Some of my favorite people are survivors of child sexual abuse. That might sound like a stereotype and I don’t mean it that way. There are events in life that can lead to certain personality characteristics, but I agree that abuse can happen to all types of people, from all religions, all races, and all cultures.
I counsel both children and adults. I also run some volunteer programs for children. I like to find adults who were abused to work with the children. They love it, too. They have a tender heart toward those who are hurting and a deep desire to help. Survivors are always willing to go the extra mile to make a difference in the life of a child. They can relate to the feelings of the children, because they know what they needed as a child. In most cases, that is what all children need. They need to feel loved, safe, and understood. They need to have choices, too, because when they were abused they felt powerless.
Some might think, “Aren’t you afraid they will abuse the children?” Not really, but as with anyone spending time with children under my watch, I do take precautions. I check references and make sure they are not left alone with the children. The two person rule is essential with any volunteer. I do that for all volunteers.
You may ask, “What about the anger?” Good question! There are some who are not just angry, but full of rage. That would show up in other areas of their lives. I would not allow that kind of person to work with children. Many times though, adult survivors have stuffed their anger so far down that even they can’t reach it. When they were little, they knew they couldn’t show anger, so they learned to suppress it or turn it toward themselves. It would have been dangerous to express it to their abusers.
Abuse survivors are usually kind, generous, gentle, and loyal and highly creative. They don’t trust easily, so they cherish their friendships. If someone confides in you that they were abused as a child, take that as a compliment. Most don’t take their wall down for just anyone. Listen and accept the feelings. You will be rewarded with a great friendship. Behind the wall of fear and undeserved shame, there is a precious gift of God to the world.