When we hear about abuse within churches these days we often think about sexual abuse by leaders. But there are other forms of abuse that happen in other parts of the world. The following link talks about abuse that happens as a child is accused of being a witch or engaging the demonic world. In our Global Trauma Recovery course, we looked at some of the ways adult women in Ghana are accused of sorcery and who must then flee to witch camps to save their lives. The link below addresses the abuse of children labeled demonic in the DRC.
When you finish reading, you might sigh with relief that this isn’t a problem in the US church. Well, maybe not so fast? If you check out the lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries, there are equally distressing accounts of abuse and cover-up.
DR Congo’s Withcraft Epidemic: 50,000 Children Accused of Sorcery – IBTimes UK.
Over at the Seminary’s blog site, I have a post on the role of pastors with victims of abuse. It is designed to correct the all-too-common failure of church leaders to support (publicly) victims as they go through the legal system.
You can read it here: http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/faculty-blog/96-regular-content/716-pastors-as-chaplains-to-victims-of-abuse
Over at the Biblical faculty blog, I have a post previously posted here. You can read it here. The trick to this antidote? It starts every 5 minutes.
RiftValleyInstitute (@RVInews) tweeted at 5:05 AM on Wed, May 08, 2013: A day-to-day syllabus of #RVI’s Great Lakes Course 2013 by @jasonkstearns: http://t.co/nsXB5PsfS9 Apply online: http://t.co/CvKbc7VdEH (https://twitter.com/RVInews/status/332058734308257792) Get the official Twitter app at https://twitter.com/download Check out the syllabus! Would love to take this class. Interesting that it is going on the week we will be in Rwanda.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to read and publicly respond to an essay by Tatiana Grigorieva, Julia Solomonik, and Maria Joubert entitled, “Symbols in Restoring Moral Self-Awareness in Trauma Psychotherapy” (EMCAPP Journal available here, article begins on p. 145, my response on page 161). Those interested in using art in trauma recovery and/or observing how another culture (Russian) might engage trauma ought to check out the essay.
The essence of the essay addresses the problem of “skins” and “shifts”– unhealthy and healthy coverings used to deal with dissociation. The authors describe an art project intervention where clients symbolic “shifts” or healthy coverings. What I am most interested in hearing from readers is how they might react to the fairy tale used to illustrate the skin/shift concept. As with many fairy tales, it is a rather grim and grotesque story of Prince Lindworm, born as a serpent, rejected, and aggressively eating young women offered to him as wives. The Prince is rescued from his sorry state by one virtuous maiden. I’ll leave the details to those who wish to read the story in the above link.
My question: Do you find this story to be helpful? Potentially triggering for those who experience deep shame? Is it necessary to have such a vivid illustration in order to connect with the depth of pain trauma survivors experience? I personally like the artistic activities but wonder, as noted in my comments on p. 161, at what point in treatment should this kind of thing be undertaken?
Our six-year-old cocker spaniel has learned a new trick. After having lived with us for over 1.5 years, she has figured out that she can open the pull-out cabinet drawer that contains our trash. This only happens when we leave her penned in the kitchen. I suspect we left some wonderful smelling meat scraps in it one night and the desire enabled some higher level problem-solving skills (she’s not the brightest dog in the world). Now that she has learned how to do this, we’ve taken to bungy cording the drawer. A few nights ago, we forgot and came home to a mess of coffee grounds and torn up trash all over the floor.
Interestingly, our dog responds in quite a predictable manner. Normally, when we come home, she is at the door to greet us by dancing around and putting her front paws on our legs. But each time we have come home to a mess she has made, we see her cowering and ready to bolt. The last time we came home to this mess, she squeezed out the door before we could get into the house so she could run away. No, we don’t beat her. She knows she has done wrong.
I’ve wondered what goes on in her head during the time she is into the trash. Does she know it is wrong? When does she start feeling bad. The moment we arrive? Has she been cowering and feeling guilty as soon as she spreads trash around? One more funny behavior: when we send her to her crate (in the basement) for a time out, she goes right away. But then, after a bit, we see her outside of her crate but sitting patiently. Then, she’s at the bottom of the stairs looking to see if we will let her up. Then, her front paws on the first step, waiting in anticipation that we’ll say all’s forgiven.
And this relates to addictions how?
Most individuals who struggle with an addiction have the strong feeling of guilt even as they partake. Guilt rarely is enough to stop us from acting out. Even knowing that we may well be caught does not stop us as much as you might think it would. The desire to have what is right at our fingertips can easily overwhelm all sensibilities and logic–that will race back to us as soon as we finish partaking or as soon as someone finds out. Our initial response may include running away. Guilt and shame prevail for a time and then we creep back into life hoping that the troubles we have caused will blow over and life will return to normal.
Of course, we are not dogs and so we must use the gifts God has given us (a brain capable of higher order planning, the Spirit) to learn from our mistakes and misdeeds. We can
- remove ourselves from proximity to the addictive agent
- plan for accountability, especially during vulnerable times
- examine the roots, shoots, and fruits of our addictions with a trusted friend/counselor
- remind ourselves of the power to say no and the foolish, false promises of addiction
For more of what I have written about addictions and interventions search the word in the seach box at the top of this page.
The Trauma Center at JRI and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network are providing 3 free webinars (for CE credit) on the topic of polyvictimization and diagnosis, developmental issues, and the judicial system. Speakers are Julian Ford (UConn) and Bessel van der Kolk. Each webinar counts for 1.5 CEs.
See OVC Speaker Series Flyer for specifics on who, what, when, and how you get on.
This afternoon I will be speaking to pastors, ministers, elders, and key ministry leaders of the Bible Fellowship Church denomination at their annual conference. Their website states they have over 65 churches and over 10,000 in worship on a given Sunday.
It is a wonderful opportunity to talk about a difficult subject: abuse in the church.
We would like to believe that it happens elsewhere. But the church is not free from those who would harm children. The church has never been free from matters of abuse. The Apostle Paul takes a church to task for putting up with what sounds like abuse and incest. Thankfully, the evangelical church is waking up to the need to educate leaders about sexual abuse and how to care for both victims and perpetrators.
If you are interested in seeing what I will be talking about, here’s the slide show: Abuse In the Church
NEED MORE RESOURCES?
If you are new to this blog, use the search engine to find many other posts about preventing and responding abuse in the church. Or, click the image to the right for a 5 plus hour DVD on this very topic. Or check out www.netgrace.org for excellent resources and help on dealing with abuse in Christian settings.
In light of the recent bombing in Boston, I thought I would use today’s post as a timely book note. Will van der Hart (Anglican vicar) and Rob Waller (Psychiatrist) have written a small but helpful book entitled, The End of Worry: Why We Worry and How to Stop (2011, Howard Books). What makes this book interesting is the fact that Will freely discusses his own struggle with worry, made more evident after the 2005 bombings in his city of London. While the bombings were the final straw to panic attacks, Will also explores some of the early roots of worry in his life.
If you struggle with worry, there are several reasons why this little book might be a comfort to you.
- The authors write as if they know worry and fear.
- It is not, as they say, “triumphalistic.” Meaning, they do not believe the right beliefs/prayers/faith will automatically solve the problem
- Worry is portrayed not only as a spiritual problem but also explored through lenses of psychology, biology, and habit formation.
- It is written to the worrier, not about the worrier
- Each chapter gives you opportunity to engage in a few key exercises
- They differentiate between solvable worry and floating worry (and the tyranny of the “what ifs…”)
- Their solutions are practical but do not pretend to be simplistic. In fact, they devote some space to the notion that you should “stop trying not to worry.” Sound radical?
- A number of their solutions are helpful for those who ruminate (OCD, scrupulosity)
The book sits firmly in the cognitive behavioral model of intervention. Therefore, much of it encourages readers to explore belief systems about self and world and to begin challenging faulty thinking and to work to replace with more appropriate cognitions, meditations, and self-talk. CBT is not the only therapeutic model but offers anxious people something to do.
If you would like to work through a book that describes the process of worry and perfectionism and then gives you some ideas to examine and change your own struggle, this might be the book for you.
*I received a free copy of this book without any obligation to write this post.
Friends of mine at Wheaton College’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute are offering a 4 day seminar for those who want to help their church respond to local and international disasters. The goal is to prepare your church to be disaster resilient and to respond well to needs in your community. If your church is desiring to have an effective disaster ministry, you should attend this training. HDI is able to bring together theological discussions, leadership training, and best practices for psychological first aid.
- June 4-8, 2013, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
- $175 (if you register by May 1) for 4 days of training
- Contact: Linda Bretz, email@example.com
Check out this HDI Disaster Leadership Workshop (2) for details and registration.