Guilt AbuseQUESTION: Guilt abuse - How can I work through the guilt I feel from the abuse I received?ANSWER:
Guilt is a typical reaction in victims of abuse, but it can be overcome. You wonder, “If I had only done or not done this or that.”
If you, as an abuse victim, feel guilty, you are taking on the blame for another’s actions. Victims often wonder how they have failed, but this is misplacing the blame. Recognizing this is the first step to recovering and getting on with a better life.
Your abuse may have been physical, sexual, or emotional. It can happen to children, spouses, the elderly or anyone; you are not to blame. Neither are you alone; it can happen to any age, gender, or class. Coming out of abuse can have long term immeasurable effects such as:
- bitterness and anger
- or you may even repeat abusiveness toward others
These residual effects can continue to destroy you long after the abuser has been removed from your life so the guilt must be dealt with. How do you work through it? Psychologists and ministers agree that there is only one true cure for hate and resentment. We must learn to forgive whether the abuser has repented or not. You may never see or hear remorse from the abuser, but for your own sake, you must forgive. This is not a matter of necessarily facing your abuser; it is a matter within yourself and between you and God.
Remember the Serenity Prayer? One of the lines in it asks for the courage to change the things we can.
That always begins with changing ourselves; in this case ridding ourselves of blame, hatred, and unforgiveness. Then the wounds can truly begin to heal.
The Bible offers some great verses about forgiveness. We can read them daily or even hourly and they will give us encouragement and strength to work through the process of forgiveness and healing:
- You may want to begin with Colossians 3:13 which states that we should forgive -- as the Lord forgives us. “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
- Also giving us hope is 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
- God is always there for us and He is our refuge. Psalm 9:9-10 tells us, “The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Although we do not know how (or when) God may bring us through a crisis, we do know that He will provide us with the strength.
- Christ said in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.”
If you are searching for a new life after abuse, won’t you turn to Jesus Christ and let his power work to bring you through the pain and guilt?