Working Through Abuse

Jim Still-Pepper

You or someone you know may have been abused. How can your faith help you or someone you love to overcome abuse?

God Loves You

Abuse does not determine whether or not God loves you. No matter what has happened to you, God loves you.

And God is always with you. Abuse often makes you feel alone, like a person lost at night in a raging sea. Try this: Write about how you feel when you’re alone. When you have finished, read Romans 8:35. Then read the verse again, out loud, adding the word abuse to the list of struggles named. Write about how the scripture makes you feel. Then read verses 37–39. Nothing, not even abuse, can separate you from God’s love.

devozine Depressed FTR TS 101094617You Are Not Alone

You are not the only one who has been abused. At least one percent of people in the United States are abused.* Count the number of names on one page of a phonebook. Then, with a marker, highlight one percent of those names. You are not alone! Others have been abused. How does it feel to know that you are not alone?


God Works for Good

It is often difficult to admit that you have been abused or to trust that someone will believe you. But there are people who will listen and help. God is also there for you and is concerned about your abuse. In fact, God is already at work to bring something good out of this painful experience. Read Romans 8:28. All things — even your abuse — work together for good because God is good.

Get Help

devozine Abused Guy2 TS 121206157Getting help for abuse can be scary. The abuser may have threatened you. It is OK to be concerned about the threats, but it is still important to get help. Don’t carry this pain alone. Tell an adult you trust about the abuse. He or she will be responsible for telling the authorities, and that is OK too. It may be hard to talk about your pain; but abuse that is not talked about only gets worse. As you find the courage to talk about your abuse, the pain will be easier to handle. And once you begin to tell people, let them help you!

If You Abuse

If you have been abusing someone else, please listen carefully. God loves you. God wants you to stop abusing and to start getting help. Tell an adult you trust. He or she will be responsible for telling the authorities, and you will experience consequences for the abuse you have committed—but know that there will be consequences even if you do not tell. The difference is that by admitting your problem, you can stop the abuse and get the help you need. Read 1 John 1:8–9, and confess your abuse. Then God will start working to cleanse you!



Read 1 Peter 5:10. If you have suffered, God will “restore, support, strengthen, and establish you” (NRSV). Look in a mirror and say, “God will restore, support, strengthen, and establish me.” Repeat it several times. How do you feel? What will you do differently as you begin to believe this promise?

Depressed Teen Girl FTR2 TS-93347472People who are abused often have
  +  unusual or unexplained injuries
  + extreme emotions or no emotion at all
  + nightmares
  + fatigue
  + fear
  + lower self-esteem
  + a tendency to withdraw, spending less and less time with other people
  + a desire to hurt themselves or thoughts of suicide.
If you recognize these signs in your own life, tell an adult you trust. If you observe these signs in a friend, tell him or her what you have noticed; then go with your friend or on his or her behalf to tell a trusted adult.

For more help recognizing and dealing with abusive relationships, check out the articles at Teen Health


* United States Department of Health and Human Services, April 1, 2004.

Jim Still-Pepper is a therapist for youth and their families in Zanesville, Ohio.

– from Devo’Zine (September/October 2006). Copyright © 2006 by Upper Room Ministries. All rights reserved.

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