Transforming the Painful Memory of Sexual Abuse
A fourteen year old girl suffered periods of deep depression. Sometimes it was so intense that she was taken to the hospital for treatment. The drugs she was given, at best, gave only temporary relief.
The painful memories that triggered this girl’s depression were caused by the abuse that she received from some young boys. Deeper depression and an outburst of tears was brought on by any mention of the abuse.
1. Her Three-part Being
We began by explaining to the girl that God designed her in three parts: her body, soul, and spirit.
- The spirit is the dwelling of wisdom, faith, love, joy, and many other vital qualities. Our spirit was made to have direct communication with God’s Spirit. (See John 4:23.)
- The soul consists of our intellect, will, and emotions.
- The body is the outward container of our spirit and soul.
We asked, “Which one of these three parts is most important?” She said, “Our spirit,” and we replied, “You are right!” Then we asked, “Which is the next most important part of our being?” She replied, “Our soul,” and we said, “That is correct!” Next we asked, “Which is the least important part of our being?” and she said, “Our body.” We again affirmed that she was right.
2. God's Compensation
We then asked this girl, “Why do you think God allowed your body to be abused?” She did not know the answer, so we explained, “If God permits our body to be damaged, He compensates by giving us the potential of a more powerful spirit.”
“So if you had the choice of an undamaged body and a normal spirit or a damaged body and a more powerful spirit, which one would you choose?” She quickly replied, “A more powerful spirit.” We commended her on her choice and suggested she thank God for this potential that He had given to her. She did this in a very sincere prayer.
3. Dedication of Her Body
We then explained to the girl that she would only be able to experience the greater potential of her spirit if she dedicated her body to God according to the instruciton of Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
We pointed out that as soon as she did this, her body would be holy, and set apart for God to do in and through her His great works. She understood this imporant concept and dedicated her body to God in prayer.
4. Give a Verbal Blessing
After the girl dedicated her body to God, we asked her to list some of the character qualities that were lacking in the boys who abused her. She listed such qualities as, kindness, compassion, self-control, repentance, and genuine love. We asked her if she would like to see God develop these qualities in their lives, and she said yes. We then explained that if she asked God to bless those boys with these qualities, He would give them the power (grace) to develop them. She prayed and sincerely asked God to bless them with these qualities.
5. Heartfelt Forgiveness
This girl was now ready for the most important step—to forgive from her heart those who abused her. There is a distinction between pardon and forgiveness. Pardon is releasing them from the legal consequences. She did not have the authority to do this. However, forgiveness is releasing them emotionally and choosing to live with the “scars” from their offense. She understood what was needed and told God that she was fully forgiving the boys who abused her.
After she prayed, we asked her, “How do you feel?” She gave a big smile and said, “I feel like a butterfly that now has wings! I feel like a dove soaring up to the angels! I feel free! I am free!” She then began telling everyone of her new found freedom.