Encouraging the Brokenhearted: An Exercise in Faith
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
For children who have been exposed to abuse, the wounds can run deep and last for a lifetime. But that doesn’t have to be the last word. We don’t know which young women at Hannah Grace Homes will thrive and who will struggle as adults, but we approach every girl with hope in their Father God.
Keys to Healing
Children heal through relationships. Ideally, a child suffering from neglect and abuse would see their caregivers transformed and experience a healthy family. With that being such a rare circumstance, most studies focus on what children need coming from a broken home.
A child’s healing most closely correlates with the level of healing and growth of her or his mother. If at least one caregiver can parent them in healthy ways, they are more likely to thrive. Parental growth takes time. In the worst situations, (where the mother is unsafe or unable to care for her children), a child needs a safe, God-honoring environment to start to heal. Relationships with loved ones (relatives, friends, siblings) serve a critical role, as well.
Negative relationships can have the opposite effect. Ongoing exposure to an unrepentant, unreformed abuser can negatively impact the outcomes for a child. It is chillingly common for an abuser to continue, or even escalate harm against a partner or child after separation—sometimes abusing a child in retaliation against a mother. A victim faces the greatest threat to her life when she initially seeks safety and in the weeks following.
Hannah Grace Homes opens our arms to hurting girls in the absence of a safe, nurturing mother-child relationship (with prayerful hope for the parents’ healing, where possible).
Clarity and Understanding:
The education process for a child exposed to abuse covers numerous overlapping areas:
- Age-appropriate understanding of the abuse to her or his mother,
- Ways in which an abuser has interfered with the relationship between mother and child,
- Unhealthy patterns the child has developed as survival skills,
- Warped perceptions based on the abuser’s manipulative attitudes and actions,
- The fallacy of their mother or the child “causing” an abusive pattern from an abuser,
- Healthy behavior, ways of thinking, and skills to deal with strong feelings.
Children of abuse need healthy outlets to process and express emotion. The house parents of Hannah Grace Homes understand the importance of girls being able to talk through their traumatic experiences, to grieve, to have outbursts, to make mistakes, and to be gently taught how to deal with all of them—even “bad feelings.”
In the aftermath of abuse, levels of anger and bitterness, fear and guilt can be enormous. Having the freedom to share a desire to do a bad thing, and being met with understanding from a wise, Christ-following adult can help them explore what’s underneath their desire—and help them overcome it.
We all wrestle with sinful desires. Our most effective tool isn’t behavior modification. It’s the Gospel that gives victory over death and sin through a greater satisfaction in Christ. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11).
Ultimately, the grace we receive gives us the freedom to heal and forgive others. For the young women of Hannah Grace Homes, in the aftermath of abuse and neglect, the healing that comes through Christ alone is the greatest gift we can give them. Please pray for the girls and for the team whose hearts break with them. We give thanks that we have a Savior who will “wipe away all tears…” (Revelation 7:17).
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