Monthly Archives: June 2016

Pantomime

Serbian bread, Author Srdan Vesic (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported, GNU)

Pantomime dates as far back as ancient Rome.  A form of entertainment which conveys meaning without using words, pantomime is today generally geared toward children.

That, as it turns out, is highly appropriate.

Children – especially the youngest – lack words for many of the things they experience.  They can, however, convey information without being aware of doing so.  Most of us are familiar with the use of puppets and toys to elicit information from little ones who may have been abused [1].  Pantomime can play a role, as well.

Food and Children

Food has emotional significance for children.  Food represents nurture.  It is life.  Children require both physical and emotional sustenance.  When one is lacking, the other may serve as a temporary substitute.

Food and Abuse

This can be useful in the short term.  Even as adults, we recognize the concept of “comfort” food.  However, when children are chronically deprived of love and attention, no amount of food will rectify the problem.

Unfortunately, children may ignore that reality in a futile attempt to have their emotional needs met.  Overeating can be a sign of emotional starvation [2][3].  It may, also, be a sign of sexual abuse [4].

With child molestation, a child can feel overwhelming anger, but lack the means of expressing that powerful emotion.  Food, in this context, may be used to push the anger down.  This is an instinctive response, not one consciously pursued by the child.

Lifelong Weight Issues

The child’s frantic overeating can lay the foundation for a lifelong struggle with weight.

As adults, most of us have long since forgotten what gave rise to our overeating.  Oh, we know the battle with the scale is a matter of life and death.  But our opponent is the woman in the mirror, and our motivation to get those childhood needs met.

We stuff the food down, barely tasting it, forcing our emotions down.  We eat uncontrollably, even foods we may find unappetizing.  And no matter how much we eat, we cannot get enough. Continue reading

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Honor

WARNING:   Graphic Images

Incest, the least reported form of sexual abuse, exists worldwide.  Even when incest is disclosed to other family members, a family may want to keep the abuse secret from society at large, in the name of so called “honor”.  There can, also, be governmental reluctance to investigate matters considered of a highly personal nature.

This leaves victims without recourse.

Pakistan – Human Rights Violations

Pakistan is just one country where these factors come into play [1].  The UN estimates that 36% of girls and 29% of boys in Pakistan experience sexual abuse.  An estimated 90% of street children have been sexually abused [2].

The situation is complicated by the fact that women have so little power over their own lives, and so few options other than staying in an abusive marriage.  Mothers are, in effect, as trapped as their children.

Despite this (or because of it), both mothers and fathers have been known to participate in honor killings.

Honor Killings

As long ago as 1989, Zein and Maria Isa, a Pakistani couple living in St. Louis, jointly murdered their daughter, a high school senior, for taking a part-time job at Wendy’s, and dating a boy of whom they did not approve [3].  Though the couple claimed Tina had attacked them, this was proven untrue when it was revealed the murder had been recorded.  Zein Isa had been under surveillance as a possible terrorist, and a listening device installed in the couple’s home.

Little has changed in Pakistan.  Earlier this month, 18 y.o. Zeenat Rafique was tied to a bed, then set afire by her mother and brother [4].  Zeenat’s crime was that she had married without her family’s permission. Continue reading

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20 Minutes

Brock Turner, a Stanford University athlete with Olympic aspirations, was convicted in March of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at a fraternity party.  Turner was caught in the act, and chased down by two witnesses.

Though facing up to 14 years in prison, Turner received a six-month sentence [1].  Even this slap on the wrist was viewed as excessive by his father.  Dan Turner had opined, in a letter to the court, that jail time would be “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action” [2].

While it is difficult to overstate the sheer stupidity of this remark, the remark itself is extremely revealing.  Clearly, here is a father who taught his son nothing about ethics or morality, since he himself cannot grasp the violation that occurred.  Evidently, women are merely to be viewed as sexual conquests…a convenience – like party favors – particularly if they are unconscious during the assault.

Why should a Stanford man, the cream of the crop (at least in his own eyes), be deprived of sex on demand by a little thing like consent?  A technicality, really.  The girl should have been grateful for 20 minutes of his attention.

What are 20 minutes out of a woman’s life anyway?  All she has to do is open her legs.  How much can that matter?  It’s not as if she has value, let alone rights.

“He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” the elder Turner concluded.  One cannot help but wonder whether the rape victim will ever be her happy go lucky self again either.

And whether the Turner women view things quite the same way.

[1]  A petition bearing 1 million signatures has been submitted to the California state legislature, seeking to impeach Judge Aaron Persky.

[2]  Washington Post, “‘A steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action’:  Dad defends Stanford sex offender” by Michael E. Miller, 6/6/16, http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/%E2%80%98a-steep-price-to-pay-for-20-minutes-of-action-dad-defends-stanford-sex-offender/ar-BBtUZpE?ocid=ansmsnnews11.

 

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Perfection

“Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery” by Guercino (c.1621) at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London (Accession No. DPG282) (PD)

Many abuse victims are tormented by perfectionism.  This is the unrelenting pursuit of perfection.  Perfection and perfectionism are not, however, the same.  One is, in fact, antagonistic to the other.

Perfection as a Standard

Perfection has special significance for abuse victims.  As children, abuse victims come under constant and unjustified criticism.  Harsh criticism may be accompanied by still harsher punishments, penalties far beyond anything a loving parent or guardian might administer for a childish infraction.

With time, victims conclude that perfection alone would satisfy their tormentors.  We strive to achieve that.  In reality, no amount of effort could attain the impossibly high standards set for victims.  But the effort is ingrained in us, as is the self-criticism.  So perfectionism begins.

The Need for Approval

As adults, abuse victims are frequently motivated by a need for approval.  We become “people pleasers”, conditioned “to feel bad about [our]selves and to please, appease, accommodate others” [1A].  Studies show that perfectionists of this type may “exhibit…‘a strong sense of duty, which masks underlying feelings of personal inadequacy’ ” [1B][2].

Dirt and Cleanliness

Sexual abuse can add another layer of torment.  Child victims may be too young to understand what exactly is being done to them, other than that it is a painful violation.  The violation is commonly, however, associated with cleanliness issues.  This is especially true when children are accused of being “filthy sluts”, “dirty whores”, and the like.

Having been made to feel “dirty”, children may rub dirt onto their skin and clothing.  They may soil themselves, even if long since potty-trained.  In the alternative, they may wash unceasingly; may bathe and change clothes several times a day.

As adults, the victims of sexual abuse are likely to have difficulties with sex.  They may view sex as threatening and disgusting; themselves as soiled by it.  Some can feel nothing sexually.  Others treat sex as a commodity.  Far too many throw themselves into frenzied sexual activity, in a desperate search for the love of which they were deprived.

Most abuse victims do not grow up to become prostitutes.  A great number of prostitutes (male and female) were, however, abused as children

Washed in the Blood

Verses can be found throughout the Bible which refer to cleansing [3].   These are not concerned with soap and water, but with sin and repentance.  They convey something of the power of God to forgive whatever wrongs we may have done, and “cleanse” or rid us of the evil done to us.

The Bible’s cleansing verses are not meant to suggest that abuse victims are somehow filthy or defiled.  The child victims of abuse – even sexual abuse – have NOT sinned, sexually or otherwise.  And God, above all others, understands the extent to which their adult actions may have been impacted by the sins inflicted on them as children. Continue reading

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