There’s no hope in self-help

This month is sexual assault awareness month.

It’s yet another awareness month I wish didn’t need to be. 

The statistics surrounding sexual assault are staggering—no less than one in four women have experienced it in some fashion; no fewer than one in six men have, too. It’s a sin that robs its victims of more than a sense of safety.

It robs them of their dignity.

So how do we best minister to victims of sexual assault, in whatever sphere of influence we have?

It’s not with self-help. 

rid-of-my-disgrace-holcomb

In their important, painful and hopeful book, Rid of My Disgrace, Justin and Lindsey Holcomb remind us that self-help is horrible news for those needing to be rid of the stain of sexual sin:

Sexual assault victims are frequently told some version of the following: “One can will one’s well-being” or “If you are willing to work hard and find good support, you can not only heal but thrive.” This sentiment is reflected in the famous quote, “No one can disgrace us but ourselves.”

This is all horrible news. The reason this is bad news is that abuse victims are rightfully, and understandably, broken over how they’ve been violated. But those in pain simply may not have the wherewithal to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” On a superficial level, self-esteem techniques and a tough “refusal to allow others to hurt me” tactic may work for the short term. But what happens for the abused person on a bad day, a bad month, or a bad year? Sin and the effects of sin are similar to the laws of inertia: a person (or object) in motion will continue on that trajectory until acted upon by an outside force. If one is devastated by sin, a personal failure to rise above the effects of sin will simply create a snowball effect of shame. Hurting people need something from the outside to stop the downward spiral. Fortunately, grace floods in from the outside at the point when hope to change oneself is lost. Grace declares and promises that you will be healed.

The Kindle edition of Rid of My Disgrace is on sale right now for 99¢ at Amazon. If you want to know more about the book, you can read my review here, but if you’re ministering to anyone in any capacity, please read this book.

If you don’t have a dollar, let me know and I will buy you a copy.

There’s no hope in self-help. The only thing that can cleanse the stain of sin is the gospel. This is what we must offer victims of sexual assault and this book will help us do it well.