Thursday, September 2, 2010

Abusing the Abused, The Challenge

Rachel has lived a rough life filled with abuse, neglect, misunderstanding and more. Her story carries the burden many victims of abuse have to carry, rejection, hurt, pain, even into adulthood.

Some of Rachel’s friends and family did all they could to reject and deny the story of her experiences, ‘you must be imagining things, there is no way that happened.’ ‘Rachel must have some issues; I don’t recall any of that happening to her.’ The rejection adds up, the rejection of experiences by others add to the continuation of depression she has gone through, it continues to have a negative impact.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, Rachel has been away from her family for some time, years in fact. She has moved on from the horrors, the nightmares associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She has moved on from the years of counseling and therapy that forced her to either deal with the past or to face the likelihood of isolation and the potential suicide that many victims turn to. Rachel doesn’t understand, she hurts, and she even questions God. She has learned though, talking about her past seems to help. It helps because it opens up doors of talking to others who have gone through the same issues, it helps her understand, ‘I am not alone.’

Rachel still questions God for various reasons, one of which is what she feels in the continued rejection of others. They say they love, but they question either without thinking or in the attempt to protect themselves.

Rachel has relatives who have experienced their own horrors. She wasn’t there for all of the occurrences; she understands the need to block out memories. She has never doubted the experiences even though she has no memory of them, she wonders, ‘why they have to question me on my experiences? They may not remember, they may not have been there, but don’t they understand that when they question my experiences they cause me to hurt even more.’ There are few things worse than the rejection, and denial of stories she has regretted and wished she had never had to go through.

Rachel has gone on to live life, to discover faith, a miracle really because in the same situation, many have gone on to have nothing to do with God. While many blame God, she has sought refuge in God, yet the criticism of things she knows is real is like a fiery dart from the enemy trying to tear her down and break her spirit. If she had not taken her faith so seriously in the study and application of her faith, she would lose confidence and hope, but she knows her faith is real, she has been consistent in her faith and in the practice and living of her faith. It doesn’t help though, when those who had once either walked away from, or not taken their faith seriously all of a sudden know more than her, not just the reality of what she has gone through, but the serious study and conviction of the application of her belief system. While many listened to others around them as to what the Bible said, Rachel decided to look for herself and the reality is, that what she discovered was far different than much of what she had been told. There was a reason so many like Gandhi respected Jesus, but had little good to say about the church or many of those Christians who make up the church.

One of the things that hurt is that Rachel has tried to love, she has tried to understand, yet every time she starts to get close to someone, it seems the pain resurfaces. ‘What are my options,’ she wonders silently but with deep conviction? ‘I can crawl back into bed and try to sleep it off, I can engage the pain, but it will be painful, or I can totally remove myself from my family. The rejection of family isn’t what I want to do, but I have to wonder, what is the best option for me to continue in life?’ Rachel contemplates on her faith, she remembers the stories of Jesus, not that she is a Jesus, but she remembers how he was not accepted by many in his family and community. She realizes that sometimes the people closest to you know you the least, they don’t always see or understand the experiences one close to them goes through. This is a sad commentary on relationships and friendships, even family, the denial of experiences. There has to be an openness of these types of things, but it isn’t easy to open up to real feelings, real emotions, especially when we have to recognize our own failures and weaknesses. It is so easy to ignore and deny reality, especially when it keeps our world in a nice clean 50’s Leave it to Beaver kind of way. That isn’t always reality though. It certainly isn’t reality the way Rachel has experienced life. If only more people understood and sought to understand instead of making judgment of things they know nothing about.

There are also those that are so nit-picky. There is the focus on a specific date or a simple mistake in timing. Those people also seem to ignore the pain, the hurt the reality of the overall picture that Rachel has gone through. In their self righteous indignity, they make accusations; they make comment of things they know nothing about, as if someone could be with someone else for 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week. She also knows her own loner ways, she knows of how she was seldom around people in her life where the abuse was taking place. She knows of her efforts to discover truth and the discovery of certain aspects. If the abuse, if the horrific situations people go through took place in public, they wouldn’t take place, but Rachel knows all too well, they do take place, they took place with her.

Rachel should keep on sharing her story though; she will keep on because she has seen her story impact others. She has seen the value of the release of pain from other victims of abuse who have shared their own stories. She realizes, ‘I have discovered a new family, a family that understands, and a family God has blessed because God has used the story to relate to others in a way they understand and escape the bonds of hell that have held them captive.’

Now understand, Rachel is a fictional character, the experiences are unfortunately all to real, I know, I speak to people almost daily that have experienced the pain and rejection of things they know they have lived. They and I have lived these things, these experiences and unfortunately still live them in ways I wish I didn’t. What can you do for a victim of abuse, love, try to understand, and by all means, understand, these are stories, experiences that no one wants to make up. While false memories do exist in rare cases, it is rare. It should be noted, blocking out events is not a false memory, and it is a coping mechanism. Two different things, that impact a victim in an all too real a way. For me, the accusations, the assumptions have been in some ways especially difficult. It is hard enough for a male to share the experiences of abuse, to have people pile on, to take on the judgment role makes it even more difficult. Essentially, we all have our experiences, for those of us who have gone through abuse; we realize the importance of discovering, as much as possible, the part of ourselves that can give emotional health. It is also important that those of us who have gone through the horrific experiences have the potential for help, that is if we realize we are not alone and find a way to share of ourselves.

I have seen several times the documentary Finding Angela Shelton. For those who haven’t seen the movie, (it is available on line and via order through the web site) there is a confrontation scene between Angela and her father. This scene unfortunately all too often plays itself out in real life. It happens in large ways, it happens in small ways, but to ask one who has been through abusive situations to deny their own story, their own past, still hurts, it still causes one to question their own reality, not from an experiential perspective, but from a perspective of self value and self worth. I wish I didn’t have these feelings, I didn’t have to go through these emotions, but I do. It is a part of the hurt and harm abuse perpetuates on others. May God help us all, and may we learn the value of helping each other.

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