Category Archives: Sexual Assault

Poison

King Cobra, Author Vishnukanayathil (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Their wine is the poison of serpents, and the cruel venom of cobras”(Deut. 32: 33).

Across time and across the globe, women have been harassed, threatened, imprisoned, violated, and put to death for seeking equality with their male counterparts.

There have been political, cultural, and religious reasons given for this inequality.  But at heart is the matter of poison.  Not a chemical or biological agent of warfare (though there is a kind of war being fought), this is instead an insidious poison of the mind.

Simply put, many consider half the population of the earth – the female half, the very mothers who bore them – less worthy than the other, male half.  This toxic belief corrodes nations and cultures, along with relationships and individuals.  It establishes and enforces a power differential in favor of the male members of society which is a temptation toward abuse.

More than that, the inequality violates the laws of God.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1: 27).  

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

Sin has, throughout history, distorted the relationship between men and women.

Though the Old Testament prophetess, Deborah, more than capably judged Israel; though women were faithful at the cross, and the first to arrive at the empty tomb; though Mary, Persis, Priscilla, Tryphena, and Tryphosa were just a few of the women who ministered in the early church; and though God pours out His spirit on sons and daughters alike (Joel 2: 28-29; Acts 2: 17-18), Christianity has not been immune to this distortion.

There has been a great deal of emphasis on the submission of wives to their husbands (Eph. 5: 22-24; Col. 3: 18), and very little on the requisite love by husbands for their wives (Eph. 5: 25-26, 28-29, 31; Col. 3: 19, 1 Pet. 3: 7).

This skewed emphasis by the church has done greatest damage – both spiritually and physically – in regard to abuse.  Over the centuries, women have again and again been counseled by their priests and ministers to remain in abusive marriages, even at the risk of their lives.  For many of these women, the poisonous belief that they were of less value than men proved lethal.

Abuse is, of course, biblically prohibited.  Submission to another flawed human being was never intended to supersede the right of self-defense [1].

Nor does forgiveness by the victim necessarily restore trust.  That may be lost forever.  Certainly, an abused woman is not required to return to a situation she perceives as dangerous.

Christianity is the antidote to this and other poisons like it.  Male and female, let us live our faith as Christ would have us do.  Let us treat one another with kindness and respect that the warfare between the sexes may end, and the world may see in us — men and women alike — the image of Christ.

_____

[1] The Christian concept of “headship” (Ephesians 5: 22-33) is best assessed vis a vis the servant leadership modeled by the Lord (Mark 10: 42-45).

Originally posted 5/30/12

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 Abuse of Power, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Justice, Rape, Religion, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women

A Dangerous Thing

Traditional millstone used to crush olives in making oil, Sardinia, Italy, Author Giancarlo Dessi (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matt. 18: 6 Berean Study Bible).

Sexuality is a dangerous thing.  The Weinstein scandal has reminded us of that [1].  A power differential allows those with power to exploit those without it – sexually and otherwise.

But the exploited are not always women.  An account in Vulture by a man who alleges he was sexually involved with actor Kevin Spacey at age 14 (and that Spacey, 10 years his senior, attempted to rape him) sheds light on the confusion in a child’s mind, where sex is concerned [2].  Raw though that account is, I recommend it to you.

The Vulture account makes the following points:

  • Children are trusting. They do not question the motives of adults who appear to care for them.  For that reason alone, children can be easily manipulated.  They believe the promises made to them (and lies told them) by loved ones…however farfetched.
  • Immaturity can expose children to dangers of which they are unaware. It is the reason we have statutory rape laws in place.  Immaturity can, also, cause children to assume responsibility for circumstances over which they had little or no control…circumstances in which they were, in fact, victimized.
  • Children who have been victimized once are often victimized again.  Those who are emotionally needy are most vulnerable.
  • Children may mistakenly view themselves as adults long before they possess the capacities of an adult.  But judgment and perspective require life experience.  “Sophistication” on a child’s part is no substitute.

Christ, Himself, condemned those who would abuse children.  One way or another, in this world or the next, those who violate that prohibition will find doing so is a dangerous thing.

[1]  According to Entertainment Weekly, 56 women had accused producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment as of October 28, 2017.  Included in that number are Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.  See, Entertainment Weekly, “56 Women Who Have Accused Harvey Weinstein of Sexual Harassment”; 10/28/17, http://ew.com/movies/women-accused-harvey-weinstein-sexual-misconduct/harvey-weinsteins-accusers.  High profile men similarly accused include James Tobak, Oliver Stone, Ben Affleck, Roy Price, and Bill O’Reilly.

[2]  Vulture, “Man Comes Forward to Describe an Alleged Extended Sexual Relationship He Had at Age 14 With Kevin Spacey” by E. Alex Jung, 11/2/17, http://www.vulture.com/2017/11/kevin-spacey-alleged-sexual-relationship.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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Women and Hotel Security, Part 2

“Rape Victim in ZA” by Julian Trinidad Gardea a/k/a Julian Scorpio (2016) (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

There are larger issues than crime raised, in the context of hotel security.

Why are women so often victimized by men, both in hotels and elsewhere?  Why does God allow rape and other acts of violence against women?  What are rape victims to make of God’s promises of security?  Has He abandoned them?

A.  Violence Against Women

The relationship between men and women is complex and culturally varied.  It has though been impacted by sin the world over.

While there are countless good men, who would never think of harming a woman, there are rapists, murderers, and others who take pleasure in doing just that.  Men who vent their frustrations on women, who bully and berate women, who use and desert even the mothers of their children.

B.  Gender Inequality

Many such men do not recognize their actions as evil.  They define women – all women, including their own mothers – as less worthy than men.  In effect, less human than men.

This inequality is re-enforced to varying degrees by restrictions on the activities women may undertake outside the home, diminished opportunities for women regarding education and advancement in a given society, the treatment of women by the courts, and the stigma imposed by varying religions on women who violate such norms [1][2].

But the inequality between men and women is not of God’s making. Continue reading

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Women and Hotel Security, Part 1

Front Desk, Marriott Hotel, New Orleans, LA, Author prayitno, Source Flickr (CC Attribution 2.0 Generic)

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he [the wounded man] was.  And when he saw him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds…and…brought him to an inn…” (Luke 10: 33-34).

Inns offering travelers a place to rest have existed since Greco-Roman times.  Standards were, however, different in those days.

The inn might consist of a room in someone’s home, or a large building charging a fee to provide individuals or passing caravans with a meal and shelter.  A traveler would be grateful to stretch out on the ground for a night’s sleep.

Hotel Crime

Glitzy as they may appear today, hotels are not always safe places for women.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that there were on average 7840 annual hotel and motel incidents qualifying as “violent victimizations” (rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated or simple assault) between 2004 and 2008 [1].

In view of the recent attack at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, it would seem we must add mass shootings to the list [2].

But hotels may not file insurance claims for all losses, or report all crimes to police [3].  Protecting the hotel brand is often considered paramount. Continue reading

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Trafficked, Part 1

“White Slave” by Abastenia St. Leger Eberle (c. 1913), Source Journal Publication (PD-ArtlOld-100)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The website Backpage.com made tens of millions of dollars running “adult” classified ads for escorts and erotic services (many offering children).  Faced with a Senate investigation, a grand jury inquiry in Arizona, and two federal suits in California, the site removed such ads earlier this year [1A].

That has not stopped the trafficking of children.

Amber Alert

Labels like “Amber Alert” and “Lolita” (intended to signal the involvement of children in sexual activity) may have been replaced with phrases like “100% young” and “oh daddy can I be your candy” [1B].  But ads like those under investigation continue to run in the dating section of the site, as well as elsewhere online.

Children in the Sex Trade

The majority of children involved in the sex trade come from poor and dysfunctional families.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 35% of the underage prostitutes charged nationally are African American.  In some geographic areas, that percentage is even higher.

While it is uncertain how many children are forced into prostitution annually, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates there was an 800% increase between 2010 -2015 due to the increased sale of children for sex online.

Missing

“Scared and cold,
first night on the streets
Your body hurts
from your head to your feet…

Gotta dollar-fifty,
every penny gotta spend
Make a wrong move…Boom –
your life comes to an end

-Daniel, 16 y.o., “Run Away” [4]

According to the National Crime Information Center, there are some 435,342 children currently missing in the United States.  While custody disputes account for a large percentage of the children reported missing,  the suspicion by law enforcement is that the remaining children – at least those still alive – are being trafficked. Continue reading

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Hostile Territory

Staged scene of bullying at Pres. Errázuriz Regional Institute (IRFE), Author Diego Grez (GNU and CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

A security camera inside Carson Elementary School in Ohio recorded the assault on an 8 y.o. boy by a fellow student in a restroom.  Other children are believed to have struck and kicked Gabriel Taye as he lay unconscious, then stepped calmly over him. Two days later, the boy hanged himself [1].

Impact of Bullying

The victims of bullying are more likely to feel disconnected from their peers, self-isolate, and perform poorly in school [2A].  They can have low self-esteem, feelings of emptiness, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Physical problems, also, occur. Victims may have headaches and stomach aches, problems sleeping, and difficulty concentrating – all contributing to higher absenteeism (school avoidance) [2B].

In extreme cases, victims may self-harm (via cutting, alcohol, or drugs) and/or attempt to take their own lives.  Tragically, some like Gabriel Taye are successful.

School Safety

Which begs the question:  Are schools keeping our children safe?  The evidence strongly suggests they are not.

An investigation by the Associated Press uncovered an astounding 17,000 official reports of sexual assault by students in elementary and secondary schools over a four-year period [3A]. Continue reading

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Absent, Part 4 – “Gangsta” Culture

Author Roxe (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Author Roxe (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

“Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.  Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity…” (Titus 2: 6-7).

So called “gangsta” culture, also, feeds into the problem of absent fathers in the inner city.

Gansta culture (no longer confined to a single race) embraces a super-macho image which prizes male power and gang loyalty above everything.  For many, gangs take the place of family which is one reason they command such fierce loyalty.

The merest slight, even if unintended, may be perceived as disrespect.  Disputes are resolved by violent means.  The domination of women is glorified, which is why misogynistic lyrics are common in gansta rap.

The truth is that the boys fathering children never knew a father either.  The grown men acting like boys are displaying their immaturity – not their strength.  A large ego is a fragile ego.

The victimization of women has always been a way for men to vent their frustration with a society they felt robbed them of their due.

Community Impact

There is a negative impact from absent fathers, not only on individual lives, but the whole community.

“For a variety of reasons, including the lack of jobs, equal education and crime, many of those communities are now gripped in deep violence and fear.  Strong, positive, hard working men are there, but in too many situations are not as visible or engaged with their kids or the other kids in the community.  It is as if they leave home, go to work, come home and lock themselves inside their homes in front of TV sets.  Not as many are walking the streets in the evenings, standing at the corner by the school bus stop, sitting in the church, or volunteering at the park or school.”

– Michael Knowles, “The Need for Male Role Models in African-American Communities” [1]

Make no mistake.  There are good black fathers, men who want to be involved in the lives of their sons and daughters.  Men who are sober, employed, and devout. Continue reading

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Semper Fi

US Marine Corps Emblem, Author Institute of Heraldry (PD)

  • As of 2011, there were 203,000 women on active duty in the military; another 129,960 in the National Guard and Reserve [1A].
  • Men and women in the Marine Corps must meet the same standards for combat jobs [2].
  • Though the vast majority of casualties have been men, at least 33 women have been killed in action in Afghanistan and 66 in Iraq. Over 900 women have been wounded in combat [1B].

The Marine Corps has admitted to Congress it is at a loss how to protect female Marines against social media predators [3].

Secretive groups like Marines United and Just the Tip of the Spear have obtained and shared nude photos of female Marines and recruits online [4A].  Other branches of the service are not immune [7].  Hundreds of women are known to have been victimized.

Diminishing Women

This is a way of diminishing women.  Some argue there a culture of misogyny in the Marines.

A Slow Response

Marine veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Thomas Brennan, who runs the nonprofit news organization The War Horse, first drew attention to the problem in January of this year [4B].

The approach by the Marine Corps has been slow, deliberate, and outdated.  Meanwhile, Marines United (which claims some 30,000 members) has repeatedly traded one Facebook page for another.

Continue reading

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The Twins, Part 2 – Perfectionism

Siamese Twins, Nuremberg Chronicles (1441-1514) (PD)

Siamese Twins, Nuremberg Chronicles (1440-1514) (PD-Old)

This post was written in collaboration with Marie Williams whose remarks are highlighted.  Marie blogs at Come Fly with Me, https://mariewilliams53.wordpress.com.

We return to the topic of procrastination and perfectionism, related patterns of behavior in which many abuse victims find themselves trapped.

The part we play in creating our own dilemmas – the large and small crises in our lives stemming from procrastination – was discussed in Part 1 of this series.

Chance for Failure (Imperfection)

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1: 7).

Apart from the problems it would generate for anyone, failure – defined by many abuse victims as imperfection, to any small degree – results in shame and self-revilement for us.  Since creating these dilemmas greatly increases our chance for failure, the question arises why we persist in creating them.

“The whole time I was procrastinating, I thought myself foolish, an idiot, a dunce, a failure, because who in their right mind, sees a fire starting or about to start, purposely hides the fire extinguisher, forgets where she has put it and then goes and reads a book, deciding to deal with the fire when it becomes bigger and more unmanageable?  Because that is what procrastination amounts to when you come to think of it in rational terms.  Yet I could not help myself.”

-Marie Williams

The obvious answer is that we do not believe ourselves capable of accomplishing the task at hand.  Putting it off defers the painful acknowledgment of our own inadequacy.  And it provides us an excuse for failure.  Had conditions been right, had we started on the task sooner, perhaps we might have succeeded after all.

Again, the question is why.  Why are we so certain of failure?  This goes directly to our childhood abuse. On an unconscious level, we create these dilemmas to replicate the abuse which is what gives them such power over us. 

We were told repeatedly how inadequate we were.  Told how ugly, stupid, skinny, fat, or retarded we were.  Told that we would never amount to anything.  Or we were ignored entirely, starved for food and affection both.

No shock that we doubt and second guess ourselves, wrestling over decisions.

“I floundered when faced with choices.  Wanting to please and be approved of ALL THE TIME, I became lost in my own lack of confidence.  This, I think, was due to the fact that I couldn’t manage the abuse.  I adopted the same response to situations which generated that same confusion in me.”

-Marie Williams

Failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Our abusers are “proven” right.  So it seems to us.  Our failure couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the damage they inflicted on us.  Nooo. Continue reading

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The Twins, Part 1 – Procrastination

Entwined Geminis, Safavid Dynasty, Persia (c. 1635), Author Unknown, Source pinterest.com (PD)

Entwined Geminis, Safavid Dynasty, Persia (c. 1635), Author Unknown, Source pinterest.com (PD)

This post was written in collaboration with Marie Williams whose remarks are highlighted.  Marie blogs at Come Fly with Me, https://mariewilliams53.wordpress.com.

“Most of my life has been spent circling or avoiding important things that I need to do and I get very frustrated with myself.  Sometimes, I find myself trying to locate passports or important papers at the 11th hour, when I’ve had ample time to deal with matters like this.”

-Marie Williams

Procrastination and perfectionism are patterns of behavior well familiar to abuse victims, twin destructive forces that have deep meaning for those who have suffered abuse.

We invest the necessary (the “shoulds” and “musts” of life) with the power to annihilate us, or at least demolish the fragile image we have of ourselves.  Then we defer, delay, and defer again – certain that we will fail to meet our own expectations.

Failure is a foregone conclusion, given that our expectations are, by definition, unattainable.

Let’s unpack that dynamic.

Real Deadline/Chaotic Life

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven…” (Eccl. 3: 1 NKJV).

Federal income taxes are due April 15.  This is a real deadline – not a secret and not a surprise.  Still, we delay gathering our tax receipts and other records together.

“You live in a state of confusion, and therefore mundane ‘every day’ matters become muddled and murky.  You cannot quite get to grips with simple but important tasks.  You know that you have to present your driving licence for identity and you know it’s in a box somewhere, but it really is too much trouble trying to locate it in good time.  So you (at the last minute) hunt around like crazy trying to find it – it happens not to be in the box you thought it was in, and you have to turn everything upside down to find it – and all this adds to the chaos of your already chaotic life.”

-Marie Williams

Created Dilemma

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down…” (Prov. 12: 25 ESV).

We may dither over whether to rely on our long-time accountant; visit a less costly tax preparation agency; or use one of the computer programs which now allow us to do the taxes, ourselves.  We may put off making copies or doing something else insignificant, related to tax preparation.  What that is does not matter.

We, in other words, create the dilemma. Continue reading

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