Category Archives: Child Abuse

Chaos

Poor child, Author Pankajauyangoda (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

They are like straw before the wind, and like chaff that a storm carries away” (Job 21: 18).

Often, those of us not raised in dire poverty fail to understand the chaos of that environment.

The electricity is turned off, and homework is not done.  The ceiling falls in, literally.  The grocery bag rips, the eggs smash, and there is no dinner.  Children sleep in the bathtub as their only defense against drive-by shootings.  An intoxicated neighbor sets the house on fire.  An argument over sneakers escalates into a shooting.  Police arrest a parent, and the children go into foster care.

No Safety Nets

There are no safety nets.  There are no margins for error.  What to the rest of us might be an inconvenience, at worst a minor hardship, can be devastating to the poor.  Progress is impossible.  A youthful indiscretion may cost a life.

Is there any wonder that long range consequences are imperfectly understood?  These children have not been in a position to predict from one hour to the next what may befall them.

Disappointed and Discouraged

Children in poverty face constant disappointment, and daily discouragement from the adults around them.  Promises must be broken again and again.  Some of the criticism may actually be an attempt by adults to protect their children against the bias they are expected to face.  Underachievement is perceived as “safer” than success. Continue reading

2 Comments

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

Elder Abuse

Image courtesy of ARAD Insurance https://www.araglegal.com/individuals/learning-center/topics/caring-for-others/how-to-identify-elder-abuse.

Elder abuse has become so common that older adults write into public forums for advice [1].

Adult children moved back in with parents with increasing frequency during the COVID-19 pandemic [2].  Less than 25% of parents asked that their children contribute to increased household expenses such as food and utilities.  This has strained some relationships, both financially and emotionally.

Other abusers may include partners, spouses, relatives, neighbors, friends, volunteer or paid workers, lawyers, and individuals intent on theft or fraud [3A].

Forms of Elder Abuse

As parents grow more frail with age, they become increasingly vulnerable to abuse.  Abuse can range from rudeness and disrespect, to financial mismanagement, threats, intimidation, and outright violence. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Religion

Flypaper

Musca domestica – Housefly, Author Nico Westerhof (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

My father helped uncounted strangers.  He gave directions, fixed tires, delivered groceries, shared tools, shoveled driveways.  He lent money that went unreturned.  He cleared debris, cut down unwanted tree limbs, and cleaned the home of one elderly man for years.

My father, also, molested me.  I have struggled with the scars of that incest my entire life…

People who have just learned of the incest will – after a distressed pause – often ask how it first began…I cannot recall the first time.  I simply do not remember a period when the incest was not a part of my reality…

Certainly I was acting out sexually by the second grade, a sure sign I was being molested.  I knew the basics of sexual intercourse by that point.  My father had conveyed that information in the interest of furthering my education.  So he repeatedly said…

I have no words to convey the horror my father’s assaults produced in me.

Imagine a cool summer’s day.  It is early morning.  You open the screen door and stop out onto the porch, kissed by a soft breeze.  The world is green and new…After a few moments, you turn reluctantly; go back indoors to chores and the real world.

It is only than that you see.  A hoard of flies somehow entered the apartment while the screen door was ajar.  You are at first stunned by their number.  There must be eight or ten.  How can this have happened so quickly?  Then disgust sets in.  Your gorge rises, but there is no relief at hand.  Somehow you have to deal with the situation. Continue reading

14 Comments

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

Missing and Murdered

Remains of missing 15-month-old Evelyn Boswell found on family property:  Authorities - ABC News
Evelyn Boswell, Image courtesy of ABC News

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The 15 month old toddler, Evelyn Boswell, is about to have a Tennessee law named after her [1].  The baby disappeared from her home in December but was not reported missing till February.  Police were told she was on vacation with a friend or visiting her grandmother. 

When the lies were disproven, and the child’s remains were found on the family property, her mother, Megan “Maggie” Boswell, was charged with felony murder [2][3]. 

The new law would require that parents or legal guardians notify law enforcement or the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation within 24 hours of the disappearance of a child 12 years of age or younger. Failure would result in a Class A misdemeanor.  A higher penalty would apply, if the missing child were later found to have serious bodily injury.

But Evelyn Boswell is not the only missing child later found murdered. Continue reading

24 Comments

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

Captives

“Young Slave” by Michelangelo (1520-1523), Galleria dell’ Accademia, Florence, Italy, Author Jörg Bittner Unna (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Those of you familiar with the perfection of Michelangelo’s “David” or “Pieta” may not know that he created a series of sculptures loosely referred to as the slaves, prisoners or captives.

Art critics argue over the merit of these – the central issue being whether Michelangelo intended them as finished works of art or not.  Details on these statues are vague, chisel marks still clearly visible.

The figures though are striking.  Incomplete, they struggle not only to free themselves from their chains, but from the very stone in which they are encased.

The Scars of Abuse

Like Michelangelo’s captives, the victims of childhood abuse wrestle with the scars of their abuse – low self-esteem, perfectionism, boundary issues, depression, anxiety, PTSD, relationship difficulties, sexual promiscuity and/or dysfunction, addiction, and the rest.  We struggle against the chains binding us, desperate to get free.

The Figure Within

Michelangelo’s entire approach to sculpture was to envision the figure within.  He saw his role as first identifying that figure, then removing unnecessary elements to reveal the image present all along.

Despite our scars, God, too, sees the figure within.  Like a sculptor, He shapes us to an image only He can see.  Bit by bit, He removes unnecessary elements, always aware of the ultimate outcome. Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Selfie Shame

File:Sabonete Dove.jpg

Dove soap bar, Author Felipe Micaroni Lalli (Dove.jpg micaroni@gmail.com) (CC BY-SA 2.5 Generic)

Dove soap, a Unilever brand, has launched a campaign in Canada to highlight the extent to which social media harms the self-esteem of pre-teen girls [1A][2A].

The campaign derives from a survey which showed that 80% of young girls already by the age of 13 use photo editing filters or apps to improve their image before posting a “selfie” online [1B].

Instructions in Parenting

The soap company urges parents to “have the selfie talk” with their children, and explain how image manipulation creates unrealistic beauty standards [1C][2B].

How low have we sunk when a soap company must instruct us  in parenting?  And how likely is it that our children will do as we say, rather than as we, ourselves, do? Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse

Dreams

Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria, Author Diego Delso delso.photo (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Our society urges children to dream big; to follow, even fight for, their dreams.  These are laudable sentiments.  But they presuppose that children can one day transform their dreams into reality.

For some children, reality is so painful that dreams are their only escape from it.  Whether this is the result of poverty or abuse, fantasy seems preferable.

Golden Goblets

Oh, the dreams, themselves, are beautiful.  Every detail is clear.

The dreamers will live in an enormous  palace, on a silver lake.  They will drink from golden goblets, wield magical swords, wear pearl-studded gowns or impenetrable armor, and sleep on satin sheets.

They will become world famous ballerinas, applauded by millions, or physicians who cure disease with the wave of a wand.  They will become race car drivers, and own fleets of flashy limousines.  They will discover the lost city of Atlantis and raise it from the sea, or fly rocket ships to the farthest stars.

Self-Defeating Traps

Tragically, the children dreaming these dreams have no means of achieving them, and no one to show them how to implement such goals.

Rather than a source of motivation, their dreams become self-defeating traps, all too often enhanced and perpetuated by illegal drugs in later life. Continue reading

13 Comments

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

Bad Parental Behavior

Juvenile Criminal Law | Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa

Image courtesy of Barnett, Howard & Williams, PLLC

Maryland resident, Cornella Rookard, drove her armed 14 y.o. son to confront another boy.  The teen fired several times at the intended victim from the backseat of his mother’s vehicle with a shotgun.  He was later charged with attempted murder.  His mother was charged with assault, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and reckless endangerment [1].

We assume parents will raise their children to become good citizens, and teach them right from wrong.  Unfortunately, that assumption is often mistaken.

Parental Impact

Parents have enormous impact on the behavior of their children.  Parental interest and encouragement can increase a child’s self-esteem, motivation, and interest in school [2].  The reverse is, also, however, true.

Children who are rejected by their parents, who are inadequately supervised or grow up amid conflict run the highest risk of delinquency [3A].  Where parents are, themselves, involved in criminal activity, that risk increases exponentially [3B].

Absent Fathers

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5: 8).

It may be painful to hear.  But the absence of a father from the home is considered the single most important cause of crime [4].  Boys who do not share a home with their fathers after the age of 10 y.o. – 14 y.o. are twice as likely to be jailed as those from intact homes.  Boys fatherless from birth are three times as likely to be jailed.

This is not intended to cast aspersions on single or divorced mothers.  It is simply to point out that fathers serve a purpose above and beyond procreation (a concept that seems lost on our society). Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Religion, Sexual Abuse

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.

Rejection

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.

Monsters

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. Continue reading

21 Comments

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

Spring

Daffodils, Author Bernard Spragg. NZ, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/volvob12b/34423824293/, (PD)

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and…all the trees of the forest sing for joy” (Ps. 96: 11-12 NIV).

Spring, the season of hope and new life, is here again.  The trees are in bloom, the first tender shoots pushing their way out of the soil, and the children decked out in their Easter finery.

Greeting cards may giddily proclaim the equinox, as if God had not ordained it.  But Spring is more than just our chance to air out the house, lay down mulch, and pull the patio furniture from storage.  It the season that points us toward resurrection, the victory of life over death.

That has special meaning for abuse victims.  We are all too familiar with death and darkness.  The battle with evil is fought (or re-fought) everyday.  It has been part and parcel of our lives for as long as we can remember.  If the abuse has passed, we continue to wrestle with its scars.

Which is why we are astonished by the beauty of daffodils.  Light and life may be foreign to us, but we long for them the way a seed buried in the ground longs for the sun it has not seen.

“ ‘He is not here; for He is risen, as He said’ ” (Matt. 28: 6).

Only one Man in history conquered sin and death.  But He conquered them – absolutely and irrevocably – for the rest of us, even the abuse victims.  Most especially the abuse victims, the outcast, the downtrodden, the poor, the abandoned and forgotten.

We commemorate Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death at Easter.  There is no celebration more profound.  Christ arose from the tomb – once and for all time – to offer us hope and life eternal.

Little wonder that the earth, itself, sings for joy!

Originally posted 3/27/16

Happy Easter!

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

32 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault