More than Pumpkins and Cancer

 

October

October marks the beginning of the fall. The weather starts to cool off a little, or at least I’m waiting for it to finally do. The stores start carrying everything in pumpkin flavor. I like pumpkins, but some things should not be pumpkin flavored, just my opinion.  October is also breast cancer awareness month, a very worthy cause, but let’s not forget that it’s also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

DV

Since I started blogging, I’ve tried to make a concerted effort to recognize this cause, because it’s close and dear to my heart. I try to provide information and a venue for survivors to share their stories.  This year will not be different. I’ll admit that some information may sound like repetition, but some things are worth repeating.

To anyone wanting to share their stories, I have a form on the site where you can share 6the story confidentially. I will post it on the main page, only if I have your consent. If not, and all you wanted to do was vent, I’ll consider it an honor the fact that you decided to share with me and I’ll pray for you.

 

To family and friends of victims, I say this: be patient.  You may not understand why someone doesn’t leave an abusive situation. I can promise you that it’s complex. Rushing the person before they’re ready or putting them down will make the situation worse. Offer a listening ear and support as much as you’re allowed to.

To those who have survived, I say this: you made it! You may still be dealing with y battle wounds and other struggles, but everything will be OK. It may take a while, but it will be fine.

To those in the situation (men and women), I say this: You are loved! Don’t even believe that you’re not worth it, because that’s a lie. Don’t ever believe that you are stupid, because that’s a lie. Don’t ever believe that you can’t do any better, because that’s a lie. You are precious, loved and wonderfully made. Reach out, we’re waiting for you.

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Be blessed

Naty

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

 

 

 

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WF: Beautiful

When someone is in an abusive relationship they feel devalued. People often ask how someone could allow another person to abuse them. The reality is that abuse is a slow systematic process. The abuser recognizes the vulnerabilities on their object of abuse and preys on those vulnerabilities.  It doesn’t happen overnight, but eats slowly at the core of the one suffering the abuse.

Once the chains of abuse have been locked, several things extend or perpetuate the abused to stay with the abuser. The lies that were believed, the toll to the self-esteem, the dependence on the abuser (emotional, financial, cultural, etc.) will make the smartest and most educated person stay in an abusive situation. It is very hard for someone who has not lived or is not living in an abusive relationship to understand. This isolates the victim even more.

Questions like: Why do you allow it? Why don’t you leave? And comments like: You are in this situation because you want to; do not help but alienate more the one that desperately needs help. And sometimes the only help that you can provide is a listening ear.

But my point in this Worship Friday is to tell you out there to stop believing the lie. Stop believing that you are not worth it. Stop believing that you are not special, that you’re unloved. Stop believing that you’re not attractive. You are perfectly made. You’re beautiful. I hope this song encourages you in the darkest hours and gives you the strength to know that to He who created you, you are all.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

If you need to prayer or to share your story, don’t hesitate to email me at therisingmuse at Gmail dot com

WF: Worship Friday

Staying Relevant

by Deborah Heal

A Dangerous Trend

I don’t believe fiction, especially Christian fiction for young people, needs gratuitous violence to make the plot exciting. I was happy to discover Wall Street Journal book reviewer Meghan Cox Gurdon and her Imprimus article, “The Case for Good Taste in Children’s Books.” In it she gives examples of unbelievable violence taken from current, best-selling young adult fiction and then makes a compelling case for why this is a dangerous trend:

What I do wish is that people in the book business would exercise better taste; that adult authors would not simply validate every spasm of the teen experience; and that our culture was not marching toward ever-greater explicitness in depictions of sex and violence. Books for children and teenagers are written, packaged, and sold by adults. It follows from this that the emotional depictions they contain come to young people with a kind of adult imprimatur. As a school librarian in Idaho wrote to her colleagues in my defense: “You are naïve if you think young people can read a dark and violent book that sits on the library shelves and not believe that that behavior must be condoned by the adults in their school lives.”

. . . Let me close with Saint Paul the Apostle in Philippians 4:8: Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. And let us think about these words when we go shopping for books for our children.  (Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.)

I wholeheartedly agree with her position. You can read the rest of her excellent article HERE.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

But in writing fiction, you do have to have bad guys. I believe that to be compelling, relevant, and useful Christian fiction should honestly address the difficult issues of our times. How will the good be revealed unless it is contrasted to the bad?

One of the minor themes that developed in Unclaimed Legacy is spousal abuse—not a pretty topic to be sure. This is why I don’t recommend it for younger teens, even though I kept the violence to a minimum and mostly offstage.

It wasn’t easy writing about domestic violence, but it is a part of daily life for so many families that I felt I couldn’t gloss over it in telling Reuben and Franny’s story (the historical backstory in Unclaimed Legacy).

As the blurb for Unclaimed Legacy says, sometimes when Abby and John are “time-surfing” they learn more than they want to know about people from the past. (Read the full blurb and a free chapter of Unclaimed Legacy  HERE) Sometimes, when I’m researching for my books, I learn more than I want to know too! I discovered some shocking facts. Futures Without Violence.com says:

One in four women has experienced violence by a boyfriend or spouse.

Seven million children live in families in which severe violence occurs.

On average 500 women are raped or sexually assaulted each day in the U.S.

Trish Jenkins says in her book Treasures of Darkness—which I highly recommend, by the way—that the prison nurse estimated that 96% of her fellow inmates had been the victims of sexual or other physical abuse. (You can see my interview with Trish HERE.)

And domestic violence begins earlier than I ever dreamed—with dating teens! According to the Joyful Heart Foundation, 51% of all 15-22-year-olds in the United States know a victim of dating violence or sexual assault.

And lest you think Christian families are immune, think again. Religion Today tells the story of “Marleen” whose husband was an upstanding member of the church—a deacon and a Sunday School teacher no less. When “Marleen” went to her pastor for counsel, he advised her to “try to submit more.” Two weeks later, she was dead, murdered by her husband. I think there will be a special punishment for this kind of thug.

The Worst Fictional Bad Guy I Could Imagine

And I imagine that the horror and and psychological damage of domestic violence must be much worse where perpetrators use the Bibleabuser (misinterpreted and bent all out of recognition) to justify their crimes—as my fictional character Bertram White does.

When I needed a bad guy for Unclaimed Legacy, I couldn’t think of a worse thing than that he would be a man who quoted the Bible while beating his wife. I kept the photo of this unknown angry man over my computer while inventing Bertram White.

Meet Bertram White in this excerpt from Unclaimed Legacy:

Bertram White slowed his buggy and turned into the lane, eventually coming to a stop in front of the barn. He lumbered down from the buggy and unhitched his lathered mare. Slapping her rump, he turned her out into a pasture that lay beyond the board fence that ran behind the out buildings. He took off his gray felt hat and wiped his face with his handkerchief. His face was red, his mouth set in angry lines, a vein prominent on his nearly bald head.

Kicking at a chicken that was in his path, he stormed across the yard and up the steps onto the porch, the boards creaking under his weight. The screen door wailed softly before banging shut behind him. He walked into the dim kitchen and looked around in disbelief. legacySupper not even started. He swore in disgust and started down the dim hallway, his boots falling like sledge hammers on the wooden floor. When he reached the parlor at the front of the house, his footsteps were hushed by the Oriental rug, but still an aura of violence followed him into the quiet room. He saw that his wife sat staring out the tall front window, its mullions casting a cross-hatched shadow on her face.

He flipped open his pocket watch and she jerked out of her reverie and turned to him. Her face drained of color and she stood, stumbling against the chair leg in her haste.

“It’s getting on to six o’clock,” he said, snapping the watch case shut. “But for some strange reason I don’t smell supper cooking.” His voice was like angry hornets looking for the farmer that had stirred up their nest.

“I was watching for the stagecoach.” She made her lips turn up in a smile, because sometimes she could jolly him out of a bad mood. “Only two riders today, Bertram. We’ll miss seeing the stage coaches go by, won’t we?” A little breeze pushed its way into the stuffy room, shushing the burgundy damask drapes and playing with a few strands of dark hair that had escaped from her chignon. She lifted a pale, thin hand and nervously smoothed it away from her face.

“Well, I for one, am happy to see the railroad come, but that’s neither here nor there. I warned you about having my supper ready on time.”

“I’m sorry, Bertram. I’ll get right in the kitchen and I’ll—”

“It’s too late for your excuses now.” He took off his jacket, laid it neatly over the arm of the settee, and unbuttoned his top shirt button. Even that didn’t take away the angry redness from his face.

“You have to obey me! The preacher said so, ‘Wives, submit to your husbands.’ Ephesians 5:22.”

“I will. I promise I will.”

He whipped his leather belt through the loops on his pants. The snapping sound caused her to flinch.

“You make me do this,” he said, grabbing her arm.

John snapped the laptop shut and stalked off. “That’s enough,” he said, exhaling loudly.

In the gloom of the museum theatre Abby could barely see him, but she heard his breath coming in a sort of wheezy pant. Then she realized she was wheezing too. “I wish there was a way to call the cops on him.”

“I wish there was a way I could get my hands on that sanctimonious toad for just one minute,” John said.

Abby sank onto a seat in the front row. “He’s so full of hate. Guess he forgot that next verse about men loving their wives. I feel a little sick to my stomach.”

Merri sat down next to her. “And I thought my parents’ marriage was bad. Please don’t ever make me go inside that guy’s head again. And why did we, anyway? One minute we’re watching that woman waving at us and the next—”

“I was trying to lock onto her, but we’re too far away from Shake Rag Corner. So it locked onto that Bertram White guy when he drove up.”

John came and sat on Abby’s other side. “I wish we could get closer,” he said.

Abby blinked. But then realized John meant get closer to Shake Rag Corner. She wished he would put his arm around her and hold her for about an hour. She was sure if he did, the hate and violence of the scene they had just witnessed would go away.

What Would Meghan Say?

I think Meghan Cox Gurdon would approve of my handling of the subject. (Now if only she’d post a review of Unclaimed Legacy in the Wall Street Journal!)

I pray that if anyone reading this is in a violent relationship you will be rescued from your misery. If Christians—even pastors—are telling you that you are obligated, as a good wife, to endure the beatings, I want you to know that I and many other Christians—even especially pastors—would tell you that you are not! Flee to safety! The first step might be calling the National Domestic Hotline. 1-800-799-SAFE. Meanwhile, know that I’ll be praying for you.

I am the author of the Time and Again time-travel mystery series. I was born not far from the setting ofEvery Hill and Mountain and grew up “just down the road” from the setting of Time and Again andUnclaimed Legacy. Today I live with my husband in Waterloo, Illinois, where I enjoy reading, gardening, and learning about regional history. We have three grown children, four grandchildren, and two canine buddies Digger and Scout. I love to interact with my readers, so I hope you’ll leave a comment below.

For a limited time, Unclaimed Legacy is available for 99 cents!

trio

Fetal Position

We have another powerful story of surviving domestic violence today on The Rising Muse. Very powerful and inspiring. Thank you Kia so much and God bless you!

by Kia Richardson Edited by Penda James

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it’s own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Like many I ignored the warning signs. That first blow could have been my last blow. I should have left him once he started to tell me what to do. The abuse only got worse.

The first time he hit me we were sitting in his mother’s living room. He had his eyes closed while we watched TV. I changed the channel because he dozed off. Once he realized I wasn’t watching what he wanted to watch he slapped me. I felt wind from his hand of steel flying across my face as if the window was open, then I felt the heat as if I was just burned by an iron. My face tingled for a long while after that.

The tears rolled down my face as he yelled, “who told you to change my channel?” It was then I curled over in the fetal position too scared to fight back.

His mother, upset from the sound of what she heard asked, “What was that?”

I looked at him in fear of what would happen if I told the truth. He told her, “I smacked her.”

“You better not ever put your hands on her again!” I thought his mother put some fear in him, but I was wrong. So wrong.

When I got pregnant a few months later at seventeen I called Mr. Fine to tell him the news. He did not deny the baby, but he was angry. He simply said, “What did I tell you about having kids?” He had told me if I had the baby “we would both end up in a pine box.” I was under 18 and needed a parent to have an abortion. I was too scared to tell my mother but he had the perfect plan. “Use my sister’s school ID and my mother will take you.” He didn’t even pay for the surgery.

When his mother picked me up, she asked if I was nervous. I knew when he got off if I was still pregnant there was going to be trouble so I acted as if everything was alright even when we walked up the steps and the inside made me cringe. It didn’t smell bad but I kept thinking how easily the receptionist was smiling and laughing like murder wasn’t going on in the next room. I signed in and almost put my real name. I had to hurry and scratch it before she realized I wasn’t the light-skinned girl on the school ID. I thought the picture would save me; I had to be four shades darker than she was. It didn’t, she responded flatly, “We will be with you in 20 minutes.” I went to sit next to his mother.

She rubbed my back and told me I would be fine and didn’t have anything to worry about. “The young lady he dated right before you went through the same procedure.” He lied!

In an argument with my sister two months later, she blurted out what I had done. My mother showed NO emotion, she went to her room as we followed order. Of course with my two year old baby on my hip I continued to date him. Even though he did not start hitting me right away, the verbal abuse still continued. I would call two of my good friends and tell them “if anything happened to me, he did it.”

On one occasion he answered the phone at my mother’s house. Whoever the guy was on the phone asked for me, he threw the phone and said “it’s for you.”

“Who is it?”

“Some guy.”

I looked at the caller ID but did not recognize the number. His red face showed obvious signs that he was upset. He jumped in his car and sped off to retrieve a gun from his mother’s house. She asked where he was going and he told her he was going to kill me. She wrestled him to the ground and called 9-1-1. He spent a few days on the psychiatric ward at a local hospital giving him time to strengthen his belief that I was cheating.

When he came home he said that things would change and like most of you I wanted to believe him. Nothing changed, it got worse. Most of our arguments would start because I didn’t get back in time or arrive when he thought I should. He knew how many miles I worked from the house and how long it should take me to get home. On some nights I took a retreat at a friend’s apartment, the only place he did not know about.

After high school I started classes at the Community College. He was so controlling he dropped me off and picked me up. I could only get to ten minutes before class started and he was always there when I got out. He made sure I had no social life: when I was free he made plans for us to spend time together, or for me to drive him to make his drug sales. I would sit around with a room full of guys and they passed blunts like hotcakes. If the other men brought a woman that day I would sit and talk to her about the latest fashion. I didn’t really have time to study I had to be free when he needed me to go.

Things started to go downhill with his drug usage and the putdowns became stronger. I worked for a bank at the time and we had an office Holiday Party. As I was getting ready he shot down everything I tried to wear. He was high and drunk. “Your smile is ugly because of your chipped tooth.” That stung. “No one will ever want someone like you.”

I told him I didn’t want him to go with me because he was “on another level.”

“If I don’t go you’re not going.” He took the keys and hid them from me which forced me to need him to drive. On the ride there we swerved in and out of traffic missing two cars by inches. I was thankful we made it over the dark back roads covered with ice with him being intoxicated.

I was embarrassed. He yelled at me the whole night, I hoped they would find out that the man who bought me roses and jewelry was psycho-path control freak.

My boyfriend constantly reminded me that he had guns and no desire to go back to jail. He told me one time he would kill both of us if I tried to leave. That’s when I realized I wasn’t safe, he knew where I worked, where my family lived and where my friends lived. No matter where I went he was able to show up and scare me out of the office with his threats of harm if I didn’t follow his directions. I tried to protect the people around me so I did what I was told.

One night we went out for a night on the town, this was his way of saying I’m sorry for what I did or what I’m about to do. We returned home only to find someone broke into our apartment. They stole the scale the dope was cooked on and two hand guns. I feared for my safety, it was no longer just about him, all his friends knew I was his woman.

I tried to leave once. “I’m tired of this roller coaster and I want out.” My talks of leaving left him to talk about marriage so I would stay.

“Where are you going? Everything in the apartment is mine. My mother gave us the furniture and my money paid for the 50 inch television. I was “hood rich,” living with nice things, a diamond ring, a fat herringbone necklace, designer bags and cute clothes. I got dressed in my room sometimes in the dark. I would fix my hair in the car, using the rear view mirror. I was going to the hairdresser and he would often remind me, “You didn’t have hair like that when we first got together and it still doesn’t take away from your chipped tooth.”

When he went to jail for selling drugs I finally was able to break free. I got my teeth fixed and people started telling me how nice my smile was. I smile daily even when I don’t feel like it, just because I realize they are contagious and makes you look better.

If I didn’t say what he wanted to hear we would always end up near the back pack where he kept a shot gun made by one of his customers. I knew he always said he wasn’t going back to jail. I then became a slave in my own house. After he would calm down as I lay in the fetal position scared of what would happen. I knew to do what he wanted before I ended up backed in the room with the back pack, which was on the top shelf, close enough to grab but far enough that if I tried to kick him in the groin.

After long nights in the street he would come home and tap me on my shoulder. I would squeeze my butt cheeks together tightly praying he would not try to get some. He would rub my shoulders, and try other sensual things even though I would push him away. Not sure of his temper I would reluctantly comply. He would force oral sex by putting his penis across my face while I was sleeping. I would turn away curling into the fetal position wondering when the pain would ever end and wanting to die. I felt violated on those nights. I never realized that my lack of consent meant he was raping me.

Since I wasn’t the best looking girl and my tooth was chipped I stayed with him thinking I would never get anyone this fine again. So I swallowed my pride and took the name calling and the put downs. When I looked in the mirror I hated the sight of myself, my hair was chewed up and wouldn’t grow. The only thing I had going for me was my body that all the guys drooled over. I had more sex offers than any other girl in school. I was beat down, broke busted and disgusted. I was anger, bitter and mad at the world. I looked to heaven to see if there was a God and if so when he was going to rescue me from the nightmare I was living.

The end came in the spring of 2000. I was nineteen years old and had just signed the closing paperwork on a house he thought I would be wise to purchase. My mother told me NOT to do it, but I thought he knew it all. I would often think about hurting him like he had hurt me but I never had the nerve to do it. He kept guns in the house so I had access to his weapons, I just didn’t know how to shoot them. On May 15, he found something to argue about before he went to pick his Aunt up from work. When he wanted to leave me at home he would always start an argument about something silly to “clear his mind.” This day his mind was full of a lot of thoughts and getting rid of me must have been at the top of the list.

I told him to put me and my daughter out of the car; he pulled over and did just that before driving home to get his red and black backpack with his gun in it. He stood in the drive-way pointed the gun at me and asked, ”Do you want me to spray your ass?”

I said no and took off running with my daughter on my side. Down the street two men who were outside working on a house asked if I wanted their help. I told them I didn’t want them to get hurt because of my foolishness. They never left, even when he pulled up, jumped out of the car and pointed the gun at me. I closed my eyes because I didn’t want to see what was going to happen. I asked that he not harm my daughter she was innocent and didn’t do anything to him. He got in the car and his tires started skidding from the speed. As I ran down the street all I could think was a bullet was going to come flying toward us.

The men asked if I was ok, and ran the opposite way. The police picked us up and asked where he went but I had no clue. He always said he wasn’t going back to jail, he said he would shoot at the police so they would kill him. They spotted his grey Cadillac with silver rims and let us out of the car. A lady driving past in a red car gave us a ride to my cousin’s house. I gave her some gas money and told her thank you a million times.

My cousin asked what was wrong and I told her “he is either dead or going to be dead.” She asked what I was talking about and before I could say another word my mother was on the phone looking for me, all the drama made breaking news on the local channels. He shot a lady cop in the neck, she was paralyzed and died two years later. They shot him eight times. That made my teenage years some of the most painful years of my life. I felt guilty, that a police officer who was doing her job got hurt.

After he was sober and had a chance to think. He did call to apologize to me. He told me he was never going to hurt me, he wanted to scare me. He was tired of me making threats to leave and didn’t know what it would be like without me. I did forgive him for his action and thankful I did being he is no longer here on earth. He died 10 years later from his injuries.

I want to encourage young ladies not to give so much so soon. If you ignore the warning signs and give away all of your information it will be hard to leave in the event he becomes violent at any stage in the relationship. Think about the one in four women who experience abuse from a spouse or boyfriend. If you have a friend in the situation I encourage you to be there for her just as my friend was for me. If you suspect a friend is being abused because you’ve noticed she can’t hang out, stops calling as much or just acts weird when he is around try not to cause a scene in front of him. If she opts not to talk about it still love on her in the best way.

Remember all women don’t get to walk away from domestic violence. Walk away before you’re carried away.

You can read more from Kia on her blog http://nomoreblows.wordpress.com/

Meet Jim Doe and Jane Smith

By Anonymous Author

Two young people are especially on my heart right now, and I’d like to introduce them to you, in a roundabout way. I pray you’ll understand my reasons for writing like this, but I know their stories aren’t over so I want to protect them as best I can.

Jim Doe and Jane Smith are in-laws – Jim’s brother married Jane’s sister. They had never met one another before their siblings wed.

Meet Jim Doe. He is 23 and was raised in a single parent home. His life was turbulent growing up, but his mother and brother loved him dearly. They moved frequently, and because his mother had to work to support the family, he spent much time with babysitters.

One was discovered to be selling drugs from her home – and this was a babysitter recommended by her pastor – the cousin of the pastor’s wife. When he was three years old, his new step-grandmother took over their care. From outward appearances, she seemed to dote on the boys– but within a couple of years, it was discovered she had been abusing both boys. She put pennies in Jim’s mouth and put duct tape over it, telling him if he cried or called out, he would swallow a penny and choke to death. She also beat the boys with an electric cord from a lamp she ripped from the wall. And she told them that if their mother ever left their stepfather, it would be to kill them. She said their mother would take them somewhere to kill them, then hide their bodies and go back to the stepfather to have “real children” with him. Jim’s mother discovered the abuse, tried to stop it, and after counseling with instructions to “submit” to her husband (and his mother) at all costs, she fled – getting the children away from all of them – and away from the abuse – permanently.

His mother tried to build a good life for her children, but she made many stupid and selfish mistakes. The family was active in church and the children were raised with much prayer, if not always good direction. They had minimal support from extended family. After Jim finished the 4thgrade, his mother decided to homeschool him. For the first two years, Jim thrived with the set-up. He learned at a rapid pace and grew to love learning and reading. He absorbed library books by the dozens, and his studies moved quickly. But then he got involved with some kids from church who led him onto a path he should have never taken. About the same time, he was introduced to music by Eminem that promoted disrespect, anger, hatred. They moved once again, and Jim entered public high school, but after a year or so, asked for homeschool studies again. His mother resumed teaching him, and he eventually passed final exams and graduated high school. But by this point, he was out of control. He worked random jobs to support himself, and had a good work ethic – but when work was over for the day, he just would not settle down. He even attended college for a year – and loved every moment of it, but did not stick with it.

Years passed. His mother remarried and life settled for her. Jim eventually ended up in a serious relationship with an older woman. About 18 months into the relationship, he told someone that his girl had tried to stab him – with a 3-foot sword. At that point, all the signs of domestic abuse became apparent to his family. But there was nothing they could do. A couple of months later, his girl went on another tirade and he hopped into their car to get away from her. There wasn’t enough gas in the car to get very far, so he turned around, determined to make things work. When he arrived back home, the police were there. The vehicle was in his girl’s name only, and she had called the police to report it stolen.

He spent 110 days in jail. For the first 30-45 days, he was convinced that he still loved his girl and that they could make things work. He never admitted that she hit him, but a deputy told his mother that the girl had sure worked him over good. When his mother visited him in jail, he was covered with cuts and scrapes all over his face and head, and he had a bruise the size of a baseball bat on his arm, where he’d deflected some of the blows. But he refused to report her. Because he’d returned the car, the charges were dropped down to two misdemeanors, and he was released on a two-year probation – with orders to pay thousands of dollars in fines, take three specific evaluations and if they required classes, to take those as part of the probation. He was also ordered to see his probation officer once a month and perform 120 hours of community service. He was placed under a “no contact” order with the girl – and she was told she could not contact him either. He is currently in month four of his two-year probation. He lived with his mom and stepdad for awhile, but could not abide by their rules. He now lives on the streets, occasionally stopping by their house to take a shower or eat a meal. Some days he berates his mom for her poor parenting skills, other days he’s respectful and grateful.

Meet Jane Smith. She is 24. She was raised in a two-parent environment. Her parents recently celebrated their 30thanniversary. She has three siblings and lived in the same town all her life. The family is Catholic, but they are not active in church. Her parents work hard to provide for the family, and all of the children began working as soon as they were old enough. Last year, Jane decided she wanted to go to college, and began exploring her options. But then she met a young man – three years her junior – and fell in love. She dropped her plans to attend college, and her life became absorbed with taking care of this man. But soon, her family realized things were not quite right. She was caught stealing things from family and friends. She lived in her car for a time – the family never sure if her fellow was with her or not. Then one day, her sister discovered her bruised and beaten. She dismissed her sister’s concern, and avoided family for months. She now excuses the abuse, saying it happens to everyone.

Apparently this was Jane’s new norm.

A few weeks ago, Jane was arrested and charged with shoplifting. In lieu of bail, they released her wearing an ankle bracelet while she waits for a court date. Her parents took her home, with her promises that she was a changed woman and things would work out great. Before they even got home, her tune changed, and she ranted and raved about how sorry her parents were, and how she was an adult and could make decisions on her own. How much she loved her boyfriend – the one she was arrested with, the one who continued to abuse her. Once they reached home, her mother ran to the grocery store, her father began preparing the house for their daughter’s extended stay. But when the mother returned from the store, the daughter was gone. She disappeared for days, and last week, was arrested in another county.

What is it with kids this age? These are only two examples of many, many young people who are in similar situations.

Where have we, as a world, as a generation, as parents – failed these kids?

But is it more than that?

Some place the blame firmly on the parents. Others on broken homes. Others place it on religion. Or lack of religion. So many other avenues to place blame. But these two examples show it must be more than that. Why this specific age group of kids? What is it about these kids that make them feel they are not worthy of something better? That they are only worth abuse? Why do they feel it’s okay for someone to beat them? Hurt them? Abuse them?

A recent conversation with another loved one opened my eyes to other possibilities. At the time when this age group of kids were at the most impressionable age – during their formative years – there were several major events going on nationally. Bill Clinton was president, and his personal actions – making headlines and newscasts for years – revealed a man with no morals, no values, no conscience. And he got away with it in the highest office of our land. An office that prior to his election had been revered and dreamed about by young children for generations. That dream was gone. In other news during those same years, the O.J. Simpson trial kept everyone glued to their TV sets for weeks on end. He, too, because of his celebrity, appears to have gotten away with murder.

Did those events cause one age group of young children to lose their way in this world?

I’ve heard people say that people like Jim and Jane are worthless.

Every time I hear a comment like that, it infuriates me. It makes me want to shout: “NO THEY ARE NOT” from every rooftop in town. No one is worthless – I don’t care what they’ve done, who they are. No one. Author Lori Roeleveld wrote an excellent post on this very subject a few weeks ago – you’ll want to check it out, because it shares my heart precisely.

What hope does this generation of young people have?

We cling to hope, and we must PRAY. We must pray fervently for each and every young person we know, because God’s not finished with them yet. Their stories are indeed still being written. I trust He knows the outcome, and will use these two in some special way that will impact lives.

How can I know that? How can I say that?

Look at the examples provided in the Bible:

Moses stuttered.

David’s armor didn’t fit.

John Mark deserted Paul.

Timothy had ulcers.

Hosea’s wife was a prostitute.

Amos’ only training was in the school of fig-tree pruning.

Jacob was a liar.

David had an affair.

Solomon was too rich.

Abraham was too old.

David was too young.

Peter was afraid of death.

Lazarus was dead.

John was self-righteous.

Naomi was a widow.

Paul was a persecutor of the church.

Moses was a murderer.

Jonah ran from God’s will.

Miriam was a gossip.

Gideon and Thomas both doubted.

Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal.

Elijah was burned out.

Martha was a worry-wart.

Did I mention that Moses had a short fuse?

So did Peter, Paul – well, lots of folks did.

If you have a loved one who is not living the life they were meant to live, DON’T GIVE UP ON THEM. And don’t stop praying.

Their stories aren’t over yet. God is still working.

Spiritual Abuse

I wrote this post last year during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and thought it was worth reminding ourselves that this does exist and it’s something we should be aware of.  Be blessed!

Researching information for this month’s articles I ran into something, that yes, I’ve seen but it had not clicked in my mind when I thought about abuse and it’s the term “spiritual abuse” in a relationship. This relates to when a spouse uses God to control or manipulate the other spouse with the Word of God or an alleged spiritual gift or “power”

These abusers use their spouses faith and a legalistic vision of the Word of God to manipulate, control and undermine their spouses. With this behavior the enforced their authority and the victim submits to avoid consequences not only with their perpetrator but with their higher power, as they believe this is coming from God himself.

The fact that the victims are being abused will make them be more submitted as they think that they must be doing something wrong, as they continue to be criticized or chastised by their abuser. On the other hand this can hinder their faith as they would have trouble understanding why God would allow them to live in such conditions, when it’s not God, it’s the other person’s free will that is attacking them.

Jeremiah 23:16 says “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” But if this is your husband or boyfriend, how can you tell?

  • Study the Word yourself.
  • If your spirit says something is not right, it probably isn’t. Look it up before you agree to do something.
  • Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for clear direction.
  • Read the Word in context and not singling out scriptures. Sometimes just reading a few more sentences can bring clarity to the context.
  • In doubt, research. Sometimes just reading different versions of the same scripture will bring clarity to our notions.
  • Talk to other Christians (be careful about this one, you don’t want someone who is misguided as well)

If you want to identify a potential spiritual abuser, read Matthew 23:1-39 ESV Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long”

Be safe!

Related articles

International Day of Non-Violence

Yesterday was the International Day of Non-Violence against woman. It was chosen to be celebrated every year on October 2nd in honor to Mohandas Gandhi. I think it is of no coincidence that it’s the same month where we are making conscience and awareness of domestic violence issues.

The Secretary General for the United Nations said the following in his message regarding the day of non-violence, “I have made prevention a key priority in the five-year action agenda of the United Nations. But prevention means more than separating warring parties and cooling tensions. Fundamentally tackling the roots of conflict and intolerance will take a culture of non-violence and peace.”

This statement resonated with me in a great manner. In regards to violence, no matter which kind it’s more about prevention than reaction. In terms of domestic violence is knowing the signs early in a relationship to remove yourself before you become at risk.

Another way of prevention is the acknowledgement of anger tendencies within yourself and seeking help to avoid becoming an abuser.

Let’s talk about some of those early signs.

WARNING SIGNS

Many of the signs women are taught to interpret as caring, attentive, and romantic are actually early warning signs for future abuse. Some examples include:
INTRUSION:Constantly asking you where you are going, who you are with, etc.

ISOLATION: Insists that you spend all or most of your time together, cutting you off from friends and family.

POSSESSION AND JEALOUSY:  Accuses you of flirting/having sexual relationships with others; monitors your clothing/make-up.
NEED FOR CONTROL: Displays extreme anger when things do not go his way; attempts to make all of your decisions.

UNKNOWN PASTS / NO RESPECT FOR WOMEN: Secretive about past relationships; refers to women with negative remarks, etc.

MORE WARNING SIGNS

1. Was or is abused by a parent.
2. Grew up in a home where an adult was abused by another adult.
3. Gets very serious with boyfriends/girlfriends very quickly – saying “I love you” very early in the relationship, wanting to move in together or get engaged after only a few months, or pressuring partner for a serious commitment.
4. Comes on very strong, is extremely charming and an overly smooth talker.
5. Is extremely jealous.
6. Isolates partner from support systems – wants partner all to themselves, and tries to keep partner from friends, family or outside activities.
7. Attempts to control what partner wears, what she/he does or who she/he sees.
8. Is abusive toward other people, especially mother or sisters if he is a male.
9. Blames others for one’s own misbehavior or failures.
10. Has unrealistic expectations, like expecting partner to meet all of ones needs and be the perfect partner.
11. Is overly sensitive – acts ‘hurt’ when not getting one’s way, takes offense when others disagree with an opinion, gets very upset at small inconveniences that are just a normal part of life.
12. Has been cruel to animals in the past.
13. Has abused children.
14. Has hit a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past.
15. Has threatened violence, even if it wasn’t a serious threat.
16. Calls partner names, puts him/her down or curses at him/her.
17. Is extremely moody, and switches quickly from being very nice to exploding in anger.
18. If a male, believes women are inferior to men and should obey them.
19. Is intimidating, for example using threatening body language, punching walls or breaking objects.
20. Holds partner against his/her will to keep him/her from walking away or leaving the room.

The Road Home Cover (1)If you want to share your survivor story with us (even anonymously) please send us an email at therisingmuse@gmail.com If your story is chosen to be featured you will receive a copy of my new book The Road Home.  If you are currently enduring these situations and need prayer, do not hesitate to send us an email and we’ll pray for you.

Be blessed and be safe