Monthly Archives: December 2015


“Long lay the world, in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

O, Holy Night

The victims of abuse do not, for the most part, think of themselves as nice. Not “really” nice. Not white glove, blue hair nice. Not church twice a week nice. Not first tier, upper crust, silver tea tray nice.

We know what goes on behind the lace curtains. We have seen the underbelly of life, the face of evil hidden from public view.  We have been told we are worthless, and treated as if we were. Beaten, spit upon, handled in ways that left us feeling dirty.

But good manners are not the measure of our humanity, whether we have or lack them. Salvation does not require good breeding and a sterling reputation. The silver tea trays and white gloves are irrelevant.

It was not “nice” for Jesus Christ to associate with tax collectors. It was not “nice” for Him to heal lepers or hemorrhaging women. Lepers (Lev. 13: 45) and bleeding women (Lev. 15: 19) were, in fact, considered ritually unclean. It was certainly not “nice” for Jesus to pardon prostitutes.

It may have been compassionate, even merciful.  But it was not “nice”.

What Christ offered these desperate people was redemption, transformation beyond anything that could be accomplished through worldly means alone. For that He was castigated, and ultimately crucified. Continue reading


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

Innocents – Lost Along the Way

So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every [Hebrew] son who is born you shall cast into the river…’ ” (Ex. 1: 22).

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under…” (Matt. 2: 16).

Nearly four thousand years ago, a pharaoh ordered all male infants born to an ethnic minority drowned. Seventeen hundred years later, a king ordered all male children aged two and under slaughtered.

Innocents are still being slaughtered. Some die quickly by sword or gunshot, some die slowly by disease and starvation.  And some die at the hands of those who should love them.

A powerful ruler attempted to exterminate an ethnic minority. But God brought forth a deliverer, Moses, and the nation Israel was born. A cruel king attempted to defend his throne against a babe born in a manger. But God brought forth Jesus Christ, the Redeemer for all nations and all peoples on the earth.

In the end, good triumphs.  There are all too many casualties lost along the way.  But good triumphs.  That is worth holding onto.

Have a Merry Christmas!



Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Politics, Poverty, Religion, Terrorism

Facing Off with Giants

WARNING: Graphic Images

  • Imagine yourself a young child – boy or girl – perhaps 4-6 years of age. You are innocent, tender. You stand less than 4 feet tall, weigh less than 50 lb…the size of a 17 month old striped bass. Despite that you are struck, slapped, and beaten with a belt. You have bottles thrown at your head, and cigarettes put out on your back. The adults at home alternately rage at you for breathing and forget to feed you.
  • Imagine yourself a 13 y.o. girl. You stand just over 5 feet tall, weigh just under 100 lb. Your body has started to change. You are alternately puzzled, proud, and self-conscious about this. Your stepfather has noticed, as well. Assuming he is of average build, he has a 10” height and 95 lb weight advantage over you. And he is a grown man.


Children regularly face off with giants.

Unlike adults, children have no authority; no way to force their will on an adult, and no real way to defend themselves. Children have no training in military tactics, no training in marshall arts. Apart from their own violation, they have no knowledge of seduction.

Impact of Trauma

When the adults whom children love and trust are the ones inflicting harm on them (or on one another), children experience intense physical and emotional reactions.

A. Pre-Schoolers

Broadly speaking, pre-schoolers will feel distress, and overwhelming helplessness in such situations. It is a mistake to assume a young child will not recall traumatic events.

B. School Age Children

School age children may believe they failed to assist a parent against whom violence is perpetrated, as if they could somehow have prevented the harm. Sexual molestation occurs at the highest rate among children in this age category. Easy targets for predators, school age children are likely to feel confusion, guilt, and shame.

C. Teens

Teens have more developed coping skills, and a better (if still rudimentary) understanding of what is taking place when abuse occurs. However, they may mistakenly see themselves as responsible for the abuse. On the positive side, teens may share the experience with one or more close friends. On the negative, they may view violence or self-harm as viable options. Continue reading


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

Happy Ending

This will be the first Christmas in over a decade that Julian Hernandez and his mother get to spend together. The 18 y.o. was kidnapped at the age of five by his father. The young man only learned of his abduction when he found his Social Security number invalid, on applying to college [1].

The Hernandez case illustrates the lengths to which parents will go in custody disputes. Nearly one in ten missing children have been kidnapped by a family member [2]. Frequently, the intention in these cases is to prevent contact by the other parent or permanently alter custodial arrangements, rather than cause physical harm to the child.

Over 200,000 children are kidnapped by family members each year [3]. The figure may actually be higher. It is estimated 40% of family abductions are never reported to police. Younger children are at greater risk of such abductions than older ones.

The situation is complicated when children are taken across state and national borders.

The larger context for family abductions is the dysfunctional family setting. The Hernandez case had a happy ending. Not all abductions do.

[1] Complex – Pop Culture, “Teen Finds Out He’s Been Missing for 13 Years When He Applies to College” by Debbie Encalda, 11/5/15,

[2] Polly Klaas Foundation, “National Child Kidnapping Facts”,

[3] US Department of Justice, National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Throwaway Children (NISMART II), “Children Abducted by Family Members: National Estimates and Characteristics” by Heather Hammer, David Finkelhor, and Andrea Sedlak, October 2002.



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