A Christian Perspective of Systemic Outcomes of Sexual Addictions and Childhood Sexual and Physical Abuse Part 5

The effects on society from sexual addictions are often devastating to families, and even Christian families are sometimes destroyed by it.

The effects on society from sexual addictions are often devastating to families, and even Christian families are sometimes destroyed by it. Often Christian mothers don’t know where to turn to when they become aware that their “Christian husbands” are physically or sexually abusing their children. Turning to the secular authorities may seem to be the last thing they should do and turning to the church is often no more helpful than doing nothing. Most pastors are not trained well enough to deal with these kinds of addictions. Even though it may be hard to do so, the problem should be identified, the abuse stopped, and the child should receive professional help. It is against the law not to report suspected child abuse of any kind to authorities.

Sexual addiction is an obsessive-compulsive preoccupation with sexual activity, often accompanied by the use of pornography. It is not a quest for pleasure, but a confusion of the role of sex, where the rush of adrenaline overcomes feelings of fear, loneliness, or inadequacy. Sex is rarely intimate and often indulgent, sometimes alternating between abstinence and sprees. Sexual addiction promotes sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) through careless encounters. Usually there is a predisposition to addiction caused by a history of emotional pain and sexual confusion. Childhood sexual abuse is often a precursory factor. When the behavior is uninvited or unwanted by one of the participants, it is certainly a cause for concern and is probably illegal. If a child is involved it can be devastating and often divisive for families, especially when another family member is the abuser.

Childhood sexual abuse is considered an addictive behavior by many current authorities on the subject. Child sexual abuse has been reported up to 80,000 times a year, but the number of unreported instances is far greater, because the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened, and the legal procedure for validating an episode is difficult. The long-term emotional and psychological damage of sexual abuse can be devastating to a child. Child sexual abuse can take place within the family, by a parent, step-parent, sibling, cousin, or other relative; or outside the home, for example, by a friend, neighbor, child care person, teacher, or stranger. When sexual abuse has occurred, a child can develop a variety of distressing feelings, thoughts and behaviors. A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and often becomes suicidal. Some children who have been sexually abused have difficulty relating to others except on sexual terms. Some sexually abused children become child abusers or sexually promiscuous, or have other serious problems when they reach adulthood. Sexually abused children may develop an unusual interest in or avoidance of all things of a sexual nature, sleep problems or nightmares, depression or withdrawal from friends or family, and patterns of promiscuity. They may also make statements that they are dirty, or fear that there is something wrong with them in the genital area. There may also be a refusal to go to school, delinquency and conduct problems, secretiveness, aspects of sexual molestation in drawings, games, and fantasies, unusual aggressiveness, or suicidal behaviors.

Physical child abuse is another addictive behavior, though some may not deem it as an addiction in and of itself. Many times spousal abuse and/or child abuse accompanies Alcohol or Chemical Dependency, but not always. Sometimes it is present without these other addictions. The statistics on physical child abuse alone are alarming. It is estimated hundreds of thousands of children are physically abused each year by a parent or close relative. Thousands die. For those who survive, the emotional trauma remains long after the external bruises have healed. Early recognition and treatment is important to minimize the long-term consequences of physical abuse. Often the severe emotional damage to abused children does not surface until adolescence or later, when many abused children become abusing parents. An adult who was abused as a child often has trouble establishing intimate personal relationships. These men and women may have trouble with physical closeness, touching, intimacy, and trust as adults. They are also at higher risk for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, medical illness, and problems at school or work. Physical abuse is the most obvious form of child abuse, but many children are victims of neglect, emotional abuse, or sexual abuse. Children who have been abused may display symptoms such as a poor self image, sexually acting out, an inability to trust or love others, aggressive, disruptive, and sometimes illegal behaviors, anger and rage, self destructive or self abusive behavior, suicidal thoughts, passive or withdrawn behavior (fear of entering into new relationships or activities), anxiety and fears, school problems or failure, feelings of sadness or other symptoms of depression, flashbacks, nightmares, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Christian families are often labeled as abusive because they choose to discipline their children with physical spankings. Most Christian authorities do not view spanking as child abuse unless it’s done in an overly aggressive or other harmful way, which leaves significant physical scars and/or emotional damage. Christian families, who find they must deal with abuse issues, need to do so according to the law by reporting it to the proper authorities. They can receive additional help and support from their church ministers and counselors, but that alone does not satisfy the requirements of the law. Even though physical and sexual abuse may divide a family for a period of time or even permanently, faith in God and support from the Christian community can go along way to help in the healing process.

Reference: Addiction and Grace, Gerald G. May

©Kimberly Hartfield2003

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