Tag Archives: rejection

Satan and Abuse Victims

Image of Satan by Gustave Doré, in John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1866), Source https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/milton/john/paradise/complete.html (PD)

“All hope abandon, ye who enter here”

-Motto over the Gates of Hell, from Dante’s Inferno

Abuse victims know Satan all too well.  We have met him in the form of pedophiles and panderers; parents and caregivers who did not know how to love; partners who used and discarded us like so many unwanted toys.

Truth and Lies

We have been tormented by Satan in every way possible – mentally, physically, emotionally, sexually, and religiously, to the point that some of us have come to view death as a relief.

That statement about death is, of course, one of Satan’s lies.  But we have been told so many lies, we no longer recognize the truth.

Trust and Control

Where there is a history of abuse, the desire for control can be heightened.  Having been grievously harmed, we are determined not to be harmed again.  Which means trust is an issue for us.

Our wounds are so deep that some of us have vowed never to trust again.  In the interest of safety, we have willingly traded freedom for isolation.  A high price to pay.

But isolation is no guarantee of peace or safety.  That is just another of Satan’s lies.

Cries for Help

Most of us have cried out to God in our anguish.  Many have concluded that He long ago rejected us or simply does not exist (more of Satan’s lies).  A few of us have come to believe Satan is the stronger (a lie he gladly endorses).

Faith and Fear

It takes enormous faith to let down our guard, lay our defenses at God’s feet, and allow Him sovereignty over our lives.  Victims’ reluctance is more a reflection of fear than stubbornness; more a measure of the sins to which we were subjected, than those we committed ourselves.

Legalism and Self-Esteem

Acutely aware of our defects – real and imagined – and often rejected before, abuse victims are intensely sensitive to rejection.  Fearful that God will reject us, if we do offer to submit to His will, victims are flooded by feelings of inadequacy.

We must reclaim our self-esteem before we can surrender freely to God.  Otherwise the concept of surrender is likely to feel too threatening to us.  We were forced to submit to the evil inflicted on us.  The thought of submitting again – even to a good and holy God – can be overwhelming.

In the aftermath of abuse, we hardly dare assert ourselves, as it is.

This is not to say that we must be “perfect” or even “good” before God will come into our lives.  That is yet another of Satan’s lies.  God meets us where we are.

A frantic effort to “please” Him by doing good works (or flagellate ourselves for every failure) is unnecessary.  It amounts, in fact, to legalism – adherence to the letter of the law, at the expense of the spirit.  God does not ask this of us.

Our value in God’s eyes is not something to be earned at all.  It stems from the family relationship we have with God.  We are His beloved children.

Recognition of that profound truth can go a long way toward healing the wounds left by abuse.

“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40: 31 NIV).

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 Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Red Carpet

Kim Kardashian on the red carpet, Sydney Australia, Author Eva Rinaldi, Source flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Kim Kardashian on the red carpet, Sydney Australia, Author Eva Rinaldi, Source flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Watch Kim Kardashian on the red carpet sometime.  She smiles.  She preens for the cameras, turning this way and that.  She eats up the attention.

Many abuse victims are just the opposite.  We shun the limelight, feel awkward and uncomfortable if the spotlight is turned on us.  Instead, we prefer to go unnoticed, to fade into the background – wallflowers by choice.

Why is this?  Why is the very thought of attending a children’s play, a PTA meeting, or church service daunting?  Why is it difficult for us simply to enter a room full of strangers?

Staying at home seems so much safer.

Rejection

If pressed, we are likely to say that we fear rejection.  Often, this centers around our looks.  Some feature of ours seems less than perfect to us.  Our nose is too large or our hips too wide.  We’ve been trying for the past 20 years to lose the baby weight.

If not that, perhaps something about the way we dress is inadequate, in our estimation – deficient enough so that the entire audience may gasp, and draw back from us in horror.

We do not actually believe that will happen.  But we fear it, all the same.  Fear does not require a rational basis.  Ask any child whether there is a monster in the closet.

Monsters

Still, there is a clue here.  We’ve known monsters.  Been criticized by monsters for “flaws” we did not have.  Been assaulted by monsters, beaten black and blue, for our supposed defects.  Been violated by monsters, in ways we were too young to understand, then blamed for the violation. Continue reading

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Fairy Tales

Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith from The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, Author Jessie Willcox Smith, Source http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34339 (PD)

Illustration by Jessie Willcox Smith from The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, Photographer Jessie Willcox Smith, Source http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/34339 (PD)

“Once upon a time…”  When we were children those were magical words.  They called up a world of fairy godmothers, princes slaying dragons, and wishes come true.  A fairy tale promised excitement and adventure.  Best of all, we were guaranteed a happy ending.

Andrew Lang compiled hundreds of fairy tales into The Fairy Books of Many Colors.  I devoured these as a child, one color after another – The Red Fairy Book, The Yellow Fairy Book, etc. – as fast as I could lay hands on them.  I simply could not get my fill.  Yet I could not have said at the time what the fascination was for me.

Psychologists have long argued over the meaning and usefulness of fairy tales.  These universally loved stories can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

The explanation that comes closest to my own experience is that fairy tales allow children to confront and deal with their fears and concerns – whether of abandonment (Hansel and Gretel), death (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty), rejection (Cinderella), etc. – in symbolic terms, so that those fears and concerns are reduced to manageable size.

Children get the satisfaction of slaying their own dragons…from a safe distance. Continue reading

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Rejection and Missed Deadlines

Messy desk, Author Sugar Pond, Source Mess (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic ).

One way to miss deadlines.  Author Sugar Pond, Source Mess (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic ).

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

Sometimes it can seem that the world is against us.  Wherever we turn, doors are shut to us.  We can never catch a break; are never cut any slack; keep running into walls.  We cannot find any support.

Sound familiar?  Rejection rules the lives of abuse victims…or does it?

Certainly, rejection played a major role in our childhood.  Let’s, however, turn that experience on its ear.  Let’s instead ask ourselves the unthinkable, whether abuse victims are trained to seek out rejection.

Cruelty v. Kindness

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself” (Prov. 11: 17).

Treated cruelly in the past, abuse victims may tolerate cruelty from others, presuming it to be the norm or believing we deserve no better.

That is what we have experienced for much of our lives.  In childhood, we don’t know any different.  We cannot reason objectively because we do not have the mindset and the maturity to differentiate between good behaviour and bad behaviour from an abuser.  We willingly accept the crumbs we are given because for us that is better than nothing at all. 

But an older person may, also, settle for abusive behaviour.  Once your will is broken, you lose your sense of self.  Instead, you are continually looking for validation from your abuser.  Abuse and rejection can be mistaken for approval by someone whose view has become skewed.

Victims long for kindness, but may mistake it for weakness.

Though searching for love and approval, abuse victims don’t really know what those look like.  Being treated badly is what they have been conditioned to expect.  Kindness to them is something they are not worthy of.  Having for their formative years experienced abuse, that is what “feels right” to them.

Missed Deadlines

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

We miss the deadline for school applications; fail to supply the required documentation for scholarships.  And are rejected.

We hand class papers in late, losing points despite having agonized over content.  We take make-up exams, having missed the scheduled test date; and drop out, rather than risk receiving less than an outstanding grade [1].

We ask favors from acquaintances and strangers; recommendations from people we barely know.  And are ignored or rebuffed.

We show up late for our driver’s test, then are upset at the DMV policy not to reschedule for another 30 days.  Yet, we choose not to pursue litigation to enforce our rights, when legal representation is available and cost free [2].

I was the other way. Too eager to please.  Too early for everything, and panicked if a few minutes late or even on time! 

Chaotic Home Life

Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind…” (Prov. 11: 29).

Often, these issues can stem from a chaotic home life.  As children, we had far greater concerns than the due date of a paper.  Perhaps a parent was chronically intoxicated, an “uncle” a little too interested in our development.  Perhaps there was no food in the house, and another beating just a few hours away. Continue reading

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Ugliness, Part 1

Classic Comics, No. 18, “Hunchback of Notre Dame” (PD)

In the Dumas classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the hunchback (chosen the ugliest man in Paris) does not get the girl.  The pair do not live happily ever after, though they are eventually united in death. This is no real surprise. In fact, it is the tragedy on which the story hinges.

Kindness and Beauty

Both mistreated and physically deformed, Quasimodo is drawn to kindness and beauty as a moth is drawn to flame.

We sympathize with, even admire him. Our hearts are stirred.  But we do not root for the hunchback, not in the same way we root for the prince to rescue Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. Quasimodo is never seriously considered a romantic partner for Esmeralda. His love is doomed from the outset.

That fact tells us more about ourselves than it does about Quasimodo.

Exclusion

In the same way that Quasimodo was excluded from normal human society, abuse victims often feel themselves ostracized, outside the very definition of “human”. How does this happen and, equally important, how we can counteract it?

There seems a tendency by infants to favor symmetrical faces – possibly an inborn preference for the genetic “norm”. For the most part, however, we are taught the meaning of ugliness and beauty by the comments and actions of others.

First as infants then children, we see ourselves reflected in a parent or caregiver’s eyes, and are defined by that reflection. Ugliness on our part (assuming it has any basis at all) is likely to come as a surprise. It does not occur to us that we may be ugly, until others point that out.

Not infrequently, those who believe themselves ugly and worthy only of rejection are not ugly at all. Would not be considered ugly by strangers – only by the so called “loved ones” who should have been able to see past any obvious flaws. Continue reading

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Shrapnel

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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Abuse Victims and Failure, Part 1 – A Slow Start

“Today you are YOU,
That is TRUER than true.
There is NO ONE alive
Who is YOUER than YOU!”

– Dr. Seuss

As abuse victims, most of us are familiar with failure. This is not necessarily because we have failed.

Many victims are successful in the work world. Work may actually help us to deal with the abuse we once endured. It can provide a focus for our energies, sometimes to the point of exhaustion [1].

What we experience, however, is a persistent feeling of having failed in the most important arena of all; having failed at love.

This feeling stems, in part, from a mistaken belief that we “deserved” the abuse to which we were subjected (surely, if we had been lovable, we would not have been abused, goes the thinking); and, in part, from the failed relationships resulting from that abuse.

But all human beings experience failure. Life is a process of trial and error for everyone. A baby tries to stand, and falls. S/he tries again, and falls again. Eventually though s/he learns to walk, then run.

A Slow Start

Some of us have a slow start. We may, in fact, have been advanced for our years – struggling to develop without the nurturing and encouragement we should, in all fairness, have been provided.

Still, for argument’s sake, let us say we make a slow start. That is no indication of how we will finish.

  • One little boy did not speak until comparatively late. His parents feared he was mentally impaired. A teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” The boy was expelled from secondary school for being “disruptive,” and was refused admittance to a prestigious university.
    We recognize now that Albert Einstein was one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century. He is regarded as the father of modern physics [2].

Rejection

With or without a “slow” start, we all experience rejection eventually.

  • Teachers quickly grew impatient with Thomas Edison’s inquisitiveness. One called Edison “addled.” Edison went on to invent the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the light bulb.  Altogether, Edison held over 1000 patents.
  • Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook.
  • More than two dozen publishers rejected one children’s book, before it reached the public. The author, Dr. Seuss, ultimately wrote more than forty others, including such favorites as The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who! and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Continue reading

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In the Aftermath of Abuse, Part 3 – Families

Not all families will be supportive of the abused child. Some will actually blame him/her for the abuse. Victims may be accused of lying or labeled as delusional for making such accusations. This is experienced by victims as another betrayal. Victims may, also, be told that they are “dirty” (or be treated by their families as if that were the case).  In effect, victims can be made scapegoats for the very crimes to which they were subjected.

None of this behavior is biblical.

But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Matt. 19: 14).

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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