Do the Wealthy Suffer Domestic Violence?

Do the Wealthy Suffer Domestic Violence?

The short answer is most definitely.

In fact, a short distance from where I live sits one of the wealthiest counties in the US. After traffic violations, the county’s number one crime is domestic violence.

I’m moved to highlight this, because I am in a front row seat witnessing the explosion of people feeling terrified in their own homes. Last Battle is dedicated to giving voice to all forms of abuse to men, women and children. Sexual violence occurs in 1 out of every 7 intimate partnerships, and domestic violence (which includes but is not limited to sexual violence) occurs in 1 in 4 intimate partnerships.

Since exposure is the always the beginning of the solution, it should go without saying that domestic violence needs to be discussed online, in doctor’s appointments, on TV, on the radio, in schools, from the pulpit and so on. Diligent believers and warriors, our language and mindset need to advocate that neither gender experiences abuse of power.

Diligent believers and warriors, our language and mindset need to advocate that neither gender experiences abuse of power.

TWEETABLE Tweet: Diligent believers and warriors, our language and mindset need to advocate that neither gender experiences abuse of power.

However, even as I sat in church this morning and listened to the array of great advice about submission and respecting authority, I heard only one sentence blithely mention that power can be misused. But not a word was said to define the importance of getting out of a dynamic where the authority and power are corrupt. There was nothing said about the reality of abuse being continued by children who were not removed from homes where domestic violence occurred. No statistics given, therefore, no awareness increased. No encouragement to grasp the deepening spiritual and characterological scarring that occurs, and the vital importance of reaching out for help.

Now, what I don’t know, as I hustle into my week, is just how many of the women and children in these environments will face corrupt power based upon a well-intended sermon—embedded with popular verses in the Bible about keeping God’s commands. Commands which, in their essence, are about freedom and life. But in the logic of a controller, can be grossly misused as an entitlement to harm and break the spirit of the other.

When we discuss authority as it relates to families, marriages, work, ministry, and schools, it is careless not to publicly acknowledge that corrupt and demeaning authority is NEVER a part of God’s plan to teach us something, to mold us into his image. We need to speak plainly that it may be necessary to leave a relationship, a job, a school, a ministry position where the power is corrupt. Give people places to report the abuse and seek confidential help. If abuse is present in marriage, refer them to individual counseling, as marriage counseling may increase risk of further abuse. We kick at the hornet’s nest, if we do not plainly and publicly acknowledge the reality of corrupt power and taking the steps necessary to end the violation.

When insight is given on the prevalence of this problem, and outreaches are listed, we stand up for God’s reputation as a healer, who shares power and arms the helpless with solutions. We help them know that nowhere in scripture is it allowed to break the spirit and hope of another. Nowhere.

As you read the statistics below, please consider donating to hotlines and non-profits serving this population.

Also, please carefully consider whether you know of anyone who might need this advice. Please be advised that this information must be sent to the person of concern in a manner that does not further threaten their safety. If the controller has access to their social media accounts, emails, and texts, this type of information could lead to further violation. Thus, it is top priority that there would be caution used and that this would be done without being tracked by the controller.

STATISTICS:

  • In Douglas County (less than a mile from where I live) domestic violence is the #1 Crime, after traffic violations.
  • Since 1997, 82% of all homicides in Douglas County have been factually proven to be based in domestic violence.
  • In the US, a woman is attacked ranging from bruising to murder, harassed, stalked, isolated from friends and family, deprived of physical and economic resources, witnesses the destruction of personal property, and/or is sexually violated (called sexual names to rape) every 12 seconds.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than mugging, stranger rape and car accidents COMBINED.
  • Based on 2003 dollars, the cost of intimate partner violence annually exceeds $5.8 billion, including $4.1 billion in direct health care expenses, $900 million in lost productivity, and $900 million in life time earnings.
  • One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
  • The United Way ranks domestic violence as the leading cause of birth defects.
  • Studies have found that child abuse occurs in up to 70% of families that experience domestic violence. Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems.
  • 95% of boys and 72% of girls witnessing domestic violence will carry abuse into their adult relationships.
  • 57% of women who are physically abused never tell anyone. 50% of all homeless women are fleeing domestic violence.

There is no excuse for abuse. EVER.

WHAT TO DO:

If someone tells you they are being abused, do not tell them what to do. Empower them to make decisions. Remind them that they are smart, strong and have resources through hotlines (and perhaps other support systems) anytime they believe it’s time to use them.
Be appalled at the perpetrator not the victim. Do not be appalled at the victim for staying or leaving, for any reason.

Contact local reporting agencies: social services, sheriff’s office. Use a phone that is not linked to your private line. All inquiries and reports are anonymous, unless otherwise specified.
Contact a lawyer who specializes in domestic violence to understand your rights as a partner, spouse, and parent. Search www.laywers.findlaw.com
Contact school(s) your children attend to convey the issues, and determine the best course of action with school safety.
Contact your physician and the children’s pediatrician to understand what steps they can take to report this.
Contact therapists who are trusted by physicians, lawyers and reporting agencies. If a case file is opened, there are therapists registered with the victim’s compensation boards connected to the law enforcement agency to assist with counseling fees.

HOTLINES will also guide you on next steps, whether you or a loved one is experiencing this:

  • Douglas County: The Women’s and Family Outreach Center 303.688.8484
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 800.839.1852
  • National Resource Center for Domestic Violence: 800.537.2238
  • Safe Horizons: 866.604.5350
  • Go to Last Battle.org, click on Resources for phone hotline information.
  • Go to Last Battle’s Domestic Violence page for a solid characterization of domestic violence.

Please don’t let the fancy watches, big homes, advanced degrees, SUV’s and country club memberships fool you. Pray for all races, classes, and creeds to receive abundance as they take the steps needed to gain freedom from this insidious crime.

Mary Ellen Mann

Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.

Fighting Alongside the Princess Warrior

Fighting Alongside the Princess Warrior

Excerpt: From Pain to Power: Overcoming Sexual Trauma & Reclaiming Your True Identity

Honor her need to feel wrath. It is usually not until there is anger—when the deadened nervous system awakens to the reality of the crime of sexual violation—that Princess Warriors begin to heal. Yet other people are prone to label her wrath as sin. The truth is just the opposite. We honor God by honoring who he created us to be. He creates us to have a visceral response to violation so that we can be discerning and wise. Wrath is a legitimate response to violation, and it is part of the healing process. What a celebration of triumph God must feel when we say, “I engage my wrath to protect myself and to promote who you have made me to be.”

In Isaiah 13, we see God’s wrath in connection to his love, “I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. . .Therefore, I will make the heavens tremble; and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty, in the day of his burning anger” (verses 11-13).

Likewise, a Princess Warrior may need to repeat her story, to voice her anger, many times before she can let go of it. Breaking out of silence is a long process, especially in cases where her voice has been suppressed for years.

Below are practical ideas to get her to connect her past experience with who she is today. This is part of her healing journey in a community context:

  • Share with her that you want to make her tea and listen to her, or watch a movie, read poetry, or read Scripture until she falls asleep.
  • Let me know that you want to join her in an exercise class, or go for a walk or run. Let her cry if she wants or needs to.
  • Make dinner for her and with her.
  • Make a collage or dream board with her. In this project, you and she find images in magazines that tell her story and point out who she is beyond the trauma.
  • Drive her to counseling and wait in the waiting room, and offer to join her and hold her throughout her counseling session.
  • Give her a baseball bat to use to hit pillows and let her scream with primal rage.
  • Give her a boxing bag and gloves so she hit back against all she has suffered.
  • Attend a self-defense course with her.
  • Sign up for art classes with her so she and you can draw, paint, and sculpt. Many recreation centers offer such classes for a nominal expense.
  • Develop a fund to help cover the costs of therapy, legal support, massage treatment, chiropractic care, or medical or nutritional support.
  • Do what you can to help her get enough sleep. That might include being present in her home overnight if she has been feeling unsafe or arranging to have a security system installed.
  • Other ideas include reading to her from a devotional or inspirational book, bringing a gentle and affectionate pet for a visit, or giving her a compact disc or a downloadable file of Scripture being read, which she can play as she is falling asleep.

(Excerpt taken from pages 193-195)

The power of doing what you can is not to be under-estimated. You can always just call and text and tell her you are with her in spirit, too. The greatest thing is timing with our involvement. Plan to stay active at the level you can handle for the course of a year. Sometimes that’s a weekly text, and sometimes it can include one of the things I have listed above. You don’t have to be a mind-reader just tell her what you want to do. It’s best not to say, “Just let me know how I can help.” Be an initiator.

Mary Ellen Mann

Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.

Let’s Kick at the Darkness Till the Light Shines Through

Let’s Kick at the Darkness Till the Light Shines Through

Childhood sexual abuse appears to be “that” which cannot be mentioned. In our society the subject is taboo like no other. Childhood sexual abuse is indeed evil and detestable but people need to realize that talking about it is not. Victims need to talk about it in order to heal; (sometimes ad nauseam). Society needs to listen with compassion and learn. By becoming better informed, an awareness of potentially abusive people or situations might be developed.

Anything that is human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone. – Fred Rogers

To talk about childhood sexual abuse is to admit that it really happens. It fills us with disgust and makes us feel sick. Sometimes hearing about a particular victim’s perpetrator gives us pause and causes us to squirm, because we wonder, “Is it wrong for us to blame this person when there is no actual proof?” We might even jump ahead and think, “What if someone were to blame me or someone in my family of something horrible like that?!” I believe that this is a device used by the enemy to silence us. If we are unwilling to hear about or talk about this subject then the devil succeeds at keeping this issue in the dark. (Where it quietly spreads like toxic black mold.)

Childhood sexual abuse is too much…too much for the healthy mind to absorb. In the case of incest, who can fathom that the very family God provided for protection would use their own child as a sexual object?

All the same, there were things that were not supposed to be. They offended any sane person’s sense of order. – Stephen King, (IT)

Silence is never an encouragement to one who has shown vulnerability by exposing their story. There are times I have been met with silence. It might be the listener was too shocked to speak and could think of no response. Maybe they were trying to remain neutral? In my head I think, “They don’t believe me.” (“I’m sorry” is usually a safe response. Tears are even better.)

Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel

Only by talking and listening can any type of abuse be brought out into the light. Then, all can benefit; (even the perpetrators). We need to get it out of our minds that only “monsters” abuse and that we would “surely recognize a monster.”

God’s word does not shy away from exposing hard stories…including those of sexual abuse. He shows us that abuse is not to remain a secret. I pray for all of us…that we learn how to stay present, and by listening give honor to the abuse that people have endured.

Let us kick at the darkness until the light shines through.

We are children of the light; we do not belong to the darkness.
 
 

Our Contributing Authors
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.

Not “That” Bad

Not “That” Bad

Childhood sexual abuse survivors often say to themselves, “I guess it wasn’t really that bad?” Often there are others in our lives, perhaps family members or friends, who ask us…”Now, it wasn’t that bad, was it?” No one can believe that something that happened so quick could have such long-lasting ramifications. People seem to think that if the child was young enough and unable to understand what happened to her – that the abuse did no harm. Maybe some folks are reluctant to blame the perpetrator thinking that a slight touch of the hand or some other indiscretion was just an unfortunate accident…a mistake. Sexual abuse is a planned decision – not an accident. Our bodies know the difference; they are wired for truth. Created in the image of God, our bodies are designed uniquely and wonderfully. While the mind may not fully grasp the violation done against both body and soul – the body knows. The idea that no harm was done because an incident may have lasted only seconds or a couple of minutes is a fallacy. Some might suggest that a sleeping child would have no awareness; therefore, no harm done. While in a state of sleep, the body will still imprint the touch memories. (Many children fake sleep hoping that the perpetrator will just go away.) Even if the child, or the child who is now an adult, has no conscious memory due to dissociation – there CAN still be lifelong repercussions.

How bad is “that” bad?

What does it take to be bad enough? Here’s an analogy.
A bank was robbed and the burglar only made off with only a few hundred dollars…not the thousands of dollars that were kept in the bank vault. The bank discovered the thief was a longtime, trusted employee. The bank still considered it a crime even though so much more could have been stolen. Though the employee didn’t take “that” much, the bank could never trust them again. The crime was handled by the proper authorities (the police, judge and jury) and the convict, after serving time, was never allowed to work in the banking industry again.

Any sexual abuse is “that” bad.

It doesn’t have to include vaginal or anal penetration to be damaging. Maybe it’s only a quick touch in a private place but if it is done for the sexual arousal of the perpetrator, (or a power trip for the perpetrator) then it is at the expense of the victim and is harmful. A child required to view pornography, or to witness sexual acts has also been violated and may suffer the consequences in due time.
When a child is abused by a parent she/he has no place to turn for safety. The very structure, the family, which God set up for the child’s protection failed. The distinction of degrees makes no difference. The sexual act itself is rarely as awful for the child as the damage done because of the broken trust. If a single drop of venom will do…a cup is unnecessary. The body- It knows. Wrongful touches, glances, and exposure to things the child shouldn’t see are received as poison.

Unresolved childhood abuse issues cause many survivors to live in a constant state of crisis or paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. Frequent job changes, relocations, and failed relationships are common. Internal chaos often keeps a survivor feeling hopeless, helpless, and alone. Depression, anxiety, and phobias are often experienced. Other issues include sexual problems, somatic concerns, and suicidal ideation. There are a variety of mechanisms that are used to cope. These are a few.

  • Dissociation
  • Drug or Alcohol abuse
  • Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia)
  • Self-harm (cutting, burning)

There is no such thing as “not bad” sexual abuse.

It is true that some abuse situations are more severe physically and might result in bleeding, tearing, rupturing, or death. However, sexual abuse that is not overtly violent may lead to emotional, psychological and physiological disturbances that could in time lead to death.

“The truth about childhood is stored up in our body and lives in the depth of our soul. Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings can be numbed and manipulated, our perceptions shamed and confused, our bodies tricked with medication. But our soul never forgets. And we are one whole soul in one body, someday our body will present it’s bill.”
– Alice Miller

Our Contributing Authors
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.

Judge Not?

Judge Not?

I was stunned. I was silenced. I was saddened. Had my mother really just said to me, “Do not judge or you will be judged likewise?” It felt like a cruel blow. This dialogue occurred years before I disclosed to my parents my knowledge of having been sexually abused by dad in childhood. It followed a holiday visit where dad targeted me with his rage. As a result, I told my parents that dad’s anger issues and his use of pornography had adversely affected me as a child. I voiced concern over my own children being exposed to these things via exposure to my dad. While I had hoped for remorse and repentance, instead I was met with defensiveness and excuses. Mom told me not to judge – that nobody is perfect. She also said, “You have watched worse movies!” My mind began to scan. Was this true? Which movie? I considered arguing the point but realized that it wouldn’t make any difference. She had purposely turned the tables on me. How could a mother do that? Note to self: Never expect a sane response from an insane family system.

Matthew 7: 1-2 (NIV)
Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

The term “judging” really gets a rise out of people. Maybe especially among Christians. Many use these verses in the gospel of Matthew as a shield to guard against having to hear the truth. Unbelievably, there are many instances where someone who identifies as a believer is found to be an abuser, but the person who is the whistle-blower is made out to be the one in the wrong for exposing someone’s criminal behavior. Why would a community of Christians turn things around so that a truth-teller becomes the sinful party because they dared to judge another? Meanwhile, the acts of the abuser are swept under the rug. This happens time and again and I am grateful to people like Boz Tchividjian who report it. His work exposes childhood sexual abuse and often the resulting cover-up of the abuse by those within a Christian organization who hold power. Boz, a grandson of Billy Graham, is the Executive Director of G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment).

My anger towards God was fleeting. I knew in my heart that mom had used the ‘do not judge’ verse out of context but it still hurt. I found some comfort in Elisabeth Elliot’s words. In her book, On ASKING GOD WHY, she wrote, ” …To make any sense at all of his (Jesus’) teachings requires, among other things, the God-given faculty of judgment, which includes discrimination. The current popular notion that judging others is in itself a sin leads to such inappropriate maxims as “I’m ok, and you’re ok.” It encourages a conspiracy of moral indifference…”

Matthew 18:15-16 (NIV)
If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

What if the “brother” who sinned against you is your parent? What if you confront them but they deny or make excuses? What if you tell but no one believes? What then?

God believes. He knows. God is the ultimate judge.

Our Contributing Authors
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.

Avoid These Responses – Do This Instead

Avoid These Responses – Do This Instead

Ordinarily, when I tell people that I am a sexual trauma survivor, I am rarely told something to the effect of: “I’m so sorry this has happened to you. You didn’t deserve it. It’s not your fault. You are amazing for getting this far in life. I just want to strangle the person [people] who did this to you.”

That would be very comforting if I were told these things. But instead of comfort, I get challenged to launch into seeing the pain of the offender, to be grateful that it wasn’t worse, to forgive as I have been forgiven. For some actual, real-live comments I have fielded through the years read the following:

  • “Well, I sure hope you know that we’re all struggling to make sense of things and that bad things happen to good people.”
  • “As long as you’ve forgiven what’s happened, you have a chance of making it through this.”
  • “A sin is a sin and it’s not who started it, just who forgives first.”
  • “Anger is sin, a waste of energy. It’s so important just to let go.”
  • “Forgive as Jesus has forgiven you.”
  • “It could have been so much worse so don’t forget to thank God for the ways he protected you from this getting more out of hand.”
  • “Look at you now. See how this is meant for good? You wouldn’t be where you are today without this pain.”
  • “Don’t be held back by anger. Just let this be used for good, as you see through God’s eyes the hurt the perpetrator is in. We don’t have a right to judge someone. We’re all sinners.”
  • And my all-time favorite: “Forgive and forget. You don’t want to be a hardened person, do you?”

I wish I was making this up. All of these sentiments came from Christians who were either family members or old friends.

Here’s the deal:

Asking someone who has been victimized by sexual trauma whether they have forgiven their attacker is on par with saying,
“Don’t you think you could lose a few pounds?”

In other words, forgiveness is a topic only the survivor mentions.

I had a seismic break in my psyche, when, after I gave a talk at a local church about never challenging a survivor on forgiveness, someone said, “The key to getting past [sexual trauma] is to forgive. That is the message people need to hear. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time.”

“But it’s none of your business,” is what I wanted to say. Instead, I just looked past him. This person was an elder in the church at which I JUST gave my presentation! My anxiety grew thinking how much damage he was unwittingly likely to do because he didn’t get the message.

What’s the message? The Message is that you most represent Jesus when you step into Provide Comfort—not Challenges.

I never wanted to be a therapist. I wanted to be a grass root organizer for massive social change. I believe God wisely had me love and respect the role of being a therapist so that I could intimately see the war of countless men and women who have survived sexual trauma. What I know of sexual trauma through my own experiences helps me resonate with the brave souls seeking counsel and comfort.

In light of this professional and personal experience, the magic approach to bringing healing to the survivors is a combination of:

  • homicidal rage on behalf of the loved one who was hurt
  • a motley of resonating, loving, seeking-to-learn conversation
  • comforting overtures of thoughtfulness
  • touches of generosity and prayer
  • if they ask you directly for guidance, provide it humbly and gently

Perhaps, I am redundant here but I have to add one more thing.

Listening to a sermon a while ago, a young pastor told us [the congregation] that a woman who was being tortured by her ex-husband came to him for guidance on how to heal from the peril and upset. Although there may have been more to their dialogue, he said to us, without drawing breath, “I told her: you have to forgive him.”

Almost instantly, people started looking down at the floor. Others discreetly pulled out their phones to check their social media or to check the time.

I guarantee you that if he had said, “This poor woman needs our comfort. She needs to know that she’s not alone; that we stand with her; that we want to serve her children’s needs. She’s coming off the battlefield of betrayal and desperation. We need to stay close to her like a triage medical unit. We need to see if she needs legal help. She is hurting, and until she is safe and reassured that she’s not alone, she cannot heal.”

Jesus saw the world of sin and pain around him. However, instead of telling people that they “just need to forgive,” he touched their wounds, their blind eyes, and their paralysis. He fed them, and he met them in their state of need. While doing so, he said, “All of the brokenness in you is healed.” He never said, “If you forgive, I will heal you.” Indeed no, he says through his assertiveness and his healing: “You are worthy always, as you are. You are worthy of my attention and healing.”

Our only job as community members encountering the hurting is to offer this.

Once we as wounded and embattled Princess Warriors and Warrior Princes are spoken to with grace, understanding and provided the dignity of being remembered and served into a healing place, forgiveness (our personal choice) can often be like exhaling after inhaling. It’s the natural next step. But it’s ours to choose and to announce. And it’s not anyone’s to command.

If our pain is not welcomed in the name of being too messy, we are likely to hide these wounds under old dirty bandages, because we’re too ashamed to see the wound, since no one else can handle it. And heck, even we can barely handle it. If you can’t handle it, and we’re the ones bleeding and terrified, how are we as survivors supposed to heal?

Where would injured soldiers be if the triage medical team took a look at their wounds, covered them up, looked them square in the eye and told them to forgive their enemies? I think you get my point.

We have got to change our response to this ever-worthy population of sexual trauma survivors. If we did, the world of belief would be turned on its head. The conversion to hope in Jesus would happen like lightning. This is my passion, as your ever-ready advocate.

Thank you for reading and may every good come to you today.

Mary Ellen Mann

Mary Ellen Mann
Mary Ellen Mann is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver (visit www.manncounselinggroup.com). After attending a Christian college, she did her graduate work at Columbia University. Recently she co-founded Last Battle, LLC and helped develop the first interactive website for survivors of sexual violation, www.lastbattle.org, to help survivors, family and friends of survivors, Christian leaders, and professionals who care about this population. Her book, From Pain to Power will be on the market September 22, 2015. Mary Ellen lives in Denver with her husband and their two sons.

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