Few experiences so dramatically destroy your dignity and sense of trust as rape does. Many of the rapes suffered by women and men alike are committed not by strangers but by people they know - often, people they never imagined would force sex on them. Still others are committed by people the victims have never met. But no matter what the circumstances, the pain is the same.

Here are some ways you can seek healing after being raped - or share with someone you know to help her or him recover from the trauma of rape:

  • Don't blame yourself. No one deserves to be raped, and the responsibility for the rape rests solely with the person who committed it. Don't justify the rape or excuse it; acknowledge the wrong done to you.

  • Honestly express your thoughts and feelings about the rape to God. Know that God cares deeply about your suffering and won't be offended by any of the tough thoughts and feelings you're experiencing. Invite the Holy Spirit to come dwell with you in the middle of your pain, and pray for an awareness of the Spirit's presence with you.

  • Remember that grief is a process, so allow yourself to take the time you need to cry and vent anger in healthy ways (such as by breaking dishes to release it).

  • Ask God to give you a good support system of people to help you as you recover. Accept help from caring friends and family members, and consider joining a support group of others who have experienced rape.

  • Realize the importance of forgiving the person who raped you. As difficult as that might seem, it is possible if you rely on God's strength. It's also crucial to work through the forgiveness process because not doing so poisons your spirit and blocks your healing.

  • Give God the broken pieces of your spirit and your life, and trust Him to transform them into something new and better. Remember how much He loves you and have confidence in His power to help you.

  • Let God restore your dignity. Ask God to show you how He sees you so you can see how valuable you are as a person. Read the Bible frequently, praying for God to renew your mind with His truth.

  • Pursue some new activities and make some future plans. Move on past a feeling of victimization into the new, full life God wants you to have, one day a time.

Adapted from Beauty Restored: Finding Life and Hope After Date Rape, copyright 2001 by Me Ra Koh. Published by Regal Books, a division of Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca., www.regalbooks.com, 1-800-4-GOSPEL.

Me Ra Koh, a date rape survivor, earned a master's degree in teaching for the purpose of learning to speak to the brokenhearted. She travels around the United States, teaching writing workshops and speaking to people about date rape. She and her husband live in Washington State.

Have you or someone you know ever been raped? If so, how did God work to heal the deep wounds that resulted? What encouragement would you like to offer others who have suffered the trauma of rape? Visit the Books forum to discuss this topic. Just click on the link below.