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Anger toward God following sexual assault

answered 04:57 AM EST, Wed September 28, 2011
I was the victim of a sexual assault 4 years ago and since that time I have had to work through a lot of personal fear and anger issue but the truth is I am still angry I just hide it better so no one really knows. I know it is wrong but in my heart I can’t help but even be angry with God for what I experienced.

I used to find forming close personal connections quite easy, romantic and otherwise, but now I feel closed and distrustful all the time and that has really made it harder to get close to another person. I am tired of living alone within these walls of fear and bitterness I’ve built up around me but I am not sure how to break free from something that comes inside of me. I feel like I need to learn to forgive God first because if I can’t do that how can I move on with anything else. But how do I do that? Nothing I have tried has worked.

Penny Bell Says...

Penny Bell P. Bell
Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, MACA
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First of all I would like to say that I am so sorry that has happened to you.  

It did happen, though, and now you are living with the impact of that assault on your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual being.

What is happening to you is by no means unusual.  When a sexual assault takes place, the victim of that assault experiences trauma that affects many parts of their life.

It's great that you have worked through your fear and anger, and I can understand your frustration at finding that you haven't been able to put this behind you completely.  The mistrust you feel when it comes to close relationships, including your relationship with God, and your persistent anger, are things you feel you should have resolved by now.  However, victims of sexual assault are often left with residual difficulties in both these areas.  

Depending on how you responded initially to the assault - whether you kept things in or were able to express your fear, anger and outrage immediately following the assault - can also determine how you will feel down the track.  You say you hide your feelings well now, so I wonder if you also hid them then.  If so, this may have affected the type and amount of support you were able to receive at the time.  I don't know what occurred following the assault but I assume it was reported and a process followed on from there that perhaps was invasive and possibly added to the trauma rather than help resolve it.  

Finally, when a woman is sexually assaulted, she loses part of herself.  She loses her innocence, and her sense that the world is an OK place.  With that loss comes grief, and part of your anger could be to do with that grief. She also gains something - the imprint left on her by her assailant.  So she has lost something valuable and gained something unwanted.  She sure does have plenty to be angry about.  As well, the sense that God is good and in control can be questioned because where was he when this happened to me? And if I can't trust God, then whom can I trust?

As I said, it's great that you have worked through your fear and anger, and I'm sure you have made some substantial progress.  But now it may be time to go a layer deeper, and to do this with the help of a competent and compassionate Christian counsellor, preferably one who specialises in trauma and sexual assault or abuse.  Exploring the feelings that underlie your anger, and the issues of trust, could be the next part of your journey of healing.

I wish you all the best with this.  Even though it seems sometimes that God has abandoned you, I can assure you that he hasn't.  After all, his word says that he will never leave you or forsake you! (Deut 31:6)

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Page last updated Sep 28, 2011

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Penny Bell - Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, MACA
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