Category Archives: Religion

Why Parents Kill

“The Sacrifice of Abraham” by Giovanni Beinaschi (c. 1636), Musee des Beaux-Arts de Brest, Source https://musee.brest.fr (PD-art, PD-old-70)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

  • In 1994, divorced mother, Susan Smith, deliberately drowned her two young sons [1]. First fabricating a story that she had been hijacked, Smith ultimately admitted having intentionally rolled her vehicle into a lake with Michael, 3 y.o., and Alex, 14 m.o., still in the backseat.  Smith claimed to be suicidal at the time.  However, testimony at trial revealed Smith’s desire to resume her relationship with a man who did not want children.
  • In 1997, Melissa Drexler, 18 y.o., gave birth in a bathroom stall at her prom, suffocated her newborn, and left the baby’s body in a trash can [2].
  • In 2002, Andrea Yates drowned all five of her young children in the bathtub [3]. Yates had been suffering from serious postpartum depression, and had made multiple suicide attempts.  She was ultimately found not guilty by reason of insanity.
  • Last year, Stephanie Adams, a former Playboy model, pushed her son, Vincent, 7 y.o., out a Manhattan hotel window to his death before jumping herself [4]. Adams was involved in a custody dispute with the boy’s father at the time.
  • Last month, Martin Pereira burned his daughter Zoey, 3 y.o., to death [5A]. Intent on committing suicide, Pereira had placed the child in the backseat of his vehicle, with gas cans in the vehicle and the rear doors chained shut.  Pereira, himself, escaped the blaze at the last moment.  He, too, was involved in a custody dispute.

The names change, but the story remains the same.

A study published in Forensic Science International found that as many as 500 children per year in the United States are killed by a parent [6].  This does not take into account abortions. Continue reading

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Mercy

Illustration from Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice” as published by Hodder & Stoughton (1914), Author Internet Archive Book Images, Source Flickr.com (No known copyright restrictions)

WARNING: Graphic Images

“The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.”

– Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice

  • Myl Dobson, 4 y.o. was hideously tortured by New York caretaker, Kryzie King, during the final months of his life [1]. The youngster had been left with King by his incarcerated father, Okee Wade, whose custody of the boy was actually subject to court ordered supervision. Caseworkers visited the home 9 times without recognizing that the father was absent.
  • In Pennsylvania, a 7 y.o. boy was nearly starved and beaten to death by his mother, Mary Rader, and grandparents, Dennis and Deana Beighley [2]. Weighing only 25 pounds, the child was desperate enough to eat insects on the porch where he was sometimes kept. Dr. Jennifer Wolford of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Child Advocacy Center characterized the boy as “the worst case of medical neglect that I have ever seen…” Two of the boy’s sisters appeared healthy. A 9 y.o. brother was underweight, but not to the same extent.
  • Raymond Frolander’s life was saved by the 11 y.o. boy he molested [3]. The Florida boy’s father walked in on the sexual battery in progress. He beat the predator severely, then went to the kitchen for a butcher knife. According to the father, he would have killed Frolander, if his young son had not at that point intervened.

It is not unusual for victims to exhibit more concern – more mercy, if you will – for their abusers, than those abusers do for them.

What though are we to make of predators such as these? Our first instinct is to draw back in horror, to conclude that these were not human beings at all. These were wolves. Devourers. Continue reading

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Perfection

Ritual of spiritual cleansing at Hindu temple, Author Frazer Macdonald, Source https://500px.com (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Many abuse victims are tormented by perfectionism.  This is the unrelenting pursuit of perfection.  Perfection and perfectionism are not, however, the same.  One is, in fact, antagonistic to the other.

Perfection as a Standard

Perfection has special significance for abuse victims.  As children, abuse victims come under constant and unjustified criticism.  Harsh criticism may be accompanied by still harsher punishments, penalties far beyond anything a loving parent or guardian might administer for a childish infraction.

With time, victims conclude that perfection alone would satisfy their tormentors.  We strive to achieve that.  In reality, no amount of effort could attain the impossibly high standards set for victims.  But the effort is ingrained in us, as is the self-criticism.  So perfectionism begins.

The Need for Approval

As adults, abuse victims are frequently motivated by a need for approval.  We become “people pleasers”, conditioned “to feel bad about [our]selves and to please, appease, accommodate others” [1A].  Studies show that perfectionists of this type may “exhibit…‘a strong sense of duty, which masks underlying feelings of personal inadequacy’ ” [1B][2].

Dirt and Cleanliness

Sexual abuse can add another layer of torment.  Child victims may be too young to understand what exactly is being done to them, other than that it is a painful violation. The violation is commonly, however, associated with cleanliness issues.  This is especially true when children are accused of being “filthy sluts”, “dirty whores”, and the like.

Having been made to feel “dirty”, children may rub dirt onto their skin and clothing.  They may soil themselves, even if long since potty-trained.  In the alternative, they may wash unceasingly; may bathe and change clothes several times a day.

As adults, the victims of sexual abuse are likely to have difficulties with sex.  They may view sex as threatening and disgusting; themselves as soiled by it.  Some can feel nothing sexually.  Others treat sex as a commodity.  Far too many throw themselves into frenzied sexual activity, in a desperate search for the love of which they were deprived.

Most abuse victims do not grow up to become prostitutes.  A great number of prostitutes (male and female) were, however, abused as children

Washed in the Blood

Verses can be found throughout the Bible which refer to cleansing [3].   These are not concerned with soap and water, but with sin and repentance.  They convey something of the power of God to forgive whatever wrongs we may have done, and “cleanse” or rid us of the evil done to us.

The Bible’s cleansing verses are not meant to suggest that abuse victims are somehow filthy or defiled.  The child victims of abuse – even sexual abuse – have NOT sinned, sexually or otherwise.  And God, above all others, understands the extent to which their adult actions may have been impacted by the sins inflicted on them as children. Continue reading

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“Toxic People” by Pastor Dave Orrison

“Narcissus” by Gyula Benczur (1881), Hungarian National Gallery (PD-Art, Old-100)

Pastor Dave Orrison provides an excellent lesson (below) on the responsibility Christians have toward toxic people.  It draws a clear distinction between the charge to love others and the right to protect ourselves against them.

“What is a toxic person? A toxic person is someone who affects you in a negative way, poisoning your heart. In the presence of a toxic person, you become something you don’t want to be. You may be fearful, weak, angry, or even sad, but the emotions you experience will be inconsistent with how you want to feel and how you should feel in a normal relationship. In other words, a toxic person will damage you much like a poison destroys your health.

Narcissists are usually toxic people, toxic at least to certain others. Often through criticism, narcissists consistently bring certain people down. Sometimes by expectations or job requirements. Sometimes by gossip, or negative talk, or comparisons. Sometimes even by violent verbal and personal attacks. However they do it, narcissists bring people down…”

[Continued at https://graceformyheart.wordpress.com/2019/05/03/toxic-people/ ]

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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Skin Suit

Human skin close-up, Author Montavius Howard, Source https://pixabay.com/photos/skin-brown-skin-skin-up-close-2016480/ (CC0)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

This skin suit that surrounds me, more wrinkled now than any “lawyer suit” I ever owned, is no longer smooth, no longer supple.  It is marred by scars and stretch marks, like the tributaries of some ancient river; has been visited by varicosities, by callouses, hives, rashes, and eruptions too often to count.

But once this skin knew the joy of raindrops.  Once it knew the fever that passion evokes.

This skin suit that envelopes me has been bruised, pierced, incised, and sutured; has been burned by the sun to a poison apple red.

This skin has been stroked and patted, been tenderly groomed, oh so tenderly violated, again and again and again and again – each cell silently screaming in protest, recoiling in horror.

This skin suit of mine has served as a witness to all the best and worst aspects of my life, to the weakness and the strength, the failures and the triumphs; has lain prostrate with pain, overcome by grief, yet risen to see the glory of a new dawn, and lived to praise God for His deliverance.

And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God…” (Job 19: 26).

Originally posted 3/5/17

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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Blue Sunday

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Today is Blue Sunday – a day of prayer for the victims of child abuse, and those who attempt to rescue them.

We hope and pray.  But it is difficult to escape the grinding reality of child abuse, to remain in any way positive despite the fact that innocent lives are daily being lost.

Another such tragedy came to light this week, when the body of 5 y.o. AJ Freund was found in a shallow grave [1].

The boy’s parents, JoAnn Cunningham and Andrew Freund, have been charged with his murder.  After subjecting the child to an icy shower, the couple proceeded to beat him to death, then reported him missing to cover their tracks.

Neighbors tied up blue ribbons while the search for the boy was still ongoing.

However, the Illinois Dept. of Children and Family Services had been involved with the family for years.  AJ, you see, was born with opioids in his system.  DCHFS later investigated two more allegations of neglect, documenting horrific living conditions.

AJ’s younger brother has temporarily been removed from the home.  Meanwhile, JoAnn Cunningham is expecting another child [2].


[1]  Chicago Tribune, “Parents of missing 5-year-old AJ Freund charged with murder after Crystal Lake boy’s body found in shallow grave” by Amanda Marrazzo et al, 4/25/19, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-aj-freund-crystal-lake-20190424-story.html.

[2]  Chicago Tribune, “As AJ Freund’s pregnant mother faces murder charge in his death, what happens when her baby is born?” by Angie Leventis Lourgos, 4/25/19, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-aj-freund-crystal-lake-boy-mother-unborn-baby-20190425-story.html.

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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Returning to Toxic Relationships, Part 3

“Healing of the Blind Man” by AN Mironov (2009), Author Andrey Mironov (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

“…He [Christ] spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.  And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’…So he went and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9: 6-7).

The miracle of the blind man is recorded in the Bible to teach us that infirmity is not necessarily the consequence of sin.

Certainly, as the victims of child abuse, we did not, ourselves, sin.  Trauma, however, lefts its mark on us.  Among its scars is the tendency we have to seek out and return to dysfunctional relationships.

What Christ’s love does for abuse victims is heal (or reduce) those scars, and cause the scales to fall from our eyes.  We can see the world more clearly, undistorted by the lies we were told by predators about the nature of love and our own supposed lack of value.

Christ’ love for victims is tender.  “A bruised reed He will not break…” (Isaiah 42: 3).  Rather than inflict pain on us, He grieves over the pain we have endured.  That tenderness restores our self-worth, eliminating the need we feel to return to toxic relationships, and making us again whole.

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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Systemic Evil

  • Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on YouTube. A large volume of child erotica is being monetized on YouTube [1].  The YouTube algorithm unwittingly works to favor child sexual abuse imagery.  Disney, AT&T, Hasbro, Nestle, and McDonald’s have pulled advertising over the fact their ads are running on videos of young girls which pedophiles have sexualized.  YouTube is blocking predatory comments, but not taking down these videos though social media is often used to facilitate grooming.
  • Violation by Labor Secretary of Crime Victims’ Rights Act.  Judge Kenneth Marra has ruled that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act when he arranged a plea deal for multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein without informing victims [2].  Despite having engaged in human trafficking and the abuse of more than 80 underage victims, Epstein was sentenced to a mere 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach county jail.  Acosta, then the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, not only failed to prosecute Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, but denied victims their opportunity to oppose the plea deal in open court or appeal it.  Moreover, the secret plea deal shut down an ongoing FBI investigation, guaranteeing Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from further prosecution.

Continue reading

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Unbiblical, Part 6 – Forgiveness v. Victims’ Rights

“ ‘And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us’ ” (Luke 11: 4).

As I have said elsewhere on this website, forgiveness is a personal matter between abuse victims and their God.  Urging forgiveness on victims prematurely ignores the gravity of their trauma, and the depravity of the sins committed against them.

This amounts to a further violation.  Victims will necessarily feel that Christians are siding with the predator…even condoning the abuse.  Shockingly, in some cases Christians have been guilty of this.

Witness the Catholic Church sex scandal.  This was, at best, a product of poor judgment, and a distorted view of Scripture.  At worst, it was a cold and calculated attempt to avoid corporate responsibility, while facilitating the most heinous of crimes.

Detail from “Christ before the High Priest” by Gerar van Honthorst (1617), National Gallery (Accession No. NG3679), London, Source Web Gallery of Art (PD-Art, PD-Old-100)

Either way, church hierarchy applied precisely the same rationale to young abuse victims, as the high priest, Caiaphas, did to Christ:  “ ‘…[I]t is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish’ ” (John 11: 50).

To be clear, forgiveness is not a “warm and cozy” feeling, on the part of victims.  It is a deliberate decision by victims to leave the harm inflicted on them behind, and instead move on with their lives. Continue reading

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Unbiblical, Part 5 – Self-Sacrifice v. Codependence

Sketch for mural “The Spirit of Self-Sacrificing Love” by Kenyon Cox at Oberlin College, Smithsonian Museum (1983.114.15), Source https://americanart.si.edu (PD-Art, PD-Old-95)

“The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.  We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

– Mother Teresa

Self-sacrifice is natural to Christians, and encouraged.  Christians are to put the legitimate needs of others ahead of their own, in imitation of Christ.  Mother Teresa was a shining example of this.  For abuse victims, however, self-sacrifice can become confused with codependence.

Codependence as an After-Effect of Abuse

Individuals suffering from codependence will allow the emotions and behavior of others to dictate their view of themselves.  Those with codependence will tolerate – even, unconsciously, seek out – relationships that are “one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive verbally or physically” [1].

Codependent characteristics include low self-esteem; fear of anger; denial of any problems with the relationship; and an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the feelings, choices, and actions of the loved one [2].

While on its face, codependence may resemble Christian self-sacrifice, there are distinct differences between the two.

The codependent individual may forego his/her goals and desires to meet the perceived “needs” of a loved one.  But the underlying motive for this is not the welfare of the loved one.  It is fear.

Actually, the codependent individual is attempting to shore up his/her fragile sense of worth, strike an unspoken bargain for love and affection, and maintain the relationship at all costs (however abusive or unsatisfying it may be).  An overly solicitous mother might be a crude illustration.

By comparison, Christian self-sacrifice is not the attempt to manipulate (or placate) an individual perceived as more “important” or powerful.  It is, or should be, truly selfless.

Clinging to an Imitation

None of this is meant to imply that abuse victims cannot love and love intensely.  The problem lies in the fact victims have not seen healthy love modeled.  What feels familiar is a flawed version of love, an imitation.  The real love and support victims need seem out of reach, so we cling to the imitation with all our might, confusing pain for passion. Continue reading

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