When I was about five years old, my father sexually abused me many times. No one in my family ever found out, and this is the first time that I am telling anyone about it. I already forgave my father, but because of him I am very distrustful about having a romantic relationship.

I don’t know if I should tell any future boyfriend about the abuse that I suffered, or if I should continue to keep it to myself. Nor do I know if I should go to therapy to try to work on the trauma and distrust that I have, or if I should let God continue to help me as He has my whole life, and even more so in this aspect of my life that no one else has ever known.

Dear Friend,

We are so very sorry for what happened to you! It is tragic that your innocence was stolen from you at such a young age.

{Since you think that no one ever knew about what happened to you, you believe that you have already overcome most of the natural consequences of being abused. We are thankful to God, along with you, that He has helped you so much.

However,} you ask if you should get therapy or continue to trust God. This is what is called a false dichotomy. You are suggesting that you either get therapy, or you keep trusting God. The truth is that you can and should do both. But you might ask, “Why do I need therapy when I have done so well until now? Why should I open up a closed chapter of my life? Isn’t God able to supernaturally heal my emotional wounds?”

Yes, God is able, but healing is usually a process and not an instantaneous event. Your father abused you over time, and that abuse caused chemical changes in your brain over time. You are a different person today because of what he did. You experience relationships differently because of what he did. And you feel differently about yourself now than how you would have felt if he had never abused you. You suffered great loss, but you were never able to grieve.

In your brain as a five-year-old child, you probably confused the abuse with what should be normal parent-child love. Furthermore, you kept it a secret from everyone else in your life because you either felt shame, or because he threatened you in some way. How can a five-year-old develop a healthy sense of self when it is connected with shame? How does that same child, who grows up to become an adolescent and then an adult, truly understand all the differences between parental love, romantic love, and sexual activity?

The fact that you have never talked about this with anyone is the best reason you must let this secret out in therapy. Up until now, you have locked it all away in your subconscious, not understanding how emotionally dangerous it can be to do that. We recommend that you immediately find a counselor who specializes in abuse.

As for when you should tell your story to a future boyfriend, please read Cases 450 and 514 {In broadcast version only: at conciencia.net. There,}. Under the topic of abuse, you will also find other cases that might be of help to you.

We wish you well,