Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"This doesn't affect me...I'm not directly involved"

So I'm sitting here on this rainy Tuesday morning still trying to figure out some of the responses people have to abuse situations. I really am trying to understand. It seems like a lot of times there is just this apathetic dismissal. "It doesn't affect me. I'm not directly involved." If someone who has been torn apart and victimized "doesn't affect you" as a Christian, then I must have just completely misunderstood the Bible. What, are the people living in third world countries and gutters the only ones who need to be ministered to? Or maybe it's just that people living in third world countries and gutters have physical needs so you can feel good about donating a can of soup and a blanket without getting your pure mind dirty with the stories of pain and hurt. Maybe that's a little harsh but I'm really not sure if it is or not anymore. And this argument leads into the "I'm not directly involved" argument. Okay, fine. It sounds clean enough when used in reference to the Tina Anderson case, but what about in the circles you run in? What about the people at your workplace or in your neighborhood? Look at the statistics...seems to me there's a pretty good chance that you *do* know someone directly who's been abused. But that's just it...that's the point of the whole "I'm not directly involved" argument. You won't *get* involved. Because you'd rather sit on your high horse and spout off comments about "not having all the details" or "I wasn't there so I don't know what really happened so really it's just between you and God". I guess that last one really comes from a self righteous perception that you've got the Bible all figured or that you've arrived. Personally, I think a lot of the Bible is pretty hard to comprehend between the laws in the Old Testament and passages like Romans 9 or how Jesus and God can seem so very different sometimes. But I guess when I think about it, most of the Christians I've talked to about those passages have been pretty dismissive of those complicated passages, too. I've openly asked a lot of my questions just to see what others are thinking and see if there's something I can learn and instead most of the time I get responses like "Well, let's just be glad that Jesus came and we aren't under the Old Testament law anymore" or "God's character doesn't contradict itself". Okay, that may be true but that really doesn't make that phrase or those passages any harder to understand. That's a bit of a tangent, though.

I'm just becoming increasingly disturbed by the defenses I hear surrounding why people don't want to "get involved" with the Tina Anderson case. That's just it. It's really not about the Tina Anderson case. In fact, that's the entire reason Tina was willing to go through with this case. Because she realized this was a common issue and she hoped her case would bring these situations to light and at least stimulate a healthy desire to learn what to do WHEN you're faced with the issue of abuse. When, not if. Because you will be in one way or another. It may eventually happen to some of you. It may eventually happen to your brother or sister or son or daughter. And then what will you do when people start handing you the same generic excuses not to care that you handed out about this current scandal?

And that's just it. Most of the people involved with the Do Right BJU movement have either been abused or known someone close to them who was abused. This isn't about hating Bob Jones and being "bitter" towards them. This is a group of people who have heard all these same excuses in their personal life and they saw an opportunity in this case to speak out against the wrong responses to abuse. It's disturbing, the number of people so quick to come to the defense of BJU. Why can't you use the same level of passion to defend those who have been broken down and fed lies about their worth? Sure, you "don't really want to get involved" and you think it's pointless to throw "flaming attacks on the internet", but if the topic comes up in person you're really quick to jump to the defense of BJU. But I guess that doesn't really matter because when pressed as to whether you've actually looked into any of the information surrounding the case OTHER than the "Christian hating 20/20 episode" (which you really only watched so you could be filled with righteous indignation....) you start talking about not having time or an annoyance that someone would even ask you to use your valuable time to look into this more thoroughly. You don't have time to look into the Tina Anderson case? Fine. Don't. At least do yourself a favor and look into some of this:

Rape Myths:

And in case you're too lazy to copy and paste a link, I'll save you some time with some highlights:

  • 1 out of 4 women is sexually assaulted at some point in her life.
  • 1 out of 6 men is sexually assaulted at some point in his life.
  • Every 15 seconds a woman is beaten by her husband or boyfriend. (FBI Uniform Crime Report, 1991)
  • 2-4 million women are abused every year. (American Medical Association)
  • Approximately 25% of all women in the U.S. will be abused by current or former partners some time during their lives. (American Medical Association)
  • 82.8% of sexual assaults occur before the victim reaches the age of 25.
  • 78% of sexual assault victims were assaulted by someone they knew.
  • Over 66% of sexual assault victims reported NO visible physical injuries.
  • Fewer than 20% of crimes of sexual violence are reported to the police.
  • Only 2% of reported sexual assaults have been determined to be false reports.
  • .1 in 8 college women is the victim of rape during her college years. 1 in 4 is the victim of attempted rape
  • 95% of these rape victims did not report the rape to officials.
  • 25% percent of women were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, partner or date during their lifetime.
  • 84% of the women knew the men who raped them; 57% were on dates.

So looking at those statistics, chances are pretty good you currently know someone who's been abused. If you're making flippant dismissive judging comments about this case, do you think they're going to talk to you? I'd also like to point out that of all the crimes, sexual assault has the SMALLEST PERCENTAGE of false reports. 1 in 8 women are the victims of rape just in college years alone. But I guess it's easy to ignore that statistic and look the other way when you live in the bubble, isn't it?

Why Women Stay In/Return to Abusive Relationships:

Sometimes, as a result of abuse, a woman’s self-esteem is so damaged that she lacks the confidence to maintain independence from her abuser. Often, women who leave abusive relationships have trouble earning an adequate income or finding safe and affordable housing. Women may feel compelled to return to abusive relationships because they lack resources and support.
Sometimes, an abused woman's own family members and friends place the blame on her, perhaps because they assume that she somehow caused the abuse. In some cases, the woman's family and friends may act as if the abuse is bearable or deny its existence altogether. If the abused woman is married, friends and family may try to talk her out of divorce, often citing religious reasons.
According to statistics, the average abused woman leaves her abuser seven to eight times before she leaves permanently. Victims of abuse often live in a state of fear, confusion, and overwhelming sadness. 

Blaming the victim:

Rape is the only crime in which the victim must prove his or her own innocence. Victim blaming is holding the victim responsible for what has happened to her/him. One way in which victim blaming is perpetuated is through rape myths. Rape myths allow us to blame the victim and are often common false beliefs.


Personalities forged in an environment of early abuse: Children who are abused by people they are close to learn to equate love with violence and sexual exploitation. They have not learned to create safe and appropriate boundaries with people, and they grow up unable to see themselves as having any right to choice. Their self-image is so damaged that they may see nothing wrong with even extremely abusive treatment of them by others. It is seen as unavoidable and the ultimate cost of love. Some women sexually abused as children may believe that their sexuality is all they have of any  worth.

The effect of trauma: It is true that some people may have a series of violent partners, or encounters with rapists. I had a friend who was subjected to rape three times in two years . A family member - echoing typical victim-blame - sneeringly asked me "why she kept leaving herself open to it. - wouldn't you think that if she went through it once, she should have known how to steer clear of creeps?" This reflects a lack of knowledge about the workings of trauma: While some survivors may be overly cautious about everybody, other traumatized people actually have a harder time forming accurate assessments of danger (8). The above question also absolves the perpetrator who falsely seeks to engage the trust of a trauma survivor in order to abuse them.

Traumatic Bonding: Judith Herman writes about the tendency of abused children to cling tenaciously to the very parents who hurt them (9) Perpetrators of sexual abuse may capitalize on this tendency by giving their victim the only sense of specialness, or being loved, that they have ever had. Bessel van der Kolk tells us that people subjected to trauma and neglect are vulnerable to developing the tendency to traumatically bond with those who harm them. Traumatic bonding is often behind the excuses of battered women for the violence of their partners, and for the repeated returning to a batterer (10).



PTSD changes the body's response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters).
1. "Reliving" the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity
  • Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
  • Repeated upsetting memories of the event
  • Repeated nightmares of the event
  • Strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event
2. Avoidance
  • Emotional "numbing," or feeling as though you don't care about anything
  • Feeling detached
  • Being unable to remember important aspects of the trauma
  • Having a lack of interest in normal activities
  • Showing less of your moods
  • Avoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event
  • Feeling like you have no future
3. Arousal
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Startling easily
  • Having an exaggerated response to things that startle you
  • Feeling more aware (hypervigilance)
  • Feeling irritable or having outbursts of anger
  • Having trouble falling or staying asleep

    I apologize if I've been a little more biting in this post.  I just don't think people understand how bad these arguments sound and how worthless they make people who have been abused feel. They've already been told they have no self worth by their abuse and then it seems that most people are happy to confirm that belief by casually dismissing the idea of educating themselves at least about the basics surrounding abuse. People won't take the time to educate themselves on the effects of abuse, but they DO have time to spout off a thoughtless comment or question like "She always seemed okay" or "Why is this just coming forward now?" or "Why did she open the door for him the second time?" Please understand that most of the biting tone in this blog is just sarcasm because it really is laughably pathetic when people won't even take the time to educate themselves about the basics surrounding an epidemic like abuse/rape/domestic violence.

1 comment:

  1. Ahem to that! People need to shame themselves instead of shaming the victims.