CBF Field Personnel / COVID-19 / Field Personnel / Field Personnel Columns / General CBF / Healthcare Ministries / Missions

Supporting survivors and nurturing self-care

By Cindy Ruble

The women’s advocacy center with whom I partner in Asia has seen a 58 percent increase in their hotline calls regarding domestic violence, adult sexual assault, child sexual abuse and relationship issues since the pandemic began. 

Hotline calls from outside our region more than doubled as the center’s online presence increased on Facebook networks and webinars. Cases of adult sexual assault were five times higher than pre-pandemic and online sexual assault and domestic violence emerged as an increasing phenomenon. 

These statistics are highly disturbing and not likely to decrease as long as the pandemic continues. Unfortunately, lockdowns and social isolation worldwide have afforded perpetrators increased opportunities to access victims while this same isolation makes it quite difficult for victims to access the help they need. 

We may not know the full extent of the increase in the number of victims until after the pandemic is over. However, an increase here in the center’s online presence has had a silver lining. We were stunned to see the children’s cartoon book about good touch and bad touch and good secrets and bad secrets, a book that we typically pass out in school talks, reach an unprecedented 1.8 million views online. 

This number of views online put this booklet into far more hands than we ever could in school outreach visits. I pray that this simple cartoon booklet might give children who need it a voice to tell what happened to them or better yet, render children less vulnerable to the lures of predators in their lives. 

Eighty percent of children who are sexually abused know their predators.  They are among the child’s circle of friends and family. It is up to us to create safe communities for the children in our lives, wherever we may live. 

I am fortunate to work in Asia to build capacity with a group of trauma social workers who are passionate about facilitating the healing of survivors of child sexual abuse, adult sexual assault and domestic violence. Their work is hard. They hold traumatizing stories as they listen deeply to survivors and help them move forward with their lives. 

One of my goals has been to nurture self-care among trauma social workers as they care for others. I learned the importance of good self-care while working to aid the survivors of human trafficking. The deep empathy I felt for them often left me with stories spinning in my head and heart as I lay down at night. Often, I couldn’t sleep as I continued to think about what they had told me and what I could do to help them. I learned that to take care of them meant learning to take better care of me—at the very least to change the tapes in my head before trying to sleep.

I became intentional in my own self-care. Biblical stories of Jesus pulling away from the shore and going up the mountain to pray, while there were still crowds with needs following him, helped me to realize I needed to find ways to do likewise in order not to burn out. I am intentional in teaching self-care practices for longevity and well-being. Self-care during a pandemic is all the more needed as stressors accumulate and layer in our lives. It is not just trauma social workers who need to be intentional in self-care during a pandemic. We all do.

Thank you for what you do to support the survivors of child sexual abuse, adult sexual assault and domestic violence. You empower us to empower others.

Cindy and Eddy Ruble are Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel serving in Malaysia. Believing that justice is integral to the Good News, the Rubles partner locally and globally to transform systems of oppression, to build capacity with partners, to bring relief to vulnerable populations in the wake of disaster, and to empower young people through higher education, thereby sharing the love of Christ in tangible and concrete ways. Learn more about their ministry at www.cbf.net/ruble

The CBF Offering for Global Missions makes possible the long-term presence of CBF field personnel like Cindy. Support for the Offering extends lasting hope and loving hospitality to people living in poverty around the world. Give online today at www.cbf.net/OGM.

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