Monthly Archives: November 2016


Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Author Jon Harder, (Gnu Free Distribution License, and CC-BY 2.5 Unported)

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Author Jon Harder, (GNU Free Documentation License, and CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

“ ‘Thank you’ more complex than at first viewed when examined thoroughly through the lens of the human experience.”

– Marie Williams,

That statement about the phrase “thank you” has great significance.

Those of us deprived by childhood abuse of the basic necessities of love and nurture may well be deadened, emotionally.  The human connection that the words “thank you” signify may actually feel threatening to us.  Sadly, that connection has been foreign to us, outside our experience.

At a minimum, we are likely to doubt we have anything of worth to offer the world…anything to prompt thanks from others.

But deprivation heightens the capacity for gratitude.  Skip a single meal.  Sleep a single night on a park bench or huddle against the cold, under a makeshift cardboard shelter.  Then go home again to a full plate and a warm bed, a solid roof over your head.  See whether your perspective has not changed.

The smallest kindness is magnified a thousand times over for abuse victims.  A word or gesture of concern feels like rain on the desert to us.  A thoughtful act can sometimes save a life.

As victims (who, incidentally, make up a large percentage of the homeless), we may not be able to express our thanks, not adequately.  But we will treasure that simple phrase or gesture as if it were precious gold.

To us, it is.  The words “thank you” acknowledge that we have been seen, that we exist.  They imply, above all, that we are human and worthy of acknowledgment.  That is healing balm to our wounds, even if we cannot vocalize a response.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (1 Chron. 16: 34).

Wishing you all a Happy Turkey Day!




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


WARNING:  Graphic Images

A 7 year old in Pennsylvania shared with her school bus driver that she had been unable to wake her parents [1].  Christopher Dilly and Jessica Lally were discovered to have overdosed.  The child’s younger siblings – ages 3 months, 3 and 5 years old – were found in the home.

Ashley Hutt and Mac Leroy McKiver, a pair of addicts in Washington, have been charged with repeatedly injecting their young children – ages 2, 4, and 6 years old – with street heroin to keep them quiet [2].  The children were living in squalid rat-infested conditions, their home littered with drug paraphernalia.

All seven children have been placed in protective custody.

Where was God in all this?  Could He not have intervened?  Such evil is staggering.  Confronted by it, we cannot help but cry out.

God is not immune to our pain.  Nor is He indifferent.  He suffered for us on the cross, and continues to suffer with us.  We are His children.  Would you not suffer for yours?  Surely, you feel their pain when a young wing is broken or a young dream falters.

This is a fallen world — home both to incalculable evil and amazing good.  We get to choose sides.  That privilege comes at great cost.  But those choosing evil should make no mistake.  God’s eye is on the sparrow…on all the defenseless little sparrows.  And there will be a reckoning.

” ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?  And not one of them is forgotten before God.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows‘ ” (Luke 12: 6-7).

[1]  Washington Post, “A 7-year-old told her bus driver she couldn’t wake her parents. Police found them dead at home.” by Cleve Wootson, 10/5/16,

[2]  Washington Post, “Parents injected children with heroin as ‘feel good medicine,’ police say” by Lindsey Bever, 11/1/16,

Original version posted 10/27/13



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

Anxiety, Phobias, and PTSD – Part 2

There are healthy coping strategies for dealing with anxiety.

Lifestyle Changes

Routines, such as taking a daily walk or reading at lunch, can be helpful in alleviating anxiety.  Scheduling time to decompress from the worries of the day can, also, help.  This should be away from cell phones and other distractions.

Exercise is a natural de-stressor.

Sleep hygiene can be important, since restful sleep enables us to recharge our mental batteries.  This should involve regular times to turn in at night and arise mornings, along with a bedtime routine which encourages relaxation.  Video games should be avoided just before bed.


Phobias are often reduced in severity using behavior modification (specifically “desensitization” therapy).  This involves repeated exposure to the fear-producing stimulus under safe conditions.

Talk therapy has, also, been found to be helpful, especially with social anxiety [1].  Biofeedback, which involves controlled breathing and other techniques, may be useful in reducing anxiety.


Numerous medications exist today to treat anxiety, including serotonin-specific re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and anti-depressants [2].  A knowledgeable psychiatrist should be consulted about these.


Meditation and, of course, prayer can provide relief.


The Past

Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43: 18-19).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5: 17).

The Present

“ ‘Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?’ ” (Matt. 6: 25-26).

The Future

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29: 11).

Being Unloved

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3: 16).

Being Useless or Worthless

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all” (1 Cor. 12: 4-6).

Being Lost

“ ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?’ ” (Luke 15: 4).

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Ps. 3: 6).

Being Abandoned

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31: 6).

‘…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ ” (Matt. 28: 20).

[1]  HelpGuide, “Therapy for Anxiety Disorders” by Melinda Smith, MA, Robert Segal, MA, and Jeanne Segal, PhD, last updated 10/16,

[2]  In my view, faith and medicine are not at odds.  Medicine is a general blessing by God to mankind.  The miraculous cures by Christ were intended as a sign that He was the Messiah, not as a rejection of medicine.  Christ, Himself, referred to medicine, in response to the Pharisees.  He is quoted as saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Matt. 9: 12).



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

Anxiety, Phobias, and PTSD – Part 1

“The Scream” by Edvard Munch (1893), National Gallery, Norway (Accession No. NG.M.00939), Source WebMuseum (PD)

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea
…” (Ps. 46: 1-2).

Most people have experienced anxiety, in one situation or another.

The death of a loved one, divorce, serious illness, job loss, and moving are recognized as major stressors [1].  Other anxiety producing occasions include public speaking (always a favorite), waiting on approval for a mortgage, meeting a girlfriend’s parents for the first time, and having the in-laws over for Thanksgiving.

Then, of course, there are a host of phobias.  As a general rule narrowly focused, phobias are no small matter for those suffering from them.  Phobias include the fear of heights, spiders, snakes, birds, tight spaces, bridges, flying, and blood [2].

Purpose of Anxiety

Anxiety is intended to alert us to potential danger, and prepare the body for it.

A part of the brain called the amygdala releases neuro-transmitters that initiate the so called “fight of flight” response, producing the sensations of anxiety [3].  The heart rate climbs; blood rushes to the muscles; the lungs work harder.  This process is largely autonomic.  We have, by design, very limited control.

For most, the panic associated with stressful situations quickly subsides.  Shallow breathing deepens and slows.  Rapid heartbeat subsides.

The audience does or does not throw tomatoes.  The in-laws smile or grimace – it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference – and swallow their turkey.  We eventually get the mortgage.

In short, the body figures out we are going to survive.

Anxiety Disorders

About 40 million Americans, however, suffer from anxiety disorders [4].  Severe anxiety, whatever form it takes, is debilitating and can be crippling.


The severe anxiety resulting from traumas such war, rape, or child abuse is better known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) [5].

Whatever its origin, PTSD can cause recurrent, powerful, panic attacks, with or without an identifiable trigger.  These attacks are typically accompanied by heart palpitations, chest pain, the sensation of being smothered, and a feeling of dread.  A panic attack can, also, be experienced as paralysis and overwhelming fear.

PTSD sufferers may, in addition, experience flashbacks (vivid and disturbing memories, re-experienced involuntarily).  I have discussed these elsewhere [6]. Continue reading


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