The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Counseling Implications The Above link hit home as I read it this morning. It’s not that I haven’t been aware of the results of long-term sexual abuse, it’s just that I have had this unrealistic expectation to be free from the adverse symptoms. Many of the effects are […]
I was asked recently why I don’t “move on, you keep writing about the same things over and over, people are tired of it.” Well, I will move on when its time, and I will know when that is. In the last two years I have faced what this life has become and until I can process […]
I was sent a link to this blog, and I am so glad I read it. For those of us without good father memories, hope still exists.
I just watched an amazing YouTube video of a violinist and violist performing a piece by Mozart. They played with grace, ease, and such a sense of joy; it was really fun to watch. It brought out some emotion in me as music often does. I can find myself in tears when witnessing really exceptional […]
On The Throne
I will walk through the fire
Walk through the darkest night
I will walk through the flood
I won’t be overcome, I won’t be overcome
I will walk through the trial
Walk through the valley of fear
I will walk through the storm
I won’t be overcome, I won’t be overcome
For the lord is,
He is able, he is faithful,
Higher than the mountains that I face
Every season, I will press on
For God alone, is on the throne
I will walk in your the promise
Walk in your victory
I will walk in your power
I won’t be overcome, I won’t be overcome
On the throne
Sovereign over all
On the throne
Reigning over all
- Everyone is busy
- Everyone has a family
- Everyone has concerns
- Everyone is under pressure
- Everyone has hurts
- Everyone needs love
- Everyone wonders what tomorrow holds
- Everyone has relationship issues
- Everyone is rushing
- Everyone has misplaced priorities
- Everyone has hope for something unrealized
- Everyone cries
- Everyone feels lonely
- Everyone hides their pain
- Everyone wishes someone else knew
- Everyone does their personal best
- Everyone judges others
- Everyone loves
- Everyone has deep unmet needs
- Everyone needs a break from life now and then
- Everyone lusts for something
- Everyone is seeking peace
- Everyone has unnatural fears
- Everyone wishes someone else understood them
- Everyone fails
- Everyone tries again
- Everyone needs grace
- Everyone must be rescued
- Everyone sins
- Everyone hopes no-one sees their true self
- Everyone struggles to believe
- Everyone cannot do it alone
- Everyone faces death
- Everyone seeks recognition
- Everyone has a passion they cannot fulfill
- Everyone has painful regrets
- Everyone medicates their pain
- Everyone needs someone else to understand
- Everyone wants to be heard
- Everyone cares for someone
Everyone needs Jesus
Maybe you saw this story, it just doesn’t sit well with me, especially this line:
“The court said U.S. authorities only have a duty to protect victims of parolees under their supervision.”
I am considering the justice vs. vengeance philosophy, (which may not be a philosophy at all, but another of my musings). As I confront the childhood sexual abuse (CSA) I experienced, I am finally addressing this important and sometimes controversial subject. I will state right up front that I believe vengeance should have no place in our hearts and motivation, but justice of preeminent importance.
Lets go to the Bible and look at both sides of this. First up are the scriptures I was directly quoted in conversations with a pastor:
- Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
- Deuteronomy 32:35 To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
These verses don’t mention justice (which is what I am seeking), but vengeance, two different things altogether. I think they were put forth to me because I haven’t forgiven. It is assumed that because of a lack of forgiveness on my part, I am actually not seeking justice, but something more visceral and violent. Vengeance would be more akin to desiring and carrying out bodily harm in retribution for ill-treatment. That is not my goal or aim.
Definition of Vengeance
Infliction of injury, harm, humiliation, or the like, on a person by another who has been harmed by that person; violent revenge:
But have you the right to vengeance?
An act or opportunity of inflicting such trouble:
to take one’s vengeance.
The desire for revenge:
A man full of vengeance.
What person, who has been terribly hurt by another hasn’t had at least a fleeting thought of vengeance? In all honesty we would have too say none-but with passage of time comes no solace if justice has been lax, and the criminal free from judgment. If we look at these following verses we see that men have been placed in authority for a reason and to do what is right. Can you see the defining characteristic in virtually EVERY one?
- Deuteronomy 33:21 And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel.
- 2 Samuel 8:15 And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people.
- 1 Kings 10:9 Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.
- Psalm 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
- Proverbs 21:3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
- Isaiah 59:14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.
You will notice that each time justice is mentioned, there is a companion word included, judgment; they belong together. When speaking with someone recently I uttered a phrase which seems very appropriate, “Justice is (or should be) timeless.” The fact is, many have been mistreated and profoundly worse, and received no justice because there may not have been applicable laws or societal protections in place at the time. However, may I say that hiding behind elapsed time or antiquated, or non-existent law has no bearing on certain criminal behavior, plain and simply, justice must be done. (I have discovered that the law in my home state has no statute of limitations on first degree criminal sexual assault; it can be punishable by a prison term of 25 years and up.)
Definition of justice
a : The maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments
b : judge
c :The administration of law; especially : the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity
a : The quality of being just, impartial, or fair
b (1) : the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action (2) : conformity to this principle or ideal : righteousness
c : the quality of conforming to law
: Conformity to truth, fact, or reason : correctness
You wouldn’t think of excusing a murderer, but when a person sexually abuses a child, and it isn’t revealed until adulthood, it is considered an unpunishable crime? That it is somehow now Gods job to do whatever He decides is just? There are authorities placed in this world by God to govern, make and keep the laws, and protect it’s citizens and their rights.
Romans 13:1 New King James Version (NKJV)
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
1 Peter 2:13-15 King James Version (KJV)
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well, or so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
I read an article recently about racism, it was written by Tim Wise. He has through research, relationship, education and experience become a voice for those who are discriminated against because of color. He wrote a very powerful article called-What Whites Don’t Know About Racism-you can find it here in its entirety.
I will use this excerpt:
“There’s an old saying that it’s hard to know what you don’t know, the premise being that when you’re ignorant about something, you aren’t likely to realize your blind spots. But I’m not so sure. Sometimes, knowing what you don’t know just requires a certain degree of humility. For instance, I don’t know calculus, because I never took it in school. But here’s the thing: I know that I don’t know calculus; and as such, I would never presume to know it, let alone to tell others for whom it had actually been their major that I knew it better than they did.” Tim Wise
My point is this, even if you have experienced CSA, there is a wide and varied outcome in the life of the individual, this is true even within my own family. The problem is that many people who have no idea what this trauma causes, will minimize and marginalize the victims of such a crime. They, due to a blindspot of their own, will put forth simplistic and insufficient cures that disregard the monumental destruction that has been caused. They will quote scripture, pat you on the head and pridefully walk away believing they did something “good.”
My experience has been church based and extensively documented here, that is my main perspective. However, there is a significant lack of effort being put into finding solutions, and providing help to protect the lives of people worldwide. Education, legislation, vigilance, and moral responsibility must be not only enacted, but fully accepted by all.
- We need to discern between the petty reprisals of the overly sensitive and the total decimation of a persons soul through sexual abuse.
- We are responsible to understand and educate ourselves in the art of empathy for those who suffer unspeakable terror while helpless at the hands of someone in cruel control.
- We must understand that the CSA victim has a life-sentence in dealing with their trauma.
- We need to understand that when someone reaches adulthood there isn’t a magic transformation that takes place and all is suddenly well.
- We need to rethink the status quo in the church of a scripture and a prayer, providing tangible and substantial resources to help those Christ has called us to rescue.
- We must be justice seekers, not to supplant the will of God but to be observers and executers of His will.
- We need to remember that most who suffer abuse as children don’t even begin processing the pain until they reach their 30s-50s.
- We need to consider the child and do what is best for them, not only our faith assemblies, when abuse is discovered.
- We should be the proponents of justice on behalf of the abused, those who cannot help themselves.
- Justice is an important part of healing.
Psalm 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
I welcome your comments.
I remember being a kid and watching TV, something scary would be happening, I sensed the anticipation of hurt or ominous threat. I’d get outta there as soon as I perceived danger, I wasn’t hanging around to see what doom would befall the unfortunate victim. The buildup is almost, and many times worse than the outcome, sneaking around in fear, blindly feeling your way through the dark in some creepy and unknown environment. You have caught glimpses of what stalks you, heard the unearthly snarls, grunts and growls of a mind-less and terrifying killer.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I can often be in a very similar situation. I woke this morning with several ugly reminders sifting through my gray matter. Not so much of the abuse, but how I have mistakenly handled life as a result of the things I believe about myself; running and hiding from that monster by medicating the pain with addictive, selfish behavior.
Now I could stop right there, muse on that whole philosophy for page after page, reams could be written (and have) on how I perceive life and have reacted to it. My feelings and my hurts, my losses and my needs…blah, blah blah!
I want to focus on another aspect of the survival of abuse, and recovery from addiction; the important people in our life. Now this goes against how and what I usually do to deal with my pain. Trauma’s wounds have caused me to focus on myself, withdraw and isolate. When I dare to venture beyond this “safe” place, I am hunted and chased by this mysterious monster.
I have found myself to be so wrapped up in the fight for my life, I have forgotten about those that need me to be there for them, their needs and their safety.
I speak of my wife and my children today. If I stay in my own little personal horror movie, focused on my fears, concerned only with my life, I am not fulfilling the responsibilities within marriage. My wife has needs and desires that deserve more than the little empathy left for her after I have spent to much time moaning and crying for me! She is so valuable, such a rare gift that is far beyond any measurable, worldly scale. She has trauma, fears, and hurts of her own and I cannot disregard them, I will not. My children have suffered through my absence even when I was right there with them. They are grown now, families and responsibilities of their own challenge them, so I cannot remain invisible and abandon them.
When we spend every ounce of our energy in self-pity and woe-is-me mode, we cannot supply what our families are in need of; Love, care, concern, and action on their behalf.
I am starting to see that more clearly. I mean, this is my third marriage after all, I haven’t exactly mastered the art of relationships!
My wife and I are in a pretty good place. We just celebrated her birthday, and later this month we will enjoy and commemorate our 5th anniversary. It has been nearly 2 years since the revelation of my latest addictive meltdown, and we have been building a new foundation through learning, listening, and doing. It has been extremely difficult, and at times neither of us thought we would even be where we are today. But due to selfless actions, and a willingness to understand there are two people in this relationship we are slowly and steadily moving forward. I am a part of the household and so I do dishes and laundry, I vacuum and make the bed; I will even cook occasionally, but thats a little sketchy 🙂 We communicate regularly, share our feelings and needs, take ownership of our actions, and build each other up.
Learning to be there for our spouse and children, even when we are dealing with monumental issues personally, will speak volumes to them! We will discover love that we didn’t know was available. What we thought was a hellish nightmare from which there was no escape, can actually be the dawn of new hope and promise; amazing marital and family relationships! Let us not give up and stop short of what is possible, but be part of the love, life, tears, grace, forgiveness, hardship, mercy, laughter and joy that makes a family!
Abuse and addiction have stolen enough, lets stop being the Haunted Spouse, (House-get it?)
Have an amazing day!
I heard this song on the radio as I walked this morning. I hope that it blesses and encourages you today.
Addiction is a merciless enemy who takes advantage of the trauma and wounds of our lives and drives us deeper into darkness. As we claw to escape the slippery walls of this constantly deepening well we slide further into its life depriving void. We slip beneath the polluted, icy waters; bobbing up from time to time gasping for air in an attempt to stave off sure death. This counterfeit offer of relief from the unfathomable injuries of life only magnify the problem. Every time we reach for this pseudo bandaid we become further infected. The errant philosophy of life we practice doesn’t do anything to free us, but strengthens its grip on our soul.
We provide the fuel for addictions engine to run. By choosing to deal with our difficulties in ways that only temporarily mask the pain. Addictions power increases several fold every time we hit the gas pedal and accelerate blindly ahead. In some warped way we have decided that this works well enough, and so we hardly ever hit the brakes, just floor it!
For me, childhood sexual abuse opened a number of doors; not only to addictive behaviors, but relationship struggles, faith crisis, financial difficulties and depression. I learned early on to mask my pain with pornography. I was stunted in my growth by a deeply broken trust, and so I turned to the sexual fantasy, as it was more controllable and predictable than reality. Whenever I ventured beyond this world of my choosing, I failed miserably, and so withdrew even deeper into this fake place I had created.
Every time we act out we are refilling the fuel tank of addiction and hitting the gas.
Something has to change, but the process of finding another power source isn’t easy. Going from fossil fuels to alternative energy is complicated. The oil companies aren’t going to be so keen on the idea of handing over the cash cow they have been milking. There is also the challenge of developing energy that is efficient and available to all; and then, changing the minds of the buying public!
If you don’t put the fuel in, addiction can’t take take you for another ride.
I for one am searching for the alternatives to what never, ever worked in the first place. I am taking my foot off the gas and slowing the breakneck pace that has typified my ride. If addiction hasn’t filled the void in my soul yet, it never will. If what I have tried has failed, it is time to go another direction.
Coast…stop…refresh…think…consider…contemplate what could be if this addiction wasn’t the driving force behind everything we do. I am with you as we beat this gas-guzzling giant and take our lives back!
This morning I am contemplating the personal impact of a movie my wife and I watched, it is called Spotlight. It is about a news organization that uncovers and reports on sexual abuse committed by the priests of the Catholic church, and the coverup which took place.
This movie caused several strong emotions in me:
- I had to weep at times, as I listened to survivors speak of what had been done to them as it reminded me of my personal abuse.
- Anger, as I witnessed the elaborate cover-up that allowed this heinous crime to continue, and the initial evaluation of the press that those abused were merely unhinged, or suffering some sort of delusional problems.
- Sadness as I reflected on my own life and the shadow sexual abuse has cast on every part.
I am glad I watched the movie though. I had heard the buzz and it seemed to be more about back-slapping and congratulations to the movie maker than about the important subject matter therein. I mean, the act of abuse is the tip of the iceberg, what follows is a lifetime of learning to cope and trying to function as a survivor. The spotlight time accomplished much though, for in truth, any process of healing needs to have a Genesis in order to find some place of resolution.
I encourage you to see the movie, whether you are in anyway involved in the restoration process or want to gain a level of empathy for those who have suffered its horrible stain. Be advised it is verbally graphic in its portrayal of the act of abuse, and there is plenty of language spicing up the dialog befitting the emotional nature of such stories.
I am appreciative of those who produced, directed and acted in this movie, it was very well done. I consider its revelations and extraordinary message a part of my personal journey. Lets not ignore the big and little things in daily life that continue to shape our views of ourselves, others, and the world around us. We have companions on our road to being whole…we are not alone.
Have a blessed day!
Interlaced with who I have become, is how I began.
When life takes some very distinct turns there are often reasons that are founded in the past, I am no exception.
Before I begin I want to make one thing perfectly clear, I am a believer in the premise that our lives are one seamless and continual thread. By that I mean we cannot separate certain time-periods or instances from our lives and say that their impact isn’t part of what makes us who we are. It is ludicrous to think that traumatic events we have experienced are somehow able to be swept aside without longterm effects. You may not become an addict, but you are afraid to trust, jumpy and frightened at an unexpected noise, or one or more of many other reactions and beliefs about yourself and others, trauma’s legacy is one that changes people.
I was thinking this morning about what I would write concerning my past, particularly the distant past, my childhood if you will. I came to the realization that there is very little concise memory from those years right up until my late 20’s. A smattering of images and activities are spread over the span of a quarter century, nothing remains of day-to-day life, just the horrific abuse and a few other unrelated things.
It was while watching the movie “SPOTLIGHT” with my wife last night (movie trailer here) that I realized something was missing from my previous writings. I have always spoken in general terms, using words like childhood sexual abuse, telling of a generic adult who committed these crimes. I was unwilling to expound on what had happened and who had done these things, in other words to be specific. At one point in the movie a reporter tells one of the victims of sexual abuse that they must give details of what they experienced. If it is left in simple terms people don’t understand or fathom the events that have taken place. I broke through slightly with this post which I wrote on another of my blogs a while ago.
As I evolved in my process of understanding and dealing with the sexual abuse I endured, I mistakenly looked for support and understanding from the people I had known within the church. Sure, there were the occasional understanding souls but for the most part I got rebuttal, anger, rejection, all things that I had already been feeling but had cloaked and set aside as I pursued my place of belonging and value within the church. People want you to “get over it” and “move on” they do not want you to understand, just “get busy” doing things and you won’t be consumed by the stuff that has happened to you. The church has its own set of issues that I will not get into at this time as I have written about these experiences at my other blog, the rip[ple] effect.
I am in therapy, and joining Celebrate Recovery along with my wife, as we search for understanding and healing. I live this out a day at a time, a mountain of mistakes and little personal lasting peace have accompanied me on this journey, but I have not given up. Maybe I should have thrown in the towel long ago and given myself over to the nagging depression, the voices inside that confirm the futility of rising above the filth, the desire to end my own life; I just haven’t reached that point.
I write to learn, to find hope, to cleanse, and to connect with those who have experienced similar pain. I also write to stay sane, to process my feelings, to seek justice, and to remain alive. I will tell my complete and unabridged story in the coming posts.
Stay strong my friend, there is hope.
I am very cognizant of my ability to veer off onto a trail that can lead to a dangerous place for me personally. Addiction to pornography isn’t the harmless diversion that many would have you believe. Even recently I heard the statistics on a major morning show that a million people are addicted to porn. Unfortunately those numbers are woefully short of the truth, and upon searching for reliable information, it fluctuates wildly depending on who you ask.
If, in the professional community they cannot agree on the severity and impact of sexual addiction, no wonder there is confusion and a lack of alarm for the world at large.
Let me tell you that it is a devastating problem and none of us are immune to it’s deadly infection. Fleeting glances are taken at a suggestive image, that person who walks by gets a double and triple take, or the brief visits to inappropriate sites on our many devices; none of them stay where they start. There is a yearning for more, and unless we are able to wrest control back, we will indulge a little more each time until we are in its grasp completely.
The reasons we are susceptible are many, as are those who struggle, so for some further information on this follow this brief video link by Dr. Patrick Carnes here for some additional information. There is always hope no matter at what stage we find ourselves, I know, for I have been to the bottom and still believe!
Have a blessed day!