"laestadian, apostolic, gay, lgbtq, ex-oalc, ex-llc, llc, oalc, bunner" LEARNING TO LIVE FREE: Helping the Sexually-Abused Child

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Helping the Sexually-Abused Child

The recent avalanche of comments on the previous post has prompted a sign-in and moderation process, as this blog needs to balance the need for a full and free discussion with that for respectful discourse. Perhaps I will tell my own story soon, but suffice to say this is very personal for me, and I believe all churches—and our society at large—have a huge responsibility to reform in order to protect children.

Each of us should ask: how can we as individuals bring about that reform?

How can we bring to light something so shame-inducing?

How can we identify abusers, and hold them accountable?

How can we "immunize" children against abuse?

As the mother of two beautiful, happy children, I want to believe that because they are well-loved, taught proper boundaries, and allowed autonomy over their bodies, they are unlikely to be preyed upon, and likely to report abuse.

But what can I do to help children who may be dearly loved but are taught, like I was, to submit to elders, to trust and obey, to see themselves as sinful, to forgive all sins and transgressions, to never bring shame on their family?

We have a responsibility to talk about this.

As I tuck in my kids tonight, somewhere a child is crying him or herself to sleep.

The information below is from the Child Molestation Prevention website:

Act to Heal the Sexually Abused Child

Sexual abuse is happening to three million children in the U.S. - that means in an average eighth grade classroom of 30 children, six children are currently being sexually abused.


View child sexual abuse as a health problem.

Be the capable adult who will help a child with this problem.

Protect the child physically. Separate the child from his or her abuser.

Protect the child emotionally:

It is NEVER the child's fault, repeat this fact often to the child.

As a parent, say you will always love the child. Show the child that this is true with words and behavior.

Tell the child that very likely, other children in the classroom have this problem.

Tell the child that very likely the abuser has a health problem, and may need medicine and other treatments.

Let the child know that he or she never has to be in the same room with the abuser - even a father, brother, uncle - if the child doesn't wish it.

Take the child to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of sexually abused children.

Protect the child victim, especially boy victims, from developing a sexual interest in younger children with a second-step to good health. Be sure, with the help of a sex-specific therapist, that a boy victim (especially a boy who has been repeatedly sexually abused) does NOT develop a sexual interest in younger children. Be aware that this sexual interest in younger children might lie dormant until the onset of puberty and then become a health problem for the child.


  1. THANK YOU for posting this-finally something positive and helpful to others!! I commend you for that!

  2. I do believe though, that we can educate children about child abuse & also teach the forgiveness of sins. We don't do away with the forgiveness of sins because of child abuse. They are different things, and for me the forgiveness of sins is the basis of my belief, while child abuse is a crime. This website has generated strong feelings on different sides of issues, but I'm so glad if it makes people aware. We don't want any more children hurt, and the ones that are hurt to heal. I'm truly sorry if I've offended anyone on here, please forgive me.

  3. Mari, I saw you as a level caring head that pointed to a website that is useful when it was needed. We may not agree on spiritual matters, but we agree that we must be careful and informed when using such strong labels.

  4. One in four girls are abused and one in six boys. And these numbers don't care what church you go to or where you live.

    A religion can't protect you from abuse.

    99% of all abuse happens with someone you know. And of that 99% half happens within the family, by a father or brother, sister or mother.

    And when tragedy strikes a family, 85% continue doing what they have always done, but more of it. That leaves 15% who actually pay attention and deal.

    If you crunch the numbers for my family of 16, including parents, it left 2.5 of us that would make changes.

    My brother and I made changes.

    In stopping abuse, you have to stop being the same kind of family.

    I could not separate my father from abuse. He and abuse were entwined together, he had not done any treatment to make the separation.

    My mother's abusive behavior was to not support or believe the child. She stayed married to him for 49 years, well actually she hasn't divorced him yet. In order to step away from dysfunctional love, I had to step away from her.

    So, the numbers are way stacked against us, and the only way we can tip the scales into balance is to stop trying to keep families together.

    It seems insane, but the only way to heal is to walk away.

    My children will learn from me how to walk away from abuse. They will not learn that when "It's family" they get a free pass.

    It hasn't been easy, for my children still see my siblings and their cousins. I had to let them have their independence to show them that they can.

    My children directly oppose me.
    I love that they can.
    And I do what I feel is right for me and I let them do what they feel is right for them.

    There is nothing they have to do.

    I am allowing them to have a voice and choice. This will empower them and people who are empowered are harder to abuse.

    My independent strong stance, teaches them they can do this walk if they have to one day.

    I was always aware that I had four children stepping into the footprint I left behind.

    I had to make sure my limb of the Huhta Family tree walked differently.

  5. I'd like to suggest you read this page: CHRISTIANS AND LAWSUITS.

    Specifically, scroll down to section B.3.a; "The context of 1 Corinthians 6 is civil legal disputes, not criminal prosecution. With few exceptions, the Government prosecutes crimes. Therefore, a Christian may look to a secular court to prosecute anyone (including Christians) who committed a crime against them (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 1:13-14)."

    I see that even though there may be forgiveness between parties of abuse, there is still a Christian responsibility to prosecute for criminal acts. You know, the whole "let every soul be subject unto the higher powers" thing.

    There are more interesting articles on that same site, too.

  6. Mari,

    I am a former FALC member and agree with you for the most part. This is my response to this comment you made.
    "I do believe though, that we can educate children about child abuse & also teach the forgiveness of sins."

    I still believe in the forgiveness of sins, but do not believe true forgiveness exists in the FALC. All victims of any sort of abuse must forgive eventually to be at peace. The FALC version of forgiveness is all words and no actions. It's overused and has lost it's true meaning. True forgiveness comes from the heart and is a very special humbling experience.

    If true forgiveness existed in the FALC, there wouldn't be so many hurt people walking about the door of that church and sharing their stories of abuse on this blog.