STEP FIVE CONTINUED: Share our struggles with others of like-mindedness trusting that our anonymity will be guarded by all.
Instruction: Share the pain.
For those who have been sexually abused by a religious leader, the expression, “share our struggles” might come across as insulting. “Struggles” is such a mild word to use for the disgrace, pain, and suffering incurred. It almost seems to suggest that somehow we own the struggles, and they were not inflicted upon us by someone else. Part of the road to recovery involves understanding that even though the abuse was caused by another, the aftereffects of the abuse now belong to us, and we are the ones who must deal with those scars. The struggles, often through no fault of our own, are now ours to overcome.
There is an expression that says “ . . . shared pain is half the pain.” The concept has merit, especially when the person or group you share the pain with is understanding and nonjudgmental. In fact, shared pain can be lessened by even more than half, or it can work the other way and be increased if those we share with are not trustworthy, kind, understanding, and supportive. It takes a courageous person to open their wounds and bleed again in front of an individual or a group. Until we feel safe, we will probably bury the aching of our hearts behind closed doors. When we find a safe haven, sharing our pain is often the beginning of our healing.
Today’s instruction is directed towards those who have been sexually abused by a religious person. Seek professional help. Religious Recovery is a non-professional, self-help organization and we strongly urge those who have been sexually abused to seek the best help available. We welcome everyone who comes to us with the purpose of healing, but we also recognize our limitations. Our groups are often useful in helping those with sexual abuse scars, but we suggest that we become an added aid, not necessarily your only source of healing.
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Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.