Monthly Archives: October 2016

Not Just Victims

Birdwatching in Panama, Author Alex Poimos (CC BY-2.0)

Birdwatching in Panama, Author Alex Proimos (CC BY-2.0)

“And if they stare
Just let them burn their eyes
On you moving.
And if they shout
Don’t let it change a thing
That you’re doing.

Hold your head up,
Hold your head up,
Hold your head up,
Hold your head high.”

–        “Hold Your Head Up”, C. White, R. Argent © Marquise Songs

A rock song from the ’70s by Argent has special relevance for abuse survivors.  Called “Hold Your Head Up” it is a reminder that we are more than just victims.

But abuse victims, by whatever name, are not known for valuing themselves highly.  To the contrary, we can barely raise our heads, let alone form a realistic view of ourselves.

The abuse to which we were subjected created a web of lies – that we were worthless, that we were undeserving of love or care.  Trapped in that web, we were denied hope, as the scars (our response to the pain) hardened around us.

Not everything we do, however, will stem from or relate to abuse.  If we focus on that aspect of our experience to the exclusion of all others, we will only enlarge the tragedy, allowing it to engulf our lives [1].

We have relationships, vocations, and beliefs:

  • We are sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. We are friends, lovers, and spouses. We are students, teachers, and mentors.
  • We are social workers, lab technicians, and police officers.  We are doctors, lawyers, dentists, and accountants.
  • We are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

We have habits, preferences, interests, skills, and abilities.  Some of us are neat-freaks; others do not pick up their socks.  Some are dog lovers; others are “cat people”.  Some of us are musical; others cannot carry a tune. A few probably play the banjo. Continue reading

11 Comments

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

Kansas

Dorothy's ruby slippers from the 1938 version of

Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the 1938 version of “The Wizard of Oz”, Author dbking, Source http://flickr.com/photo/65193799@N00/234170351 (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

WARNING: Graphic Images

Dorothy and Toto spent most of the beloved movie classic, “The Wizard of Oz”, trying to get back home to Kansas. But Kansas City has not been a safe place for children for years now.

An investigation by the Kansas City Star has disclosed that police abandoned many child rape and other cases of serious abuse against children [1].  Internal memoranda by the Kansas City Police Dept. describe 148 cases as reflecting gross investigatory negligence, and what can only be characterized as callous disregard on the part of investigating officers.

The Crimes Against Children Unit investigates around 1,000 cases annually. Last summer, prosecutors were unable to proceed on a case it had taken over a year to investigate. Several hundred cases in the Unit were found to be six months old or older.

A Special Response Team was formed in September 2015 to clear these backlogged cases. Half the cases over six months old were found to have been insufficiently investigated. Fifty involving rape, broken bones, and near starvation languished for over a year.

These included cases where:

  • a 4 y.o. rape victim was infected with a sexually transmitted disease;
  • 4 y.o. and 5 y.o. malnourished children were sodomized by a known sex offender who was, also, a household member; and
  • a 12 y.o. runaway was raped by three men, one of whom she was actually able to identify.

Irregularities were uncovered so severe that nearly all the detectives and sergeants of the Crimes Against Children Unit were suspended. Continue reading

22 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Community, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

The “P” Word

Donald Trump (2016), Author Michael Vadon (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Donald Trump (2016), Author Michael Vadon (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

A gracious woman attains honor, And ruthless men attain riches” (Prov. 11: 16).

Sexual assault has in recent weeks become part of the political dialog.  News media are politely tiptoeing around the crude language Donald Trump employed on the topic, without actually repeating it.

That a candidate should have engaged in this criminal behavior (and still have felt compelled to crow about it, at the tender age of 59) is simultaneously ludicrous and despicable.

However, that some men touch women, without their consent, comes as no surprise to women.  Countless women have been subjected to identical behavior, without consequence to the men responsible.

I am an incest survivor.  The stranger who grabbed my crotch at the beach when I was 12 y.o. could not have known that.  But he calculated – quite accurately – that I would be too stunned to speak of the violation.  In that, I was not alone.

Thousands of vulnerable women and girls experience groping, and either have no recourse or know of none.  The inappropriate touching may not last long; it may not rise to the level of rape.  But the sense of powerlessness leaves a permanent scar.

Whether the assailant is a family member, friend, or stranger, the behavior clearly establishes his dominance.  When do fathers, brothers, and sons learn that this is allowed, even encouraged? Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Community, Emotional Abuse, Politics, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Death and Laughter

Actor Robert Cummings as Parris in

Actor Robert Cummings as Parris in “Kings Row”, Author Stetsonharry (PD)

“Parris:  I don’t know if you can take it, Drake.

Drake:   Give it to me.

Parris:    Dr. Gordon cut off your legs.  I don’t know if it was necessary.  He was that kind of butcher, who thought he had a special ordination to punish ‘transgressors’… Heaven knows what else.  The caverns of the human mind are full of strange shadows, but none of that matters.  The point is he wanted to destroy you.  Oh, not literally.  He wanted to destroy the Drake McHugh you were.  He wanted to see you turn into a life-long cripple, mentally as well as physically.  That’s all there is, Drake…

Drake (after a long pause, chuckles):  That’s a hot one, isn’t it? Where did Gordon think I lived, in my legs?  Did he think those things were Drake McHugh?…”

–        Kings Row (1942)

My younger sister and I shared a second floor bedroom as children. We would often stay up past bedtime –  watching old movies, talking about what may have happened during the day, telling stories, or sharing our childhood dreams with each other.  The two of us would invent silly games or make up jokes, and giggle under the covers.

Saplings in a Hurricane

When our father yelled up the stairs at us for being noisy, however, we trembled.  His word was law in the house.  That’s how I remember it, anyway.

Like saplings in a hurricane, we were raised in the storm of my father’s ever-present rage. We were not beaten outright.  But the threat was always there.

And yet, at times, that threat made our laughter all the harder to contain.  We would laugh helplessly, till our sides ached.  My sister and I had a name for it:  laughing in the face of death.

A Life and Death Struggle

Looking back now, we were not far wrong with that description.  There was a life and death struggle going on.

Our laughter was the sound of life, winning out, over death and darkness.  Our laughter was the sound of hope and happiness, if only temporary; the sound of faith in a future we hardly dared believe might exist, a future in which we would be free simply to live in peace. Continue reading

21 Comments

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

Gymnastics

US Women's Gymnastic Team, 2016 Secret US Classic, Author Scott and Emer Hults Photography, Source OTRS submission (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Gymnasts at 2012 Secret US Classic, Author Scott and Emer Hults Photography, Source OTRS submission (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The sport of gymnastics requires balance, strength, courage, and control.  Children may be enrolled in “kindergym” at 20 months of age; in recreational gymnastics at 3 y.o.  But serious gymnasts, those aiming for the Olympics, begin training around 6 y.o.  For that last group, the selection of a coach is crucial.

Dr. Larry Nassar was among the most respected and sought after.  Which makes it all the more shocking that Dr. Nassar, employed for 29 years by USA Gymnastics (the governing body for the sport), is being investigated by the FBI for child molestation [1].

Complaints – some dating as far back as the 1990s – have been made by over two dozen athletes.  Nassar, who has not yet been charged, denies any wrongdoing.

“Olympians represent our country.  They’re the best America has to offer.  These girls give up their childhood and their adolescence to try and fulfill their dream and win medals for their country — and what we have here is somebody who took advantage of that trust [2].”

–        John Manly, attorney for some of the athletes who allege they were violated by Dr. Larry Nassar

At least fifteen women claim Dr. Nassar penetrated them digitally, under the guise of medical treatment [3].  Victims ranged in age from 13 y.o. to 20 y.o. when their abuse started.  A 16 y.o. victim did report Dr. Nassar’s conduct to police in 2004.  No help was, however, forthcoming.

Initially, Nassar denied ever having employed penetration on a patient.  He now claims to have used a legitimate medical procedure for back pain. Continue reading

14 Comments

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