DO WE EVER RECOVER?
You may ask, “Will I ever recover?” The answer is yes, but it’s wishful thinking to set a time line on your recovery. Recovery comes gradually, a little like a physical wound that heals. You don’t actually feel a cut healing, but one day you notice that the wound looks a lot better, and you think, Huh. When did that happen? Everyone recovers differently, though, and at a different rate. Full recovery may even be a lifetime process. Just when we think we’ve left the negative emotions behind, something happens and those feelings overtake us again. But we can get a second wind by remembering how far we’ve come.
Progress in healing comes from maturing in our thinking and a turn-around in our perception. When our perceptions are negative, our attitudes are all negative. That’s why it isn’t the trauma itself that sends us into a spin, but rather our perception of it. By allowing God to change your perception, you can learn to deal with intrusive negative thoughts of the past by replacing them with positive ones. This is where positive self-talk comes into play. Self-talk includes making a positive choice to heal. From Beyond Our Control (Kregel 2009 Edition) used with permission.
You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of the briars the myrtle will grow. …Isaiah 55:12
It’s tempting to make your sexual assault a permanent disability. But surely you don’t want to disable yourself that way. Only God knows what good things you have yet to offer to others. Yes…you have faced suffering in this life…we all do…but God can bring hope and restoration into the worst circumstances. He is able to turn evil into good (Genesis 50:20), and we can eventually find meaning in our pain.
Though our sorrow is heavy to bear, the strength we gain from carrying it will not be wasted. As humans, we find it easy to see nothing redemptive in our trauma, but God can use our afflictions to draw us close to Him and through us to reveal His awesomeness to an unbelieving world.
From Beyond our Control (Kregel 2009 Edition), used by permission.
SIGNS OF HEALING
“How will I know if I’m healing?” you ask. You’ve been hurting for so long, you’ve forgotten what it feels like not to hurt. Your rape happened a long time ago, but you still think about it and wonder if you ever really recovered.
There are many signs that indicate that you are recovering. One is that many of your post-traumatic stress symptoms will lessen in frequency and severity…the hyper arousal and anxiety, the nightmares and intrusive memories. Your attitude will change from that of victim to survivor, and you’ll have a greater appreciation of life. Your sense of humor will increase. You’ll channel your anger and grief into something positive, and your sense of empathy will strengthen.
Other good signs are lack of suicidal thoughts, deriving some meaning from the trauma in your life, fewer panic attacks, being able to comfort yourself in a non-destructive way, and growth of self-esteem. You are learning to take your trauma and turn it into a well of strength. Recovery involves several elements. You’ll experience these elements in no particular order, over no particular time frame, and at times simultaneously: mourn, take action, acceptance, self-care and resolution (read the elements definitions in my book, Beyond Our Control).
There will always be evidence of the scars that result from rape. Memories will linger in the depths of our souls. However, our scars can bear witness to God’s unfailing love. He can create new life in us. Our brokenness can cause us to turn our wills and lives over to God. We can give Him our sorrow, and trust that He will make us whole.
God can help you recover from having been raped. No, He won’t undo what has been done, but He can help free you of the strongholds, the negative effects, the rape has had on you. You need to ask Him, though.
You have a purpose in life. God has a plan for you, and you reason for being is included in that plan. Let God use the pain that has come into your life to help others overcome their pain, to give encouragement, hope, and love. Pray to God for wisdom and understanding. God bless you!
From Beyond Our Control (Kregel 2009 Edition), used by permission.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).