Monday, August 24, 2009

Telling Your Parents That You Were Sexually Abused

It may seem impossible, but it is vitally important that you sit down with your parents as soon as possible to tell them about the sexual abuse you have suffered and begin to seek their help in your healing process. (See blog #4). If the sexual abuser is one of your parents, tell your youth leader or other Christian adult who will give you guidance. Here are several steps that will help you prepare for and carry out such a meeting:

Decide if you want someone else to go with you. Perhaps you would feel more confident about the meeting with your parents if someone went with you.

Schedule a time to meet at their earliest con­venience. Plan to talk to your parents or youth leader as soon as possible. Find a time and place for your meeting that will be free from interrup­tions and distractions. You might say to your par­ents, "I have something important I want to discuss with you. When could we sit down and talk?"

Be straightforward. Get right to the point. Either you or the trusted person who is with you should state clearly to your parents or youth leader that you are the victim of sexual abuse. Beating around the bush will only make your dis­closure more painful for everyone.

Ask for their help. Express and explain your current thoughts about the healing process. Invite their counsel and prayers as you decide whether to seek Christian counseling. If the per­son who abused you is still alive, ask your parents or youth leader to help you report the abuse to the proper authorities to make sure the person will not abuse others.

Close with prayer. If your parents are Christians, ask them to join you in a time of prayer. Together ask God for His direction and help in the coming months as you begin to heal from the pain of your experience of sexual abuse.

As you convey respect for your parents' feel­ings and a willingness to listen to their concerns and suggestions, you increase the possibility that they will become your helpful supporters in the months ahead. Knowing that your dearest loved ones are on your side will help lift some of the emotional burden from your shoulders.


Karen said...

Family love, to me, is the most valuable thing you have in your life. If you didn't have your family, you wouldn't go anywhere. When you were down, they were there for you. When you needed something they tried to make that happen. When you think you don't have a family, you do. All you need to do is just give them a little call and they will be there for you. I got kicked out of the house when I was 18 and I had nowhere to go. I was around a wrong crowd and got into drugs. My addiction to meth was so bad, I nearly died. I realized that my life wasn't going anywhere and I needed help. The first people that I called and the only people that I called was my mom and dad. They were very happy to help me and got me into a drug rehab program. I am currently on the program and I can already tell that things are getting back to normal. I'm getting my life back, and most important I'm getting my family back.

Sam said...

Why does it have to be a Christian adult that is told of abuse? Surely any trustworthy adult would be suitable?

Josh McDowell said...


Thanks for your comment regarding the reporting of sexual abuse. In the absence of a Christian adult, then a trustworthy adult should definitely be told of sexual abuse. It is always better to tell someone than to keep a report of abuse hidden. The main reason for suggesting that a Christian adult be informed of abuse relates to the fact that a person who knows the Lord would be responding to the victim from a biblical view rather than a worldly view. A non-Christian could be very compassionate, sympathetic and understanding, depending on his or her personality, but the Christian could respond to the victim with compassion and concern as well as with additional promises of God’s healing, forgiveness for the perpetrator, and hope for the future that are based on God’s Word. One who does not know the Lord cannot be motivated by the Holy Spirit to speak “the word in season” that would be uniquely effective for the victim. The person to whom the counsel is given has the choice to respond affirmatively or negatively. It is hoped that a word directed by the Holy Spirit would be well-received and helpful as part of the process to bring healing to the situation.

Anonymous said...

I've had a quite abrupt experince myself in life. I'm 15 & barely going to tell my mother about my 'experiences' that have happened in our own house when she wouldn't look. I've asked God to help me with my nervousness & fear of this man I call 'Dad'.... I know I can't let this mess with me (not just emotionally but) mentallly happen anymore, without telling her. I've also learned that I can't put somebody elses happiness in front of the cold-truth... Wish me luck!/:

Anonymous said...

I've had a quite abrupt experince myself in life. I'm 15 & barely going to tell my mother about my 'experiences' that have happened in our own house when she wouldn't look. I've asked God to help me with my nervousness & fear of this man I call 'Dad'.... I know I can't let this mess with me (not just emotionally but) mentallly happen anymore, without telling her. I've also learned that I can't put somebody elses happiness in front of the cold-truth... Wish me luck!/:

Josh McDowell said...

You are totally right in believing that you must tell your mother what this man you call “Dad” has done to you. It is hard to believe, but sometimes when children tell a parent about abuse, they are not believed. Don’t let that stop you from getting the help you need. Find a trusted person outside your home who will believe you and help you. It could be a school counselor, a teacher you feel comfortable confiding in, someone in your church like a youth pastor or Sunday School teacher. The main thing is to find someone who will get you the help the Lord has for you. The Lord wants the abuse to stop, and He wants to heal your emotional and mental wounds. It may not happen overnight, but the healing will come. Please read Psalm 34, 17, 18. Thank you for sharing with us, and may God help you to live the abundant life He has for you (John 10:10).

Anonymous said...

When I was 4, my sister told me what sex was. She showed me with Barbie dolls and I liked it a lot. I kept playing with my dolls like that and she then called me a pervert over and over again. I didn't know it was a bad thing until later on. Then when I was 5 she took me to my room and told her to touch her. That happened up until I was 6. How do i tell my mom and dad without regretting it? I'm 17 now and I've had struggles with suicide, cutting, and relationships. It's destroying my life and I really need help.

Josh McDowell said...

It is important for you to share this with someone—your parents, a school counselor, a trusted adult at your church. I don’t believe that you will ever regret telling the truth. Whoever hears your story will understand that you were influenced by an older sibling and are not responsible for your behavior at such a young age. Seeking out a professional counselor who has dealt with people with a similar background may be helpful. Remember that the Lord knows all about this, and He ultimately is your Healer. As you draw close to Him, He knows how to heal your pain and give you His peace.

Anonymous said...

I'm 17 and I've had my experience's every since I was 4 yrs. old. I deal with this guilt and shame almost everyday, some times I feel like I'm a failure or someone who can never be loved or love someone. My parents had "The Sex Talk" with me when I was 9 and I was to scared to think of what may happen,To ashamed of myself. What happened to me was not only with the boys in elementary school. But with family members and parents friends. At this age sometimes I don't think there's hope for me to get rid of my shame or guilt I feel as if I've failed God... I know I need help I just don't know how to say it

Elisabeth Bosque Vila said...

Hi.. mmm..

My name is Elisabeth..

I was abused.. by my grandfather..
and its still being hard.

Mr McDowell.. Ive sent a friendship request on facebook but it says you have already too many friends.
I wish to be there as well in your facebook and I dont know how to do.
I came to you today.. reading something.. it was by chance.
I like it and I was so curious.. so I had to look for you and the first thing I read is this part in your blog.

mmm... its being still hard.


Josh McDowell said...

Memories of sexual abuse are very painful. Please know that God is aware of everything that happened to you, and He is able to heal those hurtful memories. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Please let someone know what was done to you if you have not already done so. This is not something to keep to yourself. The Lord has grace and strength to help you overcome your past. I think you went to Josh’s old Facebook page and that is why your friendship request did not go through. Please try this website so you can be friends with Josh --

Liz C said...

Hi, I'm seventeen and was molested and abused by my older brother as a kid. I'm planning on talking to my parents with the help of my pastor but I don't really know what to say. I don't really understand what my parents can really do either, how and in what way can i ask the to help besides just to pray for me?

Josh McDowell said...

It is important, Liz, that you follow through and tell your parents about the abuse. Bringing sin into the light breaks Satan’s power over the victim, so he cannot use shame or guilt against you which occurs often with victims who keep their abuse hidden. Your parents need to know the truth so they can deal with your brother in the way that God would want. He may have kept other sexual sins hidden, possibly involvement in pornography which snares many young people. That should be dealt with if there is an involvement. Revealing the abuse may help not only you, but also your brother.