Monthly Archives: January 2015

Topsy Turvy

“Topsy turvy
Wake me
I’ve had enough
Topsy turvy
Don’t know
Which way is up
Or down
Tears on the ground”

– “Topsy Turvy” by Family Force 5

Child abuse victims are often scapegoated for the disharmony within their families.

The narrative fabricated is that child victims are troublemakers, “bad seeds”.  According to this distorted view, victims are by nature disobedient and rebellious, trying the patience of their loving families. They deliberately prompt family arguments, and “deserve” to be punished for the hurt they cause.

Outrageous as it may seem, the needs of child victims – for food, shelter, and comfort – are seen as an unreasonable burden in dysfunctional families. Victims are viewed as provoking the abuser to act as s/he does. In the case of sexual abuse, child victims are seen as “tempting” the adult, therefore, responsible for the abuse.

This is all a fiction – a false explanation for the dysfunction which allowed the abuse to occur, in the first place. It is, in effect, the rationalization of the abuser.

Any negative emotions the abuser may experience, in connection with his/her moral transgression, are projected onto the victim. The Bible story of the rape of Tamar by her brother Amnon illustrates this.

But she [Tamar] answered him, ‘No, my brother, do not force me…Do not do this disgraceful thing!’…However, he would not heed her voice; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her exceedingly…” (2 Samuel 13: 12, 14-15).

Other members of the family may buy into the narrative, in self-defense. That does not, however, give it validity.

In a topsy turvy way, the very opposite of the distorted family narrative is true. Continue reading

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Murder in the Family

Many news stories in December were overshadowed by the ongoing Ferguson controversy, the SONY hacking, and a terrorist siege in Sydney which left fatalities. Two, however, warrant our attention.

In Pennsylvania, Bradley Stone killed his ex-wife Nicole and five of her relatives before turning a knife on himself [1]. Victims included Nicole’s mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law, and a 14 y.o. niece. A 17 y.o. nephew is recovering from his wounds. Thankfully, the two Stone daughters were spared.

According to the prosecutor, Stone’s attack was clearly pre-meditated. It has been attributed to a custody dispute. Since Stone was a veteran and briefly on tour in Iraq during 2008, there was speculation that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) might have played a role. The Marines who served with Stone dispute this.

In Australia, a suburban mother (also, wielding a knife) killed seven of her own children and a niece – all youngsters between the ages of 18 months and 15 years [2]. A 20 y.o. sibling found the children. The woman unsuccessfully attempted suicide. She is now under arrest. Continue reading

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No Longer Helpless

  • In Georgia, a 13 y.o. boy missing for four years has been reunited with his mother. The boy had been held captive in a false “wall” by his father and stepmother. The pair have been charged with obstruction of justice, false imprisonment, and cruelty to children [1].
  • An even more sinister masquerade played out in Texas. There 17 y.o. Ricardo Javid Lubo enrolled in the sixth grade, apparently to recruit potential victims for purposes of child pornography [2]. The blood runs cold at the thought.

The Humane Society advocates against cruelty to animals.  Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Both Islam and Judaism emphasize the proper treatment of animals.

While I do not necessarily disagree, I would contend that the essential measure of a nation lies in how that nation treats its children.

The well-being of children is wholly dependent on the quality of care the adults around them provide. Those cruel toward animals are likely to be cruel toward human beings, as well. Like animals, children are helpless to defend themselves – their only response a muffled cry in the hall.

Children can be harmed with little effort.  They can be slapped, scalded, sexually assaulted, struck, and shaken to death.  Children can be starved for love and attention, as well as for bread.  Their souls may be withered by a word or glance; permanently scarred by a single unwanted touch.

We, however, are no longer children. While we may once have been abused, we now have the strength to reclaim our lives. And we have the power to oppose child abuse, wherever we may encounter it.

The congressman who paws interns, the priest who sodomizes altar boys, the teacher who seduces students, and the boyfriend who uses his partner’s children as a punching bag are now on notice.

Their behavior is under scrutiny. Their secret will out. There will be consequences.

That cry in the hall will no longer go unnoticed. We are no longer helpless. We are no longer alone.  And we will no longer be silenced.


[1] NBC News, Crime & Courts, “Boy Missing for 4 Years Found in ‘False Wall’ in Georgia Home: Police” by Elisha Fieldstadt, 11/29/14, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/boy-missing-four-years-found-false-wall-georgia-home-police-n258121.

[2] NBCDFW.com, “Child Porn Suspect Enrolled as a Sixth Grader” by Bianca Castro and Johnny Archer, 11/21/14, http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Two-Men-Arrested-for-Child-Pornography-283391581.html?partner=xfinity1.

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

“Opportunities in Trials” by Bill Sweeney

There is no doubt that abuse victims have suffered.  If we look around us though we will see that there are many others, also, suffering…with cancer, with cerebral palsy, with epilepsy, with infertility, with schizophrenia.  The list is nearly endless.

This post is by a man who has for 18 years suffered from ALS (Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also, known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”).  Bill Sweeney is paralyzed, using a computer to write with his eyes.  Yet he consistently writes about hope. 

You can find the original post at Bill’s website, Unshakable Hope, http://unshakablehope.wordpress.com/. I highly recommend the site.

“In the midst of a trial, the greatest temptation we face is to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. I don’t believe this is ever God’s will.

We tend to view trials as a kind of imprisonment, thinking our life is on hold until the day we’re released from the grip of the life challenge. ALS has made me a virtual prisoner of my own body for the last 18 years. It has been a very cruel warden. But I look around me and see other people fighting illness or trying to overcome addictions, depression, abuse, debt and so many other cruel masters.

We must continue to hope and pray for freedom from whatever is trying to ‘hold us,’  and we should do everything in our power to move toward that goal. But, in the meantime, we should look for opportunities for God to use us right where we are. This is what the Apostle Paul did, and I’m convinced it’s what God wants us to do.

It was from prison that Paul wrote the following: ‘Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel…'(Philippians 1:12)

We don’t usually associate the word ‘progress’ with imprisonment or any kind of trial, but I believe that we should. If we wait until we ‘have it all together’ before we try to help and give hope to others, many will go without help and die without hope.

Would I be a hypocrite telling people that God still heals when I’ve been held in the grip of a terminal disease for 18 years?

Let me answer that with another question: Was Paul a hypocrite for writing about freedom in Christ from the depths of what was likely a rat infested dungeon?

Paul was almost stoned to death by an angry mob and severely beaten other times. He also suffered from what he called ‘a thorn in his flesh’ (many Bible scholars say this ‘thorn’ was poor eye sight). Regardless, it’s unlikely that Paul was the handsome and strong man depicted in the Bible movies. After spending much of his time in prison and enduring countless beatings, he was likely pale and scarred, and probably in pain 24/7. Yet, God used this suffering servant to heal and give hope to others.

The Apostles faced the same trials, temptations and human frailties that we face. Yet, in the midst of trying to overcome their own trials and temptations and battling their own demons, they were feeding the poor, healing the sick and giving hope to others by spreading the good news.

People don’t care about how much we know until they know how much we care. Maybe we wouldn’t have truly learned to care apart from our suffering.

I hope you’re successful in keeping all of your New Year’s Resolutions, and 2015 is the best year you’ve had so far. But we cannot wait for all of our hopes to be fulfilled before we offer help and hope to others.

We overcome as we help others to overcome.”

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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The Dysfunctional Lawyer, Part 2

“A Bailiff and An Attorney – A Match for the Devil” (1760), Source Library of Congress, British Cartoon Prints Collection (Digital ID cph. 3c05267)

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

–  Dick the Butcher, from Shakespeare’s Henry VI

Despite the large number of lawyer jokes, most lawyers are not dysfunctional human beings.

We articulate and guard the rights of our clients in a non-violent arena, i.e. the courtroom, in which confrontation takes the place of combat.

And we are ethically bound to put the client’s interests before our own. That requires us, among other things, to decline (or withdraw from) cases where some mental or physical condition on our part would materially impair our ability to represent the client.

The Dysfunctional Lawyer

Regrettably, the legal profession is not free of dysfunctional individuals. Abuse victims may be especially vulnerable to such individuals, and should be on the lookout for these characteristics.

A. The Large Ego

Deservedly or not, lawyers are regularly praised by those who want something from them. That stroking can produce an enlarged ego. But a sense of self-importance is not an indication of real ability on a lawyer’s part.

The lawyer with a large ego may be entirely competent. However, s/he is likely to be difficult for clients to deal with (reinforcing the supplicant role abuse victims are seeking to escape).

Large egos are, also, fragile. They must be propped up. Alcohol and drug abuse are not unknown among lawyers. These obviously interfere with judgment. The state bar will know whether a lawyer’s license has ever been suspended or revoked.

B. Entitlement

A large ego can lead to a sense of entitlement. More than a character flaw, the sense of entitlement may cause a lawyer to rationalize the misuse of client funds to support a lavish lifestyle.

Alternatively, a sense of entitlement can be used to “justify” the initiation of a sexual relationship with an emotionally fragile client. Continue reading

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Human Contact

Ours is now a culture in which social media play an important role. The internet has made it possible to reach out to like-minded persons around the globe, on any subject, at any hour of the day or night.

We share jokes and outrage, embarrassing and touching moments. We mourn together over public and private tragedies. We exchange recipes and voice political opinions. Sometimes wearing a disguise or the mask of anonymity, we disclose long held secrets or live out fantasies. We unburden ourselves to strangers.

Why are we drawn to do this? Why do we find this electronic avenue of communication so compelling?

It is in the nature of men and women to tell their stories. Being human, we crave human contact. We reach out in an effort both to distinguish ourselves as individuals, and find acceptance by the group. Social media have enlarged our potential audience exponentially, greatly increasing the chances we will find acceptance…by some group, at least.

To that extent, social media have facilitated connection. They have, also, however, increased risk. There are predators of all types trawling for victims. We warn our children against these, and rightly so.

The more subtle danger derives from loneliness. Young people and the victims of abuse are especially vulnerable to feelings of isolation. Nothing illustrates this better than the recent suicide by transgender teen, Joshua (“Leelah”) Alcorn [1].

With the technology available to overcome isolation, there appears little reason not to make use of it.

But there is a distinction between virtual friends and those we can actually see and touch. We have much less information about virtual friends, on which to base our judgment of them. We fill in the blanks based on hope, not data.

Similarly, virtual friends (even if well-intentioned) have much less information about us, on which to base their comments and advice, than flesh and blood friends…and are much less likely to help us move a couch.

We need human contact. Social media alone cannot fill that need.

[1] NBC News, US News, “ ‘Fix Society’: Transgender Teen Leelah Alcorn Posted Plea Before Suicide” by Tracy Connor, 12/31/14, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/fix-society-transgender-teen-leelah-alcorn-posted-plea-suicide-n277666.

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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