Lourdes, Lifeboats, and Bounded Choice: Part I (An Illustration)

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After reading the account of the Lourdes Torres-Manteufel abuse by Vision Forum founder, Doug Phillips, Cindy Kunsman reflects on her own sex abuse story.

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Note from Julie Anne:  I remember talking to Cindy Kunsman around the time the Lourdes Torres-Manteufel lawsuit was made public. Lourdes’ story greatly affected her in a personal way, reminding her of her own sexually abusive childhood. This sometimes happens when someone else’s story reminds us of our own painful experience. Statistics tell us that there are a lot of people who have been sexually abused. If you have been sexually abused, this may be a sensitive subject for you. Cindy does a wonderful job of sharing what went on in her head as she processed her own story.

If you have gone through sex abuse, it is our prayer that through sharing Cindy’s deeply personal story, you will know that you are not alone and there are people here who would love to support you through encouragement and prayer.

A special thanks to Cindy for being so vulnerable and transparent with us.

 

 

Lourdes Ophelia

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Part IV in a Series

Link to Part II

A Personal Account by Cindy Kunsman, UnderMuchGrace.com

I didn’t see it coming. When I read Lourdes Torres-Manteufel’s petition to the Bexar County Court seeking justice for abuse she alleges that she suffered at the hands of Doug Phillips and Vision Forum, I didn’t expect to be so deeply affected emotionally. I faced similar sexual abuse at the hands of a caregiver, beginning at the age of eight, continuing regularly until I was about eleven. At the age of fourteen when I couldn’t avoid being in the same place with him and alone one day, I had to kick him to get away. 

I ran to the kitchen to brandish a butcher’s knife at him to fend him away. That much action seemed nearly impossible for me, and it became a flashbulbmemory of a different trauma. It was more disgusting then, for I fully understood what he’d done to me and was no longer so powerless. I felt shame for having been ruined by him, shame for not stopping him before I even understood what was happening, shame for defending myself that day, and shame for hurting him physically in that process. 

And there was a double dose of shame and self-blame so I wouldnt have to go against the perceptions of my mother. He was such a good man. He was good to his mother (my elderly neighbor). He was good to me. I was parroting my mother. That became my mantra when I finally wrapped my mind around what he was doing to me. I had to rationalize things somehow in order to maintain some kind of mental equilibrium around her.

No Boundaries, Yet Bound

My mother projected her shame on to me for as long as I can remember. Save from her loving labor of reading and reading and reading to me, my earliest memories of anything and of her are steeped in shame. I was like an appendage of hers that she couldn’t get to work properly, like a lame limb that she dragged around. Into that limb, she poured the shame that she felt towards herself so that the rest of her person could feel good.

When things happened to me that threatened or disappointed her, I served as her lame-limb cause. I had no choice but to internalize fault, something I don’t believe I really understood until my mid-twenties when a dear friend sarcastically asked me if I thought I was responsible for the Gulf War. That watershed moment gave me permission to consider that I might not be to blame for ‘everything.’ And I saw how my self-blame caused pain for those around me who loved me, hating to see me suffer so much even about things that had nothing to do with me.

Any interaction that I had with anyone not in my mother’s presence was questioned along with my ability to perceive or ‘test’ reality. Sometimes, she denied what she was there to witness, too, but I didn’t notice that and certainly didn’t trust it until I was a teen. That couldn’t have happened.” “They couldn’t have said that.” “That can’t be true.” “You must have done something to provoke this because people don’t just do mean things to you without cause. 

Conditioning and Gaslighting; Doubting and Dissociating

I believe that I heard these words as often as I heard my mother speak my name. When I started kindergarten, I started dissociating from the stress of this regular, unavoidable experience of her interrogations. In my form of dissociation, I felt like my consciousness left my body and viewed situations from just off to my right side, as if a movie camera lens was poised just a hair below my eye level on my right cheek, allowing me to see the right side of my own face). Id learned to compartmentalize myself. Although I was treated as an inseparable part of my mothers psyche, I discovered how to separate Mefrom myself so I could survive the trauma of that particular internment.

An enduring example of my frustration, just before my fifth birthday, involved my mother’s insistence that I had to be pronouncing another child’s name improperly. At first, my parents laughed at me. Then, I was deemed defiant and dishonest because I reverted from their pronunciation of the name to how it was pronounced by the boy himself and the teacher. (Who would know better than him?) I knew that I was telling the truth and was repeating exactly what I’d heard at school. I was made fun of at school for mispronouncing the name as I was ordered by my parents. I learned that I couldn’t trust anything I perceived. 

Depending on the circumstance, my mother didn’t trust me, even about simple and insignificant things, though she didn’t accuse me of lying when I was this young. Every day at school meant an evening of unmerited shame and intense confusion at the dinner table.

Survivor Guilt on Top of Grief

When I was six, just before Christmas, my godparents’ twelve year old daughter diedone of my favorite people in the wide, wide world. She treated me like a sister and embodied joy for me a joy that I don’t believe I’ve ever recaptured since I was last with her. I for reasons that I explain in this post, I developed tremendous survivor guilt on top of my own grief which I was not permitted (or taught) to express. 

A year and month later, my elderly neighbor’s husband died the person I saw as my only regular source of reliable, unconditional love who never shamed me. (My grandparents lived hours away, and this precious man named Charles was the only person who was consistently in my life who gave me a sense of safety that allowed me to be a happy child. After he died, just after Christmas in the same season that I’d suffered loss a year earlier, his bereaved wife’s son started coming around, and I was often left in his care when he took his mother to appointments, pinochle parties, and ladies auxiliary meetings. I thought at first that God had sent him to me to replace Charles.

I knew that my mother would never believe me. She went on at length about how wonderful this son was to his mother, and she talked to me about obeying him. Maybe I asked her something about whether I needed to do everything that he wanted me to do, for I remember the mini-lecture about obeying elders and nice men like him.

I was so messed up from the regular experiences of abuse that I had profound dissociation as a consequence. I hit a point where I would dissociate – as I stepped up on to the stone walk at the end of the driveway, it was like Me left my body again, before I even entered the house. My projector/camera perched on my shoulder again to give Me some distance from re-immersion in the pool of damaging demands there.

Holding Children to Adult Standards

When I discussed this with my godmother a few years ago, she asked me why I didn’t tell someone and why I didn’t realize that it was wrong. I told her that to remember that she was talking about a very confused, grief-impaired little girl who was so freaked out by what was happening that even I didn’t believe that what was happening to me was real. I was a child who couldn’t figure out how to pronounce another child’s name. I was a child whose experiences were questioned and criticized daily. 

I explained to her that I was not thinking anything, and she must consider that she could not hold me to the standard of an adult when I was only eight. What was I thinking? Nothing. I was thinking that it wasn’t real. My consciousness was floating about twelve feet away from where my body was, by the door, and all I remembered were strange sensations, pain, and still photographs of myself from across the room which seemed unbelievable.

How do the Harmed Envision Wholeness?

When I was nine, I’d learned to make hot dogs all by myself, heated sauerkraut, chopped onions, and melted cheese on the top of them after I toasted the buns. I remember seeing my molester drive in the driveway that we partially shared with the neighbor, the old lady who babysat for me who was now a widow. I was so excited about making these hot dogs that I ran down the path with one for him like an excited little girl would do. I still fantasized that he was my replacement for my dear, departed Charles. 

He greeted me in the normal manner, but something horrible happened when my mother followed a few moments behind me an unexpected visitor on a day that she took off from her job. He instantly changed and braced up when my mom entered the scene. It was one of the most horrible feelings I could remember up until that point. He acted like he’d been caught doing something dreadfully wrong, and he behaved so strangely from the way he usually was with me. 

It was quite traumatic and very confusing. I knew something was very wrong, and I felt like a vortex opened up in my throat and whirled down-down-down to my pelvic floor like a terrible painful emptiness. That was the moment that I gave myself permission to think about what was being done to me. I wouldnt understand what was happening to me in this moment for another thirty years.  It was too horrible to think about. I felt abandoned by both my mother and my molester in that moment. I felt abandoned by myWhat was he to me? Something was very wrong.  

On that day that I defended myself with the butcher knife some five years later, I actually allowed myself to acknowledge with great disgust that I likely felt something much more like the rejection of a lover. How revolting! The day with the knife was the last day that I saw him, but I still felt so trapped by the utter disgust of that moment and my own self-loathing that followed that I wouldnt think about it again for another twenty years. And it took a few years in recovery after that to understand that the horrible moment was actually a break in my dissociation. Instead of a self-divided through dissociation as a survival instinct, Id actually given myself permission to be glued back together. From that day in my ninth year, it would take more than 30 years before I would realize it. 

Ready to Tell, But Too Terrified of the ConsequencesLourdes Lachrymae

Not long after that, I watched one of those made for TV movies that used to be on network TV in the ’70s. I don’t know where my mother was that evening, but I watched the movie with my father. It was about a little girl with long raven hair and big brown eyes who was being molested by her father. I felt like every nerve in my body was lit up with electricity as though I had been plugged into the wall. I finally understood what was really done to me, and I had to think about it now. 

I turned and stared at my father when it was over, up long past what should have been a decent bedtime. I knew my mom would not believe me, but he would. Dad would understand, especially because I could talk about the movie to help me explain to him what had been happening to me for over a year. As I struggled to pull together my confidence to tell him, he looked at me, shaking his head in sadness. With a characteristic expression of disappointment that I knew well, he said, Cindy, if someone did something like that to you, I don’t know how I could keep from killing them.

My father was an avid hunter, and though he was taken by his uncle to Sunday services at a Presbyterian church as a child, he was not born again.This was a constant fear of mine that he would die unexpectedly and would go to hell. With the reasoning of a child, I made an inner vow.I decided then that I could never utter this man’s name and what he did to me until he was dead. If I did, my father would kill the molester, he would turn himself in and go to jail because he was that kind of guy, he would get the electric chair for murdering a man, both men would go to hell, and my already struggling mother would be a widow. Telling anyone would send two men that I loved to hell. And I did love my molester then in a very confused kind of way at that point. I wouldn’t have wanted to see an enemy in hell anyway. I laid down my comfort to save the lives of two men and for the benefit of my mother. It was the only right thing to do.

The Magical Thinking of a Child – and a Range of Empty Choices, Each with Dire Consequences

I then spent the next several years praying that God would give my Assemblies of God pastor a ‘word of knowledge’ about what was happening to me. I knew, knew, knew deep inside that God would make it right. At the end of each church service and in the middle of every worship time, my heart would pound, have hoping beyond hope and half in terror at the prospect of the Holy Spirit telling my pastor about what had happened. I could have told my pastor. He would have believed me, but I had no idea how my mother would ever believe it. Maybe if the church heard it with her, she would have to believe it. That was my only hope. 

But that word of knowledge never came to him. He moved away to take a new church when I was ten, and I didn’t have a good relationship with the next pastor who took over for him. But my heart would pound during revival services every year. God would know. God would help. And my heart would pound away.

I had no choice, though it seems like I did. I could have told my father that evening when I was nine but that would result in two deaths and two souls, eternally lost in hellfire. And I would be the cause that sent them both there. I had the choice to brave my mother’s criticism, doubt, and shame that with which I already could not cope.  I had a chance to tell when I started wrapping my middle finger in band-aids until the flesh started to smell from rot. If they saw my fingers, they would know. I also started picking scabs and scrapes open, and I picked at my skin and scalp for a long time. I could have explained, when I was old enough to stay alone at our house, why I no longer wanted to go to the neighbor’s house, especially when he was there.

I had a chance to tell someone when I scrubbed my perineum raw and had to go to the doctor who asked me nothing. Maybe he talked to my mother, but I’m inclined to think that people didn’t ask questions about sexual abuse at that time. I clearly remember the grimace he made when he examined me, and I vowed that I would never do such a thing to someone else. I’m sure he did so because I looked so sore, but I felt that I was an object of disgust. 

I could have told the doctor when I had a Barium Swallow test at age ten years before they had fiberoptic scopes for looking for ulcers. I probably could have told, but dad would die. My dad would die. My dad would die. My mom might even kill herself. She often made suicide threats during times when she felt overwhelmed, describing very graphic images of how she planned to go about it.  Are children capable of understanding the difference between an empty threat and a genuine suicide plan?

Maybe I would send her to hell, too? Or maybe I could go in everyone’s stead to solve the whole problem. With me out of the equation, there would be no more problems for anyone. At least, this is what made the most sense to me as a child a child that never should have been faced with such decisions.

Coping, But With Only “Bounded Choice

Did I have choices? Yes and no. My choices were bounded, and none were really viable. I was inseparably tethered by my thinking to the stake of my parents own problems and expectations. I was not truly free, I could only function within the short range of tethered options. 

Bounded choices offer mostly bad bargains, but I never really thought of it as a bargain. I had only one possible choice which I didn’t really see as a choice at all to go along with the abuse. I chose to make the sacrifice that seemed to me to benefit the most people by paying as much of that cost myself. I did it because I loved my parents, and I sought what was best for them (and for my abuser). None of my options were good ones, and they were beyond what many adults could face. But I wasn’t an adult. And due to my mother’s depression and her own issues of shame, I didn’t even have the resources that well-adjusted children had. At that point I chose to spare the lives of those most immediate to me, but at the continued cost of myself.

More to follow in Part II.

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87 comments on “Lourdes, Lifeboats, and Bounded Choice: Part I (An Illustration)

  1. Oh Cindy! We could be sisters! I remember seeing an after school special, and my dad came in right at the end and saw the ending and said the same thing, “If anyone did that to you, I’d kill him.” And I had been just about to tell him! And the same thing… making that vow never to tell him. He was in the military – it would be like a triple electric chair thing, ya know? (I did, eventually, tell him and he didn’t kill him…) And mom was bipolar. I always felt if I told, it would send her into one of her depressions or manic states and then *I* would be responsible for that. And then if Dad was in jail, who would take care of us?

    People just don’t understand the self-blame of a sexual abuse victim. They just don’t. They don’t understand the guilt, shame, and self-blame.

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  2. Cindy – my dear friend – my heart is breaking with your story. I know I have heard parts of it before. I think you are truly a brave soul, and I pray that people can truly mold their minds about the bounded choice. It makes so much sense when you understand it. The puzzle pieces all fall together when you grasp it.

    It still makes me feel icky inside when I think of David Gibbs being her lawyer. The man that defended Chuck Phelps with the Tina Anderson trial (among other things as you know). He defends the mindset that Phillips is using in the Anderson case, and now he is defending someone that is using that mindset against his client. What a fraud. I hope the man does her justice though,. He should know the game by now that’s for SURE!

    Yet, most can’t connect the political dots of this ugly spiritual game people play. I will use an old southern expression – someone needs to be shot! lol people don’t get to politically correct on me…its a figure of SPEECH!

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  3. Thank you, Cindy, for sharing so openly. It seems like every choice you had was between the devil and the deep blue sea.

    I just didn’t think to tell. My abuser must have tried his luck with another girl first because he told us (the group of girls whom he coached after school) that she was a liar because she’d accused him of rape and that wasn’t true, and what a terrible thing it is to accuse falsely. Well, maybe it wasn’t rape but a 75 year old man shouldn’t be groping teenaged girls, that’s definitely a violation of boundaries. So I guess I was set up not to say anything.

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  4. Would Rather Not Say,

    I think I know of which After School Special you speak… I was sick for days after seeing it. I remember feeling like my body had been plugged into the wall. And that weird feeling that if someone looked at me just right, they would know.

    I’ve written a post on my blog about how hard it is to talk about my parents and my situation with them, too. They couldn’t be better people in so many ways — the most important ones, and that makes it even sadder for me. These things didn’t happen because of any lack of love for me or dedication to me, and I’m concerned that people will not understand that. But given the situation with Lourdes, I think that the role of the parent can’t be separated from the pressures.

    In a way, it is the hardest part of contending with it. The child can’t hurt the parent, and so they choose to suffer, because they can’t see beyond the obstacles. I carried a lot of naivety well into my adult life, too, and had to learn self-protection and self-care from my husband and through therapy.

    And the naysayers will say what they will anyway. For Lourdes and those like her, it is worth opening up about it.

    http://undermuchgrace.blogspot.com/2014/05/understanding-those-trapped-in-trauma.html

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  5. First I love this site, JA asks some really powerful questions. After reviewing the FV Titanic rhetoric I am left thinking, why did God who is eternal and all powerful allow all those folks to drown, die of exposure and other rather creative death scenarios. From my evangelical upbringing I get God wanting to kill us, that was a constant theme, God hates us and we hate Him so He will kill most of us. I never really got that, a moral / spiritual failing on my part. I never wanted to kill God or anyone else I could not even get that right, I count that a moral failing on my part.

    What I come away with, Doug Phillips is a tool, his ilk is toolish, with all the protect “purity” nonsense and drones like Bill Gothard, the very first time I heard this guy my tooldar went off and he is a tool. Come on folks these people made bank of the backs of the followers. Gag. Personally I no longer believe in magic, voodoo and other supernatural rhetoric. I believe in the resurrection because I want the students I work with to live and receive a healing. If God wishes to send my backside to hell, that is fine, I have earned it, I am human and that is utterly vile. I am still trying to get past the God created me / who ever to be vessels of wrath and will die in eternal torment. I cant find any good news there. I get the business model aspect of end times stuff, that is a given, making bank is first and foremost and it always should be, I get that to. Cash is king, it is, always has been, prove me wrong. Cash is always, king. Always. I get that and I learned that at church. No offense but I find this a very strange religion I really do. Offered for what very little I am sure it is worth.

    Doug Phillips is a tool and needs to come clean and grow the heck up. Come on folks.

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  6. Aw, Hannah,

    You’ve been through your own special brand of heartache and have been a faithful friend to me, showing me comfort and empathy. You understand bounded choice already — but it gives you some power over it when you can see it in a different perspective. You already use the concept to help those you minister to yourself. I just slapped a name on it.

    As to the Gibbs issue, it doesn’t set well with me, either. For many reasons, I don’t think about it.

    A friend of mine has a saying that “you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken ____.” (He laughs and says that someone should put it on his tombstone.) In some respects, does it matter who the chef is when you’re contending with some of these people and the problems of this nature? So many things cannot be undone, and they’re so unpleasant. More than that, I don’t think about it. At least, not at this point.

    Sigh.

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  7. Estelle,

    I’m sorry. Things are different for people today, but there are still the pressures to keep quiet, too — even in the secular culture. But the more people who come forward, the more liberty it lends to those who are silenced to do likewise.

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  8. Brian,

    I never understood that “God will get you” stuff, either.

    Some of these guys act like they got a good deal, and if they share it, the’ll be less benefit to go around. God’s grace and love is finite, and he who dies with the most warm fuzzies wins. I often think of Paul saying that we should speak that which is edifying and good so that we can minister grace to those who can hear us. I don’t think that these folks understand grace. They understand salvation through works and piety through their own effort, and they dare to call it “Reformed.” I don’t think that they have a clue about what grace is or who God is. Jesus said that we would always have the poor with us, but we seem to always have the Pharisee, too. That’s who I think that they are.

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  9. There are two different David Gibbs. So the come tab over is wrong. Someone more in the know please fill in details.

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  10. Cindy,

    I know how hard this was to write. To make the details known. It is always a gamble because there are sharks out there swimming around waiting to devour those who dare be vulnerable and truthful.

    Reading this: I am just struck dumb with the fact that the weight of the entire world was cast on the little shoulders of an 8 year old girl. Sin is so evil. So devastating.

    I think of the years it took to get here. But I thank you for helping us understand bonded choice and the disassociation. Understanding those are critical in order for people to stop with the victim blaming and expecting young girls to act like the adult in these situations.

    There is something that really stands out to me in all this. Your dad telling you that if anyone did something like that to you, he would kill them. This is a loving and typical response of many dads. But it has the opposite result they are looking for.

    As a parent reading these stories on so many blogs, I have learned to be more vigilant and not be naive enough to think that just because I am prepping my children for protecting themselves, it could not happen. The grooming process is such a diabolical evil that is hard to grasp.

    Oh yes, people do mean things for no reason. Well, actually the reason is self gratification and evil.

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  11. Cindy K, thanks for telling! Painful pasts are never easy to review, and less easy yet to put on view even when resolved and put to rest.

    I am always captured by the small figure of the child, the amazing little person who valiantly keeps on keeping on.

    My younger sister socked my father in his stomach but I did nothing of that sort. I instead became dissociated as a way-of-life, disappearing myself to the extent that I remained (to myself) only as a pair of hands. And where for you, the wish for magical intercession was centered on your pastor and revival meetings, my daydreams took on a quiet delusional character: dwarves, elves and such became part of my daily life, an alternative to the impossibility of my reality.

    Children are amazing. They do what they can and they come up with the oddest defenses and constructs, not knowing anything but what they have at hand. Their choices are bounded first by the sheer ignorance of youth. They have been in the world for a very short time and are still trying to understand how it works. When they are also told they are not seeing what they see, that what they think is incorrect, and that travesties happen purely due to their own existence, they will accept it because they have no other information. Their choices can become so limited that movements of any sort are acts of bravery.

    Whenever I find myself feeling ashamed of the human species, I remember the courageous children in all the stories told here and see again why God has been willing to spend so much time/effort on us.

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  12. Cindy,
    This is difficult enough to read. I know it was difficult for you to relive it. There are some elements, such as the different psychological explanations, that I can relate to, though I was never sexually molested. Thank you for sharing such a vulnerable part of yourself with us. I hope there are others who will find healing in it, and, perhaps, the courage to speak up.

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  13. Cindy,

    I’m not sure that I’ll be able to handle Part 2; it was hard enough for me to get through reading Part 1. If reading it was that hard, I can’t imagine how you lived it. I’m grateful to God that you survived that living hell somehow. I admire your courage — and the courage of all others here — in sharing such painful stories with everyone.

    May God continue to strengthen you and give you healing, surrounded by people who love you.

    May He give hearts of understanding to those (like me) who have never experienced that kind of hell.

    And may God help all grown-ups who foist their problems on the weakest and most vulnerable. Someone needs to open their eyes, to make them see that they need help, and to get it.

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  14. Cindy,

    I HEAR you. I get what you are saying, though I couldn’t put my story into words the way you have.
    Please understand that I am not saying I know what you went through, my story is different than yours, so there is no way I can put myself in your shoes, but the feelings you write about, I know them, they have marked me.
    My hands are shaking as I write. You are remarkable. Thank-You for sharing from your heart.

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  15. Cindy, Thank you for such a clear picture of a child’s view of trauma and how powerless they can feel. They generally feel so responsible for the effect on the family (and losing the only support they know). Many of the comments reflect the same experience of having a father say they would kill anyone who hurt their child. Unfortunately, I had the opposite. My father was so self-absorbed that my safety (which was compromised) wasn’t even on his radar. Even as a young teen, when I complained about a date who was ” all over me” the whole time, my dad’s only response was, “He was probably excited, you should give him another chance”. That made me feel totally worthless.

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  16. Would rather not say: “People just don’t understand the self-blame of a sexual abuse victim. They just don’t. They don’t understand the guilt, shame, and self-blame.”

    Amen WRNS Amen

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  17. Brian: Thanks for your kind words. I agree, Phillips is a tool. About the angry God stuff you speak of – – -I cannot go there with that kind of talk. God does not like sin, but I remember a verse that says: God so loved the world . . .

    Godith: I have seen a good bit of misinformation about David Gibbs. It doesn’t help that David Gibbs who is representing Lourdes is David Gibbs III and at least his father, also David Gibbs, is an attorney. I might try to put something together to straighten it out after I get things verified. It’s confusing when you have a Sr, Jr, and III with the same name.

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  18. Chuck Phelps was represented by David Gibbs of the Christian law association. This Mr. Gibbs was also retained by First Baptist of Hammond Indiana when their pastor Jack Schaap was charged, and latter convicted for violating the Mann Act in Federal court. Mr. Gibbs role was to ” investigate ” the matter to see if there were more victims ( translation: same as LOSS prevention in the corporate world. If our employee raped you too please contact us FIRST so we can formulate our defense and blame you for our employee raping you. ) Mr. Gibbs didn’t represent Jack Schaap in the criminal matter but the church that fired Schaap AND TOSSED the VICTIM and her FAMILY OUT OF THE church. That didn’t exactly shock me since this is Jack Hayles former church, Jack Schaap is HAYLE’s son n law and was the president of Hayles Anderson college ( a cesspool of Hippocracy & nasty legalism).

    The above Mr. Gibbs is NOT representing the young lady currently in litigation with Doug Phillips and Vision Forum, his son who is in a different practice and different state is. Don’t judge the son by the actions of his father, two very different esquires (to use Doug Phillips favoriate word).

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  19. Serving Kids in Japan,

    The purpose of the series explains why a person who is in a high demand religious group like Lourdes would feel trapped into one or more less than ideal courses of action, something that is much more intense for an adult who spent their childhood growing up with the pressures of patriarchy. Every time I went to write about these things, I could only begin from my beginning — that with which I identified so strongly.

    The rest of the series talks about each of these pressures, drawing from the literature about such things. Only this first installment is so personal, but for those who have no frame of reference from their own experience, this part helps them understand the pressures and limitations of someone who has been sexually abused on top of the religious pressures at ground zero in such a situation.

    So it gets better, and its focus/tone are different in the rest of it. For anyone who has faced anything like a rock and a hard place like this (what high demand religion creates), the information should create a place of grace for them to understand what they did and why.

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  20. Patrice,

    It strikes me that in reading your description of the resilience and creative coping that a child finds to give themselves reasons to keep on moving forward in optimism that adults also do this when they are spiritually abused. Denial is an amazingly powerful thing, as is rationalization and the other “primitive” ego defenses that all adults find themselves using from time to time. How much more true is this for the adult who never healed from their own painful childhood?

    Children have fantasies. In adults, they call this “confirmation bias.” I can only pray that the rest of the material gives the adult the ability to identify with their own limitations as they consider they might not be considering just how limited an individual like Lourdes could have been before circumstances forced her out of the alternate reality of Vision Forum.

    I am so thankful that you found your way into optimism and that your pair of hands have blossomed into a rich source of wisdom through words. You are an inspiration.

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  21. The rest of the series talks about each of these pressures, drawing from the literature about such things. Only this first installment is so personal, but for those who have no frame of reference from their own experience, this part helps them understand the pressures and limitations of someone who has been sexually abused on top of the religious pressures at ground zero in such a situation.

    So it gets better, and its focus/tone are different in the rest of it. For anyone who has faced anything like a rock and a hard place like this (what high demand religion creates), the information should create a place of grace for them to understand what they did and why.

    What I so greatly appreciate about this series, Cindy, is that you, by being vulnerable and sharing exactly what happened with you,are essentially opening the door for others to see what it was like for you, the process you took to get to a place of healing. You legitimize behaviors that some of us resorted to because our abuse caused us to see/respond to things differently than someone who may not be burdened with that kind of pain. It’s interesting that the pain that we most want to avoid can sometimes be what keeps us trapped emotionally or even spiritually and once we can face it head on and put the pieces of the puzzle together, we become free and unhinged.

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  22. “They don’t understand the guilt, shame, and self-blame.”

    Gail, I fear many of them simply do not want to understand. That is something we have to take into consideration and respond accordingly for protection. A sort of “don’t throw your pearls before swine” metaphorically speaking.

    it is amazing the courage we can sum up when people gather around us with understanding, encouragement and yes, even outrage at injustice and willing to stake it all for truth and justice.

    They are rare. And they certainly won’t find them in the Christian celebrity culture.

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  23. BTDT,

    As I note in that post on my blog this morning, the saddest part of this for me at this point is the concern that people might understand that I don’t love my parents, or that blame them for things that were outside of their control. My relationship with them was and is a complicated one, but it serves here to illustrate how adults often hold young people to a standard that is often beyond their years or their resources.

    As Lydia notes, sin makes a havoc of us. As much as we may try to protect our children — that which the patriarchy movement strives to do — that often goes awry. I think that we’re better served to teach our children how to make decisions and tap into their own critical thinking so that they don’t have to figure things out when their parents aren’t accessible.

    I have healed and desensitized to the sting of the sexual abuse through much work with caring counselors and a ton of prayer and forgiveness. As I grow and mature, I find the sequelae of the experience manifests in different painful ways. I still work at appropriate self-care, for example. And I can tell you that the last seven words of this post were part of Brad’s expert editing. I’m far more comfortable with stating that I made choices to protect those I loved who would have suffered if I came forward. “But at the continued cost of myself” doesn’t roll off my tongue or my fingertips on a keyboard so easily, and for Brad, I didn’t bring the statement full circle. He added the obvious element that I neglect so easily.

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  24. Gail
    Please understand that I am not saying I know what you went through, my story is different than yours, so there is no way I can put myself in your shoes, but the feelings you write about, I know them, they have marked me.

    My hands are shaking as I write. You are remarkable. Thank-You for sharing from your heart.

    None of us truly know the path that another takes, especially through a difficult situation, and our stories are all different. But when I read the callous comments about how this whole situation was as much a sin on Lourdes’ part as it was for Phillips, I could think of no better way to help people understand that the situation is far from that simple. If it only were, the healing would be much easier. We could repent and find our hope in God’s forgiveness. But the coercion makes it all a confusing mess of undue influence that is anything but black and white.

    I think of Lourdes as remarkable, especially upon reading the specifics of her story in such a public document, opening herself up to the scrutiny of a court of law. I could NEVER have done this as a child with the limitations I faced. Her candor marked me, and I don’t believe that her critics have considered the magnitude of what she has done through the process of coming forward.

    As Hannah Thomas has heard a mutual friend of ours (Jocelyn Andersen) preach and reference many times, the Proverbs 31 woman is one of valor — chayil in Hebrew. It describes the great courage manifested by someone in the face of danger, particularly in the midst of a battle. We need to find such valor in ourselves to transcend shame, particularly when it was never our own. Critics may heap shame on Lourdes in these circumstances, but I see great valor. Her courage lends courage to others faced with similar circumstances. I pray that in this telling that many others will find their own courage in the milieu that truthfulness brings.

    May we learn to shake the dust off our feet from those who would shame us when we repent and shout from the rooftops of the corruption that so many would have us conceal. We are trained to be very good at being innocent as a dove — an animal of sacrifice, but we rarely teach young women how to be wise as a beast of prey. May our peace return to us.

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  25. Ann,

    Unfortunately, I had the opposite. My father was so self-absorbed that my safety (which was compromised) wasn’t even on his radar.

    Paradoxically, I can relate to this, too. I precocious as a consequence of all of this and had to become like a tiny little adult at a very young age. With the projected shame, I learned that my safety was of little value. I could site many examples of what was self-neglect under the guise of being agreeable.

    In college, two other students observed another trying to cheat off my test. I marched right into our division head’s office, and they explained that I would have to elect to bring formal charges against the male student in the student court. I was nineteen, When I went home to talk to my parents about it, they forbade me to say or do anything. And I did what they told me to do, though it bothered me that he would have to be subject to living up to the Nurse Practice Act in our state which prohibited moral turpitude. He would still have to pass the State Board exam, but I wondered if my silence would have prevented a greater error that may have affected a patient one day.

    Ah, so similar of a conundrum. I cannot extract my parents’ part in my outlook from the story. They coped with their own version of fantasy and wishful thinking, but it was covered in the guise of care and self-sacrifice. I had the weirdest version of “normal” and had to learn it over again as an adult. I had to learn to stop abandoning myself through behaviors that were consistent with my own great worth. I’m still working on a lot of that.

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  26. Lydia: “Gail, I fear many of them simply do not want to understand. That is something we have to take into consideration and respond accordingly for protection. A sort of “don’t throw your pearls before swine” metaphorically speaking.”

    O, Lydia, I had to learn that lesson the hard way. After a few counseling sessions about my sexual abuse with Emerson Eggerich imagine my horror when he did a Sunday morning sermon on thanking God for abuse.

    There was no way I was going to thank God for the agony of verbal, physical & sexual abuse as a child and I told him that after his sermon, which landed me in hot water. I was not talking about how God might use my brokenness to enter another wounded heart, or how God can bring good out of evil. This is a long story so I will keep it brief, but I will never forget the shame that descended like dew as I sat in the pew when in his closing point he spit, then said: “some of you will refuse to give thanks and by refusing to thank God you are spitting on the authority of the scriptures.” OMG I cannot get over the fact that I stayed in that church for fourteen years. Apologies if I went too far off topic.

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  27. “But when I read the callous comments about how this whole situation was as much a sin on Lourdes’ part as it was for Phillips, I could think of no better way to help people understand that the situation is far from that simple.

    Cindy, “The callous comments” shook me to the core. I loved the way you shared parts of your story to underscore the fact that Lourdes situation is anything but simple. It is so complex, and she is a hero, though she might not care for being called that as this point in her leg of the journey.

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  28. Gail,

    What you’ve written here dovetails with the rest of the series to come, especially Part IV. It’s not off topic at all. And it sounds like the tactics that I suspect Phillips has already thrown around. Beall is on notice that she can never divorce, for example, and that is held over her head, whether she sees it that way at this point or not. I understand that Beall sent a message of intimidation to Lourdes to keep her mouth shut. That is not much different than what you experienced, save that what you endured was ironic and horrible. It’s typical of an abuser with something to hide. “Keep my secrets.”

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  29. Gail wrote: “…she is a hero, though she might not care for being called that as this point in her leg of the journey.”

    Yes, she is. And so are you, Gail, even though you also might not want to see yourself so.

    When I read that the child Cindy got out the kitchen butcher knife, I was astonished by her courage. As an adult, she notes that by doing so, she hauled her dissociated self back together. How does such a small creature gather herself together to do this? Where does this come from, in a creature so young to this earth?

    What we do to get through is amazing! It shows us something important, something contrary to what we have been constantly told. We ARE worthy of God’s love,

    not because we can make it on our own,
    not because we aren’t broken,
    not because we don’t keep going awry,

    but because He created us that beautifully and with that much strength. And the God of All so much wants us returned to what He originally intended that He became one of us and then conquered death for us.

    For what reason would such great love be offered except that He finds us worth the effort? We damaged/broken humans need to keep this in mind.

    IMO

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  30. “May we learn to shake the dust off our feet from those who would shame us when we repent and shout from the rooftops of the corruption that so many would have us conceal. We are trained to be very good at being innocent as a dove — an animal of sacrifice, but we rarely teach young women how to be wise as a beast of prey. May our peace return to us.”

    Yes. Yes. Yes. And may God send people of courage who will stand up to those victims who are not there yet.

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  31. “O, Lydia, I had to learn that lesson the hard way. After a few counseling sessions about my sexual abuse with Emerson Eggerich imagine my horror when he did a Sunday morning sermon on thanking God for abuse.:

    Seriously? Mr. “Love and Respect” taught that? (He made some bank off that) That is pastoral malpractice, Gail. That is nothing short than lying about God. Dangerous stuff.

    “There was no way I was going to thank God for the agony of verbal, physical & sexual abuse as a child and I told him that after his sermon, which landed me in hot water. I was not talking about how God might use my brokenness to enter another wounded heart, or how God can bring good out of evil.”

    Exactly Gail. Because Satan is the one to thank for evil if he really wants to go there about giving “thanks” for abuse

    ” This is a long story so I will keep it brief, but I will never forget the shame that descended like dew as I sat in the pew when in his closing point he spit, then said: “some of you will refuse to give thanks and by refusing to thank God you are spitting on the authority of the scriptures.” OMG I cannot get over the fact that I stayed in that church for fourteen years. Apologies if I went too far off topic.”

    I am so very sorry you felt the shame. And I am quite familiar with this one. I have a standard comeback for that one now you are welcome to use. Tell them to advertise that their church teaches that “we thank God for evil abuse here”. Let’s see how that fills up the pews and offering plate over time.

    HE should be shamed for blaspheming God that way. Eggerich has a perverted understanding of good and evil. I guess we know where that comes from.

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  32. “but because He created us that beautifully and with that much strength. And the God of All so much wants us returned to what He originally intended that He became one of us and then conquered death for us.”

    This bears repeating.

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  33. I remembered someone talking about tethering elephants. When I googled it I found a link to Cindy’s Under Much (More) Grace blog in a post on Bounded Choice. 🙂 Cindy has probably already mentioned this in a comment on SSB.
    What’s interesting is that tethering an elephant is how they are trained from a very young age to not venture outside their “bounds.” Even when the elephant grows strong enough to easily break its bonds, it does not do so.
    How many of us who have experienced abuse can relate to this? In the spirit of “shaking the dust off our feet” I found this video.

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  34. Cindy, I’m sorry for what you endured as a child. I’ve shared my own story with you privately months ago, as I was seeking help, understanding, validation, maybe even exoneration since I was the one blamed for being sexually abused at the age of four. I identify with your coping mechanisms of self-harm at that young age. That was the only thing I could control….my own body….and it offered some temporary relief and release of all the bottled up emotions and confusion. I’m not sure if I also dissociated. I don’t know what label to place on how I managed to endure and survive.

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  35. Cindy K

    Thank you for writing this. For having the courage to write this.
    And, Yes – My heart breaks for what you have endured.

    And I thank you for being willing, and able, to help so many understand.

    And my heart rejoices because you are continuing on – a notable miracle.
    And overcomeing the evil, And overcomeing that ugly evil with good.

    IMO – You are an example of a real live “virtuous woman.”
    chayil = virtue, valor, strength, able, efficiency,

    You are an example of a real live “corageous overcomer.’

    Ruth 3:11
    And now, my daughter, Cindy, fear not;
    I will do to thee all that thou requirest:
    for all the city of my people doth know that
    **thou, Cindy, art a virtuous woman.** A women of Valor and Srength.

    To Cindy, who overcomes, will I give to eat of **the tree of life,**
    To Cindy, who overcomes, will I give to eat of the hidden manna.
    To Cindy, who overcomes, will I make a pillar in the temple of my God,
    To Cindy, who overcomes, will I grant to sit with me in my throne.
    To Cindy, who overcomes, shall inherit ALL things; and I will be Her God.

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  36. Dear All: In between appointments, short on time… I want to say how deeply I appreciate how you beautiful saints have responded.

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  37. Waiting for the Trumpet,

    How I wish that there was some way to undo what happened to you. I wish that more was available to you to help you. As Lydia said, evil is truly evil, and its consequences are not kind to us. Trauma is all about dissociation and it’s been misunderstood for quite a long time. What is worse is the empty advice that people give when they say to “just get over it.” We can’t and don’t know how until someone helps us. {{{hugs and tears}}}

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  38. Amos,

    Don’t be broken hearted. I’m not anymore. It’s a sad thing, but I am not ruined by it anymore. I never was. It just felt that way for a long time. Thank you for you lovely words of celebration. I definitely received beauty for ashes.

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  39. No one can help unless they truly understand. And no one can truly understand unless they have been there themselves. I think that’s a big part of the reason I hang out on boards such as this, with those who “get it”.

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  40. Thank you for your bravery Cindy and for being willing to use your experiences and expertise to help so many.

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  41. Readers:

    Those who subscribe to comments via RSS feed may have noticed that I deleted a comment. I removed a comment regarding Attorney David Gibbs III. It came from a respected blogger I know. I have no reason to not trust this particular blogger, but under the circumstances, I must be very careful about what information I post because it is second-hand information.

    Coincidently, this morning, I sent an e-mail to Attorney David Gibbs addressing the same issues that were presented in the comment by the blogger. I have spoken with Mr. Gibbs by phone and by e-mail. If he has something that he would like to be released publicly, it’s very important to me as a matter of integrity and principle that the information comes directly from him to me. He has my home phone #, cell phone #, and e-mail address, so he knows how to contact me. This case is much too important to let other people speak for someone else. That can cause unnecessary confusion and speculation.

    If and when Mr. Gibbs responds to my e-mail and has a statement to share publicly, I will do so.

    Thanks!
    ja

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  42. Cindy K, thank you very very much for your bravery in sharing. I am so sorry all this abuse happened to you. Your faithfulness in being willing to recognise how Lourdes’ story triggered your own memories is admirable.
    And your account is a very good illustration of how bounded choice works.

    Bless you, dear sister.

    I too suffered childhood sexual abuse but not to the extent you did.

    Those who thoughtlessly rant about how they would like to kill a child molesters, have no idea the damage that can do to a victim who hears their words. The bystander’s threat to kill the molester is uttered in dreadful ignorance and I would say a fair degree of selfishness on the part of the bystander. Such a bystander is venting his or her spleen without thought for the feelings of the victim. It is a conversation stopper and a thought stopper. It gives little help to the victims, and often causes a lot more harm than good.

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  43. Barbara,

    You know well that trauma cannot be undone, but we can find safety and healing. We can move through it and transform it into something valuable, even if that is just compassion and understanding for others. Philip Zimbardo has started studying that which makes a person willing to put themselves at risk for the benefit of another and has found that a good percentage of those who are willing have suffered something tragic. If we cannot find some value in something terrible, we can use it to comfort another.

    It’s just funny that I could find no other way to get started in these topics without addressing my own experiences.

    The world is different now, paying attention to children and how to teach them, but we can easily forget their limitations. Yet in many circles, babies are said to be diabolical, and parents are pressed to purify their little ones through human means. It’s not a matter of giving them what they need to grow up well but all about fitting a program — often to conveniently meet the needs of the parent. The expectations that we have for little ones is often beyond their reach. And then, things also tend to roll down hill to women, too.

    How often does the ideal meet up with the reality?

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  44. Cindy: my heart breaks for you. I am looking forward to part 2 to read about how you recovered.

    You have given a wonderful explanation of the oft-asked question: “Why didn’t they TELL someone?” The next time someone asks, I’m going to send them to this post.

    Peace be upon you as you write the next part and continue with your healing.

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  45. Patrice, These fitting words, especially the last phrase, resonated with me because that is exactly right.

    “Whenever I find myself feeling ashamed of the human species, I remember the courageous children in all the stories told here and see again why God has been willing to spend so much time/effort on us.”

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  46. Cindy (1.7:50am), I spent yesterday in my garden, thinking about what it must be like for those who’ve been under Phillips’ sway.

    My favorite group of people are those in their 20s. I found it a privilege to teach them. They are brand-new adults coming to the wide world for the first time, seeing what’s up, exploring and discovering. But Lourdes spent her 20s trapped in a destructive intimacy forced on her by the very person who had structured her world—a world that she, as well as everyone around her, believed to be reality.

    No human is great enough to determine reality for other humans. But in the world Lourdes was raised, Doug Phillips not only presumed to take that job but was encouraged and honored for doing so.

    I can see value in adopting a reality structure set up by another human: it is simpler and clearer than actual reality. Also the work is already done, so we no longer have to face the terrifying suspicion that we are not good enough to figure it out for ourselves.

    But the price paid is unreality, and eventually unreality will begin to chafe. I imagine it’s at this point that denials, rationalizations, etc, begin. There is so much at stake! We formed our whole lives on it. To leave means returning to our deep fears of incapability in a world that looks like chaos. And a usurper like Phillips deepens the fear by preaching that we are unworthy sinners, depraved and constantly failing even the “simple” tasks of obedience. Isolation reinforces the message. Preaching that the world is against us seals the deal. What a terrible situation!

    (continued)

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  47. (continued)

    But that kind of terrible is for those who came under sway as adults. For those raised in the artificial narrow reality that Phillips set up, as Lourdes was, it is a different story. Lourdes never knew anything else and thus there was no choice for her. Part of Phillips’ artificial reality was a declaration that females are both less capable and more responsible than males. Lourdes had to overcome both the teaching of her own inferiority and a fear that it was true. That takes time! I suspect the sense of over-responsibility helped her move forward in spite of it, as it seems it did also for you, Cindy (and did for me).

    ISTM that this is what all abused people have to overcome (and I’m sure that includes those who came with honesty under Phillip’s sway as adults): a deep sense in inferiority and an overweaning responsibility for what’s happening around them.

    The cornerstone of abuse is to de-mean and dis-able others so that the abuser can feel greater than he is. We begin the road out when we finally muster enough courage to hope that we are capable of making a good job of our own lives. Courage means acting on forlorn hope in the middle of confusion and fear.

    And that hope is not baseless. God made us beautifully and we abused are more capable than we know.

    The biggest surprise for me has been how forgiving God is. All those bad choices I made, all the ways I failed to understand and blindly stomped along in my earnest but destructive assumptions. I now carry nothing more than an occasional ruefulness over it. It is remarkable!

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  48. tlc3,

    Don’t mourn for me. Celebrate. I am healed from this trauma. It is a sad thing, but I no longer relive it.

    As I said in comments in an earlier thread, the element of the experience that visits me now is grief that I was not able to come forward for lack of support and resources. It’s only been recently that I’ve considered that this man very likely abused someone else. Could I have come forward so that someone else could have been spared? I certainly would have if I could have, and I have to be realistic about that which I was capable then as opposed to what I could do with the healing I now enjoy as an adult with the resources and experience that I’ve developed since then. And they didn’t come without labor. It was work to get here, and I am grateful to those who helped me.

    The part of it that I grieve is the rift that was created for me with my parents — partly for gradually getting well and partly for telling them. That tells the sad story of their own limitations because of their own traumas. That will always be sad, for I love them deeply.

    The whole series is written and edited by the Bradinator and ready for our gracious host to post.

    I touch on elements that helped me heal, though I focus on the elements that relate to forgiving myself for bounded choice and for the limitations created by growing up as a traumatized child. Looking at the grand scheme, I sought every “Christian” cure I could turn up, including long fasts, “deliverance,” and more tears shed at more altars than I could ever count. God has them all in His bottle, though, and I pray that I can anoint His feet with them one day.

    I built a foundation through cognitive behavioral therapy. If you add the time I spent in weekly sessions up over the course of 20 years to filter out the gaps, I spent ten solid years working hard at it. My high school mentor’s wife approached me when I was 22 or so and encouraged me to Minerth Meyer’s book on codependency which I could not bring myself to do for another two years. One of the most pivotal books for me was David Stoop’s Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves. When I was about 25, she asked me if I’d been molested, for she recognized the similar pains and behaviors, for she had endured sexual abuse herself. That acknowledgement gave me a lot of liberty, but I didn’t explore this in therapy until I was well into my thirties. The greater trauma surrounded the wounds of my childhood in my family of origin — different than those who grow up in patriarchy but with strikingly similar results. I took the best of what helped me and incorporated those writings at botkinsyndrome.blogspot.com.

    The real turning point that liberated me from the ongoing and most debilitating effects of PTSD came through nearly two and a half years of double sessions of EMDR — a specific therapy for trauma with far better results than antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy combined. A wonderful counselor who specialized in trauma, particularly with women and children, was my teacher, my witness, my ally, and my friend as she walked with me through the memories to help me desensitize and reprocess the trauma on top of the traumas that I experienced. She created a safe place for me to heal and stuck with me through the Valley of the Shadow of memory. Some seasons of my life read like a Kafka novel (who I recently quoted on my blog), so there was much to work on. I cannot recommend EMDR more highly, though I did draw on what I learned over the previous twenty years.

    (Healing from trauma is not a problem of cognition or learning. It’s alienation from feeling, connection to the felt sense of the body and emotions which become too terrifying to process, for the mind believes that a person is in continual danger – neurophysiologically trapped in the terror of the past. It is a physical process with behavioral and emotional effects. I had to learn how to feel and how to sit with many feelings, both pleasant and unpleasant. I was either not permitted to feel them and master them as a child, or I was too terrified. I had to go back and claim that which I lost and didn’t even realize it.)

    Along that way, dedicating myself to love and forgiveness has been key, and I was shocked to realize that my real problem was self-forgiveness and then self-love. This was the hardest part of recovery for me, and I still see elements of work yet to be done — even in Brad’s editing of what I’ve written here.

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  49. Patrice,

    You wrote:
    ISTM that this is what all abused people have to overcome (and I’m sure that includes those who came with honesty under Phillip’s sway as adults): a deep sense in inferiority and an overweaning responsibility for what’s happening around them.

    The cornerstone of abuse is to de-mean and dis-able others so that the abuser can feel greater than he is. We begin the road out when we finally muster enough courage to hope that we are capable of making a good job of our own lives. Courage means acting on forlorn hope in the middle of confusion and fear.

    Judith Herman addresses much of this well, and I have in my head somewhere that you have read her book, Trauma and Recovery. I think that I may hear her ideas in what you’ve written.

    Trauma, especially when one acts to protect oneself and fails or is unable to act, often results in self-loathing and shame. It’s as much physiologic as anything else, especially when it endures past a few months. That sense of overwhelming responsibility comes about naturally in a high demand group because of the demand for purity and the focus on salvation by works, but this is worse for a child. Children see themselves as the center of the world, for their world is not yet big enough to understand anything else. Children also don’t start to develop the ability to speculate and think critically until they are about age 10-12, and until then, they understand that they are the central cause of what happens to them. For those who are traumatized, this process of critical thought development is thwarted.

    When considering what actually happens physically in the brain in complex and prolonged trauma, it makes the person feel isolated as a function of the overactivity in the survival centers of the brain. You can have someone with you and not be able to connect to them because you can’t get past the emotions of survival. Cognitive behavioral (talk) therapy isn’t as effective because it appeals to thinking and behavioral choice — and those in chronic trauma cannot connect to our rational self. It’s walled off from emotion. We get stuck in survival mode. Confusion and fear are a part of that physical response.

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  50. Barb and Cindy, my comments are good for me to write. “Oh, this and this is what I’ve learned over the last 15 years of collapse. I didn’t realize that.”

    And it’s only my own perspective which I’m sure doesn’t ring for people with different personalities than mine but who also have been or are in similar straits. But sweet if any of it is found useful.

    If I go overboard, please let me know–when I become interested, I tend that way.

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  51. Yeah, I’ve bought and handed out at least 10 copies of Judith Herman’s books over the years. There are many traumatized people in this world.

    You wrote: “Cognitive behavioral (talk) therapy isn’t as effective because it appeals to thinking and behavioral choice — and those in chronic trauma cannot connect to our rational self. It’s walled off from emotion. We get stuck in survival mode. Confusion and fear are a part of that physical response.”

    My best friend is in this place right now. She went for quite a while to a cog-behav therapist and now has all the words and supposedly helpful actions, but her pain remains unchanged. It has created hopelessness in her. It makes me angry.

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  52. There is a time and place for CBT, but the research has demonstrated over and over that you’re almost better going out and getting a massage. It’s connecting with your felt sense that helps calm the storm of trauma and heals it.

    This is also the big problem that I see when nouthetics or “Biblical” (non-clinical) counseling is used to deal with trauma. Their approach is all about appealing to the intellect and learning, and people in a state of trauma can’t process anything like that. The other message undergirding the cause of trauma is sinful self-indulgence. Over the years, I’ve read about the nouthetic/Biblical (TM) approach to self-injury, a symptom of basal ganglia and amygdala hyperactivity — a behavioral manifestation of a physical process that precedes and overrides choice and thought.

    The genere has come far enough to understand the behavior as a symptom of a trauma, but the solution and the cure condemns the person afflicted with it. As if it is a truly gratifying activity that is self-indulgent and pleasurable that a person can control instead of a manifestation of lack of control, overwhelming pain, and self-disgust. Until the physical processes of survival are addressed, the person has little to no control. And what they do to avoid the compulsion just becomes another different but still damaging problem.

    The whole of mental health resources for trauma sufferers has come a long way in a short time in recent years, but we still have a long way to go.

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  53. Re my best friend, it takes as long as it takes for each of us to actually gather up that hope and courage, and it always takes 2-3 times longer than any of us think proper lol

    Years back, my therapist accused me of being a “therapizer”, taking on the role of therapist without the shingle or the pay. I think it was part of that sense of over-responsibility (wanting to “fix” pain everywhere it showed). So now I just love my friend and practice patience. It is hard! I don’t know how God has so much patience.

    But it is interesting that in practicing patience towards my dear friend, I also discover more generosity towards my old self, that person who was so far off-track for so long that she had a complete mental collapse at age 40. And that’s the Jesus principle of loving others as one loves self—one kind of love nurtures the other when they are carefully held together. Very efficient!

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  54. Patrice,

    I used to listen to Canadian radio out of Windsor when I lived in Detroit. I wish that I had not been in the car at the time. Some well-credentialled big wig in the ministry of health gave a talk at some symposium, and she said that a person doesn’t need a therapist if they have good people around them to help them. That’s part of friendship.

    I think that when we get into “fixing” things, we run into trouble, and I’ve been guilty of that myself. Nurses are taught to intervene, and part of helping people heal is letting them learn to sit with their junk and their feelings of discomfort. If you take it away or ameliorate their pain, they have no impetus to grow. In one of these posts coming up, I talk about having to learn to self-soothe which helped me be okay with sitting with discomfort — myself or that of others.

    But we have to learn all of that and how to do it — and then we have to practice it. So it’s a learning curve, no matter who you are — even for therapists. (Few will admit this, however.) We learn by doing and we learn by mistakes (hopefully).

    The cool thing is that when our own wounds are not so active and ongoing, we have a greater ability to sit with the pain of others. We move out of the active pain phase for ourselves and that gets transformed into compassion. But that’s a learning process, too. If we love one another, we can stick with one another until we figure it out.

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  55. “Judith Herman addresses much of this well, and I have in my head somewhere that you have read her book, Trauma and Recovery. I think that I may hear her ideas in what you’ve written.”

    I first read of this book on Jeri’s blog, Heresy in the Heartland. She quoted just a few paragraphs from the book. I was so impressed I have it on my wish list. Here is the link to Jeri’s review:
    http://heresyintheheartland.blogspot.com/2014/01/library-shelf-trauma-and-recovery.html

    Jeri grew up in a full-quiver family, was homeschooled, and worked for a period at ATI. I’m sure she relates very well to Lourdes’ experience.

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  56. Patrice/Cindy,

    Your convo is helping more than you know. I am a ‘fix it” person and also a “where there is a will there is a way”. But I gotta tell you that it never occurred to me there was a PHYSICAL element to traumas like spiritual abuse until I started interacting with Cindy. And truth be told, I did not really buy into for a long time.

    I now see it totally opposite. The physical has to be dealt with. It does something to your brain big time in processing anything. And that does something to your body. And yes, there is the survival mode of getting through the next crisis. I don’t know all the right terms. I just know there is a physical component even in spiritual abuse situations where no physical abuse occurred.

    In my case, a major help would have been if ONE person in my life had said, yes, what you saw there and what they did is evil. But no one believed it. They believed the façade. Instead it was as if it was normal Christianity and what we can expect if we dare go behind the pulpit.

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  57. Cindy wrote: “….a person doesn’t need a therapist if they have good people around them to help them.”

    I agree that good family/friends ameliorate trauma, but see, many people who get in such big trouble are missing that very thing—supportive friends and family. In fact, they often have to deal with the opposite. I’ve seen this repeatedly, and it’s also been true for me.

    I am certain that I would not have had to go in/out of the hospital for years if there had been people who loved me enough to offer support. My mother was on one world cruise after another. My husband was so angry at me for no longer taking care of him that I had to divorce him to stay alive. At the time, my closest friends were Christians who withdrew in disgust at my “sin of despair”. And so, ok, but no one stepped in to help my daughter, either, who was left alone to be raised by her mentally collapsed mother. Her father did minimum, taking years to get over his narcissistic rage even while supported by those friends who condemned my despair.

    While my story is florid, the situation is common. Those who have supportive friends/family do not usually end up in therapy because they do get that help, thank God.

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  58. Cindy wrote: “if you take away or ameliorate their pain, they have no impetus to grow.”

    I agree that we all seem to require some pain to galvanize us through the distress of fundamental change. But the kind of pain that occurs when a traumatized person is left alone or sunk in a dysfunctional context, is something different. I do not accept that I had to suffer all I did because it was the only way to get these stubborn old bones moving forward. The majority of the pain was paralyzing and caused additional trauma.

    And this is the problem facing some who need to leave Phillips’ circle. They are stunned/numb with streaks of pain, and their friends/families are entrenched in the dysfunction they need to leave. They are alone and for some, it will be too much of a muchness.

    Of course, in the end, no matter how alone or beseiged, we must make the grand attempt. There is no choice if we want to attain some health. Self-soothing is an important tool for getting us through. But how is one to learn that lovely simple method when there’s no one teach it, and it was never modeled in their family of origin? IMO, this is why there are therapists. They step in the gap.

    Regarding my friend, I am the only supportive person in a sea of dysfunction. It is too much of a burden for one person, and esp this physically disabled woman still dealing with remaining consequences of PTSD. That is why I continue to tell her she needs to find a good therapist who specializes in trauma.

    If at all possible, I recommend a good PTSD therapist for anyone who is alone or beseiged on the difficult path of trauma recovery. The specialization offers the most wholesome and multi-dimensional approach to psychology. Mine spent 10 years working for the VA before striking out on her own. She knows what she is looking at, and she has offered me a wide assortment of tools taken from the various therapeutic models, all of which I’ve gratefully taken and used to good effect.

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  59. Patrice,

    But the kind of pain that occurs when a traumatized person is left alone or sunk in a dysfunctional context, is something different. I do not accept that I had to suffer all I did because it was the only way to get these stubborn old bones moving forward. The majority of the pain was paralyzing and caused additional trauma.

    I meant that in the context of the “fixing” things mentality and covering up the complexity of pain with a simple solution, distraction, or some kind of addiction — whether more healthy or less healthy.

    Comfort and love while walking with someone through trauma is a world away from “fixing.”

    I’ve actually had people that I’ve reached out to for comfort tell me that I needed to get friends. Uhh, what were they? I had a pastor’s wife (starting a new church after 2 years back from the mission field) that I’d been in a prayer group with tell me that she just didn’t have the time to spend with me when I exited the Gothard church and was a mess. She was busy with starting the new church (six people who met in her home). I would have been happy to help someone fold laundry or wash dishes without even talking, just to feel connected to people outside of some formal relationship. My best friend was so good to me, a homeschooling mom, then with five of her eventual seven kids, but I was worried about wearing her out. But I guess that the dearth of other support made her all that much more precious to me.

    In another time of life, I had people give me a ride to pick up a new vehicle while my husband was in the hospital after totaling our old one. They bought me lunch, and I think it was the best meal that I’d ever had. (No one from the church where we tithed visited my husband in the hospital, BTW. We weren’t members, I was later told.)

    Creating a safe place where people can heal is exactly what people need when they go through trauma, when they’re thinking about the doubts that they have in a spiritually abusive group, and especially when they get out. I heard that a good friend is willing to hold your hair out of the way while you vomit. Sadly, that is the analogy that I think of when it comes to trauma. Often, great healing comes through simple kindness. If we’re okay with physical contact, hugs are heavenly.

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  60. “There is a time and place for CBT, but the research has demonstrated over and over that you’re almost better going out and getting a massage. It’s connecting with your felt sense that helps calm the storm of trauma and heals it.”

    Now how did I instinctively know this? Weird. :o)

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  61. Lydia said:

    In my case, a major help would have been if ONE person in my life had said, yes, what you saw there and what they did is evil. But no one believed it.

    This!!! My whole childhood I went from adult to adult to talk to get help and they minimized, dismissed, ignored, etc. When you are a child and are continuously given the message “I don’t believe you” from those adults you love and trust, what do you do with that? You internalize. You blame yourself. You can begin minimizing your own abuse, maybe even questioning your own personal account because if these adults aren’t believing me, I surely must have something wrong with me. This can lead to all sorts of bad behaviors of self harm, depression. It also sets up a pattern of difficulty trusting in relationships. Go figure.

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  62. Ah, I see, Cindy. Yah, that makes sense. I am that for my friend. I don’t have to drop a lot of “doings” for her, since I must spend many hours horizontal. The only thing I can do is love her, wanting her to become the fine person I first spied in her, the one that God made very lovely. I tell her so, and it causes her to weep. I am so sorry for my dear friend! I also listen a lot and firmly apply my rules against drinking to drunkenness in my house. That’s about all I can do. She needs more.

    I hear it’s a particular characteristic of USians, to be overly busy. I wouldn’t know, being one myself w00t. But it is an extreme in those Christians among us who believe that “accomplishment” is how we show the works of God.

    Product is a good thing, but nothing beats the products of God’s hands, humans and the rest of the world, which all need nurture and maintenance.

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  63. Lydia and JA, that “no one to notice or help” is what remains the most devastating to me. How is it that all the humans in some circles will deliberately turn their backs on another’s reality, and when confronted with it, push back with acid?

    I do not know how to reconcile myself to it. That is why I go to the children to remind myself that humans are indeed of great worth, because my experiences have been mostly of the “Oh Lord, just get rid of us already” sort.

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  64. Lydia wrote:

    “The physical has to be dealt with. It does something to your brain big time in processing anything. And that does something to your body…there is a physical component even in spiritual abuse situations where no physical abuse occurred.

    Yep. That’s why I went on about making art in an earlier thread, because it is a gentle way to remind us that we are also inherently bodies, part of the vagaries/virtues of the physical world. We are a unity with “stuff”.

    We humans argue against it endlessly, attempting to separate self from physicality, assuming that this separation will allow us to better practice free will. Too much of philosophy is devoted to it. We are either all “animal” or all psyche. Psychology swings back and forth. Swaths of theology are a defense against our physical selves.

    We are goofy! Free will comes as it is, and our bodies help/hinder in the same way that the other aspects of ourselves do.

    IMO, we are a unit with parts, much as God is, but we composed differently than God; we are not all spirit. But come to think of it, this isn’t completely so for God either, anymore, since he also always remains as Jesus, human. Huh!

    Ok. I’m going back to my garden. I’ll be glad to read your link after I come back, BTDT. Thanks, everyone!

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  65. Lydia@MAY 2, 2014 @ 6:24 AM: “In my case, a major help would have been if ONE person in my life had said, yes, what you saw there and what they did is evil. But no one believed it.”

    Lydia, you believed me! That is what you offered me yesterday in your post when you said:
    “I am so very sorry you felt the shame. And I am quite familiar with this one. I have a standard comeback for that one now you are welcome to use. Tell them to advertise that their church teaches that “we thank God for evil abuse here”. Let’s see how that fills up the pews and offering plate over time. HE should be shamed for blaspheming God that way. Eggerich has a perverted understanding of good and evil. I guess we know where that comes from.”
    Just know, I celebrate & quiver over your strong words. Ambivalence much on my part!

    Patrice @ MAY 1, 2014 @ 9:52 AM: “What we do to get through is amazing! It shows us something important, something contrary to what we have been constantly told. We ARE worthy of God’s love,

    not because we can make it on our own,
    not because we aren’t broken,
    not because we don’t keep going awry,

    but because He created us that beautifully and with that much strength. And the God of All so much wants us returned to what He originally intended that He became one of us and then conquered death for us.

    For what reason would such great love be offered except that He finds us worth the effort? We damaged/broken humans need to keep this in mind.”

    Thank-You for saying this Patrice, I feel broken, but not crushed, I have gone awry more times than I care to count, I am not healed, but there is some beauty that has
    come forth out of ashes of abuse. Thankful to be on the road to recovery, but I have a long ways to go. I have hope, especially in light of the fact, when I see Him, THEN I will be like Him.

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  66. Cindy, Thank you for your response-I know I’m not alone. Part of my healing is definitely having an experienced therapist who reacts “appropriately”. By that I mean, when I would talk about something done in my family that I assumed was “normal”, he would let me know my point of view was skewed and I did not deserve certain “abuses”. Later I would tell a friend the same thing and was amazed to see her shocked reaction. That was healing for me to see. For example, I was speaking to a friend at a party. I know it was inappropriate, but I said, “when I was a teen, my dad took me to a few X-rated and NR-17 movies.” Her jaw dropped and she was speechless. We talked a while, but what I was able to experience was that my dad’s behavior was wrong!! Yet even now my parents just think I am “different”. BTW, my dad was a Sunday School superintendent and locally well respected. Since everyone around me told me how great my parents were, I figured it must be me. My true healing did not begin until my 50’s (and I had a MA in counseling for 25 years!) I image for Lourdes she had to be removed from the situation, before she could start processing it. Also to JA, a HUGE THANK YOU for your discretion about Lourdes’ lawyer. Before anyone asks questions, just remember, simple curiosity is no excuse to find out information. We do not want anything to compromise Lourde’s suit and emotional well-being. I am sure most of you understand!

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  67. Also to JA, a HUGE THANK YOU for your discretion about Lourdes’ lawyer

    Thank you, Ann. It was a bit awkward, indeed, because I have networked with this particular blogger and have had pleasant relationship over the years. But as someone who was involved in a lawsuit, I know how important it is that things are done carefully. I don’t want my blog or my actions to get in the way of the significance of this lawsuit.

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  68. @Cindy K~

    I have gained more understanding of how those who have been abused suffer in silence and have a difficult time forming bonds with people. Thank you for sharing your life and thanks to all the gracious commenters who add so much with their bits of wisdom and transparency.

    I have a question that may be a bit off topic. Am thinking of a particular extended family member here, so I do not wish to paint with a broad brush. This person is emotionally abusive to our family and lies as a continuing pattern. She is quite manipulative and gets angry when we do not do for her what she thinks we should be doing. She had an abusive mother, has no contact with her and has not for years.

    Is it possible to have a transparent, honest, mutually beneficial normative kind of relationship with someone who has suffered so much abuse and acts out in this manner? I guess my question is…what do we do with family members like these? How do we have relationships with them when the hurt is so apparent- yet they do not wish to get help, are unable to get help, do not think they need help and do not acknowledge the hurt they administer to the rest of the family? Can it be anything but civil, superficial kinds of relationships? How does our family deal with the lies and emotional abuse she is projecting onto us? TIA.

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  69. Cindy, and others –

    I am glad you are to a place in your life where you can share and write about your experiences. I’m sorry that you, or anyone, has to ever deal with abuse of any kind at any age. It is so disturbing that it exists and even more that it exists, and to a great extent is ignored, in the Church.

    TWW has a new post and a ‘pastor’ came along and made a clueless comment (I’m assuming it was not purposeful) about the even more clueless Protestant church and their dealing with abuse. I, and others, have responded. I have family that have been abused, so I am daily exposed to the suffering, pain, and processing of the abused.

    Reading the experiences and information here and at TWW has been very helpful to me with processing what has gone on and does go on around me. It is very easy to misinterpret what one sees. It is like walking a tightrope every day. What seems like one thing to me, is something totally different to the person who has been abused. There is no way to understand this without communication, Communication is difficult because the abused doesn’t know how to explain what they are feeling (processing). I find that patience (which I was never good at, but an area that has dramatically changed in my life) and normalcy can never be overrated! And it really does need to be selfless, as in not expecting any certain outcome at all for me. It is possible to do this without being a doormat.

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  70. Diane,

    I am not a therapist, and if I were one, the best of them coach you so that you can find the solutions and conclusions. Know that I tread carefully here.

    Several basic assumptions about healthy relationships come to mind (and I could site references for these principles from many sources in the psychology and self-help genre). A good reference that I like quite a bit is Who’s Pulling Your Strings by Harriet Braiker. And there are a host of books on boundaries from many perspectives.

    * We cannot change the perceptions or control the behaviors of others.
    * We do teach others how to treat us by our responses to them and what we will tolerate.
    * People from dysfunctional families are faced with two emotional dilemmas as a matter of survival which persists into adulthood. They lack a “good enough” sense of healthy love/respect/care for self, so they get it affirmation when and where they can seize it. They are also generally loaded with internalized “toxic” shame which they tend to unload anywhere then can and on anyone who will receive it from them.
    * Many people were not taught healthy boundaries – a function of managing our vulnerability which a parent should teach children by protecting them and modeling them when they are young.
    * Think of a child in the midst of the “terrible twos” and how they learn boundaries by pushing them to learn where they begin and where they end. The loving adult must protect them by setting boundaries for them and by teaching them what’s appropriate and safe.
    * There are two types of boundaries: Internal (self control by which we constrain our own behavior so that we don’t violate others out of respect for their vulnerability) and external (what we will let into our lives – how we manage our own vulnerability).
    * People with poor boundaries usually don’t understand their own behavior, likely don’t ever think about boundaries consciously, and may not even be capable of comprehending much about boundaries if they are preoccupied by their own pain. (When a person’s hemorrhaging from a gun shot in the abdomen and overwhelmed by pain, they quite appropriately become so focused on survival that boundaries seem like a luxury.)
    * When a person has poor boundaries of their own, it is a mature act of love to assertively set and defend your own boundaries (what you will and will not tolerate in your interaction with them).
    * Thinking in advance about what you can control, what you are willing to tolerate in the context of a relationship, and focusing on those challenges of your own instead of what you’d wish was true of the other person helps you define and maintain your own boundaries.
    * Setting realistic expectations and minimum goals (differentiating the ideal from the bare minimum of what we will tolerate) helps manage the stress of a difficult relationship.
    * Realistic expectations foster love/compassion and give you much more energy. (Your “locus of control” moves from “external” things that you can’t influence to those “internal” things that you can manage. Braiker’s book has an excellent summary of how to strengthen and develop a healthier “internal locus of control.” It’s the key to resigning from the role of a “victim of circumstances.”
    * Boundaries are dynamic, so they are constantly changing based on events and your own resources such as other demands on your time and energy. They require continual work, and good boundaries demand critical thinking.
    And a boundary that is set and is undefended is not a boundary. It’s just a nice idea. (That’s an adage of my best friend – a high school grad and SAHM of seven.)

    NOW, hopefully, these considerations can give you what I think of as user-friendly tools that you can use to figure out how you can work with this family member. I often think of what a social worker who helps provide oversight for my blog often says: “You’re going to model Christian love to them through healthy behavior.” In some relationships, I know that I get frustrated and tired of “being the bigger person” and paying the price of “taking the high road.” Sometimes, I fail at that. But that’s part of the work of developing those realistic expectations for the relationship and learning boundaries – and we all have to learn them.

    What I find really rewarding in relationships of love and trust that are safe are the negotiation of boundaries. But people who are impaired for some reason (which is sometimes temporary because of stress they’re facing) or really wounded people often cannot negotiate boundaries. That’s when we have to be assertive and thoughtful out of love for them.

    And I’ll let you know when I get all of these principles down and mastered… Don’t hold your breath. I do know that I’m no longer what I was before and am not all that I will be by God’s grace. If you think about it, much of what Jesus talked about was all about boundaries, though He didn’t our language to describe them as such.

    http://www.amazon.com/Whos-Pulling-Your-Strings-Manipulation-ebook/dp/B000OVLIVK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399056580&sr=8-1&keywords=Harriet+Braiker+who%27s+pulling+your+strings

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  71. Wow, Cindy, what a fantastic and very helpful response to a challenging question. It was a great question, btw, because I can think of people like this, too, and it’s a difficult balancing game, but love calls us to have safe boundaries for others and ourselves.

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  72. Julie Anne,

    You know what is telling to me as something of a personal milestone for me is that I could write this without having to pull out a book or look something up. Now, I’m on my way to practicing them, though it takes work.

    I remember well the days when I’d hear people say, “Read Townsend and Cloud’s book on Boundaries.” “Have better boundaries.” It sounds nice and seems like what it means should be obvious, but I didn’t get it and didn’t start to understand them until I desensitized from a good portion of my own trauma. My boundaries were about survival, so I speak from experience and really was (to varied degrees) the person without boundaries who put stress on those around me. And I still do as we all do. It’s work, but we get better at it, and we grow.

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  73. Cindy K,
    It sounds from your story part 1( I haven’t read 2 yet) that your mom may not have been a healthy person to tell at the time. Although my mom did have her issues I believe she would have been a safe person to tell about my date rape at 14/15 years old, but I didn’t because of wanting to save her the agony of knowing what I went through. I had already seen how crazy she sounded and I reasoned it was my fault when I was sexually assaulted at 12 by a trusted ‘born again’ ex con my family befriended in my dad’s prison ministry. My dad would have been ‘safe’ to tell too, but sexual trauma just plain does that to you, for all the same reasons you didn’t tell when you were a young child, I still didn’t tell when I was an old child. There were so many religious interconnecting reasons in there also.
    I understand the dissociation. I did that to survive, and even at my age then it still served the perpetrator as well as me, because it happened to me by this same person again and again. Wow, I almost wrote that ‘I let it happen’ to me. See? Still blaming myself. Sex abuse in any form is rape of the soul not just rape of the body. We tried to escape our bodies and maybe got a little bit of relief but we can’t escape our souls. Thank you for sharing, it is hard but is healing to read some words put to feelings that I couldn’t articulate.

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  74. “TWW has a new post and a ‘pastor’ came along and made a clueless comment (I’m assuming it was not purposeful) about the even more clueless Protestant church and their dealing with abuse. I, and others, have responded. I have family that have been abused, so I am daily exposed to the suffering, pain, and processing of the abused.”

    Bridget, I read SBC pastor type blogs for years and I can tell you what they say when this subject comes up. This is the #1 concern:

    What if it is a false allegation and you have ruined a man’s life.

    And the rest of the thread will be all about false allegations. It is unbelievable. For a while I thought they were just ignorant of all the sort of abuse that are going on all around us. Then it dawned on me after a long while that they DON”T WANT TO KNOW.

    There you go. You want to know the REAL interpretation of the question?

    I make my living from the church tithes and if an allegation gets out it could mean that tithes drop off. Word will get out we have molesters at our church and we won’t be able to recruit new members.

    That is what they are really concerned about. How do I know? When this became an issue in the SBC with the resolution and they were all scrambling to write policies on this. Guess what the fine print in them said? It said: Report the allegation to the leadership first. They will handle it.

    I think not. They have too much personally invested in the institution to be trusted.

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  75. Patti,

    At the risk of falling into self-justification, let me simply respond by saying that out of respect for my family and myself, I’ve held back countless details here that are not germane of the post. As stated many times, I did not offer this information in a quest to find healing or to solicit help for myself but to illustrate bounded choice and the plight of the “Second Generation Adult” which I talked more about yesterday on my own blog.

    I wish that someone safe like you could have been available to me as a child to serve as an advocate for me. But from my perspective nearly three decades ago, I don’t know what benefit that serves me now, save as an expression of your comfort and empathy. And I am blessed and grateful for that.

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  76. Thanks so much, Cindy, for your thoughts. It has given me a lot to think about…especially these statements:

    *People with poor boundaries usually don’t understand their own behavior, likely don’t ever think about boundaries consciously, and may not even be capable of comprehending much about boundaries if they are preoccupied by their own pain. (When a person’s hemorrhaging from a gun shot in the abdomen and overwhelmed by pain, they quite appropriately become so focused on survival that boundaries seem like a luxury.)”

    Balancing kindness with being taken advantage of…balancing the pressure to get along for the sake of some kind of ?fake? family ideal to be preserved because if you don’t- you are the bad guy…balancing that with taking care of ourselves and our son.

    I guess the big thing for me is that we don’t want our son to learn (by our overlooking and accepting as normal particularly hurtful behavior) that love equals abuse. The fact that she professes to be a Christian adds more dynamics in terms of forgiveness, overlooking sin, instant reconciliation…all those things Christians are supposedly supposed to do.

    Thanks again!

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  77. “I guess the big thing for me is that we don’t want our son to learn (by our overlooking and accepting as normal particularly hurtful behavior) that love equals abuse. The fact that she professes to be a Christian adds more dynamics in terms of forgiveness, overlooking sin, instant reconciliation…all those things Christians are supposedly supposed to do.”

    Yes! I live in this tension all the time. What ARE we teaching our kids? I tell them we don’t have to agree to keep the peace. We can say we disagree but understand you have a different perspective. But often these types try to get to your kids and manipulate them. And tell them they love them when they really want to use them. It is a warped thing but can look like love to a kid.

    There is also another technique to use with especially narcissistic family types that we might have to be around. Cold grey rock. You are boring and indifferent. You don’t care. Narcissists like to keep folks off balance by creating chaos and then it is easier to manipulate them. They LOVE to push your buttons.

    Cold grey rock– It is like thinking your buttons are broken so they cannot be pushed. You do not show anger, joy or any obvious emotion around them. This works over time because they do not like to work hard at manipulating people. They get bored. And they cannot stand the fact you are bored with them. That is not how they get their narcissistic supply.

    BTW: Love is justice and fairness, too.

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  78. Pingback: Which “Attorney David Gibbs” Leads the Lawsuit of Lourdes Torres-Manteufel vs Douglas Phillips – the Father, or the Son? | Spiritual Sounding Board

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