Case of the Week
My case goes back to my childhood. When I was five years old I was raped many times, day after day, perhaps for a year. I don’t think my father ever knew, but everytime I remember, I am filled with guilt, bitterness, and the powerlessness of not being able to do anything about it.... I ask God to erase the memories from my mind, but the condemnation is always there. Help me! I have my own children now, but it hurts to think [of my past].
We are so sorry for the horrible experiences of your childhood. You must be a strong person to have overcome so much pain at such a young age. No wonder the memories are hurtful, and no wonder you would like to forget!
However, there are some important words in your story that indicate that your memories have been influenced by having experienced these traumatic events through the eyes of a five-year-old. (You don’t mention the age of your abuser, so we are going to refer to him or her as an adult, even though we understand that it could have been an older child or an adolescent.) Now that you are an adult and have children of your own, you can totally understand that five-year-olds are not to blame for the actions of the adults in their lives. Yet you feel guilt and condemnation. Those feelings of guilt and condemnation are not from God.
Children are never, never, never responsible when they are sexually abused by adults. The children are always the victims. However, the adult abusers do not want their evil actions to be discovered, so they frequently convince their child victims to keep the abuse a secret. And what will convince a five-year-old to keep a secret? Tell him that he is the one who is guilty. Tell him it is his fault. And say whatever it takes to make him afraid that he will get in trouble if he tells.
Your abuser convinced you that what happened was your fault. Your abuser made you feel guilt and condemnation. As a five-year-old child, you came to believe that what happened was your fault. But those feelings were based on a lie. And the guilt and condemnation that you feel today is still based on that lie.
Do you still believe your accuser? Will you allow the abuser to continue to have power over your thoughts? Every time you are overcome with the feeling of that unwarranted and undeserved guilt and condemnation, you are allowing yourself to believe the lies of the abuser instead of what you now know is the truth.
The Apostle Paul taught, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Through this teaching we understand that Jesus doesn’t condemn us even when we sin and are guilty for those sins. In fact, instead of condemning us, He died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins. When we accept His sacrifice and ask Him to forgive us, He forgives us, just as He promised He would.
Therefore, keep the following in mind: The condemnation that you feel is not from God. The guilt you feel is based on a lie. You do not need to ask forgiveness for the things that an evil adult did to you so long ago. And when those horrible memories come back into your head, ask God to help you sort out the truth from the lies.
We wish you well,