God's Healing Power for Abuse Survivors (2022)

You did not choose me, but I chose you (John 15:16a).

An unknown author wrote a poem titled "The Chosen Vessel." This poem tells how God searches for a vessel to use. "‘Take me,' cried the gold one, ‘I'm shiny and bright, I'm of great value and I do things just right.'" God passes by the gold, silver, brass, crystal, and wooden urns, and chooses the vessel of clay. The poem explains why:

Then the master looked down and saw a vessel of clay. Empty and broken it helplessly lay. No hope had the vessel that the master might choose, To cleanse and make whole, to fill and to use. "Ah! This is the vessel I've been hoping to find, I will mend and use it and make it all mine."

(Video) Sexual Abuse and God's Healing Power - Lisa's Story

Throughout the pages of this book, women will share their true testimonies and journeys. As helpless children, they were violated, neglected, and abused—physically, emotionally, and sexually. For many, the pain and impact of this abuse was so profound that it shattered every ounce of their identity.

As adults they struggled with criminal behavior, drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution, psychological disorders, and suicide—common problems among adults who were abused as children. Some chose sexually and physically abusive partners; others chose chemically dependent partners. For all of these women, the child abuse of their past contaminated nearly every aspect of their lives.

For nearly forty years I lived with anger, low self-esteem, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and depression as I repressed the pain and reality of my childhood, filled with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Like most victims, I disassociated from the original cause of my anger and helplessness and found expression in destructive acts against myself and others. I tried to fix everything on my own. I failed miserably.

Completely broken, at the lowest point in my life, I called out to God. The Lord heard my cry and responded to me with his love, mercy, and grace. I'm living proof that it doesn't matter who we were yesterday, or what we did—it matters that God wants to do something with our lives today.

God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His plan to save us from our own disaster is permanent and everlasting. Throughout the ages, from 2000 b.c. through today, God continually chooses to heal and transform the most improbable candidates.

The moment we place our faith in Jesus, he reaches down from on high and takes hold of us, remembering our past no more.

(Video) God's Healing Power Restores two victims of childhood sexual abuse

Why would God use such improbable women? I believe it is because the Lord wants to make clear that the power lies in him, not in people. And when people observe such drastic change in broken lives, their eyes turn heavenward.

The last stanza of "The Chosen Vessel" reads:

Then gently he lifted the vessel of clay. Mended and cleansed it and filled it that day. Spoke to it kindly. "There's work you must do, Just pour out to others as I pour into you."

Like the chosen clay vessel, the brave women in this book, who have experienced divine healing and gradual transformation, pour out their hearts to us. Their message is simple: we can be mended and then set free. As their journeys unfold before us, let's walk alongside them and discover the healing and hope available to all through Jesus.

Now meet some of the improbable women of yesterday.

The Daughter of Evil : Elaine's Story

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"Elaine, hide under the bed and don't move," her mother whispered.

Elaine crawled under the bed and peeked out from under the bedspread. In horror, she saw her father drag her mother by the hair from the bedroom. Her mother's screams punctuated the early morning peace. Elaine clapped her hands over her ears to block out the sound. How she wished she could save her mother.

The only escape Elaine found from a brutal father who ran with hoodlums was the TV shows of the '50s, Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver. Only on these shows did Elaine learn about a kinder and gentler world outside the four walls where she lived. She couldn't count the times she dreamed of a dad who loved his family and a mom who was safe in his presence.

She knew the reason the kids at school never invited her to their home to play. The kids talked behind her back, calling her "the daughter of evil." This Deep South community knew her dad well. Word spread quickly about his gambling, stealing, and corruption.

Sadly, everyone from schoolmates to neighbors feared Elaine's dad. One day neighbors watched in disbelief as eleven-year-old Elaine got behind the wheel of their big, fancy car and drove her mother, who had been hit by a bullet, to the hospital. They saw the tragedy playing out in the house many other times, as well, but instead of helping, they hid inside their own houses in fear.

One afternoon a pastor from a community church met Elaine's father, Allen, in the drugstore. The two struck up a polite conversation. Pastor John remembered Allen as one of his basketball students from his coaching days. He had prayed for this troubled young man for many years, even before he heard the rumors all over town.

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Just as the two were about to part company, Pastor John asked, "Allen, would you let our church bus pick up Elaine to join us for Vacation Bible School?"

Allen reluctantly agreed, but he told the pastor not to get out of the bus when he picked her up. Making certain the pastor understood the gravity of the situation, Allen cursed, then said, "Don't start that church business with me—ever. Don't ever step foot on my property, and never mention God to me. Got it?"

Later, Elaine's father took Elaine and her mother aside and told them what he'd said to the pastor. He pointed a loaded gun at Elaine's head, gritted his teeth, and said, "If you tell one secret at that church, your mother will be dead."

Unfortunately Elaine knew he meant it. He had shot people for much less. Even people who befriended her sometimes disappeared off the face of the earth.

For years Elaine had walked by the pastor's church on her way to the store to get bread and milk. She had peeked into the windows and stared with wonder at the statue of a gentle man wearing a long robe. He stood barefooted with arms outstretched and, curiously, had a ring of thorns sitting on his head.

The day after her father threatened her, wide-eyed Elaine eagerly jumped off the bus and stood right outside the church, gazing at the same statue. Tears slid down her face and she couldn't stop them. Other kids walked by as if they didn't even notice her.

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Pastor John quietly waited behind her until she wiped her tears. He whispered to her, "Remember, Elaine, Jesus loves you." She then turned, sniffed, and looked up at him. He gently grasped her hand and they walked through the church doors and into a large room where children were singing.

The words rang out and touched Elaine's heart. "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Years later the words to this song would resonate in Elaine's heart and soul.

Excerpted from: Set Free: Stories of God's Healing Power for Abuse Survivors by Jan Coates. Copyright © 2005; ISBN 0764200402 Published by Bethany House Publishers Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

FAQs

How does abuse affect the life of a survivor? ›

Domestic violence affects one's thoughts, feelings and behaviors and can significantly impact one's mental stability. Increased anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms are commonly observed among survivors of domestic violence.

What is an abuse survivor? ›

"Survivor" is a term for the individual who is being targeted for abuse. Sometimes they may be referred to as "victims." Abuser. "Abuser" refers to the individual who is inflicting the abuse. Other terms include "batterer" or "perpetrator."

What did Jesus say about healing others? ›

This verse reminded me of Matthew 10, where Jesus told “these twelve” to go out, “proclaim the good news, … cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. … laborers deserve their food” (Matt 10: 5-14).

What does the Bible say about toxic marriages? ›

Group 17 – What Does The Bible Say About Toxic Marriages

Ephesians 5:11 – “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Colossians 3:18-19 – “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”

How do you recover from trauma and abuse? ›

Here are six tips you can do to help you in the healing process.
  1. Recognize the Effects of Trauma. Many effects of trauma stem from abuse. ...
  2. Understand the Importance of Healing. ...
  3. Embrace Positive Affirmations. ...
  4. Exercise. ...
  5. Embrace Creativity. ...
  6. Don't Be Afraid to Seek Help.
29 Jan 2021

What mental illnesses are caused by abuse? ›

Experiencing abuse or other trauma puts people at risk of developing mental health conditions, such as:
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Depression.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Misusing alcohol or drugs.
  • Borderline personality disorder.
16 Feb 2021

What is the best therapy for abuse? ›

Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Trauma-focused CBT helps a child who has been abused to better manage distressing feelings and to deal with trauma-related memories.

How do you treat someone who abuses you? ›

How to handle the person who is abusing you
  1. Try to stay calm. Remember that you're not responsible for how they're behaving. ...
  2. Try to avoid engaging emotionally. ...
  3. Try to move to safety.

What is the difference between a victim and a survivor? ›

Both terms have their place and serve different purposes. Although victim is a legal definition necessary within the criminal justice system, survivor can be used as a term of empowerment to convey that a person has started the healing process and may have gained a sense of peace in their life.

How does God remove someone from your life? ›

The first answer is simple: To fulfill his divine plan. God's ultimate plan is that we live forever with him in his kingdom. When we give our lives to God, we are giving him permission to do his will in our lives. Therefore, anything or anyone that comes in the way of fulfilling God's plan in your life, he will remove.

How did Jesus deal with toxic people? ›

Jesus also demonstrates the need to sometimes “verbally” walk away when dealing with a toxic person, like Herod. Instead of arguing with Herod and trying to justify himself, Jesus remained silent: “[Herod] plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer” (Luke 23:9).

What does God say about letting go of toxic people? ›

In fact, the Scriptures are full of teachings instructing us to leave relationships with wicked or evil people, to be separate from them, to shun, outcast, and purge them from our midst. (1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 13:20, Psalm 1:1, Proverbs 6:27, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 10:13 – these are just a few).

What does God say about healing others? ›

The Lord sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.” “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

What does the Bible say about healing others? ›

"'I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel's mourners, creating praise on their lips. Peace, peace, to those far and near,' says the Lord, 'And I will heal them.'" “This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”

What does the Bible say about healing power? ›

The Good News: Have faith in the Lord your God, for He will watch over you and heal you in times of physical and emotional pain. “If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.

What are the 3 stages of recovery? ›

The recovery process may be conceptualized in three stages: establishing safety, retelling the story of the traumatic event, and reconnecting with others. Treatment of posttraumatic disorders must be appropriate to the survivor's stage of recovery.

How do you recover from a lifetime of emotional abuse? ›

Below are 5 steps to help you in your healing process.
  1. Acknowledge the Abuse. Thinking about and accepting your past abuse as a real event can be very difficult to do but it's the first step to healing from your experiences. ...
  2. Change Negative Thought Patterns. ...
  3. Engage in Self Care.

What are the six long term effects of abuse? ›

These possible outcomes including smoking, alcoholism, drug use, physical injuries like broken limbs, cancer, depression, suicide attempts, stroke, and STD's, among others. The infographic paints a difficult picture for children who are abused or neglected, but we believe there is hope for a better future.

What does abuse do to the brain? ›

Researchers focus on the changes that take place in the brain as a result of abuse as well. Sadly, adults who experienced severe abuse as children show critically impaired neural connections in the brain. Parts of the brain associated with the regulation of attention, emotion, and other cognitive processes suffer.

What emotional abuse does to the brain? ›

Emotional abuse is linked to thinning of certain areas of the brain that help you manage emotions and be self-aware — especially the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobe. Epigenetic changes and depression. Research from 2018 has connected childhood abuse to epigenetic brain changes that may cause depression.

How does abuse affect the victim? ›

Maltreatment can cause victims to feel isolation, fear, and distrust, which can translate into lifelong psychological consequences that can manifest as educational difficulties, low self-esteem, depression, and trouble forming and maintaining relationships.

What are the six long-term effects of abuse? ›

These possible outcomes including smoking, alcoholism, drug use, physical injuries like broken limbs, cancer, depression, suicide attempts, stroke, and STD's, among others. The infographic paints a difficult picture for children who are abused or neglected, but we believe there is hope for a better future.

How does abuse affect a person in adulthood? ›

Adults who have buried their history of child abuse can continue to suffer in ways that can include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, substance misuse, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, anger, guilt, learning disabilities, physical illness, disturbing memories and dissociation.

How does violence affect the victim? ›

Consequences include increased incidences of depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide; increased risk of cardiovascular disease; and premature mortality. The health consequences of violence vary with the age and sex of the victim as well as the form of violence.

What does abuse do to the brain? ›

Researchers focus on the changes that take place in the brain as a result of abuse as well. Sadly, adults who experienced severe abuse as children show critically impaired neural connections in the brain. Parts of the brain associated with the regulation of attention, emotion, and other cognitive processes suffer.

What emotional abuse does to the brain? ›

Emotional abuse is linked to thinning of certain areas of the brain that help you manage emotions and be self-aware — especially the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobe. Epigenetic changes and depression. Research from 2018 has connected childhood abuse to epigenetic brain changes that may cause depression.

What does abuse do to a woman? ›

Physical abuse can cause many chronic (long-lasting) health problems, including heart problems, high blood pressure, and digestive problems. Women who are abused are also more likely to develop depression, anxiety, or eating disorders. Women who are abused may also misuse alcohol or drugs as a way to cope.

What are the 5 signs of emotional abuse? ›

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse
  • They are Hyper-Critical or Judgmental Towards You. ...
  • They Ignore Boundaries or Invade Your Privacy. ...
  • They are Possessive and/or Controlling. ...
  • They are Manipulative. ...
  • They Often Dismiss You and Your Feelings.
23 May 2017

What happens to adults who were neglected as a child? ›

The most common effects of childhood neglect in adulthood include: post-traumatic stress disorder. depression. emotional unavailability.

How can you tell if someone was abused in the past? ›

7 Signs Your Partner Was Emotionally Abused By Their Ex
  1. They're Not Completely Comfortable Expressing Themselves To You. ...
  2. They Question Your Kind Gestures And Compliments. ...
  3. They've Told You They're Not Good Enough. ...
  4. They Overreact To The Small Things. ...
  5. They Apologize For Everything. ...
  6. They Struggle With Physical Intimacy.
12 Sept 2018

How does unresolved childhood trauma manifest in adults? ›

Other manifestations of childhood trauma in adulthood include difficulties with social interaction, multiple health problems, low self-esteem and a lack of direction. Adults with unresolved childhood trauma are more prone to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide and self-harm.

What are 5 effects of abuse? ›

  • Trauma, stress and the developing brain. ...
  • Attachment and interpersonal relationship problems. ...
  • Learning and developmental problems. ...
  • Mental health problems. ...
  • Youth suicide. ...
  • Alcohol and other drug use. ...
  • Behavioural problems. ...
  • Aggression, violence and criminal activity.

Can abuse affect you years later? ›

It can cause serious short-term and long-term effects for people facing it. Children who have experienced emotional abuse may continue to feel its effects into adulthood. These can include extremely low self-esteem, negative relationships, and other physical or mental health effects.

What causes a person to be violent? ›

Aggression can happen as a natural response to stress, fear, or a sense of losing control. You might also respond with aggression when you feel frustrated, mistreated, or unheard — especially if you never learned how to manage your emotions effectively.

What is the solution for violence? ›

Love and compassion are the solution to violence. Banning weapons isn't the solution. Settling individual wars is also not the solution; that only produces temporary peace. The solution is a change of attitude toward spiritual solutions, which will promote the welfare of all humans.

How does domestic violence affect the victim mentally? ›

Abuse victims can also suffer both short- and long-term emotional and psychological effects, including feelings of confusion or hopelessness, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Videos

1. God’s Love Heals Emotional Scars of Abuse
(CBN - The Christian Broadcasting Network)
2. Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse - Prayer for Inner Healing
(Evangelist Fernando Perez)
3. To Abuse Victims: God Cares // Time of Grace
(Time of Grace Ministry)
4. Healing Adult Survivors of Child Abuse | Fire-Brown | TEDxGreenville
(TEDx Talks)
5. Healing From Sexual Abuse Can Start With One Word | Rena Romano | TEDxOcala
(TEDx Talks)
6. Abused, Suicidal, and HIV Positive | MIRACULOUS Testimony
(700 Club Interactive)

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