Category Archives: Christianity

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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Restored to Life

“Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well” by Angelica Kauffman (1796), Neue Pinakothek, Germany (PD-Art, PD-Old)

Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live…’ ”(John 11: 25).

Jesus actively ministered to women.  He not only healed women (Matt. 8: 14-15), He fellowshipped with them (John 12: 2-3).  And He forgave women their sins (Luke 7: 44-50).

Jesus taught women (Luke 10: 39; John 4: 6-26), upheld their rights in divorce (Matt. 5: 31-32, 19: 3-9), and ignored the laws of ritual purity to address their urgent needs (Matt. 9: 20-22).  Jesus used a Gentile mother, begging for intervention on behalf of her daughter, to illustrate faith (Matt. 15: 22-28), and a poor widow to illustrate generosity (Mark 12: 41-44).

Jesus defended the woman caught in adultery (John 8: 3-11).  Out of compassion, He raised both Jairus’ little girl (Matt. 10: 18-19, 25), and the only son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7: 11-15) from the dead.

And women ministered to Jesus (Luke 8: 1-3).  When all the Apostles but John had fled or gone into hiding, women remained faithful at the cross (Matt. 27: 55-56). While women were not considered reliable witnesses at the time, it was to women Jesus first revealed His Resurrection (Matt. 28: 1-8, Mark 16: 9-10).

Jesus still ministers to women today.  Deadened though we may feel, as a result of abuse, Jesus has the power to restore us to life.  We need only place our trust in Him.

Originally posted 4/20/14

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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A Bed in Hell

Snow geese in flight at dawn, Bosque del Apache, NM, Author John Fowler, Source flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Rather than providing consolation, Scripture can feel like torture to abuse victims.  We hear promises of hope and protection as lies…or “proof” of our unworthiness.  After all, God’s promises were not kept in our case, were they? So it can seem to us.

Worse still, we may fear deep down that the fate “assigned” us was deliberately cruel because of our lack of worth.  This is torment, placing the blame for our pain squarely at God’s door.

But listen to verses 7-11 of Psalm 139:

“…Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.  If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me…”

This is what it means to be a child of God.  We are not spared suffering, but remain the focus of His care and attention at all times.

Our wounds grieve God. More than that, His hands and feet were pierced for our sakes.  We forget this when lost in our own sorrow.

Abuse victims have known the bed in hell.  For us, depression may be the form darkness takes.  Yet in the throes of that illness, we are not forsaken.  God seeks us out despite our anger, despite our despair, despite even our atheism.

Originally posted 11/17/13

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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Acid Rain

Memorial damaged by acid rain, Author JamesPFisherIII (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

The emotional scars from childhood sexual abuse can badly damage a woman’s view of herself.  But any woman’s self-esteem may be skewed by the world’s sometimes superficial values.

Poor self-esteem can be crippling. The negative feelings associated with childhood abuse often hold abuse victims back from becoming all they might.

Sadly, many of us castigate ourselves for problems and perceived “failings” that are actually scars of the molestation, or coping mechanisms we adopted as children to deal with the pain.  The constant self-criticism is like acid rain for the soul, corrosive and debilitating.

God does not evaluate human beings as we do. He looks at the heart, while the world tends to look only at the outer shell (1 Sam. 16: 7).

Scripture emphasizes Christ’s great love for us, and encourages us to combat these negative feelings whenever they arise.

“…[N]either death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord(Rom. 8: 38-39).

Originally posted 11/10/13

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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Reckoning

Jeffrey Epstein mug shot, Author/Source Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Dept. (PD as created by govt.)

A New York grand jury has indicted billionaire, Jeffrey Epstein, on charges of trafficking dozens of underage girls for sex between 2002-2005 [1].

Around 80 victims have come forward, some as young as 14 y.o. at the time.

The girls were sometimes promised modeling contracts, and sometimes given money to recruit other girls.  The promise of modeling contracts is not uncommon, among sex traffickers [2].

A Life of Luxury

Epstein, 66 y.o., led a life of luxury, regularly associating with the likes of Prince Andrew, Michael Bloomberg, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, and Alec Baldwin [3].  With unlimited funds, six opulent homes, and a private island at his disposal, Epstein lacked for nothing.

Nothing, it appears, but character. Continue reading

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Precious

A good-for-nothing man is an evil-doer; he goes on his way causing trouble with false words…” (Prov. 6: 12).

Baby girl, you are so precious.  You are so precious, you don’t even know.  Your Mama and I loved you from the moment she brought you into this world.  Even before that.  Your Daddy left early on, but we loved you just the same.

We rocked you, walked the floors with you when you were teething, saw you take your first step.  We cooked for you, we mended your clothes.  We saw you on the bus that first day of school.  You were so pretty, your hair all done up in ribbons.  Maybe you can’t remember, but I do.

You and I, we lost your Mama to hard work, then no work, then those devil drugs.  You must have asked me a million times where she was, on those nights she didn’t come home to us.  But she loved you.  She tried her best.  It just wasn’t enough in this cruel world.

Your Mama tried to help you with your lessons, in the beginning, taught you one and one makes two.  Do you remember that?  It was just that the lessons she had to learn were harder – lessons about hard men, and the hard road a woman faces alone.

Now you want to run after this man!  This good-for-nothing man?!  You think he’s going to give you something you don’t already have?  He doesn’t want to give.  All he wants to do is take from you.  Take your hips, take your fresh young face, take your smile.  But you believe his promises, promises as empty as noise.

Is it because your Daddy wasn’t there to tell you how special you are?  Is it because you didn’t see yourself in his eyes?  We tried, your Mama and I, tried to tell you that, tried to show you every which way we could.  Try and remember, baby girl. Continue reading

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