Posts Tagged 'sexual abuse'

A Story About Ants

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Creepy. I hate these things. Sorry if this pic freaks you out. It freaks me out.

A few years ago, I had a major ant problem in my apartment. Thankfully, they were confined to a few specific areas but they caused me a lot of anxiety and stress. Nothing I did worked.  So I told the apartment manager.

What did she do?

Nothing.

She told me having ants in the apartment was part of living in an apartment and that nothing could be done.  She said it was no big deal. She wasn’t going to do anything.

I was hurt.  I felt disrespected and helpless because she did not take me seriously or care what I had to say.  

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I think the name says it all.

Eventually, she did call an exterminator to come and spray but only AFTER somebody else said something.  And I still felt that she didn’t care.  I had been dealing with the problem for a significant period of time and her ignoring my request for help told me my voice and concerns did not matter.

So now, any time I see ants in my apartment I feel those feelings again.  Thankfully, it is just a few and they go away after a shirt few days.  But I still get stressed out seeing them.  I don’t hate ants but their presence reminds me of not being heard, about not being taken seriously, about having my voice silenced because it wasn’t something she wanted to hear.

That particular apartment manager was a major problem and I suffered stress, anxiety, and threats from her.  She even threatened to evict me if I didn’t quit my job and find another.  Trust me, the situation was bad and she had no legal right to do anything to me.

Thankfully that manager and that set of problem neighbors are gone.

So I have a much better apartment manager now and the neighbors still coukd be better.  But I’m still leery of asking for them to come and deal with anything.  I do my best to keep my head down and be quiet.  It may not make me any friends but I feel safer, if only marginally.

I won’t get hurt.

Why write about this? Simple. 

A victim telling their story about abuse and being heard and believed is important.  Too many people want to silence the voices of victims because it is not what they want to hear.  By silencing victims’ voices, the abusers are given tacit approval for their actions and acceptance and it implies that somehow the victim is at fault.  Silencing minimizes the effects of abuse and how dangerous and harmful abuse really is.

Silence says abuse is okay.  It says the victim is a liar and making things up.  It denies reality.  These are lies.

Victims need to be able to feel safe, to be able to tell their story in their own way and time, to be believed and taken seriously, and to have support and healing.  Victims are people, too.

Liars, Thieves, and Cheaters

I’m done with Josh Duggar.

But I’m not done with talking about how abusers affect their victims.

They are liars.  They lie about the fact that they molest children, hit children, yell and scream and threaten children. They lie about hitting women, raping women, threatening women, isolating women.  They lie about hitting men, raping men, threatening men, isolating men. They lie to their victims about how the abuse is not abuse, that it is okay, that it is their fault, that if they tell something very bad will happen.  They lie to the victim’s family and friends about how they are really a good person, about how safe the victim is with them, about how the victim started it, about what they are doing isn’t wrong because other people do the same thing, about how the victim brought it on themselves, about how they doing this because they love the victim and that it is in their best interest.

They are thieves.  They steal the victim’s innocence, stability, security, mental health, safety, trust, judgement, physical health, sexual health, self worth, dignity.  They steal their voice. And they throw their stolen goods away.

They are cheaters.  Many cheat the criminal justice system out of justice by never facing arrest, trial, conviction, and prison.  They all cheat their victims out of a life free of abuse.  They cheat their victims of healing and closure when they do not face the criminal justice system.  They cheat their victims out of telling their story and being believed by the lies they have spread and their appearance of being a “good” person who could not possibly done the things they did.

So abusers are liars, thieves, and cheaters. They are abusers.

“But He Said He Was Sorry”

So?

Yes, I’m still talking about Josh Duggar.  But I want to talk about apology and his victims, two things that haven’t received the attention they should.

In regards to apology, there is a good book On Apology by Paul Lazare that covers the parts of an apology and why those parts are necessary for an effective apology.  While don’t agree with everything he wrote (and the book was a bit triggering for me), I think understanding that an apology involves more than just saying sorry.  It involves naming the offense one is apologizing for, acknowledging the hurt caused by the offense, and offering some sort of reparation/restitution to the victim. I think there is another part but it has been a few months since I read the book. Josh Duggar did not really acknowledge the hurt he caused the victims and focused on the hurt he caused himself.  His apology is almost meaningless.

But he apologized! So we have to forgive.

Actually, no.  I do not have to forgive him.  Too many Christians believe and teach that forgiveness is mandatory no matter the offense.  And that if the offender apologizes, says they are sorry, the offended must forgive and move on.  Forgiveness is not accepting an apology.  It is not allowing the other person to hurt me again all in the name of Jesus.  It is not about godly behavior.

Forgiveness is about letting go of the hurt and pain the victim suffered and moving on.  An apology may be involved or it may not.  But it does not involve allowing bad behavior or crimes to continue or to go unpunished by secular authorities.  A victim chooses to forgive or not to forgive.  Being forced to forgive makes that forgiveness meaningless.  Repentence and a true change of heart is also important and must be involved.

So I do not have to forgive Josh Duggar and neither do his victims.  They can demand to see a true change of behavior and real repentence before they can choose to forgive.  They can also refuse to continue to have contact with him. 

Christians unfortunately confuse forgiveness with reconciliation which are two different things.  I’ve already discussed forgiveness.  Reconciliation is about the relationship and repairing that relationship after hurt and damage has been caused.  We all should encourage reconciling ourselves with God after we sin.  However, we are not required to reconcile with those that will continue to hurt us even if we have forgiven them. 

There is a good article here and here
by Jimmy Akin, a Catholic apologist that covers forgiveness and reconciliation. And no, forgiveness is not mandatory especially to some one is unrepentant or does not ask to be forgiven.

We have several young girls who were victimized sexually by a brother and then forced to forgive their brother. They were most likely blamed for their molestation (using Gothard material; just visit http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com for posts on this) and given little support or room to heal.  It was all then swept under the rug to protect Josh and probably Jim Bob as well.  The victims did not matter.  Only Josh matters because he is a man.

These girls who are victims are being further victimized by those who excuse what Josh has done and ignore their pain and suffering.  Their voices are not being heard.  Rather, their voices have been silenced, their pain unrecognized, and their victimhood belittled.  They are not even recognized as victims.  Josh is considered the victim, not the actual victims who have to live in shame and silence perpetrated by their own parents, their abuser, and many Christians. 

These girls need help and have been and are still being denied help all in the name of “forgiveness” and being good Christians.  Very few are talking about their suffering and what it means for them and how they have been hurt.  They need to be allowed to express their feelings and to tell their story.  Their story is theirs and they need to be able to tell it without condemnation or judgements or forced to forgive.  Their voices need to be heard.

Unfortunately, the cultic system these girls live in does not allow girls or women to have voices or to even acknowledge that they have been hurt and abused in any way.  So further victimization.  These girls need our help and support, not our judgements or false expectations of godly or biblical behavior.  I believe those girls and one day they will tell their stories and I will listen.

Modesty, Quiverfull, Bill Gothard, and Josh Duggar

Yes, all these things go together.

Update: The police report where much of the information I refer to was taken by a state trooper who is now serving time for child pornography. While that does not lessen the severity of the crime or the validity of the report, it does show that the Duggars operate in environment of avoidance and ignorance. They knew better but still chose to cover up and punish the victims rather than truly help Josh and the victims.

This post is to show how Josh Duggar could commit the crimes he did and get away with it while never truly taking responsibility. The one factor that I don’t touch on is the possible sexual abuse of Josh while it would be an influence he still made the choice to molest.

Josh Duggar grew up in an environment where girls are blamed for men’s sins. He learned from a young age that he did not have to take any real responsibility for his actions, behaviors, or words.  He just had to point the finger at someone else and women were the best target.

Clothing modesty is only expected of women so that even a boy’s sister could be guilty of seducing her brother by the way she dressed.  Even girls as young as five are expected to dress in a manner that does not bring attention to their bodies and the fact that they have female bodies.

Quiverfull and Patriarchy go hand in hand.  Josh Duggar learned that he had rights and demands over women, even over his own sisters all because he is male.  If he falters, he has every right to blame the females in his life for causing  him to sin.  He can point the finger at any female and say that they dressed too proactively or they acted in a seductive manner, etc. and these women have to accept the blame and internalize it.  They are the ones that have to pay the price, not Josh Duggar, not in Patriarchy/Quiverfull.  They know better while he does not, being so weak.

Bill Gothard taught the boys and men who used his homeschooling material, who attended his Institutes, that men have rights while girls do not.  And yes, he infantilizes women.  But then he has also sexually molested girls at his campus for years while also allowing his own brother to do the same with impunity.  Just read http://recoveringgrace.org.  The stories there tell it all.

I am not apologizing for Josh Duggar.  I am pointing out that he was raised in an abusive environment that allowed him to abuse and get away with it, police report and “counseling” notwithstanding.  He learned no boundaries and responsibilities.  He did not learn right from wrong, not really.  He only quit because he got caught not because he was committing a crime against vulnerable girls.  And he is still thinking only of himself.

The girls he molested (and normally I would use allegedly because he had not been convicted or adjuticated in a court of law but the police report is useful here to make my point) have been forgotten. Actually, they were probably bullied into silence after being forced to forgive Josh and told that it was their fault that it happened.  They may have received “Gothard counseling” which isn’t counseling at all but gaslighting and severe pressure to conform to a system.  These girls were further victimized and are still being victimized because they cannot talk about it.  They have been turned into the perpetrators and Josh as the victim by their own family, by Bill Gothard, by Patriarchy/Quiverfull, by purity and modesty culture, by Josh, by those that accept the lies the Duggar family propogate through their lifestyle and TV show.

In the end, all these things: modesty, Quiverfull, Patriarchy, and Bill Gothard teach that women do not have bodies.  And if they do not have bodies then they are not real people. And if they are not real people then all sorts of abuse and violence can committed against and upon them without the perpetrators suffering any kind of consequence.

I hope that one day these girls realize they were the true victims in all this, that they get the help they need, and that they find the strength and courage to tell their story.  And to leave the world of abuse they live in.

Quiverfull and Childhood

Part Three

Warning: I will be talking about various types of abuse in this post and have inserted photos where appropriate.  Be advised.

This post builds off the discussion from Part Two.  I mentioned previously that many girls are forced to raise their younger siblings because their mothers just don’t parent.  Or in the case of Michele Duggar, passes the responsibility of parenting to a daughter so that she can keep having babies.

Since Quiverfull is focused on babies and numbers, children as individuals with needs are in an odd phase.  They aren’t babies and they aren’t married adults.  These two phases are the only ones that matter in Quiverfull.  That’s where the priorities are focused. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are then ignored until they get noticed.  The phase of childhood itself is ignored until someone notices a child acting (as in any sort of movement, not just bad or irresponsible behavior) or speaking.  The phase of childhood is considered a messy wasteland to be conquered by the parents rather than enjoyed as a season of human life. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

First, children are just numbers, not actual individuals with wants and needs and desires. They are soldiers in a battles against the secular world.

Two, children are considered property of their parents.  The parents have rights.  The children do not.  The children are merely objects to manipulate.

Three, children are seen as inherently sin filled and willingly disobedient.  Children are only capable of sin and incapable of virtue. 

Four, children must be homeschooled because any other sort of schooling is un-biblical, full of dangerous anti-Christian agendas, and a means of government interference.

Fifth, children rarely receive medical assistance in any form.due to paranoia about the government and beliefs that any healing is God’s will and can only happen if He desires it.

While there are more, these are a good starting place.

Point One: Children are individuals but not in Quiverfull.  Quiverfull is a movement that emphasizes numbers of people and not actual people.  Add in the distaste for childhood as a phase of life and things get a lot worse.

Points Two and Three go together.   When children are not seen as people, they have no rights or protections.  They are also open to great abuses, neglect, violence, and even homicide.  Since many parents come to believe that corporal punishment and spanking are acceptable means of forcing a child to comply with their demands, many children are physically abused in the name of love and God.  Many use verses out of the Book of Proverbs to justify their spanking.  They also read and endorse abusive parenting methods like Michael Pearl’s To Train Up A Child (which compares training children to training animals and to start spanking at three months), James Dobson (again comparing children to dogs), Rev Bradley, and Shepherd a Child’s Heart.

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Courtesy of Google Images

There is no biblical basis for beating the sin out of children so that they become God fearing adults.  But it is a belief espoused in Pearl’s and heavily hinted at in Gothard’s work (though I don’t know if he advocated corporal punishment). 

Pearl advocated “first time obedience” and demands it of babies.  “First time obedience” is the expectation that when an adult tells a child to do something that child must obey immediately.  Any hesitation, finishing a task already started, or asking for directions on how to do that something is seen as disobedience and must be punished immediately. 

For example: a thirteen month old baby is sitting on the floor, playing with a toy.  He puts the toy in his mouth (babies like to put things in their mouth; this is normal).  The mother sees this and tells the baby to take the toy out of his mouth.  The baby keeps the toy in his mouth because he doesn’t really understand what his mother is saying.  However, Pearl says the child is actively choosing to be disobedient and therefore needs to be spanked right this minute.

But first time obedience is expected of all children.  And being disobedient or even “rebellious” (a vague term that parents use to justify any spanking or to justify their anger and their desire to hit a child). Spanking then becomes the default method of parenting instead of teaching the child why let alone understanding child development in any way.

Children in Quiverfull face lots of violence, abuse, neglect, and are forced to behave in developmentally inappropriate ways. 

Teenage girls are expected to parent their younger siblings. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Many children face the threat of corporal punishment which I’ve expanded to include not just spanking but any use of hitting as punishment which includes slapping, punching, using some type of implement. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Many children are verbally abused through threats of corporal punishment regardless if those threats are carried out, through name calling, through insults, and through intimidation. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are sexually abused not just through molestation and rape but also abused through body shaming, purity culture, and dress codes. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are psychologically abused when parents threaten them, manipulate situations so that a child fails expectations,  play mind games, and through gaslighting.

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Children are spiritually abused because they are raised to follow an extreme belief system, are threatened with an angry, vengeful God that is out to get them and can’t wait to see them fail, and through the use of illegal and immoral tactics that are justified by the use of scripture verses.

Children are educationally neglected through the use of homeschooling.  Many parents use homeschooling as a means of isolating their children from others so that the parents not only do not have to teach their children a standard education but so that many parents can abuse their children and not have others know about the abuse.  Many children who receive a homeschooling education are usually very deficient in many subject.  Some children are not allowed to finish or even graduate high school.  This is especially true for girls.

Children in Quiverfull are medically neglected.  Many children are born at home.  If there is a midwife involved, she may be unlicensed. Licensing and training depends on state statute so many midwives are trained and licensed.  But there are those midwives and other medical practitioners who choose to operate outside the medical establishment. And with a heavy distrust of the government, many followers of Quiverfull will actively seek out medical assistance that is not regulated by any government agency.   Vaccines are seen as government intrusion so many parents refuse to vaccinate their children.  Or beliefs false information about vaccines.  Many children rarely see a doctor. Reasons include: lack of parental finances; government intrusion; doctors are typically mandatory reporters of abuse (depends on state law); belief that sickness is merely uncompressed sin and so the child needs to repent and get right with God; the belief that any sickness can be cured by prayer.

Children raised in Quiverfull suffer the most and are given the least amount of help and support.  They may live in an unhealthy home due to abuse, neglect, inadequate shelter, inadequate food, inadequate clothing, and inadequate resources and support. 
These children are victims.  They spend many of their adult years healing from the abuse they suffered, correcting their education deficits, and shedding false and dangerous beliefs and behaviors.

Abuse By Any Other Name

Is still abuse.  Calling it discipline, correction, spanking, etc. is still the hitting of a child.  Adults say they are doing it out of love and they think they are but in the end the adult gets to hit a child without consequence and the child suffers.  The adult says he’s spanking little Jimmy for hitting little Johnny but the adult is hitting Jimmy because Jimmy can’t hit back.

Little Jimmy can’t hit back.

Read that again.

Little Jimmy can’t hit back.  Dad or Mom can hit Jimmy all they want and Jimmy can’t defend.himself.  He’s a child.  He’s not a person, not an adult.  Hitting an adult might mean Mom or Dad getting hit back. They might get caught and charged with a crime.

A child just has to take it. 

Apparently, it’s wrong to hit a woman; it’s okay to hit a child as long as you don’t leave marks or get caught.  This is a stupid fucking double standard.

Too many Christians think hitting a child is acceptable as long as it’s called “spanking” or “discipline” and it’s done out of love.  And back it up with Old Testament verses.  But it’s still hitting a child, just now done in the name of Jesus. 

When will people learn hitting a child, even hitting a child in the name of Jesus, is wrong.  Parents are to protect their children, not hurt them so as to make the parents feel better.

Too many parents believe that they have free reign to terrorize, harass, threaten, coerce, manipulate, hit their own children as long as they don’t get caught and that everyone else is doing it. 

When did become acceptable to hit children and to not hit adults?

When did it become acceptable to use Jesus and the Bible as your pathetic excuse to abuse your children?

When did it become acceptable to say it’s okay to hit your kids but not okay to rape them?

When did it become acceptable to say that the abuse you suffered at the hands of your parents was acceptable and that you even deserved it?

When did it become acceptable to support abusers as long as they are celebrities or have money or know the right people?

When did it become acceptable to think of children as worthy of abuse and unworthy of respect?

When did it become acceptable to consider children as not real people?

When did become acceptable to blame victims instead of the abuser’s?

When did it become acceptable to throw away children in the name of money?

The Past

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here but I am a survivor of abuse.  Emotional/psychological and verbal abuse.  Not much physical abuse and to my knowledge, not sexual abuse thought there was abuse by my mother that could be considered if not sexual abuse then boundary abuse.  And yes, my mother was my abuser.  That went on for nearly the first twenty years of my life.

Then I went off to college at 18 while still carrying all that baggage/garbage, etc.  It wasn’t until I was 21 that I was able to start drawing lines and when I was 22 realize my parents didn’t care all that much about me.  My mother was abusive, my dad neglectful.  And I thought that this was all normal.

It wasn’t until I was forced into counseling my senior year of college (I had gone to my advisor to get an extension for a paper and was in tears because I was so exhausted but she thought I was depressed and made me make an appointment with the counseling center) that I had someone outside the situation actually say what happened to me was abuse and neglect.  I tried to say that to people while in the last year or so of high school but no one believed me.  From hearing things like I must be making things up to my parents weren’t really like that I doubted what really happened to me and even believed that I was making it up.  There are still times I think I made up what happened to me and then I remind myself that, no, it really happened.  Why would I be as messed up as I am if I hadn’t been abused?

I recently read a book about daughters and their mothers.  I really shouldn’t have read past the first few pages and returned it immediately to the library.  It was the absolutely the worst book to read.  This women advocates that all women and I mean all women need to be best friends with their mothers regardless of how their mothers treated them in the past and that the only friendship a women needs in one with her mother.  Actually, the author advocates that the only relationship a women needs is the friendship she has with her mother and that her mother should be the center of her universe.  That a women being a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend to other people is considered unimportant and even blasphemous to this whole mother-daughter friendship the author advocates.  That’s such a load of BS it isn’t even funny.  There are many of us that can’t even have a civil relationship with our mothers let alone a mother-daughter relationship and a friendship is completely out of the questions.  Yet this author can’t see that.  It upset me to read the book and I really shouldn’t have read it.

But this mentality hurts because I’m also getting it from a supervisor at work.  Now, this supervisor at work doesn’t know that I was abused and I’m not going to tell her.  But she can’t conceive that parents might abuse their children and that those children can’t have anything to do with those abusers as adults as a means of protecting themselves from getting hurt.  My supervisor lives in a very unrealistic and a very self-selective world that’s definitely out of touch with reality.  She gets along great with her mother but then her mother loved her.  My mother wasn’t capable of loving me.

Another effect of my mother’s abuse (from all her screaming) is that I don’t handle loud noises really well.  If I’m aware that there is going to be loud noise, I can prepare myself to handle it but there are times when that’s just not possible.  Part of my job in security deals with responding to alarms (there’s actually more to alarms to than that but that’s all I can get into).  Many of these alarms are loud and extremely obnoxious.  Enough, even after my time working there, the sound stresses me out.  A lot.  I cringe and want to run away which isn’t possible.

The cringing and running away when I feel I really can’t also happens with regards to personal space.  If I feel someone is sitting too close to me (which has happened a lot at Mass recently) I start to cry and want to run away but have this overwhelming feeling that I just have to stay there and let the bad things happen, that I have to let the hurt happen.  Because leaving and running away is not an option.  It is for everyone else but not for me.  I can understand how screwed up that is but that’s what’s going through my mind when someone sits so close that it feels like they are sitting in my lap and I can’t move and that this person is going to hurt me and I have to keep silent and let it happen.

So this has been a bad week for me.


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