Find a mentor.  A spiritual mentor can help you discover your true identity, passion, and calling.  Ask God to lead you to a mature Christian you trust and admire.  Then set realistic expectations for your relationship, schedule regular meetings together when possible, and enjoy the benefits of wise counsel and fresh hope.

Build committed friendships.  Pray to find some faithful friends who will stick with you through both good and bad times, and commit to being that kind of friend yourself.  Invite your friends to speak the truth in love to you about all aspects of your life, so you can grow.

Set boundaries when dating.  Set whatever boundaries you need to set to help keep your romantic relationships sexually pure until marriage, and emotionally healthy.  Ask God to bolster your confidence so you won't tie your self-esteem to how a boyfriend or girlfriend treats you, but remember that your value is based on the fact that you're God's beloved child. 

Develop a healthy sex life in marriage.  Remind yourself that your spouse wasn't the person who abused you.  Separate the past from the present so you won't project your hurt and fear onto your spouse.  Work with a counselor to learn how to look at sex in a new, healthy way, and enjoy it with your spouse.

Grow closer to God.  Seek to learn more about God every day so you'll get to know who He really is and be able to separate that reality from any warped image of Him you may have gotten through your childhood abuse.  Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind so you can replace lies with biblical truth.  Invite God to breathe new life into you.

Shine your light in the world.  Whenever you encounter an opportunity to encourage others by sharing your story or helping to stop or prevent abuse, take it.  Do your part to shine Christ's light into the world's darkness.

February 4, 2010

Adapted from Breathe: The Freedom to Thrive in Relationships After Childhood Sexual Abuse, copyright 2009 by Nicole Braddock Bromley.  Published by Moody Publishers, Chicago, Ill., www.moodypublishers.com.  

Nicole Braddock Bromley is the founder and director of OneVOICE enterprises, an organization that is bringing healing change into the lives of victims of sexual abuse. Her message has been heard by thousands of students on college campuses around the country. Nicole and her husband, Matthew, live in Columbus, Ohio. For more info, see www.onevoiceenterprises.com.