voice of the martyrs: a response to a male survivor

There have been some interesting posts coming out in response to the supposed suicide of Tom White, the 64 year old director of a much respected ministry called “Voice of the Martyrs.”  Some of these comments have been posted here.   One of the comments by Bill Brewer definitely requires a response.  My comments are in BOLD.

I was abused by a male relative when I was young, so I have some personal insight into the subject. Yes, as a victim you do have a voice and a right to speak, and I am so very sorry that you have gone through the experience of sexual abuse.

But first, an illustration . . .

Many years ago, I went through an advanced rescue school put on by the U.S. Navy and one of the points that has stuck with me is a huge caution about making dire evaluations of injuries within earshot of those affected.  True, there is something called sympathetic hysteria, where one’s pain triggers another’s pain, and often causes yet another to feel like they may too have been victimized.

The reason for that is that many casualties, who would have otherwise lived, upon overhearing incautious remarks about the gravity of wounds, will simply curl up and die.   Well, they may have existed, Bill, but I doubt if they would have truly “lived” as in meaning “enjoying life to its fullness.”  Often, when we hear of the wounds of others, our past hidden wounds (sometimes repressed when we were children as a means to survive) re-surface, but the poison deep within them needs to come out, just as an infection deep within a physical wound needs to come to the surface in order to be cleansed and healed.

With that illustration in mind, let me recommend another suggestion on how to leverage the latest scandal for the benefit of the church.

1. Every community has unwritten rules for gaining status. Communities that confer special status on “victims” will find victims multiplying and wounds escalating as people learn how to work the system. None of this need be conscious.  I don’t understand how ‘special status’ is given victims of sexual abuse.   I believe it is is called “compassion,” a trying to ‘walk alongside’ and understand.  Just as we – hopefully – would do to those who we hear are survivors of the loss of a family member, a victim of domestic violence, a robbery, the adultery of a spouse, the betrayal of a friend.    How is a victim of sexual abuse given ‘special status’?

2. Sexual abuse is no different. Victims proliferate in proportion to the amount of attention given to the subject and the amount of introspection inspired thereby.    Sorry, brother Bill, but you do not know of what you speak.  You may be a victim, but you are a victim in DENIAL.  Sexual abuse is the very worst thing that can happen to a child.   It destroys their innocence and violates their soul.   It impacts every single relationship they have from the time they are first molested.   Sexual abuse is certainly discussed more openly now, but that doesn’t mean “victims proliferate in proportion to the amount of attention given to the subject.”   It just means that we are far more aware of the long lasting consequences of abuse and, alas, how long the atrocities have continued throughout history.

3. Many people will re-imagine what would otherwise be deemed an unpleasant experience into a permanent, debilitating wound.   An unpleasant experience”??  Anal rape of a little boy, vaginal penetration of a two year old girl, being subjected to years of groping at the hands of a family member ….  unpleasant experience?   My goodness, what ARE you thinking?

4. Dealing with sexual abuse is not a big deal in non-Western cultures. Western psychology is devoted to fixing the problems of the Western mind and many of those problems are self-inflicted. The magnification of sexual abuse is one of them.  And where do you get this piece of wisdom from?   Have you lived overseas?   Have you met with young women who have been sold as chattel to men who are 30 years older than themselves, who have had their clitoris removed with rusty knives, who have been traded by their families to men who sell them locally and overseas into the world of slavery and sexual trafficking?

5. Grow up. Man up. Get over it!   Bill, you are a wounded soul, who is trying to cover up the agony of your own experience with the false ‘toughness’ of being “a man.”   With every bit of compassion in me, I urge you to please get help.   You are perpetuating abuse with every word you speak.   You can choose to remain a victim, or choose to recover.   You can choose to re-victimize, or you can choose to heal.   Sadly, Bill, I believe you are choosing to remain both a victim and re-victimize others with your insensitivity and ignorance.

I would encourage you to read this excellence resourced edited by Dr. Andrew Schmutzer, The Long Journey Home. 

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9 thoughts on “voice of the martyrs: a response to a male survivor

  1. Thanks for answering and refuting, Morven. Bill’s tough man response to sexual abuse would soon come crumbling down if he would face up to it and get help. As a matter of fact, his crumbling may well have been going on his whole life, but in a form that has deceived him into thinking “no problem here.”

  2. Wow… just wow. That is the most amazing piece of convoluted mess I’ve read in a long time.

    Hate to be so harsh, but do actual victims talk this way? Calling sexual abuse an “unpleasant experience” just makes my blood curdle.

    Not throwing stones at Bill but just as aside– the one person I know who talked this way became a horrible abuser himself– not sexual abuse but emotional, verbal, and physically abusive. He thought everyone ought to just ‘man up’ and ‘get over it’ no matter what he did to hurt others.

    • Well, I have to comment on myself because I’ve been severely chastised last night by the Lord.

      Couldn’t sleep well, lots of tossing and turning until I realized that, yes indeed, actual victims *do* talk this way and I did myself for decades. Its how I dealt– by toughening up and not allowing myself to feel my own pain or the pain of others. Took all the emotional energy I had and eventually, I just could not keep it up any longer. I was scared of my own feelings.

      So, I apologize for my insensitivity to the original commenter (Bill).

  3. Excellent response to Bill, Morven. Thanks for holding a torch up in a darkened place, where so few are brave enough to speak up and refute warped ideas.

    “Dealing with sexual abuse is not a big deal in non-Western cultures.” I am gob-smacked. Bill makes a fool of himself with such a sweeping statement. I hope he reads your remarks as you have been very compassionate to him.

    It strikes me that if he was sexually abused as a child (which I am am not calling into doubt) and if it was (say) a male relative only a couple of years older who got him to masturbate him, then that may (I only say *may*) have been something he could relatively easily ‘get over’. For many survivors, I’m sure even that kind of stuff would not be easy to get over. What I’m getting at is:–maybe he has kinda gotten over his own abuse, but that doesn’t give him the right to dismiss the devastating consequences that other abuse survivors live with. You can’t argue from one piece of anecdotal evidence and generalise it to the experience of everyone else.

    • “gob-smacked” …. that’s the only thing in this whole sordid conversation piece that had me laugh out loud. We’ll have to get out our Aussie-English translations!

  4. Having worked (as a social worker) for a number of years with parents of children who have been sexually abused who have had similar attitudes about their children’s abuse, my heart grieves for this man, his family, and those in his life. The effort he must put forth to contain his own pain, as well as to continue to share that pain (expressed in a lack of empathy) is enormous. And unfortunately, the attitude generally does not limit itself to one kind of pain being inflicted. As angry as I get at this attitude, I also pity Bill.

    Now as far as “gob-smacked”–I heard that in Southern California. Maybe just because it’s a major melting pot, but Barbara’s comment brought back pleasant memories. Keep it up!!!!

  5. Morven, a creative way of addressing this broken man’s thinking, which I want to term: “Blame the fireman for the fire!” Wasn’t cancer (the ‘C’ word) viewed similarly several generations ago!?

    Lesson #2: The Value of Victim-Impact Statements!! As Volf states (Preface of The Long Journey), “…two injustices occur, the first when the deed is committed, and the second when it disappears.”

    My Lord was victimized for us all, and put it in his Blog for all to read ~

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