A ‘Higher Power’ can help abused children recover.

Children who are subject to abuse of any sort often look for help outside of the family in their quest for recovery. Often abandoned emotionally and bruised physically, they cannot find solace within the family unit which was often responsible for the abuse in the first place. The following quote says much about why children turn to a “higher power” in their search for inspiration.

“There is an old saying in Alcoholics Anonymous: In the disease of alcoholism, spirituality is the first thing to go and the last thing to come back. Compared with alcohol, the troubled family may be far more efficient at committing what Alice Miller calls a “soul murder”. Abused children are robbed of their faith in the goodwill of other people and their belief in a safe world”

For an abused child to recover this faith, his or her view of the world must be reconstructed. Violence and abuse change a child’s image of  his or her surroundings as just and orderly, along with their view of self. It is not surprising that many survivors turn to spirituality in all its various forms. Spirituality with basics beliefs suggesting that there is a higher power that offers faith, connects people to others and their surroundings is obviously attractive to anyone who has not experienced faith. Survivors often find in spirituality a world they could not find or did not exist as an abused child.

As children, our first role models were our parents. They are our first idols, all-knowing, all-powerful and as children we wonder at their endless intelligence and insight. This view is fine if this faith is handled properly and gives the child a positive view of this “higher power”. In troubled families, this higher power shows inconsistency and is not caring, leading the child to find other role models who are “less vengeful and violent”.

Many children turn to God or Mother Nature to find what is missing in their world, meaning  a non-judgmental higher being.  In particular, nature presents a world with all the characteristics missing in the humans that the child knows , namely consistency. Nature rolls on year after year despite human intervention and a love of nature plus the loyalty shown by animals such as dogs and cats has helped many abuse victims to put their world into perspective. Many also seek help with local church organizations, with the priest taking over the role of “idol”. Many  survivors state that their beliefs came from their early contact with the church following abuse.(Sandford, chapter 8). Also the way death is handled has a bearing on a child’s faith. In “good enough” families, children lead very innocent lives and death is handled properly by caring parents. Their first experience of death is usually through a pet or elderly relative and parents can put this into its proper context by reducing the fear of death in the child.  In families where violence and drug-taking are the norm, death is ever-present, threatening and can give the child a distorted view of death and its meaning. Spirituality can help to change this.

Children tend to lose faith in all around when they are abused and this is usually replaced by fear. Often, to control this fear, survivors of child abuse try to control everything around them to avoid being thrown back into their fearful childhood. They often seem powerless to stop it and this leads to havoc in relationships. Finding faith turns this powerlessness into acceptance that they are not responsible for everything that happens or happened.  Faith has no doubt been returned to some survivors through being guided by “power greater than the self” and at the same time “transforming their lives”.

This recovery process is essential if faith is to conquer fear.  The first step is often for survivors to forgive themselves as forgiving unclutters ones life. However,  forgiving does not mean forgetting but just letting go. Some believe that child abuse victims need a spiritual “ritual of healing” to let go of the feeling that we deny our experiences and believe that when we are once damaged, we are always damaged. This  has worked significantly with Vietnam War veterans through the memorial given to them by the US Government. Finally, the attitude shown by survivors when recovering is an essential part of recovery. This is where spiritualism can really help. Trying to avoid the “why me?” attitude and understanding what to do with the pain is vital. Many  survivors say that some of the more positive things that came from the abuse were the “coats” they wore to avoid the abuse. Such things as sense of humor, sensitivity and optimism are now part of their character in adulthood.

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a Counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals,couples,  groups and companies globally. Online therapy is, in my experience, effective for treating a number of major conditions. Are you having issues that you need to talk through? I have a range of plans that can help you get the help you need.  Online Therapy details : Here ……


  15 comments for “A ‘Higher Power’ can help abused children recover.

  1. June 18, 2013 at 5:26 pm



  2. June 18, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    I totally agree. Knowing there is a higher power helps to lead to an understanding that each person is a part of a whole community, the human race! That is one way that really can help calm down the demons.


    • June 19, 2013 at 12:10 am

      Hi Vicki…thanks for the comment and it is true. However, what the article did not cover is when the ‘ higher power’ is something truly negative such as joining a gang or substance abuse.


  3. June 18, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    This is all so true. Great post. Hugs Paula xxx


  4. survivorsjustice
    June 19, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Dearest Dr. Jenner, thank you so very much for sharing your expert opinion and of course the Alice Miller quote of ‘soul murder’. This gives an excellent interpretation of what exactly happens in this crime and the self destructive, condemning path that almost always follows. As you are aware, I am a survivor of more than thirty years trapped in the nightmarish hell of what was so engrained through the tortures of my childhood. I am grateful for what you have shared and will be passing it on to those who read and follow my blog as well. This is the whole basis for Butterfly Dreams Abuse Recovery and taking back your power. Many feel there is a need to forgive before moving on, but truly it is a process that each and every person affected may need a different path. In my attempt to help recover from the vicious crimes of my parents a hospital chaplain explained forgiveness in this manner; ‘You did not commit the crime, you have nothing to ask of be forgiven. Let forgiveness not be your burden to carry, but rather their burden to ask for.’ This statement relieved me of having to consider ever forgiving the damage done, but to leave it behind in Creator’s hands and for them to be the ones to beg for His forgiveness when that time came. I still deal with many things as their wounds run deep, but no longer does it control my world. I am free from having to feel the need to forgive in order to move on with my life. My voice has been the path to gaining back by self value and my freedom, and I encourage others to use their voice either in themselves or in confidence of others, to take back their power and release the burden of secrets they’ve been forced to carry. In much respect for all that you do Sir, thank you so kindly for sharing – trish


  5. survivorsjustice
    June 19, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Reblogged this on survivorsjustice and commented:
    Once again the excellent Dr. Nicholas Jenner has shared his expertise in the hope of providing recovery and hope to those survivors of childhood abuse and nightmarish acts of hell. As he shared the quote by Alice Miller ‘soul murder’ and taking back our power through forgiving but not forgetting. Moving on from the cage of abuse and finding your life of happiness, inner peace today.


  6. June 19, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Not being particularly religious I still vibe with the whole idea of shamanic ‘soul retrieval’. And with children having more vivid imaginations they might *get* the idea behind it and feel more relief faster, than an adult. I’ve never liked the idea, like in 12 steps, of what seems like a requirement to believe in something simply as part of your healing unless all faith possibilities are the option. Seemed too much like indoctrination. We help you with your addiction and you take up our faith. That’s just my perception though, I don’t know for sure.


    • June 19, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      Of course, abused children are vulnerable and often look to outside influences for the comfort and guidance that they missed from their parents. This can range from sitting infront of the TV all day to throwing themselves into the church. Such things mentioned such as the church can be positive if the influence is positive but can lead to manipulation. What it does prove is that if children are not parented effectively, someone or something will step in and do it.


  7. June 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    This is so true. Spirituality in a form you believe is so important. For me it is in God almighty. And yes, I lost sight first-but my faith has come full circle. He has helped me through the strains of forgiveness, resentment, hate and has given me the strength to face what comes my way.


    • June 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I think the key statement there is finding something you believe in truly. I am pleased for you that you found it.


  8. June 20, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Love the sentence about how forgiveness unclutters one’s life and then that forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, just letting go. Seems to me the word “forgiveness” has been very cheapened. I love the phrase, “Grace is free but is isn’t cheap”. When grace is applied in the form of forgiveness , whether to ourselves or others, , it requires a change of behavior.” When Jesus forgave the women caught in adultery, he also said, “Go and sin no more.” Again a change in behavior. That part of the story is often left out.

    Thanks for todays enlightening post.



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