God and Sexual Assault

Surviving with Grace

Deciding to be a survivor.

“Remember you are ultimately working for our Father in heaven and He’s all about grace, so remember to provide grace to yourself too.”

I wrote that in a text to a woman in my Bible study group that started a new job last week. After I wrote it, I reread it and thought, “Who wrote that?!” It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

I am terrible about not judging myself and providing myself grace! Yet, I felt like God wrote that through me to speak not just to her, but to me.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

There is nothing we can do to earn our way to God or heaven. It is by His infinite grace and His precious gift of His son Jesus that we are saved from ourselves.

As I pondered this today, I thought about how hard our society is on victims of sexual assault.

“Well, she got drunk.”

“She was wearing that skimpy outfit.”

“She was flirting with him.”

“She could have said no, tried to fight, get away, she could have told someone it was happening.”

I’ve even had people ask: “How old was your abuser?”

The truth is none of us knows another’s story. Even if we did what exactly makes it ok for anyone to hurt someone else no matter what they where wearing, drank, said, or did or didn’t do? Nothing.

Whatever the case, we are horrible as a society – even as Christians – about providing grace and not judging. Grace for why someone is in their situation, and grace for how they’re feeling.

Granted, there comes a time for everyone that you have to choose to be a survivor and not a victim. So, there comes a time where we can’t dwell where we are forever.

I had to make that choice and it was hard. The easy thing was sitting at home where it was safe. My body hurt, the depression and anxiety were horrible and so it was easier.

The hard part was putting myself out of my comfort zone – trusting God with the outcome. I remember my counselor encouraging me to volunteer, join support groups, Bible studies, etc. When I made excuses, he said several times, in a gentle way, “That sounds like you’re being a victim and not a survivor.” Ouch! That hurt and honestly made me mad at the moment.

I would shoot back with “You don’t understand!” However, he was really trying to help me realize I wasn’t living the life God had for me.

I always had an excuse. “Well, I’m not good at driving there, or I tried that and it failed so I don’t want to do it again.” I let my human fear take over. There will always be “what ifs”, but we must trust God will take care of them.

Trust me, I get it. If you’re a survivor of sexual trauma you’ve encountered one of the ultimate evils and you want to protect yourself, but are you living life?

Putting myself out in the world after years of isolation was incredibly hard, but so worth it. I have seen God move in my life, bless me, bless others, and take my life far beyond what I have could have ever dreamed or imagined.

Granted, none of it would have happened had I not chosen to begin working hard to process my trauma in therapy sessions. That was an extremely hard choice too, but one we have to make to truly heal.

I have made mistakes and encountered struggles along the way, but I try hard to provide myself the grace that God provides me because it’s with His strength that I am a survivor. Grace for mistakes and for the emotions and feelings that still come up as I recover.

What are you using as an excuse today? What fear do you need to give to God so that He can move in your life and bless you beyond measure? Take all of it before Him today and trust me He will work it out and provide you courage and strength as you do.

Make a choice today to be a survivor, but provide yourself grace as you step out into a new world of living like one. With God’s help I promise you can do it!

© 2021 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.

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