Monthly Archives: August 2014

Above Rubies

Cut Ruby Gemstone, Photo by Humanfeather (CC Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Universally, abuse undermines the self-esteem of its victims, often destroying self-worth entirely. This applies whether victims are male or female, children or adults when the abuse takes place.

Erosion

We view ourselves as deficient, defective, often as responsible for the abuse (which we definitely were not), and sometimes as deserving of it (which no one is).

Predators rely on this erosion, actively seeking to engineer it. Damaged self-esteem makes victims more vulnerable, more pliant, increasing a predator’s power over his/her victims.

We may be told that we are “ugly, stupid, worthless turds” and “whores” at the age of 3. Reality has no bearing on the insults and accusations hurled against us. And the closer our relationship is with the abuser (a parent, for instance), the deeper the wound.

Pain and Misperception

The pain can be unbearable, leading many victims to drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, eating disorders, and other self-destructive behaviors. All too often that pain clouds our perception of ourselves. We can see only the negative, our mistakes and shortcomings…even when they are non-existent.

Self-Hatred

Self-loathing will persist long after the physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect has ended. The self-hatred stemming from abuse can interfere with subsequent relationships, and contribute to suicide years later. Continue reading

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Good Men

Despite what some women may have experienced, there are good men out there. The trick can be finding them. For that, we have to apply appropriate criteria [1] [2].

While this is not a dating guide, I offer you some of the Bible’s advice on the topic. The language may sound old fashioned, but the sentiments apply to our day.

A good man exemplifies integrity, both in his public and private life. This should be the standard women, also, demand of themselves.

If I have walked with falsehood, Or if my foot has hastened to deceit, Let me be weighed on honest scales, That God may know my integrity” (Job 31: 5-6).

A good man deals justly with others, whatever their status. 

If I have despised the cause of my male or female servant When they complained against me, What then shall I do when God rises up?…Did not He who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same One fashion us in the womb?…” (Job 31: 13-15, 21-22).

A good man sets godly priorities in his life, actively living out his faith. This means more than his just attending church on Sundays. It involves forgiving others; extending help to the needy; and trying to do right in all things. It does not involve a pompous or superior attitude. Continue reading

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Depression Rules

Dark Sky, Photo by Antero Pires, Source flickr (CC A-SA, 2.0 Generic)

O my God, my soul is cast down within me…” (Ps. 42: 6).

There is as yet no known cure for depression, a mood disorder from which many abuse victims suffer.

Depression is a serious medical condition, and potentially fatal, as the recent death of comedian, Robin Williams illustrates.  Depression sufferers should be under the care of a medical professional.

That said, here are a few practical suggestions for coping. I cannot take credit for having developed these, but I have employed them.  I hope they may assist you, as well.

Whatever has caused or contributed to your depression, you are not alone. There is help available. There are people who will understand. Reach out. You are worth the effort.

1. Have a medical work-up.

Depression can be caused by a large variety of factors. Rule out such physical causes as heavy metal exposure, hypoglycemia, and drug side effects.

2. Be kind to your body.

Eat nourishing meals at regular intervals. Go to bed and rise at regular hours (even if you’re tempted to stay up all night, and wander the house). The patterned behavior will help your body (and mind) regain health.

3. Make sure of daily human contact.

The tendency will be to self-isolate. Let friends know you may not have the energy to call them. Ask that they call, text or email you. If nothing else, chat briefly with the mail carrier or store clerk.

4. Exercise.

Research increasingly points to exercise as an antidote for depression. This can involve a walk around the block or something more vigorous. As a secondary benefit, exercise will aid with sleep. Continue reading

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All the Jenises

The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1: 7).

A little girl named Jenise died this week [1]. Just six years old, Jenise was raped and murdered by a seventeen year old neighbor in the Washington trailer park where she lived. The teen accused of the crime has been arrested.

But Jenise was not the only child in jeopardy in recent weeks. Around the globe, children’s lives have been at risk from factors equally beyond their control.

  • Shrapnel-torn corpses rained from the sky, after Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by separatists in the Ukraine [2]. The belongings of children were randomly scattered across the debris field.
  • Children in Gaza are dying as a by-product of Israel’s ground war there [3]. Both sides have blood on their hands. The practice by Hamas of shielding military operations by civilian targets has contributed to the death toll. Misdirected fire by Hamas has, also, resulted in the death and injury of children. As of this writing, the rocket bombardment by Hamas which initiated the conflict continues.
  • In Iraq, some quarter million refugees have fled in advance of the Islamic militant group ISIS [4]. Some 40,000 of these (including 25,000 children) from a Kurdish religious sect that predates Islam have been under siege on Mt. Sinjar without supplies. The United States is now providing aid and cover on a limited basis.
  • The world’s worst Ebola outbreak is raging in West Africa, with fears it will spread [5]. The disease has a fatality rate as high as 90%. Over 900 deaths have occurred to this point. Children who have not themselves contracted the disease may still lose one or both parents to it.

Few things drive home our crushing limitations more so than the death of children does. War, crime, and illness pull back the curtain on a painful reality, and we see clearly how little control we have over our lives. That information can rock us to our core.

We may never understand, on an emotional level, why God allowed Jenise’s suffering. We can be sure, however, her suffering pained Him, more even than it does us.

God hears the cries from Gaza and Mt. Sinjar, as He does those from Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. He knows all the Jenises.

At a time like this – when lights seem to be going out across the world – it is more urgent than ever we keep faith and bear witness to the truth. God is not impotent. Nor has He abandoned us. To the contrary, He gave His life for ours.

Men and women of goodwill play a vital role in sharing the love of God with the world, and spreading the Good News of Salvation. We must not permit what appears the increasing presence of evil to undermine our resolve. Continue reading

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Dry Bones

Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” ’ ” (Ezek. 37: 12).

The Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel had a widely known vision in a valley of dry bones.

The corpses there had been scorched by the sun, picked over by vultures and jackals. God spoke to Ezekiel and asked if the bones could live again, to which Ezekiel replied that only God knew the answer. God then instructed Ezekiel to prophecy, and life was restored to what was a vast army.

Though Bible commentators agree that the bones were a symbol of Israel, this passage has a highly personal meaning for me.

Many times in my life I have been at the end of my strength.

As an abuse survivor, I have walked lonely beaches at night, and cursed hope for drawing me forward toward another dawn. As an advocate for the poor and a lawyer responsible for the welfare of clients and staff, I have fought many a losing battle. As a woman with chronic health problems, I have sat in emergency rooms at 3AM, and more than once lain prostrate in public restrooms, unable even to call for help.

Rarely did God make Himself known to me, in these circumstances. Unlike Ezekiel, I saw no visions, heard no voices. But at all times God was present. It was from God my strength derived, and He that carried me through the worst ordeals. Continue reading

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