Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thoughts on abuse

I am finally getting around to taking the Diocese of California's online abuse prevention program, Shield the Vulnerable, and I think it's very good. Of course, I automatically approve of programs that allow me to stay home and do things while wearing slobby sweats and drinking copious amounts of tea and/or hot chocolate is OK by me. But even aside from the sloth factor, the information is helpful and well-presented.

Which means I'm a bit of an ingrate to quibble, but I was struck by this one point:

"Children seldom discuss being mistreated because they consider it 'a secret.' Some are trying to protect their parents or family; others are threatened, shamed, or shocked into silence; some are afraid of not being believed or of being punished."

The one thing I would add is that they may also not discuss it because they don't know they're being mistreated. Because for them it's normal. It's the environment and treatment that they know.

One of the reasons I suspect this of being the case is because of the book I recently read (because I do read books from time to time), The Blind Side. Michael Oher, the focus of the book, is brought up in horrible circumstances and yet he and his brothers spend a year avoiding CPS workers so they won't be taken away from their mother and placed in a foster care situation. Partly because the first foster care placement they were in was so awful (the foster mother would sit on them as punishment), and partly because, well, they're kids and what they know is in some ways what is most comfortable.

There's some greater truth in this, about how hard it is to change, about how just because it's uncomfortable doesn't mean it isn't better for us, about how hard it is for us to perceive our own situation, and (again I am drawn back to the thought) how things are not simple.

So that's what I'm thinking about on this Advent morning. And a prayer to go with it.

Most merciful God, whose beloved Son was abused and rejected, we pray for those who suffer abuse from those who should love them, who are vulnerable to those who should protect them, and who are neglected by those who should provide for their needs. Open our eyes to see them, wisdom to perceive their suffering, and strength to support and help them, for the sake of your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.

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