Filth

Ancient Jewish bath for ritual immersion (“mikveh”), Author Arie Darzi to memorialize the Jewish communities in Spain, Source http://yavan.org.il/pws/gallery!82 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things…” (1 Cor. 4: 13).

Filth pours out of the wall.  It may look like water, cool clear water, but it is filth.

In fact, the entire bathroom is contaminated.  God knows when it was last cleaned.  The room reeks of the sweat of prior occupants, is covered in a fine white powder from the predator’s own ablutions.

The door cannot be locked; the predator has seen to that.

You take your clothes off preparing to shower, but cannot find a place to lay down the cotton pajamas into which you plan to change.  Perhaps the toilet seat will suffice, if the clothes do not touch the floor, do not touch the wall, do not touch the tank.

You stand naked on the throw rug, an old shag which is, also, filthy, and prepare to step into the tub.  You grit your teeth, avoid looking at yourself in the small mirror that hangs over the sink.  The tub, too, is contaminated.  You know this must be done, so you step over the edge, cringing, toes curled under.

In the shower, you scrub your skin till it is raw.

You dread having to use the only towels available, stiff and worn, rough and faded towels.  You pull one down onto the floor, in order to be able to step out of the tub.  You carefully avoid touching the walls, touching the toilet tank.

You dry yourself awkwardly, as if drying off a stranger, avoid making eye contact with your image in the mirror.  Then you dress, step into slippers, gather your clothes and the used towels in a bundle for the hamper, and step over the threshold, out of the room.

You can never really get clean.  The bathroom may be contaminated by the predator.  But the dirt, the sin, is inside you.

No Escape

“…and though the…young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her” (Deut. 22: 27).

This is how a victim of sexual abuse feels.  We despise ourselves, loathe our bodies, would shed them if we could [1].  This flesh is what he wants.  His hands have been all over it, taking possession of what is no longer ours.

Desperation alternates with hopelessness.  But there is no sign of rescue and no escape.

Abuse and PTSD

Even if there are intervals during which the abuse is interrupted, we carry the experience inside our heads.  It plays over and over again, like the film in a deserted theater, with abuse victims the only audience members.

It is that extended tension, the unrelenting nature of abuse, that can make Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so difficult to dislodge.

Psychological Defenses

The psychological defenses victims of childhood abuse typically use include repression, denial, and dissociation [2].  Unfortunately, these coping strategies can be maladaptive in adulthood.

A. Repression

Repression allows the traumatic memories of abuse to be suppressed, sometimes for decades.  However, the emotions associated with abuse will rise to the surface.  Nightmares, flashbacks, and psychosomatic symptoms can result.  Suppressed anger may, for example, take the form of tension headaches [3].

B. Denial

Victims will frequently deny their victimization, and make excuses for their abusers.

Though unfounded, self-blame is common.  Acknowledging that we were powerless over our own fate can be more painful for victims than taking on guilt that does not rightly belong to us.

C. Dissociation

Dissociation involves a temporary loss of contact with reality.  It is triggered by sensations that call up painful memories.

D. OCD

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition with endlessly repetitive thoughts and urges [4].  Frequently, these will focus on contamination and related cleansing rituals.

OCD (which has a genetic component) is not a psychological defense.  However, some victims of childhood sexual abuse use cleansing rituals, in an attempt to obtain relief from the anxiety and distress of feeling “dirty”.

Unfortunately, such cleansing rituals can consume significant amounts of time, and become disabling themselves.

Undefiled

After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, ‘Hear and understand.  It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man’ ” (Matt. 15: 10-11).

Not only did Jesus Christ explain that the actions of others cannot defile us.  He came to earth as the pure and undefiled sacrifice Who took the place of sinners all.  Ritual cleansing is no longer necessary.  We have been cleansed from sin by the blood of Jesus Christ.

“…He [God] has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you…” (1 Peter 1: 3-4).

[1]  Sexually abused children may learn from their abusers to act in a “coquettish” manner.  But they are never responsible for that abuse.

[2]  Survivors of Childhood Abuse, “The Pain of Silence”, http://www.drmartinklein.com/survivors-of-childhood-abuse.html.

[3]  Psychosomatic illness should not be confused with malingering.  In psychosomatic illness, real mental or emotional pain is expressed through physical symptoms which can be severe.

[4]  Brain & Behavior, “Compulsive Disorder (OCD)”, https://www.bbrfoundation.org/faq/frequently-asked-questions-about-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd?gclid=Cj0KCQjw9afOBRDWARIsAJW4nvw5Ab0cmJG4KMLXzOxmloTLU6xK9RE2zxUrzu6_QcKd788gezT4ovwaAu8fEALw_wcB.

Wishing You All A Happy Turkey Day!

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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14 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

14 responses to “Filth

  1. This is a powerful post Anna – the imagery is compelling. Once again you get to the heart of the matter of what it is like for victims of sexual abuse. An important message here is that we can change the way we view ourselves and that our thoughts and feelings are valid. For me personally, as a victim, it is only now that I am coming to see that. When you are in the depths of despair, you take with you from childhood the message that you are worthless and nothing will ever change. But your posts, week after week bear testimony to the fact that the opposite is true and the truth can set you free. And a very Happy Turkey Day to you too, dear one!

    • I always love to hear your thoughts, Marie. It is such a long process coming back from abuse. No wonder those who were never abused can have difficulty understanding that. Victims can have difficulty understanding it, themselves.

      But human beings are complex. So abuse impacts us across a broad spectrum. It has implications we cannot immediately see, implications that may not surface for decades. One woman’s otherwise kindly mother was consistently harsh toward her grandson. Only much later did the woman learn her mother had been abused. The abused woman’s repressed anger carried across generations, and manifested toward that grandchild.

      Change can be challenging (an over-used word). But I can say from experience it is possible. We must remember to be patient and gentle with ourselves, when our efforts do not immediately prove successful.

      Yes, we demolished the turkey! Ah, what a noble bird (LOL).

  2. Because Jesus has cleansed us in a manner that we never could, we are comforted in knowing that while we may not yet be what we wish to be, we are no longer what we were.
    Touching post Anna.

  3. A very compelling post, describing the feel of self-loath and the climb to get out of it’s grasp is hard and long. But as you also point out it is possible, only through the out stretched arms of our Lord, who told us to come to Him with our heavy burdens and He will give us rest.

    I wholeheartedly agree with both MarieWilliams53 & RonWhite’s comments. The latter stating ‘we are not what we used to be’. When the images creep up in our heads we combat it with prayer, with God’s beauty of nature, erasing the past from our mind and replacing the ugliness with the beauty of creation. Our Lord tells us not to dwell in the past but move ever forward to His soon coming rein. Everything will be sorted out and punishment will be dealt with in do time, if not in our own time.

    I sometimes think on The Great white Throne, where all the books will be open and the truth of our lives are exposed to the highest scrutiny. There will be no escape for those who haven’t repented of this filthy sin or any sin. This thought gives me peace, eventhough I also pray (and this took many talks with our Lord) for the mental state of these individuals to come clean. For nothing stays hidden that doesn’t come out.

    Thank you for sharing. God bless us all to hold on to the Source of Life, not drown in the state not of our making. Wishing you a peace that surpasses every understanding.

    • Thank you for stating the problem so clearly. I, too, find consolation in the fact that justice will — at long last — be handed out to unrepentant predators at the Final Judgment.

      • And I apologize dear Anna, if what I said was too harsh. I could have worded it differently, I was caught in the moment…

      • It did not sound harsh to me. I, however, am Christian.

        I fear that victims who do not yet know Christ may believe they are without recourse, when Christians do not take into account the long and difficult road those victims may have to take to find Him. This, I think, is especially true of victims still raging at God for His perceived failure to prevent their abuse or rescue them from it.

        That long and difficult road is not a reflection of Christ’s “unavailability” or “elusiveness”. He stands at the door of every heart. He weeps over every tear we shed.

        But a victim’s experience is one of pain, rejection, guilt, and shame. Those feelings are overwhelming. It is not immediately obvious that God is not the author of them, that they are the result of free will decisions by an abuser.

        In dealing with victims of abuse, Christians must first and foremost extend compassion. Doctrine can come later.

        I entirely agree that a God problem is at the root of abuse. A God problem is at the root of all evil in the world. Should mankind turn to God? Yes. Will mankind turn Him? I seriously doubt it. We have not in the entire history of mankind formulated an ideal society, despite numerous attempts. Our sin nature ultimately corrupts the model.

        Only Christ’s return will eliminate abuse from the face of the earth, and render justice to countless victims.

  4. Thank you for finding the ongoing strength, bravery, and commitment to speak out and up…to lift and encourage…to give voice to the voiceless…you are such a wonder and a blessing, Anna. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Sage wisdom my dear sister in Christ. So very true are your words. And thank you for seeing my words in the spirit it was given.

    Our Lord is always there for us, we are conquers, in Christ and with Him. He told us the challenges begin in us accepting Him, not to loose faith when the arrows of the evil one comes hard and heavy. But to put our trust in Him. He will make everything work for our good, even if at the moment we can’t see it. Our hope, as you so rightly said is in Jesus, who will eliminate not only abuse but evil.

    I pray more people see the light that Jesus brings to their lives.

    Thank you again. God bless you, always!

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