Category Archives: domestic violence

Vulnerability, Part 2

As we mature into adulthood, we gain not only physical and emotional strength, but power over our lives.  This opens up new opportunities, and options never available to us before.

Distinguishing between the feeling of vulnerability and actual vulnerability becomes crucial.

“…Do I need to better protect myself from a danger in the environment?  Or do I need to muster the courage to face something that isn’t going to kill me and that can help me grow stronger and more confident?  Often we can conflate the two…Once we determine what our vulnerable feelings are about, we can thus make a decision to protect ourselves from real danger, or face an opportunity for personal growth by facing real feelings, emotions and needs…”

-“Stephen” of Therapy Glasgow, https://therapyglasgow.com/2020/04/26/the-vulnerable-self/

Barricades

In an effort to protect ourselves, we may be tempted to erect emotional barriers, barricades against further abuse.  This is only natural.  To the extent that we re-establish safe boundaries, it is all to the good.

But we must remember that barricades can become traps for those inside.  Inadvertently, we may cut ourselves off from the opportunities now accessible to us, and the very relationships which might help us to heal. Continue reading

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Vulnerability, Part 1

Enchanted Rose

Enchanted Rose from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” (Disney Wiki/Creative Commons), courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine

In the Disney version of the fairytale “Beauty and the Beast”, an enchanted rose is shielded against the elements by a glass dome.  Though sheltered and hidden away, the rose remains fragile and continues to lose its petals.  In so doing, it presents a perfect picture of vulnerability.

The victims of child abuse are all too familiar with vulnerability.  We were preyed upon at our most vulnerable – at a time when we should have been protected and nurtured.

It is only reasonable that we retain a sense of fragility, along with the recollection of our very real abuse.  This is an echo of the intense fear we experienced as children.

Feeling Vulnerable v. Being Vulnerable

But there is a difference between feeling vulnerable, and being vulnerable.  To save our own lives, we must learn to distinguish between the two.

“…I might feel vulnerable whilst speaking of things I have kept hidden for a long time, whilst there is no actual threat to my existence.  By revealing myself I reveal truths that I may not yet have fully accepted in myself.  I may in fact be safe, but the experience of exposure feels like I am in danger….

By contrast, I might actually be vulnerable standing out on the ledge of a forty-storey building, where the merest breeze might shift my balance sufficiently to result in a terrifying death a few seconds later.”

-“Stephen” of Therapy Glasgow, https://therapyglasgow.com/2020/04/26/the-vulnerable-self/

Life was not meant to be lived under glass.

This series will conclude next week.

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

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Domestic Abuse in a Time of Corona

Indications are that the coronavirus pandemic is increasing domestic violence [1A].

Arrests for domestic violence rose by 27% in Portland,OR in March. Domestic assault and battery reports rose by 21% in Seattle, WA and 22% in Boston, MA during the same period.  The Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline has experienced its highest call volume in 20 years.

“Domestic violence is rooted in power and control, and all of us are feeling a loss of power and control right now.”

-Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of National Domestic Violence Hotline [1B]

With stay-at-home orders in place across the country, the isolation victims typically endure has only been heightened.  Fear of infection, job and financial losses exacerbate the stress on victims and abusers alike.  The fact that gun sales have  spiked is not helping the situation [2]. Continue reading

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“Easter Peace Meal” by Joseph Veneroso

“Head of Mary Magdalene” by Alexander Ivanov (1834), Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia (PD-Art, PD-Old)

“Mary Magdalene mourns alone.
‘Woman, why are you weeping?’
the…Gardener asks.
‘Sir, if you have taken him,
tell me where he is.’
Lightning illumines her darkened soul
when she hears her name
spoken with such tenderness:
‘Mary’…

We are Emmaus bound,
downcast and discouraged,
without hope or happiness
till a Stranger opens our minds,
sets our hearts on fire,
sits with us at table,
and breaking bread,
bestows on us
and all the world
amazing grace.”

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse https://avoicereclaimed.com

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Those Who Care

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to ravage the globe, the world applauds the efforts of healthcare workers on the frontlines of this pandemic.  Those who care – whether the context is war, crime, natural disaster, illness, or abuse – rarely receive the credit they are due.

But they make a world of difference for the rest of us.

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

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Beautiful in His Sight

“Figure of Christ” by Heinrich Hofmann (1884), Source https://i.pinimg.com/originals (PD-Art, PD-old)

Abuse frequently destroys the faith of victims, undermining our capacity to trust.  While we may reject God or despise Him, He loves and values us.  It can be difficult for us to reconcile God’s love with our experience.  But that love is real.

Let me try and explain what I mean.

Self-Worth and the Cross

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3: 16).

As abuse victims, we were taught at an early age that we were worthless.  Our needs were insignificant.  Our feelings did not matter.  Our bodies were not our own.

These were the inferences we drew from our experience with those who rightly should have loved and cared for us.  God, however, sees things differently.  To Him, we are of infinite value.  He proved it by giving His Son, Jesus Christ over to a death on the cross for our sakes.

Our value is not governed by a predator’s opinion of us.  It was established for all time at the cross.  No one need add to it.  No one can detract from it.

God’s Unconditional Love

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies” (Ps. 36: 5).

God’s love for abuse victims is limitless and unconditional.  The concept of unconditional love may be foreign to us.  We were taught that love was unreliable.  It had to be earned, over and over again.  Most of us paid a high price for a counterfeit version of love.

Sin and Our Relationship to God

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8: 1-2).

God’s love is not withdrawn when we make mistakes or fall short.  We grieve His heart at such times, but He does not turn away from or reject us.  We are His beloved children.  Even when our relationship with Him is rocky, He continues to love us immeasurably. Continue reading

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Foster Care – A Failed System

Changes in Congregate Care in 8 States (9/30/04-9/30/13), Author US Govt. Accountability Office (GAO), Source https://www.gao.gov, (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Reporting by the Washington Post confirms what the public has long known.  Our foster care system is failing, nationwide.

One major flaw involves the use of detention centers and similar facilities to house children who have committed no infraction whatsoever [1A].

Warehousing

“…in an era when a surging number of biological parents are falling into the grips of drug addiction, and child welfare systems are struggling with a shortage of foster parents…case workers and courts have been funneling children into crowded emergency shelters, hotels, out-of-state institutions and youth prisons — cold, isolating and often dangerous facilities not built to house innocent children for years [1B].”

Both literally and figuratively, children taken into foster care for their own protection are instead being warehoused with rapists and murderers.  Some are forced to sleep on cement floors with harsh fluorescent lights on during lockdowns.

Scope of the Failure

Because foster care is decentralized, accurate figures are difficult to come by.

As of 2013, approximately 56,000 of the 400,000 children in foster care across the country (14% of the foster care population) were living in what is known as “congregate” care – group homes, detention centers, residential drug treatment facilities, and the like [2].  In West Virginia, fully 71% of 6800 foster children between the ages of 12 and 17 have been relegated to such institutions [1C].

The Opioid Crisis is greatly increasing those numbers. 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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