Why Did this Happen to Me?
Child sexual abuse raises many questions for many people. Parents question their own ability to protect their child. With each case of abuse, law enforcement officials and social workers ponder why policies created to detain, rehabilitate and protect society from these abusers fail time after time. And survivors ask themselves why the abuse happened in the first place – and with good reason. Our natural instincts tell us that people should have boundaries that are not crossed and one in particular should be that no adult should sexually abuse an innocent child. When abuse happens we question if our families are safe. Or maybe it’s the world or our particular neighborhood that leaves us unnecessarily open and vulnerable. When we can’t find the answers on the outside we then turn inward – putting the onus of this huge problem on ourselves. Hurt, confused and alone we ask ourselves “why did this happen to me” and then erroneously conclude that the abuse is somehow our fault or related to us in any way.
Asking complicated questions and blaming yourself when there are no logical answers is problematic and spiritually detrimental. Recognize first, though, that asking questions is not problematic in and of it self. Questions encourage learning and learning promotes growth. So don’t feel guilty or unusual for asking questions. In fact, it is very brave to ask a question. The alternative would be to remain silent and to place the burden of understanding life by yourself. Even though at times it may not seem like it, we were actually created to support and help one another. So asking questions is normal and healthy. Getting the right answer, however; may not be as simple.
Someone may have told you that the abuse happened to you because you were bad or evil. This is wrong and a lie. You may have been told that you asked for the abuse by flirting with the abuser. This again is a lie and is wrong. Some angrily accuse you of allowing the abuse to happen because you were promiscuous, boy-crazy, girl-crazy, weird, liked attention, liked drama, too quiet, shy, dumb or just liked to stir up trouble. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Lies. Lies. Lies. Finally, you may have been told that you wanted it to happen, you wanted a relationship with the abuser or you wanted to destroy the abuser’s relationship with their partner. The lies continue. You did not cause it, did not allow it and did not want the abuse. You had nothing to do with why the abuse happened. The abuse is not your fault.
Each Survivor is different. All of our experiences are unique. The ways in which our families reacted or didn’t react varies from person to person. We are diverse in where we live, our gender, age, race, ethnicity, culture and sexual orientation. But this truth is unconditional. Regardless if you live in Canada, England, Asia or Africa – the abuse was not your fault. If you knew the abuser, if he was a coach, teacher, parent or pastor – it still doesn’t matter. If you trusted your abuser and believed in him or her as a person – the truth remains – abuse is not the fault of the child.
If this is extremely difficult for you to accept, especially if the above list of lies were told to you by your mother, father, grandparents, partners, best friends or spouses, then it is an extremely helpful and healthy idea to talk to a professional health care provider. Be honest and explain that you are having difficulty understanding why the abuse happened. It is also a good idea to talk to a very trusted and reputable Christian. And above all and before anything else – pray to God for wisdom and understanding. God answers prayers.
In general, you were sexually abused because we live in a world of good and evil, right and wrong and legal and illegal. Societies usually create standards and laws to promote behavior that is culturally acceptable and safe But because all humans have free will – we each choose, second by second, to abide by the rules or not to. It also means that no one can physically make anyone do anything – even the right or wrong thing. Policies, directions and guidelines can strongly encourage behavior and leaders, law enforcement agents, teachers, bosses and judges can enforce consequences – but no one can make any one particular person do any one thing. We create a peaceful and safe environment when we each choose to do those things that don’t hurt one anther but as we know, we don’t always act in this way. Unfortunately, there are no limits or boundaries to what another person can do to another. People are notorious for hurting other people; even people that don’t deserve to be hurt (not that any of us do) including children.
Regrettably, people choose to sexually abuse children and it happens often. Sexual abuse is very common in our society and honestly, there is no simple answer to this question. We have tried our best to explain this phenomenon. Doctors surmise that abusers have a medical disease. Sociologists and psychologists explain that this behavior is influenced by the abuser’s abusive childhood, their environment and a variety of factors. Some people even say that the abusers are heavily influenced by evil or demonic forces. Although all of these rationalizations may or may not be in part or collectively true, we all agree that the abuse is not the fault of the child.
Abuse can and never will be explained or answered by analyzing the child’s behavior. This means that there was nothing any child did to cause the abuse. It means the child was innocent and grossly manipulated and misguided. This means that if the child never told it still is not the child’s fault. Child abuse can never be explained or answered by looking to the child. We can only begin to understand the abuse by looking outside of ourselves.
Here is the truth – the abuse happened because the abuser chose to do it and has nothing to do with the child. The abuse was wrong and evil and no child deserves to be abused. Adults should protect children not hurt them. In this particular situation – the adult failed the child.
Although people are limited in their ability to know everything and understand horrific crimes like child sexual abuse – we are not limited in our ability to stand up for the truth and what is right. If you are an adult survivor of child sexual abuse wanting to heal the pain from the abuse, begin by demanding of yourself that you will in no way blame yourself for what happened. You begin to heal when you truly accept and believe that the abuse is not your fault. Why it happened has so much more to do with the other person than it does with the child you were when it happened. So shift your focus to healing or resolving the lies the abuse has left you with.
Remember – every time this question pops in your mind – answer it by saying:
I don’t have to have all of the answers to heal. I do have one answer though – I know it was not my fault. It was wrong and I will not let the sick actions of another distort my own perceptions about life, myself or God. This abuse will not rule my life. I rule my life. This experience will have no power over my destiny. I will become the person God has destined me to be. I will fulfill the plan God has for my life. I may not have all the answers but God does. And I choose to trust Him now. I know that I am a Survivor Today and that I choose to lead my life as a child of God – loved, blessed and healed.