Category: Child Abuse

I’ll Give You Reason To Cry

“Sit up,” the man shouted at me.

I tried to lift my head from the table and winced as my bottom settled in the chair.

“She had vaccinations in both sides of her bottom,” the woman said.

“If she can’t sit straight, then send her to bed,” he said.

“The doctor said she’s too thin. She must eat more,” she said.

“I’ve been telling you to make her eat!” he said. “You let her leave food on her plate.”

“She throws up so easily,” the woman said, her voice shrill.

He pointed at the creamy, white liquid in my glass, “What’s she drinking?”

The woman jumped, then raised one shoulder. The shrill note still edged her voice, “Extra rich milk. Dr. DeBrun told me to get it. She needs the protein and calories.”

“Rene knows how many children I have to feed,” the man said in a resounding undertone

“Sit up and eat your food,” he said.

I put a piece of dry meat, chewed, and washed it down with a sip of milk.

“Your vegetables too,” he commanded.

I swallowed a forkful of the faded green leaves and gagged at the bitterness.

“You can’t let them waste food,” the man grumbled.

She and the other children finished their meals and left the table. The man sat in his seat at the far end watching me.

“Take your elbows off the table and eat!” he shouted when I propped one elbow on the table and rested my head on one hand.

“Why are you limping,” he demanded as I carried my empty plate to the kitchen.

“My bottom hurts,” I whimpered.

He followed me into the kitchen.

“Come here!” he commanded. “Hold the refrigerator handle.”

I held it with one hand.

“Use both hands!: He grabbed my other hand and pushed it onto the handle so that I faced the refrigerator. “Now bend your knee and lift your leg. Like this,” he bent one knee and raised his thigh to the height of his waist. I bent my knee and raised my thigh a few inches.

“It hurts!” I squeaked. Slimy salty liquid filled the back of my throat; it spilled from my eyes.

“I’ll give you reason to cry if you don’t stop that right now! Raise your leg!” he said.
I tried again but lifted it no higher.

The man pulled his belt from the loops on his trousers. “I’ll make you lift your leg!”

The belt smacked my bottom hitting one of the spots where the nurse had jabbed me. I screamed.

“Lift your leg!” he commanded again. Again, I tried and failed. Over and over he hit me until I was jumping to get away from the pain of his blows, mucus streaming from my nose, tears from my eyes.

“Now get to bed,” he finally said.

I limped away. At the kitchen doorway, my stomach heaved. A slimy green and brown pile of food and curdled milk lay on the floor.

Worth Something – Assignment 6

our-lady-of-sorrows-1

Even the painful things are worth something

“He used to say, ‘I’m doing the best I can,'” I said staring at the icon of Our Lady of Sorrows above Dr. Vogwall’s head.

“Was he?”

“I never thought so before,” I sighed looking down. “But now…” My eyes returned to the icon.

“Yes?”

“His best was deficient, but it would still be his best.” I longed to press my face into the folds of Mary’s blue mantle.

“It would,” Dr. Vogwall said.

Mary’s eyes encouraged me to say more.

“If it was his best,” a tear threatened to spill onto my face. I sniffed it away. “If he did his best,” I sniffed again, “no matter how deficient, it’s worth something. Don’t you think?”

“What do you think?”

I took in a deep breath, “I think it must have some value.”

“What does that look like?”

“I don’t know.” I scratched my head and glanced up again at Mary, “Must I be able to quantify it in some way? Isn’t it enough to know there was value even if I can’t delineate it?”

“We’ve talked about the problems with abstractions,” he sighed.

“Yes. I need to be able to see reality.” A tear ran down my cheek, splashed onto my charcoal grey skirt leaving a tiny damp spot that slowly disappeared in the knitted wool. “He saved my life.”

“Tell me about that.”

“He interfered.  When I kept trying to kill myself, he distracted me.”

“Brutally,” Dr. Vogwall said.

I nodded my head, “I was taking more and more pills. Eventually, I’d have succeeded,” I sighed. “I was so busy fighting him, I forgot about killing myself.”

“You weren’t willing to let him do the job?”

“Precisely!” I sat up straight in the chair. “I could kill myself but I’d be damned if I let him destroy me.” My eyes sought the tears on Mary’s face, “He engaged my stubbornness subroutine,” I said in a small voice. “That’s worth something.” More tears tracked down my cheek. I lowered my eyes to Dr. Vogwall’s, “Fighting him, I learned to fight myself. That’s worth a lot.”

“You think that came as a result of him doing his best?”

“I think his best was absolutely crazy and exactly what I needed.”

“But he didn’t know,” Dr. Vogwall replied.

“So?” I asked. “I get credit for so many things I do thoughtlessly or instinctively. Everyone does. Shouldn’t he?”

“Should he?”

“Yes,” my head nodded in agreement. “If I get credit, he should too.”

“So the cruelty doesn’t matter?”

“Of course it matters. It was horrible. But things can be horrible and necessary at the same time.

“Dr. Vogwall, I would be dead if not for him. He saved my life and,” my face crumpled, tears flowed, “I’m grateful to him for that.” My hand flew up, covered my mouth but the words had already escaped. “I never thought I’d say that.”

“Do you think he wanted to save your life?”

“No, he wanted to control me, to own me. But it’s like Joseph’s brothers — the minister meant it for evil but God meant it for good — my good.” I sniffed and wiped away tears. “I wish he had taken it for his good too.”

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Assignment: In words and/or images, compose a piece grounded in the possibility, distant as it may be, of hope and reconciliation.

Save

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Forget: Five Minute Friday

Working out ways to express a whole host of lessons and experiences.

girl being bullied (1)“You have to forgive and forget,” Claire ejaculated. Her straight, dark hair shimmered as she punctuated her words with vigorous bobs of her head. “Besides, I’ve been really nice to you all summer. You know you can tell me.”

“What?” It was a surprised squeak. “Every time I drop my guard, you betray and attack me.”

“Me?” her voice screeched. “Attack? Betray? When?”

“All the time,” I told her. “The night you pulled a lock of my hair out and pretended you were asleep. The Christmases and birthdays when you so very, kindly tell your father that you have a beautiful dress for me and give me one of your dirty, cast-off rags. The time you threw a glass at me, broke the window, and blamed me for it because I ducked. The times you promised to keep a secret and then went and told your father. You attack and betray me all the time.”

“You’re just touchy,” she pouted at me. “You take things so personally.”

“Look at my leg!” I showed her the dime-sized wound on the back of my right calf. “Two days ago you pinched a chunk out of me right there,” I jabbed at the spot. “And when I threatened to tell, you said, ‘You don’t count. You’re adopted anyway.'”

“You are,” Claire solemnly replied as if that was sufficient excuse.

“That doesn’t give you the right to hurt me,” my voice was fierce; my small fists clenched in tight balls.

“Daddy should never have brought you here,” Claire insisted.

“But you’d never tell him that, would you?” She took a step back. My eyes narrowed until my near-sighted, impression of Claire sharpened. “So what…? You take it out on me instead?”

I shook my head. “I may forgive you.” The volume of my voice raised so that its sound reverberated around the glass walls of the breakfast nook, “I pray to God to forgive you.”

Lord? Do I really want to forgive her?

“But I’ll never again be stupid enough to forget.”

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image Source

Time – Five Minute Friday

rageIt only takes one time. Just one time. And then it’s awakened. Rage. A bigger rage than any child can fathom. The desire to destroy, the desire to rend, the desire to annihilate… One molestation, one rape, one instance of sexually abusing a child unleashes forces no child ought ever experience.

Rage is for hell. Rage is for the self absorbed. God did not make a child’s heart for rage.

Sometimes friends post images of molesters being punished in horrible ways. Sometimes they make excruciating statements about what ought to happen to child rapists. Those hurt the victims. Such images and comments beckon the rage that we work so hard to keep under control. They take us back to the desire we must fight, that we must allow God to fight within us.

We were never created to do horrible things to others, even when we’ve been shattered by their actions. We don’t need more insanity. We need to know that we haven’t been made crazy by what has been done to us. The only hope is forgiveness and that takes prayer and work and time and an enormous amount of grace. We need to mark the debt paid because those who have hurt us can never undo or repay. We need to let the sins committed against us be washed away by the Blood of the Lamb.

Lock up abusers. Stop them. But don’t delight in harming them. Don’t be like them. And please, don’t tempt those of us who have been weakened to nail those who have abused us to the crosses their sins have placed upon our shoulders.

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On Friday (and occasionally Saturday if Friday is filled with an excess of other activities),100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rage.jpg

Same – Five Minute Friday

This week, I spent 5 minutes rewriting a passage from my book. The rewrite is moving along:

nyc from the air“Had I not bought the boys clothes for school,” I softly told my Friend. “I’d have enough.” I sighed and plucked out a blade of grass. “But he would have tried to take my money away. I just wanted him to leave me alone.” I sighed again. “Now I can’t afford both a plane ticket and to make it through the year.” My forehead was tight. “I’ll need his help,” I told my Friend looking out over Lake Mirren. “But he won’t help me. He’ll never let me go. Never.” I shook my head. “There’s no escape. It will always be the same.”

Tears welled up. With an angry sniff, I blinked them away. A brilliant flash of demanding possibility raced through my mind. “I can’t!” I told my Friend. “I just can’t!” The bright sunny day suddenly felt foggy, dim. I packed my things and walked to the bus stop.

Tap! Tap! Tap! I lowered my Bible, “Who is it?”

“It is I,” Ella announced. “Could you open the door?” I unlatched the hook and cracked the door. “I have a headache,” Ella was even paler than usual. “Would you make dinner?”

“Sure,” it was a pained sigh. I marked my place in Genesis and made my way to the kitchen. With the big chef’s knife Ella and the man had received as a wedding gift, I chopped carrots as if they were wood. “Why isn’t she making dinner?” I demanded of my Friend between chops. “That’s why he married her. I’ve been doing her job all summer.”

You could be in New York soon.

“What?!” The almost sound hung in the air. I felt my bum. The words were like a large boot kicking me gently but firmly in the seat of my pants.

You could be in New York soon.

My backside felt the gentle but firm kick again. “Really?!” My voice was shrill terror. I walked over to the calendar that hung next to the phone and counted days with the knife’s tip. “Three weeks. In three weeks I could leave.” My eyes widened. A warm tingle suffused my body.

A few minutes latter, Gerard came through the laundry room. “Dad sent me to get…” he began.

I interrupted, “In three weeks, I am going to New York.”

“No you’re not,” his voice dripped with superior knowledge.

“Yes I am,” my head nodded as I spoke. He shook his head and disappeared down the cellar steps.

When he returned, words tumbled from my mouth, “Will you buy me a trunk for my going away present?”

Gerard pursed his lips, “He won’t let you go.”

“Yes, he will,” I told him.

Gerard shook his head, “If he let’s you go, I’ll buy the trunk.”

“In three weeks, I’m going to New York,” I told the man that evening. “Will you pay my plane fare so I can use the money I’ve saved for my expenses?”

The words had tumbled out. I didn’t even rehearse, I mutely told my Friend as I waited for an answer.

At my words, the man’s face had become angry and indignant. Ella, who lay beside him, pulled herself up and spoke first, “That’s the least we can do considering how hard you’ve worked.”

The floor was suddenly wobbly, my head woozy and light. Something was changing. Something was not the same. My mouth formed itself into a small smile,  “Thank you.”

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On Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then post the results over at Kate Motaung’s blog, Heading Home. She provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We don’t edit or concern ourselves with whether our writing is flawless or worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Image source: http://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-2583917-stock-footage-new-york-new-york-circa-may-taxis-and-street-scene-at-intersection-near-grand-central.html

C is for Chastise

He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who chastens the nations, does he not chastise?
He who teaches men knowledge,
the LORD, knows the thoughts of man,
that they are but a breath. (Psalm 94:9-11)

“Do you have anything for me,” Ashford asked as he passed my desk. Distractedly, I handed him a file and returned to my book. “He still hasn’t given you the brief,” he mused.

“Nope,” I looked into his tired eyes. My own itched from eighteen hour days that wouldn’t end.

“What are you reading?” he leaned over my shoulder.

“A book of commentary on the Psalms,” I told him. “It’s for class.”

“I love the Psalms,” his eyes were shining now. “I wrote my M.Div. thesis on them”

is for chastise scared-child“I know,” I smiled at the seminarian turned attorney. “I used to hate some of the Psalms, particularly those that talked about chastisement. The minister I lived with when I was a girl often insisted he was chastising us for our own good. I thought chastise meant punish – harshly and horribly.” I took a breath as I sought one particular page I had flagged. “While I was reading the commentary on Psalm 94, it struck me, I had never checked the meaning or etymology of the word chastise. Finally, I did and discovered it means to purify.”

Ashford nodded, “Exactly.”

“God has never been punishing me. He’s giving me what I want, purification.” I pursed my lips for a moment and then smiled, “God is nothing like the minister. I knew that when I was a child but I’m only now learning just how little he actually loved. He never cared about purifying us, only making us pay for offending him. And it was horribly easy to offend him.”

Ashford’s smile answered mine, “I had a similar experience with my father. That’s why I went to seminary.”

Five Minute Friday: Break

jesus_my_friend_176The minister tried to break my will. Though he hurt me, he failed. I am incredibly stubborn but have never imagined that my stubbornness saved me. There was Someone in my life Whose will he could never break. Though the minister didn’t know, that Someone has always had my back, kept His arms around me. The minister was never fighting me.

It’s sad.

I don’t know how, but I knew I was not to speak of my Friend to any of those around me unless he (or she) passed my litmus test: Do you know my Friend? Not just, can you talk about my Friend but do you know Him? Is He your Friend too? There is a je ne sais quoi about those who know Him. It’s not perfection. It’s hope and endurance and joy and the willingness to be wrong. It’s knowing that they too rest their heads on the shoulder of the One Who took on the sins of the world and not only didn’t break, but revealed sin and death as huge, terrible jokes.

I wish the minister had known my Friend. I hope at the moment he was dying, his heart and eyes opened and he saw my Friend reaching out to embrace him and tumbled into Jesus’ arms. The worst thing the minister did was refuse to let the best Friend ever break his stony heart and cradle him in His love. My heart still breaks for him.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished thoughts and words to each other and our readers. Kate Motaung’s, at  Heading Home, provides the prompt on Thursday evening. We all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

Retraced Lines

This is heart breakingly lovely.

“And you, little lovely one, though you know it not I will not stop my prayers. I will not fret or let my helpless self distract me from full trust. I can do nothing, but thank, and bless, and praise the God who gazes all your days upon you in utter love. By the strength of my thus choosing I shall be open to His using, and at length, leave room for Him, not to efface the crooked lines of your young life, not erase but trace the strife with His bleeding finger, crossing the tangled lines with His cross, to bring about new designs most wonderful. Not the linear austerity of the Roman, nor the expressive angularity of the Benedictine, but blow by agonizing chisel blow shall reveal from gray-black stone the complex, interwoven, knots and swirls of the Celtic, standing in fantastic glory on a bright green hill.”

Belonging To Jesus

In November 2012, my friend, Dawn Eden, author of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds With The Help Of the Saints advised me that the blogger at Falling By Faith had used a portion of a post I originally wrote on my blog, Heirs In Hope. After nearly two years, I’ve finally commented. As Splendid’s Charge so accurately points out, “language is an annoying necessity”: sometimes I must wait for the right words.

Falling By Faith quotes My Peace I Give You:

“Drusilla, a Catholic orphan who was subjected to brutal abuse by her foster father and siblings, felt as a child that she had been ‘thrown to the wolves.’ ‘I had to pretend to be a wolf so as to keep myself from being torn to pieces,’ she writes…. ‘I no longer live with the wolves. I am a cat again and happy to be one. But I have not forgotten my time in a wolf’s skin. At times I still feel shame, feel I deserve to be abused…. But in Jesus’ wounds I remember that the flames burned but never owned me. I belong to Christ and I never want to belong to anyone else.'”

My comment:

I’ve waited nearly two years to comment on your post though Dawn shared it with me back in Nov. 2012. When I say I belong to Christ and never want to belong to anyone else, I’m not saying I don’t want anything else. Rather, I’m saying, my identity, who and what I am, is rooted in Him. Drifting with the wind may seem attractive, but it’s not a great reality. Sometimes I do feel like a member of His SWAT team, willing to go where Christ sends me and do as He asks, but I need all the solid, tangible things that everyone else does.

One doesn’t lose the physical aspect of being human by loving God. At least I haven’t. And I need more than the minimum. Right now, I live in Houston. It’s an uncomfortable place. There is no texture in the landscape. It’s a hodgepodge of mostly mediocre buildings, few human-scaled neighbourhoods, and vast distances that contain very little to delight the senses. I long for NYC, for Paris, for London, for San Francisco. I long for mountains, for hills, for lakes, and for blocks that are short enough so that I feel I’m making progress rather than walking a treadmill surrounded by nothing worth seeing. (Pedestrians are also in short supply.) I hunger for beauty. Houston feels barren. Someday, I hope to leave though I have no idea where I’ll go.

And still, I am His. If Houston is where He wants me to be, and that seems to be the case for now, Houston is where I’ll live. I make my surroundings as beautiful as possible. And I am most attracted to people who are also reaching for heaven and with joy, beauty, thought, and some style.

There have been times when I’ve wanted to want only Jesus. Always, I found myself wanting other things as well. Finally, I realized, that’s the way it is for the dust God made in His image and likeness. In Matt 6:31, Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God and all the other things we worry about will be added. Wanting the things God has made us to have isn’t the problem. Loving them more than (or instead of) Him is.

He loves for each of us; fills up our deficiencies. And one day, you may wake up and discover Jesus’s love has mysteriously become yours and you belong to Him, totally. It doesn’t mean you will never belong with anyone else. It just means you know you will be no one without Him.

Five Minute Friday: Lost

Beloved,

I forget to thank You for many things but this morning, something arose and I must stop, and thank You, and probably continue thanking You off and on for some time. I called the pharmacy to refill my prescriptions, worried about the cost, (Could I afford them?) only to be put on hold for a long time while they checked. After a few minutes, someone asked if I had been helped. To my great surprise, I said, “I believe I have been. Thank you.” My voice remained calm, even toned, normal. No defensiveness. No anger because the wait was so long (but really because I was worried).

You first showed me when my thyroid was removed that I could be in great pain, dealing with an unresponsive doctor, and remain calm. It’s taken several years, but that seems to be happening more and more. I’ve lost the automatic “flinch” I learned when the man used to shout at me and hit me and beat me because I was hurting or upset or sick. Please, don’t let me find it again. I don’t want it. Let it remain lost forever. Thank You.

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Every Friday,100s of bloggers set a timer, write for 5 minutes, and then publish the results. We don’t edit or engulf ourselves in concerns about whether our writing is worthy to be seen. We expose our incomplete, unpolished words to each other and our readers. Lisa Jo Baker provides a prompt on her blog and we all link our posts there and tweet them with the hashtag #FMFParty. Join us.

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