I have been thinking through and praying about this post for a little over a week now. Our prayer when we started RefineUs was that it would be a place where people find hope, and healing and a fresh start. What we have found in our lives is that to find healing sometimes you have to look at things in your life that aren’t easy to look at. Today and tomorrow, we will be discussing sexual abuse. What role it plays in marriage and what role the Church should play in helping people heal from it. Our prayer is that these two days start the healing process for someone.
Trisha and I were in the car last week and an interview with Focus on the Family came on the radio. The topic was sexual abuse in the United States. According to latest statistics, 1 in 7 men over the age of 18 and 1 in 4 women over the age of 18 in this country have been sexually abused. I had heard that stat before, but had pretended like it didn’t apply to me…hearing it this time rocked me.
If you are a football fan, and you like college football…statically speaking 2.3 of the 22 guys on the field at any one time have been sexually abused. If you spend any time this week watching the NCAA Women’s College basketball tournament…statically speaking, 2.5 of the 10 women on the court at any one time have been sexually abused. As you go to work today, count off the people in your office, the people in the elevator, the people in the break room…1 of 7 men…1 of 4 women have been abused sexually. That is mind blowing to me.
My suspicion is that 80% of the people who have been abused sexually have never talked about it. I know I never talked about it. There were several reasons: I was ashamed; I was embarrassed; I was scared no one would believe me; and I didn’t want anyone to look at me differently. So, I created a prison for myself and locked part of my heart away for over 20 years. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about how long I hid.
As I was reminded of the epidemic of sexual abuse in our country, one of the first things that came to my mind was this thought: It is no wonder that over 50% of the marriages in the United States fail. If 15% of all men getting married today have been abused sexually and 25% of all women getting married today have been abused sexually, and most of those people have not talked about or gotten help for the abuse they have experienced, they are carrying a TON of brokenness into their marriage. Marriage issues in this light don’t surprise me.
We can talk about pornography and we can talk about infidelity and we can talk about anger issues and unforgiveness and lack of trust and insecurity. But to try to address those issues when a person in a marriage relationship has been sexually abused (in my opinion) is only treating the symptom of the problem(s). It is putting a band-aide on a broken arm.
Unlocking the thought patterns, behavior patterns and the brokenness that I carried for 20 years has been life altering for me and game changing for our marriage.
But, I don’t know everything.