Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Do You Give A Flip?

Why do people become physical or sexual abusers? I wish I knew the answers to that, I have suspicions but no clear cut answers. This morning is an easy day to speculate. One thing we know from research is a high number of individuals who have been abused as a child become abusers. I think the reason for this is the lack of understanding as to appropriate sexual activity. Imagine, growing up, being abused from a small age, and then never having the appropriate sexual perspectives developed or taught. In the realm of psychology there is a concept called behaviorism, I am a behaviorist. I think people largely learn their behavior from their experiences. I would have had a good time conversing with the author of this concept, BF Skinner.

Then there are those who are physically abused. Can you imagine learning from a very early age that violence is the answer to your problems? That violence is the way to make correction, and get your point across? Yet, this is the very thing people learn. I am not talking about spanking; there is a difference between a spanking and a beating. The way spankings are carried out, the attitude of the person giving the punishment or correction is of critical importance. Punishment should not be handed out in anger if at all possible. I will be clear, it is important to discipline children, and one appropriate method I believe is via spankings. I could say a lot here, including I have been far from perfect with my own children in this area. I am a firm believer that hands are for loving and should never be used to discipline a child. I know a long conversation could happen here. Maybe someday I will do an article on the subject, but for today, this is not the point of my thoughts.

Here is my thought today; it is so easy to be critical of those who have been abused, it is so easy to be critical of abusers. I know the victim is the innocent person; I also know that without appropriate help the likelihood of a victim to become an abuser is high.

I have had to live this fact. It has taken a lifetime to understand the appropriateness of sex. I will admit, I still am trying to understand this as a result of my own abuse as a child. I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of my abuse. I still suffer from nightmares, I struggle with acceptance, how others see me, the need to impress, and I could go on. I wish I could say I have never participated in inappropriate sexual activity, I can’t! I can say, I have come a long ways, I believe pedophiles should be punished to the extreme of the law, I despise pornography with a passion, I understand the importance of loving your children and being the best parent possible, and I could say more. I can also say this; I am an advocate for treatment of those who have been abused, no matter their age. I am grateful that at an important time in my life, I found the person of Jesus Christ and learned how to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me. I am glad I eventually sought out professional help to help me understand who I am and why I am the way I am. Despite the naysayer saying I shouldn’t talk about my past, about my issues, I have learned and personally know the effects of abuse. I personally know how important and how beneficial help is for this issue. Thankfully, I got it, I hope, I pray I can be an appropriate advocate for victims and I am honored that I meet and talk with people on a regular basis to help them overcome the obstacles in life associated with both physical and sexual abuse.

I am saddened that society considers the discussion of physical and sexual abuse as taboo. We are so quick to judge, to dish out harsh words, but we still hide the reality of abuse in our families. We encourage people to not talk about it. We find ways to contribute to the victims’ pain by ignoring the thing we pretend to hate. When it comes to dishing out punishment, we are quick to say yes, but when it comes to understanding or providing help, we are slow to respond, if we respond at all. I can’t help but think, God has to be deeply saddened. I speak to someone almost every day who questions the reality of God because of the abuse they have incurred, yet those who say they believe in God are the slowest to respond to that hurt. I am reminded of a passage in the Bible where Jesus states it is better for someone to tie a heavy stone around their neck and throw themselves into a body of water to drown then to harm a small child. What people don’t understand is there is something about an adult, that stays as a small child until the appropriate help happens when abuse has been a part of their life. We know that until people talk about the abuse they have incurred, true help can’t begin to happen. The effects are permanent; there is a scar that stays with them until they die. It is my discovery that the largest opponents of talking about abuse were often times victims and abusers. Of all people, you would think they would get it, instead, they are still slaves to the abuse they incurred, and possibly dished out.

I know some get tired of me talking about these issues, they have told me so, some of those are uniquely aware of the abuse I went through from various perspectives, unfortunately they don’t see, speak to, or know the people I speak to on a daily basis who are victims, or even perpetrators.

I have to admit, there are daily events that cause my mind to perk on this issue. It may be an abuse story related to a celebrity, it could be a newspaper article, or as in the instance of this morning, less than 30 minutes ago, it may be hearing a name I know on the news.

When in college I took part in a community service project as was required by Tabor College. I chose to participate in a project I still believe in, Big Brother. While in the program I became the big brother of Randy Herbel and his brother. It was an unusual situation; the family dynamics were quite unique and at times disturbing. Randy and his brother were good kids, they were kids that had a tough time growing up, yet kids who needed love. They lived in a tough situation and it was an honor to get to know these two young men. As I got older I ended up moving on. For a period of time I tried to keep in touch with the two brothers, and on a few rare and occasional visits back to Hillsboro I would hunt the boys up and visit with them. I would discover that few had volunteered for the big brother program and that I was one of the only big brothers they ever had. I was with the boys for around 3 years, and enjoyed my time with them. I never really thought of the consequences of this for these boys.

This morning I heard that Randy was just sentenced to life in prison for rape and aggravated indecent liberties with a 5 year old child he was babysitting. I am confused, is there more I could have done? I had tried to track Ricky and Randy down since being back in Kansas, I only live about 50 miles away from Hillsboro, I didn’t know if they lived there anymore. I will admit, a part of my heart is broken this morning. I have those who call me friend but even friendship is confusing today.

I have issues with perpetrators, I think they deserve prison, I also think they deserve and need help, but we live in a society that seems so screwed up. No wonder I am confused. It seems as if in this world friendship is only of value as long as you get benefit for it, forget how much you try to help a friend at a cost to your own life and family, forget how much you actually may love and care for a person, if it doesn’t benefit the other person, is it really friendship? Then on the area of abuse, we have the attitude of “Hang ‘em!” There is no understanding, no real effort of trying to understand this horrible epidemic that exists in a society and in a world that seems to sweep the issue under the rug.

Yep, I am confused; I guess that is a part of why I write this. To my knowledge, despite numerous press releases related to Mosaic ARC, a program offering at whatever a person can afford to donate recovery service for people who have experienced abuse, there has not been a single article published regarding the program. The press seems to publicize a great deal about people who have been abused, or have been convicted of abuse, but little seems to occur regarding programs that want to help and prevent this abuse. Churches like to talk about salvation, about the freedom given by God, but to my knowledge, they haven’t said a word or promoted Mosaic ARC. There are businesses that have said they support the concept, it is needed, they will help out, yet, they haven’t done anything to change the patterns of abuse, or promote or help a program that wants to make a difference.

Here is the truth; The Virtual Pew has donated to Mosaic ARC an estimated $500 up to this point. We have received outside contributions of $100 so far. Of the contributions from The Virtual Pew, none of that was from outside sources. I am perfectly fine with that, my issue isn’t on the outside contributions of either needs or of finance, (which we have), it is of the help needed in promoting the program. I mean, how hard is it to post a flyer, to print a press-release, or to tell your friends about the program? Of course there are the financial needs, this takes time. I hope the sentiments of others aren’t true, I have been told by several people, they don’t expect people to contribute or support this program at all, of course these individuals also know how important the program is. Are the sentiments of those who know how important this service is true? Will very few help?

I don’t know, I honestly don’t know? Why do I have to live a life where I am surrounded by tragedy? Why am I someone who has seen and experienced the horrible things in life I have? Why do I still cherish friends who seem to care? I don’t know! I wish I did, I wish I really knew how people could pretend to be followers of Jesus, pretend to care, pretend to walk a good game, but in reality, never bother to give a flip.

Maybe I come across too harsh today, I don’t know. All I know is yesterday I spend time with several people who struggle as a result of the abuse they have incurred, struggle with a God who would allow it. Today I struggle with a little brother who may never walk outside of a prison wall again. I struggle because I wonder if there was a way to prevent the horrible crime to a 5 year old by someone I know. I wonder why it seems as if no one cares.

1 John 3: 16-18 ~ By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

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