Showing posts with label sexual abuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sexual abuse. Show all posts

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Helping the Sexually-Abused Child

The recent avalanche of comments on the previous post has prompted a sign-in and moderation process, as this blog needs to balance the need for a full and free discussion with that for respectful discourse. Perhaps I will tell my own story soon, but suffice to say this is very personal for me, and I believe all churches—and our society at large—have a huge responsibility to reform in order to protect children.

Each of us should ask: how can we as individuals bring about that reform?

How can we bring to light something so shame-inducing?

How can we identify abusers, and hold them accountable?

How can we "immunize" children against abuse?

As the mother of two beautiful, happy children, I want to believe that because they are well-loved, taught proper boundaries, and allowed autonomy over their bodies, they are unlikely to be preyed upon, and likely to report abuse.

But what can I do to help children who may be dearly loved but are taught, like I was, to submit to elders, to trust and obey, to see themselves as sinful, to forgive all sins and transgressions, to never bring shame on their family?

We have a responsibility to talk about this.

As I tuck in my kids tonight, somewhere a child is crying him or herself to sleep.

The information below is from the Child Molestation Prevention website:

Act to Heal the Sexually Abused Child

Sexual abuse is happening to three million children in the U.S. - that means in an average eighth grade classroom of 30 children, six children are currently being sexually abused.


View child sexual abuse as a health problem.

Be the capable adult who will help a child with this problem.

Protect the child physically. Separate the child from his or her abuser.

Protect the child emotionally:

It is NEVER the child's fault, repeat this fact often to the child.

As a parent, say you will always love the child. Show the child that this is true with words and behavior.

Tell the child that very likely, other children in the classroom have this problem.

Tell the child that very likely the abuser has a health problem, and may need medicine and other treatments.

Let the child know that he or she never has to be in the same room with the abuser - even a father, brother, uncle - if the child doesn't wish it.

Take the child to a therapist who specializes in the treatment of sexually abused children.

Protect the child victim, especially boy victims, from developing a sexual interest in younger children with a second-step to good health. Be sure, with the help of a sex-specific therapist, that a boy victim (especially a boy who has been repeatedly sexually abused) does NOT develop a sexual interest in younger children. Be aware that this sexual interest in younger children might lie dormant until the onset of puberty and then become a health problem for the child.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Judy's Blog

A new blog by an ex-FALC member went online this month, Finding My Way ...Finding My Voice

Only a few weeks old, she's already posted about Laestadianism, the Sami, and sexual abuse.

Reading Judy's posts was a good reminder for me that people are still leaving Laestadianism every day.

I wish Judy well in her journey.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Thinking About

The news that the SRK in Finland is (finally) confessing its culpability in widespread child sexual abuse gives hope that American Laestadian churches will do the same. It may take a strong Laestadian like Dr. Johanna Hurtig to ask the tough questions and refuse to be rebuffed.

A Laestadian and child welfare advocate, Dr. Hurtig was involved in bringing the abuse issues to light. Her perspective is nuanced and in my experience, accurate. As someone who was molested as a child, I know there are many factors that lead to abuse in the church, including a strong emphasis on obedience (children are unable to develop personal boundaries), misognyny (females are responsible for male sexual acts, and female honor is secondary to male honor), and the practice of repentance, in which the victim is required to simply forgive, and the perpetrator is given a blank slate. But there are other factors, too.

When asked "Do you feel that there are characteristics in the movement that can lead to abuse?" this was Dr. Hurtig's response (read the entire interview here):

“I am only starting to ponder the reasons. The experiences of the victims bring out distortions of forgiveness, and the fatigue of large families. Children can sometimes find it hard to get enough attention from adults, and to become conscious of their rights when they grow up in a large group. Exhausted parents are not always capable of sensing their children’s needs and if they are feeling all right.”

“Also the position of women, restrictions linked with sexuality, and the strong community faith can have an effect. When the community itself is seen to be sacred, its structures and practices are not examined in a critical manner. It can hide extreme evil.”

“But matters in the culture, the community, and in the teaching do not cause these cases on their own. An overwhelming majority live healthy and responsible lives. There has to be some other factor, for instance, a distorted way of thinking which sexualizes children, and which is passed down from one generation to the next.”

What do you think? What reforms are needed to protect the vulnerable, some of whom -- as you read this -- are suffering? Is there a Dr. Hurtig among the American Laestadians who will dare speak for them?