Approximately one in four adult women are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. This turns out to be about 39 million women in the United States that currently dealing with a trauma. Research confirms that many of these women encounter a variety of sexual issues. Survivors grapple with sexual issues from promiscuity, work in the sex industry from pornography, prostitution to exotic dancing. Unfortunately these activities can also lead to further trauma including sexual violence, drug abuse and exploitation. The aftermath can lead to abortion, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases including infection with HIV.
With guidance and support many survivors are able to escape the dark world of sexual trauma. Christian survivors who are willing to trust Jesus Christ are washed clean, forgiven and the sins are forgotten. They are able to be renewed, replenished, with a new mind, body and heart.
Starting relationships and maintaining serious relationships that may eventually lead to marriage bring up some very serious issues for not only the survivor but also for their partners, boyfriends and future husbands. Ideally it is best that we all, men and women, are virgin without a sexual past at all, and enter marriage without any sexual baggage. But most of us don’t survivors and non survivors. And on that level – WE ARE ALL GUILTY. No matter the number of sexual partners, gender or circumstances we all fall short of the ideal situation. Therefore let the person that lives in a glass house cast the first stone. Let us all refrain from judging each other. Again we are all guilty.
Nonetheless, Survivors may face unique challenges in that not only were we sexually abused but we also have a varied and sometimes dark sexual past. This includes many sexual partners some of which we were not in serious relationships. For others it may be that the childhood sexual abuse has made the Survivor so extremely fearful of sex and intimacy that even the slightest sexual encounter brings forth emotional pain and anxiety. Many Survivors over identify with sex and believe that sex is the only real way that they are able to identify with others. With strained financial situations, sex may also serve as a way to a financial means. Sex for the survivor can mean validation, income and empowerment. But the lifestyle is a double edge sword as it can also lead to shame and guilt. Many survivors feel like a social outcast and that others look down on their lifestyle and choices.
For Christians, Jesus died on the cross so that our sins would be given, we would have eternal life and also so that we could be born again. Yes Jesus died so that we could live eternally in Heaven but also so that we could have a prosperous, healthy life full of joy, peace and love. And this promise is for the Survivor too. The survivor with the sexual past. Accepting Jesus Christ as your savior means that you are free, that there is no shame or guilt and that you are washed clean.
Beginning your new life will probably lead to marriage and serious relationships and many Survivors wonder how will their sexual past play a role in their new life. Many questions arise. How much should the Survivor disclose about their sexual past? How much detail? These are important issues but there are also even more important issues you must address first.
You must resolve your own feelings of Guilt and Shame
First examine your perception of self worth, your self image and assess your level sexual esteem. Have you really had a heart to heart prayer with God about your sexual past including the abuse? Do you really believe that He is the only that is able to relieve your emotional pain, that understands your heart, that truly cares and that that listens. There is no other on this Earth that can love you like He can. His love heals and restores. Only when you understand that He cares about you are your sexual concerns that you will be able to open your heart, soul and spirit to his healing and blessings. Use your faith to accept His forgiveness is complete. You see if you believe that God forgives you, that He loves you and that to Him you are his child whom He takes care of, protects and guides. His love is supreme. You see other people, including you, will not always see you as He sees you. It is your job to see yourself how God see’s you. And He sees you as more than just a person with a sexual past. With that being said please realize that for the child of God there is no guilt and shame. Hold your head up and know that because He has forgiven you, that He loves you, that He has healed you that you don’t have to prove your worth to anyone. Again give your shame and guilt to the Lord and in exchange he will give you peace.
Have you changed your thoughts and behaviors
You’re putting your past behind you. Your spiritual life is healthy and growing and your relationship with the Heavenly Father is getting stronger and stronger. You are taking things to the Lord for resolution and by Faith you are healed. But are you applying the scriptural principles? Wanting to change and live a different life is often more challenging than any one person could ever imagine. This means that at times it is difficult to turn away old lovers and to stop hanging out with friends at certain places. This also means turning off the computer when tempted to use it as a way to fulfill sexual desires. And this can be difficult. But are you making leeway? As you think back are there more victories than failures?
Remember your partner didn’t know you way back when. He knows you TODAY. He is not committed to the person you were yesterday but the person you are TODAY. But who is the Survivor Today? Can you confidently and boldly say – it has been years or months since I have indulged in this behavior. You feel in the blank. I don’t feel the same way that I used to feel about sex. And it feels good. When old lovers contact me I tell them I’m no longer interested. I love and cherish my body now and I am highly seclective about who I share it with. I am waiting patiently for my lifetime partner and unwilling to settle for Mr. Hot and Ready, Mrs. Booty call.
What you do owe
If you feel healed and whole and are in a relationship there are things that you absolutely do owe your partner. No you do not owe nor are obligated to tell anyone anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. But you should work towards willing divulging certain things. But within a trusting, safe and secure relationship. The point is no one should manipulate, force or make you feel guilty in an effort to force you to tell them anything. Disclosure is your choice. Next, you do owe your partner the truth about your HIV status. Yes you absolutely do. If you don’t know your status then find out. Likewise, you should know your partner’s status. You should ask – without a doubt – beforehand. This is absolutely mandatory.
Finally, in any relationship both parties are obligated to treat the other with respect and integrity. You each owe each the truth. Judgement, guilt, shame should not be a part of any relationship. Love each other based on the way you are treated today. Yes it is normal to question whether a relationship is safe. Is either party at risk for emotional abuse. Let the answer to that question lie within the signs and clues the person is giving you today.