One of the struggles that victims of any abuse may suffer from is being trapped in a web of silence. Consider the child whose father has started sexually abusing them. Telling anyone about the abuse speaks against their own father. It could hurt him, damage and change the family, bring insult or accusations against the victim, or the victim may not even be believed.
The same is true with spiritual abuse, but in some ways that trap of silence is even worse because as a Christian your integrity and character are brought into question if you speak out. Some Christians will tell you that it is wrong to speak anything about a leader that could damage their reputation or ministry. What then is the victim to do? Are they trapped in silence forever? Do they have to only tells pieces of their story, hide their identity, or walk without honesty and transparency to protect others who did them injury? It is a very difficult situation to sort through how to love others, be honest, not walk as a victim in destructive silence, and not do things that cause others hurt and pain.
Some of the questions that might be asked regarding breaking the silence are below. I do not believe there is a right answer about how, when, or if you should or can break the silence but there are situations where it should happen.
|Is it okay to share the truth? Is there a way that truth can be shared in love?|
|Will this hurt anyone? Is there a way to tell it that will not hurt them?|
|Why should I share this? Does truth need to be spoken? Does sin need to be confronted? Does illegal activity need to be revealed?|
|What is the heart behind telling the story? Are you seeking revenge/reconciliation/protection for others/clearing your name/damage toward another? Does your answer to the last question bring up any red flags regarding why you may want to speak out?|
|Is there proof regarding the story?|
|Will others believe the story?|
|Are you ready for the reaction from others who may be upset by sharing the story?|
|Do you have anything to hide? Is there any part of the story that you do not want to come out?|
|Is there a venue for sharing the story that is correct? Would the smallest audience possible be the best place to start?|
|Are you ready to love, forgive, and find reconciliation with the abusers? Are you willing to go to whatever length necessary to resolve the situation?|
|Are you in a right relationship with God and do you have Scriptural support for your decision?|
Recently in a conversation with a counselor about the situation at my last church they came to understand that I felt completely trapped in silence because I do not want to hurt that pastor or that church, while at the same time I am struggling with a great sense of being powerless regarding how to move forward and take the next steps in my recovery and healing. As he processed things he came to realize that what I experienced is similar to rape (if you don’t know the effects on the victim are very similar to rape or incest and recovery is often similar too) and one of the keys for recovery for a rape victim is recovering a sense of power over their lives and circumstances. I have learned that people from that church went to serve last night at a local organization I have served with regularly since leaving that church. I have not yet had to face a group of people from that church but that day may come. Do I need to be the victim and be powerless in that situation? How could I respond in both truth, love, and grace if faced with it.
These are tough questions, but worth wrestling through as the answers reveal a lot about the heart, the areas that still need healing, where you are finding hope, and if you are truly forgiving and moving on.