3. More people than you think are affected.
According to the Department of Justice, “as many as 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused at some point in their childhood.”.
Those women and men are sitting in your pews; many of them have never spoken up about the trauma they’ve encured.
But sexual abuse doesn’t just affect victims. It grieves their parents, siblings, relatives and friends.
Chances are, a majority of people in your pews have been touched in some way by sexual abuse.
4. Speaking up empowers victims.
The organization GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in a Christian Environment) says that periodic sermons about incest and abuse can help victims to disclose what has happened to them (http://netgrace.org/common-questions/).
Of course, talking can’t be the only tool your congregation uses to combat the sin of sexual abuse, but speaking aloud about this reality could change someone’s life.
Speaking about abuse also combats the shame that surrounds sexual abuse—a trauma that victims can suffer long after the abuse itself is over.
5. Openness about abuse glorifies God.
We speak up about the hard things in our lives to illustrate that Christ overcomes all: cancer, death, divorce. But often, sexual abuse isn’t spoken of. It makes us uncomfortable, it seems too raw.
But what message does that send to victims, not to mention their friends and families? By our silence, we might be implying that Jesus can’t touch their pain.
By intentionally being transparent about the existence of abuse, encouraging victims in their struggle, and declaring that Christ conquers all sin, we speak Christ’s power into one of the darkest areas of our society.
The church has an opportunity to protect the most vulnerable members of its congregations, strengthen the body of Christ, speak Jesus’ power to the world, and ease the suffering of millions of victims.
It’s time for us all to stop being silent about the scourge of sexual abuse.
It’s time for us all to speak up.