You would like Yvette if you met her. She is funny, attractive and fun to be around. If you were a young single man, you might even wonder, “Why isn’t she married yet?” Yvette is a charming young woman, but she has lived most of her life with a dark secret. As a little girl, she was molested. She never told anyone, not even her parents, and unfortunately, it wasn’t a one-time event. Even after the man who harmed her was long gone she let herself be easily pressured into sex with boyfriends as a teen, and later as an adult with men she barely knew. Long after the physical pain and pregnancy scares were over, Yvette still felt a deep emotional pain. It’s as if she was in a state of suspended animation and no matter how hard she tried, she just could not seem to fully trust people anymore.
Yvette’s story is not only true, but one of many just like it. Victims of sexual abuse experience long-term scars from the assault that become extremely difficult to deal with—forgiveness, trust, questions of self-worth, anger, post-traumatic stress.
Sadly, when someone is abused sexually, the abuser is often a close friend or even relative. Someone that they, and likely their parents, had previously trusted. And when that abuse occurs, everything they knew about trust is shattered. It becomes very difficult to trust people again.
Thankfully, there is hope for victims of sexual abuse to have a better future and find healing. One of the things a victim can do to move forward in life is to learn to trust again.
How you can begin to rebuild trust
It begins with building a foundation of trust in God. Instead of putting your focus on other people, you can put your trust in God, who can be always be relied upon. You might do this by offering a prayer that makes God the central point of your trust, not people or objects. Such a prayer might go something like this: “God, I don’t know who or what I can trust anymore. But Father, I trust you. I trust that you have the ability to get me through the day safely tomorrow, and I know that your love and concern are truly a part of the most trustworthy relationship I can have. I don’t have all the answers, but I trust that you do. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
This is no easy task. After all, for Yvette, she believed in and trusted God before the abuse ever began. After the assault, there were times in her life where she was angry with God or gave up on her belief in Him altogether. But God hates sexual abuse, and strongly condemns it (Deuteronomy 22:25-27; see also “Are There Examples of Sexual Assault in the Bible?” and “What Does the Bible Say About Sexual Assault and Rape?”). While it made her feel better to blame God for a while, she inevitably went back to feeling scared and alone. It was only at the times she began putting her faith back in God that her life began to move forward in a positive direction once again.
Even in the face of the horrific reality of sexual abuse or assault, we can learn to trust God. He will help us overcome these setbacks. Jesus, God in the flesh, came to offer healing and hope in the face of whatever horrible things this world does to us. He is the One of whom God said, “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! . . . A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench” (Matthew 12:18-20, emphasis added). What that means is that someone whose spirit has been weakened through suffering and abuse, and is struggling to go on—like the stalk of a plant which has been bent and bruised, or a burning wick that’s smoldering, on the cusp of being extinguished—He will not break, He will not snuff out. On the contrary, He says: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30)
If you find yourself in an emotional prison, held captive by the inability to trust, know that there is hope. This hope begins with putting your trust and faith in God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
More resources to help you or someone you know cope with sexual assault: “Healing and Hope For a Victim of Sexual Abuse”; “Why Am I Suffering?”; Breaking Free; rainn.org (or call 1-800-656-HOPE); “Life Beyond Abuse” at joycemeyer.com.
More resources on developing a personal relationship with God: You Can Have Living Faith.