Child Abuse

Child abuse is a broad, general term that can include:

What mental health experts call adverse childhood experiences can have lifelong effects, from an increased risk of substance abuse and alcoholism to obesity and promiscuity. The abused are at a higher risk for depression and chronic health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. With impaired life skills, they are more likely to get involved in abusive relationships themselves and to struggle in school. The emotional baggage of adverse childhood experiences can affect how they parent their own children.

Growing up with a legacy of abuse can leave people without many of the life skills necessary for stability and success. Without a solid foundation, it can be difficult to establish a “normal” life. Experiencing trauma actually alters how the brain functions (which can be further aggravated by substance use). Living in a chaotic and dangerous environment affects one’s ability to eat, sleep, and study. A child may experience multiple school changes due to family moves or foster care, and otherwise have limited resources for education. As the survivor grows up, getting out of the traumatic environment (which may require dropping out of school to earn money for living expenses) can take priority over education, even if the young person values and desires an education.

All of these factors can complicate a survivor’s recovery, and make them feel that they are stuck as they are, with little chance of living a full, happy, healthy, whole life. If you have suffered abuse or neglect, it is important to acknowledge that you have been wounded and to recognize that you are precious, in spite of what others may have told you. Maybe the abuse is in the past, but the scars remain. You may struggle with not liking yourself and not trusting other people. You may feel shame, guilt, or regret, or even hate—or be angry at God. All of these feelings are natural. They are not bad in themselves, but if you don’t share them with someone (such as Christian psychologist) who can help you work through them, they will continue to hurt you and others around you. They will also hurt and haunt any close or meaningful relationships you may have.

The Bible assures you of God’s continuing love, and His eagerness to help you heal. In some of Scripture’s most beautiful words of reassurance, Zephaniah 3:17 promises that God “will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Dealing with the physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences of abuse can be a long road to travel. A caring parent, pastor, youth leader, teacher, professional counselor, or other trusted adult can play an important role in your recovery. Find someone you can talk to regularly who is trained in helping abuse victims. Join a support group for people with similar experiences. Give yourself permission to enjoy life.

Jesus loved and cherished children. When Jesus’ disciples rebuked parents for bringing their children to Jesus, He “was indignant and said to them, `Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them” (Mark 10:13-16, ESV).

God loves and values you. The abuse that you have experienced, or are experiencing, is not God’s plan for you. He wants you to reach out and find help, and He promises: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Heb. 13:5, NIV).

For a deeper understanding of the issue involved, we suggest people go to the following link: