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How to be Aware of Abusive Situations
By Hannah Harrison
AFA Journal Intern
I attended the recent Southern Baptist Convention’s Panel discussing their plan on how to combat sexual abuse within the church. As I listened to a panel of Godly men and women tell stories of what had happened in their life and how their hearts were tilted toward change, I caught a glimpse of something I had not thought of before: the life of the victim.
Sexual abuse has always been a hot topic in our culture. Now, more than ever, many people are suffering from the trauma left from that horrible experience. While many people shiver at the thought of this crime happening around them, they believe that it largely has nothing to do with them. According to the Caring Well curriculum, “more than 700,000 women in the U.S are assaulted each year. Or one assault every 45 minutes.” Meaning, those who believe that this crime does not affect them foolishly believe they cannot help fight this case.
Out of 1,000 rapes, 995 offenders will walk free. If that’s not scary enough, 90% of child victims know their predators and three out of four adult victims know theirs. This statistic debunks the myth claiming most rapes happen after a kidnapping in the parking lot. The people who conduct this crime aren’t always some shady guy in a car, or two men lurking outside a supermarket. Often, they are people who have groomed, plotted, and planned to take their victim.
Every rape case may look different, but the outcome of each is the same: darkness, evil, and pain.
As someone once said, “the world is growing dangerously dark.” It is more important than ever for us as believers to stand up and start getting a clue about what is happening in the world around us.
Most abuses happen between the ages of 12-15, but that doesn’t mean any particular age is safe. Evil does not have a preferred age. Our generation has seen and dealt with more abuse than our parents and grandparents ever dreamed of. The question is, what will we do with the knowledge we obtained? How can we help?
We can help by learning about the situation and those who face it.
Grooming is a process both sexual abusers and human traffickers use to build trust with their victims. It can begin with something as small as an acknowledgment or as grand as promising to buy them expensive gifts.
Most likely, abusers use this process on someone they know. By creating a relationship with the victim, it allows them to build trust and cause the victim to feel more comfortable doing what the abusers ask. After a relationship has been built, abusers are ready to pounce on their prey.
Becoming aware of the process, we can be able to survey our surroundings and notice if something is out of place.
My mom, a trained therapist, has an eye out for signs and symptoms of abused children. After spending much of her life aiding school children with their problems, she was quick to pick up when something is wrong.
She says that the signs to look for in the abused are signs of acting out, rebellion, depression, and the fear of going near where the abuse happened. Many see a child kicking and screaming and think, “Wow, what a bad child.” While this may be true in some cases, it may not always be. Often there is a deeper-rooted problem that the eyes may not see.
It is important to read material that helps you understand what is going on. By doing so, you can be trained and equipped to understand the situation at hand.
A victim that has come forward and willing to share a story of abuse is a brave one. Some churches have conducted interviews that caused victims to feel more accusation than acceptance. The trauma this person has gone through both physically, mentally, and emotionally is more than we can imagine. The least we can do is believe what they say and be willing and ready to send them to someone who can help them face their battles.
As a body of believers, we are called to help our brother and sisters in Christ. Not condemn them. Victims are used to hearing, “What were you wearing? Did you lead him on?” No longer should this be the norm.
Sexual abuse is a crime and it is high time we start treating it as one. Be prepared to lend a hand, ear, or tissue to someone who is in need. Leave the doubt and negativity at the door.
Christine Caine said, “The challenge is that when you know something, you can no longer un-know it. You must then choose what you’re going to do with what you know.” We are a generation that knows. Many of us have been affected. We have a shot at ending this tragedy. The question is, are we willing to do so?
We are aware of this crime. Will we step up and defend those oppressed? Or will we sit by the wayside and wait for someone else to step in and save the day?