Tag Archive | Sexual abuse

Anna’s story

annaWe held our mutual breaths as we watched last night, sick to our stomachs, knowing that our beloved Anna was going to be hurt, terribly hurt, by a man to whom she had been nothing but kind and welcoming.   And she was, brutally raped and discarded.

Shamed.  Unable to speak the truth because of her need to protect her husband, fearful of what he would do to her offender, knowing he would be taken from her if he defended her honor, she was silent.

Downton Abbey is a story, a pure piece of fiction, yet this grand story carries within it the small stories of all of us.   We dream, we love, we are envious and angry, we make mistakes, we learn from those mistakes, and we have our hearts broken all too often.

There are many Annas among us.   Every two minutes, every 120 seconds, there is an act of sexual violence in the United States.  60% of those assaults are not reported, and of the ones that are, 97% of the offenders never spend a day in jail.

We need to protect our Annas, and our Alfreds, and all the ones who suffer in silence.   We must surround them and encourage them to tell their stories, to help set them free from the shame that binds them.

Don’t watch another episode and forget them.

unlikely heroes

My heart is full of gratitude this Thanksgiving morning.   Gratitude for healthy family – parents who loved me unconditionally, a devoted and caring spouse, sweet and kind adult children and delightful little honeybuns who call me “Nana.”   I have a warm home, a job and plenty of food on the table to share with friends.

Every day, however, I am privileged to walk a journey with dear ones who have experienced very little of the things I have often taken for granted.   There are so many children who have never known a safe and loving home.   Far too many little ones, in homes both poor and wealthy, have never known the safety of being tucked into bed with lullabies and bed time stories.   Their reality is the nightly terror of sexual abuse.

Into this world have come the most unlikely of heroes.   These saints come in all shapes and sizes, colors and walks of life.  Most of us, however, would be quite anxious to be in the same room with many of them, as they are usually rough, tough, tattooed, pierced, grubby, loud and on bikes – big ones, like the Harley variety.  Or at least that is the stereo-type that we may have learned to believe is true.

Yes, these are “biker saints.”   I cried when I read the following article.   What wonderful, wonderful people.   Bless each one of you this Thanksgiving morning.   I’d be honored to have you at my table.

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Bikers strike fear into the hearts of many. They’re seen as rough thugs… but there is more to a biker than you think. This gang, for instance, is happy to intimidate people. However, they only intimidate people who dare hurt children. They are the Bikers Against Child Abuse International. And they mean business.

These bikers aren’t looking for trouble. The only thing they want to do is make sure innocent children don’t feel so alone, or so powerless.

“It’s scary enough for an adult to go to court,” he says. “We’re not going to let one of our little wounded kids go alone.”

the gift of innocence

For several wonderful days this past week, I was blessed to hear “Nana” when a wee one woke in the middle of the night, knowing my name was safe in her mouth.  Her grandpa and I just grinned at each other in the dark when she & her big sister found their way to our bed at the beach cottage, and snuggled in for giggles and whispers before the sun got up.  Both of us were recipients of spontaneous hugs from fat little arms being wrapped around our necks, and we just drank in all the sweet little kisses & “I love you’s”  …. our little ones felt safe and we treasured their innocence.

It would be so pleasant to live in a bubble, believing that all little ones felt safe with their family members, that their innocence would be fiercely protected by those that they trusted.  As one of our little ones got her first taste of a wave coming in towards her, she ran to us for rescue.   At that second I was made aware of too many little ones who have no one to run to for rescue, because the one that should be their hero is the one who is causing their fear.  Life is not safe, and a little one’s heart can be broken in seconds, and for thousands of precious poppets every day is a living hell.

Be kind today to the snarly teenager bagging your groceries, or his sullen colleague with piercings in multiple places on her beautiful face, to the raging driver in the other lane who cuts you off, to the neighbor who swears at your dog as you walk by … yes, they might all  just be having a bad day, but they might also have been precious little ones who were locked in dark closets, beaten in alcoholic rages or sexually violated by grown ups whose job it was to protect them.  Their emotional development may have frozen at that moment in time, and their wee hearts were shattered.   We can’t go back & change their stories, but perhaps our smile, a genuine “thank you” or “good morning, Sam” might melt one of the bricks in their walls this morning.

never forget!

I was very honored to receive a request from CBE to publish one of my past blogs.   This was posted by them this evening:

  

Never Forget!

Morven R. Baker (DMin) is a licensed clinical counselor in Ohio with a private practice specializing for over twenty years in women’s issues, particularly sexual abuse and domestic violence. She has given workshops on these topics in the US and abroad, and has contributed to The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused and More Light on the Path: Daily Scripture Readings in Hebrew and Greek. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Baker has lived in Canada, the US, Great Britain, and South Africa. She can pack in her sleep.

This week’s column first appeared on morvensblog.wordpress.com.

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I will never forget the first time I voted. I was 18, and nervously walked into that polling booth with my parents. I was in awe that “my vote” might actually make a difference in choosing the leader of our country. It was an honor and privilege I have never taken lightly.

I lived in South Africa during the beginning of the fall of apartheid. Some months after my family had left that beautiful country, I sat weeping as I watched the news and saw an aerial photograph of thousands of black South Africans, who had never before been given the opportunity to vote, lined up for miles, eager to let the world know their opinion!

Then I watched “Iron Jawed Angels,” the story of how the ‘right of women to vote’ came to be in this country. “Aghast” doesn’t describe it well enough. I was angry! Brave and incredibly courageous women suffered torture and death so that I can vote today. These women from the 1900′s were ground breakers, standing up to an obnoxious Woodrow Wilson, and in 1920, they WON. But at such terrible cost.

There weren’t very many of them, just a handful of 33 women who stood defenseless in front of the White House, carrying signs asking for the right to vote. This protest was first seen by the men who passed by as humorous, but when these men realized that the women were serious—that they truly wanted equality in the election booth—that laughter turned to outrage and the women were carted off to spend their first night in detention. By the end of that first night—the infamous “Night of Terror” of November 15, 1917 at the Occoquana workhouse in Virginia—a few of those women were barely alive. With their prison warden’s blessing, forty prison guards wielding clubs took out their frustrations on the 33 women who had been wrongly convicted of obstructing sidewalk traffic.

Alice Paul led the suffrage movement. She was placed in solitary confinement, and when she went on a hunger strike, she was held down, tied to a chair, and force fed for three weeks using tubes shoved down into her stomach while she struggled. I can’t imagine how much pain she felt.

After they beat Lucy Burns, they chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and broken.

Dora Lewis received some of the most brutal treatment at the hands of wardens. During the  “Night of Terror,” Lewis was hurled bodily into her cell. She was knocked unconscious and feared dead when she collided headfirst against her iron bed frame. Lewis and Lucy Burns were initial leaders of the hunger strike in Occoquan; both grew so weak that they were also held down by attendants and force-fed through a tube.

Additional recorded statements from other prisoners describe the guards as brutally choking, pinching, kicking the women, twisting their arms behind their backs. Sexual abuse can only be assumed, but considering sexual abuse is all about the abuse of power and not the act of sex, it is more than likely that these women were victimized in this way as well. There is no other way to describe it: these women, and others, were tortured.

As you have read the papers over these past months, and have listened to the debates and now criticize the banter, never forget.
If you suffered the inconvenience of getting out of bed early to vote, or returned home late after standing in a long line, remember the sufferings of those who gave you a voice this week. Never forget them!

If you had the inconvenience and cost of finding a babysitter for an hour in order to vote, remember those women tortured in Oocoquan. Never forget them.

If you are behind in your work, or are a bit tired from watching all the political ads on TV, remember the sacrifice of the women who were forced fed, and never forget their sufferinLives were sacrificed so that WE WOMEN could participate in choosing the leadership of this country. Never forget them. Never, never forget.


The Long Journey Home

Last year a dear friend, Dr. Andrew Schmutzer, asked me to contribute a chapter (“The Effect of Sexual Abuse on a Woman’s Image of God: The Impact of Incest“)  in the text he was editing entitled The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused, which was published by Resource Publications, Eugene, Oregon in the fall of 2011.   Andrew’s dedication page reads:

This book is dedicated to:

Those who have yet to face their journey

– Those who have just begun their journey

Those who need guidance in their journey

Those who have made peace with their journey

Those who were overcome by their journey

Andrew recently gave an excellent radio interview on the impact of sexual abuse.