Shamed into Silence

photo credit: Carly & Art via photopin cc

photo credit: Carly & Art via photopincc

This e-mail came in from Matthias after posting Who is Going to Blast the Bullhorn on Abuse in Church?.  I really liked what Matthias had to say and wanted to share it with you (with his permission).

Hello Julie Anne,

I’ve been thinking some about your current topic about blasting the
bullhorn in abuse in the church.

So many times, people who want to do this are “shamed into silence”.
They are told by the abuser that no one will believe their story.
And, until recent times, few would, even law enforcement, because of
the lack of evidence and lack of collaboration from others who might
have also experienced or witnessed the abuse.  Going public, as I only
know too well, can take a real emotional toll on a person.  As abusers
often prey on the most emotionally vulnerable individuals, it can be
especially hard for such a person to take a public stand against the
abuser. There is much fear.  Fear of being laughed at.  Fear of being
scorned. Fear of being shunned. Fear of being sued.

Those who pursue legal means against their abuser have faced a
particularly long, uphill battle, which can drain not only emotions
but finances.  “They” have the power, the money, the support, and we
are more like that lone voice crying in the wilderness.

In the recent clerical abuse trial in Philadelphia, defense lawyers for the
Archdiocese spent more than ten million dollars defending their
client, Monsignor Lynn, who was convicted of withholding information
concerning sexual abusers and transferring them to other parishes.
Today, an article from Reuters reveals that up until 1987, the
archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Mahoney, and another church
official plotted to conceal child molestation by priests from law
enforcement.  The archdiocese waged a five-year long legal battle to
keep court records out of the hands of the media and/or redacted.
When the archdiocese lost the case, an attorney speaking for the
archdiocese would say that the documents were but a “part of the
past”.  But the criminal acts noted in the legal documents will never
just be “part of the past” for those who were abused.

I’m presently reading an allegorical book with my daughter on
abandonment recovery entitled _Black Swan_ by Susan Anderson.  The
story is about a girl, Amanda, who is abandoned at a young age by her
father and ends up in an orphanage.  While at the orphanage, she
encounters a lone black swan who teaches her the tools of healing from
abandonment.  There is a quote from the black swan in describing his
mate that applies not only to abandonment, but also reminded me of the
many discussions I have had with others concerning spiritual abusers.

“[She], like all wounders, became powerful just by wounding.  She
brought me to a feeling of insignificance and to pain.  all I could do
was marvel at her power to accomplish so mighty a task.  I was reduced
to helplessness, while she seemed to become more powerful, more
valuable, and more beautiful for having vanquished me.  I could only
worship my wounder.  But the pain this caused helped me find my will
to survive and survive separately.”

How many who are spiritually abused could relate to this?  And the
key, is recognizing and accepting that we must be separate – separate
from the abuse, separate from the power, separate from all those who
will continue to do what is popular and fashionable, but not
necessarily right.

12 comments on “Shamed into Silence

  1. I suspect this shame is why many of us, myself included, comment anonymously here and elsewhere. That, to me, should speak loud and clear about the “church” organizations many of us fear. It’s more reminiscent of an organized crime syndicate than the body of Christ. (Julie Anne, it’s funny you should post this article on the same day that someone on TWW told of their harassment after leaving a comment on a blog. These go hand in glove. “Shamed into Silence” indeed!) The fear is real, because, unfortunately, the repercussions have often been far too real. And no single one of us has the resources, finances, or fortitude to push back. It’s going to take all of us supporting each other to call this out.

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  2. It’s interesting. When I originally posted my first Google review, I thought it was under a pseudonym. And then when I checked it later and saw Julie Anne I had to think: do I really want to reveal myself? I had to think about it for a minute. I could have changed it but decided to let it remain. I have nothing to hide.

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  3. Yes, BTDT, I agree: “It’s going to take all of us supporting each other to call this out.” I have been saying this for a long while now.

    I happened to see a TV advert tonight. SpongeBob and its creator chose the name: “United Plankton Pictures, Inc.” for their logo. From the picture, you see cartoon plankton holding hands with one another. Now that got me thinking.
    According to a definition of plankton, these organisms are “so numerous and productive that they are responsible for generating more oxygen than all other plants on Earth combined.”

    So, there in a nutshell is our picture—all the nobodies, the nones, and the eliminated, joining together, hand to hand, shoulder to shoulder like the plankton. Ya never know what plankton that unites could do in the murky waters of the ocean—more oxygen maybe?!!

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  4. Yes you are right…. it is time for us to step out. This is what Jesus Christ would want- He would want us to show those who have been hurt both believers (by the abuse they have endured) and unbelievers (seeing the false Christianity and turning away from knowing the only One who could save them) what true love is – it is the mixture of both His justice and mercy. The only time I know when Christ looked with disdain was upon those who wished to impose their religious wills upon the people- with their laws and their religious traditions. These are busybodies; thinking they should mill around in your affairs, picking apart inadequacies and failures. These are those who refuse to let people have their rightful relationship with Jesus Christ- with God; calling themselves the anointed and rightful spokesmen for God. These are those who have placed themselves as the mediators between you and God; these are imposters and wolves. True love does not “puff itself up”; it is humble and encompasses the Fruits of the Spirit- which in no way do I see evident in the majority of churches today. “Perfect love casts out ALL fear” and this I see today promotes fear. Believers do not need to fear these men because they have nothing. The power of God is given to all to ask and receive- it is already indwelt in you as a believer. You have God in you- do you believe it? The Holy Spirit is God and He is the giver of all strength and might- even to fight the devil.

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  5. Trust4himonly: This part of your comment was so good:

    “The only time I know when Christ looked with disdain was upon those who wished to impose their religious wills upon the people- with their laws and their religious traditions. These are busybodies; thinking they should mill around in your affairs, picking apart inadequacies and failures. These are those who refuse to let people have their rightful relationship with Jesus Christ- with God; calling themselves the anointed and rightful spokesmen for God. These are those who have placed themselves as the mediators between you and God; these are imposters and wolves.”

    These people get in the way and prevent people from hearing he Holy Spirit. So then these people end up relying on the words of the busy bodies because they can’t think for themselves.

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  6. By the way….. Found a wonderful quote from Rachel Held Evans on Liberty Captives site.

    “For what makes the Church any different from a cult if it demands we sacrifice our conscience in exchange for unquestioned allegiance to authority?”

    Absolutely true……
    A good thing you did not sacrifice your conscience Julie Anne… you stood up, walked out, and fought

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  7. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary our English word swan probably means literally “the singing bird.” Concerning other languages Philologist Jaan Puhvel writes, ‘Words for “swan” are frequently akin to terms for whiteness.’ From the Greek and Sanskrit to the Russian and Latin the words for “swan” evoke the color “white.”

    The phrase “black swan” has a curious history. It can be traced back to the Roman poet Juvenal (late first century) who wrote of “a rare bird in the lands, like a black swan” (rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno). Now when the “black swan” phrase was coined in English there was this assumption that black swans did not exist. So in sixteenth century London Juvenal’s expression became a popular metaphor for something impossible—something nonexistent. However toward the dawn of the eighteenth century a Dutch explorer discovered black swans in Australia. So then this old “black swan” idea morphed into different conceptual meanings. In fact, this event—this discovery of black swans—spawned all sorts of philosophical and theoretical problems.

    Spiritual Abuse is one of those Black Swans. The blind assumption for some is this: Spiritual Abuse does not occur in my church or denomination. Then the broken and abused—call them Black Swans or Sheep—of these churches and denominations discover each other and become empowered with voices, megaphones, www technologies and such. And now collectively this once presumed nonexistent chimera has connected, and the formation of something big is on the horizon. Who knew this Singing Shepherdess would be on the cutting wing of a Black Swan.

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  8. For some who denied the existence of the “black swan” hmmmm…….
    well, lets just say that God never fails to surprise the “wise” of this world.

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  9. Words, phrases, syllables, stars that turn around a fixed center….

    Everywhere solitary prisoners begin to create the words of the new dialogue.

    ~ Octavio Paz

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  10. This whole post and all of the comments really strengthened my resolve to continue my own vocal revealing of the abuse I’ve endured and I know others have as well. I have been shamed into silence for all of my life and now I’m saying I am done with that. it is emotionally draining to write about my dad, and what I’ve gone through, and I am always afraid that I’m going to get a phone call from him manipulating me into further silence.

    I call for all of us to back up the shamed and speak boldly for them because we all need it.

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  11. Pingback: Spiritual Abuse and Shamed into Silence | Church Exiters

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