You may think these types of things don’t happen within Adventist homes. In a recent survey on an Adventist college campus, around 10 percent of Adventist students report being molested before the age of 18 (females more likely than males).
They went on to have three children of their own. Soon after her daughters became teenagers, they told her that their step-father was raping them at night, telling them to keep it secret. She couldn’t believe her husband would do such a terrible thing. Her kids eventually grew up and had their own families, but then her youngest son committed suicide after he started molesting his own daughter. It eventually became known that her (second) husband had actually molested his own biological children as well and even some neighbor kids.
Sexual abuse within the family is devastating and can be intergenerational, like in this story. It is particularly heartbreaking when it happens in a Christian home. You may think these types of things don’t happen within Adventist homes. In a recent survey on an Adventist college campus, around 10 percent of Adventist students report being molested before the age of 18 (females more likely than males). A vast majority of child sexual abuse is by someone known by the child, including close family members.
Being sexually abused as a child by a trusted authority figure, especially by a parent, is harmful in many ways. Research has found higher rates of depression, substance use, suicidal thinking, more likely to abuse children themselves (although the vast majority don’t), and marital problems among those who were abused. Adventist college students who have been sexually molested were 3.5 times more likely to have attempted suicide in their lifetime (females more likely than males).
There also are spiritual consequences. Within a Christian home, a child may feel guilty for having sex outside of marriage, even thinking it is his/her fault. If the abuse is by a parent, it can distort a child’s view of a loving Heavenly Father. Jesus knew how harming a child can have devastating effects when he said, Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea (Mark 9:42).
Here are some tips on what to do if you become aware of a child being molested:
There are different ways to prevent this devastation.
For more information and additional resources check out the End It Now website (Adventists Say No to Violence): https://www.enditnow.org/.
For a list of Adventist counselors in your area use this link: https://www.nadfamily.org/resources/counselors/
Alina M. Baltazar, PhD, LMSW, CFLE is a professor of Social Work at Andrews University, a licensed clinical social worker, and a certified family life educator.