“I Wept for Joy”
Readers Express Deep Appreciation for “Healing the Wounds of Child Abuse”
A RECENT series of articles in the Awake! magazine moved many readers from all over the world to express their heartfelt appreciation for the cover series “Healing the Wounds of Child Abuse” in the October 8th, 1991, Awake! Their responses have shown that this carefully prepared material accomplished its purpose, which was threefold: (1) to provide understanding and hope for the victims; (2) to warn parents so they can be vigilant about the safety of their children; (3) to help elders who assist abuse victims to be better informed so that they can give more effective assistance.—Proverbs 21:13; compare 27:23.
A theme that was repeated by many readers was typified by this comment: “I have always appreciated being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. However, my appreciation and love for Jehovah and his ‘faithful and discreet slave’ (Matthew 24:45-47) have been increased a hundredfold after reading the October 8, 1991, issue of Awake!”
“Jehovah Really Understands and Cares Deeply”
A large number expressed gratitude for a most important aspect of the articles: that God listens, cares, knows that the victim was not at fault, and can provide healing. A reader states: “Thanks from the bottom of my heart for the October 8th Awake! Your articles helped me by showing me that Jehovah really understands and cares deeply.”—Britain.
A woman writes: “Some months ago I wanted to ask you to write about the matter of healing the wounds of child abuse. I did not write but instead prayed to Jehovah about it. You can imagine, then, why I was so delighted when I saw the cover of the October 8th issue. I broke into tears, and thanked our loving God, Jehovah, from the bottom of my heart.”—Greece.
Another says: “When I think about what I had to go through, I cry bitterly. That is why I have read with particular attention the series about ‘Healing the Wounds of Child Abuse,’ which I have found to be extremely useful. They show clearly that you have loving interest in ones who have had to suffer such things in their lives.”—Italy.
Many expressed this thought: “I thank Jehovah for providing this information, the best articles I have ever read on the topic. I pray this will help not only the victims (survivors) but also those who have had this morbid fear of addressing the issue and found it difficult to talk about the subject.”—United States.
“I Feel Life Is Worthwhile Now”
A woman whose daughter was abused had not yet come to terms with the problem of that abuse. “But your articles put me on the right track,” she explained. “I’ve been having therapy weekly for 11 months for anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Those articles did more for me than all the therapy in the world! I feel life is worthwhile now, whereas before reading the issue, I still felt guilty for something I could not prevent.”—Britain.
Many said that the information was a turning point in their lives: “I can’t begin to thank you enough for the articles. They came when I was at about the lowest point I can ever remember. Some days I would curl up in a ball and sob. Thanks to these articles, which I have read and reread, I can see that my pain, and everyone’s pain, is important to Jehovah and his organization. This information has given me the will to begin healing. I already feel closer to Jehovah again.”—United States.
But child abuse is not only a Western problem, as this sample shows: “When I received the October 8th issue on child abuse, I immediately read it. It took considerable time for me to read the articles because of having difficulty seeing the words through my tears! My feelings and thoughts were right there in the articles. Now I feel happy that somebody understands. I was encouraged to see how Jehovah kindly helps people whose suffering is unseen by others. I am truly grateful that you published these articles. To heal my wounds, I will go on applying what is written in the articles. With love and feelings of gratitude beyond words.”—Japan.
Another writes: “I have been contending with the wounds of child abuse all my life. When I got the October 8th magazine, I reasoned that Jehovah knows what we need even before we do and that he really loves us. I could hardly see for the flood of tears, and my heart felt as though it were about to burst for love and appreciation for our loving heavenly Father. This October 8th issue is a magazine that I will treasure ‘till the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.’” (Isaiah 65:17)—United States.
“I Have Been Let Out of Prison!”
A woman deeply troubled much of her life writes: “Thank you for the articles on child abuse. At last, at 53 years of age, I have been let out of prison! The unlocking key for me was the sentence that shows that these young victims ‘are powerless to defend themselves when threatened, so God does not hold them responsible.’” Reading the October 8th Awake! and understanding that as the magazine stated, “IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT!” helped her to apply Jesus’ ransom sacrifice in beginning her healing process.—Britain.
Another woman says: “From the time I was small until my early years in elementary school, I was sexually molested repeatedly. As mentioned in the articles, I escaped mentally. However, the memories kept coming back. I have always thought: ‘I am a dirty person. Jehovah would never accept me.’ So my prayer to God has always been: ‘You may not give me a place in Paradise, but at least please let me stay within your organization until I die.’ This is because of thinking, like those victims mentioned in the articles, that ‘I’m not really clean enough to be in God’s Kingdom’ and that my death would be at Armageddon. It was as if feelings of shame and wretchedness were crushing me to death. Thus, the contents of the articles, which were very warm and gentle, helped me a great deal. As I read them, my tears flowed.”—Japan.
Another says: “I want to thank you for your sensitive and well-researched articles. For years, the trauma of abuse had fragmented my inner self. It is easy for many to understand the abuse and torture of war and political turmoil. We understand Holocaust survivors. Evil perpetrated by strangers is easier to digest. Yet why do some not comprehend it when the perpetrators are our own fathers, mothers, uncles, sisters, brothers—those who were to comfort, nurture, and protect us? I have seen my own scars and have known the shattering reality of hopelessness. In my healing it has been my spiritual Father, Jehovah, who has time and time again picked up my shattered self, keeping me from annihilation.”—United States.
“I’ve Suddenly Come to Life!”
A woman who says that for 28 long years she felt as if she had been discarded wrote: “I read straight through the articles the evening I received the issue and shed tears because I was so moved and grateful. I am so happy to think that Jehovah so clearly understands my feelings. I feel as if I’ve suddenly come to life! Because the articles stress that children in that position bear no responsibility for what happens, I realize that I have no reason at all to reproach myself. My mind has truly been put to rest.” Her heart was moved to respond to healing from God’s Word.—Japan.
Child rape is also a problem in developing countries, as is evident by this similar response from Africa: “The articles came at a time when I needed them most. What a relief to read statements such as, ‘be assured that there is hope, that you can recover’ and, ‘IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT!’ As I read the articles, I felt really safe and comforted for the first time in my life. They brought real consolation to my mind, soul, and body. Now I will have the strength to travel the road toward full recovery.”—Nigeria.
Another writes: “Words cannot express my appreciation and how I felt after reading the October 8th Awake! on child abuse. Tears filled my eyes as I read every paragraph, every page, every scripture. It was written with much thought, tenderness, and love. As a victim, I have been struggling with my feelings and emotions. Now I feel that a measure of the burden of grief has been lifted. Thanks to your articles and to a trusted, patient friend who listens and gives me support, I can let the healing begin.” The God of all undeserved kindness, through the priestly service of his Son, is making many such victims “firm” and “strong.” (1 Peter 5:6-11)—United States.
One incest victim was so distraught that she tried to kill herself by setting a garage on fire while she was in there. She was rescued and hospitalized. As soon as the October 8th issue came out, it was brought to her. She cried hard when she read it, and then went over the articles again and again for support, helping her to overcome suicidal tendencies. A friend of hers who helped her a great deal wrote: “Sometimes I think Awake! should be renamed Cope because that’s sure what it’s helping us to do.”—United States.
“Some Can Forget, Others Cannot”
Another appreciative reader has this to say: “The articles on child abuse are so balanced. I appreciate the scriptures used. These articles are so well written that I could commend you on it paragraph by paragraph. I am grateful that you showed that though some can forget, others cannot. I have been having flashbacks for three years and the physical pains that go with each memory. But it does get better by learning to deal with the flashbacks. Thank you again for such a wonderfully balanced series.” (United States) These Scriptural articles have helped this victim, and many others, once again to rejoice in Jehovah’s spiritual provisions.—Philippians 4:4-9.
“I have been a reader of Awake! magazine for years,” writes one woman. “However, I have never been more touched by an article than by the magazine series entitled ‘Healing the Wounds of Child Abuse.’ The subject is a difficult one, but you handled it with tact and loving-kindness. Having been an abused child myself, it helped and comforted me immensely. I will save this magazine so that I can read it over often. I really cannot thank you enough for the time, effort, insight, and most of all the love you’ve shown for those who suffer in a quiet way.”—United States.
It has proved very helpful to victims who cannot forget the crimes committed against them to be allowed to talk with a sympathetic elder, face the problem realistically, see how Jehovah views the matter, and deal with it Scripturally so that healing in the power of Jesus’ ransom can take place. In this regard, a woman states:
“I cannot express just how timely the articles were. I really couldn’t believe how accurate the information was. I have suffered depression and bulimia for 20 years, looking for help and answers everywhere: psychiatrists, psychologists, medical doctors, group therapy, weight-loss clinics—all a dead end for me.
“But now I am finding help through information such as that found in the October 8th issue. It is desperately needed. I can’t tell you the feelings of hopelessness that I have at times, so overwhelming that death would seem a relief. But now I can see that what happened to me as a child wasn’t my fault, that God doesn’t think I’m dirty. I was a victim. Because of information such as this, I see that Jehovah does care, that I can trust him. After 33 years of life, I feel Jehovah’s spirit beginning to unlock the chains of bondage. Thanks for loving us enough to put the effort into such a wonderful gem as this Awake! Please continue to publish this type of articles and others, as they are vital for our spirituality.”
The following letter from one man sums up the feeling of many. He had suffered more than 50 years of anguish because of being abused as a child. He says: “Jehovah’s loving care through his earthly organization never ceases to amaze us and inspire ever deeper devotion and trust in him. After carefully studying the information in the October 8th, 1991, Awake! on child abuse, I wept for joy and sang song after song to Jehovah, rock and fortress, our refuge. Keep those articles coming, brothers. Jehovah is using you in ways you can never imagine.”
Of interest is this letter from a traveling overseer who supervises the activity of a number of congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses:
“Thank you for the October 8th Awake! on ‘Healing the Wounds of Child Abuse.’ Excellent information was presented that we really need. The articles were very accurate. I have observed time and again that victims have a very difficult time relating to Jehovah as a loving Father. When I see this difficulty, I ask them discreetly, ‘Were you mistreated as a child?’ The great majority of the time, the answer is yes! In every instance where the person was able to see the connection between the abuse and the way their current depression or turmoil affects them, they began to improve.”
Summing up how many elders feel is this brief comment by another: “The October 8th issue on child abuse was excellent and needed. As elders in the congregations, we need to know as much as we can about these problems so as to show the concern and patience the victims need. As this system gets worse, these types of problems are getting more common. Thank you again for the help.”
It has warmed our hearts to receive such letters. Coming fully to appreciate that ‘it was not their fault,’ and as a result of the transforming power of God’s Word, such victims of child abuse cope with unhappy memories. They rejoice in the hope ahead, confident that in God’s new world, “the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart.” (Isaiah 65:17; Romans 12:12) Even now, through the healing power of Jesus’ blood, they have a clean standing with God. (Hebrews 9:14) And they need to turn to the elders for help. These elders can act as “a hiding place from the wind” to those in need, speaking consolingly and praying with them. (Isaiah 32:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; James 5:14, 15) Thus, abuse victims can be helped to move forward and find joy in all the activities of the Christian congregation.