How much does abuse affect a person's relationship with God?

Children who have grown up in very abusive/neglectful environments often learn “survival” skills, those survival skills in turn often are hard to escape in adult years. Surviving means self preservation, which keeps the “survivor” focused inwards. Also, they have problems with relationships, trust, etc,… especially with authority figures. How might this translate when the survivor is seeking a relationship with God?

Absolutely spaztastic. I wasn’t abused as a child, but I have PTSD from social traumas and bloody hell do I get scared when I think of God’s will or His sovereignty or His justice. I feel like I can’t trust Him and everything that goes wrong is exactly what He wants. I get to the point where I can barely believe in free will and feel trapped. I feel horribly guilty for every weird thing about me, and I feel like He hates me.

It really all depends on the person. It could drive them closer to God because they feel like they have an ally against those abusing them. It could drive them away. It really depends on the situation and the person.

It can manifest in different ways. In my case I’ve always had a special relationship with God. What I also had was a difficult time relating to Him as God the Father. During those years if I had been Catholic I probably would developed an unhealthy relationship to Mary in which instead of venerating her appropriately I would have given her the worship that was due God. It’s very difficult to relate to God as our loving heavenly Father when we didn’t have an earthly Father that was very loving.

very true and well put.

I never saw God as responsible. I might have had a closer relationship to God at an earlier age, but then again, I might have not hade a relationship with God that I have now…as because of my childhood abuse I ‘need’ more help than most people. Therefore I am more likely to seek help from God than many people (at least I think this is one possibility). If I grew up ‘normal’ and had a good job and got by in life ok, maybe I would have never discovered my faith the way that I have now.

I need God much more than most in the usa I think. So maybe my childhood abuse brought me closer to him than if I had a normal childhood.

I will never be sure. But it’s food for thought. (no excuse to do abuse to kids though lol)

I suppose it depends on your own experience. My biggest issue was not just the presence of abuse, but the way it was combined with religious commands. Young ladies were supposed to be sweet and avoid “tempting” the poor weak men, but not actually asking too many questions of what they were doing. And one definitely did not think to question one’s parents.

That makes sense. I was raised Catholic, but other than an occasional drunken rant from my grandmother who mostly raised me saying “your going to hell” my abuse was not tied to religion at all. My grandmothers physical abuse was never a punnishment from God. And the overall connection she or my mother or father put to religion was probably .00001%.

So I felt terrible of course and that it was all my own falut of course, and didn’t understand it (it’s funny how as little kids you dont’ even know ‘what’s normal’, as a 4 or 6 yo you don’t have the conception of what other poeple’s households are like and how insane such a family is that abuses kids this way). But I never blamed or connected it to God or Religion because the abusers (almost) never connected it to religion.

I can see how someone being beaten or whatever and being told it’s what God wants for you would really mess with such a person’s ability to have a healthy relationship with God. Especially as children, when we are just learning how to have relationships with other children and adults, let alone a supreme being who is the maker of heaven and earth. Those concepts I think are difficult for any child to understand. Throw in abuse and being told that it’s God doing it or condoning it and it’s a terrible prescription for that person to have a healthy relationship to God.

I hope you find peace.
God Bless,

I really appreciate the input on this. My struggles have been life long and though I forgive those who abused me, I still see the impact it has on my life today, (if a lion tears off my arm, I may forgive the lion, but that doesn’t mean my arm will grow back, and it doesn’t mean I won’t have to adapt to a life without my arm) my relationships with others, and particularly my relationship with God.
It is a constant struggle, and I hope those of you who’ve suffered abuse are able to overcome.
It has helped me to learn some compassion (oddly enough) but I fluctuate between survival mode and living. When in survival mode, I have a tendency to pull away from God. And that occurs all too often.

I keep remembering the passage “Parents, teach your children in the way they should go, and when they are older, they will return to it” and I wonder what about those who’ve been taught wrongly?

Thanks for the input everyone. I am new here, so if I haven’t responded correctly (form), have patience please, will figure it out eventually.

I grew up in a disfunctional home. As a child I would walk to what ever church I could get to.
God was the best thing in my life. I knew he loved me and that knowlage made life good.
As an adult I was pushed into a church that left me feeling like the God I grew up with was not real and I would never be good enough for the real God.
After many many years I got away from them, I took some time before I could even pray.
When I finely did, God led me to the catholic church. It is wonderful to know that he does love me. Even with my imperfections. He was always there. I just needed to call on him and believe.

I tried to figure out how to pm you this but couldn’t. There is a group connected to this website (actually there are several I believe) but one is for survivors of childhood abuse. Since you publicly talked about being abused as a child I figure putting an open message informing you that such a group exists here would do no harm and might do some good. You have to apply for membership, not sure what the screeing process is. I’m new to this site myself and am a sufferer of childhood abuse. I find it helpful to talk to others who have the same issue. You might consider joining the group. Just a thought. Think it’s under groups, you should be able to figure it out from there. I’m not too computer savvy and I found it without a problem.
God Bless,

Thank you, I will check that out. : ) I found it through the link on your profile and have it marked for future reference. Just not ready to yet. sigh
I am sorry you were a victim of such, may you find the comfort and help you need to live your life in Grace.

Yes, I do know with reason that God does love all of us, trying to hamonize that reason with doubting emotions is what gets me I think.
So glad you made it to Mother Church. It is where you will find the ultimate healing.
Peace to you.

Yes, I think with me, I see God as distant and or punishing. And have the most awful thoughts sometimes that He (God) doesn’t want me to make it. I know how terrible that sounds, and I also know it is untrue, but I find myself with the thoughts just the same.

I am sorry you have experienced what you have. I don’t wish to keep people living in the experiences they’ve suffered, but to find a way to overcome them in our journey. Also wondering how many have had the same problems, cause sometimes I feel like there are few who understand the challenges life presents to survivors.

Peace to you.

I remember as a child, going to a local church (Protestant) and getting baptized when I heard the message about Jesus. I was alone (no family attended, we were the “outcasts” in that little town) and just happy and hopeful for a better future. I read the Bible a lot when I was a kid, but other than the baptism, and a few hits and misses over the ensuing years, I didn’t attend church of any kind. I fell into OSAS thinking as I got older, and really didn’t concern myself with “religion” but kept looking for answers.
I really had no guidance except what I would pick up on TV programs, a pamphlet here and there. And of course, what people would tell me.

I am glad you are finding your way and have joined the Church, it is the fullness of the Truth. I don’t think God gave up on any of us, but I think maybe I have given up on myself.

Peace to you, am sorry it took so long to respond to your message.

I was actually legally an adult when it happened (18-19). I specify legally because I was still in many ways extremely young. We were quite specially sheltered however - homeschooled with pretty much no social life outside the church. There was a lot of emphasis on women’s roles in a way that was conducive to abuse. Modesty and submission were set forth as the cures for all ill behavior on the part of men. It was very much an environment of “if you weren’t so sinful and evil this wouldn’t happen to you.”

I am glad you have found a closeness with God. I knew very little about God growing up, and can’t claim that anyone used religion in their abuse of me. I very much would like to know how people got past the abuse and developed a close relationship with God. To know others did, means that I can too.
My relationship with God fluctuates.
As for that last part (no excuse to do abuse to kids though) You are so right, not even the old “rule” of an eye for an eye fits that scenario, because to hurt an innocent child is not retaliation against the person who perpetrated such crimes.
Peace to you.

Am trying to answer these one by one, am sorry if it is taking a while.

I was just reading through some of these again. It is hard for me to absorb some of this in one setting, but the words I made bold struck me.
I wasn’t ever told, to my recollection, that if I weren’t evil, this wouldn’t have happened to me, but I always felt that way. Even the terrible things that happened to me in my adult life, though many things were unwarranted and beyond my control (in adulthood) I still felt I was targeted because of… well, because people could target me,(and then there were the things - natural traumatic events if you will- that no person caused) and I started thinking (again) that it was simply because God wouldn’t ever protect me, because I didn’t deserve His protection.
It is odd the things I have been through that were not my fault, when I tell people, most just don’t believe me, or they think I am exxagerating.
Truly, I would think the same perhaps.
I can say this, there has not been a 6 month period in my life, that something traumatic HASN’T happened to me. Some things were my own doing, but many were not.
I am tired in a way I can’t describe to other people.
sorry I ranted…



I’m very curious about your post. I grew up abused as well. I was raised Catholic and regret I did not turn to God for help. Where you raised in any particular religion? And when you went to church as a child seeking help, was it any denomination in particular, different ones?

And when you were an adult hwo ‘pushed’ you into a church and what church if you don’t mind me asking?

In any event I wish I followed your footsteps when I was young. And I’m glad to know that you have made peace with God and the Catholic Church.

God Bless,

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