Dear Survivor: It’s Not Your Fault


Dear Fellow Survivor,

One of the many difficult things I struggled with as I came to terms with the abuse that I experienced was this question: How much of the abuse was I responsible for?

For a long time, this question kept me from calling what had happened to me “sexual abuse.” After all, I participated in what happened. I didn’t stop it. I didn’t tell anyone. Certainly, that meant that I bore some fault for what happened. I resisted calling what happened to me “sexual abuse” because it seemed that if I called it abuse, I was undeservedly absolving myself of responsibility.

I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. I would not at all be surprised if you struggle with similar feelings. It is quite common for survivors of sexual abuse to feel as if the abuse is somehow their fault.

Here’s the thing, though. The abuse wasn’t our fault. I know that our feelings are telling us that it’s at least partially our fault. But, as is so often the case, our feelings are wrong. None of the abuse that we experienced was our fault.

Jesus agrees. He says, “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). Notice where Jesus aims his condemnation. He does not condemn the little one who is caused to stumble. No, he condemns the one who caused the little one to stumble. It’s the one who caused the little one to stumble who deserves to have a millstone tied around his neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea, not the little one. The little one believes in Jesus. The little one is a child of God. As a child of God, that little one, even as he or she stumbles, lives in the forgiveness that belongs to every child of God.

My dear fellow survivor, Jesus himself says that the abuse you experienced was not your fault. The fault lies entirely with the person who abused you. In the eyes of your heavenly Father, you are his dearly loved son or daughter. Even the smallest sin you’ve ever committed was washed away when Jesus gave his life for you. You are clothed in the perfection of Jesus your brother. Your heavenly Father sees no fault in you.

I understand the struggle. But I pray that the words of Jesus and the reality that you are God’s dearly loved child will help you let go of the feeling that you somehow are responsible for what happened to you. You are not. Cling to the reality of who you are in Jesus. Let that reality set you free.

In Christ,
Your Brother Survivor

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This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Dear Fellow Survivor