Category Archives: Religion

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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A Voice for the Poor – The Parallels Between Poverty and Abuse

Poverty in Chicago, IL (1974), Author/Source Danny Lyon for National Archive and Records Administration (NARA Record 1709309; NAID 555950), Original Source Environmental Protection Agency (PD as work product of federal govt.)

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31: 8-9 NIV).

Poverty and abuse have much in common.

The traumatic and repetitive nature of child abuse, and the huge imbalance of power between adult and child, can leave profound psychological scars on victims – scars that may include PTSD, depression, and anxiety to name a few.

Often, victims are left with a fear of authority as adults.  The impact of poverty is surprisingly similar.

Fear of Authority

Their hopes chronically dashed and their pleas for justice routinely ignored, the poor frequently assume further effort on their part will be futile.

People who have been repeatedly downtrodden – deprived of basic necessities, cheated of their rights by abusive landlords and the host of other scam artists who prey on the poor – will forget that they have a voice, and throw in the towel (already exhausted). Continue reading

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National Missing Children’s Day

Etan Patz, Author Stanley K. Patz (CC BY- SA 3.0 Unported)

In April of last year, Operation Empty Nest (an undertaking by the U.S. Marshals Service, Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children) achieved a small miracle [1][2].

Led by Gerald “Jerry” Dysart of the US Marshals Service/Missing Child Unit, this joint federal, state, and local law enforcement operation succeeded in rescuing 16 child victims of physical and sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and exploitation.  Victims were between the ages of 4 and 17.

In addition to the 16 who had been reported missing, another 11 were found alive. Continue reading

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Fate of the Predator

“Well, I was there and I saw what you did.
I saw it with my own two eyes.
So you can wipe off the grin.  I know where you’ve been.
It’s all been a pack of lies…
Well, I remember.  I remember, don’t worry.
How could I ever forget?…
The hurt doesn’t show; but the pain still grows.
It’s no stranger to you or me.”

In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins

Justice demands that predators – those who harm children for their own pleasure – be punished for their crimes, and prevented from harming additional victims.  But the justice system necessarily has limitations.

Proof can be difficult to come by.  A child may not survive the abuse or may not be able to speak of a violation for years.  Parents may choose that their child not undergo the rigors of a trial.  Predators may be institutionally shielded (as by the Roman Catholic Church), may relocate, assume a new identity, or even pass away, in the intervening years.  Supportive evidence can be lost.

This does NOT warrant vigilantism.  Whatever the temptation, we cannot ally with evil. The end does not justify the means.

What then is the fate of pedophiles? Recidivism is a grave concern.  There are predators whose conscience is seared to such an extent that it no longer functions.  One study, however, found that suicide among non-violent child sex offenders is 183 times more common than in the general public [1].  There are, of course, victims who commit suicide, as well.

In the end, our fate is not dependent on the fate of the predator.  That bears repeating.  Justice matters.  But our fate is not dependent on the fate of the predator.

Whatever the outcome in a particular case, we can trust that there will be perfect justice in the next world, if not in this.  “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice…” (Deut. 32: 4).

[1]  National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, “Differential suicide rates in typologies of child sex offenders in a 6-year consecutive cohort of male suicides” by C. Pritchard and E. King, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16040578.

Originally posted 3/2/14

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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“Abuse Victim Has a Message for Attackers” by Kegan Wesley

WARNING: Graphic Images

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5: 17).

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

Witness to Evil

Children at prayer, Author Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/99247795@N00/3750019119 (CC BY-SA 2. 0 Generic)

The Catholic Church sex scandal is well-known.  Tragically, it is not isolated.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses

The Jehovah’s Witnesses – considered a cult by mainstream Christian denominations for their failure to recognize the full divinity of Christ – maintain what is believed to be the world’s largest database of undocumented child molesters [1][2][3].

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the non-profit which oversees the more than 8 million Witnesses, has repeatedly refused to comply with Court orders to release that database.

The Watchtower’s Office of Public Information indicates that its policies on child protection comply with the law.  Barring a confession, however, no member can be formally accused of committing a sin without two credible witnesses.  Of course, sexual abuse is not generally a public event.

When child molestation is uncovered, the Witnesses do not routinely notify police [4].

Substantial jury verdicts have been handed down against this religious organization.

The Amish and Mennonites

Investigation into sexual abuse among Amish and Mennonite communities has revealed abuse as “an open secret spanning generations” [5].  At least 52 cases have come to light in the past 20 years, across seven states.  But that number does not reflect the true scope of the problem.

Victims who report rape and incest may be sent to “mental health” facilities or threatened with excommunication. Continue reading

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Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Community, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse

“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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Hallelujah

The poet Leonard Cohen spoke of love more powerfully than I ever will.  His ode to lost love, “Hallelujah”, seems somehow appropriate to these difficult times.

Abused or not, we have all known heartbreak.  The pain can be so bad we find it difficult to breath.  But keeping faith is the hard part.  Faith in love.  Faith in God.  Faith that life will once more be worth living.

It is that kind of faith we must find within ourselves right now.

It is easy to shout “hallelujah” when we are in love.  Easy to praise God when times are good…though often those are the very times we forget Him.  We have to dig deeper when times are tough. Continue reading

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Grenade – The Impact of Incest

WWII grenade, Author J-L Dubois (PD)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

A romantic dream unfolds lazily.  A man and woman who are obviously attracted to one another banter playfully.  The scene shifts and they kiss passionately. 

Then a grenade goes off.  The man’s image is replaced with that of the woman’s father.  He states blandly that she initiated their sexual encounter, that the fault for the incest is hers. 

Though she knows the accusation is false, though the incest was years in the past, though she was a child at the time, though there was never any “romance” involved, the horror is overwhelming.  It continues even after the woman awakes.

Incest is rarely discussed in polite company, and then in hushed terms.  The damage it inflicts is like that of a grenade going off.  Hopes are shattered.  Lives are destroyed.  And the grenade never stops inflicting damage, leaving lifelong scars.

The metaphor may sound extreme.  Tragically, it is not.

The victims of incest experience enormous guilt and shame.  But the fault is NEVER theirs. Continue reading

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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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