Amy Baker

What Do You Say to a Woman Filled with Hate from Past Sexual Assault Or Abuse?

August 29, 2013

Biblical Counseling and Sexual Abuse - What Do You Say to a Woman Filled with Hate from Past Sexual Assault Or Abuse
Amy Baker

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Amy Baker

Biblical Counseling and Sexual Abuse - What Do You Say to a Woman Filled with Hate from Past Sexual Assault Or Abuse

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Two in a three-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on Biblical Counseling and Sexual Abuse/Assault. You can read Part One by Justin Holcomb, What Does the Bible Say about Sexual Assault? Part Three will be by Bob Kellemen on Beauty for Ashes.

Ministering to Phyllis

Suppose we had the opportunity to counsel a precious woman named Phyllis who had been wickedly abused by her father as a child and is now filled with hate toward him for the years of abuse she suffered at his hands. What are some things we might want to say to Phyllis?

Perhaps the first thing we would want to say is that God hates wickedness. 

We might want to say to Phyllis, “What you have suffered is despicable beyond words and your response to your sinful father has many similarities to how God responds to sinners. God declares that His soul hates the wicked and those who love violence (Psalm 11:5). God also categorically declares, ‘He will avenge; He will repay’ (Hebrews 10:30, et al.). God will pour out His wrath on the wicked.”

We might continue in sharing with Phyllis, “While we don’t know specifically what that will look like in individual cases, the thought of being the object of God’s wrath should make us tremble. Hebrews 10:31 says it is a dreadful thing to experience God’s wrath. For example, in Psalm 11:6 we learn that, ‘On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.’ “In Job 20 (NIV) we learn the following about the wicked: ‘The heavens will expose his guilt; the earth will rise up against him. Terrors will come over him; total darkness lies in wait for his treasures. A fire unfanned will consume him and devour what is left in his tent. He will perish forever, like his own dung.’ God is truly the avenger and He will sovereignly prepare the right judgment for the person who abused you.”

The question then becomes, what do you do with your anger? Does God have any say in the hot passion burning within you?

“Phyllis, God wants you to cry out to Him in your anger. You have cried within. You’ve tried to cry it away. God wants you to cry out to Him. Why cry out? Cry out because God can rescue. In Exodus 22 God warned that if someone takes advantage of the weak and helpless, and they cry out, He will certainly hear their cry. These truths are repeated in the Psalms. ‘For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help’ (Psalm 72:12). ‘The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles’ (Psalm 34:1. Cry out because nothing else can rescue. Drugs can’t rescue, wealth can’t rescue, friends can’t rescue, partying can’t rescue, cutting can’t rescue…”

“When God hears a cry from a believing, submissive heart, He becomes your rock, your fortress, and your deliverer. Then you can say with the author of Psalm 18: ‘I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies’ (NIV).”

Of course, there will be many other things we will want to say to comfort and encourage Phyllis. For a woman dealing with hatred, we will want her to understand that our goal is not so much to make her anger go away, but to use her anger to turn her toward the Lord who is angry at wickedness and uses His anger to bring us redemption.

Join the Conversation

What would you say to Phyllis?

2 thoughts on “What Do You Say to a Woman Filled with Hate from Past Sexual Assault Or Abuse?

  1. This is really good and helpful for me as a young pastor. Thank you. I hope to read more of the contents here on Biblical Counseling coalition.

  2. What do you say to her when she asks why a loving, just God would let her be abused in the first place?

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