Published Apr 19, 2022
By DeAnna Sanders
When you think of a fun family night, you may envision a fast-food dinner, popcorn, and a kid-friendly movie.
You are not thinking of turning the conversation to the topics of rape, sexual assault, or physical abuse.
These are not the themes of a happy family fun night.
But the reality is, your family needs to know. To be aware. To make a difference.
The truths are startling:
- One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
- One in five women and one in 71 men have been raped at some point in their lives.
- One in three women and one in six men experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime.
- Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. And every nine minutes, that victim is a child.
Chances are, your children or grandchildren know someone in their school or church group who has been affected in some way by sexual assault. What do you do to deal with such a weighty topic? What can you do to help your family or church group address the problem and make a difference in the world?
START WITH A DISCUSSION.
• What is sexual assault?
It is any type of unwanted sexual contact or any crime in which the offender subjects the victim to unwanted and offensive sexual touching.
• What does the Bible say about this topic?
Plenty. Throughout the Bible, we see God’s compassion and heart for those in need.
The Old Testament Law gives us a picture of how much God takes up the cause of the victim and the vulnerable. Deuteronomy 22:23–29 discusses how to safeguard women who had been violated. Like all of the legal codes, these laws reveal the heart and character of God for those who have been victimized and need help and protection.
In the New Testament, we see God’s heart for all vulnerable people as Jesus quoted a passage from Isaiah 61. It is His mission statement, “to proclaim good news to the poor. . . . to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19). In John 3:16, included in His love for all people of the world are the sexually abused who often suffer silently and survive in desperate need of love and justice.
• What do you tell young children about sexual assault?
This should be part of ongoing safety issues you discuss with a child, including inappropriate touching of private areas, listening when children have uncomfortable questions, and talking about secrets or other things that bother them.
• What do high school and college-age children need to know?
Most likely your teenager won’t want to have the awkward conversation about “date rape” with you. But explain that no one “looks like a rapist,” and that eight out of ten instances of sexual assault are committed by someone known to the victim. Help them be aware of unhealthy relationships that could lead to sexual assault. Make sure they know there is a national sexual assault hotline number and how to access it—800-656-HOPE (4673).
PRAYER POINT: Thank God for His heart for people vulnerable to sexual assault. Pray for children and teens to be safe from sexual crimes.
DESIGN A PROJECT TO HELP VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT.
• Search the internet to locate the nearest abuse prevention center in your area. If one is not easily accessible, contact your state Baptist office for recommendations.
Look for abuse prevention centers that list these foundational markers:
– They desire for people to live without fear, threat, and oppression.
– They have awareness that emotional, physical, and sexual abuse are tools used to oppress and control persons.
– They recognize physical and sexual abuse are criminal acts and perpetrators of these crimes should be held accountable.
– They empower and support survivors so they can break the cycle of violence in their lives.
– They focus their intervention and services on providing safety for the victims/survivors and their dependents.
• Make a plan to visit the center with your family or church group.
• Talk with the director. Ask him or her to share how the center helps victims and share the story of one person and how that person was specifically helped. Ask what the needs of the center are and whether there is an available list of items that are needed immediately and items needed on an ongoing basis.
Items on their wish list may include:
Small lap blankets
Snacks: cracker packages, fruit snacks, juice boxes,
Gift cards: department stores, discount stores,
Adult and children’s toothbrushes
Kids soap/body wash
Toilet paper and paper towels
Baby items: diapers, wipes, lotion, body wash
• Gather supplies to take. Be sure to include items for children.
• Involve your whole family, church, and community small groups. Select a time to deliver the items. With the director’s permission, include a card with the name of your church or group. Include a brief message (For example, You are in our prayers as you find help and healing.) and/or Scripture, such as “Psalm 34:18: The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
PRAYER POINT: Pray for strength and wisdom for the director of the center you’ve selected to help. After you’ve gathered the items, pray for the victims who will receive the items. Pray for them to come to know God, who is near to the brokenhearted and hurting.
CREATE AN AWARENESS OR FUNDRAISER CAMPAIGN ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
This month, raise awareness about sexual assault by using some of the facts presented in this article and other trusted information you find online. Share about the project you are doing to supply needs and funding for the center you’ve selected. Set a financial goal, and list some of the items funding will help purchase for victims of the center.
PRAYER POINT: Pray for your social media campaign to be successful in raising awareness and funds so more victims can be helped.
CONTINUE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR AND ENCOURAGE YOUR CHURCH TO BE PROACTIVE.
Repeat one of the actions mentioned in this article once a month or create other ideas. Take steps to raise awareness and prevent abuse—invite speakers, discuss issues appropriately in small groups, listen, and be aware.
REMEMBER WE HAVE A GOD WHO CARES.
He cares for the most vulnerable and hears their cries. His people should demonstrate His love in compassionate, tangible ways.
DEANNA SANDERS lives in Duncan, Oklahoma, with her husband, Johnny, and two yellow labradors. They have two children and four grandchildren. DeAnna is a freelance writer and has worked with anti-trafficking organizations to offer prevention and restoration.
*This article is adapted from the April 2022 issue of Missions Mosaic, a publication of WMU, SBC. Reprinted with permission. To subscribe or purchase single issues of Missions Mosaic, visit wmustore.com.