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Sexual abuse is one of the most damaging and traumatic things a person can go through.

Warning: This podcast and post may be disturbing to people with sex abuse in their past, but we didn’t go into great detail about anything specific . 

God designed sex to be an ultimate “knowing” of each other-and intimate joining of two people.

When sex is instead used to abuse, it’s not just an attack. It’s a deliberate unknowing, an erasure of who that person is. It says, “who you are doesn’t matter; I just want to use you.”

It can also be traumatic because you can blame yourself. Often perpetrators make it seem as if it’s your fault; and then there’s arousal non-concordance, where your body becomes aroused even though your brain is protesting in every way possible. Just because you’re aroused doesn’t mean you consented or that it was your fault, either.

Today we answered several questions that have come in about sexual abuse, so listen in!

 

And you can watch on YouTube as well:

 

We started with this question. I wanted to see if Rebecca had the same first reaction I did (she did!).

One thing I’d love to read about is how to be intimate when dealing with flashbacks of sexual abuse, especially when the abuser is someone in your family that you still have to see a few times per year.

We also talked more about flashbacks and healing:
I’m engaged to be married soon. We are both virgins, and have committed to save sex for marriage. I have a difficult past in that I was sexually abused by my father and a pastor for many years (though never penetrated) and I was raised in the purity movement. I’ve gone through extensive counseling concerning the abuse, and I really feel like I’ve emotionally healed from it. I’ve released my abusers to God, have make strict boundaries, and now have peace about the past. But a new issue has risen that I don’t know what to do with.

I’m sometimes getting triggered when my boyfriend and I kiss. I’m ok as long as I’m the one initiating/more dominant and if my body is upright (or I’m leaning over him) but anytime he becomes more passionate/dominant in the kissing or if his body pushes me backward even slightly, I panic because I have a flash back of the day my dad leaned over on top on me and kissed my neck and molested me. The trigger is so strong, I don’t like being on my back at all with *anybody* looking over me, such as a chiropractor. It makes me feel trapped, powerless, and exposed.

I feel incredibly safe with my boyfriend and he is a very gentle, tender hearted man — nothing like the abusers in my life. But these certain positions and moments of passion just feel so repulsive to me at times and remind of of how I felt used and completely out of control around my abusers.

My boyfriend has been extremely understanding and patient with me and we recently came up with a safe word that I can say to immediately stop physical contact, but I would *really* like to get over these triggers completely, especially the part of being on my back — I’ve got to get to that point before we’re married and try sex!! Help!!

My heart goes out to this young woman and to others like her. This is so difficult. We talked about how important it was to find a licensed counselor trained in trauma therapy who can help with evidence-based treatments (like EMDR) to reduce the intensity and frequency of flashbacks.

We also shared with her some wonderful, encouraging words Rachael Denhollander sent to us to use in our upcoming book The Great Sex Rescue. Rachael generously wrote an awesome endorsement for us, but then she also wanted abuse survivors to know this:

Working through the abuse together can be a long road, but it is a beautiful, redemptive road. Eventually, associations will be reshaped into the positive memories and experiences, and a safe, secure, tender spouse walking the road to redemptive sexuality can bring a depth of healing that seems beyond possible.
Rachael Denhollander

And check out Rachael’s book What Is a Girl Worth, too!

We also tackled some other questions about female abusers and finding healing years later.

But this question was an important one, even though it doesn’t directly have to do with sexual abuse.

My husband was very abusive for years. I tried leaving several times but I honestly think it was God that would always stop me in my tracks. I think God saw something in him and knew things would change. Most of the abuse wasnt physical fyi, and even when it was, he never “injured” me. Now he is really trying to be nice. I mean, really trying. And I dont think its another back and forth to manipulate me. I think he wants to be better. But I cant forgive him. I feel like if I do, I am giving him back that power over me. But I want to serve Jesus and I want to save my marriage. How can i forgive him?

Asking how to save the marriage is the wrong question when abuse is involved.

The key here is to follow God and grow in Him, and then, if your husband proves repentant and trustworthy over a long period of time, perhaps the marriage can be rebuilt. But let’s not assume that our goal should be marriage restoration. It should instead be growth to look more like Jesus, and that means taking care of ourselves, too. (I’ve written more about abuse and divorce, too).

Are you a survivor of sexual abuse?

Join the FREE 30-Days of Courage Challenge for abuse survivors + advocates! October 1-30, inside a private Facebook Group. It’s an awesome roundup of speakers and experts to give you encouragement, tips, and expert knowledge.

Speakers include: Leah Remini, Johnathon Schaech, Lyvonne Briggs, Sarah Ann Masse, Ashley Easter, Jimmy Hinton and, Eboney Weathers!

Hosted by Courage 365.

Courage Conference - The Sexual Abuse Questions Podcast: Pointing to Recovery

Timeline of the Podcast

Timeline for Audio

0:20 A trigger warning for listeners
2:40 RQ: What if I have to see my abuser at family functions?
5:15 RQ: I’m experiencing flashbacks to my past abuse when I’m with my boyfriend
8:55 Encouragement for how your spouse can be a healing presence
10:20 RQ: After childhood rape, and marital rape, how do I move forward with healing so I can have a healthy second marriage down the road?
14:30 RQ: How do I forgive my abusive husband?
– A discussion on physical abuse, and what true repentance should look like
26:55 Shout-Out to the Courage Conference
28:15 Reader Story: One woman’s experience of how counselling, a loving spouse, and good resources helped her work through past trauma
32:00 A call for more Christians to pursue Licensed Counselling, as the church has not handled this topic well

Timeline for Video

0:20 A trigger warning for listeners
2:40 RQ: What if I have to see my abuser at family functions?
5:20 RQ: I’m experiencing flashbacks to my past abuse when I’m with my boyfriend
9:10 Encouragement for how your spouse can be a healing presence
10:35 RQ: After childhood rape, and marital rape, how do I move forward with healing so I can have a healthy second marriage down the road?
14:56 RQ: How do I forgive my abusive husband?
– A discussion on physical abuse, and what true repentance should look like
27:49 Shout-Out to the Courage Conference
29:10 Reader Story: One woman’s experience of how counselling, a loving spouse, and good resources helped her work through past trauma
33:00 A call for more Christians to pursue Licensed Counselling, as the church has not handled this topic well

Other things mentioned in this podcast

Podcast Sexual abuse Questions - The Sexual Abuse Questions Podcast: Pointing to Recovery

Have you found counseling helpful for sexual abuse? What has been the hardest part for you? Let’s talk in the comments!

4d5d2dc667e7acd64221c42a103248a4?s=96&d=mm&r=g - The Sexual Abuse Questions Podcast: Pointing to Recovery

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila has been married to Keith for 28 years, and happily married for 25! (It took a while to adjust). She’s also an award-winning author of 8 books, including The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila is passionate about changing the evangelical conversation about sex and marriage to line up with kingdom principles. ENTJ, straight 8

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