Monthly Archives: February 2015

War Wounds

“I am blind to beauty for I have seen the ugliness of war,
My heart discard, my soul’s an open sore,
My spirit’s broken, and my body is not well,
For I have seen the smoke and fire
And passed through the gates of hell… ”

– Kevan Lyons, The Poet of Churchill Square

These are grave times.  Terrorism stalks the world, striking without warning or mercy.  I can think of no better analogy for abuse.

Abuse is a conflict in which children’s lives are the battlefield; a conflict in which children go unarmed, yet have war wounds inflicted; a conflict in which children will never be victors.

Under wartime conditions of deprivation and abandonment, the simplest word of encouragement is denied a young heart.  Under wartime conditions of violence and destruction, the most defenseless among us are battered and broken.  Under wartime conditions of rape and pillage, basic sexuality becomes an item of commerce, and a lifelong source of pain.

Little wonder that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — first identified in the combat setting centuries ago — is common among abuse victims, as well. Continue reading

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Healing from Abuse

Child abuse – whether physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or neglect – is likely to have permanent consequences. The wounds of abuse are grievous, inflicted when we are most vulnerable.

The extent to which we heal varies from one victim to the next, as does the rate at which healing takes place. This makes perfect sense. Victims are violated at various ages, for varying lengths of time, in countless evil ways. They have unique internal resources, and varying degrees of external support (sometimes none).

All these are factors in recovery. We must not, therefore, gauge our progress by that of others.

The “Inner Child”

Experts often refer to the wounded “inner child”. This is not to suggest that victims develop multiple personalities, though some may. It is an abbreviated means of saying we remain sensitive to issues relating to abuse, and – at an emotional level, at least – retain a strong recollection of the trauma inflicted on us.

Misplaced “Coping” Strategies

Unable to defend themselves against abuse, some children adopt desperate strategies in the effort to cope with it. These childhood strategies may continue into adulthood, becoming a hindrance where they once served a legitimate purpose.

Dissociation is one such strategy. The child, in effect, imagines himself or herself elsewhere while the abuse is taking place. This is the “out of body” experience. Dissociation may later be triggered by events which recall (or mimic) the abuse. Though meant to be protective in nature, dissociation can produce serious gaps in a victim’s memory. Continue reading

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Innocence

I cannot claim to have written this piece, but I wish I had.  (Anyone able to identify the author is asked, please, to let me know.)

The torment sexually abused children endure – the pain they carry for a lifetime – raises the eternal question of why God would permit evil to flourish.

Abuse can only be understood (if at all) against the backdrop of Christ’s own suffering.

As with Pharaoh’s murder of Jewish infants at the time of Moses’ birth, and the massacre of the innocents by Herod the Great following Jesus’ birth, the horrors inflicted on children by sexual predators are inexcusable.

Yet the image of children so violated may be as close to a likeness of Christ on the cross as can be had in this fallen world.

Lamb of God

Few among us would not give his/her life for the life of a child, if called on to do so. We would not hesitate. These little lambs are precious to us.

So, too, with Christ. The sinless Paschal lamb offered Himself as the Lamb of God for the atonement of our sins. Recall that John the Baptist exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” when he saw Jesus (John 1: 29).

This sacrifice by Christ was accomplished from a love so great we can barely conceive of it.

Suffering Servant

Christ is, also, described as the Suffering Servant in scripture (Isaiah 52: 13 – 53: 12).

Jesus took on a human nature in willing obedience to the Father. He was pierced and wounded on earth; His status as Lord was not grasped. Yet, the revulsion at His disfigured appearance will be replaced with great wonder. Nations will bow down before Him in adoration. Broken, He will be exalted.

Abused children differ in that they are incapable of consenting to their abuse. No one can argue that a crucified God does not understand their suffering. Why then would He allow it? This is the heart of the matter.

Battlefield

There has long been a war under way between good and evil, with the earth its venue. In reality, that war was won by Jesus’ death and resurrection. However, spiritual battles continue daily.

The adversary has the “advantage” of using even the most horrific means to accomplish his ends, to turn us from God and inflict pain upon Him. Our suffering does just that, i.e. grieve God as we are grieved when our own children suffer.

This is the context in which abuse takes place. Harm inflicted on the most vulnerable among us is a cunning weapon by the adversary against God.

But good triumphs over evil, as love is stronger than hate. At the end of time – a point which only God can determine – evil will be defeated and the scales of justice finally balanced. Like the martyrs under the altar (Revelation 6: 9-11), we wait anxiously for that day.

Sanctification

Meanwhile, we are conformed by God to the image of Christ. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen had this to say about the sanctification process by which this takes place:

“Sanctity, then, is not giving up the world. It is exchanging the world [for something better]. It is a continuation…of the Incarnation in which Christ said to man: ‘…You give Me your time, I will give you My eternity… You give Me your slavery, I will give you My Freedom. You give Me your death, I will give you My Life. You give Me your nothingness, I will give you My All.’ And the consoling thought throughout this whole transforming process is that it does not require much time to make us saints; it requires only much love.”

Day by day, mile by mile, we follow in the Lord’s footsteps – each carrying the particular burden we have been allotted. At times, we stagger forward only by the Lord’s strength. Ours is spent.

It is love – God’s love for us, and ours for Him – which supports this impossible endeavor, and achieves this impossible goal. Not threat, not fear.

The adversary has lost, defeated by a holy God… and the weakest among us.

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Conned

A New Jersey nurse conned by the man she had hoped to marry has turned her attention to changing the state rape law [1]. Mischele Lewis wants scammers such as the one who victimized her treated as sex offenders.

Lewis met William Allen Jordan through an online dating service. He gave her a false name, false employment history, and false marital history. Only after the two had become engaged, and Mischele was pregnant, did she discover Jordan’s true identity and background.

As it turned out, William Allen Jordan had a bevy of ex-wives and fiancees, along with 13 children by 6 different women. One of Jordan’s British victims had gone so far as to write a book about him. Worse yet, Jordan had been convicted of child molestation, and had served time in prison for bigamy and fraud before becoming involved with Mischele.

On her own initiative, Mischele Lewis devised a sting operation that resulted in Jordan’s arrest. She compiled bank statements, emails, and photos; and secretly recorded conversations with Jordan. He subsequently pleaded guilty, and is facing a three year sentence.

Lewis does not believe this is adequate.

Since her consent to the relationship with Jordan was obtained under false pretenses, Mischele Lewis argues that Jordan’s scam amounted to sexual assault by deception. The New Jersey courts do not currently approve this theory of liability, which is why Lewis has been lobbying the legislature for a change in the law. Assemblyman Troy Singleton has now drafted the necessary bill.

Opponents of the proposed change contend that the new law could be so broadly interpreted as to turn common seduction ploys into potential felonies. It may be reprehensible for traveling salesmen to pretend they are single (when that is not the case) or for suitors to portray themselves as wealthier than their bank accounts might reflect. The question is: Should this behavior be criminalized?

Mischele Lewis maintains that women deserve protection against con men who take sexual advantage of them, as well as financial.

Something to watch.

[1] NBC News, “ ‘I Wanted Justice’: Con Victim Turns Focus to Changing Rape Law” by Jon Schuppe, 1/24/15, http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/i-wanted-justice-con-victim-turns-focus-changing-rape-law-n291661.

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