In the last article, the intent was stated to articulate a distinctly Christian way of responding to and dealing with abuse. John Henderson tells the story of a wife named Patricia, whose marriage is struggling because of the residual psychological effects of sexual abuse she suffered in her youth. Her older brother had molested her for several years before she was even eight years old, threatening to kill her pet rabbit if she ever told anyone.
After this, a maternal uncle molested her during a month-long stay at their house, and raped her on the last night of his stay. At this point, she was nine years old. Her mother ignored this and her father was an apathetic alcoholic. Meanwhile, her older brother, who knew about the incident, mocked her. As a teenager, she was attracted to older, confident males and would quickly have sex with them if they gave her attention.
She would frequently stay out all night, and after waking up one morning naked in the house of a stranger, hungover and surrounded by other half-naked individuals, she began to experience suicidal ideation. That very week, she was invited to a church camp, during which she heard and accepted the gospel for the first time. She described the negative emotions she’d experienced during that time as having gone into remission, and on her 18th birthday, she left home, living with some friends and working until she was able to afford a car. About two years later, she fell in love with a man named Claude and married him.
Claude’s father had been a soldier and his mother had coddled him. He grew up in a Christian home, but the standards were highly strict and conducive to anxiety. Claude knew that Patricia had suffered sexual abuse in her youth but did not understand or appreciate its impact. Since their sexual encounters had been enjoyable prior to marriage, he was surprised, humiliated and angry when she retreated from him during their honeymoon.
It was revealed in their initial counselling sessions that they had avoided God in their daily lives. Both had decided that God could not be trusted. Patricia saw God as aloof, indifferent and ashamed of her, and Claude saw God as constantly disappointed with him. Both understood theological truths about Christ but had no joy. Both understood the gospel, but failed to see its relevance to their marriage or sexual troubles. It was at this point that they confessed to the existence of a great deal of resentment and anger towards God. In our next article, we will look at the role Psalm 22 played in their spiritual recovery.