I will not be silent. I will talk about the things that for generations people have been saying "Shh. Don't talk about that stuff," or "Keep the past in the past," or "The skeletons are better left in the closet." Better for who? The perpetrators? Satan and his kingdom? If we stay quiet, Satan can produce more child molesters, tempt more victims to commit suicide, entice more people to numb themselves with alcohol or narcotics, convince more people that they are homosexual or of the opposite gender, and talk more people into not getting married or having children.
I am Holly Otten, a survivor of sexual abuse and incest, and my life's work is to help people heal from sexual abuse. I am sharing with you my thoughts based on my own personal experiences and from those who've come through our inner healing curriculum for survivors, as well as from counseling survivors. I am a voice for the voiceless−the weak and wounded.
Let me give you an analogy of why we must deal with the sin of sexual abuse and not keep it secret. When I was a child, I watched my grandmother take out a bowl of chicken soup from the refrigerator. When she removed the lid, I noticed the soup didn't look like it did the day before when I ate it. It had a layer of fat floating on the top. It didn't look very appetizing and because my grandmother knew that the fat was not healthy for our bodies, she skimmed the fat off and placed it in the garbage. Both perpetrators and victims try to block out the abuse as if it never happened, but the effects of the abuse create much damage in their lives, including passing down the behavior of incest to their children, who pass it down to their children, and so on.
Image via Public Domain Pictures cc
It's time to clean out the skeletons from the closets. It's the only way to break the generational patterns (or curses¹) of sexual abuse and incest. We Christ-followers must war for our generations. We must deal with the sin of the past and present generations so that our future generations can be spared from the horrific consequences of sexual abuse and incest. We must not keep silent when we hear a loved one say that they were sexually abused (present or past). We need to listen when a child tells us that her uncle makes her feel uncomfortable or when a child says that he doesn't want to live with Daddy any longer. We must stop protecting the perpetrator and start fighting for the rights of the victim. We must stop aiding in keeping the perpetrator's secrets. We must stop looking the other way. We must stop choosing to live in a place of denial.
Pastors are not immune to temptations to molest children. I know personally of 3 pastors who molested their own children, and other church leaders who abused children, including 1 deacon, 1 worship pastor and 1 youth-group leader. There are generational curses of incest that produce strong temptations. If the pastor was molested himself and never dealt with his abuse, then there is an even stronger pull to give into temptations to molest his children, or any children who are in his life, such as his daughter's friend, a niece, a boy in his Boy Scout troop or a girl on his baseball team. Children are easy prey. The drive to satisfy his sexual desires are satiated, no matter the gender or age. In most cases, the younger, the better. Some of the reasons for this are that the children are less likely to tell anyone and they are more vulnerable because of their small size. In addition, men get more pleasure when they penetrate a smaller child, and lastly, there is no threat of pregnancy if the child is prepubescent.
Let's all agree to make an effort to change things around. For the sake of our children, let's profess: "NO MORE SECRETS. NO MORE LIES. NO MORE DECEIT." It is time to tell all. It is time to get everything out in the open. God knows it all anyhow. Nothing is hidden from His eyes. God knows about the pastor's secrets. His certificate of ordination is not a sure ticket into heaven. There must be repentance in the heart of the pastor if he is to expect to have eternal life in heaven. Of course this goes for all perpetrators.
I encourage perpetrators to repent to God for their sins of sexual abuse and to pray for the healing of their victims. If a victim comes to him later in years and tells him that she knows what he did to her, he should not deny it. He should apologize to her. It will help them both to heal. I experienced this with a perpetrator who sexually abused me. This family member came to me when we were adults and apologized for abusing me. After he apologized, he sobbed profusely. I saw the weight of his sin fall off of his shoulders. He became clean and free of the burden that he carried for so many years. Unfortunately, he was only 1 out of 5 perpetrators who apologized for sexually abusing me. Nonetheless, I have forgiven each one and have placed them in the hands of God, the one and only Judge.
I have used the gender of the male when speaking of the perpetrator because there is a much lower percentage of women who are found to be child molesters and rapists. Also, I have used both genders when speaking of the victims, but there is a higher percentage of female victims than there are male victims. There are various statistics, but there is one that I find to be close to my personal experiences. By the age of 18, 1 out of 3 women will be sexually abused and 1 out of 5 boys. This stat is only based on known cases. Therefore, the stats are higher. I believe them to be MUCH higher because of the number of people, both women and men, who have told me of their abuse, but never told anyone else in their lives.
Scriptures that speak of incest, curses and blessings:
Galatians 3:13, Deuteronomy 28:15, Leviticus 20:17-21
Listen to a poem called "Skim the Fat" from the audio book "The Tin Man-The Voice of an Incest Survivor" by Holly Otten.
About the Author
Holly Otten is co-founder of Tin Man Ministries, a faith-based non-profit whose mission is to promote healing for survivors of sexual abuse and to advocate for victims of the sex trafficking trade. TMM has produced many resources to help survivors heal and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
Purchase Holly's books in paperback or audio.
Read more blog posts from Grace n Glory, an outreach branch of Tin Man Ministries.
Fear Out. Faith In.
If I Only Had A Heart
Is Your Heart Soft Or Hard?
Love Or Lies?
Lust Vs. Love
NO MORE SECRETS
Sex Trafficking In My Backyard
The Church Has Left The Building
What Does Love Look Like