This is a topic I never dreamed I would write about. Abuse. Sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, they’re all out there. Abuse is rampant in our society. For many years I was a public school teacher, and also a mandatory reporter of anything that looked suspicious. It comes with the job. Did I ever make a report? You bet. More than once. There are times when a mandatory reporter saves a life. In today’s world, there is a greater awareness of what abuse looks like than there used to be. It is an uncomfortable business. We also have children who know how to cry “wolf” if they think it will be to their advantage, especially in custody battles, claiming mistreatment of some kind. They understand how it works. A young lady may accuse someone of rape, when there was no rape. I assume that is more the exception than the rule. Children do show up at school with bruises, burns, and wounds. It is a terrible thing.
However, we haven’t grown used to talking about abuse in the church or in religious families. In recent years, we’ve heard about catholic priests preying on young children. They’ve received the most press. Sadly, that is only the beginning of what is starting to be reported.
Home-schoolers are uniting as well. Many feel they were treated severely and isolated from being given the opportunity to sustain healthy relationships or even to access general knowledge like how to order a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Escaping the parental dominion and control is almost impossible in some homeschool families. Don't misunderstand me, I’m not opposed to homeschooling. But, there is growing evidence that some children have been mistreated to an unknown extent.The homeschooled children are the ones speaking out. The public viewpoint is that on the average homeschooled homes are better than many regular-schooled homes, which is why they are not monitored, and, really, they should have their independence. The point is, if the home becomes violent. punitive, or over-bearing, it will harm the child emotionally and quite possibly, physically.
Honesty is the best policy. It's true. The church needs to address the issue when there has been abuse. The church needs to offer help for those who need to go through a healing process. We must become aware and active. True religious belief MUST be bound to Christ, not to a man.
A statement about those who abuse or have abused: I believe God can and will forgive and set free. I believe in forgiveness and the power of love. I also believe one should make right, restitution, when one has caused pain to another, whether emotional, physical, or sexual. What hurts the most is when no-one says it was wrong, or acknowledges that there was wrong-doing. A girl, who was hurt despicably in her home, once said, "The hardest part was that no-one said to me that what was happening to me was wrong." Teachers and adults ignored the evidence. She now goes around the country speaking about what sexual abuse looks like, informing educators so they can become aware of the signs that point to children who are being assaulted or exploited.
Even at the end of a tumultuous journey, an abuser can still say the words, "I'm sorry." There is healing in those words.
For the ones of you who are reading this blog who were abused. I am sorry that the abuse happened to you. It wasn't right. I know it hurt you. You lost something dear to you during the abuse, your sense of self-worth, your identity, your right to be loved and honored, and your personal dignity. Although I can do nothing to change what has happened, I do know that God can and will extend His love to you. Seek Him until you find Him. Find a place where you can heal and be set free. It is a process that will take time and effort. There are people who can help you. A starting place might be, www.joannfore.com, a good site for women, especially if you would like anonymity. JoAnn Fore was abused and found healing. Many women share on her website. Catherine Darnell is another woman who has overcome (Hope's Tapestry). Mary DeMuth, as well. All three write on this topic and can be found on the web. God bless you. Norma* * * * *
Written in connection with, "When a Woman Finds Her Voice," by JoAnn Fore.
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