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Silent Sorrow | Guest Post

*Note: I am honored that Jo agreed to write this post for my Quivering Daughter readers. This is a painful subject not addressed enough throughout Christendom and particularly, among conservatives.

I am Jo: a survivor of sexual abuse and a fundamentalist childhood. I am many things in my current life: a wife, a lover, a friend, a photographer, and writer but I am defined by my history, just as we all are, to some degree. I write about my experiences at “Finding Her Way” in the hope that someone else will find their truth to avoid creating a history like mine.
 

Childhood sexual abuse is a taboo topic, to be never spoken about in polite society. And often, not even among family members and those you love the most. If you are a fundamentalist daughter, this pressure is increased ten fold. Silence is golden is a fundamentalist family, and complete obedience and respect is demanded. To question an adult’s actions is the ultimate in disrespect and disobedience: to the point where your very faith is questioned.

Sadly, childhood sexual abuse thrives in silence. As the daughter of paedophile, I grew up knowing all too well the powers of silence, manipulation and fear. Living, breathing, haunting fear. As a fundamentalist daughter, I also grew up knowing the power of the threat of being labeled as disobedient or disrespectful: and thus, a member of one of them: the worldly, the unsaved, condemned to hell for eternity.

But equally, I knew in my heart what my father had done to me was not right: not in the eyes of God or men. My father was highly respected and active in the church, and I knew that no real action would be taken, if I was to turn there for help.

So, I chose to speak up to the government authorities, and have seen the many and varied impacts my choice has had on my life. In many ways, me speaking up was just as traumatic as the actual abuse. My case was severely mishandled by the authorities from start to finish. My family (both immediate and extended) was destroyed, never to be reformed as it was.  My father never served his full sentence (which was small to start with), and now lives in a major city close to schools, parks, pools etc.

So I am well aware as to why people remain silent about their abuse, and keep it tightly wrapped up inside, never to be spoken of again. I can also understand why people don’t report their abuse to authorities.

However, I am firm believer in the power that lies in revealing the truth. It is an incredibly powerful thing to speak up when you, as both victim and survivor, are ready.  In my case, the timing may have been wrong for others, but for me, I was at breaking point: I no longer wanted to play the happy family. As it was to turn out, I had to play the game for another 2 years: thanks to incompetent authorities, and a father who was an expert at manipulation and trickery. Those 2 years were sheer hell: I had been promised that if I would speak up, I would never have to see him again. Instead I saw him night and day for the next 2 years. The church did nothing in those 2 years: indeed, it operated a very successful cover up of his actions.

But the actual act of speaking out to my close friend M? Was completely priceless. To be validated and told that yes, I was speaking the truth, and that yes, it had happened to her too is/was an experience that changed my life totally. Yes the 2 years after were hell, but ultimately? When I left home (after which he was finally charged), I could hold my head up high and know that I had done the very best job that I (as a teenager) could do. In saying that, I have a few recommendations that I would make to others that come after me, and that I wish someone had told me.

  • Do have a “safe house” option for after you report (trusted friends, family etc) . You may not (regardless of what anyone may tell you) be removed. So plan ahead, and be prepared to put that plan into action yourself.
  • Be prepared to be deeply questioned, doubted and ignored, particularly if you have a very well presented family image. The bigger the image, the harder it will be to get someone to listen. Be prepared to tell everything to people who appear not to care. And be prepared to tell it all, in every horrible, horrifying detail.
  • Remember that by your actions you may save others that may be abused after you. If someone does molest/abuse/rape you, chances are that they have:

                   a) done it before to another child,
                   b) will do it again to another child,
                   c) or has done it before and will do it again.

  • And above all, talk, talk talk. Talk to your friends, talk to your family. What you find out might surprise you. And if someone does try to “shut you up”, talk louder. You are doing the right thing.
  • If you are a parent (or any adult), believe your child if they tell you something. Why would your child, any child lie about something so horrible? Particularly if that child has been trained from a young age that lying is a terrible sin, and has little or no knowledge about sexual behaviours? Watch your child: is he/she acting out? Showing an unusual knowledge/obsession of sexual acts/touching? Is an adult showing a particular interest in your child more than usual (ie: at a public event the adult prefers the company of the child, not the adults)? Trust your intuition, both as a parent and as a person. Only 10% of offenses are carried out by strangers : so it isn’t the scary bogey man you need to be afraid of: it is the people you know.

Every situation is different, and these points won’t apply to everyone. But if one person can use what I have learnt, then this post would have fulfilled its purpose.

Jo


Torment

This is a repost. For updates on this case, please view RifqaBary.com.
Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
Mark 10:13-15


“If I had stayed in Ohio, I wouldn’t be alive,” she said. “In 150 generations in family, no one has known Jesus. I am the first — imagine the honor in killing me.
“There is great honor in that, because if they love Allah more than me, they have to do it. It’s in the Koran,” said in the interview, which has been posted on YouTube.
Rifqa, who is seen wearing a large diamond cross during the interview, said she had to hide her Bible “for years,” and she repeatedly “snuck out” to attend Christian prayer meetings. She referred to previous victims of so-called honor killings, in which young Muslim women were murdered for bringing dishonor to their families.
“They love God more than me, they have to do this,” Bary told WFTV. “I’m fighting for my life. You guys don’t understand. … I want to worship Jesus freely, that’s what I want. I don’t want to die.”  ~ FoxNews.com

I can’t help but wonder: what if young Rifqa had been told that she cannot hear from God herself, but that He communicates through her father?
What if she had been told that she is easily deceived, because she is a woman?
That she is too young to discern truth?
That God wouldn’t tell her something without confirming it through her parents?
That she is rebellious? That she is wrong?
As Christians, we champion her cause and pray for her safety. And yet, what of those among us, who seek to obey the voice of God and yet become essentially ostracized for doing so?
Within fundamentalist faith, the “least of these” are the little girls ~ the little ones who grow up and become women, like us, with sorrow and sadness and pain. We might not be killed, yet our hearts wither away. We might not be beaten, but we suffer the effects of dissuasion to the call of God. We might not die, but our spirits may lack vitality. We might not be tortured, but we hide tortured souls.
Religious persecution is abuse ~ the mistreatment of a person or group based upon spiritual affiliation or belief. Jesus said:

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” John 15

Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”
John 6

Who hated Jesus most?
In the New Testament, the world is often characterized by religious traditions, practices, and the leaders thereof. The world is often fleshed out by legalistic religion, a religion blasphemous in nature. For a legalistic religion gives us a god we can see, touch, feel. A legalistic religion negates the need for faith. A legalistic religion provides a false sense of security, an “if / then”. If I do this, then I will be more righteous. It provides a false sense of boundaries, of safety. As long as I don’t do this, I am fine. It promotes rules, not relationship.
Jesus came to restore relationship and abolish rules.
Those who promote legalistic Christianity, re-creating God in the image of man, are driven by fear. Fear is the absence of faith; fear involves torment. And emotional, spiritual, psychological, and even physical torment is what many daughters of patriarchy experience as they seek to follow the gentle voice of Jesus who whispers, “Come. Rest.”
“Do not quench the Spirit,” warns Paul. It takes courage to step out in faith, but it brings blessing and reward from the True God, who freely gives the Holy Spirit and guides us into truth.
And He is the healer, the comforter, the life-giver, of tormented little girls.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33


This Holy Wanting

It’s not limited to patriarchy, of course. Nor to women. But emotional abuse is a common tool of choice for those who feel the need to control and manipulate the ones within their care. It can break the spirit faster than any other method of discipline because it uses the number one element that cuts deepest and quickest to the heart and  personhood: shame.
Emotional abuse—
consistent shaming, criticism, or neglect of wants, needs, desires, feelings, and emotions by a dominant partner, parent, spouse, or figure(s) of authority.

Emotional abuse can be overt: verbal destruction aimed to intimidate, coerce, or subdue another person. It can be subtle: withholding love, attention, affection and approval to compel someone to change, perform, or behave as desired. It can be so covert that perhaps neither party is really cognizant of what’s occurred until devastating truth is revealed through traumatic measures such as self-injury (also associated with sexual abuse), thoughts of or attempted suicide, and depression. They are bad fruits from bad roots.

 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21

Verbal Assault / Criticism

It’s no secret that words are among the most powerful forms of influence. Through words God created the world. Through words we have God’s will, nature, and heart as revealed through Scripture. Jesus Himself is the Word made flesh which dwelt among us (John 1). A word fitly spoken has the power to heal, nurture, encourage, teach, exhort, and to bring life. (John 6:63, 68)

Alternatively, words can steal, kill and destroy. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” And when words come from a heart that seeks its own, that exalts itself, that is not surrendered in humility before God, these can crush the spirit and bring death. “Can you believe what he said to me?” “I never forgot what she told me.” “How can you say such a thing?” Some of our best and worst memories involve words. Not only the phrases themselves, but tone, facial expressions, and poignant silence all effectively communicate a message.

Labeling is one common way the daughters of patriarchy are verbally manipulated. To hear, “You are rebellious, defensive, not thinking, leading your brothers and sisters astray,  or _____” coerces change while not encouraging life or growth. Who wants to be considered rebellious? Stupid? Evil? Yet just as effective, what is left unsaid also bears consequences of its own. “We heard a lot about what we should and shouldn’t do,” says Catherine, “but never ‘good job’, ‘I’m proud of you’, or really even ‘I love you.'” As women who crave life-giving validation, support, and nurture from parents, husbands, even friends, when words are wielded as weapons we experience deep, often life-lasting scars.

Criticism and verbal shaming ~ “If you were more obedient, respectful,  serious, righteous, mature, godly, humble, patient, kind, etc” or, “If you were less sensitive, emotional, artistic, imaginative, impulsive, etc” ~ are frequent, familiar emotionally abusive tactics. While we can agree that as Scripture states, “There is none righteous, no not one,” the focus is different. The kindness of the Lord leads us to repentance. Pointing out flaws, sharing disappointment that your daughter or wife is not all she “could” or “should” be, and other shaming ignores the crucial issues (relationship and personhood) and creates a screen through which all thoughts, feelings, and actions are filtered. It literally becomes you. This screen effectively shuts out truth ~ truth which is: God values you, loves you and sent His Son to redeem you. He has made you worthy. Shameful messages communicate that you are worthless and unloveable as you are. That you must change / do better / measure up. And these lies quench life.

Again, this isn’t limited to patriarchy or to women but it is so prevalent in this context. Within patriarchy, emotional-verbal abuse is especially convoluted because it’s often mixed with spiritual abuse.  “God isn’t pleased with you!” “If you wanted to be a good Christian, you should ____.” It’s all about manipulation, coercion, dos and don’ts, and control. “How can you call yourself a Christian when you do that!” “Godly / biblical / feminine / Christian women don’t ____.” Sometimes there are messages of truth that we need to hear, but the Bible is clear that truth needs to be spoken in love for the edification of others. (Ephesians 4). And abuse of any kind is never okay in God’s eyes.

Neglect of needs, desires, feelings

This is a very tender element of emotional abuse for all involved. I say all, because generally people are prone to withhold that which was withheld or absent, lacking, from their own lives. As I have often stated, most of our parents have tried to do the best they can. They do not intentionally seek to harm us. As adults, we are free before the Father to seek the truth of our pain and healing from abuse. He will show us the way, show us truth, and help us to heal, forgive, and show mercy to others.

Neglect is a serious issue. 1 Timothy 5:8 states, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” In context, Paul talks about physical provision (which could be another article by itself) but I also believe that emotional, spiritual, and intellectual provision ~ all vital for life, growth, and godliness ~ also apply and are equally as valid. I have also written about needs and emotional abuse here.

Emotional neglect essentially belittles, overlooks, abandons, diminishes, and slays this aspect of our lives. Many austere families teach that all desires and / or feelings are bad. Or they attempt to tell you which feelings, desires, and emotions are okay. These beliefs are dangerous because they deny truth and without truth, we can’t have lasting healing. Many feelings, in and of themselves, are neutral. How we respond and act upon those feelings determine whether we sin (hurt others with our anger, for example) or grow (seek to understand why we feel anger and learn truth). Temptations, in and of themselves, are not wrong (1 Cor. 10) but how we respond to them teach us where we need to grow, be strong, and seek the Lord for righteousness.

It is written that God is jealous. (Jealous: feeling, symptom) Why is He jealous? Because of His great love for us and His desire that we serve and worship Him alone. (Love: motivation, truth) Feelings are crucial to a healthy heart. Much like a thermometer reflects temperature, feelings help to reveal what is inside of you. If you were to brush aside the feeling itself, labeling it wicked and ungodly and then succumb to shameful thinking, you have not addressed the core issue but destroyed the very evidence that will clue you in to what’s really going on inside.

Desires are similar; additionally, our desires can help show us God’s will for our lives. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:27) When we learn that desires are only bad, we quench the Spirit through this imbalance and do not speak truth. This is where knowing what is in our hearts proves vital. Some desires are lustful. Some desires are self-serving. But not all of them are, and within extremely religious or fundamentalist families, we aren’t taught about holy desires, God-given desires. We don’t learn how to distinguish; rather, many of us grew up believing that wanting something indicates right there that it isn’t godly. We equate desires and wanting with selfishness alone.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20, 21

This neglect further embeds shame into our being and continues to separate us ~ not to God, as in sanctification and true unworldliness, but from God. Many times our wants are actually God-given choices, good gifts from Him that we can utilize and return to Him in service.

Truth

Being raised in an environment rife with shame, messages of criticism, emotional blackmail, lack of encouragement and support all systematically tear down the heart, soul, and spirit. Jesus, the emotional God-the-Son, came to heal the brokenhearted and set at liberty those who are oppressed. Your healing will depend on where you hide your heart. Who has it? If you’ve given it to anyone other than Christ, your way to freedom, life, and wholeness will be thwarted by our Jealous God who longs for you to find rest in Him.


Vyckie’s NLQ Anniversary

TThis week marks the one-year anniversary of No Longer Quivering. In honor of its birthday, Vyckie has written a number of posts revealing the inspiration behind it ~ so if you’ve wondered, head over to check them out. And be sure to visit the Take Heart Project as well ~ a special program by No Longer Quivering designed to help those in need extract themselves from a spiritually abusive environment.


SEBP at Elizabeth’s!

Ready for some new friends and fascinating reading? Check out Elizabeth Esther’s blog for her monthly Saturday Evening Blog Post ~ a plethora of links and new blog friends! You can participate too! Find your best, most inspirational, important, helpful, funny, interesting or simply your favorite post from last month and add it to her MrLinky list. Then compose a post at your own site linking back to it. I am highlighting February’s archives at QD with my article, “Facing Abuse in the Christian Family.” While we know our parents did their best and meant well while raising us, what do we do about our scars? Our broken hearts? Our pain?


Why Should I Care? | Guest Post by Defrauded Daughters

*Note: I read this article recently and was very moved. I think that other quivering daughters and those who love them will be able to relate in many ways; if so, please leave your thoughts.
Communism fell.
Everyone knows (at least here in America, the political brainwashing of the Cold War Era has told us that) that Communism doesn’t work. There are various economic and political reasons . . . but the most pressing one is individuality.
I keep remembering (for some reason, I am not sure of yet) a conversation I had with a soldier who was back in the US last fall. He had been stationed over various parts of Europe. We talked about Americanism, about culture differences, and about how the multi-cultural experiances had shaped or changed him.
(Note: He was not a very “good” person, and I met him at a fun party that some homeschooling friends and their family were having. He tried to flirt with me, and stuck very close in the pool (yeah…that was interesting), but when I was more interested in talking he got the picture and seemed to enjoy the a-typical person I was. (He hummed the “Jaws” theme song along with trying to “shark-bite” his hands in the water. I have not seen Jaws, so it turned out rather amusing).
Anyway, when he expressed delight in explaining to me his many tattoos (oh, yeah….did I mention that? Lets just say my dad wasn’t there to protect me), I asked him why he had so many and he replied: “It’s our individuality”. Even though (in uniform) none of them can be seen, he said that all of his buddies had them.
The military is a prime example of communism in the leveling that it tries to accomplish out of a mass of people. (Note: I am not attacking the military as an institution, or trying to say that they are Communist, just an example)
In my experience with Patriarchy, one of the biggest internally fatal problems is it’s refusal to allow for individualism. One example is the “community ownership” ~ or worse “Patriarch ownership”.
In our house everything (with a few exceptions of some things bought with personal money) is my Father’s. Even some of the things bought with our own money are, for a variety of reasons, also his. They were brought into HIS house. The other children would like to play with it also. We should share, etc, etc,etc.
If you want to HAVE something, you must hide it.
And we become expert hiders. Hide the urge to laugh at a “serious” time. Hide sinful emotions. Hide thoughts. Hide my diary. Hide my tears. Hide my heart.
If he doesn’t know, he can’t punish it…or worse…give you a talking to about it.
In a communistic family, children learn (some slower than others) that anything that matters to them cannot be seen outside of their uniform. However, inside they hide anything and everything that makes them who they are.
Slowly, the outward conformity tells the partent that they have a “good” child. The parents then think that what they see is all there is. They make no efforts to “get to know” the child that is (to them) perfectly accepting and (swallowing) all their teachings. If you thought them everything they know, you would know them better than they know themselves (something my mother tells me all too often).
Thus the bomb shell when this (perfect) child suddenly rebels, or does something completely sinful, or suddenly leaves home.
Driven into ourselves, we stew in our pain and our guilt. Often unable to discern the truth from the guilt motivation and the Biblical language, we either have to throw it all out or accept it and further condemn ourselves.
Depression.
Emotional Detatchment.
Suicide.
Why should I care about something that is not mine? That cannot ever be mine? Why bother?
Why does it matter?
Why does anything matter?
Why do I matter?
~ written by Daughter of a Heavenly Father


Heartbroken

Friends, normally I don’t “name names” on Quivering Daughters. As my FAQ states, I believe for the purposes of this blog it distracts from hurting souls to make it a point to highlight particular teachers and ministries. But my heart is broken today. And sometimes not naming names leads to hurting souls. I have prayed that Michael and Debi Pearl’s ministry No Greater Joy would show compassion upon a little girl who was murdered by those who were devoted followers of their writings. True, NGJ is not directly responsible. But the teaching that influenced the parents of Lydia Schatz has proven itself more than once to result in death. Please, please, please hold them accountable for their teaching! And if not for their teaching, then for the lack of compassion towards those who raise very legitimate concerns . . . and furthermore, for the family which is now in pieces.

*Edited to add: when followers adopt teaching and misunderstand or misapply the message to the point of a little girl’s death, the message needs to be adjusted. Amended. Re-communicated. We need to see humility, not mockery.

Link: Michael Pearl Laughs at Critics


Thinking

D o you feel buried under the trials and sufferings in life? Billy Coffey has words that will transform you.
For an extensive list of who is speaking out against abuse, read TulipGirl’s post.
Some of Elizabeth Esther’s experiences growing up in a fundamentalist communal home might sound familiar.
One young woman’s struggle with her mother.
An open letter to our brothers and sisters in Christ regarding abuse by ThatMom.
For a list of resources on spiritual abuse, visit Provender.

What have you read lately that inspires, helps, encourages, or enlightens you?