Saturday, January 24, 2009

Unit 1 Lesson 1 - Why a Support Group?

This lesson is obviously about support groups. For those of you who are not in a support group, please read this with an open mind and consider finding a group, counselor or support person that you can walk this journey with.

Survivors of sexual abuse often experience a whole host of life problems and, most often, we do not even connect those problems to sexual abuse. But there is a connection and we will discuss that in depth in the coming weeks.

Statistics show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by their 18th birthday. You are not alone! This study (and this blog) is designed to provide support, compassion and care as you seek recovery from the effects of sexual abuse. Recovery is a difficult process; however, it is possible!

Webster's defines "recover" as 'to get back; regain.' What does it mean to you when you think about recovering from the abuse in your past?

The answers are countless, but you might have said something like, "To have peace. To feel whole. To regain your innocence, purity, sense of belonging. To love and be loved. To be freed from shame or guilt." Those are certainly the things I wanted from recovery.

When God created you, He had a great plan. He intended for you to have a life of meaning and purpose. The actions of one or more people damaged that life. Recovery means regaining what God intended for you.

You may feel that all hope for healing is lost. Like me, you might have struggled a long time just to survive, to hide your hurt and to heal the wounds alone and in your own strength. I can hear Dr. Phil saying to me, "How's that working for you?" The answer for me was a resounding "NOT VERY WELL". Once I was able to admit that, it became clear that I needed the support of others. Support people can help you to develop a new and living way out of silence and isolation.

You may believe that you cannot trust God since He did not protect you from the abuse. Yet, God offers hope through a relationship with Jesus Christ. As you work through the healing process in supportive Christian surroundings, you will have the opportunity to find that your sadness can be turned into joy. Christ offers hope and healing from sexual abuse.

Hebrews 10:25 tells us, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another." As I think about that, I am encouraged to talk with others about what I have been through. It is not "impolite" or "disgusting" to tell the truth about sexual abuse. I have nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. It is okay to talk about it!

Most survivors isolate themselves from others to avoid the risk of being hurt again. And that isolation prevents us from developing the skills needed to encourage one another. And the vicious cycle continues... During the course of this study, it is my hope and prayer that you will find the encouragement, acceptance, safety, love, compassion and understanding needed to heal and get on the other side of your painful past.

The memory verse for Unit 1 is from Psalm 55:6-8 NASB. David says: 'I said, "Oh that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly far away and be at rest - I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm."

We are not alone! Even David, a man who was especially close to God, had moments when he wanted to escape from his problems and pressures. God can be our place of shelter/

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