Statistics say that 1 in 4 women have been sexually abused in their lifetime (www.preventabusenow.com). There is a great need for counseling by prepared counselors and encouragement for these women. Though some situations are obviously beyond the abilities of the average Christian to handle, there are some things we can all learn from the Bible that will help us fulfill each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
1) She needs to know she is not alone.
There are women included in the Scripture who were abused. Two are Dinah in Genesis 34 and Tamar in 2 Samuel 13.
2) She needs to know she is guiltless in this matter.
Often an abused woman feels guilty as if she committed sin herself. Sometimes her abuser even tells her so. God was very clear in the Law of Moses about this in Deuteronomy 22:25-27: “But if the man meets the engaged woman out in the country, and he rapes her, then only the man must die. Do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no crime worthy of death. She is as innocent as a murder victim. Since the man raped her out in the country, it must be assumed that she screamed, but there was no one to rescue her.” This plainly shows God’s thoughts on the matter.
3) She needs a Savior’s love.
It is difficult for an abused woman to feel worthy of love, especially the love of God. Remembering daily that Christ died for her helps her to feel special, but it may take some time for the words to sink in. Hold her hand and pray with her, asking God to help her see Christ’s love.
4) She needs a Father’s love.
There is a story of a little girl who had cut herself. For whatever reason, the doctors could not administer anesthesia. The girl looked at her father and said, “Will you hold my hand? I think I’ll be okay, if you just hold my hand.” In my own trials, I would pray and picture myself curled up into my Father’s lap with His arms around me. It is a wonderful feeling to feel protection as a child of God.
5) When her abuser asks forgiveness, she needs to forgive and let go of anger.
Forgiveness is a serious matter but absolutely essential for the healing process. Jesus included it in His model prayer, taught us a parable about the punishment of an unforgiving servant in Matthew 18, and said this in Mark 11:25-26: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
It is important to forgive others; however, it is a choice that often takes time. As we go through life, we may think we have finally forgiven that person, but then a situation arises and the anger reappears. We must choose again to forgive and pray for strength. It is significant that Jesus says, “…seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22).
6) She needs to know the power of prayer.
A friend counseled me by quoting Jesus‘ words, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). He challenged me to pray for my abuser. At first it was difficult to even mention his name in my prayers, but it wasn’t long before my anger was replaced with genuine concern over his welfare. I wanted him to become a Christian and know God’s forgiveness. Prayer changes things (James 1:6).
7) She needs to help others.
It is easy to keep the focus on herself and “wallow” in self-pity. At some point she must come to a place where she’s firmly planted on God’s solid rock and can reach down to pull someone else up from the depths of despair (2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us”).
Adapted from an article by Dawn Pasley posted on Brad Harrub’s Focus.org website