Abuse thrives in isolating the victim. The devil knows this very well. God also knows it. God says isn’t good for any of us to be alone, which is why he created Eve for Adam. He tells us to stay in church so that we are not alone. He tells us that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is in their midst. The same goes for abuse victims:
The victim has been alone long enough!
Victims need to know that they are no longer alone. It is crucial in their healing for a survivor to have someone in the church who is safe, be it a pastor, pastoral minister, or liaison for abuse victims. They need to be able to verbalize that they have been abused and feel comfortable enough be able to say that it was SRA.
Verbalization brings the survivor out of the darkness and into the light.
This might be the first time the survivor has shared abuse with anyone. This might be the first time the survivor has told someone in the church. This might be the survivor’s first time to try to deal about the abuse with God.
This is the survivor’s step closer to God.
So what does the survivor need?
- To know that he or she is believed.
- To know that God is good and wants to help.
- That the church is a place where he or she will be helped.
- That someone will be praying for and with him or her.
- That there is someone safe to go to for prayer requests.
- To get Bible passages to read; to get people to be safe with; to feel that he or she will not be judged; to be accepted as is into the church and be treated as a child of God.
This is not difficult. It does not require any special degree and it won’t bring danger to the church. It will bring healing to someone who is breaking a life-long hopelessness to try one last time.
Shower this survivor with love.
Do not send the survivor back to isolation. Do not tell the survivor to stay quiet, that it will make people nervous to hear, or that they have to take their situation to God and deal with it on their own. I can give you horror stories about what survivors have had to endure in the church. The sad reality is that SRA survivors have learned that the church is not the place to be set free.
It is time to make the church the goto place for SRA survivors to get set free.
If you are friendly to SRA survivors, you will find more showing up. You will find that when they begin to heal that they will bring a level of spiritual maturity to the table that will surprise you. SRA survivors have been opened to spiritual battles that Christians will not meet in their walks. They have not only endured the abuse of them, they have overcome them to be able to walk through your door. You are facing fierce warriors that will be a blessing to have on your team. You and your church will grow spiritually in the process.
Create a plan for your church staff to deal with the possibility of an SRA survivor disclosing abuse. Make sure you are ready to bring the survivor into the light and into the place where the chains can be broken off.
We can do this one church at a time.
Make your church an SRA friendly church. Make your ministry an SRA friendly ministry. May God bless you richly in the process!
Photo credit: Thank you to Ales Cerin!