Every few years, stories of rampant sexual molestation and rape inside trusted organizations seem to surface.
From the Boston Archdiocese scandals of the early 2000s to Penn State University, the harrowing tales of decades of abuses and cover-ups can be baffling.
Now, the revelations of abuse from the US Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar brought the searing realities of sexual perversion to light again.
And of course, Christians aren’t immune.
Pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay of the Saddleback Church are looking to confront the horrors of sexual abuse head on.
In fact, this weekend’s service was dedicated to the topic.
“We are going to focus on the solution, and the hope that we have in Jesus Christ,” he said.
“This is going to be a hope-filled service,” said Rick Warren.
He began the sermon by appealing to compassion between believers.
“Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them, happened to you,” Rick Warren read from Hebrew 13:3.
“It actually grieves me when I think about what some of you have gone through,” he said, revealing that many members of the church had been abused or assaulted.
He also reminded the church the Bible teaches the world will get worse with time but there is hope.
Prominent church leader Beth Moore, an abuse survivor, explained why sexual abuse has such a long-lasting impact.
“Here I am, a young child and I had a pervasive sense of shame that I carried with me everywhere I went,” said Moore.
“It is such an intimate crime, so very personal. It becomes invasive,” she explained.
“I would think to myself, I wish I was a good girl. I wish I was a good girl,” she continued.
Kay Warren, who was also molested as a youth said the shame was overwhelming.
“I knew something evil had just happened to me, I didn’t know how to express it,” said Kay Warren.
“It became too shameful, I couldn’t really deal with it,” she went on to say.
‘It’s Not Your Fault’
Both women say it’s important for victims to know it is not their fault.
“Abuse can cause us to lose our voices,” warned Warren.
“If you do find the guts to tell somebody, sometimes the person you tell will shut you back down,” Moore explained.
She says the victim is often victimized for a second time.
But experts say even if that person doesn’t believe the story, tell someone else.
Hope and Healing
“It’s a long journey, it’s not fast,” explained Kay Warren.
The first step is to ‘establish safety.’
She says you can’t get the recovery needed if you are in the midst of the abusive situation.
The second step is choosing to embrace the truth and sometimes that means addressing the fact the abuse really happened.
Next, tell your story.