplating marriage… you may have fears about sex and difficulties with sexual intimacy.
The past abuse causes you to feel tons of emotions….. welling up in you that you tried to hold down over the years but because you are a human being you have to process these feelings of …. anger, rage, hurt, shame, fear, sadness, and more.
You have to learn to cope with them eventually- putting them in the past so the past no longer controls you.
Because you suppressed the pain over the years…. there is a lot to come out and grieve. And grieving is what you must do to get through this. I have written about grieving abuse and grief recovery.
Maybe you will also consider getting close to God at this time. God loves you and can give you the spiritual strength to work through the past and get on with your life. I know that it might be difficult to think about turning to God at this time since you may blame God for letting it happen and may wonder how He could allow such terrible things to happen to you. I implore you to give Him an opportunity to reveal Himself to you. Please read the articles on faith and suffering to get a biblical perspective on God, how to know Him personally and why He allows suffering.
Consider talking with your physician about getting on an antidepressant for awhile as well. This kind of trauma will deplete your body of neurochemicals which help you feel good about life and help your concentration and motivation. An anti-depressant can give your serotonin a boost and help you get back on track physically. Regular exercise will help as well.
May I recommend that you try contacting a professional counselor in your area by contacting the American Assoc. of Christian Counselors .
How can you process the anger which has consumed your life? Anger is normal in this situation and your anger needs to be expressed in a healthy way. This is a terribly unjust crime you have suffered and you have a right to be angry. You can’t walk away from something like this and not take action to protect yourself and others from further harm. Thus, the perpetrators must be held accountable to the law for their actions. This will take assertiveness. You need support and encouragement to become assertiveness, to bring your case to justice, to protect yourself in the future. Read about assertiveness andanger. Once you begin to process what has happened, to explore the damage, get affirmation, validation and support, you will realize that you are not alone. You will realize that you can go on with your life.
What has happened to you does not change who you are. You are not “damaged goods”. The shame which you feel from the crimes committed against you are not your fault and should not impact your self-worth. You are loved and valued highly by God and He wants a relationship with you. Consider how He can help you discover supernatural strength, courage and wisdom to proceed through life and move past the loss and pain.
You may also need to talk with your physician about getting an antidepressant to alleviate the hopelessness you are feeling now. Consider reading Putting Your Past Behind You: Finding Hope for Life’s Deepest Hurts or The Freedom From Depression Workbook orWhat’s Good About Anger? a book which helps you turn your anger into assertiveness and problem-solving or Anchor for the Soul: Help for the Present, Hope for the Future.
Obtaining counseling, support and protection will help you move forward towards healing and recovery. I pray that you will become stronger in spite of the brokenness you have suffered.
Check out Willowcreek’s site for a referral to a church near you, if you do not have one, and to contact a pastor you can pray with at as well.
I have many articles on this site which can help you understand and work through some of the issues you are struggling with.
Bold Love by Dan B., Dr. Allender, Tremper, Iii, Dr. Longman
Putting Your Past Behind You: Finding Hope for Life’s Deepest Hurts by Erwin Lutzer
The Freedom from Depression Workbook by Les Carter, Frank Minirth
What’s Good About Anger? by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC
Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve by Lewis Smedes
A Safe Place: Beyond Sexual Abuse by Jan Morrison
© copyright 2002 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC