There is a very good chance that you walked past someone in church last Sunday who has been sexually assaulted—but has never shared that with anyone. According to the Department of Justice, one in four women, and one in six men, are sexually abused in their lifetime. Throughout almost four decades of ministry, I’ve found that most people hide their abuse, are ashamed, and often blame themselves. They are the silent sufferers.
Still the nightmares come. She knows the Word better than most. She’s committed to Christ—wants to live as a faithful woman of God—but her heart is weary and doubts assail her as the onslaught of horrific memories and pain continues . . . for years. For decades. And I want to be more than just a praying friend. I want to “fix it,” but I don’t have that power. Only One does.
“Will I need to stand in front of the church and confess that I was hospitalized in a mental health facility?” At first I thought she was joking. She was not joking. She was dead serious. And when she asked that—I knew our church had failed. We had failed her terribly. The church adds to the trauma of sexual abuse when men and women are afraid to come forward, afraid to share their story, and afraid to confess that they no longer want to live. That’s when it is obvious that we, as a church, have failed the broken and hurting.