Red Carpet

Red carpet at 81st Annual Academy Awards in Kodak Theatre, Los Angeles, Author Greg in Hollywood (Greg Hernandez), Source Flickr (CC BY-2.0 Generic)

Watch Kim Kardashian on the red carpet sometime.  She smiles.  She preens for the cameras, turning this way and that.  She eats up the attention.

Many abuse victims are just the opposite.  We shun the limelight, feel awkward and uncomfortable if the spotlight is turned on us.  Instead, we prefer to go unnoticed, to fade into the background – wallflowers by choice.

Why is this?  Why is the very thought of attending a children’s play, a PTA meeting, or church service daunting?  Why is it difficult for us simply to enter a room full of strangers?

Staying at home seems so much safer.


If pressed, we are likely to say that we fear rejection.  Often, this centers around our looks.  Some feature of ours seems less than perfect to us.  Our nose is too large or our hips too wide.  We’ve been trying for the past 20 years to lose the baby weight.

If not that, perhaps something about the way we dress is inadequate, in our estimation – deficient enough so that the entire audience may gasp, and draw back from us in horror.

We do not actually believe that will happen.  But we fear it, all the same.  Fear does not require a rational basis.  Ask any child whether there is a monster in the closet.


Still, there is a clue here.  We’ve known monsters.  Been criticized by monsters for “flaws” we did not have.  Been assaulted by monsters, beaten black and blue, for our supposed defects.  Been violated by monsters, in ways we were too young to understand, then blamed for the violation.

That would undermine anyone’s confidence.  But there may be an even more compelling reason why we shy away from social activities and public events.  We were forced to navigate childhood without adult assistance.

Other children were taught how to deal with the challenges of growing up.  We had obstacles put in our way.  Other children were comforted and encouraged.  We were threatened and shamed, or our needs ignored altogether.


That can leave abuse victims with a sense of inadequacy as adults.

Chances are our first reaction to a new experience will not be anticipation.  Rather, it may be panic.  What are we supposed to say?  How are we supposed act?  What if we make a mistake or fail to measure up?

Social interaction necessarily involves some uncertainty.  No matter how hard we may try, we cannot plan out every moment.  Viewed positively, this can be seen as exciting; viewed negatively, it can be seen as dangerous.  The history of abuse will incline many victims toward the latter.

Under those circumstances, just making small talk can seem like an impossible task.

Revealing the Emptiness

Deep down, what we fear is revealing our emptiness.  Forced since childhood to function above our grade level, we presume ourselves to be lacking in some fundamental way.  Like children, we believe that deficiency to be visible to others.

What we fear is rejection not for our appearance but, more profoundly, for who we are, in effect, for having “deserved” our abuse.  No child, of course, deserves abuse.  Unfortunately, recognizing that intellectually does not mean we believe it.

Until we do, Kim Kardashian will have the red carpet to herself.

Originally posted 2/27/16



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

21 responses to “Red Carpet

  1. Carina

    So true. I don’t like exposure. I need to feel VERY welcome in a small group to be able to speak without inhibitions. Any public speaking is a nightmare, and I will overprepare in order to minimize any risks of messing up. I would like to be a good witness for Christ but I find myself tongue-tied rather than not.

    I tend to feel much more comfortable in writing, but then again, not any writing. There’s a particular area where I would like to venture because I KNOW it’s my calling, and I am gifted for it… And yet I hear my inner censor (and the witness of demons, honestly), “This story you’ve concocted, it’s such rubbish! Who will care to read it? So boring!” I know it’s all lies. But now I face the empty screen. I need to give faces to my audience. Hurting faces who need a story that will encourage them. Faces of hopelessness that will once again have a glimmer of hope in their eyes. If just ONE person can find the love of our Father in my prose, then it will be worth the risk!

    Thank you for confirming me that, even if I need to step way out of my comfort zone, it’s perhaps the only way to feel my life is truly significant, purposeful. Not because we need to do in order to be… But helping others gives us such a different perspective for our pain. We are healed as we go about healing others… and receiving healing from Jesus. All in the same package.

    • As a victim of childhood abuse, I have suffered from anxiety (including social anxiety) most of my life. Not a great characteristic for an attorney, believe me (LOL). Truthfully, it was a torment. But always the thought of helping others somehow helped me past that shortcoming.

      If you do choose to share your story, do not be discouraged if millions do not immediately flock to hear it. That you would make the effort at all is a triumph. Touching a single heart should be the goal. Remember, too, that what we write lives on after us. It has the capacity to reach those we may never know.

      God does not require perfection of us. That is a lie Satan uses to cripple us. It is God, after all, who does the work. He is the one who uses our words and actions — however feeble, however inadequate — to reach others.

      When Moses asked, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”, God responded “I will surely be with you” (Ex. 3: 11-12). You can be certain He will be w/ you, also.

      • Carina

        That was such a sweet response, Anna! I say Yes and Amen to every word. And that’s why I told God, “If I could just write this story… I don’t care about publishing it and getting a cent out of it. I’m totally ok with posting it for free for EVERYBODY to download it. In fact, I would prefer it that way. Because the healing I received from You was free, in fact You paid with Your blood to save me, so how could I expect to profit from what was so expensive for you? My reward would be hearts that turn to You. Hearts that receive Your love through the words You give me to share.”

        So if I could ask just one thing from you, sister… Pray for us, all your readers. Like you said, we don’t know the impact of our words. You have blessed me greatly with this post and your comment. And I know God wants to use me, and everyone who reads you, to multiply this blessing in many. So let’s pray for each other, that God will use our past wounds to make us healers, not hurters. You have a beautiful testimony, which shines like a jewel in the dark. Thanks again!

      • Thank you for your kind words, Carina. You can be assured that I do pray for my readers, and will continue to pray for them. I learned years ago while involved in establishing a legal clinic for the poor of Philadelphia to pray that God would bring those clients to our door that He could reach through us. I pray that He likewise brings readers to you which your story will touch. ❤ ❤ ❤

    • Dear Anna and Carina,

      I have enjoyed your conversation here.

      Let’s step out of our comfort zone little by little. Sooner or later, we shall surprise ourselves at how far we have ventured and turned the corner.

      Anna, given your commendable effort in pondering why victims of abuse tend to shy away from limelight, SoundEagle is all too willing and honoured to roll out the red carpet for you!

      Happy May to both of you and your respective families!

  2. Isn’t it sad that negative relationships and traumatic experience affect our relationships with ourselves, others and the world so deeply.
    So deeply that it’s hard to turn these core beliefs around.

    For some, it takes almost a lifetime 😦

  3. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

    Very well said and written list of symptoms and of conditions that affect and guide the life of people victims of abuse. Very interesting and informative Anna. Hope you’ve a lovely Sunday evening,
    All the best to you,

  4. You are a wonderful and helpful women, Anna. I am sure that your advices are very useful for a lot of people. Blessings Marie

  5. I can see what you are saying here. As a pastor I know some in the congregation have experienced abused in their lives and it does affect them and they desire to be in the background.

    • Carina

      It’s great that you as a pastor can see this! May the Lord give you strategies to minister to all the people who have been deeply wounded. I loved an image used by Wayne Jacobsen in He Loves Me. Some of us are like stray dogs. We have been so deeply traumatized by our past experiences that we can’t just let anybody touch us. Even a person with a heart of gold and the best intentions will find it hard to approach us and bring us home safely. We feel like orphans. We don’t even trust God quite often. But if you can reach out to us with the Father’s heart, the love you share with us will most certainly be used for healing.

      Pray that God will bring you to a place where compassion, mercy and agape love are deeply rooted in you, so that you will not judge by what you see (a seemingly hard, unapproachable individual) but what God sees in the people you have a chance to minister to. I pray for you that God will greatly use your life to impact people who desperately need this message of God’s love for them!

  6. Carina

    Thank you!

    Baby steps.

    I’m still not comfortable in public speaking, but I can share in small groups. I can witness about my faith when God opens a door. I can write about my faith on my Facebook wall and stories. I share states on WhatsApp. I have come a long way. I typically have what Brene Brown calls vulnerability hangovers. I feel ashamed that I have exposed myself, even if I did nothing wrong and the person actually received me. It’s scary.

    But my Father’s smile propels me to go on sharing. I sometimes have a panic attack when stepping out. But I love my Daddy and I love the people He loves. So little by little, I am taking more risks.

    • It sounds as if you have made real progress, Carina. Bravo!

      • Carina

        Yes. It’s a courage that is definitely not in my natural self. It’s a power that comes from the Holy Spirit, for sure! I’m “getting things off my chest” that have held me captive for years. And I’m hoping many captives will be set free.

  7. Pingback: Red Carpet – NarrowPathMinistries

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