Monthly Archives: October 2015

Necessary Anger

Abuse creates a deep wound, leaving behind many emotional, psychological, and spiritual scars. Our experience of reality is altered, our view of the world skewed.

Above all, abuse teaches victims that they are worthless.

Anger

Anger is a step in the process of recovery from abuse, in much the same way that anger is a step in the process of grieving. As victims, we mourn what we have lost – what has been stolen from us. The time, the innocence, the confidence.

Initially, victims may have difficulty “finding” their anger about this loss. They will frequently rationalize the actions of their abusers – minimizing the harm done, and blaming themselves for events (though without cause).

The rationalization is simply how victims cope with damage so profound they can hardly describe it, and emotions that threaten to be titanic.

When Christians characterize victims’ anger as unacceptable, they imply – intentionally or not – that victims are unacceptable to God. Instead of freeing victims from abuse, this affected piety on the part of Christians reinforces victims’ sense of worthlessness.  It pushes victims away from God, depriving them of His consolation.

Depression

In response, some victims will swallow their anger…just as they did in the abusive setting.  However, abuse impacts us at a fundamental level.  Denying our true feelings about it can produce numbness. When anger is denied, all our emotions become muted.

This is not a satisfying way to live. Worse, it puts us at great risk of depression which is often described as anger turned inward.

Detour to Christ

God understands victims’ anger.  In fact, He shares it.

But rage can, also, consume us. If we nurse our very legitimate grievances long enough, bitterness will eat away at our lives like battery acid. Christ offers us a better alternative.

Anger is, in effect, a necessary detour abuse victims take to Christ.

Forgiveness

And anger is a condition precedent to forgiveness, something many Christians fail to understand.

This is not to suggest that victims must endure Christ’s anger before they can be forgiven. Rather, victims must experience and release their own anger before they can freely choose whether or not to forgive their abusers, and move on with their lives.

Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth” (Ps. 37: 8-9).

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, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Hope

When a grievous situation persists beyond all capacity to endure it, victims of abuse can reach a point of hopelessness.

Those who have never been abused may wonder how that is even possible. Human beings were created with hope engineered into their genes. Each breath we take is a hopeful act. Each morning brings a new dawn.

But if each night brings with it the same terrors – groping hands, broken dishes and broken bones – we may abandon hope. Either that or decide hope is a sham – a delusion by evolution to induce our continued existence in the face of intolerable conditions, or the cruel hoax of an uncaring God who has long since abandoned us.

You can tell when a woman has given up hope. Violence will do that. Poverty will do it. You can see the light go out of a child’s eyes. Neglect will do that. Cruelty will do it, especially cruelty by those “nearest and dearest”.

Once hope is gone, it can be extremely difficult to restore. We dare not trust in the possibility that life may get better. We have been too often disappointed, too often disillusioned.

Counterfeit Christianity

Two brothers in upstate New York, Christopher and Lucas Leonard, ages 17 and 19, were this week beaten so severely by their parents and the members of a so called “Christian” sect that the elder died of internal injuries [1]. Bruce and Deborah Leonard have been charged with first degree manslaughter in the death of their son.

Most people will find this degree of cruelty and violence hard to grasp. It was certainly not, in any sense, Christian. Victims should not be misled by counterfeit religions labeling themselves “Christian”, but misrepresenting the brand.

Real Hope

Christianity does bear on the issue of hope. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Slavery, Violence Against Women

Doubts

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” (Rom. 12: 6).

The doubts others plant in us can be suffocating. Stifling to our spirit.

Often this starts very early, with the harsh criticism of childhood endeavors, the imposition of restrictive adult standards on children too young to fulfill them. We learn to pursue perfection – ever elusive perfection – rather than develop our own art.

That applies whatever form our “art” may take:  poetry, sculpture, music, carpentry, cooking, laughter. You name it. Denied tenderness, we are robbed of words, robbed of rhythm, robbed of savor, robbed of joy. Denied our natural way of relating to things.

It is as if our hands were cut off, our lips sewn together.

We stumble on, unable to say why it is that we feel so clumsy. Why our efforts feel awkward, inadequate. Others have learned to dance on their hands, paint with their feet. Surely, we can, as well.

We search for the fault in ourselves, certain it must be there. Knowing it must be there. This emptiness, this persistent feeling of failure, cannot be the fault of those who raised us. Can it?

Still, we falter and lose heart. Our doubts loom large. And all because the adults around us did not have imagination enough to recognize what we might become. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Religion

Christian Marriage and the Misuse of Scripture, Part 4 – Public Shame

Women are often reluctant to make abuse public, as if their lives did not matter.  Speaking out about domestic violence, and seeking help for it, are said to bring shame on the family and the church.

The truth is that abuse starts an avalanche of harm that can extend for generations. Whatever consequences flow from domestic violence, they result from the abuser’s actions – not the attempts by his victim to defend herself and her children, or escape the abuse.

The Catholic Church sex scandal illustrates how bad the organized church is at dealing with victims. Focus Ministries http://www.focusministries1.org is just one Christian organization helping the victims of domestic violence, while training churches how better to respond to abuse [1][2].

Though priests and ministers have endorsed them at times, the Scriptural passages keeping women in abusive relationships are taken out of context.  Satan uses these snippets – these lies – to undermine women’s faith, and destroy their lives.

But in Christ we are set free.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5: 1).


[1] Today’s Christian Woman, “The Silent Epidemic” by Corrie Cutrer, September 2004, http://www.todayschristianwoman.com/articles/2004/september/silent-epidemic.html.

[2] 1 Cor. 6: 1-11 and Matt. 18: 17 address conflict between Christians, and the use of secular courts. However, church intervention was never intended to shield sinful behavior, or place lives in danger.

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 Christianity, Justice, Religion, Violence Against Women