A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break

Written by Paula Friedrichsen


If you were sexually abused as a child, you’re not alone. Read Maureen’s story.

Donned in her favorite nightgown Kimberly* slips under the covers anticipating a good night’s sleep. Patting her husband’s shoulder she says, Goodnight honey… Tentatively Ron reaches out for Kimberly and nuzzles her cheek giving her a tender kiss. With a familiar sick sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach, Kimberly wriggles away from Ron, while feigning tiredness and a backache. Although it’s been several weeks since they’ve made love, Kimberly can’t seem to stop herself from rebuffing Ron’s sexual advances.

But it wasn’t always this way…

Kimberly married Ron in her early twenties. He was a solid, kindhearted guy and in the very beginning their sex life was wonderful and plentiful. Eventually though, Kimberly found herself becoming increasingly uninterested, and at times almost repulsed by sex with her husband. She began to have vivid memories of a time when a close family relative had sexually molested her when she was a child. She would do her best to block out the images, only to have them crop up again. Although the abuse had been a conscious memory all along, Kimberly’s new marriage seemed to have pushed the memories to the forefront of her mind.

It was in the midst of this darkness and struggle that Kimberly and Ron gave their hearts to the Lord and began the journey that would define the rest of their lives. And while becoming a Christian brought tremendous changes into Kimberly’s life, her feelings about lovemaking remained unchanged.

Kimberly cried out to God in prayer over the increasing darkness that she was experiencing, and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance she began to take steps toward wholeness (we’ll discuss those steps in a minute). Ultimately what Kimberly discovered was that the Lord desired to bring healing to her sexual relationship with Ron. And in the course of time she felt the burden of the dreadful memories lift and her revulsion to lovemaking abate. God brought freedom! Freedom to forgive, freedom to forget, and freedom to enjoy lovemaking the way the Lord intended.

The Ongoing Ramifications of Sexual Abuse

Childhood sexual abuse can scar a woman’s mind and heart, making her unable to give herself fully to her husband. She may feel almost violated by him each time they make love; although her mind knows that her husband has every right to want intimacy from her, her heart tells her she’s being violated. She may even think, I can’t believe he wants this from me! Doesn’t he know how this makes me feel?

Being molested as a child or young adult can set a woman up to feel out of control the rest of her life in the area of sex. The abused woman often misunderstands God’s design for sexual intimacy, and will sometimes only acquiesce to physical unity out of a source of duty, or simply to keep the peace in her home. She has missed the unique beauty and physical thrills of lovemaking, and sees only the ugliness of being taken advantage of.

If I have just described you, my heart hurts that you experienced sexual abuse—but there is healing. True, lasting, deep healing. A healing so real that nothing can ever take it from you.

Steps to Wholeness

As with any work of God in our lives, we almost always play a part in the process. In Kimberly’s case, as well as others like her, there were important steps she took to facilitate this complete healing.

Step 1: Run to The Healer

Kimberly’s restoration process began with prayer. She cried out to God, asking Him to heal her sex life. While it’s true that there are many positive actions a woman can take to help bring forth healing from the pain of childhood abuse, only God can bring forth complete and lasting restoration of a woman’s sexuality. My pastor often teaches that God leaves the “big things for Himself.” Pastor Eric says “The Lord reserves the right to do the ‘big stuff’ in our lives so that He receives the glory. As the Lord enters into our darkest situations and brings life, healing, and hope, we are drawn to Him and we glorify Him.”

In Isaiah 42:3 we gain insight into God’s heart for those who have been bruised and broken by unjust circumstances: A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice. One of the foremost ways in which God brings forth justice for the oppressed is by healing them. He simply brings freedom and wholeness to those who will ask Him for it. He is good… He is faithful… And His mercies never fail!

Step 2: Choose Forgiveness

Early on in her Christian walk Kimberly recognized that she must forgive the family member who had so devastated her by his actions during her childhood years. This decision was pivotal in her quest for wholeness—and one which ultimately opened the door to God’s restoration in her marriage.
Forgiveness is foundational when it comes to receiving healing from the pain of sexual abuse. It’s more then just a good idea—it’s actually the gateway to freedom. In her book, Getting Over the Blues Leslie Vernick says:

God knows that sin destroys us. It is not the sin that is committed against us that wields the fatal blow. Rather, it is our own sinful reaction to the things that have happened to us. Unresolved anger often turns to depression, self-pity, bitterness, and resentment, and these things poison our body and our soul. A person finds healing through the process of forgiveness, both receiving forgiveness and extending forgiveness. That is why God is so insistent that we forgive. He doesn’t want sin to ruin our lives.

Sometimes we resist forgiving those who have offended us because “just letting it go” seems like we’ll make it way too easy on the abuser—as though we’re letting the sinner off the hook and giving them carte blanche to sin again. On the contrary; forgiving someone means that we are putting them fully in the hands of the living God to let Him punish, vindicate, or pardon as He wills it (see Romans 12:17–21). By forgiving the offender, we are not putting our faith in our own ability to exact justice, but resting our faith firmly in a righteous and faithful God.

Step 3: Move Beyond Victim-hood

In her booklet, “God’s Complete Provision for Healing the Pain of Past Childhood Sexual Abuse” Jan Fletcher says:

If you are a victim, for a time you can receive sympathy and that is a very appealing thing. It may be so appealing that you want to stay there. Certainly, there is a time and place to be consoled for the pain of the past, especially pain that was inflicted by others. But we need to be so careful that as those who have suffered childhood sexual abuse, we don’t promote ourselves as victims just to avoid facing our real problems.

When it comes to the healing of sexual intimacy in marriage, a colossal hindrance to enjoying a vibrant love life is a “victim mentality.” If a woman stays a victim, she remains a wounded child. She may appear to be a competent adult, but inside she’s still that crushed little girl who was violated all those years ago. It takes tremendous courage for the abused woman to rise up on the inside and refuse to stay a victim. But as she makes the brave decision to leave the past behind and reach out for God’s healing—He will more then meet her halfway.

When a woman is caught up in the role of victim in her marriage, this often means that her husband is cast in the role of caretaker. She requires “special handling.” And in reality, the abused woman may indeed require special handling for a while. But eventually, the husband’s needs must come into play. He needs a partner, a lover, and someone who is passionate about him. He needs to be able to freely enjoy his wife physically and sexually without feeling guilty about it. The bottom line is this; in order to have a healthy marriage both partners need to freely enjoy one another physically and sexually without feeling fear, guilt or shame.

With God’s help and healing Kimberly began to see herself as a strong, mature, whole, loving, sexual spouse…as Ron’s lover, partner, and friend. When she felt tempted to retreat back into that old familiar role of a wounded, defenseless, frail, unavailable wife—she made the important choice to resist those thoughts and move forward.

“We learn to live differently by living differently, not by thinking about living differently”. Leslie Vernick, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship

As Kimberly lived out of her identity as a strong, mature, whole, loving, sexual spouse that reality became more her identity than her old wounded, defenseless, identity…..

The healing from sexual abuse is many times an intricate issue that requires a plan of action, time, and plenty of patience by both partners. In addition to the three foundational principles we discussed above, more suggestions for the healing of sexual intimacy after the sin of sexual abuse are:

• Enter into qualified Christian counseling
• Seek out several trusted prayer partners for ongoing support during the healing journey
• Institute a regular husband and wife prayer time to begin addressing the issue of sexual healing together

*Names have been changed

Recommended Reading:
The Healing Path: How the Hurts in Your Past Can Lead You to a More Abundant Life by Dan B. Allender
Beyond The Threshold of Hope, by Diane Langberg
Set Free by Jan Coates

Have you experienced something in your past you haven’t been able to talk about? Talk confidentially to an email mentor.


19 Responses to “A Bruised Reed He Will Not Break”

  • Doris Beck D. Beck says:

    Glad you enjoyed the site and the article tintot!! We always appreciate hearing from visitors! Have a blessed day!

  • tintot says:

    Hi Paula! This site is awesome. I bought your book “The man u always wanted is the One you already have”. I learned a lot though I’m not yet married I got a lot of advice! God bless you Pau and everyone! :-)

  • Barbara Alpert Barbara Alpert says:

    Dear Catherine, thank you for coming back and correcting what you had previous written back in “2009”. Past abuse is hard to get over and it takes many years to heal from the abuse. Sometimes we think we are healed but then something takes places and those old wounds open up again. Here is a link that will bring you to several articles written by:Barbara Wilson on sexual abuse.


    I hope you take the time to read the various articles and perhaps even obtain a few of her suggested books for reading. Are you still married? Have you ever sought professional counseling? If not, you may definitely benefit in doing so since the sting of this offense is still troubling you.

    P.S. thanks for sharing the poem too!

  • Catherine says:

    Hi There, I sent a message earlier today. As I read my last post it was clear that I wasn’t as healed as I thought I was. Here’s a poem I got after reading your complete post again today. Thank You!!

    i hate the battle
    the journey’s long
    all this pain
    what went wrong
    i try to heal
    i try to share
    there’s always more
    it isn’t faif

    but, without you Lord
    where would i be
    you extend hope
    help me to see
    that you were there
    always will be
    my faithful friend
    until the end

    cmr 2013

  • Catherine says:

    I just read the comment I sent a long time ago. It souns like I thought I was healed, but right now from reading this website again, I am seeing that I still have shame, hate and anger because of the molestation of me and my 6 sisters. I did not see the anger before. My sex life went down hill again also. May I change what I sent before so it is more realistic and honest? Thank you!

  • Alby says:

    Thanks be to the Lord most high.As long as sex can not be eradicated in marriage it can not eradicated in the body of Christ.May God almighty continue to use this site to bring healing to the heart of people and home, in jeus name,(AMEN).

  • Eve says:

    It’s really hard to take it when someone violates you in such a way. I was raped at the age of seven and phyically and psychologically abused in my childhood. To add onto this all the three men I’ve dated wanted nothing but sex from me and feeling as unworthy as I felt at the time, I gave in. i regret for the mistakes I’ve made coz of looking at myself from the viewpoint of a victim who nobody would want to be in a relationship with rather than through the eyes of our loving saviour Jesus christ. I normally wonder will I ever get a man that will love me beyond my past. Is there anyone with the same experience who has a wonderful God fearing husband that I can get encouragement from?

  • bugs says:

    Praise be to God. We serve an awesome God, who loves and cares for us. Just want to encourage all my brothers and sisters in Christ to continue trusting Jesus, and you’ll see that he gives freedom and peace and joy that is beyond what this world can give.

  • Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your words on this subject! I was molested continually throughout my childhood and raped at 13 and 15…because it was from when I was very young, I started to think of it as normal. The male cousins who did those things to me were also physically, verbally, and emotionally abusive to me. To this day, only one of them has apologized to me and they others still treat me like dirt.

    It has been a constant struggle for me. I battled with depressive and self mutilation. I had a boyfriend who just wanted physical things when I was 16, but I didn’t want that. Actually, it was hard for me to have intimate moments with anyone. Any display of affection repulsed me.

    I found Jesus when I was 18 and I am now 20 and in a relationship with a good Christian guy. He is the only one that knows about my past, and I felt so relieved after I told him. However, I still have a few problems with self-esteem and relationships with people. I am going to seek some Christian counseling.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share my story so that people know there IS hope through Jesus! I may have committed suicide by now if it wasn’t for Him! Thank you again for your words on this subject!!

  • Natasha says:

    I can identify with this article. Like myself I know that there are so many women that are hurting today and sometimes maybe they feel as though there is no one to help. However, the Lord is good and He is a healer. I am still waiting on my healing from a broken marriage.

  • Allen says:

    Glory be to God, I have just come across this website. I believe this is the beginning of my break throughs and blessings. Amen

  • anon says:

    what a blessing to find this website. I grew up in a house with a mother who was always talking about sex, I was molested when I was 5, and 16, and I lost my virginity to a “lets call him a man” when I was 20. I used to sleep around and I considered homosexuality at one point in my life, but now I am born again and married with two beautiful children. For the past 4 years God has been taking me thru the healing process. It is very painful and truthfully, I run from the healing alot rathen than go there again, but it’s so worth it to not be a victim and come out of something that would certainly have destroyed me. I am so grateful to have firsthand knowledge of something that is most definitely going to be of use to countless other women who have gone thru the same thing. It makes the ridiculous pain worth it….(There is a song that goes ‘it hurts so good, come on baby yeah it hurts so good! sometimes love don’t feel like it should but hey…it hurts so good) I’ve dedicated that song to this season of my life.

  • octavia says:

    It’s not an easy path, but God is true to His promises. I’ve learned that alot of it depends on myself, on how willing I am to surrender to God. I was sexually abused at the age of 4/5, became a born again christian at 27 and backslided after about 6 years. Now I’m wanting to come back to God, but it’s so difficult, and all the issues that I thought was dealt with is back. At times I just want to run away, but I know that it’s not what God has planned for me. I’m 35 and feel like I’ve been robbed of a carefree childhood, a normal adolescence and emotional and spiritual maturing. I’ve always been fearful of a relationship and now I want it so much, I’m scared that life is passing me by. The emotional and relational consequences of sexual abuse is far reaching. But I will hold on, because ultimately, even though it doesn’t seem so now, I know deep down inside that God is good. And He only wants good things for me. But right now…

  • Patrice says:

    This article really opened my eyes to a better meaning of God’s love of how he handles abuse victims. I’m a survivor of it and it wasn’t easy to tell my boyfriend but he encouraged me to seek counseling and it helped a little but I had to seek soem personal healing of my own. It takes time and trust someone you care about. But I enjoyed this article alot:) Sex is fulfilling when you have someone who values your self-worth & beauty instead feeling being taken advantage of.

  • Catherine Rausch says:

    Good to see your article. I too was molested by an uncle when 8 yrs old. I hid the shame cause our family wasn’t open to talk about things like that. It would have been my fault or denied by my parents. Because I survived I thought I was OK. I married a wonderful man but didn’t realize my lack of interest in sex was because of the abuse until I was married 20 plus years. After becoming a believer I was still afraid of opening up to someone and didn’t understand the need to. My husband was the first I told.

    When I came out of hiding God took me on a long healing journey. The process has not been easy but it has been wonderful. I love being free. I told God I wanted my husband and I to fall in love all over again and we have. God’s love has restored both our hearts and healed the pain and brokenness through repentance and forgiveness. We have a new sexual relationship. I’m not inhibited any longer. Sex has become fulfilling instead of a duty. Praise to The Lord

  • Christine says:

    Mary Beth your response and honesty are inspiring. Thank you.

  • Mary Beth says:

    Wonderful article, I also was sexually abused by my (I call him my birth father) and also another family member. The Lord was always with me through it all and I guess I was lucky to have such a strong faith even at 5 years old. I always knew that God was there for me and he put my mind in another place to keep me sane. He gave me a wonderful husband who is so different from most men because he doesn’t think with his (you know what) and that helped me to come out of my sexual shell. We have been married 17 years and I’ve just turned 40 today. Having someone who didn’t expect me to be great in bed and was loving and patient was what helped me to overcome my past. Today we have the BEST sex (yes ladies it gets better with age)!! I have recently become a christian and have been able to forgive and I am soooo greatful to our awesome God for taking away my anger and hatered. But I am also greatful to Him for what actually happened to me and I would never wish for it to not have happened because it has made me me.

  • ang says:

    Dear frind in Jesus,
    It’s nice to read this article, the site is great we can also learn lot. I have someone in my family who just broke from her boyfriend and I am very happy she did, because he was from a different religion andhe would drift her away from God. I want to pray for her for spiritual, physical and emotional healing, but I dont know how to pray this prayer. Can you help me?
    God Bless

  • Ginger says:

    Great article, I have been there and it is an ongoing process to heal but there is a moment when you stop defining yourself by the abuse and begin to let God define you. For me, that was when I went from victim to survivor. He carried me through the painful memories forward to healing and still carries me. I was greatly helped by Dan Allender’s book so am glad to see it on your reference list.

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