Sunday, April 14, 2013

ABUSE: People just don’t “Get It”

People who have never been abused will never understand. If you’ve never been in a highly authoritative religious environment, you’ll never understand what it means to be spiritually abused. If you’ve never lived in a home where your father and/or mother physically abused you, you’ll never understand what it is to be a child in that environment and how that abuse will affect you the rest of your life. If you’ve never been raped or physically violated, you’ll never understand the trauma, emotions, conflicts, reactions, etc. that happen before, during and after an assault. 

I’m one of those people. The closest one that I understand is spiritual abuse because I have been in some spiritually abusive churches and organizations but my experiences are extremely mild compared to some I’ve seen and others I’ve heard about. My parents didn’t beat me. Although I’m sure some of my punishments were excessive and I did get spanked, I would never consider myself abused. I do know numerous people who have been raped and even though I live with someone who has, I’ll never truly understand what she’s gone through and what she’ll deal with the rest of her life because I’ve never experienced it.

Here are some other things that I don’t “get.”

#1 Parents…
a.       Who abuse
b.      Who marry a known abuser
c.       Who don’t protect their children from an abuser
d.      Who chose an abusive spouse over their own abused child
e.      Who reject a child that’s been abused

I just don’t understand anybody who abuses another person but even more, a parent who abuses their own children. How can a parent kick, punch, hit, slap, push or use any form of physical violence against their children? I do understand spanking but even then there are other forms of effective discipline that don’t require you to hit a child.

I understand even less raping your own children. How can a parent do this? It’s so disgusting and revolting that I just don’t understand how any person can do that to another person, let alone a child. 

How can a person turn their back on their children? Why would a parent stand up for the abuser and turn their back on their child who has been abused? I’ve heard too many stories of parent(s) turning against their child because the child finally had the courage to speak up. The mom doesn’t want to send her husband to jail but would prefer he keep abusing. The parents blame their daughter or son for being molested by a relative, friend, sitter, or church member. 

I’m just disgusted and I don’t understand the mentality of parents not supporting their abused children.

#2 Church leaders and Religious Organizations who…
a.       Abuse by leaders and church members
b.      Cover up abuse
1.       “You don’t want to break up a family, do you?”
2.      “We’ll deal with it internally.”
3.       “If this gets out, it will hurt our ministry.”
4.      “You shouldn’t take another Christian to court.”
5.   "Let's not dig up the past. He's changed. He's not the person he used to be." 
c.       Give Platitudes
1.       “forgive and forget”
2.      “just get over it”
3.       “let God deal with it”
4.      “you need to give it to God”
5.      “don’t become bitter”
d.      Disregarding
1.       "Our church is not like that."
2.      "We’re autonomous." or "We're not responsible for what that church does."
3.    "Those bloggers, advocates, and victims are just bitter."
4.   "Your PTSD, nightmares, and other problems are not real. It's all in your head. You're just dwelling in the past."
5.   "You're just being vindictive."

It really bothers me that some churches don’t “get it.” They just don’t understand and what’s worse, they don’t seem to want to understand. They’re more concerned about image than justice. They’d rather enforce rules than practice grace. They’d rather be on the defense for religious leaders and organizations than on the offensive for the abused.

 I don't understand why church leaders and organizations will condemn another church over music, clothing, and other standards but they won't address that same church or organization when there is a known issue that the pastor or leader who is abusing, has abused, or has covered up an abuse.

Those of us who don’t experientially understand are not excused from understanding the people that are involved. We love and support. When we don't, we're not much better than the abuser. We don't have to understand what it is to be abused to do what is right.

We need to understand that helping a victim is what God wants us to do. We need to worry about our heart being right with God, not protecting an "image." Let's have character and let God worry about His image. Let us worry about doing the right thing. When we do that, we show the world how God loves.

God’s love is what I want to understand. His love is what I have experienced and that is what I want to demonstrate to those who’ve been abused.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much, Tim. I'm in the same boat as you--coming from a very similar background to the one you describe. My parents loved me, and I knew it. They protected me, and I was never abused or molested in any way. BUT I can still, like you, seek to understand the world of the abused. I can still read and study and learn from victims and other wise people. By the grace of God I won’t cover, shame, blame, disregard, or offer platitudes. Instead, I’ll listen, believe, support, and offer hope. That’s what we do in the Name of Jesus. That’s love.