More on The First Stage of Recovery, Ravaged

It has been awhile since doing this.  I see I left off on Sept. 28.  We spent a good part of the month of Oct. on vacation, so now it back to work!

I left off with the following statement:  I’ve found that staying in the status-quo of the walking wounded is much more common though…..

John Fisher goes on to say:”One danger for the individual, team and organization [family and church falls into the latter two, author’s note] occurs when an individual persists in operating a set of practices that have been consistently shown to fail (or result in an undesirable consequence) in the past and that do not help extend and elaborate their world-view.  Another danger area is that of denial where people maintain operating as they always have denying that there is any change at all.  Both of these can have a detrimental impact on an organization trying to change the culture and focus of its people.”  [“Process of Personal Change,” 2008, www.slq.gld=gov.aUu or www.businessballs.com.]

In the aftermath of sexual violence change is inevitable for the survivor.  The direction of the change is highly influenced by her/his family and community.  I, my family, friends, and church together persisted in continuing to try to operate as if the rape had not happened.  The danger was that when I came out of the denial, things had to change, and no one liked it, least of all me.  The family fell apart and I needed to leave the church I was attending.  All of these things added additional trauma in addition to previous trauma that none of us had talked about: a severe car accident after which I was left alone bedridden for several days, I had lost a baby, and my son had nearly died when he was 11 months old, just months before I was raped.

When our baby died en uteri my mother left flowers on my doorstep.  She was at the hospital often during the weeks my son had his brush with death, and her pastor came to the hospital.  Though I had lots of unresolved pain from these incidents, I seemed to be be succeeding operating according to family rules until the rape.  But the pain and anger had been leaking and damaging my marriage and children.  The wake up call for me was when I read that if I am in pain, my children were in pain.  Since they were the most important thing in my life, they were my catalyst to reach out for help.

Mine is not an uncommon story.  What a travesty that our children have to suffer from the collusion of silence, denial and ignorance. I’m grateful I didn’t turn away from God, but some people do when they experience judgment by church and family members.  I’ve heard many stories in my office over the years with similar flavors and aromas and that is one of the primary reasons I have written this book and am developing this website.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  A little education can go a long way to change the long term outcomes.  And certainly not all families do denial as well as mine!  Some however, are even worse, where threats are given to child survivors to not tell.  When sexual violence occurs, an elephant has entered the room  Will we all walk around it as if it isn’t there?  Or will we acknowledge its presence and find out what to do about it?

Comments

  1. How true – this same priniciple can be applied to many other areas too. I grew up with a mother who had a mental illness. She was judged, shunned and misunderstood in her church community. As a child, I felt the shame and rejection. I always knew my family wasn’t like other families. I came to understand that mental illness was not accepted like other illnesses. It was a spiritual problem. There was no one who prayed more, know more scripture and tried harder to have “victory in Jesus” than my mother.

    I recently experienced a very strong reaction in a class that was taught at my church regarding understanding depression. The teacher, though well intended, was of the opinion that all depression is a matter of sin that needed to be dealt with through prayer, Bible reading and getting right with God, that medication should never be used except in very rare cases. I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. Once my mother got on the right medication, her life was turned upside down! She was able to experience joy and peace and a clear mind. The same was true for me – medication for my depression turned my life around. Now, was I to go back and look for the unconfessed sin in my life? Was I using meds to “cover up” and “feel good” rather than deal with the sin in my life? Worst of all, I felt like that young child in church again with my mother crying and everyone looking at us like we were weird.

    Some would say I should find another church – I love my church and the fellowship is wonderful. But are they holding on to attitudes that are still steeped in ignorance? Am I being called to refute that and help bring light and understanding in this area?

    Open our eyes Lord that we may see Jesus and be His arms to embrace the many hurting people in our church communities. Help us to be that healing oinment of grace. Amen

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