I was raped twice when I was in college. I was about 20 when I was assaulted the first time. I was 21 the second time.
Rape is a difficult topic. Even in the church, there are people who shy away from discussing the subject. Unfortunately, this can lead to shame and survivor blaming. Sadly, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Christians blame the individuals who report that they have been raped. For example, most of us are aware of the women who recently reported that they were raped by Bill Cosby. I heard one Christian radio personality say, “She knew what was up when she went to a married man’s room.”
What?!? I was CRUSHED—mostly because I respect this particular person so much and totally didn’t expect that from her! How in the world did it become okay to blame women and girls who report that they have been raped or sexually assaulted in any way?
Of course, this is not to say that all people in the Church blame survivors. In fact, there are many Christians and Christian organizations that are focused on the healing and thriving of rape survivors. There are other nonprofit organizations that have programs to help as well.
You see, I didn’t really know what to do to get help when I was assaulted back then, so it’s now my mission to help as many survivors as I can. I never want another person to be re-victimized by lack of resources or due to rape stigma.
If you have been raped or know someone who has been sexually assaulted in any way, I want to share with you some of the things that I did to help me heal. It is my prayer that it will help you along your own path to healing.
- Understand God’s love for you. As Christians, we’re usually pretty good at loving God. But how good are you at letting God love back on you? Healing from such a traumatic experience really does require that you allow the love of God to soothe those internal wounds. Praying, journaling, listening to worship music and reading Scripture that remind you of His love for you are all great ways to deepen your connection with Him. One of my favorite Scriptures is “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) Read it again, replacing references to Love with “God” and that will give you an idea of how He shows His love.
- Soak in God’s presence. I like to really soak in His presence through nature. I do this by practicing mindfulness. I find a quiet place that is very beautiful to me and focus on my surroundings. I smell the air, watch the birds, feel the wind on my skin, listen to children laughing or anything else that feels good to my soul. Remember, God says, “whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
- Seek therapy. God gives therapists the knowledge and gift of exhortation for a reason. He knows that some people, especially people who have experienced trauma, may need treatment. Just as He equips doctors to help with physical health, He equips therapists to assist with mental health. Don’t be ashamed to seek treatment.
- Get support. As I previously mentioned, there are many organizations that can help you heal from rape and learn how to thrive again. Here are a few that can help you get the support that you need:
- Darkness to Light
- National Children’s Alliance
- Stop It Now
- Justice for Children
- National Teen Dating Abuse Online Helpline
- Survivors of Incest Anonymous
- Know Your IX
- End Rape on Campus
- Men Can Stop Rape: This is a resource for male survivors.
- GLBTQ Domestic Violence Project: This is a resource for the GLBTQ community. We understand what God’s position is on this lifestyle, but NO ONE deserves to be victimized. This organization helps this community heal.
- Victim Compensation Funds: Every state has a fund to financially help survivors of any crime, including rape. The fund can be used for medical costs, mental health counseling, lost wages, funerals and other expenses incurred as a result of the rape. This may be especially helpful for girls or women who have experienced a pregnancy as a result of rape.
NO ONE deserves to be raped or to receive sexual abuse of any kind. Always remember that it was NOT your fault.
I pray that this article will help you begin the process of healing so that you can live the happy, fulfilled life that you deserve.
Aysha Ives is a best selling Author, Speaker, and Survivors’ Advocate. She specializes in helping survivors of rape, sexual abuse, and depression finally find the healing that they deserve. Aysha has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and has provided services as a Therapist and Success Coach for over a decade. With a love for God and a passion to help as many people as possible, she has also written articles for HealthyPsych, Psych Central, wikiHow, Insight Telepsychiatry, Mind Over Media, LLC, various churches and other private clients. She is also the Author of three best selling books.
>> Check out her blog HERE.