Tag Archives: denial

Filth

Ancient Jewish bath for ritual immersion (“mikveh”), Author Arie Darzi to memorialize the Jewish communities in Spain, Source http://yavan.org.il/pws/gallery!82 (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things…” (1 Cor. 4: 13).

Filth pours out of the wall.  It may look like water, cool clear water, but it is filth.

In fact, the entire bathroom is contaminated.  God knows when it was last cleaned.  The room reeks of the sweat of prior occupants, is covered in a fine white powder from the predator’s own ablutions.

The door cannot be locked; the predator has seen to that.

You take your clothes off preparing to shower, but cannot find a place to lay down the cotton pajamas into which you plan to change.  Perhaps the toilet seat will suffice, if the clothes do not touch the floor, do not touch the wall, do not touch the tank.

You stand naked on the throw rug, an old shag which is, also, filthy, and prepare to step into the tub.  You grit your teeth, avoid looking at yourself in the small mirror that hangs over the sink.  The tub, too, is contaminated.  You know this must be done, so you step over the edge, cringing, toes curled under.

In the shower, you scrub your skin till it is raw.

You dread having to use the only towels available, stiff and worn, rough and faded towels.  You pull one down onto the floor, in order to be able to step out of the tub.  You carefully avoid touching the walls, touching the toilet tank.

You dry yourself awkwardly, as if drying off a stranger, avoid making eye contact with your image in the mirror.  Then you dress, step into slippers, gather your clothes and the used towels in a bundle for the hamper, and step over the threshold, out of the room.

You can never really get clean.  The bathroom may be contaminated by the predator.  But the dirt, the sin, is inside you.

No Escape

“…and though the…young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her” (Deut. 22: 27).

This is how a victim of sexual abuse feels.  We despise ourselves, loathe our bodies, would shed them if we could [1].  This flesh is what he wants.  His hands have been all over it, taking possession of what is no longer ours.

Desperation alternates with hopelessness.  But there is no sign of rescue and no escape. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Strength

Some abuse victims want as adults only to forget their past. That is an entirely legitimate response, and their prerogative.

By contrast, a surprising number of us want to use our suffering to ease the suffering of others. We want to make something purposeful – even beautiful – out of what was painful and ugly. That is a lofty goal which may or may not be achievable [1].

In either case, a few things should be clear.

A Strong Spirit

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40: 29).

Those who somehow survive abuse – physical, emotional, sexual abuse, and neglect or domestic violence – have a strong spirit. This is true no matter the scars we carry forward from abuse or the fears abuse bequeathed to us. We would not otherwise be here.

To say that we are strong does not denigrate the abuse victims who did not survive. Even heroes are mortal. If anything, we are their witness regarding the horrors inflicted on abuse victims (not to mention the  long-term consequences of abuse).

Layers

Abuse can be multi-layered. While we may consider a single individual responsible for our abuse, many are likely to have contributed to it.

The abuse of a first individual will begin the lesson that we are undeserving of love and concern. As others follow in the same footsteps, we come to believe this untruth.

Then there are those in our lives who could have intervened, but for reasons of their own did not. This is another aspect of the tragedy of abuse. While a non-offending parent may wield less power in the family dynamic than an offending-parent, an adult is always more powerful than a child.

We had every right to look for rescue to the adults aware of our situation.

Excuses

And still we make excuses for the loved ones who abandoned, battered, and raped us.

They didn’t understand the harm they were doing. They led hard lives, were under a great deal of strain. It was our fault. We deserved it. We were disobedient, rebellious. We expected too much. We complained too often. We were too pretty, too flirtatious. Deep down, they “really” cared.

Excuse after excuse after excuse…none sufficient to justify abuse. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Falling Knives, Part 1

“…A morning of tears, remembered fears
Withering looks from the past
Cut the heart, tear you apart
Pain racked soul heaves your body
Causing you to tremble and shudder

Cruel words spoken with loathing
With no care for the innocent soul
Who listens carefully
And believes this to be truly
The way things could be…”

– Marie Williams, Damaged People

Some days are darker than others.

Perhaps we have had an oppressive dream, now half-remembered. Perhaps an icy rain is falling, sharp as knives, and the weather determines our mood. Perhaps a misplaced word pierces our already injured psyche or our blood chemistry is off or the stars are misaligned.

Self-Criticism

Whatever the reasons – internal or external, identifiable or not – for abuse victims, particularly those of us suffering from depression, the most innocuous thoughts and observations can quickly morph into self-criticism, calling up faults and failures, real and imagined. No mistake is forgiven; no oversight on our part – however slight – is laid to rest for good.

Hour after hour, our criticism is unrelenting; our self-assessment, merciless. We may be able to defend ourselves against a single assault, even a dozen. But we cannot dodge the falling knives forever.

Emotional Flashbacks

The pain is searing. Old wounds are re-opened; new wounds, inflicted. What may seem insignificant to others can trigger repeated emotional flashbacks with childhood traumas not merely recalled but relived, re-experienced emotionally, again and again.

Minimizing the Abuse

To those unfamiliar with abuse, this description may sound overly dramatic. Surely, victims must be exaggerating. Actually, however, the opposite is true.

It is not uncommon for the victims of childhood abuse to downplay their suffering. Some will make excuses for their abuser, assuming liability for the abuse which is not rightly theirs. Why this tendency to minimize the scars of abuse, to downgrade the brutality of a traumatized mind and body?

Minimizing is a form of denial victims utilize in an attempt to deal with their trauma [1].

In denial, the brain tries to protect the psyche by refusing to admit the reality of trauma or abuse [2]. Details of the abuse may be shielded from the victim’s consciousness. The horror is diluted; the trauma processed in manageable, bite-size pieces. The victim is still adversely impacted, but not completely immobilized.

Fear, Shame, and Family Secrets

Victims may fear they will be overcome by the intensity of their feelings, should they accept the full extent of their abuse.

They may find it too painful to admit a loved one would treat them so callously. They may feel responsible for keeping family secrets. They may have difficulty connecting present day problems with past trauma. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women