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Are You a Survivor?

If you have lived through any type of sexual violence, at any age, then you are a fantastically heroic survivor.  No matter how old you were, who did it to you, or any other factors, if you are alive you have survived a brush with death.  Even if that statement does not feel true, it is.  Whatever you did, you did it right by the virtue of the fact that you are still alive.  Don’t assume that because your experience of sexual violence was long ago that it is no longer affecting you.  To do so is simply a lack of education about its effects, denial, and/or self-illusion.  Since up to 92 percent of our communication is unspoken, it is essential that you get help for incidents of sexual violence, whether they be current or long ago.  Any avoidance of this fact means that you are most likely more vulnerable to further damage, be it emotional, spiritual, relational, or physical.  I once had a woman in her 70’s (a childhood incest survivor)  attend one of my support groups, and she was thrilled at what she was learning.

We all have things written on our souls from our individual pasts, be they good or bad.  “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows, James 1:17.  Anything good that is life-giving is from God.  Anything destructive is only from the evil one, no matter who made the choices, or how they feel.  Therefore unless you have dealt head-on with an experience(s) of some type of sexual violence ( usually with good outside help), you are most likely unconsciously communicating in ways that can increase future risk of even more pain in your life.

Our culture’s unspoken rule to avoid talking about our experiences gives the words like rape, incest, molestation more power than they actually have.  When we keep silent, we collude with this destructive ‘rule’ to keep ourselves and other survivors enmeshed in a victim mentality.  We unknowingly keep rapists in the business of raping.  Not that we are responsible for their raping, but when we pretend it will go away by keeping silent, we promote a shame-based culture around this issue.  Our conservative evangelical churches reflect the greater American culture, like it or not; whether we realize it or not.  Lack of Intentional Leadership regarding sexual violence in our faith congregations promotes this policy of silence, therefore actually by default promoting broader cultural problems like pornography and other addictions.  The insidious nature of morally relative postmodern thinking keeps us stuck in a sexually violent merry-go-round.


  1. More than 70% of our society has been victimized by sexual violence. On several occasions, I have asked a group of women with whom I happen to be if any of them have been a victim of sexual violence. Every time at least 1 in 4 has had that experience. I’m sure the percentage of men who have been victims is the same. A tiny fraction of men are rapists, but they harm the ability of our whole society to enjoy sex, trust, love, and have faith.

  2. Thank you Sherrill for all this wonderful information. I will have survivor friends check this out.

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