A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Are abusers mentally deficient? Are people who suffer abuse mentally deficient?

If someone is diagnosed with a ‘personality disorder’ or a ‘mental health disorder’ – does that mean that person has a deficit? Does it mean that person is deficient? Should that person be excused? Should that person be given compassionate help and assistance?

Mental health professionals use terms like ‘disorder’ and ‘personality disorder’ very inconsistently. When they say a person has a disorder, they do not make it clear whether that person freely chooses to do wrong, or whether that person is prudently and judiciously resisting the wrongdoing done TO them by people who have wronged them.

Let’s think about these terms —  disorder / personality disorder / mental health disorder — these are all terms that are used by the mental health profession.

If the abuser is labelled as having a disorder, it gives the abuser an excuse because the abuser is conceived as merely deficient (but not evil by choice)

If the abuser is said to have a disorder, that gives the abuser an excuse because the abuser is conceived as merely deficient.

It suggests that the abuser has limited freedom of choice because he has a problem which he did not choose to have and which is outside his control.

It suggests he has a pathology that he can’t help — as if he has some disease or genetic defect which he acquired through no fault of his own.

More to the point, it avoids saying what an abuser actually IS:— evil and wicked through his repeated choices to do wrong.

If the victim of abuse is labelled as having a disorder, that conveys the idea that the victim is deficient and at fault

If the victim of abuse is labelled as having a disorder, that conveys the idea that the victim is deficient.

This deficit model sheds no light on all the ways the oppressed / mistreated / violated person has responded to the abuse….and creatively and prudently and judiciously resisted the abuse.

Allan Wade and his colleagues opened my eyes to how the deficit model is biased against victims and favours abusers.

I encourage all readers to review these posts:

Honouring Resistance – by Dr Allan Wade

On Violence, Resistance, and Power in Language – by Dr. Allan Wade

Victims resist abuse in prudent, determined and creative ways

The Myth of “Stockholm Syndrome” and other labels which are used to discredit and pathologize victims of abuse

Respecting & Listening to Victims of Violence — a handbook from Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter

Passages in the bible which plainly say that the abuser plots to do evil

He plans wickedness upon his bed; He sets himself on a path that is not good; He does not despise evil. (Psalm 36:4)

For they cannot sleep unless they do evil; and they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. (Proverbs 4:16-17)

Woe to those who scheme iniquity, who work out evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, for it is in the power of their hands. (Micah 2:1)

The abuser puts his conscience in the deep freeze. He makes repeated choices to ignore his conscience until his conscience is seared and (practically speaking) he no longer has a conscience.

His choices, bit by bit, take him deeper and deeper down the spiral staircase. Dark ahead. Dark behind. With every step down the staircase it gets darker. With every step he self-justifies, rationalises, swells in self-glory, and gloats about hurting others and getting away with it.

His thinking becomes less and less based in reality. He blinds himself more and more, but he is responsible for blinding himself because he chooses to do so. (see my series on Blindness)

When he dies he will face God — then his conscience will be very wide awake…and terrified.

***

Gender stuff:
The words ‘he’ and ‘his’ are used generically in this post. When thinking about your own experiences, switch the gender of the pronouns if need be.

Acknowledgement:
I want to thank the reader / commenter who gave me the spiral staircase metaphor.

20 Comments

  1. Finding Answers

    From the original post “If the abuser is labelled as having a disorder, it gives the abuser an excuse because the abuser is conceived as merely deficient (but not evil by choice)”

    ^That applies to MANY of the abusers in my life, including (but not limited to) most of my “family of origin”, my ex-“husband”, and the evil man in my short-term “relationship”.

    From the original post “If the victim of abuse is labelled as having a disorder, that conveys the idea that the victim is deficient and at fault”

    ^That was constantly applied to me, even before I learned I have C-PTSD and am a high-functioning Asperger individual who thinks in pictures.

    For me, although some damage done to me as a consequence of extreme abuse / a lifetime of abuse is permanent, I consider myself different, not deficient.

    What hurts me now is when I am considered deficient, rather than different.

    • Hi Finding Answers, I think you summed up your position very well with these words:

      “For me, although some damage done to me as a consequence of extreme abuse / a lifetime of abuse is permanent, I consider myself different, not deficient. What hurts me now is when I am considered deficient, rather than different.”

    • Helovesme

      Thank you for that, Finding Answers! I agree with Barb about your fabulous observation.

      I don’t mirror your testimony exactly, but I know what it’s like to be different. And how it’s often treated as if you’re defective. You are lacking in some or many things that separates you from the rest of mankind. They are complete. You are incomplete.

      It’s never flattering to be treated as, or think of yourself as a freak. While there is technically nothing wrong with you, the more others ostracize or exclude you—the more diminished you feel as a human being. You can’t enjoy your uniqueness. You feel ashamed, and that makes it harder and harder to embrace and enhance those qualities. You want to hide them, not share them.

      What’s strange is that history is full of examples of those that thought outside of the box, and it helped society or improved it. They were innovative and inventive. It’s fair to ask where we would be if humanity remained content to passively sit by and never use our imaginations.

      I was bullied a lot at school—-I looked and dressed and acted different. Sometimes I think those around me (even the adults) thought I had no one but myself to blame for either finding ways to blend in, or at least not stand out so much.

      It was as if I was problematic, not the bullies. I stuck out like a sore thumb. The latter were just doing what came naturally to them (finding targets to tease and taunt). I don’t think any of them were mentally unsound; aka had a “disorder” that explained their behaviors.

      If you ask teachers what their biggest problem is that they face in teaching, I think “achieving and maintaining order” would be near the top. You can’t teach a classroom that is out of control, and uncontrollable.

      I WAS the “disorder” that disrupted their sense of order. I think of the word “disorder” as a quality that discourages and defeats orderly thinking. And my “qualities” did just that.

      Their logic seemed to be: get rid of me and order would be returned. The ones doing the disrupting were not the problem. Let’s say they were removed, not me. Someone else would take their place and pick up where they left off. Disorder is defined [represented] by me, not them.

      Proverbs 22:10 says that when you remove the scoffer, conflict ceases. It was the exact opposite for me at school. The same mindset applied to my abusive home life as well.

      I had to be removed from a gym class because the bullying was so intense. After I was removed, I have little doubt that the class functioned far better. Sadly, the same seemed to apply to my home life. One year I think I was deliberately left out of a family vacation in order for them to enjoy it. Both times I was “removed” from those occasions, however, I was just so glad to not be targeted—but many years later I felt the sting of being treated as I had been. Did I really deserve that?

      • “I think of the word ‘disorder’ as a quality that discourages and defeats orderly thinking.”

        Thank you for saying that, Helovesme ; for some reason which I can’t pinpoint, those words of yours really struck me.

        Helovesme also said —
        “I had to be removed from a gym class because the bullying was so intense. After I was removed, I have little doubt that the class functioned far better.”

        Wow. Those teachers were worse than incompetent — they were siding with the bullies.

  2. James

    The disordered use of the term “disorder” by our disordered institutions and professions and their disordered spokespeople and apologists.

    • hahaha!

      Brilliant, James!

      • James

        😉
        A saying I read years ago went something like this, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

  3. Helovesme

    Barb, this is a fabulous topic. Both you and James have done a wonderful job encouraging us to think outside the box and most importantly, seek Him to think as He does, not as we were erroneously taught to think.

    I seem to recall that alcoholism is defined as a disease (not a mental one). Addiction is treated as a sickness, hence the existence of rehab in the hopes of becoming healthy again. It is the far better option than being sent to jail if they commit a crime in which the addiction is believed to have played a part. Rehab can easily be seen as a form of jail (your freedoms are limited) but it is certainly not as severe as a cold, hard prison cell.

    I’m not here to debate the merits of this; just adding its flavor to the discussion! Let me just say that even IF the addiction is truly a sickness, no one would argue that it’s an absolute, foolproof excuse for their choices. And in order to be healed of their addiction, they have to work hard and make radically different changes and choices. So it’s not a picnic, but at the same time there IS the idea of a “deficiency:” they ARE at fault, but SOME of that fault is diminished to do their perceived addiction.

    I only say “perceived” addiction to be careful as to how accurately (or not) these labels may be handed out. Example: a person who chose to drive while under the influence and hurt or killed someone is NOT necessarily an alcoholic and therefore needs rehab, not jail time.

    I WILL say that I wonder if it brings a small measure of comfort: the “addict’s” loved ones can rest a bit easier by believing their loved one is NOT 100% malicious and wicked. The addiction is the culprit, and it’s the substance they are addicted to that is “evil,” not their loved one.

    If those loved ones are family members, their self-interests may be playing a part as well. If their loved one truly is malicious and wicked, has it been “passed down” to them somehow, genetically? Much easier to believe that there is a “sickness” In the family (think of it like cancer), not a generational “curse” of some kind.

    I don’t think I will ever completely understand WHY abusers choose to abuse, because they don’t HAVE to choose to abuse. I understand the mechanics of it as the Bible clearly lays it out. I believe abusers are all cut out of the same basic cloth, but there are variations to them.

    As James said, it will “do your head in” to try to understand their minds or look for exact answers. I seem to recall studies being done on the brains of particularly evil persons (serial killers I believe) after they passed away. Mankind is always curious, always wants to find the reasons “why.” There HAS to be a reason and we’ll be darned if we’ll give up!

    This will do your head in (love that phrase, James!) Has there been any Bible scholar that has nailed down, in exact and explainable words—-WHY exactly Adam and Eve sinned and caused the fall of mankind? How many times have theologians, pastors taken apart that narrative and tried to put it back together so that it FINALLY sings a tune that makes sense?

    In all the sermons I’ve heard, I have NEVER heard it suggested that either Adam or Eve or both of them—-had a “disorder.” A heavier and harsher hand tends to fall on Eve, even though I don’t think I’ve ever heard Adam being completely absolved of his part. But it IS a bit more of the norm to say Eve was tempted by the serpent (who chose her because she was more gullible; prone to being deceived), and then Eve tempted Adam by deceiving him (asserting that women are not only easily deceived, they easily deceive others)

    By the way, let’s just SAY that Eve was “naturally” manipulative due to her gender. Then why do abusers (master manipulators) tend to be labeled as having a “disorder” that causes them to be deficient (aka they cannot perceive the truth or be truthful)? And Eve is given no such room for such a “deficiency?”

    Since most abusers tend to be male, I have to wonder if that plays a serious part in such illogical assertions.

    • “Has there been any Bible scholar that has nailed down, in exact and explainable words—-WHY exactly Adam and Eve sinned and caused the fall of mankind?”

      I have heard it said that of all the doctrines in systematic theology, the doctrine of sin is the most difficult to write about and preach about.

  4. Helovesme

    It is so common for victims to be disbelieved when they dare to attempt to bring abuse to light. It is rare that they are taken seriously. And those initial reactions are often the ones that mean the most. Sometimes those reactions will shift and become favorable to the victim, but not necessarily. And (IMO) it’s possible, but not probable. False hope often kept a victim in an abusive home. False hope of (eventually) being believed, is of no benefit to a victim attempting to establish a life outside of that abusive home.

    I read a comment on Facebook that alluded to this all too common experience. It is strange to immediately disbelieve the accuser, because that means the listener is automatically believing the accused. All the accuser wants is to be taken seriously—even if her claims seem or sound dubious to the listener—it is 100% reasonable to expect to not be accused of being untruthful.

    This analogy came to mind:

    Abuse does not usually manifest itself in a physical form that can be physically seen — meaning abuse is internal pain. It is an unseen brokenness that is 100% as valid as a broken bone despite being unseen to the naked eye. Even IF the abuse has physical evidence to back it up (say, a bruise or a black eye), one can refute it by doubting if the abuser caused it, or asking for proof that he caused it. That is likely impossible unless the abuser makes a full confession, which is not likely. He may make a flimsy one, but it will not take full responsibility. The victim is therefore seen as contributing to the abuse and is deficient in a way that is NOT applicable to the abuser (as Barb described): she is at fault, and he is not.

    This is the actual analogy that came to mind:

    A person has a cast or athletic tape wrapped around their foot and/or ankle. They are using crutches because they cannot put weight on that leg. The person claims it is a broken bone.

    This person rightly requires assistance. Hold the door open for him. Be careful to not bump into him, disrupting his balance. Be mindful of that broken bone; don’t kick it or step on it. Ask if you can do anything to help to ease his plight. Be servant minded, not selfish minded.

    No one would doubt that the broken bone is really broken, right? Not only would you take him at his word, but isn’t there more than enough evidence to back it up: using crutches, a wrapped up leg, an obvious slowness and showing of pain as he attempts to walk or move.

    Actually, you can fake this kind of injury easily. You can buy crutches at a store, you can wrap up your leg, and you can certainly “feign” being in pain. The only definitive proof would be an X-ray that clearly shows the fracture, or an official document from a healthcare professional backing up the man’s testimony.

    A healthcare worker could lie about a broken bone but I do think it would be hard to find an X-ray to back up that lie.

    It would rightly be shocking to demand proof of that broken bone before you would dare to take them seriously: I’m not going to hold this door open for you unless you show me that X-ray. Let me talk to your doctor and get an official document that would hold up in court. I can stand in front of this door all day, by the way. This door will not be opened until you meet my demands.

    Or, how about I kick your leg as hard as possible when you aren’t expecting it? If you really DO have a broken bone, you’ll likely fall down and scream and writhe and become very angry at such an indignity —-and that might be good enough for me.

    This scenario is nearly insane, right? No one in their right mind condones such behaviors!

    By the way, we might ask him in friendly conversation: how did you hurt yourself? Were you in a car accident? Playing sports? Tripped and fell? It would likely not be asked in an interrogative, intimidating way. And it’s unlikely anyone would assume the bone was broken in a failed robbery or attempted murder.

    A victim of abuse comes in and shares her inner brokenness. The listener demands proof; aka an “X-ray” or a witness that will back her up with a sworn testimony or document. She cries and pleads for help, but the listener knows she could be faking those tears. She gets angry and asks why her brokenness is being doubted. In response, the listener starts to “kick” at certain parts of her story to see how she reacts. Does she get even more angry? Does her story start to fall apart, or fray at the edges? Do inconsistencies start to surface?

    Okay, I can see you really are upset, aka broken up inside. How did this happen? And unlike the previous scenario, the tone is menacing and accusatory: what did you do to bring this upon yourself? Most victims would likely leave and never come back. Unlike the broken leg scenario, no one will hold open a door for her, “see” the crutches she is using, and believe that she really in real pain.

    I’ve experienced real pain in my ankle or foot and have had to have X-rays taken. Even if it ended up being a bad sprain or pulled muscle, I would wrap the area up or wear a brace of some kind for support, relief of pain. It’s not always as visible (if at all) as an actual cast, and I never used crutches, but walking was often still an issue. I’d have a subtle limp or deliberately slow my pace. Unless I put on a “big show,” you likely could not visibly see evidence of my pain, and even an X-ray would not confirm my pain because no bones were affected. But I am weak, limited and in pain. I could use a door held open, a sympathetic word of comfort, someone taking note of my brace or medical tape.

    The last paragraph there is more along the veins of my reality—my childhood abuse occurred a long time ago and while the brokenness is still alive and kicking, it HAS had some real time to be dealt with. About five years ago I endured a terrible loss in my family and I learned to scream about my brokenness in private, and mask that pain in public in order to survive.

    I can tell you, however, that even when I DID tell people about my private cries of anguish, my word was not seen as solid. But what other “proof” could I offer them?? Actual buckets of tears? How would that even be possible to present? I could fill a bucket with water and add salt to it and claim they are real tears.

    Loss is so hard because it is like a limb has been amputated. It will never grow back, but you learn to live with it. You never get over it, you find a way to get used to it. But you never get used to it, because you can’t ever forget that once upon a time, that limb existed. And now it’s gone. You learn to live with it, but you are never the same again. Your heart is never whole again; you just accept that hole in your heart will never be filled.

    In public, however, all those limbs are indeed visible! So no one really believes your story, and then the speculations start swirling. You’re not broken, you’re bitter. You’re not in pain, you’re being petty. You’re not sad, you’re selfish. You’re not injured, you’re insulting.

    So this is how a victim of abuse (or if you have endured other tragedies and traumas) is seen as being at fault. “Deficient AND at fault” as Barb put it (caps added by me).

    I’ve made very hard, very deliberate choices to resist and respond to not only my childhood abuse, but also to those that came later in life: they were so toxic that it was either eject them out of my life, or continue to be slowly poisoned by their deliberate choices.

    I got the brunt end of things because they could claim feeling hurt and rejected and seeing me as insensitive and cold. But I started to realize that they were either dangling a box of Kleenex over my head like a whip (do as we say or we’ll cry), OR dangling a whip of disapproval (do as we say or we’ll gossip and grumble behind your back).

    Ironic that my bucket of tears was not taken seriously, but their tears MUST be taken not only seriously, but MORE seriously than mine. It wasn’t a two way street, it was a one way dead end for me, a four lane highway that was not only smooth and well maintained, but went both ways or any way they pleased!

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme commented (26TH MARCH 2020 – 1:31 PM) “…..dangling a box of Kleenex over my head like a whip (do as we say or we’ll cry)….”

      ^That is a brilliant description for guilt-tripping / shaming / etc.

      Worth singling out before I return to thinking-and-pondering mode. 🙂

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme,

      You wrote (26TH MARCH 2020 – 1:31 PM): “In public, however, all those limbs are indeed visible! So no one really believes your story, and then the speculations start swirling…..”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, you wrote: “I’ve made very hard, very deliberate choices to resist and respond to not only my childhood abuse, but also to those that came later in life: they were so toxic that it was either eject them out of my life, or continue to be slowly poisoned by their deliberate choices.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, you wrote: “Ironic that my bucket of tears was not taken seriously, but their tears MUST be taken not only seriously, but MORE seriously than mine…..”

      ^That.

      You wrote (26TH MARCH 2020 – 12:01 PM): “By the way, let’s just SAY that Eve was “naturally” manipulative due to her gender. Then why do abusers (master manipulators) tend to be labeled as having a “disorder” that causes them to be deficient (aka they cannot perceive the truth or be truthful)? And Eve is given no such room for such a “deficiency?””

      ^That.

      You wrote (26TH MARCH 2020 – 11:27 AM): “It’s never flattering to be treated as, or think of yourself as a freak. While there is technically nothing wrong with you, the more others ostracize or exclude you—the more diminished you feel as a human being. You can’t enjoy your uniqueness. You feel ashamed, and that makes it harder and harder to embrace and enhance those qualities. You want to hide them, not share them.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, you wrote: “What’s strange is that history is full of examples of those that thought outside of the box, and it helped society or improved it. They were innovative and inventive. It’s fair to ask where we would be if humanity remained content to passively sit by and never use our imaginations.”

      ^That.

      In the same comment, you wrote: “I WAS the “disorder” that disrupted their sense of order. I think of the word “disorder” as a quality that discourages and defeats orderly thinking. And my “qualities” did just that.”

      ^That.

      James commented (18TH MARCH 2020 – 8:17 PM) “A saying I read years ago went something like this, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”

      ^That.

    • So well said, Helovesme! You painted that analogy perfectly.

  5. Helovesme

    Just wanted to quickly apologize for not saying “thank you” to the kind replies and comments in general—and for not responding to them; I had thoughts running through my mind but did not get time to flush them out.

    I’m in America and things are pretty crazy here right now; so I’m spread thin. I hope everyone is doing all right! I DO hope to get to at least read the comments here (they were rather exceptional) and also move onto Barb’s two most recent posts to read!

    • Finding Answers

      Helovesme,

      My profoundest thanks for taking the time to comment.

      From one of your recent comments, I understood you were busy with assisting others, and I was concerned about (and for) you.

      I knew you are located in the U.S., but I had also considered the possibility you might have travelled very recently (for any number of reasons), either internationally or within the U.S..

      I have been VERY worried / concerned / etc. for your health and well-being.

      Stay safe and be well.

      • Helovesme

        Hi there and thank you for the kind words and concern! Had I known you felt that way I would have posted this much sooner.

        I am physically fine, and I don’t travel much, if at all anymore. Mostly the latter. I am doing my best to assist from where I am. There is a lot of need; it comes and goes of course.

        It’s a pretty emotional time, too, as well as stressful and/or scary, depending on a lot of various circumstances. So that’s another toll to take in, as well as be aware of.

        I don’t want to ask a lot of questions that might not be safe to answer, but I AM praying for all of you.

  6. Helovesme

    All the comments on this page (yes from what feels like a lifetime ago, right?) spoke to me and resonated with me. But Barb’s ONE comment would not leave my mind, and now I think I know why:

    “Wow. Those teachers were worse than incompetent — they were siding with the bullies.”

    First of all, THANK YOU for the compassion, even righteous anger I sensed in your words.

    This is border-line ridiculous-sounding, but I almost wanted to stick up for those teachers in the smallest but still significant sense. Not at all to dismiss Barb’s observation (which I again appreciated), but because a tiny part of me sympathized with those teachers. A very tiny part of me understood why they chose the route that they did.

    Pulling me out of that class meant that the class had a good chance of running more smoothly, unless those bullies became restless and simply found the next best target. I had only mused that the class normalized without me there, but I do not know that for sure.

    Plus, I was HAPPY with what they assigned to me instead—grading papers alone in a classroom (likely the teacher was present). No stomach churning anxiety before AND during the class, not knowing the specific levels of trauma that would await me.

    PLUS—and here’s the best part—no parental involvement required. There are no words to express the massive humiliation I would have felt if my parents had been dragged into this. They would have felt very little for me, I think, but felt massive shame and anger for my making “trouble” for them that they’d rather not know about, or deal with.

    STILL, as Barb pointed out, this was handled all wrong. Again, it worked out very well for the child I was, but as the adult I now am—I’m offended and outraged. They sided with the bullies, and even worse—the adults in charge sided with the bullies who were NOT in charge, but were treated as if they were in charge—they caused suffering but suffered nothing as a result.

    WHY do bullies and/or abusers so easily and effortlessly get away with what they do?

    And here is what I came up with.

    I remember learning about sharks in school. There are many varieties, but they’re not always AS predatory towards humans as you might think. If you avoid them, if you don’t provoke or bother or come off as a threat, they’d likely leave you alone.

    It was NOT their size that made them so fearsome. It was their teeth. They have razor sharp teeth, plus an amazing sense of smell. They can smell a drop of blood from a mile away.

    They are quite merciless with their prey, and it involves those teeth AND viciously shaking their prey as well.

    If you can follow along, abusers and bullies are truly like sharks. I can understand the power they project if you see them as having sharp teeth, razor sharp instincts and an uncanny sense of sensing fear, weakness or other such vulnerabilities.

    As a child I remember wanting to be AS invisible as possible with the bullies. Don’t give them a reason to notice you. Avoid them. Don’t stand out. If you catch their eye, they might unleash those teeth.

    I was a common, ordinary everyday fish that unfortunately had no “school” to belong to. No supportive family or friends or circle to “swim” with.

    I didn’t have much of a “bite” if that makes sense. I would not have considered myself to be a warm, welcoming person, but I had no “killer” instinct, no ability to smell fear and exploit it.

    So the reason I may have felt a bit sorry for those teachers, is that they were not savvy enough to deal with sharp-teethed bullies. Perhaps they lacked the courage to confront those bullies just as I did. So they tried to do what I wanted them to do (at the time)—-get me away from them and give me a way to avoid them.

    Again, a win win situation. Those teachers didn’t have to deal with them, either. Avoid the sharks and you will not be or become prey. Don’t bring in my parents whose sharp teeth were quite known to me, OR the parents of the bullies—yikes! More sharks, perhaps?

    All those parents put together, PLUS the bullies themselves—-would have been a shark tank for those teachers, AND myself a well. I have a feeling we all would have been viciously shaken.

    Would we all have survived? There are survivors from actual shark attacks, but often times the scars remain. Again, those teeth are nothing to be trifled with. Was it worth it to add more wounds to an already wounded child?

    Yes and no. Yes, it may have been worth it in the long run, to know that I was worth it.
    No, in the short run, because I don’t think anyone at the time thought I was worth it.

    It would only have been worth it if anyone, including and especially myself, sincerely believed that I was worth it. I know I didn’t think that way, and I dare to suggest that neither did anyone else.

    • Helovesme, thank you for your wonderful extended analogy of the sharks. It really brings it to life.

      I have a personal story about sharks (real sharks that live in the ocean). Forgive the graphic detail which I have to give to tell this anecdote.

      Many years ago I was in Darwin, Northern Australia. Darwin is on the ocean and the sea temperature is warm because it is in the tropics. Sharks are common in those warm waters but I had witnessed people in Darwin sometimes swimming at the beaches. I wanted to go for a swim. I had my period but I was wearing a tampon. I walked out into the water, the depth got gradually deeper. When the water reached over my hips, I saw a shark’s fin on the surface about 30 metres away. It was swimming straight towards me, fast. I immediately ran back to the shore. I had escaped the shark. I surmised what had alerted it to me: the smell of menstrual blood. I was amazed how quickly the shark smelled the blood.

      Take this further using the analogy that Helovesme painted. When a woman is having her monthly period, she often feels more emotionally labile and vulnerable than normal. The shark smelled the blood; human sharks smell emotional vulnerability in others.

      • Helovesme

        So I’ve had real issues in the area of hormones and menstrual cycles and I can understand the vulnerability factor all too well. Physically AND emotionally.

        I also resent (at this point) how humorized, not humanized, such pain and suffering are. It’s too real and too serious to dumb it down with jokes or jesting.

        And I can very much resonate with your story. I recall learning in high school biology that a shark can smell a drop of blood from a mile away.

        If I recall, this is because of their superior olfactory receptors. It is something that they are born with; It’s not gained by them, it’s given to them. I am thinking that they were designed this way in order to survive in the water world.

        We would do well to be very AWARE that while they may be lower on the food chain, humanity would do well to AVOID them when possible, due to their obvious superior olfactory capabilities.

        Abusers, however, are not born as abusers, they become abusers.

        I consider those bullies to be abusive but I hold back on labeling them as abusers. On that same thread, as an adult I’ve encountered professing Christians who I consider to be abusive, but I again hold back on labeling them as abusers. I don’t quite have the confidence to put that very serious, very significant label on any of them.

        None of them were born with the sharp teeth and olfactory sense that sharks have. They grew the sharp teeth and developed their ability to sense fear and / or weaknesses in others.

        But I DO know this: my goal, as a child and an adult is the same. Avoid them. Don’t try to change them. Don’t try to be their friend. Don’t try to get in their heads. Don’t pity them; that only empowers them.

        I was so afraid of provoking them as a child AND as an adult, that it defined my actions, even my very life. I realized I couldn’t empty the beach to make it safe to swim in, so I simply had to leave those beaches, period.

        The shark story Barb provided was relevant: certain waters are better to avoid if there are sharks, but they should ESPECIALLY be avoided f you are particularly vulnerable.

        Sharks live in the water, not me. It’s their territory, so they make the rules, not me. If abusers are like sharks, they live in their own body of water, and they live by their own rules of entitlement.

        While you don’t attempt to clear the ocean of sharks so you can swim there, but not live there, it’s different for abusers. We DO have the right AND the responsibility to clear them out of the church and any other place where the vulnerable should be free and safe to congregate without fear.

        Schools are designed to be full of youngsters who are there to be young and to learn. I was afraid to go to school nearly every day. It was not a safe place for the vulnerable.

        Abusers think of such places that should be safe as “their” territory, because it’s a happy hunting ground for them. It’s not us that need to change in order to accommodate them; they should not be given ANY kind of accommodation. They should be told to leave and never come back to these “waters.” They are not welcome to swim in these “waters.”

        Asking non-abusers in churches / schools to have a finely attuned shark-based radar to spot AND stop shark-like abusers (and swim to them as fast as that shark swam to you, and cause abusers to run in fear as you did from that shark)—-is a lot to ask, and I understand that. But start at square one—they don’t belong anywhere near the weak, the powerless, the afflicted, and the vulnerable.

        Sometimes I don’t think we’re all in agreement with square one! And we should be.

  7. Finding Answers

    Helovesme commented (20TH APRIL 2020 – 1:32 PM) “So I’ve had real issues in the area of hormones and menstrual cycles and I can understand the vulnerability factor all too well. Physically AND emotionally.”

    ^THAT!! (Omitting MANY details for the protection of myself and other similarly affected individuals.)

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented “I also resent (at this point) how humorized, not humanized, such pain and suffering are. It’s too real and too serious to dumb it down with jokes or jesting.”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Sharks live in the water,….” AND “……If abusers are like sharks, they live in their own body of water, and they live by their own rules of entitlement.”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented “…..But start at square one—they don’t belong anywhere near the weak, the powerless, the afflicted, and the vulnerable.”

    ^That.

    In the same comment, Helovesme commented “Sometimes I don’t think we’re all in agreement with square one! And we should be.”

    ^That.

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