Monthly Archives: October 2014

Witchcraft: Accusing the Innocent

Reports from England and Africa indicate that children are being accused of witchcraft and demonic possession by African fundamentalist Christian groups [1]. Christian beliefs have apparently been corrupted by the African tribal practices with which they are in direct odds.

Cases involving Hinduism and Islam, have, also, surfaced.

Motivated by greed and a desire for power, exorcists prey on the insecurities of others, charging exorbitant fees for their services. Families can, also, use accusations of witchcraft to dispose of an unwanted child without appearing at fault, themselves.

Complaints as vague as bed wetting, rough play between siblings, and trouble in the parents’ marriage may be considered “evidence” against a child.

Children can be starved, beaten, burned, and otherwise tortured (sometimes to death), in the effort to reclaim their souls. If the process is not considered successful, children may be abandoned to the streets. Estimates are that over 20,000 children, teens, and young adults in Kinshasa, Congo alone are homeless, as a result.

Until now such cases have not received much attention, leaving these children little recourse and less hope.

[1] NBC News, “Reports of Witchcraft-Related Child Abuse on the Rise in London” by Alexander Smith, 10/11/14,


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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion

Surviving the Fire

Read the blogs of child abuse victims and those concerned for them.  Somewhere along the line, you will find mention of what the abuse damaged or destroyed outright.

Our innocence.  Our childhood.  Our peace of mind.  Our self-confidence.  Our self-esteem.  Our ability to trust.  Our capacity to select loving partners, and sustain healthy relationships.  Our faith.  Our voice.

And from far too many, the abuse took their very lives.

For many of us, what the abuse left behind was isolation, grief, anxiety, depression, rage, and a permanent sense of violation.

Unfortunately, that we will never be the women (or men) we might have been is not helpful information.  We are who we are…marked by these scars.

In some sense, the scars are our badges – if not of honor exactly, then certainly not of shame.  We were the ones sinned against, not the ones sinning, no matter how we were made to feel about the torture inflicted upon us.

As with the veteran who has lost a limb to war or the woman who has lost a breast to cancer, this is simply our reality now. Continue reading


Filed under Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Love and Betrayal

A South Carolina man killed his 5 young children this summer [1][2]. Whatever his state of mind at the time, Timothy Ray Jones, Jr. managed to drive across several states in order to dispose of the bodies.

Social workers had visited the engineer’s home a dozen times in the last three years without removing the children. Aged one through eight, the children seemed happy and normal, though their father appeared overwhelmed by the challenge of raising them alone. Jones and his wife are divorced.

Heartbreaking photos of the three boys and two girls appeared in the press. They were smiling.

Meanwhile, the FBI opened an investigation into the abuse of deaf and autistic children at NDA Behavioral Health a/k/a the National Deaf Academy, a 22 acre residential school in Florida licensed for 60 adult and 72 child patients [3]. Patients (some dually diagnosed) have reported physical and sexual abuse, and neglect. Three patients have died under allegedly negligent circumstances since 2009.

Between 2008 and 2013, there were over 500 calls to police ranging from abuse to runaways. Experts consider this figure high. Continue reading

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We burn the eggs, drip salad dressing down the front of a new blouse. We misplace our glasses, and lock our keys in the car. We mistakenly toss our wallets down the garbage chute, along with the trash. We amass fender benders, and parking tickets. We trip with the dog food, and scatter kibble across the kitchen floor.

Human beings are imperfect…as housekeepers, dry cleaners, locksmiths, building superintendents, and highway patrol officers (not to mention our pets) can attest. Minor shortcomings such as these are the least of our failings. For abuse victims, however, even minor imperfections can be deadly.

Abusers will set impossible standards for their victims, and punishment out of all proportion to an infraction. These standards may be the very ones to which the abusers were held in childhood. Not all abusers were though abused. Nor is childhood abuse a license to abuse others in adulthood.

Some individuals will inflict pain or deprivation on their victims from outright sadism or an extreme narcissism. The abused child (or abused adult partner) is viewed as a representative of the abuser before the world. All the abuser’s insecurities are projected onto the victim, who is then seen as deficient, defective.

Often the abuse victim will strive to achieve these unrealistic standards, as much out of love as out of fear. This is not brainless. Human beings are meant to love. Unfortunately, the image we have of love can be distorted.

Victims commonly blame themselves for an abuser’s actions, preserving at all cost the delusion of an ideal parent, caregiver or spouse. For children, in particular, it is terrifying to contemplate a dangerous world without the protection of a loving adult. Easier to shut our eyes on reality, and assume the abuser’s guilt.

To regain control of our lives, we must stop lying to ourselves; must deliberately set aside the futile pursuit of perfection; and – like the rest of humanity – must come to terms with our limitations.

Thankfully, excellence does not require perfection.  Not even God does.

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Col. 3: 14).


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