Category Archives: Christianity

Vigilance, Part 4 – Sexual Abuse

National Institutes of Health Sex Abuse Disorders Graph
(PD as work product of federal govt.)

These days, children can become victims of sexual exploitation in a variety of ways.  If the sexual predator is a parent, the incest is likely to be a closely held secret.  Whoever the predator, sexual abuse has long-term, devastating consequences.

The warning signs of sexual abuse include the following [1]:

  • A young child who suddenly has difficulty sitting or walking, suggesting injury to the genital area.
  • A child who suddenly refuses to change for gym or take part in other physical activities at school.
  • A child whose hygiene changes suddenly, since children who have been sexually abused may feel “dirty” and stop bathing (or become obsessed with cleanliness, and wash constantly).
  • A child who demonstrates unusual knowledge of sex or sexualized behavior.
  • A child who becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, especially under the age of fourteen.
  • A child who says s/he has been sexually abused by a parent or caregiver.

We assume that the predator parent or caregiver (uncle, boyfriend, etc.) is likely to be secretive and isolated.  This is not always, however, the case.

The sexual predator may be unusually “protective” of the abused child, often sharply restricting a child’s contact with other children – particularly those of the opposite sex.

Guardians

We are the only guardians children have against the darkness of this world.  It is vital that we remain vigilant on their behalf.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5: 8).

[1]  Prevent Child Abuse America, “Recognizing Child Abuse:  What Parents Should Know”,   https://preventchildabuse.org/resource/recognizing-child-abuse-what-parents-should-know/.

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, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Hospital of Horrors

Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Author Roman Boed of Netherlands, Source Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Most of us view hospitals as places of hope and healing.  According to a federal lawsuit filed last week, Aurora Chicago Lakeshore Hospital does not fit that bill [1A].

Damning Investigations

Investigations by both the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica confirm that children confined to Aurora were subjected to physical and/or sexual abuse there [1B].

Willful Ignorance

Child welfare officials at the Illinois Dept. of Children and Family Services (DCFS) allegedly ignored the issues at Aurora due to a shortage of other psychiatric facilities willing to accept DCFS referrals.

Despite an increased number of complaints to the state’s child abuse hotline regarding Aurora, DCFS did not stop referring patients to that hospital until pressure was applied by watchdog groups and state legislators.

For those reasons, DCFS is, also, named in the suit.

Continue reading

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Full and Satisfying

Nativity scene at St. Viktor Church, Dulmen, Germany, Author/Source Dietmar Rabich (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Can the victims of abuse ever lead full and satisfying lives?  That depends, to a large extent, on how we define “full and satisfying”.

There is no question that abuse can kill.  Those of us who survive may be left with lifelong physical and emotional scars.  Abuse can leave victims struggling with depression, anxiety, and PTSD.  Abuse can turn sex into a weapon, in the desperate search for love.  Abuse can lead to self-medication, with drugs or alcohol.

But that is not the whole story.  Not by a long shot.

“…even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by so doing change himself.  He may turn a personal tragedy into a triumph.”

– Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

The psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning described his experiences as a prisoner at Auschwitz concentration camp.  He concluded that human beings strive for purpose, and that – whatever our circumstances – we have the ability to give life meaning through love, work, and suffering.

At first glance, that may not make sense.  Oh, most of us would agree that life can be given meaning by romantic love, perhaps brotherly love.  After some thought, we might be persuaded that life can be given meaning by work – even tedious or menial work, if done to support the ones we love.

Yet suffering? Not such a stretch as it might seem.  We recognize the concept of sacrifice in a noble cause (love of God, love of country, etc.), and sacrifice for the sake of a beloved.  Mothers who have lost a child will understand that their grief is, in part, a testament to that child.

How does this relate to abuse victims?  Well, we have certainly suffered.  That our suffering was not to any purpose makes it all the more cruel.  We were innocent victims.  Blameless.

And that is the place to start… Continue reading

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A Modern Plague – Trafficking in a Small Town

Main Street, Smyrna, DE, Author Dough4872 (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

The I-95 Corridor which links New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington DC with Miami is a major conduit for human trafficking, a plague that has spread across this country [1A].  According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as many as 100,000 children each year are victims of sex trafficking in the US.

Some 70% of trafficking incidents occur at truck stops.  There, predatory pimps seek out desperate young girls and boys, often runaways [1B].  Most vulnerable are children between the ages of 12 and 14 from broken homes, with low self-esteem and a history of trauma [1C].

Given its nightlife and gambling, Jersey City is considered a trafficking hot spot [1D].

Though situated on the I-95 Corridor, Smyrna – a small town in Delaware founded before the American Revolution – would seem an unlikely location for a human trafficking operation.  However, Smyrna police this week arrested James Walls and Sha Shen at the Kiki Spa for prostitution and human trafficking [2]. Continue reading

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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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The Mormon Maddoff – Fraud and Financial Abuse

Mugshot of Bernie Madoff, Author US Dept. of Justice, Source http://money.cnn.om (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Shawn Merriman headed an investment firm, and served as a lay bishop of the Mormon Church.  Over a period of 15 years, he scammed $21 million from friends, family, and church members – gaining a dubious title as “The Mormon Madoff” [1][2].

Affinity Fraud

Using a Ponzi scheme, Merriman duped a total of 68 investors.  Exploiting his position as a bishop, Merriman gained the trust of fellow Mormons.  Church members who had invested, then encouraged others to invest.

Like Madoff, Merriman touted his investments as both “exclusive” and secure.   Rather than investing the money he was given, however, Merriman used it to support a lavish lifestyle.

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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Cycle of Violence

Image by US Marine Corps. in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (ID No. 091016-M-6664G-001) (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Violence in the home greatly increases the chances that children raised in that home will eventually become violent or select violent partners.

The National Youth Survey Family Study followed over 1600 families across three generations.  Nearly 4 out of 5 families where domestic abuse took place had adult children who perpetrated violence against their partners; 3 out of 4 such families had adult children who become victims of crime [1].

In the study, 92% of parents and 81% of their adult children admitted committing an act of violence against a partner.   Similarly, 66% of parents and 36% of their adult children admitted being victimized.

The acts of violence children witnessed included pushing, grabbing, slapping, hitting with an object or a fist, beating, choking, threatening with and/or use of a weapon, and attempted murder.

According to Violence against Women in Families and Relationships, “Globally, wife-beating is seen as justified in some circumstances by a majority of the population in various countries, most commonly in situations of actual or suspected infidelity by wives or their ‘disobedience’ toward a husband or partner.”

And so the tragic cycle of violence repeats itself.  Blood begets blood.

Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9: 6).

[1]  Crime Victims Institute, “Generational Cycles of Intimate Partner Violence in the US:  A Research Brief” by Kelly Knight, et al, 2013, http://www.crimevictimsinstitute.org/publications/?mode=view&item=40.

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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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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