When No Isn't Enough
Sex was designed for marriage. Consequently, any sex apart from that design is substandard. But sex that is forced upon someone is the worst kind. Sometimes these acts happen once; other times they go on for days, months or even years. What do you do when someone close to you — or someone you don't even know — makes you, or a loved one, a victim of sexual abuse?
- Don't take the blame. Whatever the reason and whatever the relationship, it is NEVER your fault if someone takes advantage of you in a sexual way. Husbands don't have the right to rape their wives just because they're married and they “deserve” sex. Parents don't have the right to violate their children just because their children love them. Strangers don't have a right to be intimate with someone just because they want sex. Those who have been forced into sexual acts without their consent are victims, and victims of sexual abuse are not at fault for what has happened to them.
- Talk about the abuse. Don't let shame keep you silent about being violated. If you are being sexually abused on an ongoing basis, ask someone you trust—like a parent or friend—for help in getting out of the abusive situation. If the abuse happened only once, tell someone who cares that you need support in the healing process. Remember, you are not to blame, so you should not feel you've done something you need to hide.
- Seek professional help. Because sexual abuse misuses something so personal and intimate, most victims suffer from guilt, shame, anger and low self-esteem. Getting guidance from an experienced counselor or pastor can make it easier to work through those feelings so you can begin the healing process.
- Report the offender. An important part of healing is knowing that you made sure the person who abused you can't do the same to anyone else. Don't be afraid to tell a law enforcement agency or an abuse counselor. Taking legal steps to stop a sexual offender removes the power from his hands and puts it into yours, which helps you gain a sense of control over your own recovery.
- Listen to others' cries for help. If you suspect a child or loved one is being abused, don't stand by and let it happen just because you're not sure. Ask the person about the abuse and, if necessary, help her to find a safe place to keep the abuse from continuing. Your caring support can help her begin the process of healing both body and heart.
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