Monthly Archives: February 2014

Not Just Victims

“And if they stare
Just let them burn their eyes
On you moving.
And if they shout
Don’t let it change a thing
That you’re doing.

Hold your head up,
Hold your head up,
Hold your head up,
Hold your head high.”

–        “Hold Your Head Up”, C. White, R. Argent © Marquise Songs

A rock song from the ’70s by Argent has special relevance for abuse survivors.  Called “Hold Your Head Up” it is a reminder that we are more than just victims.

But abuse victims, by whatever name, are not known for valuing themselves highly.  To the contrary, we can barely raise our heads, let alone form a realistic view of ourselves.

The abuse to which we were subjected created a web of lies – that we were worthless, that we were undeserving of love or care.  Trapped in that web, we were denied hope, as the scars (our response to the pain) hardened around us.

Not everything we do, however, will stem from or relate to abuse.  If we focus on that aspect of our experience to the exclusion of all others, we will only enlarge the tragedy, allowing it to engulf our lives [1].

We have relationships, vocations, and beliefs:

  • We are sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. We are friends, lovers, and spouses. We are students, teachers, and mentors.
  • We are social workers, lab technicians, and police officers. We are doctors, lawyers, dentists, and accountants.
  • We are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

We have habits, preferences, interests, skills, and abilities. Some of us are neat-freaks; others do not pick up their socks. Some are dog lovers; others are “cat people”. Some of us are musical; others cannot carry a tune. A few probably play the banjo. Continue reading

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Grace

“Do not be discouraged. You…[may] not have the power to relieve yourself of sorrow or grief or pain. But Our Lord did [have that power] on the Cross. He could have turned the crown of thorns into a garland of rosebuds…He was tempted to shorten His agony, as those at the foot of the Cross taunted [Him]…But He did not come down. It is human to come down, but it is divine to hang there.”

Our Grounds for Hope, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Jesus suffered and died to restore the relationship between God and man for us, a relationship sin in its many forms had fractured [1]. His sacrifice bought our freedom from sin. We can throw those shackles down.

But believing ourselves included in Jesus’ work on the cross is a special challenge for the victims of sexual abuse. Often, we mistakenly take on the predator’s guilt – feeling “unworthy” of Salvation, as if we had somehow brought on the molestation.

Many of us are prone to workaholism. We strive past the point of exhaustion, in the belief our best efforts would not suffice. It never occurs to us that Salvation might not be dependent on our efforts, but rather Christ’s.

For if by the one man’s offense death reigned…much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5: 17).

There is no qualification standard for Salvation in Christ. He meets us where we are, even if we are broken and lost. It was for the broken and lost He came.


[1] This is not, in any way, to suggest that the victims of child abuse sinned by the abuse.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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View from the Crater

Beneath the foliage of the Yucatan peninsula and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico lies an ancient impact crater. Scientists believe this is the site where a meteor the size of Mt. Everest struck the earth, resulting in extinction of the dinosaurs.  Sixty-five million years later, geologic evidence for that impact is still present.

It is not uncommon for abuse victims to view abuse as the central event in their lives, and to define themselves with reference to it.  As with the Chicxulub crater, evidence of the abuse is still present years later.  Forever after, that destructive event (or series of events) will be the dividing line in victims’ lives: pre-abuse and post-abuse, the difference between innocence and innocence lost.

All too many women and children will die, as a result of abuse – some at the hands of a loved one, some by their own hand, years after the abuse has technically “ended”. Those who survive the trauma are likely to suffer from permanent physical and psychological symptoms, impacting all aspects of their lives.

There is nothing positive to be said about abuse.  Because of its very magnitude, however, survivors may find that abuse serves as a kind of standard against which other events can be measured.  What are office politics, by comparison? What are parking tickets, canceled flights, lost luggage, even stolen vehicles (so long as they do not generate more abuse)?

In a sense, we can draw strength from our bitter experience.  The abuse provides a unique perspective which puts many lesser things in their place. We have lived through a meteor strike.  What are mere storms to us?

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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Hydra

Guilt — true guilt — is the emotional and spiritual weight we bear as a result of the sins or infractions we, ourselves, commit [1]. The false “guilt” which plagues abuse victims is a result of sins by another.

Though misplaced, such false guilt can be accompanied by deep feelings of self-condemnation. These are not relieved by a victim’s repentance – no matter how frequent or sincere – since we cannot atone for the sins inflicted upon us.

Our best recourse with false guilt is to lay our pain and self-condemnation at the feet of the Lord, and seek His healing. This may be a lifelong process. It has been for me.

Tragically, the violation to which victims were subjected is likely to have left behind as many deep-seated scars as the Hydra had heads. That mythical beast, you may remember, regrew two heads for every one severed.

Ultimately, the Hydra was defeated. Survivors may carry lifelong scars of the abuse they suffered. They need not, however, be defeated by those scars.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8: 1).


[1] This is not, in any way, to suggest that the victims of child abuse sinned by the abuse.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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