Many women who have experienced domestic violence have also experienced some type of sexual assault, either in their adult relationship, or as a child. Though you may not have been forcibly raped, as a child you may have:
- Been exposed to pornography
- Been exposed to another’s sexual organs
- Been fondled or sexually touched
- Received seductive solicitation
- Received description of sexual practices
- Been used to sexually stimulate a person older than you, or in power above you.
Or, in an adult relationship, you may have:
- Been intimidated into performing sexual acts
- Been forced to perform sexual acts such as oral or anal sex
- Been forced to perform sexual acts with more than one person
- Had someone attempt to, or actually rape you.
I don’t often talk about sexual assault and trauma, because it is not something I know a lot about. However, I recently met Mary Ellen Mann, the author of From Pain to Power: Overcoming Sexual Trauma and Reclaiming Your True Identity*. Mary Ellen is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the Denver, Colorado area. Mary Ellen is no stranger to sexual trauma. Most of her clients have experienced it, and she has also experienced it personally. In her book, she describes women who have experienced sexual trauma, not as victims, or even survivors. She looked for a word or phrase that transcended both those labels. The phrase Princess Warriors popped into her head one day as she was crossing a street. If you have experienced sexual trauma, you are a princess because, as a child of God, you are royalty. You are a warrior because you were not violated because you were weak, but because you are strong. Now, in order to heal, you can become a warrior and fight against what has happened to you.
In her book, Mary Ellen says that whether or not you were raped, any type of sexual trauma, such as those listed above, constitute sexual abuse. She says “It isn’t what was done to you; its how it makes you feel. The effect of the abuse has the deeper power and hooks <you> into beliefs and behaviors that increase <your> sense of pain and insignificance.”** She says that she believes none of us can do the work of healing and being restored alone. I agree with her. In her book, she talks about working to rebuild your confidence, your sense of personal worth, and a clear view of the power you possess as a daughter of God.***
I invite you to check out Mary Ellen’s website, LastBattle.org. There, you will find:
1. A video of Mary Ellen describing the mission of the Last Battle: To give survivors of sexual violation a voice and to offer healing and hope, and to connect them to resources.
2. A public statement concerning sexual abuse in the church of Jesus Christ written by Billy Graham’s grandson, in which he says the church as a whole has failed those who have been sexually abused. He says the church has not acted like Jesus when it silenced you, ignored you or moved away from you when you had the courage to speak the truth about your abuse.
3. A blog on psychological abuse which says sexual assault usually starts out as psychological abuse, and that the psychological bondage to the abuser is the most difficult part of the recovery for these abuse victims.
4. The opportunity to learn how to protect your daughter. Mary Ellen has compiled a wonderful Guide for Parents on Protecting Your Daughter. This is a two page document that has both alarming statistics such as – 1 in 6 girls will be raped in her first 15 weeks of college!, as well as what you can do as a parent, such as teach her never to accept a drink from anyone at a party, and always lock her dorm room. At this link you will also have an opportunity to receive her newsletter.
5. A link to Ideas for Living Well. At this link, you will find many useful articles such as:
- 5 Ways a Husband Can Help His Wife Heal from Sexual Abuse
- 6 Tell-Tale Signs of a Sexual Predator
- 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Sexual Abuse Survivor.
It is extremely sad that 1 in 3 women worldwide will be sexually assaulted sometime during her lifetime.**** I am very grateful for Mary Ellen Mann, and others like her who care about these women, and have the training to help them. If you are one of these, please know you are not alone. You don’t have to hide your pain. What happened to you is not YOUR shame, but the shame of the person who abused you. Tweet This
God has not abandoned you. As Mary Ellen says in her video, “God will deliver us. He will never forsake us. We stand with you as Princess Warriors fighting a battle for our souls, standing strong in our faith and emerging as victorious survivors.”
Revelation 21:4 says that in the future God: “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away.” And Jesus said in John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Remember, you are not alone! I would be honored to hear your stories.
May the Lord bless you today.
* Mary Ellen Mann, from Pain to Power: Overcoming Sexual Trauma and Reclaiming Your True Identity (Colorado Springs, Colorado:Waterbrook Press, 2015).
** from Pain to Power, 19
*** from Pain to Power, 20
**** UN Development Fund for Women.