God and Sexual Assault

The Struggle to Seek God after Trauma

He understands.

One thing I have found hard about remembering my trauma is coming to a new understanding of God.

How could God let such bad things happen? Why did He not stop it? What did I do wrong? Why would I want to worship a God who let such horrible things happen to me? Was He even real if such evil exists?

These are the questions I faced once I began to remember my past of sexual assault. They have not been easy questions to answer by any means. I have found myself on a path of finding out who God is on a whole new level from the God I came to know when I was 17.

I also can’t answer these questions for you if you have them. I can only share what I have found in my search for truth.

It bothers me when people know something to be true for them, and then tell you that because they discovered this you should believe it true too. I don’t want to do that. I believe we each must come to our own understanding in our own time.

When I was younger, I couldn’t tell you what was happening to me because I disassociated it to survive it. So it would happen and I would not remember it once it was over. A survival strategy basically, that many survivors of sexual assault acquire.

So, when I came to know God then, I came as an innocent teenager. I thought I had a wonderful world ahead of me.

I began living life and I thought I was seeking God and His will. Reading the Bible and praying. Serving him on mission trips. I was surrounded by Christians at the Christian college I attended so I grew quite a bit in my spiritual journey. However, I did not encounter really tough times. Nothing shook my faith or gave me reason to question God.

When I was 31 and life began to fall apart I had only a basic faith to fall back on. I prayed as I needed and read the parts of the Bible that helped me. However, when memories returned of what happened to me throughout childhood I wondered why a loving God would allow an innocent child to endure such evil. Did I do something wrong?

He is God. He could have stopped it so why didn’t He? Of course, the big question came eventually of, “Did God really even exist if such horrible things happened?”

What I have discovered throughout my journey is, no I did nothing, and you did nothing to deserve what happened. Sin happened, and we endure the consequences of the sin committed against us. We live in a fallen world.

Though, yes, I did question God’s existence for a bit, there was simply too much evidence in my life, the world around me, and the Bible to let me know God is yes, very real.

So, why didn’t God stop it? Well, once Eve sinned in the garden the world fell to evil. As evil entered the world we were no longer like God. We are entirely human and sinful.

If God stopped every evil act on earth then nobody would be a sinner and we would all be like God who is perfect. However, we live in a fallen world run by Satan, and there are consequences to sin which are endured by not only the sinner, but those they sin against.

God provided each of us with free will. That means we have the choice to follow Him or sin. It is the free will of man choosing evil which hurt us not God. It is important to realize and come to an understanding of this in recovery and seek out God’s promise, and God does not promise an easy life.

I’ve heard people say, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Well, honestly none of us are good. We’re all broken, sinful, people. Yet, yes, some of us suffer more than others. We won’t know the answer this side of heaven.

This post simply doesn’t do justice to my search for truth. It has taken me over 10 years to come to these realizations I list here. The struggle to seek God after trauma is real. God understands our questions.

I believe He welcomes them because it leads us to a deeper understanding in coming to know Him. There is no checklist or correct way to seek God. Though many will tell you there is. Once we put away our tendency to “do” and “seek” is when we truly see God for who He is.

For me, I see and hear God most when I write. I need to write out my prayers more often, because it is through my writing in which God shows Himself to me. Many times I reread what I have written and have no recollection of writing it. God uses it to speak to me.

If you’re struggling to seek God today remember He knows us better than anyone. He understands our questions. He craves time with us and is always waiting with open arms. Ultimately, He wants us to understand and experience His love so we can share it with others.

That’s my prayer for each of us today. That we come to know God and His love despite our trauma and reach others for Him and for His glory.


© 2020 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.


Susan is an author and speaker who loves to share her journey of God's redemption and encourage others as they look to God. As a former elemetary teacher with a passion for teaching, Susan also owns her own tutoring and consulting business where she empowers students and parents in reading. Susan lives in Lee's Summit, Missouri, with her adorable and grumpy Persian cat, Mia.

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