Monthly Archives: July 2016

Precious Cargo

Baby carseat, Author Snibban (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Twenty-three young children so far this year have died after being left in locked cars by their caregivers [1].  The average is 133 per year [2].

The majority of these deaths were unintended.  Intended or not, the temperature in a locked car – even a light-colored car with the windows partly open – can rise to 125 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes [3].

The signs of heat stroke include hot, dry skin; dehydration; and extremely high fever.  Even healthy babies are at risk for heat stroke.  In a moderately warm environment, babies in good health may already run a temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

As humidity rises, perspiration (the primary cooling mechanism of the body) becomes less effective.  In babies, clothing, cushioned seats, and the placement of an infant carrier below window-level further reduce evaporation.

There are devices available and in development to remind a parent or guardian of the baby in the backseat.  These range in price from $25 and up.  Women can, also, make a habit of placing their handbags in the backseat (adjacent to the baby).  Few women will leave a car without first retrieving their handbag.

Nothing can replace mindfulness of the precious cargo we carry.

[1]  ABC 7 – Eyewitness News,  “Number of Child Hot-Car Deaths in 2016 Reaches 23”, 7/28/16,  http://abc7.com/family/number-of-child-hot-car-deaths-in-2016-reaches-23/1445637/.

[2]  Thingamababy, “A Look at Three Child Car Heat Death Safety Devices”, 7/19/07, http://www.thingamababy.com/baby/2007/07/babysafety.html.

[3]  Injury Prevention, “Heat Exposure in an Enclosed Automobile” by Lynn Gibbs, David Lawrence, and Mel Kohn, MD (reprinted from Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society, Vol. 147 (12) 1995), http://www.injuryprevention.org/states/la/hotcars/hotcars.htm.

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, Neglect

Progress

Lawyer Belva Ann Lockwood, Authors Matthew Brady/Levin Corbin Handy, Source Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division http://loc.gov/pictures/resource/cwpbh.04374/ (PD)

Roger Ailes (founder, Chairman, and CEO of the Fox News Channel) has stepped down in the face of a barrage of sexual harassment complaints by female employees.  An investigation by parent corporation, 21st Century Fox, in response to a lawsuit by Gretchen Carlson, uncovered at least 20 similar claims, capped by that of star anchor, Megyn Kelly [1].

Fox has long been known for a frat boys atmosphere, so this is progress.

When I first thought about becoming a lawyer, there were only 3%-4% women in the American legal profession.  At the first client gala I ever attended, the senior partner introduced me with the words, “This is the shape lawyers come in now.”  At the first golf outing I ever attended, I could not join clients at the bar.  It was restricted against women.

Conservatively attired in the most formal business suits I could find, I was in the early days routinely mistaken for witnesses, court reporters, and women from the services responsible for tracking court dates, until I identified myself as the lawyer on a case.  I was paid less than my male counterparts, often working longer hours, but made partner at a time that was still a rare achievement for women.

Mind you, Belva Ann Lockwood (1830-1917) had been the first woman lawyer to argue before the US Supreme Court a full century earlier. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Justice, Law

Jellyfish

Cyanea jellyfish, North Sea, Author Ole Kils olekils@web.de (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported, GNU Free Documentation License)

Jellyfish are equipped with stinging tentacles used to paralyze, capture, and kill their prey.  The largest known specimen, the lion’s mane or giant jelly, has tentacles which can reach 120 feet in length.  That is longer than a blue whale.

The sting of a jellyfish can be agony.  In humans, that sting can cause burning and blistering of the skin, difficulty breathing, changes in heart rate, chest pain, abdominal cramps, vomiting, muscle spasms, numbness, weakness, and collapse.

The tentacles can sting, even after a jellyfish has died.

The Tentacles of Abuse

Like jellyfish, abuse has long tentacles.  Rather than extending into deep water, those tentacles extend across the years.  But their sting can still be agony.  Like the tentacles of jellyfish, the tentacles of abuse can paralyze, capture, and in some cases kill.

Real Wounds

Whether we suffer with physical ailments and visible scars or with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, the wounds stemming from our abuse are severe and real.  We are not weak.  We are not malingering.

It is, in some ways, easier when our wounds can be seen by the naked eye.  Burns are recognizable as such.  By contrast, the wounds of many abuse victims cannot be bandaged or sutured.  Invisible, those wounds can yet be deadly.

Long-Term Damage

Because it was inflicted early in our lives, while we were most vulnerable, the damage done by abuse is long-lasting and multi-faceted.  Victims must endure it for decades, across the full range of life activities.  This can be exhausting.

Eventually, we may feel overwhelmed by anxiety or depression, as if we were drowning; may feel trapped by our past, despite our best efforts; may feel wrongly that ending our lives is the only way out. Continue reading

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

Becoming Ourselves

Photo of artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, by her husband, Alfred Stieglitz (PD).  Though O’Keeffe’s vision was compromised by macular degeneration in later years, she continued to work well into her 90s.

It has been said that we become more ourselves, as we grow older.  Superficial beauty fades, and a softer (or, in some cases, starker) beauty takes its place.  This incorporates our scars, evidence of the life we have lived, with and without our consent.

We long, in youth, to be part of a larger whole – the beloved or a noble cause, perhaps.  The paths we take determine greatly – and depend greatly on – whether or not that happens.

The heart calls us to venues and ventures we would never have thought ourselves capable of pursuing, let alone achieving.  Sometimes though it seems we are being led.  Not by our desires alone, but by some external force.

“…[H]e made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver” (Isa. 49: 2).

Most of us must deal with tragedy, along the way.  Some lives are cut short by it.  Grief and loss can arise from many causes in this imperfect world:  abuse, racism, poverty, and violence, to name a few.

We are shaped by these experiences, and can be broken by them.  Chances are, we will be forced to make difficult choices.  Almost everyone is.

For a tree branch to be made into an arrow, it must be stripped of leaves (John 15: 2); fired, so as to become pliable (Isa. 48: 10, Rom. 5: 3 and 8: 28, James 1: 2-4, 1 Pet. 1: 6-7); straightened (Eph. 2: 21 and 4: 15-16, Heb. 10: 24-25); sanded (Heb. 12: 7-11); and oiled (Ps. 104: 15, Gal. 5: 22-23, Eph. 5: 18) [1].

Ultimately, the arrow finds its target.  So, too, will our lives, in God’s hands, find their intended target…even if that target is not what we originally supposed.

We can rely on that.

[1]   All credit for this information about arrow construction, and the biblical citations associated with it goes to Fountaingate Christian Foundation. See, ChurchLink, Bible Study Warehouse, Series:  The Call – Lesson 7,  “Preparation for Ministry”,  http://www.churchlink.com.au/churchlink/bible_studies/call/call7.html. Copyright © 1981, 1996 Paul Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved.

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, Poverty, Religion, Terrorism, Violence Against Women

Humpty Dumpty

Illustration of Humpty Dumpty from “Denslow’s Mother Goose” by William Wallace Denslow, Source http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/18546 (Literary Work – Author’s Life plus 70 years, PD)

We tend to have little sympathy for Humpty Dumpty. What was he doing on that wall, anyway? Surely, he must have known how fragile and ungainly he was.

No one is certain of the origin of the nursery rhyme. Some have speculated that Humpty Dumpty may have been a parody of the evil (and humpbacked) King Richard III. Other possibilities have been put forward.

Whatever his origins, Humpty has found himself in a number of literary works, among them Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll and Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce.

Abuse victims have a surprising amount in common with Humpty Dumpty. Our lives, like Humpty’s, were shattered by traumatic events. And we, too, may find ourselves in strange places.

The human mind is amazingly resilient.  When subjected to severe trauma it may involuntarily disconnect or dissociate from reality.  Many abuse victims describe this as “going away” – somewhere far from the pain, somewhere the abuser could not reach us.  Victims speak of leaving their bodies, watching events involving themselves from above or from a distance.

A defense mechanism, dissociation is protective, in the short term.  It can shield us from intolerably painful experiences.

Depending on the severity of our abuse, however, awareness, memory, and identity may be disrupted [1].  In extreme cases, alternate personalities (“alters”) can develop.  These may assume different physical and vocal mannerisms, even different ages, sexes, and races from one another.  They may or may not be aware of one another’s existence. Continue reading

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