Abuse-Related Advocacy

Those of us committed to raising awareness of child abuse and violence against women often invest emotionally in the task. Since many of us are abuse survivors, we have a personal stake in bringing public pressure to bear on issues like the funding and oversight of foster care programs.

This is all to the good.

But the problem of abuse has long and pernicious roots. Neither child abuse nor violence against women is a new phenomenon. Both have been present throughout history, can be found worldwide, and are actually tolerated in certain cultures, if not encouraged. That makes the fight to abolish them or at least seek justice for victims extremely difficult.

Our goal is to do nothing less than change the world.

There are pitfalls associated with this fight. To begin with, depending on the cultural setting, advocacy can be dangerous. Readers will remember Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl attacked by the Taliban in 2012 for a blog post in support of women’s education.

Continual exposure to the ugly details of abuse can be disheartening. In March 2014, federal investigators shut down a global child pornography ring with over 27,000 predators [1]. Victims (mostly male) ranged in age from 3 y.o. and younger to 17 y.o.

Contact with such horrors may cause early burnout, a well recognized risk among social workers.  At a minimum, it can rob us of desire and our capacity to trust the opposite sex.

Unfortunately, the justice system is not infallible. All too often, culprits elude punishment for years, sometimes entirely, at least in this world. Because we care about victims, that fact can torment us, leading to bitterness and/or depression.

Since workaholism is one of the strategies abuse victims employ to deal with their trauma, the temptation is to throw ourselves ever more deeply into advocacy. Beyond a certain point, however, this is not productive. Instead, it is damaging to us, resulting only in exhaustion and despair.

On a spiritual level, abuse is an enormous challenge to our faith. We may find ourselves blaming God for allowing such evil to exist.

We must remind ourselves that these heinous acts are a byproduct of free will; that justice will be done against the backdrop of eternity; and that God is Sovereign.

We can rest in the knowledge that He has a plan for victims; that He is capable of filling their needs as we are not; and that He has promised to use even the brutal experience of abuse in some way for good.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29: 11).

[1] International Business Times, “Feds Arrest 14 in Massive Child Pornography Ring, ‘Operation Round Table’ Identifies Hundreds of Victims” by Philip Ross, 3/19/14, http://www.ibtimes.com/feds-arrest-14-massive-child-pornography-ring-operation-round-table-identifies-hundreds-victims.


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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Terrorism, Violence Against Women

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