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Keys to Powerful Living: Overcoming Child Abuse

By CBN.com

CBN.com - Breaking Through The Veil Of Shame

Silent, uncontrollable sobbing ... Bruises and beatings ... Shoving and slapping ... Children so traumatized they're afraid of their own shadows. And the endless string of lies ... "He fell down." "It was an accident." But child abuse is no accident. It violates God's fundamental purpose for man. And parents and children around the world find themselves ensnared in its cruel clutches.

From Taboo to Truth

When people hear the term "child abuse" they may think it only occurs in under-educated, poverty-stricken families. However, this epidemic occurs in all types of families.

In America alone, reported cases of child abuse exceed 1 million each year, and some experts say the actual number of abuse victims may be far greater.

Types of child abuse include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Affected children often suffer physical injuries, emotional scars, malnutrition, and sadly, even death. Child abuse also spiritually cripples precious young lives. These children may struggle to accept God as their loving heavenly Father ( Matt. 18:5-6). Other family members often suffer silently. Even the offender suffers, increasingly bound by the shame and secrecy of the addictive behavior.

But as many have already discovered, there is hope. The vicious cycle of abuse can be broken, especially as we present our wounds to the Gentle Healer, Jesus Christ.

What Drives the Sin of Abuse?

So what causes child abuse? Often, parents who abuse their children have been victims of abuse themselves. Driven by years of repressed hatred, these parents continue the cycle.

Sometimes even the most dedicated parents can momentarily lose control -- frustrated by a child's actions or simply overwhelmed by their own sense of failure or frustration. But an isolated incident or two, left unchecked, can become a destructive force, tearing apart a family.

God's View of Abuse

The Bible gives much practical advise on the subject of child-rearing. "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it," says the writer of Proverbs ( 22:6). Parents are clearly cautioned to take steps to correct foolishness which "is bound up in the heart of a child" ( Prov. 22:15).

Parental discipline is essential, but some parents view these Scriptures as giving absolute control over their children. This is not true. God's Word should never be used as a license for abuse. Parents need to discipline their children, but they must keep their own emotions and actions in check ( Eph. 6:4, Col. 3:21). In God's eyes there simply is no justification for abuse.

Finding Help

If you are trapped in the unrelenting cycle and sin of child abuse, don't leave this webpage until you have made a commitment before the Lord to break this destructive pattern. It won't be easy, but it could be a matter of life and death. Understand that you are not alone. Jesus knows you better that you could ever know yourself (see Psalm 139), and He is willing and able to help ( Heb. 4:15-16). But you need to ask for His grace to share honestly your struggle with a trusted brother or sister in Christ, or with your pastor. Follow these steps to get help.

1. Acknowledge the problem. To receive healing, admit that you have a problem. Once you've broken the silence and confessed your sin of abuse, God's grace and forgiveness can begin to restore you ( Psalm 32:3-7). 2. Acknowledge your weakness. Allow God to minister in your weakness, for in it He can make you strong ( 2 Cor. 12:9, Heb. 1:32-34). 3. Take action. Pray with other believers and share your struggles, seeking the help of pastors, or other appropriate counselors ( Prov. 15:22, James 5:16).

If You've Been Abused

If you have been the victim of abuse, you need to know that God has not abandoned you. He is "intimately acquainted" with all your ways ( Psalm 139:3). He knows your pain, and He has a plan for complete healing and restoration for your life. Consider these simple steps as you seek the Father's healing.

1. Face the abuse. The shame associated with abuse is unbearable. You can hide the pain for a season, but eventually, the wounds will surface. But take comfort, for God knows the horror that you have unjustly endured (see Psalm 139, Matt. 10:29-31). Ask God for the strength to face your nightmare of abuse.

2. Forgive and release. As difficult as it may sound, you need to begin by forgiving the perpetrator for his or her actions against you. It may seem impossible, but the consequences of unforgiveness can produce even further destruction ( 2 Samuel 13:23-29). Instead, ask God to give you the grace you need to forgive ( 1 Samuel 1:15-17, Psalm 42:3-4, Psalm 62:8).

3. Seek shelter. If you are still in an abusive situation, immediately seek shelter. Consider turning to family members, your church family, or perhaps authorities if necessary. Ultimately, rest in God's shelter. Turn to His Word (the Psalms offer much encouragement for the downcast).

4. Move on. Once you have taken steps to forgive, ask God to help you pick up the pieces, and seek again the abundant life in Jesus that He has for you ( John 10:10). Press on and leave the past to God ( Phil. 3:13-14).

As You Pray

If your life has been devastated by child abuse, turn to Jesus right now, and, on bended knee, ask Him to take control of your life: "Dear Lord. I have never been confronted with a deeper, more urgent need than right now. Please minister to me and my family members in Your perfect love and compassion. Break the chains which bind us. And restore us to the joy of Your salvation as we receive forgiveness and healing in Christ Jesus. Amen."

God's Word on Child Abuse

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." ( Eph. 6:1-4)

Scriptures for Study

Matthew 18:5-6, Mark 13-16 -- Jesus' attitude toward children

Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21 -- Proper attitudes for parents

Psalm 32:3-7 -- Acknowledging the problem

James 5:13-20 -- The church and restoration

Hebrews 12:15 -- How to avoid bitterness

We're Here for You

Through our daily inspirational television program, The 700 Club, and other outreaches, CBN ministers to millions every day. To learn more about the Christian life send us an e-mail. Or you can call our CBN Prayer Counseling Center at (800) 759-0700. We would love to talk with you and send you some literature to help you in your walk with the Lord.

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible.

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