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Have You or a Loved One Ever Experienced Sexual Trauma?

Have You or a Loved One Ever Experienced Sexual Trauma?

By Anne Dryburgh, Ph.D., IABC, ACBC, and CABC Biblical Counselor

One of the most horrifying experiences anyone can experience is being a victim of sexual assault. This article is written to show that no matter what has happened to you, there is hope in Christ. By receiving good biblical counsel, it is possible to experience the Lord working in your heart and bringing light and life where there has been only darkness and pain. I will touch on some of the ways this is possible. In such a short article, it is not possible to be completely comprehensive. Please contact one of the Fallen Soldiers March biblical counselors if you wish to be helped further. You may learn more about that at fallensoldiersmarch.com/counseling-information-request.

There is a lot of confusion about what sexual assault is. If you have been sexually assaulted, it means that someone engaged in sexual behavior with you without your consent. To give consent means that you agreed by choice and that you had the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Rape is when a person has been forcibly penetrated. It is the use of the sexual organs, and other body parts, of another person without her permission. It is not about sex or uncontrollable urges. The perpetrator abuses his greater strength and power over his victim. It is about having a sense of entitlement and power over a person who is not able to defend herself.

Stages of Recovery

After the attack, many victims experience three phases of recovery. If you have experienced sexual trauma, you will probably recognize these feelings and emotions. Perhaps you are still going through them.

The first phase is the crisis or acute stage. This is right after the attack. The victim is in a state of shock, fear, anxiety, anger, and may not believe that this has happened to her. She is probably afraid that she will be raped again. It is vital that she is kept physically safe and receives medical care.

The second phase, the short-term or outward adjustment stage, occurs in the immediate weeks after the attack. During phase two, the rape controls her life. Her behavior begins to alter, and her emotions and physical changes become evident.

The third phase, the integration or long-term reorganization stage, is when adjustment takes place. Instead of trying to cope with each day, she is again able to make choices for her actions and behavior. These are her own decisions and are not based on fear. Her life is no longer consumed by, or revolving around, the rape. She is able to be responsible for herself again. It may take a number of years for her to come to this point.

If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, do you identify with the process I just described? Where do you see yourself at this point? I strongly encourage you to seek biblical counseling. If you are a veteran or family member of a veteran, Fallen Soldiers March Certified Biblical Counseling is available to you. You may request more information at fallensoldiersmarch.com/counseling-information-request.

A Transformed Mind and Heart

Our Lord Jesus can help you in your inner being as you allow Him to redeem your suffering. These are some of the challenges you may find yourself facing:


You will probably view yourself based on what happened. You may see yourself as a failure. You may think that you are defiled, dirty, a fool, without value or intelligence. You may become disgusted with yourself. This is especially true if you were physically aroused during the assault.

It is important for you to become aware of what you are thinking and to evaluate it according to God’s life-giving truth. Since you are made in the image of God, you have a God-given dignity. You are not inferior to any other human being. No one is perfect. As you look at yourself, you will see where you fail and do not measure up. But as a Christian, this is not who you are.

It is essential to remember that the rape was not your fault. The blame, guilt, and responsibility for it are solely the perpetrator's and not yours.

Purposefully Thinking Truth

There are a few ways for you to live in reality instead of remaining in a withdrawn state of dissociation. When you are tempted to dissociate, you can do practical things such as exercising, doing housework, or holding onto something that means a lot to you. You can phone someone, play or listen to music, or pray. You can bring yourself back to present reality by looking around you and taking note of all that is in the room and the colors you see. You can sing, pray aloud, or speak scriptural truths that you have memorized, written on a card, or put in your phone.


Flashbacks can occur after a trigger. When experiencing a flashback, you need to focus on your present location, where you are, and who you are with. You can say to yourself, "This is not real; the vision will not hurt me." Please keep a record of when the flashbacks occur. They may occur at a certain time of day, around the time of certain events, when you are outdoors or indoors, or during a meal. Doing this can help you plan what to think about the next time you are in similar situations. By doing this, you will come out of your memory and back to reality and to truth.

Fear and Worry

As you seek to worship the Lord throughout your daily life, you can focus your mind on who the Lord is. Passages such as these in Ephesians and Colossians are full of truths about who Christ is and what He has done.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3–14 ESV)

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:3–14 ESV)

This is key in overcoming fear. Philippians 4:4–9 specifically teaches steps to take.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (ESV)

Throughout the day, and especially when fearful thoughts come to mind, you should bring that fearful thought to the Lord and then think about an attribute of God in relation to it. 

For very specific examples and more information, please see the book The Attributes of God – February 14, 2007 by A. W. Tozer


It is essential for you to understand the work of Christ on the cross. By nature, you are a sinner who deserves to be punished, yet through Christ’s death on the cross you have been made righteous before God if you have received Him as your personal savior and chosen to follow Him. If you have not yet done this, I encourage you to come to Jesus now.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for
everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall
short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that
we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty
for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right
with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.
(Romans 3:22–25 NLT)

When you are in Christ, there is no condemnation for you. God has justified you and Christ is seated at the right hand of God and is interceding for you.

The perpetrator is solely to blame for the attack. However, it is very important for you to confess any sin that you were guilty of before it. An example of this would be drunkenness. Since drunkenness is a sin, you are guilty if you were in that state. All personal sin should be confessed before the Lord so you can receive forgiveness and be freed from its guilt.
Again, this in no way means that you are guilty or responsible for the rape. You are repenting of personal sin prior to it and thereby freed of its guilt and hold on you.


You may be struggling with anger. Anger is a whole-personed response of negative moral judgment against perceived evil.

You are angry because of your God-given sense of justice. The injustice of rape makes you cry out for justice. While it is normal for you to be angry, it is hard for anger to stay righteous for long. For anger to be righteous, it must involve the following: (1) a sin that has occurred; (2) a concern for the glory of God, not one’s own glory; and (3) a righteous expression. Your anger probably has aspects of God's anger to it as well as aspects of human sinful anger.

Your anger comes from your heart. By working on what is going on in your heart, you can deal with your anger and come to live in a different way. Living in the knowledge that the Lord is just and will execute justice toward the perpetrator will free you from the desire for revenge.

Jesus died in a shameful way on the cross. He was naked and exposed to everybody who was looking at Him. Even though He was innocent, He suffered shame so others would be made righteous. As a believer, you are righteous in Christ because of His work on the cross. Your shame has been borne by Him so that you may live a godly life.


You may go through a period of believing that nothing in life has sense or purpose.
Your daily hope and purpose will return as you live for the Lord and focus on Him. During this process, it is important for you to think about who God is, what He has done for you, and what He has promised you.

Evil Conquered

Evil does not reign and does not have the final say. Through His death on the cross, Jesus defeated Satan and evil. It was at the cross that Christ disarmed the rulers and authorities, putting them to open shame and triumphing over them.

Sin Conquered

Since Christ was made a curse for us by bearing our sins on the cross, and because our punishment was placed on Him, if you trust in Christ and what He accomplished on the cross, you can be forgiven and come into a new relationship with God.

Satan and Death Conquered

The Son of God became human, destroyed the devil, who had the power of death, and delivered those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Hope in Suffering

Jesus suffered and knows suffering. He is a called a man of sorrows and said to be acquainted with grief. It is in your suffering that you can know the Lord. It is because of what He did on the cross that you can know that He is good, He does care, and that evil will ultimately be defeated. You can trust that the Lord loves you and will bring you comfort, healing, and hope.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. (2 Thessalonians 2:16–17 NLT)


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 17th, 2019 at 10:44 am and is filed under Featured, Newsletter. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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