How can I prevent memories of childhood sexual trauma from having a negative impact on my relationship with my spouse? I was abused a long time ago and though it wasn't easy, I've forgiven the people who violated me. But after twelve years of marriage I still can't enjoy sex with my husband without feeling guilty. Is there any hope for me?
Yes. We can say this with certainty because we believe that Christ suffered, died and was raised from death in order that you might be healed of your wounds and released from the shackles of your painful past.
If you're familiar with the words of Luke 4:18, you already know that Jesus came to proclaim good news to the afflicted, joy to the brokenhearted, liberty to the captives and comfort to those who are crushed and bruised. As your first step toward redemption and release you need to lay hold of this promise and make it your own. Memorize it. Hide it in your heart. Pray over it day and night. It is the Word of God, but its power won't be fully unleashed in your life until you've drunk deeply from the well of its truth and allowed the Holy Spirit to weave it into the very fabric of your heart and mind.
The second step is to realize that the abuse you endured as a child was not your fault. It's common for victims to blame themselves, whether consciously or subconsciously, but the guilt that afflicts you is false. You need to make a conscious attempt to shake it off and leave it behind. This sounds simple, but it can be difficult to accomplish. You can begin the process by reminding yourself daily that you are pure and spotless in the sight of God – regardless of what may have happened to you at the hands of others.
The third step is to get some outside input. Books can be helpful in this regard, and we've listed several below that we'd like to recommend for your consideration. All of these titles are available through our ministry and can be ordered by calling our offices or visiting our Online Store.
Finally, seek out the help of a trained Christian therapist. Accurate information is a good place to begin the healing process, but head knowledge by itself is not enough to bring it to completion. When children are violated, their sense of trust is damaged. As a result, thorough restoration can only take place within the context of healthy relationships. Your marriage can be an important part of this process, especially if your husband is loving and patient. But the task is too big for him to tackle alone. Even with the help of friends, however kind and understanding they may be, he won't be able to supply you with the deep emotional and psychological guidance you need. This is a job for a skilled and gifted professional.
If you think it might be helpful, we'd like to invite you to call and speak with a member of Focus on the Family's Counseling staff. Our counselors can provide you with a list of qualified marriage and family therapists practicing in your area. They would also be more than happy to discuss your situation with you over the phone.
When Your Spouse Is Affected by Childhood Sexual Abuse: Debra Taylor looks at the effects of childhood sexual abuse and how it may impact the sexual relationship in marriage.
Sex and Intimacy