As I tried to make sense of all the pain, I was left with one question for God:
While the person that started the fire is still out there- unpunished. Living their life in total freedom. Free of consequence and seemingly, of suffering.
Children of sexual trauma confront the God-questions in profound ways…I know I did.
The theological question of whether there is a God has an urgency in the souls of those who have experienced severe trauma.
I came out of my violation believing not only that I had done a bad thing but that I was bad. Because of my arousal, I was ashamed that I had “done nothing” to stop the invasion into my body. More than that, I believed there was something in me that asked for this violence.
The question of worth, our worth in creation and our worth before God, may be a struggle for any child. In the belief of children of sexual trauma, the question is decided early. We have no worth. There is an ontological quality to shame carried by children of abuse. We are unlovable to God.
During my ordeals it was my own experience that a malevolent energy was present that was connected to, but more than, the sadism of my abuser. The real terror for me was not only that I might be spiritually lost but that I might be left alone with that terrifying power.
Over the course of my prayer life with God that was opened up by my expressions of rage and hurt, I was met with grief, outrage on my behalf, and God’s apology to me. Later still, when in prayer I asked Jesus if he had betrayed me, he simply said, “Yes.
I needed to hear that as I was sick and unsatisfied with everyone who had been promising me the opposite.
There was no intention for harm on God’s part, nor neglect, no lack of love. But there was acknowledgement that it was a kind of betrayal to create an innocent child and then not be able to protect it in this very basic way. It was after having this truth affirmed that I could see the possibility that God could both love me and be unable to stop the abuse.
Children must have truth that goes all the way down before they can move to a new place with God. Platitudes about God will fail every time in terms of the real spiritual growth of the person. Besides needing the acknowledgement of God’s responsibility in order to grow spiritually, children of abuse may have pointed us toward a powerful truth.