Monthly Archives: April 2015

If You Have Survived…

Sometimes, the critical voices from all sides can be overwhelming to abuse victims (and non-victims, for that matter).  Other times, the criticism of a single loved one will become the inescapable voice in our heads. This is a little advice to tuck away for such times.

If you have survived abuse or neglect, you are not a failure [1]. Having survived at all is an achievement. The scars you bear attest to your strength, not your failure.

It is not your purpose in life to meet the expectations of others, certainly not those of family members and other loved ones incapable of loving you in return.

Obvious as this may sound, make sure you seek validation from someone actually capable of giving it to you. Some people are simply blind. They lack the ability to see you clearly. Others may find it easier to focus on your imagined defects, than their real ones.

Anyone saying you should limit yourself, rather than use the gifts God gave you, may be worried about their own limitations. Criticism that convinces you that you can do nothing right will result in your doing nothing at all.

Self-blame is a paralyzing form of abuse. Try not to engage in it. If you’ve made mistakes, learn from them. That’s how life works for all of us.

Life is always better than death. Choose life… if nothing else to spite your detractors [2].  You have at least as much right to this world as they do.

[1] This is not to suggest that the victims of abuse and neglect who did not survive were, in any sense, “failures”. The label does not apply.

[2] Small joke.  Use every tool at your disposal, including humor.



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


WARNING:  Graphic Images

News of the deliberate crash of a German airliner a few weeks ago [1] eclipsed the story of a 19 y.o. who fatally stabbed his mother and critically injured his grandmother, in the Philadelphia home the three shared [2].

The term “home” can be applied only loosely to the situation Zachary Pritchett endured. The house had no running water and few contents. Human feces covered the floor of the room to which Zachary was evidently confined. His screams, neighbors say, could be heard every night.

Whatever else went on, neighbors were aware that – year in and year out – the young man was never allowed out of the house, and never schooled. Police and the Dept. of Human Services (child protective services) were notified, again and again.  Though police responded to the house at least a dozen times in the last year alone, no action appears to have been taken.

The night before the stabbings Zachary was overheard pleading, “Please, leave me alone. Don’t do this. Let go.”

Everyone of us has a breaking point. Zachary’s rage at a lifetime of abuse and neglect finally boiled over. He is now at the tender mercies of the justice system. All things considered, it has to be an improvement.

[1] CNN, “Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz Declared ‘Unfit to Work’ Officials Say” by Faith Karimi, Michael Pearson, and Laura Smith-Spark, 3/27/15, .

[2] 6 ABC Action News/Philadelphia, “Neighbors Say Trouble in Home Preceded Fatal Double Stabbing in Bridesburg” by Chad Pradelli, 3/27/15,



Filed under Child Abuse, Community, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse

Unbiblical, Part 6 – Forgiveness v. Victims’ Rights

“ ‘And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us’ ” (Luke 11: 4).

As I have said elsewhere on this website, forgiveness is a personal matter between abuse victims and their God. Urging forgiveness on victims prematurely ignores the gravity of their trauma, and the depravity of the sins committed against them.

This amounts to a further violation. Victims will necessarily feel that Christians are siding with the predator…even condoning the abuse. Shockingly, in some cases Christians have been guilty of this.

Witness the Catholic Church sex scandal. This was, at best, a product of poor judgment, and a distorted view of Scripture. At worst, it was a cold and calculated attempt to avoid corporate responsibility, while facilitating the most heinous of crimes.

Either way, church hierarchy applied precisely the same rationale to young abuse victims, as the high priest, Caiaphas, did to Christ:  “ ‘…[I]t is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish’ ” (John 11: 50).

To be clear, forgiveness is not a “warm and cozy” feeling, on the part of victims. It is a deliberate decision by victims to leave the harm inflicted on them behind, and instead move on with their lives. Continue reading


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

Unbiblical, Part 5 – Self-Sacrifice v. Codependence

“The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

– Mother Teresa

Self-sacrifice is natural to Christians, and encouraged. Christians are to put the legitimate needs of others ahead of their own, in imitation of Christ. Mother Teresa was a shining example of this. For abuse victims, however, self-sacrifice can become confused with codependence.

Codependence as an After-Effect of Abuse

Individuals suffering from codependence will allow the emotions and behavior of others to dictate their view of themselves. Those with codependence will tolerate – even, unconsciously, seek out – relationships that are “one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive verbally or physically” [1].

Codependent characteristics include low self-esteem; fear of anger; denial of any problems with the relationship; and an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the feelings, choices, and actions of the loved one [2].

While on its face, codependence may resemble Christian self-sacrifice, there are distinct differences between the two.

The codependent individual may forego his/her goals and desires to meet the perceived “needs” of a loved one. But the underlying motive for this is not the welfare of the loved one.  It is fear.

Actually, the codependent individual is attempting to shore up his/her fragile sense of worth, strike an unspoken bargain for love and affection, and maintain the relationship at all costs (however abusive or unsatisfying it may be). An overly solicitous mother might be a crude illustration.

By comparison, Christian self-sacrifice is not the attempt to manipulate (or placate) an individual perceived as more “important” or powerful. It is, or should be, truly selfless.

Clinging to an Imitation

None of this is meant to imply that abuse victims cannot love and love intensely. The problem lies in the fact victims have not seen healthy love modeled. What feels familiar is a flawed version of love, an imitation. The real love and support victims need seem out of reach, so we cling to the imitation with all our might, confusing pain for passion. Continue reading


Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse