Tag Archives: shame

Unbiblical, Part 3 – Humility v. Lack of Worth

“Eve” by Auguste Rodin, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Author MicheleLovesArt (MIchele Ahin at https://www.flickr.com/people/39627257@N04) (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Many, if not most, victims will conclude from the abuse inflicted on them that they have little or no value.  They are likely to view God as angry and withholding, unconcerned for their welfare.  This applies whether the abuse is emotional, physical, sexual or in the form of neglect.

When in all humility Christians describe themselves as undeserving of Salvation or compare their righteousness to “filthy rags” (Is. 64: 6), abuse victims can readily identify.  However, abuse victims are inclined to view themselves as irredeemable.

Having been treated like filthy rags, having been taught that love must be “earned” – and never is – victims may, even as adults, wrestle with shame and believe that they are worthless.  This can drive them toward legalism (Christianity as perfectionism), in a frantic attempt to obtain the love they have been denied.

But God values every life.  His love is freely given.

Christ said:

“ ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’ ” (Matt. 5: 5).

He said:

“… ‘Whoever receives this little child in my name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be great’” (Luke 9: 48).

Christians must, first and foremost, demonstrate God’s love to abuse victims.  If they fail in this, the shame is theirs.

Originally posted 3/22/15

This series will continue next week with Trusting God, Self, and Others

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

Advertisements

14 Comments

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

Unbiblical, Part 2 – Sin Nature v. Abuse-Related Guilt

Woman with a broken heart, Author Nevit Dilmen, Source Sunset 02459.jpg and Broken Heart symbol.svg (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

Christians speak regularly about the “sin nature” of mankind, the inclination by human beings to do wrong, as illustrated by wars and crime.

The following verses on the topic are typical:

“…[T]he imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth…” (Gen. 8:21).

“ ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…’” (Jer. 17:9).

“ ‘Then I will…take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh that they may walk in My statutes…’ ” (Ezek. 11: 19-20).

“ ‘For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies’ ” (Matt. 15: 19).

If anyone has experienced that sin nature, abuse victims have.  Victims, however, have been more sinned against than sinning.

Unfortunately, the continuous emphasis on sin is likely to sound like condemnation to victims, when what they need is love, encouragement, and hope.

Christians should remember that abuse leaves behind deep scars.  Victims of abuse may struggle with gender identification, sexual addiction or dysfunction, self-neglect, anxiety, depression, dissociation and related amnesia, drug or alcohol addiction, cutting, anorexia, bulimia, binging, and other issues.  The majority of prostitutes are thought to be runaways, with a history of abuse.

Dealing with major problems like these is not for the faint of heart.  Nor is it for the self-righteous.  Merely living ordinary lives can take enormous effort and enormous courage by abuse victims.  That victims, for the most part, accomplish this is amazing.

Victims should not be made a topic of gossip.  Nor should they be subjected to snap judgments, whether about their morality or mental state.

Above all, victims should be reassured that they were not the guilty party in abuse; that, as children, they were wholly incapable of consent to whatever was done to them; and that God still loves them, despite all they have been through.

Originally posted 3/15/15

This series will continue next week with Humility v. Lack of Worth

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

 

17 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Prostitution, Religion, Sexual Abuse

War Wounds

Azerbaijani refugee child (1996), Author Ilgar Jafarov (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

“I am blind to beauty for I have seen the ugliness of war,
My heart discard, my soul’s an open sore,
My spirit’s broken, and my body is not well,
For I have seen the smoke and fire
And passed through the gates of hell… ”

– Kevan Lyons, The Poet of Churchill Square

These are grave times.  Terrorism stalks the world, striking without warning or mercy.  I can think of no better analogy for abuse.

Abuse is a conflict in which children’s lives are the battlefield; a conflict in which children go unarmed, yet have war wounds inflicted; a conflict in which children will never be victors.

Under wartime conditions of deprivation and abandonment, the simplest word of encouragement is denied a young heart.  Under wartime conditions of violence and destruction, the most defenseless among us are battered and broken.  Under wartime conditions of rape and pillage, basic sexuality becomes an item of commerce, and a lifelong source of pain.

Little wonder that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — first identified in the combat setting centuries ago — is common among abuse victims, as well. Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Prostitution, Sexual Abuse, Terrorism

In the Aftermath of Abuse, Part 6 – Restoring the Relationship with God

Open Bible, Author “The Photographer” (CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

The abuse experience can warp the lens through which victims see themselves and the world.  It skews even their view of God, since He – perhaps more so than the predator – is blamed for the abuse.

Abuse victims must be permitted to vent the full range of emotions elicited by the violation, if their faith in God and relationship with Him are to be restored.

God’s continuing love for abuse victims is more powerful than any symptoms or shame.  This does not necessarily mean that the scars of abuse will be erased.  Victims are likely to need frequent reminders, both of God’s love and His mercy.

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103: 10-12).

” ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’ “  (Isaiah 1: 18).

” ‘I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more’ ”  (Isaiah 43: 25).

Victims might ask themselves whether they would judge another exploited child by the same harsh standards they have applied to themselves; whether the thoughts and behaviors they now characterize as defective on their part would have occurred at all, if they had not been abused.

Originally posed 8/18/13

Of note, the Sex Trafficking Act was this week signed into law.  The “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017” (often referred to as FOSTA) creates a new federal offense which prohibits owning or operating a website or other technology platform with the intent to facilitate prostitution.  Penalties can run as high as 25 years in prison. 

Sex trafficking victims may, in addition, bring civil suits against the websites that hosted ads that enabled their trafficking.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT:  https://alawyersprayers.com

8 Comments

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

In the Aftermath of Abuse, Part 2 – Guilt and Shame

Crying child, Author Asad Amjad ChangEzi (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

‘If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in Me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea’ ” (Matt. 18: 6).

It is easier for children to believe they “deserve” the evil done to them, than to take in the fact an adult who should care for them actually has little or no regard for their well-being.

The Statute of Limitations and other obstacles can make it difficult to hold child abusers and molesters accountable legally.  Even with a conviction, however, the feeling of “sinfulness” may rebound from an abuser to his victims.

This in no way implies that they were at fault.  Victims, however, relive the trauma of having been treated as worthless. They are often left with a vague sense of unworthiness that can permeate their lives, and undermine subsequent relationships.

Though this feeling of their own “sinfulness” can be overwhelming to abuse victims, the conclusions they draw from it are not accurate.  Victims did not warrant or invite the abuse.  They remain deserving of love.

The feeling of “sinfulness” is just one of the scars left in the wake of abuse.  Other symptoms can include anxiety, depression, alcohol or drug addiction, eating disorders, and sexual dysfunction.  These behaviors either stem from the pain or are attempts to numb it.  All of them “punish” the victim, who was never at fault in the first place!

The symptoms of abuse may, themselves, become a cause of shame to victims.  Self-destructive behaviors shift the focus away from the abuse, while silently declaring it to the world.  Imperfect as coping mechanisms, these behaviors can have dire consequences but are, in effect, a cry for help.

Originally posted 7/7/13

Of NoteA Vatican tribunal has found Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Guam guilty of abusing minors and removed him from office.  Apuron was suspended in June 2016 following accusations that he sexually abused altar boys as a parish priest during the 1970s.

Thus far, the Archdiocese of Guam has been named in 159 sex abuse lawsuits involving Apuron and others.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT:  https://alawyersprayers.com

10 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse

In the Aftermath of Abuse, Part 1 – Victims and Predators

Frost covered rose, Author 3268zauber (CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported)

” ‘Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father…’ ” (Matt. 18: 10).

Each year, some six million children in the United States are sexually or physically abused.

This 6-part series will explore the emotional and spiritual ramifications of abuse, with a view toward assisting the survivors of abuse and those who care for them in dealing with its long-term effects.

Those of us who have decades of experience with abuse and its aftermath are all too familiar with these details.  But for each new generation of victims, these truths must be restated.

It must be said at the outset that children are NEVER responsible for the abuse inflicted upon them. The idea of a “bad” or “seductive” child is a lie perpetrated by child molesters, a rationale to excuse their heinous actions.

Predators are often manipulative, convincing child victims that they brought on the violation; consented to the violation; will not be believed, if the violation is reported; will be sent away from home, if the violation is reported; will place their parents (or pets) in danger, if the violation is reported, etc.  Some of these same arguments are made to women by the husbands and boyfriends who perpetrate violence against them.

As a consequence, victims often experience a misplaced sense of guilt and shame.  This will be further discussed in our next segment.

Originally posted 6/30/13

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT:  https://alawyersprayers.com

18 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

Long Term

“Sad Boy”, Author Sascha Grosser (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

A new study by the University of Utah confirms that abuse before the age of 5 can continue to have negative consequences decades later [1].

This is no surprise to abuse victims.  We know we cannot simply “snap out” of depression, anxiety, and PTSD despite the well-meaning advice of friends, family, physicians, and strangers alike.  That fact only adds to our sense of isolation.

Researchers found that:

“…those who experienced abuse or neglect early in life consistently were less successful in their social relationships and academic performance during childhood, adolescence and even during adulthood.  The effects of maltreatment did not weaken as the participants got older [2].”

The sad little boy or girl becomes the sad, lonely and/or angry man or woman.  Unfortunately, that anger is often turned inward, becoming another destructive force against which we must battle.

This has nothing to do with will power or self-control, and everything to do with who we were taught to believe we are.  Damaged, deficient, unloved and unlovable — our needs unimportant, our dreams unattainable.  Directly and indirectly, those lessons were driven home until they became part of us.

But the human spirit is amazing.  We somehow survived the onslaught, the dark rain of blows and insults.   Many of us succeeded in the work place.  Some found the internal resources to become artists, writers, and advocates.  Still more became the parents our own parents could not be.

That we continue to wrestle with our demons is no shame.  It is simply part of our reality.

He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40: 29).

[1 and 2]  Science Daily, “Tracking the impact of early abuse and neglect – Study led by university researcher shows negative effects may persist into adulthood”, 1/16/18, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180116222327.htm.

With thanks to Louise Callen

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

12 Comments

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

Punishing Ourselves, Part 2 – Emotional Hunger

“Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors Brought to Jacob after Joseph Is Sold into Slavery” by Diego Velazquez (1630), El Escorial (PD-Art l Old-100)

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3: 21).

Human beings inherently crave connection.  When our basic need for relationship is denied, abuse victims can develop an intense emotional hunger.  Some of us attempt to satiate that hunger with food, others with possessions, still others with sex.

But these will not satisfy us.  So the emotional hunger returns, and the cycle begins all over again – each time destined to fail.

Punishment and Reward

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age.  Also he made him a tunic of many colors.  But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him…” (Gen. 37: 3-4).

The reward – whether of food, material things, or sex – becomes punishment.  Each stop gap measure has negative consequences.  Each leaves us feeling empty.  Our sense of worthlessness resurfaces with renewed force.

Then the reward used to stem our emotional hunger becomes, itself, a source of shame.  It takes more and more food/things/sex to bring us even temporary relief.  Our desperation increases.

Punishment and Self-Forgiveness

“ ‘…inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25: 45-46).

Consciously or not, we ache for forgiveness, someone to take the guilt away.  And there is Someone who can do that.  In fact, He longs to do that.  He died on a cross to do that.

But we did nothing to “deserve” abuse.  We do not, therefore, need forgiveness for our abuse.  What Jesus Christ does to relieve us of the false guilt for which we have been punishing ourselves is reveal a truth it would have been too painful for us to accept as children, i.e. that our parents and caregivers were the ones at fault.

Where their love failed us, His will not.  And the life He offers us is everlasting.

This series began last week with “Punishing Ourselves, Part 1 – Numbness and Deprivation”

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

5 Comments

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

Negotiation – Bargaining with the Devil

Maryland Car Dealership (courtesy of Chrysler/Jeep), Author Christopher Ziemnowciz a/k/a CZmarlin (PD)

Few people enjoy negotiation.  Most find it unpleasant, if necessary.  But, for abuse victims, negotiation can be immensely painful.

Why is this?  After all, most adults have been “bargaining” since they were children.  Just one more game.  Just one more story, Daddy.  Pleeze, Mommy, ple-e-e-eze.

Past Experience

Most people bargain with at least some expectation of obtaining what it is they are after.  That expectation is based on past experience, and a degree of prior success.  It pre-supposes an opponent can be persuaded to modify his/her position, perhaps even relent.

The experience of abuse victims is entirely different.  We were forced to bargain with the devil.

However else the abuser may have appeared to the world, however pleasant or sincere s/he may have seemed, however refined, relative to us s/he was evil incarnate:

  • unscrupulous;
  • manipulative;
  • single-minded;
  • more mature, intellectually;
  • erratic and confusing, with motivation outside our comprehension;
  • all powerful;
  • often brutal; and
  • wholly self-centered or, to put it another way, unmoved by compassion for us.

As children, we were powerless.  That point was made, again and again.

“My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws…” (Ps. 22: 15).

Negotiation was, by nature, a traumatic event for victims.  We may have pleaded with the abuser — quite literally — for our lives, certainly for our sanity.  That fact alone makes all subsequent negotiations highly charged.

And negotiation required abject submission on our part.  Anything else produced harsh punishment.  We could only lay our requests on the altar, hoping to withstand the resulting blast.

Negotiation and PTSD

As adults, we may find it difficult to ask for a raise or promotion; difficult even to contest a utility bill.

The very act of speaking during negotiation can be difficult for us.  Our mouths turn dry as cotton.  Our tongues stick to the palate.  We feel powerless, outmatched.

Buying a new car becomes an ordeal for us, topped off by shame, if we cannot manage to secure a reasonable price. Continue reading

23 Comments

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

Spotlight

“Spotlight” won this year’s Oscar for Best Picture. The highly acclaimed film details the Boston Globe’s investigation into the Catholic Church sex scandal.

Does this matter to abuse victims? I think it does. Here’s why.

To begin with, the film and the attention it has received have heightened public awareness of abuse. Viewers come away with a better understanding that predators can lurk anywhere, even in plain sight and priestly garb.

More than that, “Spotlight” sheds light on a mindset and bureaucratic structure within the church that facilitated abuse.

The highest levels of authority within the Catholic Church enabled abuse by systematically covering-up what may have been thousands of instances. In the vast majority of cases, the church did not defrock predator priests. Instead, it transferred them to new parishes, allowing them continued access to children without so much as warning the new parishes.

And the church failed to report these crimes against children to civil authorities, abandoning and betraying the children under its care.

For all such reasons, the church must be viewed as complicit in the abuse perpetrated.

This is not ancient history. The victims of clergy abuse continue to wrestle with the scars of that abuse today. Many will never obtain justice.

But change comes slowly. The Catholic Church’s Advisory Counsel for the Protection of Minors now teaches that church officials have a moral and ethical duty to report suspected abuse to civil authorities [1]. As recently as September of last year, however, Monsignor Tony Anatrella had argued that reporting was not required by church law.

Hopefully, what victims can take away from “Spotlight” is a recognition that any shame associated with abuse is the predator’s alone…not theirs. Other moviegoers should already know that.

[1] Crux, “Papal Commission: Bishops Must Report Sex Abuse Charges”, 2/15/16, http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2016/02/15/papal-commission-bishops-must-report-sex-abuse-charges/.

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

6 Comments

Filed under Abuse of Power, Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Justice, Law, Religion, Sexual Abuse