Tag Archives: self-esteem

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

Confidence

Jourenii Johnson (Photo courtesy of Inside Edition and YouTube)

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22: 6).

The Amazingly Authentic Confidence Program at Grambling State University helps grow the self-esteem of girls between the ages of 5 and 19 [1].  Girls in this age range are considered most vulnerable.

The program goes to some unusual lengths.  Five year old Jourenii Johnson was recently given the chance to teach a group of college students.  With total confidence, the little girl – who wants one day to become a teacher – informed the class that bullying is not a good thing.  She, also, instructed students not to use their cell phones in class.

Kudos to Grambling State!  How beautiful it is to see our children nurtured!

One cannot help but think of all those who do not receive the care they deserve.  For their sake, we must keep striving:  to educate the public about abuse; to rescue those being abused; to prosecute predators; and to set firm safeguards in place to prevent future abuse.

There was a child born 2000 years ago who brought hope and love into this broken world.  His desire for us is that we live joyfully; that we see ourselves as precious children of the One True God, and raise our own children in peace.

[1]  KNOE News 8, “5-year-old teaches at Grambling State University” by Kaitlyn Loyacano, 11/14/16, Updated 11/15/16, http://www.knoe.com/content/news/5-year-old-teaches-at-Grambling-State-University-401188286.html.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

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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Silly Putty

Most of us remember Silly Putty from childhood.  A silicone-based toy, Silly Putty (trademarked by Crayola) could stretch, bounce, and replicate print images like those found in newspapers or comic books (today’s “graphic novels”).

Once removed from its protective shell, Silly Putty could be twisted and folded into a variety of shapes, and the images captured on it comically distorted.  These properties still astound and delight children.

But to abuse victims, Silly Putty offers a caution.

Validation

All human beings – abuse victims included – need validation, confirmation that their thoughts and feelings are appropriate, and in line with reality.  The need is part of what makes us human.  However stoic we may imagine ourselves, we were engineered for connection to others.

When we are denied connection through abuse, our need for validation does not disappear.  It intensifies.

Anxious to please, we may become putty in the hands of friends and family – willing to conform to their standards, to turn ourselves inside out, even if not asked to do that.  It can become difficult for us to remember what we might have preferred, if our loved ones had not expressed a preference first.

The quality of our loved ones will be tested, in the process [1].

Malleability

Most of us seek to comply with the desires of friends and family.  Maintaining harmony in our relationships is a laudable goal.

Generally, it is not a great deal to ask that we pursue the same course of action our loved ones do.  Affection will often sway us, especially if the choice is not of any great significance.

There should, however, be two major exceptions to this:  the first regarding ethics and morality; the second regarding self-esteem. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Anxiety, Phobias, and PTSD – Part 2

There are healthy coping strategies for dealing with anxiety.

Lifestyle Changes

Routines, such as taking a daily walk or reading at lunch, can be helpful in alleviating anxiety.  Scheduling time to decompress from the worries of the day can, also, help.  This should be away from cell phones and other distractions.

Exercise is a natural de-stressor.

Sleep hygiene can be important, since restful sleep enables us to recharge our mental batteries.  This should involve regular times to turn in at night and arise mornings, along with a bedtime routine which encourages relaxation.  Video games should be avoided just before bed.

Therapy

Phobias are often reduced in severity using behavior modification (specifically “desensitization” therapy).  This involves repeated exposure to the fear-producing stimulus under safe conditions.

Talk therapy has, also, been found to be helpful, especially with social anxiety [1].  Biofeedback, which involves controlled breathing and other techniques, may be useful in reducing anxiety.

Medications

Numerous medications exist today to treat anxiety, including serotonin-specific re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and anti-depressants [2].  A knowledgeable psychiatrist should be consulted about these.

Spirituality

Meditation and, of course, prayer can provide relief.

THINGS THAT NEED NO LONGER TROUBLE BELIEVERS

The Past

Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43: 18-19).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5: 17).

The Present

“ ‘Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?’ ” (Matt. 6: 25-26).

The Future

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29: 11).

Being Unloved

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3: 16).

Being Useless or Worthless

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all” (1 Cor. 12: 4-6).

Being Lost

“ ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?’ ” (Luke 15: 4).

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Ps. 3: 6).

Being Abandoned

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31: 6).

‘…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ ” (Matt. 28: 20).

[1]  HelpGuide, “Therapy for Anxiety Disorders” by Melinda Smith, MA, Robert Segal, MA, and Jeanne Segal, PhD, last updated 10/16, http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/therapy-for-anxiety-disorders.htm.

[2]  In my view, faith and medicine are not at odds.  Medicine is a general blessing by God to mankind.  The miraculous cures by Christ were intended as a sign that He was the Messiah, not as a rejection of medicine.  Christ, Himself, referred to medicine, in response to the Pharisees.  He is quoted as saying, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Matt. 9: 12).

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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Spoons

Soup spoon, Author Donovan Govan (CC BY-SA-3.0 Unportedl GFDL).

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13: 1).

Whether as abuse victims made the object of unfair comparisons or as men and women raised in a materialistic culture, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. The comparison nearly always overlooks our real gifts.

Not many of us are fashion models or world class chefs. Few are sports icons, movie stars, or billionaires. None at all can stay eighteen forever. We play different parts, in the course of a lifetime – some more humble than others, but no less important.

Spoons may be less glamorous than swords or scepters. But they fill an essential role. You cannot scoop pudding for a child with a saber, or feed the hungry of the world with a magic wand. Ask any farmer.

Love, above all else, is what the world needs. Not “love” as portrayed by Hollywood. Real love – the kind that takes sweat and sacrifice. The kind that involves wiping noses and kissing boo-boos; standing on an assembly line, day in and day out, to make sure the bills get paid.

If we can manage that without having known it ourselves, we have achieved something close to miraculous.

A SPOON IS NOT A HAMMER

A spoon is not a hammer
A knife is not a glove
To warm a heart near frozen
From simple lack of love

So strike a blow for freedom
Cut through red tape and lies
Or lift the spoon to a child’s lips
A tender look in your eyes

We each have different talents
And different roles to play
A candle will light the darkness
A match can start a blaze

So raise a cry for justice
And hold that banner high
Or wrap your arms round a baby
And sing a lullaby

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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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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