Monthly Archives: July 2014

Mercy

“The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”

– Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice

  • Myl Dobson, 4 y.o. was hideously tortured by New York caretaker, Kryzie King, during the final months of his life [1]. The youngster had been left with King by his incarcerated father, Okee Wade, whose custody of the boy was actually subject to court ordered supervision. Caseworkers visited the home 9 times without recognizing that the father was absent.
  • In Pennsylvania, a 7 y.o. boy was nearly starved and beaten to death by his mother, Mary Rader, and grandparents, Dennis and Deana Beighley [2]. Weighing only 25 pounds, the child was desperate enough to eat insects on the porch where he was sometimes kept. Dr. Jennifer Wolford of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Child Advocacy Center characterized the boy as “the worst case of medical neglect that I have ever seen…” Two of the boy’s sisters appeared healthy. A 9 y.o. brother was underweight, but not to the same extent.
  • Raymond Frolander’s life was saved by the 11 y.o. boy he molested [3]. The Florida boy’s father walked in on the sexual battery in progress. He beat the predator severely, then went to the kitchen for a butcher knife. According to the father, he would have killed Frolander, if his young son had not at that point intervened.

It is not unusual for victims to exhibit more concern – more mercy, if you will – for their abusers, than those abusers do for them.

What though are we to make of predators such as these? Our first instinct is to draw back in horror, to conclude that these were not human beings at all. These were wolves. Devourers. Continue reading

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Bitter Pill

“‘…and the truth shall make you free‘” (John 8: 32).

One particularly tenacious scar of abuse is the vicious criticism victims direct at themselves. In most cases, this criticism continues long after the abuse, itself, has ended. It undercuts our relationships, our endeavors, and our peace of mind.

Because the rationale behind self-criticism is not immediately clear, victims are tempted to take the criticism at face value. This can be a crippling mistake (even a fatal one, if the criticism feeds depression).

When those who preyed on us expressed their criticism of us – our behavior, our hopes and dreams, our very being – verbally, it does not require a great leap of faith to draw the conclusion that our critical inner voice is actually theirs.

What of those among us who were not verbally abused? Abuse by any other name remains abuse. Victims are not unfeeling lumps of clay. They know what is being done to them is wrong, whatever blandishments accompany the violation, whatever labels are applied.

As Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously put it, “Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked.”

Why then is it so difficult for victims to still that inner critic?

The truth at the very heart of abuse, the reason we continue to excoriate ourselves long after the abuser has gone, is that we would rather destroy ourselves than believe we meant so little to someone who should have loved us.

That is a bitter pill to swallow. But it is the medicine we need to heal from this scar.

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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Madame Mayor

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time” (Judges 4: 4).

In Turkey, a Muslim woman with a 5th grade education, married at 15 y.o. to an abusive husband, and largely confined to home all her married life, has been elected co-mayor of her district [1].

Technically, men and women have equal rights in Turkey. The reality is far different. Four in ten Turkish women polled in 2009 said they were victims of domestic violence.

Long isolated from the outside world by her husband, Berivan Kilic somehow found the courage to divorce him after fourteen years of marriage. Turkish women do have the legal right to divorce. Since employment is not widely available to women, however, they must either remarry or “fall into the streets”.

Aisan, Berivan’s mother, brokered a third alternative. Aisan convinced Berivan’s father to let Berivan move back home.

With her two young sons, Berivan returned to the house where she grew up. To support herself, she began cutting hair. And she resumed her education by studying at home. This shocked, but intrigued the small town of Kocakoy.

Along the way, Berivan joined the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The party, whose core values include gender equality, urged Berivan to run for office. Astonishingly, she won.

Local women now have a representative who understands their needs. One of Berivan’s priorities is, in fact, creating employment opportunities for women. She believes that this approach will for cultural reasons accomplish more good than a women’s shelter would. Berivan is, also, planning a crafts market for women’s handmade goods.

An act of courage saved a life, and is today changing other lives for the better.

[1] NBC News, “Turkish Teen Bride Divorces and Blazes Trail to Politics” by Emily Feldman, 6/5/14, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/turkish-teen-bride-divorces-blazes-trail-politics-n123611.

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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Breached Defenses

Do a search on variations of the title to this piece, and you will be directed to instructions on how to breach the defenses of various video games, and a few posts on breach of contract. Those are not what concern abuse survivors.

Property

Oh, our defenses were most definitely breached. Whatever meager defenses we had as children – whatever protests we made or attempted to make or wanted to make but were too confused and frightened or too young to make – were ignored and overridden as if our bodies, our souls, were the property of someone else.

Silenced

That is, in fact, how our voices were silenced. Protest was so clearly useless, what would have been the point?

Ongoing Vulnerability

But breach is one of those wounds that keep on giving. Years later, we may tolerate the unexpected groping by an older boy at the beach, the fumblings of a middle-aged optician in a darkened exam room, and despise ourselves for it, when the fault is not ours. Was never ours.

Boundaries are meant to protect us. When they have been violated physically, sexually or emotionally, we become vulnerable to further violation.

This is not an indictment against us, not a sign of weakness on our part. The fact that wounds leave scars is simply proof that we are human.  And we were, after all, children. We never had a real choice; were forced to submit to violation of the most profound kind. Continue reading

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