With each passing decade, we collectively have become better at shedding light on sexual abuse.
Obviously, there is always room for growth. I get that. But I am grateful we have made strides to…
Expose sexual abuse
Hold perpetrators and organizations accountable
Establish precautions to protect those at risk for abuse
Give voice to sexual abuse survivors, and
Offer resources to help survivors heal
So many men and women were sexually abused as children, teens or young adults—by family members, friends, acquaintances, church leaders and/or strangers. As you read this right now, you are possibly thinking of abuse you or your spouse suffered.
The abuse maybe happened once. Or maybe it persisted for months or years. No matter the number of experiences someone suffered, the damage is real.
While there may be some threads of similarity among abuse survivors, each abuse survivor has their own story. The extent of damage the abuse has had on an individual may vary, but certainly we know that sexual abuse in any form is a horrific act with a lot of lingering collateral damage.
I am not a counselor or doctor. I am not someone who has extensively researched sexual abuse and its victims. I am not a frontline prosecutor trying to bring justice.
What I am is a wife, writer and speaker on sexual intimacy in marriage. And I know without a doubt that the past sexual abuse experienced by one or both spouses often negatively impacts a marriage.
Past sexual abuse wreaks havoc on countless married couples’ lives, and one of the most glaring points of difficulty often is their sexual intimacy. Enjoying sex in the right context of marriage rooted in love may feel impossible for a sexual abuse survivor.
I hear from couples and individuals still struggling with the aftermath of abuse that sometimes happened decades earlier. Because I care about married couples experiencing healthy and authentic sexual intimacy in their marriage, I care about sexual abuse survivors being able to heal.
I care about people no longer being held captive by the negative effects of the abuse. Certainly I want couples enjoying sex to the fullest, but healing from past sexual abuse is vital to living fully in all aspects of life, not just in bed.
If you are reading this and you were abused in your past or your spouse was, and you know there has not been healing from that abuse, I pray you consider this your nudge to do something.
I don’t know what healing looks like in your situation. What I do know is there are solid resources available. Yes, God can miraculously heal you of the deep scars from abuse, but I think more often than not, He works through people trained and equipped to guide that healing.
There are counselors, seminars, retreats, books, online sources, support groups and more. For some sexual abuse survivors, it may take more than one resource to work toward lasting freedom from past abuse.
The work likely will involve individual work and couple work to peel back engrained mindsets, triggers and patterns that have hampered authentic intimacy in the marriage. Don’t give up on the hard work of healing, though. Please don’t give up.
Two resources I recommend are On the Threshold of Hope by Dr. Diane Mandt Langberg and The Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allender. Both also offer workbooks. Dr. Langberg also has a list of resources at this link. You also may find helpful information from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
There are many other resources, too, so research to find what you believe will be transformational for you and your marriage.
It takes courage to heal. But you know what? It took courage to survive what you survived. You already have been courageous. You can continue to be courageous in your healing.
You are worth it. And your marriage is worth it.
Copyright 2020, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog. Links may be monetized.