“In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.”—Psalm 71:1-4
Abuse can happen to anyone and can take many forms.
- A child who is hit repeatedly and kicked by an angry parent.
- A teenager who is sexually abused by a trusted adult family member.
- A frail, vulnerable, elderly loved one who is mistreated by a caregiver.
- A spouse who has endured years of put-downs and name-calling.
- Or maybe most sinister of all—spiritual abuse, such as when someone is forced into a cult and taught principles that do not align with the Bible. Or when a representative of God abuses their position of power, which damages the victim’s faith.
No one ever deserves to be abused. Abuse is the exact opposite of what our loving God wants for his precious children. All too often people who abuse others have been abused themselves and are repeating a tragic pattern. This can never be an excuse for abusive behavior. Many people who have been victimized never harm anyone else and successfully break an intergenerational cycle.
No matter what form abuse takes, it leaves scars. Some of these are visible, such as bruises and broken bones. But often the scars are invisible. They may take the form of shame, depression, anxiety, anger, and low self-esteem for the survivors. They may take the form of guilt, embarrassment, and self-hatred for the perpetrators. Left untreated, these scars can become “infected” and lead to mental health issues, such as clinical depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They may lead people who desperately want to forget the pain to turn to alcohol or drugs. And because of the known ties between physical and mental health, these scars may even contribute to medical issues, such as heart disease and cancer.
Abuse also impacts spiritual health. For that reason, the soul should also be considered when one seeks healing. No matter what the type of abuse, whether it happened once or repeatedly, there is help and hope for healing with God. There is no trauma that is too difficult for him to handle. There is no abuse too complex for him to heal. Keeping that spiritual perspective on the path to healing provides hope for the soul through the difficult valleys.
If you or someone you know is being abused or has been in the past and the abuse has never been addressed, please seek professional help. Reach out to your pastor, as most pastors are trained to facilitate spiritual healing through the powerful Word of God. Also consider talking with a professional Christian counselor who is specially trained in treating abuse and trauma. A Christian counselor is uniquely able to incorporate prayer and Scripture into a treatment plan designed to facilitate healing.
If the actions and/or words of someone you know or your own words/actions are abusive, please seek help from your pastor or a professional Christian counselor. They will use God’s Word to address repentance and restoration. Issues such as forgiveness and possible reconciliation with the party that has been harmed can be addressed.
Let us reach out with God’s love to help those who are impacted by abuse, and help them find healing.
Sheryl Cowling, LCSW, BC-TMH, BCPCC, BCETS is a licensed clinical social worker for Christian Family Solutions. If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse and needs professional Christian counseling, please call CFS at 1.800.438.1772 or visit ChristianFamilySolutions.org.