No one can predict when a victim of sexual abuse will experience a spiritual or emotional crisis. But the church should be ready with a compassionate response. Help victims to identify triggers for troublesome problems related to the offense, such as panic attacks or excessive fear, anger, depression, or immoral responses. Ask, “What leads you to lose control?” Write down those factors, and lead the person to recognize that when one or more of these factors are present, the person should do the following:

Pray immediately, seeking God’s help.

Change direction (e.g., go to safety at a specified location, leave the room, take a walk, turn off the computer).

Recall applicable Scripture that identifies how to address this emotion or temptation. It is a good idea to have appropriate Scripture written down in anticipation of this need.

Take Biblical action (e.g., seek safety, make a phone call, speak appropriately, sing a hymn, take out your family’s pictures).

Ask for help from a person you can trust. Have a list of phone numbers ready. Who could you call in time of trouble? The church should be able to help you with this. Your advocate’s name should be on that list, and two or three trustworthy people (preferably believers).

Do something productive for someone else (e.g., make a nice dinner for your family, write a note to a friend, take a gift to someone in the hospital).

—Adapted from John Broger’s Self-Confrontation (Nelson Publishers, 1994).