Subscribe now

News

More in this category:

Peace, hope and healing for the sexually abused ‘ introducing Christian Action on Sexual Abuse (CASA)

May 2011

Peace, hope and healing for the sexually abused — introducing Christian Action on Sexual Abuse (CASA)

A woman is raped every ten minutes in the UK (Department of Health, 2010); 21 per cent of girls and 11 per cent of boys experience some kind of child sexual abuse (Home Office, 2007). The problem is national and international.

Studies conducted in developed countries indicate that 5-10 per cent of men report a history of childhood sexual abuse (World Health Organisation, 2002).
    Sexual violence is commonly reported in situations of conflict across the world. As one example among many, over a three day period at least 154 civilians were raped in villages in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (United Nations, 2011).

Consequences

The short and long term effects of sexual forms of abuse are vast. They encompass physical, emotional, social and economic dimensions. Sexually transmitted diseases, an array of gynaecological and reproductive problems, alongside emotional disabling burdens such as anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction and relationship problems, are just some of the consequences (Sexual violence research initiative, 2011).
    Individuals may be ostracised by their families and others as a consequence of experiencing sexual abuse. Rape is used as a weapon of war precisely because of the enormous divisions it can cause amongst a community (Frederick, 2001).
    Sexual violence also has economic consequences in terms of health and necessary intervention from criminal justice systems. According to the Home Office (2005), 23 per cent of all costs resulting from crime against individuals and households in the UK are accounted for by sexual offences.
    Though the level of sexual abuse may astound some people, that it knows no geographical boundaries should be of no surprise to the Christian (Galatians 3:22). We should show Christian concern for those affected by sexual violence knowing that no part of the human condition is beyond the redemptive power of Jesus the Christ.

True wisdom    

God’s Word is totally sufficient to develop an understanding and response to this widespread problem.
    That this issue appears more readily considered by the world than the evangelical Christian community possibly reflects the sensitive nature of sexual violence and perhaps a belief that such forms of darkness should remain ‘unspoken’ (Ephesians 5:12). However, God made all things under his control (Colossians 1:16; Ephesians 1:22).
    According to Taylor (2005), ‘Shame can be both healthy and shame can be sinful … proper shame can easily morph into improper embarrassment and unhealthy reticence to apply the whole counsel of God to an issue of paramount significance’.
    God’s counsel can be wisely and sensitively applied to both support those who are victims of sexual abuse and to speak boldly about the issue to a world whose understanding has been primarily shaped by human wisdom alone.
    Responses to this issue within the Christian community have also often relied on man-centred forms of knowledge, particularly the discourse of psychology in much of what is presented as ‘Christian counselling’.
    This should concern us. It has been convincingly argued that any attempt to integrate psychology with Scripture is flawed and inherently unbiblical (Williams, 2010).

CASA

Christian Action on Sexual Abuse (CASA) is a developing ministry concerned with promoting a biblical perspective on and response to sexual abuse so that the saving, transforming and healing power of Jesus Christ be proclaimed.
    The vision of CASA is threefold: firstly, to develop a national network of gospel-centred support for victims, Christian and non-Christian; secondly, to provide centralised resources to support the church in understanding and responding to the problem of abuse.
    That the Word of God is sufficient in explaining sexual violence provides the foundation for, thirdly, promoting publicly a biblical, Christian voice on an issue which has so far been dominated by secular wisdom.
    The name of the CASA web site is ‘Peace, Hope and Healing’. These three words collectively speak of God’s power to bring the light of Christ to the darkness of sexual abuse.
    
Peace

The fundamental need of all humans is to know and accept the grace of God in saving them from his righteous wrath through the blood of Christ. The world will view the essential need of the unbelieving victim of abuse as finding peace from the experience of abuse. As Christians we know that finding peace with God is primary.
    The peace that then becomes ours is beyond all human understanding (Philippians 4:7). Rather than depending on circumstances, Christ himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14) regardless of the situation (John 14:27).
    Peace with God is, therefore, paramount; peace, despite a history of abuse, only then becomes truly possible. For the Christian victim of abuse, the Word promises the supernatural peace of God despite the inevitable troubles of the world (John 16:33), including the devastating experience of sexual abuse.
    
Hope

Christ is our hope. The Christian’s hope is not an aspiration based on uncertainty, dependent on ‘luck’, but one grounded in him (Psalm 39:7; Jeremiah 14:22). It is a hope in his righteousness, justice and power. It is a hope in his love and the power of his sacrifice. It is a hope in him that is so powerful that we are enabled to say with Job, ‘though he slay me, yet will I hope in him’ (Job 13:15).
    Through hope in him, we can rest in the assurance that it is better to be with Christ in the midst of storms than on a still sea without him (Matthew 8:23-27).
    The hope for a victim of abuse is ultimately in Christ. Let’s not belittle the power of Christ in being the hope which becomes an anchor for the soul at all times (Hebrews 6:17-18).

Healing

The world offers the victim of abuse healing strategies constructed through the wisdom of man. Whilst all knowledge is ultimately provided by God in his common grace, that knowledge should always be deferential to his Word.
    As Christians, we should be totally convinced of the power of Christ to bring healing. We also know that healing is not always being free from pain — yet joy, despite the pain of abuse, is possible in him.
    So whilst faith in the Lord’s power to heal her brought the woman who merely touched Christ’s robe total freedom from physical distress (Mark 5:25-34), Job’s peace came from the God-given awareness that despite his afflictions, he knew his redeemer lived and was worthy of praise still (Job 1:20-22).
    
Compassion

Christians should surely be concerned about sexual abuse. It is an offence to God as well as an offence against those made in his image. It is a form of oppression and the Christian is called to defend the oppressed (Isaiah 1:17).
    Christian responses in the form of reaching out to those who have suffered from abuse should be unashamedly and fundamentally shaped by the Word, with secular wisdom remaining, at best, subservient at all times.
    We should not, in fear of being accused of offering a ‘simplistic’ response to the complex issue of sexual abuse, submit to the world’s knowledge, which God has declared ultimately lacking in true wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19-21; Jeremiah 8:9). True wisdom only emerges from understanding and submitting to his ways (Proverbs 14:8; 1:7).
    If you feel led to help develop this ministry in any way, please contact CASA via its website: www.peacehopeandhealing.co.uk

References:

Department of Health (2010), ‘A woman raped every ten minutes’, Home Office press release, 25 November 2010.
Frederick S. (2001) Rape: Weapon of Terror, Global Publishing, New Jersey, USA.
Home Office (2005), ‘The economic and social costs of crime against individuals and households 2003-4’, at http://rds.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs05/rdsolr3005.pdf
Home Office (2007), Cross Government Action Plan on Sexual Violence and Abuse, HM Government.
Sexual violence research initiative (2011), ‘Health Consequences’ at: http://www.svri.org/health.htm
Taylor, J. (2005), ‘Introduction’, in Piper J. and Taylor J. (2005) Sex and the supremacy of Christ, Crossway Books: Illinois.
United Nations (2011), ‘UN envoy urges DR Congo authorities to probe recent allegations of mass rapes’, United Nations New Centre, 8 January 2011.
Williams, E. (2010), Christ or therapy? For depression and life’s troubles, Wakeman Trust: London.
World Health Organisation (2002), ‘Sexual violence’ in World report on violence and Health at: http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/violence/sexual_violence/en/index.html

Tags:
News