Category Archives: Violence Against Women

Gatekeepers – Sexual Harassment in the Music Industry

Lady Gaga interviewed for NFL Network (2016), Author SMP Entertainment, Source Vimeo: SB50 Lady Gaga Interview https://vimeo.com/159307047 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Noel Fisher a/k/a Detail – a Grammy Award-winning music producer and songwriter who worked with the likes of Beyonce, Maroon 5, Jennifer Lopez, and Nicki Minaj – was last month arrested on 15 charges of sexual assault and 5 additional charges of felony assault [1A].

The charges stem from incidents between 2010 and 2018.  Bail was set at $6.29 million.

In her song “Gatekeeper”, Jessie Reyez (co-author of the hits “One Kiss” and “Promises”) described in graphic terms being harassed by a producer she later identified as Fisher:

“Oh I’m the gatekeeper/Spread your legs/Open up/You could be famous/If you come up anywhere else, I’ll erase you.”

-Jessie Reyez, “Gatekeeper” [2A]

Reyez maintains Fisher disparaged her for not having sex to advance her career.  Singers Bebe Rexha and Tinashe had similar experiences with Fisher [2B].

In 2018, Janae Knox, a Fisher assistant, filed suit alleging he asked her to shower with him and demanded sexual favors [2C].  Isabella Mack, another Fisher assistant, filed suit alleging she was forcefully held against her will while Fisher masturbated [2D].  Fisher, also, demanded Mack pose for nude pictures and videos.

In 2019, model Kristina Buch was awarded $15 million in a suit alleging Fisher raped her [1B].

But allegations of sexual assault in the music industry are nothing new. Continue reading

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Turkish Inequality

Anti-femicide memorial in Chile, Author En.el.cielo.con.diamantes, Source https://www.flickr.com/photos/kamelia/2055714461/ (CC BY-SA 2. 0 Generic)

Women in Turkey have rallied in large numbers due to concerns that country may withdraw from the Istanbul Convention [1].  The Convention deals with systemic violence against women, and the state’s role in preventing domestic abuse.

Citing the erosion of family values and traditional gender roles, a small but determined group has lobbied Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to withdraw the country.  What seems behind the effort is an anti-Western sentiment, and the desire to revoke gender-based protections.

Turkey has a long history of femicides, the killing of women and girls by men because of their gender [2A].  Even with the Istanbul Convention in place, 417 Turkish women died as the result of domestic violence last year.  Thus far this year, 205 have been killed.

The murder of 27 y.o. Pinar Gultekin by her former boyfriend ignited the Turkish women’s protests [2B].  Anti-femicide protests have, also, taken place in France, South Africa, Mexico, and Chile in recent years.

Meanwhile, Poland, Serbia, and Croatia are considering abandoning the Convention. Continue reading

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Domestic Violence in Japan

Neon signs in Kabukicho, a “red light” district in Shinjuko, Tokyo, Author Basile Morin (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Domestic violence is not solely a Western phenomenon.  As of June 2017, there were 72,455 cases reported in Japan [1A].  That set a new record.  However, only 2.2% of the victims of spousal abuse there actually contact police.

A Private Matter

Japanese law does allow courts to issue restraining orders [2].  However, domestic violence is largely viewed as a private matter.

In one survey, 58.2% of the 650 victims injured did not feel their problem warranted police help [1B].  Another 34.3% did not seek police intervention because they believed themselves partly at fault, while 22.3% felt police intervention would be pointless.  Many did not recognize that they had been victimized. Continue reading

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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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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.

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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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Gomer – A Study in Self-Sabotage

“Head of a Woman with Her Hair Loose” by Vincent van Gogh, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Author Dennis Jarvis (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

The biblical prophet Hosea lived during a dark period in Israel’s history, around the 8th Century BC.  Though prosperous, the Northern Kingdom had turned away from the one true God, instead worshipping idols.

Against this backdrop, God’s puzzling direction to Hosea was that he should marry a prostitute:

Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1: 2).

Hosea’s troubled relationship with his wife, Gomer, becomes a metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel [1].

Gomer bears Hosea three children, whose names are symbolic of the spiritual deterioration of Israel [2].  But Gomer is repeatedly unfaithful.  Hosea even questions the paternity of the younger children.

Despite that, Hosea is commanded by God to love Gomer (Hosea 3: 1).  God warns Israel of terrible chastisement to come for its sin [3].  Hosea is not though described as punishing Gomer.  Rather, he ransoms her out of slavery.

We can infer that Hosea provides Gomer food and clothing, and treats her tenderly.  Ultimately, Hosea forgives Gomer’s infidelity as God forgives Israel’s.

Motivation

Since Gomer does not speak, we are left to wonder about her motivation.  Here she is, rescued from a life of degradation.  Yet she does not – or cannot – remain faithful.  Did she feel ignored by Hosea?  Did she long for male attention and admiration?  For the excitement of the streets (or the sensuality of pagan worship)?

Self-Sabotage

Why can what we know is wrong sometimes feel so “right”?  For abuse victims, self-sabotage may be part of the answer.

Self-sabotage is the expression of low self-esteem.  Any behavior which undermines our success can fall into this category.  Examples include binge drinking, engaging in unprotected sex, and selecting an alcoholic life partner.  The behavior may be conscious or unconscious.

“Typically, one’s pattern of self-sabotage is closely related to one’s personal issues and family history.   Survivors who grew up in addictive families may self-sabotage by driving while drunk… Survivors from violent families may…[be] beaten or injured.   Survivors from wealthy families often find themselves losing money, getting swindled or making bad investments.  Studies have shown that survivors of child sexual abuse are more likely to be assaulted as adults [4].”

This is not to suggest that abuse victims are responsible for the abuse inflicted on them.  Nor is it meant to imply that victims want to be re-victimized. Continue reading

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Shrapnel – Trauma Beliefs

Shrapnel fragments visible on x-ray, Author Hellerhoff (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING: Graphic Images

The sharp, jagged, metal fragments from an exploding bomb, grenade, or landmine are known as shrapnel.

Shrapnel wounds require special care.  Initially, these are open puncture wounds, with impaled objects so hot that medical personnel are strictly advised to leave them in place. Pressure on shrapnel wounds must be avoided, as this will only cause more damage to surrounding tissues and organs.

After it cools, some shrapnel can be removed surgically [1].  Often, however, surgery would do more harm than good.  There may be hundreds or thousands of small objects.

Over the years, fragments left behind can migrate within the body, making them still harder to find and access.  It is not unusual for shrapnel to remain imbedded for decades [2].

Trauma Beliefs

The same is true for trauma beliefs. When children undergo trauma, they experience strong emotions.  Like scorching metal fragments, these searing emotions highlight the traumatic event.

But children, also, draw conclusions from trauma.  This is their attempt to make sense of the world.  Unfortunately, the conclusions children draw may not be accurate [3].

Since the traumatic event is not fully understood, the child cannot fully process it. Instead, the emotions and faulty conclusions surrounding the trauma remain sharp, jagged, and are re-experienced, again and again.

This happens even after conscious memory of the event has faded.  Like shrapnel, trauma beliefs  remain in the body, and continue to do harm.

False Core Beliefs

Having been abandoned as children, we may fear that others will leave us as adults. Having been abused as children, we may believe ourselves unworthy of love as adults. These core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us may never be vocalized, never questioned.  But they are deeply held.

Trauma beliefs “feel” accurate not because they are, but because we have held them for so long [4].  They “feel” protective, but are actually self-sabotaging [5]. Continue reading

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Becoming Ourselves

It has been said that we become more ourselves, as we grow older.  Superficial beauty fades, and a softer (or, in some cases, starker) beauty takes its place.  This incorporates our scars, evidence of the life we have lived, with and without our consent.

We long, in youth, to be part of a larger whole – the beloved or a noble cause, perhaps.  The paths we take determine greatly – and depend greatly on – whether or not that happens.

The heart calls us to venues and ventures we would never have thought ourselves capable of pursuing, let alone achieving.  Sometimes though it seems we are being led.  Not by our desires alone, but by some external force.

“…[H]e made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver” (Isa. 49: 2).

Most of us must deal with tragedy, along the way.  Some lives are cut short by it.  Grief and loss can arise from many causes in this imperfect world:  abuse, racism, poverty, and violence, to name a few.

We are shaped by these experiences, and can be broken by them.  Chances are, we will be forced to make difficult choices.  Almost everyone is.

For a tree branch to be made into an arrow, it must be stripped of leaves (John 15: 2); fired, so as to become pliable (Isa. 48: 10, Rom. 5: 3 and 8: 28, James 1: 2-4, 1 Pet. 1: 6-7); straightened (Eph. 2: 21 and 4: 15-16, Heb. 10: 24-25); sanded (Heb. 12: 7-11); and oiled (Ps. 104: 15, Gal. 5: 22-23, Eph. 5: 18) [1].

Ultimately, the arrow finds its target.  So, too, will our lives, in God’s hands, find their intended target…even if that target is not what we originally supposed.

We can rely on that.

[1]   All credit for this information about arrow construction, and the biblical citations associated with it goes to Fountaingate Christian Foundation. See, ChurchLink, Bible Study Warehouse, Series:  The Call – Lesson 7,  “Preparation for Ministry”,  http://www.churchlink.com.au/churchlink/bible_studies/call/call7.html. Copyright © 1981, 1996 Paul Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved.

Originally posted 7/10/16

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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