Hiding Behind the Mask
You may be surprised to know that among the group of people you spend time with, one in five of them have secrets that haunt them. You may be surprised to know who they are; you may not know it to look at them, as many will have become incredible actors. They put on a mask. On the outside they may be smiling, but on the inside they are deeply scarred.
Nearly 700,000 children are abused every year in the United States. An estimated 683,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2015. Victims of child abuse often struggle with overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy, and these ‘not good enough’ feelings can sometimes be enhanced by the teachings of the Church. They feel scared to reach out to a God of love who they believe couldn’t possibly forgive such awful things. They often feel that they are not worth forgiving anyway. Feeling like nothing, they assume that God sees them that way. But of course He doesn’t; He sees these innocent beings as awesome humans with a future and a hope that He can restore and use in ways they could not even begin to imagine. These beautiful, God-created young people, who have been tarnished by other people’s sin, need to know that they are valued beyond measure by the God of the universe—a loving God who sent His son to die for them.
Victims of child abuse may be very promiscuous, and you may have a difficult time understanding why. They may feel that as they have lost their virginity, there is no reason for them to keep themselves pure. One very important thing to remember, however, is that their virginity can only be given away by them; it cannot be taken from them! A child who has been sexually abused has not given anything away voluntarily. It has been taken from them unwillingly; in God’s eyes they are still pure! This is a message that must be communicated.
Maybe you are one of these girls who is hiding behind a mask. Maybe you are confused about what to do if you are being abused or if you have been abused in the past . . . everyone is different in the way they react. There is no right or wrong when it comes to the feelings you have. And you are not alone.
If you have been abused or are being abused:
Tell someone you trust. Remember that if the person won’t listen to you, then talk to someone else who will listen to you! You are important and you need this to stop.
It’s not your fault. You couldn’t control what happened… You couldn’t stop it… you couldn’t change it…But you can change it NOW!
You don’t need to feel guilty about telling – you have stopped it now and may even have protected others. The person who is hurting you has made a choice to behave badly towards you. They need to get some help so they can understand the hurt that they are causing and so they can learn to respect themselves as well as others.
Social workers and the police are there to look after you and to make you feel safe; talk to them honestly and openly. The police will probably want to talk to you and maybe video the conversation. Don’t be worried by this, as this will be used in court if you need to go. This is so you don’t have to keep telling your story again and again. If someone who lives with you has abused you, then the Department of Child Safety will do their best to remove that person to keep you safe.
There is life after abuse. The scars will fade with the help and support of your friends and family and a continued relationship with Christ.
Forgiveness cannot be rushed – it’s a slow journey that some people can do and others find impossible; this is understandable. Forgiveness is for you and your healing; it is NOT to let the abuser get away with it! It is taking the abuser off your hook and placing the abuser on to God’s hook.
Pray constantly. God loves you. He created you and you are not an accident. He knew you were going to be born; He did not want you to go through these things. People have a choice and your abuser made the wrong one. This really hurts God and makes Him angry. You can talk to God like you talk to anyone… you don’t need to be in any special place. The bible says that He is always with you. He knows what happened to you and He knows how you hurt. If you allow Him to help you, He will.
If you need help or have questions about child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) then push 1 to talk to a counselor. The hotline counselors are available 365 days a year to help kids and adults who are worried about kids they suspect are being abused.