In the fall I co-facilitate a group called Restoring Your Heart. It is always a highlight of my year to to be invited into the painful stories of a courageous group of women who were the victims of childhood sexual abuse. I am awed as they face the hard reality that is their story and move from victim to survivor.
Tears trickle or flood down cheeks, groans extend like long low tuba notes, uproarious laughter cascades down the halls, cuss words soar to the heavens, and silence bows to the sacred nature of the relationships in the group. I worship here like no other place. Father, Son and Holy Spirit battle the evil one for the hearts and souls of these grown women/little girls and I have the privilege to observe and participate.
Sexual abuse is heinous. Yet, it is not more powerful than God. It can take a while for one who has been abused to trust that truth. In facing the truth, AND speaking it out loud with others, somehow the Spirit brings healing to the most painful wound most ever receive.
And that is our next recommendation for a couple; if one of the partners was the victim of sexual abuse during childhood, there must be healing from the trauma. This musn't be, 'you go get healed.' For real healing to happen husband and wife have to own the abuse as 'our' deal.
A brave couple I know remained virgins until they married. She had been abused as a little girl, but had been through some counseling for it. There was great anticipation for the wedding night and sexual union. But the abuse emerged and taunted the young couple in their moment of vulnerability. They were both heartbroken. The man desired to love and please and enjoy his wife. The woman longed to love and please and enjoy her husband. The pain smashed into both of their chests as they sat helpless to connect physically.
It was a difficult process for several years. There was much confusion. Sometimes, sex was fine. Other times it was impossible. Both were choked by feelings of inadequacy. They pondered the horizon wondering if this scenario would play out the rest of their lives.
But gradually there was a shift. They began to talk more openly about it. He began to see that he couldn't solve the situation. She learned more that she wanted him by her side as they struggled. His presence was invaluable. Eventually, sex became a time to celebrate and enjoy instead of fear and avoid.
It became 'our' deal for them and they faced it together.
Do you remember this quote from Patrick Carnes?
Issues that we have in general, we will also have sexually. No technique or method will change that. ~Sexual Anorexia by Patrick Carnes
Abuse causes issues with trust, all or none thinking, boundary problems, intimacy issues, sexual avoidance or hyper-sexuality, feelings of false guilt and many other outcomes of these stabs to the soul.
The only way to deal with it is to deal with it. Most underestimate the far reaching consequences of the childhood abuse. It happened so long ago they say. And it isn't just women. Men are abused too and often have a more difficult time naming it and speaking it, especially if the abuser was another male. Often times for men the abuse stories are first voiced in groups for men that struggle with sexual addictions.
So be tenacious in seeking healing from the abuse. Also, be kind and graceful to the damaged soul inside as you help bring that child along whose heart was so deeply betrayed. Eventually, there can be much dancing and partying and fun in the bedroom.