How to Find Healing After Incest

He had come to Cindy's room again last night. She had pretended to be asleep, but it didn't help.

He got into her bed and started rubbing her under her nightgown. She just lay stiff and still until it was finally over and he got up and left. Then she cried herself to sleep. Like she had so many other nights in the past three years.

She had known he would come to her room last night because he and Mom had fought again. And Mom had gone to bed early with a migraine. He always came to her room on those nights.

She would lie awake, stiff and still, listening, waiting, pretending to be asleep, hoping, praying, that this time he wouldn't come. Wanting to scream when he always did. If she screamed, though, she'd wake Mom and her little sister. And if they woke up, they'd find out Cindy's shameful secret.

Besides, he always said everyone would know she was bad if they found out what she was doing with him. And since God hadn't made it stop after she'd asked Him so many times, she thought it must be true that she was to blame somehow.

The next morning at school Cindy could barely stay awake. She dozed off several times during class, and the teacher spoke to her about how often this was happening lately. “You really must get more sleep,” she said with concern.

Cindy answered that she wasn't sleeping well because she worried about her mother's headaches. Well, it was sort of the truth.

“Maybe you could lie down awhile every afternoon,” the teacher suggested.

Cindy nodded and forced a smile. She could imagine what Mrs. Monroe would say if Cindy told her the truth about what she was doing.

“Your father? Not him! He'd never do something like that. You're lying.” Cindy had thought about calling one of the numbers she'd seen on posters and TV. But she was afraid to tell a stranger such horrible, personal secrets. And why should they believe her?

Besides, what if they told him? She didn't know what he would do to her.

After school Cindy walked home with her best friend, Sara. As they walked, she wondered again, as she often had, if she should tell Sara her awful secret. Sara was good at keeping secrets.

But the same fears stopped her. Sara might tell this one to her parents. And Sara's father knew Cindy's father. What if they talked?

She could just hear Sara's father. “Ben did what? No way. Cindy's making it up. I better go tell Ben before she spreads this all over town.”

Somehow Cindy got through the rest of the week. There wasn't another quarrel at home, so Mom didn't have a headache, and he didn’t come into Cindy's room. She was able to get enough sleep and didn't doze off during any more classes.

Then on Friday night they had an argument. Cindy lay in her bed, unmoving, waiting, listening for his footsteps in the hall, then the creaking of the hinges as he opened her door. But this time the soft footsteps went past her door. And then she heard the creaking of the hinges on her little sister's door.

No! I can't let him do that to her! Cindy thought as she forced her feet onto the floor. I've got to stop him! She stood shaking a second, then walked out her door and down the hall.

She pushed her sister's door open. “Stop it! Leave her alone!” she screamed. “You're not going to ruin her life!” She barely noticed her mother entering the hall looking shocked.

Afraid he might follow and stop her from calling, Cindy grabbed the cordless phone and locked herself in the bathroom. She dialed the number she had memorized and dialed in her imagination.

“My dad needs help,” she cried to the sympathetic voice that answered. “Please, can you help us?”

Why Kids Don’t Report

A therapist in private practice explained that children give in to incest and don't report for these reasons:

  • innocent ignorance and obedience to parental authority
  • fear of punishment
  • fear of rejection by those they need most
  • starvation for affection (this may be the only kind they get).

Incest and Child Abuse

Incest and child abuse are very similar; both involve sexual abuse by someone older than the victim. However, incest involves an assailant who is also a relative.

Virtually all incest and child abuse sufferers are innocent, but they go through a whole lot of pain and guilt. They also feel betrayed, because most know their assailant very well. It might be a brother, stepparent, parent's boyfriend, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, sibling, cousin, baby-sitter, or teacher.

Many, like Cindy, find it hard to report the adult who has abused them.

If You Have Been Molested

  • Make sure the other person is prevented from doing this again and gets help.

1. First put as much distance as possible - physical, emotional, social between you and that person. Do not be around him, and do not believe promises that he will stop. Child abuse is a symptom of much deeper problems. This person needs long-term professional help.

2. Immediately tell someone who can protect you from this person and keep the person away from you. This might be your parents in the case of child abuse, or your innocent parent in the case of incest. If a parent does not believe you, go immediately to another relative or authority figure you trust perhaps a teacher, pastor, or aunt.

3. Next contact an attorney. Your adult supporter can go with you to report and prosecute.

  • Realize you're an innocent victim. You may feel dirty, that this was your fault, that you made the person do this. That's not true. You're a victim of crime.
  • Get counseling. No matter how long it's been since this happened, go talk to someone. Sexuality is at the core of who you are. Damage in this area affects all of your life.

Talk to a counselor experienced with child abuse and incest. Group therapy might also help and make you feel less alone. Also be sure to counsel with a pastor or Christian leader you trust.

You need spiritual healing. All child abuse victims feel guilt and betrayed crust, which lead to low self-worth. All relationships become affected, especially the person's friendship with Jesus.

Because the relationship with a parent is the most trusted human relationship for a child, incest can be enormously damaging. Parents stand in the place of God to the child and give him or her the first and deepest impressions of God's character.

So when a parent betrays the child's crust, he destroys the child's ability to trust any human - and God. The child loses faith, which is vital to friendship with God.

Warning Signs of Abuse

If someone older than you does one of the following, you should avoid being alone with him and talk it over with an adult you trust:

  • Gives you favors out of the ordinary or expensive gifts. Don't worry about reasonable birthday or Christmas presents. I'm talking about expensive gifts out of the blue. Or if the person wants to take you on an activity that gets you alone with him (my assailant took one of the boys he abused on a weekend trip). Also, be careful if the person overpays you for work you did (or didn't do).
  • Makes excessive physical contact. For the most part, male relationships need more touching. It's good when people give each other a pat on the back, a handshake, or an arm around the shoulders. Excessive physical contact is another matter. This might include long wrestling or tickling matches, long hugs, patting or touching bikini areas. If someone does these things, he definitely needs help. You're not the one to meet an adult's physical needs.

A word of caution here: Please don't accuse anyone unless you know for certain that he is guilty. Don't destroy that person's reputation unless you have solid evidence.

  • Talks of sexual matters that are private. If someone older than you offers to give generic information about anatomy or relationships with the opposite sex, you don't need to worry. But “pornographic” stories should serve as warning signs. If the adult discloses private incidents (for example, telling how a spouse or partner was in bed), you know he needs help. This kind of information is not being provided just for your “benefit.” Get help for the person.

How to Find Spiritual Healing

Spend time with the one the Bible calls the Wonderful Counselor - Jesus.

He came to earth to show us the Father. Look at Jesus and see that God the Father can be trusted.

Read the Gospels to see how Jesus dealt with people. He touched and healed those people thought of as untouchable - the lepers. He was a friend of traitors and prostitutes. He protected those caught in acts of shame and told them, “I don't condemn you.”

These were people who had sinned - and you're an innocent victim. Go without fear to Jesus. He doesn't see you as dirty. He loves you and died for you.

Talk to Him in prayer.

Then take the same steps people take in conversion:

  • Realize that you need Jesus. You can't face this problem without His help and friendship.
  • Know that Jesus cleanses our consciences from all guilt - guilt from our sins and the shame we might feel from others' sins. Let Him take the guilt away. You are free.
  • Ask for the power to get on with your life. Let Jesus take away those old feelings and help you start anew.
  • Forgive the person who has sinned against you. We must forgive truly and completely. How can I do that? you ask.

No, you can't by yourself. Only the forgiveness of Jesus is that strong. When we ask Him to help us forgive, then cooperate by putting our will on His side, He will build us up to the point where we're willing to forgive. He'll even lend us His forgiveness to enable us to forgive.

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