The physical ramifications of sexual abuse...

It's true most of us feel the need to perform. The popularity of Facebook, twitter and Instagram can attest to that. I think it all comes down to checking out motives... but that's a post for another day...

Writing all of this has gotten me curious, though. What is it about sexual abuse that makes me this way? Does it even have an impact on my feelings of worthlessness? My disordered eating? Or am I just a product of a very visually stimulated generation?

Studies after studies show that abused women in particular are more likely to have:

  • depression
  • obesity
  • stress
  • PTSD
Sexual abuse most strongly affects the hippocampus, which is responsible for:
  • consolidation of new memories
  • emotional response
  • navigation
  • spatial orientation
It's true we are not limited to, nor defined by, our past. How can I break out of this? Am I doomed to fight depression and obesity? Will I forever shut down emotionally when I argue with my husband? 

I struggle to find a good middle ground. It's true that my hope is in Christ. It's true that there is freedom in the Gospel and that my worth is defined by what He did for me on the Cross, and not what I do for others or what others have done to me.

But isn't it also true that God created psychology? There is great value in counseling and therapy. I have had great success with it... but I know that I cannot contribute my downward spirals to hormones and repressed memories alone. There has to be Christ.

So, while there are those in the church who scoff at any sort of mental illness or disease, citing that we already have the ultimate Counselor, I don't entirely agree 100%. On the other hand, those in the church who simply shrug and call the local "Christian Counseling" center can't be right, either. 

I have been a victim of both approaches. (Perhaps victim is a little strong). Both likely did more harm than good. I have felt chastised for not "trusting God enough" to take away my fears, insecurities, etc. I have also sat on a couch and received some VERY poor counseling.

My (though limited) advice is this: find a Gospel-believing counselor with a strong background in sexual abuse recovery and maybe even PTSD. Also, meet regularly with someone from your church you respect to pray with and read scripture with. Of course this is an ideal situation and those don't always happen. But the truth is everyone needs prayer and the Word and the Gospel. But the Bible is a history book about God and His people. It is NOT a psychology manual or a how to guide when it comes to specific things, such as overcoming the effects of abuse. 

Here are a few links to various studies (for anyone interested) on the effects of sexual abuse:


Popular Posts