If you are a victim of sexual abuse and have struggled with gaining weight, this section is directed towards you. If you have not been abused, but love someone who has, this section may help you understand and come alongside the person who is struggling, so you can better support them.
By being overweight, others may treat you differently and may even ignore you. Part of that comes from present dayâ€™s society being obsessed with looks and â€œthin is inâ€ – witness the rail-thin models that are in vogue today. When singles are asked to rate the top qualities they look for in someone they date, being attractive consistently ranks among the top five for both men and women.
There are many reasons for this. Again, the origin comes from our Creator and society has run with the idea. When you look at the animal species, the male is usually more brightly colored and will often flaunt these features in an attempt to attract the female.
Muscular, toned, air-brushed male and female models grace the covers of magazines in our supermarkets. Overweight models are relegated to cards in gag stores. Plastic surgeries for liposuction, fuller lips, breast augmentation and more are on the rise, as are gastric bypass surgeries to reduce the size of the stomach in an attempt to limit food intake.
Another reason that overweight people are treated differently is the outward messages they are projecting to those around them. They may carry themselves poorly or dress in unflattering or baggy clothes to hide their size. Women may wear little or no makeup â€“ all in an attempt to make them look less visible or because they donâ€™t care about themselves â€“ and these messages are broadcast loudly.
So those who are â€œsuper-sizedâ€ are perceived â€“ perhaps subconsciously – as being out-of-control or not having a regard for their appearances. This is actually the closest to the truth. One of the main reasons that victims have food issues is the need for control. Being abused at an earlier age means that control over their bodies was taken from them and exerting this control over food is one means of taking that control back.
They may have been told that they were attractive prior to or during the violation and in their mind, removing the attractiveness is a means to prevent further abuse. Many victims have admitted to overeating so potential suitors will avoid them and hence, remove the possibility of being abused. The problem with this thinking, however, is twofold â€“ studies have not shown that perpetrators choose their victims based on attractiveness â€“ rape is a crime of rage and control, not passion. And secondly, rape victims are not disproportionally thin – again, because looks are not the deciding factor in choosing a victim.
But the added weight can make the victim feel more secure, even if it is false security. Many consider it â€œinsulationâ€ because society as a whole shuns larger body types, so they avoid the stares and unwanted attention this way. In a more concrete way, the layers of fat symbolically serve as a wall, separating them from the outside world and keeping their feelings and pain locked inside.
A greater reason for overweight issues thriving in the abused is the perpetuation of Satanâ€™s lies. As he continually whispers in the victimsâ€™ ears that they are nothing, worthless, unwanted, unloved â€“ the added weight reinforces this image. However, none of us want to feel unloved deep down. So this unwanted point of view sends us back to the refrigerator or pantry for more comfort food, completing the vicious cycle.
For myself, I was grateful for the isolation and inattention that my extra weight provided. Hating myself went hand-in-hand with hating how I looked. Receiving confirmation of this from others who ignored me, looked at me in disgust or felt I lacked self-control just served to confirm my worst fears.
And changing these behaviors was more than just self-control, which is why most diets fail. In order to break the cycle of eating disorders, the person must begin to view themselves differently. They must begin to value themselves, see themselves as children of God â€“ wanted, loved and created by Him â€“ and that their bodies are a temple of God. This is not an easy process. Satanâ€™s lies can be firmly entrenched in the minds of those abused. The reason for this is sin. Once sin has impacted our lives, the far-reaching effects are devastating.
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