Posted by: Botolff | March 23, 2011

For Victims w/Love?

So, I’ve been thinking about the possibility of starting a new series on our blog.  If I did, I think I would call it something like “For Victims w/Love”.  It would likely be a series focused specifically on supporting victims of abuse in their/your/my journey through arenas such as the investigation of, acceptance of and response to the abuse we’ve experienced.  Watchman and I have talked quite a bit over the past couple years about the best way to affect change in the cases of abuse taking place in religious institutions particularly.  Collectively we’ve done quite a bit of research, talked to a lot of experts in the mental health counseling, professional consulting, legal, and ministry fields, and spoken to dozens of people who have experienced the abuse associated with forced terminations from religious institutions.  I’ll speak for myself and say that one thing I have come to feel strongly about, is that generally, in America at least, the local “church” and the global “Church” has an unwavering commitment to it’s own disassociation from the abuse that is taking place and being perpetuated within it’s own institutions.  In other words, many people of religious institutions generally don’t care to consider or address the abuses they, or their constituents are perpetrating on people.  Abuse, if acknowledged at all, is seen as something that happens to an occasional wife in a domestic violence situation, to a child who is being sexually assaulted by family member or neighbor, to a race facing genocide in a foreign country. All of these situations ARE abusive, and need to be addressed, but there are a lot of other abuses that take place as well, and frankly many of our religious institutions are perfect environments for abuse to be cultivated.  People just don’t want to see it.  It’s almost as if there has been a “sleepy spell” cast on people that causes them to pretend they are on the beaches of Kona, Hawaii, when they are actually in a cold, wet, dark dungeon picking up the latest virus being passed around.  We’ll often do whatever is necessary to pretend that our surroundings aren’t as bad as they can be in order to feel better about ourselves.  As someone at the church I was terminated from said, “Ignorance is bliss”.  Actually, ignorance is abusive.  It’s an abdication of responsibility, which gives blatant permission for people to get hurt.  But thank God it’s not me huh?

Why would I start a series like “For Victims w/Love”?  Because I am beginning to conclude from my research, and my conversations with Corey, that maybe change can come in the care, support and empowerment of the victims themselves.  I trust there are a few “churches” and I know there are members of the “Church” that will dare risk addressing abuse head on in their own communities, but truly these communities and believers are VERY hard to find.  Far more of them willingly volunteer to turn a blind eye, leaving people to try escape the attacks, and then bandage their wounds without support.  Therefore, maybe the energy needs to be directed more towards helping the wounded recover, stabilize themselves and determine which direction they want to go in order to use their experience to push back the darkness that has wreaked so much havoc in their lives.  And then maybe, just maybe, through the support of the victims, we will all be able to affect change in the institutions so willing to drop the bombs and walk away.

I’m not sure if I’m going to jump into something new yet or not though.  I have had a few victims of these types of wicked processes ask me to keep writing.  As they can attest, it requires a lot of mental energy to continue pressing into such difficult issues, especially when so many people continue to pretend there is no problem; or worse, attack the victim again for telling the story those people have chosen to be a character in, but don’t want to take responsibility for.  I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t know if I have the time or energy to take off down another path right now.  But ironically, this has been stirring in me for months and keeps coming back around for more mental energy.  I guess I’ll just have to see where the contemplation of this compilation takes me.  Until later…

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