Some More Answers to the Spiritual Questions of Sexually Abused Children
God never violates our boundaries
One of the questions that remains, then, is how a loving God can fail to stop radical suffering. Wuellner’s answer is that God is so committed to our freedom and so protective of our personal boundaries, that God would never force us to do or not do anything. God never violates our boundaries. Thus God does not stop abusers from hurting others. Wuellner uses passages from Isaiah (62:7-8) about God protecting the borders of Jerusalem as an image of God’s protection of our personal integrity. Such a response is consistent with a loving God, and makes some sense for people whose boundaries have been violated. This good answer still leaves us, however, with a God in whose creation terrible suffering occurs, and who has no apparent way of responding to it. Understanding the reasons for God’s inability to stop suffering does not satisfy the outrage and hurt of those victimized.
The ravaged soul requires a proper raging and complaint to God
Walter Brueggemann in his 1993 lectures in Sewanee about the Psalms spoke of the spiritual need of those whose selfhood has been destroyed to declare their protest before God. Silenced by fear and false guilt, children of abuse lose their voice. They cannot say (or even feel) what they know inside. When the true self has been stripped of its voice, crying out can start the reawakening. This is why the spirituality of self-denial can be misleading and toxic for those beginning the healing journey from abuse. Thinking that “self” in self denial refers to their lost self, they are confirmed in their destructive relationships to the abusers. Such denigration of the self can then lead to a victim relationship to God. Along with the belief that God does not intend to violate our personhood, a proper raging and complaint to God can counter such toxicity.
Brueggemann confirmed what I had already discovered, that the Psalms were another open door into faith. The Psalms both described my soul pain and gave voice to my rage against God. “How long, O God, will you look on? Rescue me from the ravages of my enemies!”(Ps 35:17) Brueggemann gave us the image of the child clinging to God for comfort with one arm, and pounding the fist with the other – an image which well describes the spiritual needs of the abused child. Praying the Psalms gave me a way to re-establish relationship with God.
 From the first of three Dubose Lectures, October 1993, unpublished.
 I have written a special Ash Wednesday liturgy for survivors of abuse in Women’s Uncommon Prayers, 290-292.
See also Psalms 6, 7, 10, 22, 54, 74, 102:1-11,109, 119:81-84 and139:19-22 (the part we don’t read in church).
 From Brueggemann’s first Dubose Lecture, 1993, unpublished.