How to Talk with God if You’ve Suffered from Violence

Doug Bender

June 24, 2021 | 3 minute read

There are hotlines, support groups, numerous organizations and churches that are all available to help victims of violence. Make use of those resources! Reach out to someone who can help. (We’ll even link a few at the end of this article for you.) But the original hotline--prayer--is still one of the most powerful tools available for anyone who is suffering from violence or abuse. Use this resource, too! Talking with God can help put your pain into words, give you the strength to get help, and encourage you when there seems to be no help. More than that, God has already reached through the centuries with his own guide on how to talk with him about your troubles. He’s ready to listen and wants to be there for you. Here’s what Psalm 55 says in the Bible and how you can start talking with him today:

Call out to God

“God, listen to my prayer. 

Pay attention to my cry for help.

Hear me and answer me.”

Many victims of violence never work up the courage to talk with anyone about their experiences. If that’s you, talking with God can be the first step to gaining the strength to speak aloud your pains. Shout out to him. Ask him to listen. He’s already promised he will. He sees everything. He knows everything. And he already knows what you need. The first thing you might need is someone to talk with. Let God be your starting point.


Name Your Pain

“My thoughts upset me. I’m very troubled.

I’m troubled by what my enemies say about me.

I’m upset because they say they will harm me.

They cause me all kinds of suffering.

When they are angry, they attack me with their words."

Many victims of violence have spent years justifying their attacker’s evils. Maybe you think it's your fault. Maybe you don’t want to get anyone in trouble. Whatever your reason, God is safe to talk to. Drop the justifications and just name what your “enemies say about” you, how “they say they will harm” you, and the “kinds of suffering” you’ve faced at their hands. There is healing in just speaking out loud what has been done to you.


Name Your Emotions

“I feel great pain deep down inside me.

The terrors of death have fallen on me.

Fear and trembling have taken hold of me.

Panic has overpowered me.”

Abuse sometimes has a physical element to it, but it always has an emotional element. Tell God about the fears you are having, the anxieties, and worries that plague you. What are you feeling?


Name Your Needs

“I said, ‘I wish I had wings like a dove!

Then I would escape to a place far away.

...Lord, confuse the sinners.”

You might not know exactly how you can escape your situation. But you know you need help. You know you need escape. So ask God for what you know you need and let him worry about how it's all going to happen. 


Name Your Disappointments

“If an enemy were making fun of me,

I could stand it.

...But it’s my companion, my close friend.”

Most abuse victims suffer at the hands of those charged to protect them. More than the pain of the abuse itself, this betrayal and disappointment can be the most lingering of wounds. If that’s been your experience, talk to God about it. You may not feel you’ve found anyone you can trust with this yet, but God can be trusted.


Name Your Anger and Your Trust

“Let death take my enemies by surprise.

...But I call out to God.”

God already knows your thoughts and your anger. No use in hiding it. Talk through that anger with God. Then go a step further, give him that anger. Let God take vengeance for you. If you feel like someone needs punishing, trust that the God of the universe is big enough to make it happen. If you hold onto that anger, you’re only letting your abuser continue to hurt you. 


Name What You Know of God

“God has been on his throne since ancient times and does not change.

He will hear my enemies and make them humble.”

Do you know that God is just? He will judge everyone according to what they’ve done. Do you know that God is good? He will be good enough to hear your prayers and act on them. Do you know that God sees everything? He already knows what terrible things have happened to you. Name what you know of God and you will find your trust in him grows as a result.


Commit to Trusting God

“But I trust in you.”

I know it’s easier said than done. But saying it is the first step. God is faithful. He can be trusted. But you also need to know that God works through people. So trusting in God will likely mean you’ll need to trust whoever he sends to help you. Call one of those hotlines, reach out to that trusted person at church, school, or work. 


Other Resources: 

Doug Bender

Doug Bender

Doug Bender is an I Am Second writer and small groups coach. He developed many of the small group tools found at iamsecond.com and has coached churches, organizations, and individuals to use I Am Second groups to share the message of Jesus with their friends and family. He also works with I Am Second's parent organization, e3 Partners, as a church planter and pastor in countries such as Ethiopia, Colombia, and the US. Doug and his wife, Catherine, have four children: Bethany, Samuel, Isabella, and Jesse.

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