Intimate Clarity

Clarity On Recovery from Sexual Abuse

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript



Series Code: IC

Program Code: IC180104A

00:01 The following program discusses sensitive issues
00:03 related to sexuality.
00:05 Parents are cautioned
00:06 this presentation may be too candid
00:08 for younger audiences.
00:31 Welcome to Intimate Clarity.
00:32 I am Jason Bradley, and here with me
00:34 is Jennifer Jill Schwirzer.
00:35 And she is a licensed professional counselor,
00:38 and today we are going to discuss
00:40 a very important topic,
00:43 and it's a conversation we need to have.
00:44 That's right.
00:46 Always.
00:47 Jen, what I want to know is how do people recover
00:51 when they have been sexually abused.
00:53 That's a really good question.
00:54 We did another segment on sexual abuse.
00:56 We discovered that before the age of 18,
00:59 almost 8% of boys and almost 20% of girls
01:02 have been sexually abused at some point.
01:04 So it's just far too common,
01:07 and so this is a big question and it needs a big answer.
01:10 But let me go back and reestablish
01:11 what I've reestablished so many times
01:13 and that is that sexuality is sacred.
01:16 God designed us so that
01:17 that would be a very special thing
01:20 that would be kept sacred and we see in Deuteronomy 4:24,
01:24 that God is a consuming fire.
01:26 And we see in Song of Solomon 8:6,
01:30 speaking of marital love, that it's like coals of fire.
01:34 So sexuality is sacred.
01:37 It's set apart by God.
01:40 And we see in the story
01:41 of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10,
01:45 that the two sons of Aaron brought strange fire
01:47 into the tabernacle,
01:48 and what happened to them?
01:50 You remember?
01:51 You were raised with Bible stories,
01:52 weren't you?
01:54 I was but I don't remember, you have to tell, yeah.
01:55 You don't remember?
01:57 Well, a fire came out from God
01:58 and consumed them at that moment.
01:59 So God did not want that strange fire
02:02 in that sacred space and sexuality,
02:05 for each and every one of his children,
02:08 is a sacred space and when that sacred space
02:12 is violated by someone from the outside, God is angry.
02:16 And if it was Old Testament times
02:18 and the child got abused,
02:19 I think he'd like be all consuming fire.
02:22 So one of the things that happens with people
02:25 that have been through abuse is they ask,
02:26 "Where was God when this happened?
02:28 Why didn't God do anything?
02:30 Why did God allow that to happen?"
02:32 Do you want to take that one up?
02:35 Well, sure.
02:37 I think, you know, that sometimes these...
02:40 First of all, who is that that's causing
02:43 these things to happen?
02:44 It's not God, it's the enemy, you know?
02:47 A lot of times you see people
02:48 kind of blame God, but it's the enemy
02:51 that's causing these things to happen.
02:54 He is out to steal, kill and destroy.
02:56 And so God is there
02:59 and it's painful for Him to see that.
03:03 And do you think He actually gets angry at the perpetrator,
03:05 He becomes angry at what's done?
03:07 Yeah, absolutely.
03:08 I definitely believe that He becomes angry
03:10 at what's done and,
03:13 you know, unfortunately sin has to play out.
03:18 Yeah.
03:20 You know, until the second coming.
03:21 That's right.
03:22 Or we wouldn't see sin for what it really is.
03:24 Absolutely.
03:25 And, you know, sin in the New Testament
03:26 is called inequity sometimes and that word inequity
03:28 is anomia in the Greek and it means lawlessness.
03:31 Okay.
03:32 So if we expect sin to be fair
03:34 and only affect the people that deserve it,
03:36 we are expecting far too much of sin
03:38 'cause it's lawless.
03:39 Yeah.
03:41 God is the one that's fair and not sin.
03:42 Yeah.
03:43 So we have to kind of see it for what it is
03:45 and so because of the rules of engagement
03:46 with the great controversy,
03:47 God has to allow these things to kind of roll out,
03:49 so that we see them for what they really are.
03:52 But I think the most important takeaway for victims of abuse
03:55 is that God is angry
03:57 particularly when the vulnerable
03:59 are oppressed and exploited by stronger entities.
04:04 God is angry at that and God is especially angry,
04:07 I think, when children are violated
04:10 and when their sacred space is violated.
04:12 And, you know, God said, "Vengeance is His."
04:14 You know, "Vengeance is Mine" says the Lord in some...
04:19 I don't know the text but...
04:20 "I will repay." Exactly, exactly.
04:22 So I mean, you don't know
04:25 how that person is gonna be impacted,
04:27 the person that's inflicting the harm.
04:29 You don't know what's gonna happen to him
04:31 in the long run.
04:33 It will come back to them. But yeah, yeah.
04:34 Martin Luther King Jr. said,
04:36 "The moral arc of the universe is long
04:38 but it bends toward justice."
04:41 People reap what they sow eventually.
04:43 Yup.
04:44 Not as fast as we want them to because we are so angry.
04:46 Yeah.
04:48 But I think it's very helpful to victims to know
04:50 that God is angered by man's inhumanity to man.
04:54 We want to soften God's character
04:57 so much these days
04:59 and we want to sort of purge Him
05:00 of anything negative
05:02 and make Him into kind of this designer God
05:04 that's more like a gift card than a real deity, you know?
05:08 And He has the full gambit of emotions just like we do,
05:13 only billions of times more and more intense
05:16 because He is the one whose image we are made in.
05:19 So God can get angry. That's a fact.
05:22 And God is angry
05:24 when the strong exploit the weak.
05:25 And I think
05:27 it's very therapeutic to share that
05:29 with victims of abuse, and I do share it
05:31 in the clinical setting with them, yeah.
05:33 And what is the typical response that you get?
05:35 Astonishment.
05:37 And the reason is because often
05:39 they are in a family
05:41 that downplayed what happened to them.
05:45 So sexual abuse is much more harmful
05:48 when it happens within a family
05:50 because when it happens in a family,
05:52 it signals not only the abuse itself
05:54 but it signals the failure of the protective system.
05:57 Okay.
05:58 So if your father abuses you,
06:00 that's gonna hurt on two counts,
06:01 number one, that you were abused by someone,
06:03 but number two,
06:04 that your daddy didn't protect you,
06:06 he harmed you anyway.
06:07 Yeah. And he harmed you.
06:09 So incestuous sexual abuse is by far the worst form,
06:14 but I would add quickly that I think
06:16 abuse on the part of clergy
06:19 toward congregants is similar
06:21 in that church is supposed to be a what?
06:23 A kind of a family system. Yeah.
06:26 And you trust that individual to represent God to you
06:29 and then they represent his enemies.
06:30 So those abuses that are inflected in a system
06:34 that is designed to protect...
06:35 It's like an autoimmune disease where the very thing
06:38 that's supposed to protect you ends up attacking you.
06:39 Yup.
06:41 And that's gonna cause more harm
06:42 than generic abuse,
06:44 not that that's not harmful, it's terribly harmful,
06:46 but it's gonna be much worse if it's someone
06:48 that was supposed to be loving you.
06:49 Yeah.
06:50 And there's a few reasons for that...
06:52 There is that act of betrayal.
06:53 It's extreme betrayal.
06:55 And often, what happens
06:57 in these dysfunctional system is,
06:58 unhealthy and sinful systems
07:00 I should say, not just dysfunctional,
07:02 is the victim will go to someone else in the system
07:06 looking for justice, looking for support
07:09 and because this system
07:11 is so invested in the perpetrator,
07:13 who is typically, you know, an alpha figure,
07:17 who defines and often provides for that system,
07:20 be it a family or a church or whatever,
07:22 that individual is thought to be indispensible,
07:26 people won't confront the sin in that person,
07:29 they will preserve that person's ego at all costs
07:32 rather than confront them.
07:34 And so the victim comes to try to get support
07:36 and encouragement and help and they are told,
07:39 "No, nothing wrong happened to you.
07:40 Just forget about it or forgive,"
07:42 often in a Christian context.
07:45 A guilt trip is literally
07:46 put on the victim to forgive way
07:48 before there is any reason to forgive
07:50 or any reparations made,
07:51 you should just forgive that person
07:53 and act like nothing ever happened
07:54 which is what that really means.
07:55 Wow.
07:57 So they are, kind of, trying to sweep it
07:58 under the rugs, so to speak.
07:59 That's right. That's right.
08:01 And so that individual will be retraumatized
08:04 by that denial of that shutting down process,
08:07 they'll be retraumatized
08:09 and it can really, really be difficult to unwrap that
08:12 when a person finally comes to try to get help.
08:15 So bottom-line, you know, often this systems
08:19 where abuse occurs need to be dealt with
08:22 in order to help the victim and sometimes the victim needs
08:25 to see someone brought to justice.
08:27 You know, I do victim support for victims of clergy abuse,
08:31 but sometimes I just feel like just me sympathizing
08:33 with them isn't enough,
08:34 I have to go after the perpetrator
08:36 and I have to let that person know
08:37 that I will not stand for this in church.
08:39 Yeah.
08:41 You know, if I have to die on that hill,
08:42 I'll die on that hill.
08:43 Yeah. And sometimes I do.
08:45 So I am...
08:46 Anyway, sexual abuse within a family is more harmful
08:48 because a lot of times, there is secondary abuse
08:52 and there are some other things that are going on there.
08:54 A trauma that is unprocessed can often lead to dissociation
08:59 where the individual doesn't deal
09:00 with those intense emotions at all
09:02 and they'll dissociate from them.
09:04 So then, they don't learn how to process emotion.
09:06 They often come into adulthood really deficient in that area.
09:11 And then, also a condition
09:13 we call chronic limbic brain arousal
09:17 where the fighter flight response is firing constantly
09:20 and that person is in a constant state of fear.
09:22 Wow.
09:23 Yeah, so often they needed to be treated
09:25 for posttraumatic stress.
09:26 Yeah, so all of these are long term affects.
09:29 They can be.
09:30 So I would suggest if you are that person,
09:32 if you've been through abuse, or if you know someone
09:34 or loves someone who has,
09:36 urge them to go to a counselor
09:37 because a counselor can help them.
09:39 A counselor will listen to them.
09:40 A counselor generally will believe them,
09:44 a good counselor will.
09:45 You can come to
09:48 At Abide Counseling,
09:49 we are trained in how to help victims.
09:51 We believe victims unless we have some reason not to.
09:54 But generally speaking, victims coming to counseling
09:56 are not lying.
09:58 They are just trying to get help
09:59 for a difficult situation, so we will believe...
10:01 Especially when they are paying,
10:02 why are they gonna pay you for it, so why?
10:05 Exactly. You are so correct.
10:08 So a lot of times what they need is
10:09 to just tell their story.
10:11 I've sat through stories of abuse that
10:14 made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
10:16 Literally, with one guy, I almost fainted.
10:19 I won't tell you what he shared with me
10:20 because I wouldn't want ever to repeat it.
10:22 I can't repeat it to people.
10:24 They get too freaked out
10:25 but I almost fainted off my chair
10:27 listening to what this guy went through.
10:28 But they need to tell someone, and so they'll tell their story
10:32 and there are some other treatments
10:34 for posttraumatic stress disorder.
10:35 There is a technique that a lady named
10:38 Francine Shapiro developed.
10:40 She was walking in a park
10:41 thinking about a disturbing event
10:44 and she noticed that as her eyes moved back
10:46 and forth across the field of vision,
10:47 it didn't bother her as much.
10:49 So she realized that by lateralizing,
10:52 the brain enhances its ability to process
10:55 difficult emotional material.
10:57 So she developed a way called Eye Movement Desensitization
11:00 and Reprocessing, seems a little like hypnosis
11:02 but it's not
11:04 because there is no mind control involved.
11:05 That's the objectionable feature of hypnosis
11:07 in my thinking.
11:08 Yeah. I just take clients on walks.
11:10 I say, "Let's talk through this
11:12 and you just keep looking at the birds, and the clouds,
11:14 and the flowers and the beautiful wind
11:15 going through the trees
11:17 and we'll talk through this awful event in your life,
11:19 and we'll see if we can come to grips with it."
11:21 And sometimes, just offloading their story like that
11:24 in the right context in a trust based relationship,
11:29 they can get past it
11:30 and start to just build a new association
11:32 between that memory and the ability to stay calm.
11:35 Yeah. Yeah.
11:36 I can't imagine how frustrating it would be to be
11:43 in a situation like that and then, you go to, like,
11:46 okay, let's say in a family environment,
11:48 you go to that family member and you tell them that such
11:52 and such has been abusing me for x amount of years
11:56 or whatever the case may be
11:57 and they don't even believe you.
11:59 Awful.
12:00 You know, just to be telling the truth
12:02 and then nobody believing,
12:04 that's got to be so frustrating.
12:05 Yeah, I want to mention some resources here.
12:08 My friend, Paul Coneff,
12:09 he is a marriage and family therapist.
12:10 He has developed a system that is particularly helpful
12:14 to victims of abuse
12:15 and what he does is he walks them
12:19 with prayer through the cross, through the passion story.
12:22 And at the outset of it, they come to the place
12:26 where they start to realize
12:27 that Jesus actually experienced the same.
12:29 He was betrayed by His people.
12:31 The ultimate betrayal, crucified.
12:35 We have no king but Caesar and even abandoned
12:37 by his own disciples, forsaken by family members.
12:41 He went through all that and more and often times,
12:44 when the victim sees that,
12:46 they realize that they have a savior
12:48 who truly empathizes with them and that in
12:50 and of itself can be powerfully healing.
12:52 He has a book called, "The Hidden Half of the Gospel"
12:54 that I recommend for victims of abuse.
12:56 So is one resource and then,
13:01 we will have others, you know,
13:03 on the homepage of
13:07 We will have more resources for victims
13:09 that need a clue of what to do next.
13:12 We will have 800 numbers, places they can reach out to
13:16 that'll line them up with the help they need.
13:17 Wonderful.
13:19 There are definitely places where people can get help.
13:22 There are a lot of resources for...
13:26 Simply because abuse is just that common.
13:29 There are many, many resources fortunately for people
13:32 who've been through that.
13:34 But we need to break the silence in church,
13:36 Jason, because this secret has gone on too long.
13:39 It happens in families,
13:40 it happens in religious families.
13:42 It happens in churches.
13:44 Spiritual leaders, pastors, elders, teachers,
13:48 perpetrate abuse on students and congregants.
13:51 It's a horrifying thing
13:54 when someone representing God
13:56 actually uses people for their own pleasure
13:58 and God is gonna have to deal with them
14:00 because I don't want to have to.
14:02 But I will, for the victim's sake.
14:05 That's all I'm gonna say about that.
14:06 Absolutely.
14:07 Well, this has been a wonderful conversation
14:11 on a very sensitive topic and you know,
14:14 if you need those resources,
14:16 make sure you go to
14:18 and we look forward to seeing you next time.


Revised 2018-08-02