How to Rise Above Abuse (Counseling Through the Bible Series) (10 page)

BOOK: How to Rise Above Abuse (Counseling Through the Bible Series)
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“What is happening to me is bad, but I myself am not bad. This abuse is not my fault. Telling the truth to someone I can trust is good because it may help prevent the bad from happening again. Jesus loves all children, and He loves me. I’m trusting in Him to make me clean and to take care of me.”

“Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you…wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Psalm 25:20; 51:7).

How Can I Be Fully and Finally Free?


God’s heart is grieved when any one of His precious creations is abused. He loves you and knows how to set you free physically, mentally, emotionally, and yes, even spiritually.

There are four spiritual truths you need to know—see the appendix on pages 411-13.


Marilyn described it as “the
day of the rest of my life.”
And it involved the secret—her personal secret storm.

On May 9, 1991, the secret Marilyn had struggled for years to bury deep within her soul surfaced in a way she never would have expected. Until that day, D.D. Harvey “knew”…and her beloved Larry “knew.” But now anyone reading the daily newspaper would discover the detestable secret, the disgusting shame, the sordid dysfunction within one of Denver’s most prominent families. When the news broke, the
Denver Post
devoted numerous pages to detailing the personal stories that disclosed the twisted perversion forced upon the city’s pride and joy, the former Miss America.

Just as Marilyn’s childhood was divided between the “day child” and the “night child,” her life as a middle-aged adult would “be split into ‘before May 8’ and ‘after May 8’ ”
Marilyn now had a new platform—not as a beauty queen, but as an incest survivor—and she had a new message: to bring hope and healing to families shattered by the secret storm of childhood sexual abuse.

Many sufferers like Marilyn have learned from their painful experiences that

“the L
is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit”


A. A Key Verse to Memorize

As Marilyn and all other victims of childhood sexual abuse know, fear and stark terror reign in their hearts. They find it very difficult to trust others. Safety, not happiness, is their goal. Always on the defense, they are preoccupied with spotting signs of danger and planning ways of escape, ways to save themselves. Because of those around them who have been untrustworthy, their greatest need is to find security in the One who is completely trustworthy—the Lord. The Bible says,

“Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the L
your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you”


B. A Key Passage to Read and Reread

Everyone needs to know who is trustworthy and who is not. Those who have been victimized have great difficulty in the area of trust. In fact, some victims come to the conclusion, “There is no one I can trust.” The heart cry of every victim of child abuse—of every victim of violation—can be found in Psalm 55.

Psalm 55


God, I appeal to You

verse 1

I am troubled and distraught

verse 2

I suffer at the voice and the stares of my victimizer

verse 3

My heart is in anguish, and I am terrified

verse 4

Fear and horror have overwhelmed me

verse 5

How I long to escape far from the tempest and storm!

verses 6-8

I see the violence and strife

verse 9

I know the malice and abuse

verse 10

I hear the threats and lies

verse 11

I feel absolutely betrayed

verses 12-14

Deal with my betrayer as his evil demands

verse 15

I call upon You, and You save me

verse 16

I am distressed, and You hear me

verse 17

I am opposed, and You ransom me

verse 18

You know all about my abuser and will punish him

verse 19

My betrayer attacks those close to him

verse 20

He is a smooth talker whose words can’t be trusted

verse 21

I cast my cares on You, Lord, for You will sustain me

verse 22

You won’t let me fall

verse 22

You will bring judgment upon my betrayer

verse 23

I choose to put my trust in You!

verse 23

C. How to Apply the Do’s and Don’ts of Awareness

From the very first day that full family disclosure appeared in the
Denver Post
, Marilyn’s story spread like wildfire. People emerged from all walks of life saying one of two things: “I too am a survivor of incest” or “I too am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.” The phones would not stop ringing.

One of the first public attempts to help other survivors was the giving of a $250,000 grant made by the Van Derbur family to Denver’s Kempe National Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect.
The center had many programs, but up until this time no treatment had been offered for adults who had been sexually abused as children.

When it comes to abuse of any kind, too many people become like an ostrich. They stick their head in the sands of denial. Although it is tremendously difficult to do so, facing the truth that child abuse has taken place is the first step to healing. Take comfort in the fact that

“when justice is done,
it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers”



When it comes to facing the truth about child sexual abuse, know these Do’s and Don’ts:


be aware that child abuse is illegal, a crime that must be reported.

be aware that children are usually abused by people they know.

be aware that children seldom lie about abuse.

be aware that most often physical abuse is violent, but sexual abuse is usually not violent.

be aware that children may deny or change their stories because of fear.

be aware that sexual abuse is progressive and will get worse if not stopped.


be in denial, no matter how difficult it is to believe the child.

assume that if it happened only once, it is not serious.

minimize the abuse.

let the offender go without confrontation.

blame other family members.

keep abuse a “family secret.”


“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge;
the ears of the wise seek it out”


Babysitters and Perpetrators

“How can we protect our children from being sexually abused by babysitters?”

Most parents don’t realize that children in need of childcare are highly vulnerable to sexual violation.

First, talk to your children: “Don’t let anyone touch your private parts or the parts covered by your bathing suit.”


Then, talk to the babysitter/childcare worker: “We’re glad you will care for our children, who are very dear to us. We want you to know that we’ve trained them to not let anyone touch the parts of their bodies covered by their bathing suits. And if anyone does try, they must tell us. If our children tell you about any inappropriate touching—anything sexual either now or in the future—we expect you to share that information with us. Please help us keep our children safe. Thank you for being loving toward our children.”

It’s wonderful that the love chapter in the Bible says,

[Love] always protects”

(1 C

D. How to Respond to Childhood Sexual Abuse

Nothing penetrates the core of a child’s inner being like sexual abuse. Its long tentacles reach deep within the child, wrapping around the young heart and choking and killing innocence and trust. For many, the terror is so overwhelming that no part of the soul is able to escape its evil presence.

The impact of the abuse inflicted upon Marilyn Van Derbur continued to corrode her personal dignity and pervert her perception of others even after the abuse ended. She, as well as other victims, can truly identify with the heart cry of Proverbs 25:20: “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”

To handle the hundreds upon hundreds of cries for help, Marilyn quickly established a survivor’s network that offered counseling and support.

Marilyn then accepted countless speaking engagements to help increase abuse awareness and to provide healing for adult survivors. Today, many victims-turned-victors are sharing their stories of hope and, as a result, many others are—for the first time—facing the future with hope.

The Bible says,

“There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off”


If You Suspect Child Abuse…

— Contact Child Protective Services and other child advocacy programs to verify or share your suspicions and to plan a course of action. (Remember, many states in the United States have laws that require the reporting of suspected child abuse.)

— Contact a family attorney.

— Contact a shelter for women and children.

— Contact a pastor or spiritual leader and a professional child abuse counselor.

BOOK: How to Rise Above Abuse (Counseling Through the Bible Series)
8.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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