Its true that we live in a world where bad things can happen and so therefore fair for us to take reasonable precautions to protect ourselves from this danger. Its what we call the will to survive and its inherent in all of us. We all want to live and defend ourselves from what we perceive things that can hurts us.
But happens when we perceive our world to be so full of evil and danger that there is no hope for peace? What happens when we believe that “surviving” in a dangerous environment is our full time job and our basic purpose? And what happens when we perceive most situations and people as dangerous? Well we live a life where we are on guard most of the time, we don’t feel safe, we don’t trust others and we feel vulnerable. This is the life of many Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse.
Often, adult Survivors usually have a distorted view of danger and on how to protect themselves from danger. Most Survivors develop self destructive coping skills to help deal with danger that are actually counter productive. These copings skills actually do not help the Survivor survive they actually help the survivor to live a life of pain that leads to a slow death.
Here are some of our survival strategies. Here is what we usually do to protect ourselves from pain and danger and what we usually do to deal with stress:
- We use food to make ourselves feel better – which can lead to obesity, disease and death
- We use food to feel like we are in control – which can lead to anorexia and bulimia and death
- We use alcohol and drugs to escape emotional pain – which can lead to addiction, disease and death
- We blame ourselves, criticize ourselves and think very low of ourselves – which can lead to low self esteem and depression
- We avoid people so that they won’t hurt us – which can lead to isolation and loneliness
- We hurt others with our words – which foster dysfunctional relationships
- We accept abuse from others – which can lead to domestic violence and death
- We use sex in inappropriate ways like for money or to feel good about ourselves – which can lead to sexual disease, unwanted pregnancies, dysfunctional relationships and low self esteem
As you can see these strategies don’t work very well in the long run. The reality is that if we really want to live or to survive we must adopt a new way of thinking and a new way to deal with life, stress and pain.
If we want to live – if we want to survive – we must renew our minds, develop new healthy ways to deal with stress and danger and become a part of a positive support system.
Many of our survival skills are built on painful past experiences and fear. We believe that we must protect ourselves by ourselves. But the reality is that we can’t properly protect ourselves – or we can’t survive without other people. How can we alone fill the emptiness inside? How much longer can we carry the burden of shame, guilt, anger, helplessness, hopelessness and low self esteem before we collapse? The human heart can’t beat when its closed and when its broken. What are we to do?
If we want to truly live – to have peace, joy and love – our only choice is Jesus. When we live life with Jesus – when we adopt his values and principles, when we accept his guidance and his forgiveness and when we accept his love – that is when we begin to live. Nothing else will help us.
Jesus gives us freedom. Freedom from our past and freedom to live today. We simply cannot live a victorious life without Him. We can not survive, we cannot live with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When we feel like we are empty and when we are searching for that missing piece, or for love – we turn to Jesus – He can meet our needs – He can quench that thirst.
Second, we can’t survive without each other. We must open up our hearts and let healthy positive people into our lives. We can’t afford to remain silent and isolated. We must begin to slowly trust others. It is possible to develop the skills to discern who is good for us and who isn’t. We need other Survivors to tell us things do get better. We need these Survivors to write books, to counsel us and to encourage and to support us. We need empathetic doctors. We need friends and families to listen and to allow us to tell our story. We need love from each other. We need to feel the hugs, hear the words and look into their eyes and believe they care. No one can make it alone. There is no person strong enough to make it on this earth without the love and support of others.
The purpose of this magazine is to provide a platform for Survivors to be there for one another. We encourage Survivors to speak up, to write an article, to make that important phone call, to talk to their doctor and even to their spouse. We can’t survive by remaining silent. We must speak up and reach out for help. It is not easy to trust others when so many people have let you down. Sometimes it seems easier to just give up, be quiet and not to deal with others. But I know that through prayer God can begin to heal your heart so that you can let others in – and so that you can let His love in. I know eventually God can direct your path and guide you to others that truly do have your best interest in mind.
The first step is reaching out to our Heavenly Father in prayer. Ask God to heal your heart. Ask him to show you how to renew your minds so that eventually you do not do things that hurt you or allow and accept abuse from others. Ask God to help you understand what love is, what His love is and what His love can do for you and to you. It can transform you – if you let it!
Challenge yourself today. Say a prayer and if you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior – do it today! Next, reach out to someone you trust. Make a phone call. If you are on drugs – call a drug hotline, your doctor, your insurance company or an agency that can help you get clean. If you are being abused – call a domestic violence hotline. If you are thinking about suicide – call a help line and talk to someone who cares – someone who has been there.
Please don’t wait – your life depends on it.