Thursday Thought — Step 1 in Trauma Recovery: Establishing Safety
It is exceedingly difficult for abuse victims to give up their defense mechanism and come alive to healthy intimacy when their safety is still threatened. Powerlessness makes deadness and denial extremely enticing — particularly for those who have experienced chronic abuse. Thus, the first step in trauma recovery is establishing safety.
It’s hard for those who haven’t lived with an abusive husband or parents to appreciate the emotional and psychological toll of chronic abuse. Imagine the child who goes to bed every night wondering if tonight will be the night her father will fondle her. Imagine the wife who never knows when her husband will come home from work in a blind rage. Imagine the families who can never relax on the weekends or the holidays because that’s when Mom or Dad gets drunk and abusive. Even if the abuse only takes place a fraction of the time, the abused child or battered spouse is constantly on the alert, never knowing when the next eruption will occur. Thus, parents and church leaders — Church leaders, You need to hear this** — [You] must be particularly sensitive to the need for abuse victims to have a safe environment in which they can begin to heal, where they can regain that crucial sense of power and control over their lives that abuse strips them of.
While God can and does use suffering to build character, there is no virtue in enduring avoidable suffering. In fact, the Bible teaches that we should avoid abuse and seek safety whenever possible. Jesus repeatedly avoided physical assault and sought safety by hiding (John 8:59), by maintaining physical separation from his abusers (Matthew 12:14-15; John 11:53-54), and by eluding them (John 10:31,39). Other godly individuals in the Bible, such as David and Paul, also repeatedly fled from physical abusers (1 Samuel 19:12; 27:1; Acts 9:22-25; 14:5-6; 17:8-10, 14). Creating safety for those traumatized by abuse has a strong biblical basis. The Bible frequently instructs those in positions of power to ensure the safety and protection of those who are vulnerable (Psalm 82:3-4; Proverbs 24:11-12; Isaiah 1:17).
(excerpt from Steven Tracy’s book, Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse [affiliate link*] p143-144.)
** emphasis to church leaders added by editor