Monthly Archives: July 2015


Night sky with stars and tree, author Michael J. Bennett (BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Since time immemorial lovers have gazed up at the night sky. But the stars were not created for lovers alone. Many have sought consolation from their distant beauty.

What is it about the stars that speaks to us? Their perfection takes our breath away. They remind us how small we are, and fill us with a childlike wonder.

The stars have inspired scientists and poets — some to explore the universe, others to uncover the secret workings of the heart. In every culture, the stars have given rise to myths and legends. And the stars have obliged, displaying our heroes on a grand canvas. Some even believe their fates governed by the stars.

Diamonds left scattered as casually as pebbles on a dark beach, the stars whisper that the world might not be as flawed and cruel as it seems to abuse victims. They dare us to dream of a better future, of a life without pain.

Outer and inner space:  God knows them both. In Him there is hope and healing…no matter how broken we may be.

Above all, that is the promise the stars hold out to us.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name” (Ps. 147: 3-4).



Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Religion, Violence Against Women

Hansel and Gretel

WARNING:  Graphic Images

  • Jack Garcia, a 9 year old Maryland boy, was hand-cuffed and beaten mercilessly by his mother’s boyfriend for eating a slice of birthday cake without permission [1]. Robert Wilson then refused to allow the child medical attention for over four hours. A neighbor called 911, but Jack’s mother turned EMS workers away. By the time they returned, Jack had stopped breathing. Somehow the boy clung to life for almost 5 more days in the hospital, before dying of his injuries. It is expected that Wilson’s charges will be upgraded from assault and child abuse.
  • South Carolina parents, James and Crystal Driggers, have been arrested for forcing their 14 year old daughter to live alone in a tent in the woods, as punishment for eating a pop-tart without permission [2]. The girl was allowed nothing more than a roll of toilet paper, a flashlight, a whistle, and a watch in an area known for wild hogs. As food, the girl was given a can of spaghetti-o’s. She was not to return home for a week. Rescued by her grandmother during a severe thunderstorm, the girl was sent back to the tent by her parents. Investigation revealed she had been regularly turned out of their home for 10 hours at a time over the past month, denied water and the use of bathroom facilities during a period of 100 degree heat. The girl was taken to Social Services. Five other children were removed to their grandmother’s custody. The Driggers have been charged with unlawful neglect of a child. More charges are possible.

The punishment inflicted on these children for the most minor and understandable infractions exceeded all bounds of human decency. We search in vain for explanations for such degeneracy.

Few would treat a dog the way these helpless children were treated. And over a question of permission…as if that made the hell to which the children were subjected excusable.

Children are entitled to have their basic needs met – physical, emotional, and psychological.

Imagine how desperately this forsaken boy and girl longed for something good to eat, anything at all to eat. I cannot help but think of Hansel and Gretel, victimized by the witch. Though the children in that fairytale were hungry, too, at least their tormentor was not a family member.

How much more did these flesh and blood children long to hear a kind word, do you think?

Parents, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged [disheartened and dispirited; their spirits…broke through grief and trouble…or despairing of having any share in the affections of their parents…]” (Col. 3:21 NIV, with commentary from Gill’s Exposition).

Parenthood is a privilege and a blessing, whether it is recognized as that or not. Tenderness is – or should be – a prerequisite. If government intervention were not such a blunt instrument, an argument could almost be made in favor of licensing. At least in theory then permission could be denied the unfit.

[1] Daily News, “Maryland Boy Brutally Beaten for Eating Birthday Cake Dies in Hospital: Officials” by Boyle Murphy, 7/6/15,

[2] NBC News, “Parents Forced Daughter to Live in Woods After Eating Unauthorized Pop-Tart: Police” by Kathryn Robinson, 7/6/15,



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

Abuse Victims and Failure, Part 3 – A Fresh Perspective

“ ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all…

– Emily Dickinson

Abuse skews the perspective we have on our lives. But our viewpoint (and the labels we choose to apply to our experiences) can make a surprising difference.

What others may call “failures” can be seen as new avenues of exploration or stepping stones to the next success.

  • Thomas Edison made thousands of unsuccessful attempts at creating the light bulb. When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail so often, Edison responded that he had not failed. He had merely ruled out ways that would not work.
  • Babe Ruth was famous for his home run record. But for decades Ruth, also, held the record for strikeouts. He hit 714 home runs, but struck out 1330 times in his career. Ruth said about this, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

“I’ve failed over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.”

– Michael Jordan

The Chance to Start Again

We can view failure as a chance to start again, with more knowledge than we had before [1].

  • The industrialist Henry Ford, the department store magnate RH Macy, and the animator/studio head Walt Disney all filed for bankruptcy, at some point. Yet they are considered exemplars of innovation whose vision changed the world.

Not Counted Out Yet

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”

– Audrey Hepburn

True, we face enormous challenges as abuse victims. True, we may be exhausted from a decades-long battle with the after-effects of abuse. But we should not count ourselves out too soon. Continue reading

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

Abuse Victims and Failure, Part 2 – Bad Advice

“Well, you can knock me down,
Step in my face,
Slander my name
All over the place.

Do anything that you want to do, but uh-uh,
Honey, lay off of my shoes
Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes…”

– Elvis Presley, Blue Suede Shoes

Discouragement from those significant in our lives often accompanies abuse. Sadly, we may adopt the negative opinion others have of us based on their own shortcomings.

But bad advice is simply misdirection – not an infallible predictor of our future. The important thing is that it not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • The author of a beloved 19th Century girls’ novel worked as a maid, seamstress, companion, and teacher. Thankfully, Louisa May Alcott found her true calling, and left us the classic Little Women.

Taught to Fear

  • Lucille Ball said that all acting school taught her was to be frightened. Ball, of course, became one of the most popular comediennes in America, starring in such sitcoms as I Love Lucy. She was nominated for thirteen Emmy Awards, winning four (along with a Lifetime Achievement Award).

Abuse victims are taught to fear. Change is viewed as negative, and the new as dangerous.

This attitude passed on to us – if we remain bound by it – makes progress impossible, and success unattainable. Genuine opportunities are missed, since their negative consequences always appear to outweigh any benefit.

Meanwhile, real risk is not accurately assessed. Danger is not perceived, so we rush headlong into its arms – sometimes in the very effort to escape our past [1]. When harm follows (frequently in the form of further abuse), we question our judgment and become ever more fearful.

Trained not to trust our abilities, we cannot conceive of overcoming the obstacles in our path. Yet, it must be added, a remarkable number of us do overcome them. Ironically, our pain is sometimes the impetus for change.

Without guidance, support, or even much confidence, we ignore the odds against us, and persevere regardless. Continue reading


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