Category Archives: Sexual Abuse

The Weight of Sorrow

“Compulsion is despair on the emotional level.  The substances, people, or activities we become compulsive about are those we believe capable of taking our despair away…Compulsive behavior, at its most fundamental, is a lack of self-love; it is an expression of a belief that we are not good enough.”

-Geneen Roth, When Food Is Love

For many abuse victims, food takes on an importance far and above its ability to nourish.  We eat our anger, stuff our guilt (misplaced though it is).  We use food both as a reward and a punishment.

The smallest morsel can set in motion a binge.

Weight issues feed into the sense of loneliness and isolation abuse victims already feel.  The life opportunities of which weight deprives us should be penalty enough.  But our losses generate regrets, and we carry those regrets forward, along with the pounds.

Purposes Behind Compulsive Eating

Like drinking to excess, compulsive eating serves two basic purposes.  While ostensibly numbing our pain, it actually recreates the emotional experience of abuse – our fear, our helplessness, our shame, our rage.  And it re-affirms (albeit in a dysfunctional way) that we deserve to have our needs met.

Self-Blame

“We had nothing to do with the reasons our parents abused or left or violated us.  We believed we did because blaming ourselves for the sorrow gave us some measure of control over it.”

-Geneen Roth, When Food Is Love

Though we were not abandoned, neglected, or abused because of what we weighed, weight issues become a “safe” focus for the emotions associated with our abuse.

We can now blame ourselves for the negative feelings the abuse caused, rather than blaming the loved ones who inflicted it on us.  But the least dieting failure feels like a sin, as well as a defeat. Continue reading

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Alleged Aboriginal Abuse

Indigenous Australian playing didgeridoo, Author Graham Crumb, Source gallery.imagicity.com/ (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

ABC in 2006 aired a show that alleged significant child sexual abuse among Australian Aboriginal communities [1].

In response, the Australian government commissioned an investigation into child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory. That, in turn, resulted in controversial legislation known as “the intervention”.  Many believe this did more harm than good.

The risk of Child Protection System involvement for Aboriginal children in Australia between 1986 and 2017 was some 7 times that of non-Aboriginal children [2].  Much of this was due to the extreme poverty in which Aboriginal communities lived.  Illness, drug addiction, and violence were related issues.

Racial bias on the part of government officials often led to harsh policies.

As a result:

  • Aboriginal children were more than twice as likely as non-Aboriginal children to experience high levels of distress.
  • Aboriginal children were less likely than non-Aboriginal children to receive formal education, and 18 times more likely to be admitted to youth detention.
  • Aboriginal children had a shorter life expectancy than non-Aboriginal children (boys 10.8 years less, girls 8.6 years less). Continue reading

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Finding Ourselves

In the day that God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.   He created them male and female, and blessed them…” (Gen. 5: 1-2).

Each of us is made in the image of God, and each unique.  Abuse can bury that knowledge, along with our hopes and dreams.  We can lose ourselves – can feel so downtrodden, so crushed, that we believe we are worthless.  But that is a lie.

The challenge for abuse victims is to find ourselves again.  To find ourselves and reclaim our lives.

A song like Kelsea Ballerini’s “Miss Me More” may lift our spirits (a step in the right direction).  Even high heels and red lipstick may help.  Scripture, however, serves as a more reliable guide.

Accepted

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Rom. 15: 7 NIV).

In Christ, we are accepted.  After a lifetime of rejection, this is an astonishing experience.

Loved

“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself…” (Eph. 1: 4-5).

In Christ, we are God’s beloved children, members of His own family, selected from the beginning of the world. Continue reading

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Demons

“Litigatio Christi cum Belial” by Jacobus de Theram (1461), Bavarian State Library (PD)

My demons and I are well acquainted with one another.  We have grappled together for over half a century now.  Some days I tell myself I have won a battle.  But another always looms.  And my losses have gradually taken their toll.

There are many times I have hated myself for failing yet again – for the very fact the scars of my abuse remain.  Those are the most dangerous times, the dark mouth of hell yawning before me.

The temptation to give up, give in, can be inviting.  But a light of hope continues to shine, constant if at times faint.  It is the promise of Salvation. Continue reading

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Courage

Motivational poster, Cadiz, Spain, Author Emilio Rodriguez Posada (PD)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Courage comes in all shapes and sizes.  In this instance, it took the form of a captive 14 y.o. girl, in fear for her life.

The girl was a Michigan runaway, kidnapped in Indiana, and forced into prostitution in California.  Though aware that her kidnappers would monitor calls, she bravely reached out to the non-profit, Crisis Text Line, which then contacted police.

As a result, the San Jose Police Dept. raided Motel 6, locating the girl and two other women held there against their will.  Antoine Williams, Christopher Lyon Johnson, and Curtis Lee Russell were arrested, and charged with kidnapping, pimping, and human trafficking.

Crisis Text Line https://www.crisistextline.org/ is a free service that connects people in crisis with counselors.  Over 100 million messages have been processed to date.

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).

[1]  People, “How a Text From a 14-Year-Old Girl Busted an Alleged Sex Trafficking Ring” by Christine Pelisek, 5/31/19, https://people.com/crime/text-14-year-old-girl-alleged-sex-ring/ .

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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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Prostitution, Religion, sex trafficking, Sexual Abuse

A Survivor Turns Advocate

Kidnapping Survivor, Elizabeth Smart, Author KOMUnews, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/komunews/7405187850/ (CC BY-SA 2. 0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Elizabeth Smart – kidnapped, raped, and tortured over a 9-month period, as a teen – has since become a victims’ advocate [1A].

Now in her early 30s, Smart wrote in a recent Instagram post:

“I never thought I would say that I’m grateful for what happened to me as a 14 year old girl but I can honestly say that I’m not sorry it happened to me because of what it has allowed me to do, the people I’ve been able to meet, and the cause that has become and driven such a large part of my life [1B].”

Smart has spoken with the Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association https://www.fppoa.org/ and the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association https://georgiasheriffs.org/index.php/programs-services/sex-offender-registry on the importance of the Sex Offender Registry.

In 2018, she and her husband, Matt Gilmour, welcomed their third child.

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame
” (Joel 2: 25-26).

[1A and 1B]  Newsweek, “Elizabeth Smart Says She’s ‘Grateful’ For Brutal 2002 Kidnapping” by Daniel Avery, 8/28/19, https://www.newsweek.com/elizabeth-smart-grateful-kidnapping-instagram-1456610.

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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Obsessive Love

“Romeo and Juliet” by Frank Dicksee (1884), Southampton City Art Gallery, Source http://www.odysseetheater.com (PD-Art, PD-Old-80)

The TLC channel is currently running a series titled “90 Day Fiance:  Before the 90 Days” https://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/90-day-fiance-before-the-90-days/ .   Alternately engaging, appalling, and cautionary, this reality show depicts couples whose relationships began online.

Though most have never met, all program participants feel certain they have found true love.  The question presented is, have they?  A more telling question might be, do they understand the nature of love at all?

The latter is a question abuse victims must confront, themselves, if they are to heal.

Online Relationships

Unfortunately, online relationships are prone to the distortion of projection.  We see what we want to see; hear what we want to hear.  We fill in the blanks with the image of our ideal, hope fueling our fantasies.

Abuse victims are especially vulnerable to this distortion.

Abuse and Our View of Love

Child abuse – whatever form it takes (emotional, physical, sexual, or neglect) – skews our view of love.  Abuse teaches us that love must be earned, and requires sacrifice on our part to the point of self-destruction.

Deprived of real love, we become desperate for it.  This continues to play out in adulthood.  We settle for crumbs, for partners who beat us, rob us, and cheat on us – all the while sure that we cannot live without them.

Destructive Love

No mere post (or reality show, for that matter) can capture all the complexities of love.  We can though clear up a few misconceptions.

A great deal done in the name of love is destructive.  Women are frequently stalked in the name of love.  Murders are regularly committed in the name of love.  Teens, in particular, commit suicide in the name of love.

Obsession is not, however, genuine love.

A.  Stalking

Social media and romantic comedies portray stalking as a compliment to the object of the stalker’s “affection” – something funny, even sweet [1][2].

In reality, over 7 million people are stalked each year, most by a former intimate partner [3].  Many are physically attacked, raped, and/or killed by their stalker.  Others live in fear – their privacy violated, their sense of safety gone, their loved ones placed in jeopardy. Continue reading

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“Lust” by Dr. Dan Allender

New York City “peep show” window display, Author David Shankbone (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Many men and women, molested as children, become sex addicts.  This excerpt is from an article by Dr. Dan Allender dealing with the spiritual aspects of such addiction.  Dr. Allender is the author of “The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse” (1990).

“…God made us with desire – desire for intimate relationship with Him and for meaningful service in His world.  The Fall perverted those desires.  The quest for intimacy was replaced by a desire for its quickest counterfeit: illicit sexual pleasure. Our God-given desire for meaningful service was twisted to a lust for power over others.  The longing for impact became a lust for control.

These counterfeits appeal to us because they seek to replace God and His high standards with something that is familiar and undemanding.  Paul says fallen man did not worship God but replaced him with the creature (Rom. 1: 18-23).  The creature does not require repentance or gratitude.  The creature does not demand brokenness or service.  Creature worship only requires denying the true emptiness inside and hiding the shame that arises in turning our back on God and others.

…[Changing this form of lust] not only requires giving up something that has worked, to some extent, to fill our empty hearts, but it also necessitates embracing a God who invites us to experience what we deeply despise – brokenness, poverty, weakness, and dependency…Even if the lust is destructive and life-threatening it may be preferable to a God who calls us to love those who harm us…

[T]wo contemporary Christian routes for dealing with lust …at times make the problem worse.  These two routes – self-denial and self-enhancement…often lead to even greater struggles with lust and addiction…

[The first can result in] self-hatred, shame, and contempt which lead to increased sexual struggles.  After decades of failure many with this view either conclude they are oppressed by demons or doubt their salvation.” Continue reading

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Narcissism – Those We Should Not Trust

“Narcissus” by Caravaggio (c. 1596), Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica, Rome (PD-Art, PD-Old-100).

Narcissists are known for extreme self-absorption and a glorified sense of self. 

The victims of their manipulation can suffer life-long, crippling consequences [1].  These may include  a mistrust of loved ones, severe self-doubt, depression, and an obsession with supposed faults.

For the victims of narcissistic abuse, I highly recommend the website of Cynthia Bailey-Rug https://cynthiabaileyrug.wordpress.com/ 

Her post titled “Warning Signs of Those You Shouldn’t Tell about the Abuse in Your Past”  clearly identifies those individuals whom abuse victims should not trust with information about their abuse history.  I have excerpted the warning signs below. 

The full post can be found at:  https://cynthiabaileyrug.wordpress.com/2019/06/09/warning-signs-of-those-who-you-shouldnt-tell-about-the-abuse-in-your-past/.

“…Below are some warning signs that someone is not safe to tell your story to.

If someone refers to your relationship as one where both you & your abuser are at fault for its demise, this person isn’t safe.  We all know that no one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes.  However, when a person is abusive, it’s not an innocent mistake.  It’s a deliberate choice to harm another person.  Any functional person should recognize that!

All victims need understanding & empathy.  Even if a person hasn’t been in an abusive relationship, anyone should be able to grasp that it’s not a pleasant experience & feel badly that anyone experienced that.  Someone who can’t clearly lacks empathy & is a toxic person.

Avoid anyone who trivializes the abuse.  One of my aunts once referred to the abuse I experienced as, ‘childhood hurts.’  That truly hurt me & it destroyed our relationship.  Luckily, it happened well into my healing journey.  If it happens to someone new to their healing, an invalidating comment like this can be devastating!

Those who make excuses for abusers should be avoided.  People who do this are as toxic as the abuser!  They invalidate the victim’s pain & suffering, & even make the victim feel ashamed for not being understanding, or being too sensitive & such.  The truth is there is NO good reason to abuse, period.

People who judge a person’s healing are toxic.  Everyone heals differently & at a different pace.  Many toxic people try to rush a victim along with comments like, ‘You need to let this go.’  ‘It’s been how many months since you left him?’  ‘You told me this already.’  This does no good!  To process & heal from abuse, it takes a lot of time, energy & sometimes even telling the same story over & over in an attempt to make some sense of it.  A person who doesn’t understand that is toxic.

Anyone who uses a person’s faith as a reason they should tolerate abuse is incredibly toxic & should be avoided at all costs.  While God didn’t promise this life would be easy, He never said anywhere in the Bible that tolerating abuse is good & holy.  Yet, there are many who think it is the ‘good Christian’ thing to do, tolerating abuse.  I’m no theologian, but I do recognize that tolerating & enabling abuse is not only wrong, it’s not God’s will.

If you come across these kinds of people, remember, not everyone needs to know your story.  Refuse to discuss it with them.  You don’t need to be abused even more than you already have been!”


[1]  PsychCentral, “Narcissistic Abuse and the Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome” by Dr. Athena Staik, 11/17, https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2017/03/narcissistic-abuse-and-the-symptoms-of-narcissist-victim-syndrome/.

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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Adornment and the Heart

Poster for film Butterfield 8 starring Elizabeth Taylor, Source http://www.movieposter.com (PD copyright not renewed)

Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3: 3-4).

Body image is a complicated issue for child abuse victims.

Disregard for and “separation” from the body is not uncommon among victims.  This is symptomatic of grief and an attempt to distance oneself from the violation.  It may be coupled with the inability to have sex, an attempt to restore innocence and avoid further violation.

The world’s superficial values regarding beauty can reinforce the poor body image from which abuse victims frequently suffer.  Damaged – in our own eyes at least – we often doubt ourselves to be deserving of love, sometimes living out a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The alternate approach is sexual promiscuity, an attempt to regain sovereignty over one’s body and a desperate plea for love.  Elizabeth Taylor delivered a powerful performance illustrating this approach in the movie Butterfield 8.  A large number of women in the sex trade were, in fact, victimized as children.

God’s love does not require that we somehow reinstate stolen innocence.  His love is freely given to all who will invite Him into their hearts – no adornment necessary.

Originally posted 1/17/14

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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