Victim Is Not A Bad Word

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Up until a few years ago, those of you who knew me, especially in high school and college, it is highly unlikely that you knew my story.  I am one of the many; one of the countless survivors of sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence.

This week I was accused by someone on Facebook of being a perpetual victim.  So, I wanted to take sometime and share my experience and how society views us.  How we are shamed, judged and in some cases shunned.   I am a victim. No shame there; it’s true. A victim is someone harmed, injured or destroyed as a result of a crime. That fits for me, and to claim otherwise would negate my experience and deny the damage of the sexual abuse I endured for years as a child or my rape at 15 or my many years of domestic abuse.  Victim. While it is not my primary identity, it will always be a part of who I am.

This is nothing new to me, he was not original and these kinds of comments just bounce right off me these days.  Unfortunately, we live in a society in which we are often told that we are at fault, that there is something wrong with us, we as women are taught that our bodies are here for the pleasure of others, we are judged by our appearance and shamed into keeping our trauma a secret because no one wants to hear it.  We are afraid that no one will believe us even if we seek justice or help.

It is very common when you are involved in activism, speaking engagements or the fact that you speak openly about overcoming your struggles, you will be more likely than not be accused of having a “victim complex or mentality.”

So should we stop talking about oppression and trauma in order to just “get over” it?  To make society comfortable?

“Victim” – has become a word used to hurt:

It has been my personal experience that sometimes when people want to hurt me, their default mechanism is to call me a “victim.”  This is not an empty word.  Before you call someone a victim please remember that the memories of the trauma we have been through stay inside our psyche always. We want and desire to be 100% strong as adults but we feel hurt sometimes and we CAN regress. Then we try to soothe ourselves somehow so we can be our adult selves and start over again.  Believe me, It is not easy to put your self out their day after day, being vulnerable in order to effect change and help others who are struggling and going through pain.  The best medicine I have found is to be able to come alongside someone and say “I know what you are going through.  In order to do this we MUST tell our stories and be vocal about what has happened in our lives.

On a recent TV commercial, a famous athlete admitted that he had been suffering from a debilitating disease for years but had never told anyone. Then he said, “I’m not saying I am a victim, but I just want you to know there is treatment that works.” He then went on to sell the product he was endorsing. The fact that he needed to make the point that he was not a victim upset me. He had just admitted that he had been a victim of this disease for years. Why did he feel compelled to let us know he was not a victim?

The answer I am afraid, is actually really quite simple. He probably said it because he was afraid that he would be perceived as a victim and it was going to tarnish or ruin his reputation as a famous athlete. He said it because he wanted to make it clear that just because he had this disease it didn’t mean he wasn’t still big and tough and strong. He said it because like so many other Americans, being perceived as a victim is synonymous with being seen as being weak and being a loser.

It made me wonder when did “victim” become a bad word? Merriam-Webster’s definition of victim is a person who has been attacked, injured, robbed, or killed by someone else or someone who has been harmed by an unpleasant event (such as illness or accident). There is nothing either stated or implied in the definition that indicates weakness.

More important, when did being perceived as a victim become a bad thing?

Yes, I am a survivor, but completely ignoring my victim hood minimizes the damage and pain that came about as a result of my perpetrator’s crimes. There is no way to make what they did OK. “Victim” is a reminder that he wasn’t just a good guy who made a mistake. He was a depraved criminal who sexually abused a little girl. I was that girl. I was his victim.

When the Malaysian flight 370 disappeared a few years ago, we saw the families of the assumed dead wailing and crying. Some were expressing anger. This was a very human and a very appropriate response to the loss of a loved one, especially the loss of a loved one in such a devastating way. But many Americans were critical of such public displays of emotion. It made us feel uncomfortable. In this country we are supposed to see the bright side of things.

I think what is really going on here is that our hero-worshiping, optimistic, “Eye of the Tiger” mentality is robbing us of our very humanity. It starts in childhood when even small children are taught to “suck it up” and be strong instead of allowing themselves to cry or feel their pain. It is especially drummed into the minds of boys.

It shows up in the numbers of children who are bullied because they are perceived as weak.  It shows up in the way we respond to victims of bullies. We tell them “don’t let them see you cry” or “don’t let this get you down” instead of acknowledging to them how frightening, humiliating, and damaging it is to be taunted, pushed, or beaten by those who are bigger or stronger than we are.

We have become a culture of people who despise weakness when we see it. In that way we are all bullies to one degree or another. Think about it. Who are the school yard bullies?  Experience shows us that bullies are usually children who have been abused themselves in either their home or elsewhere. These are kids who are angry because someone has been hurting them. And they feel humiliated and shamed because they have been victimized. So what do they do with their anger? They can’t take it out on their abusers, who are usually adults or older children who are much stronger or who have more power and authority than they do. So they take their anger out on those who are smaller and weaker than themselves. And what do they do with their overwhelming shame at having been overpowered? They punish those who remind them of their own weakness and vulnerability.

It is no wonder that we are raising yet another generation of bullies and abusers. Unless we turn this thing around and make it OK to admit when we have been victimized, admit when we feel bad, and not allow other people to shame us for it, the cycle will continue.

After all, in our society a woman who has been emotionally or physically abused by her husband, she must have asked for it in some way or she is exaggerating. Even if we don’t blame her for being abused, we blame her for staying. After all, if someone abuses you, you need to just walk away, right? If you don’t, you deserve what you get.

Similarly, if someone is being sexually harassed or bullied at work by her boss, she should be strong enough to walk away and find another job, right? If you have any self-respect at all you don’t stay in a situation where you aren’t valued or treated with respect.  Never mind the fact that she lives paycheck to paycheck, supporting her family as a single parent.

As a society, we make all these assumptions about people who are victimized because we want to hold onto the fantasy that we all have choices, that life is always good, that all it takes to get out of a bad situation is courage and determination. We don’t want to admit that there are times when we have no choice—times (think child abuse or that single mother) when we have to take the mistreatment that others are putting on us just to survive.  It is so much easier to believe that all it takes for the poor or homeless is to step out of their circumstances that they find themselves in and “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” We point to the few who were able to overcome tremendous obstacles and we say, “See, she did it. That means you can too.” We want to say stop your crying, stop feeling sorry for yourself and just move on.”

Again I ask, what price do we pay for this attitude?

How do you imagine that person feels? Like a failure, of course. Like a loser. She thinks, “If she can do it why can’t I?”  Why can’t I overcome my rape or sexual assault?  Why do I still cringe when a strange man comes up behind me? Or every time I close my eye’s I see my rapist face.

We expect instant recovery!  We expect nothing less.  We not only ignore and blame victims but we expect them to recover from their adversity in record time, usually on our time table. In our culture we are supposed to “get over” adversity and “move on,” and many people don’t have much tolerance or patience for those who don’t or perceive that they don’t.  It is funny to me, when someone who has not been touched by trauma tells me I should be farther along in my recovery.

What I want people to understand is this;  It takes time to recover from trauma or adversity, and healing can’t really take place until there is a complete acknowledgment of what actually transpired and how it made the victim feel.

Please know that Abuse and other forms of trauma cause victims to feel helpless and powerless, and these feelings can lead to feeling humiliated. In this country we tend to believe that the way to recover from adversity is for victims to deny these feelings of helplessness and powerlessness and instead focus on becoming powerful and successful.

Victims Need Validation

It is very important for everyone, but especially children, to have their feelings and experiences validated by others. Lack of validation will result in to feelings of guilt that somehow it was their fault and shame in reaction to their negative experiences. Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s internal experience as valid. When someone validates another’s experience, the message they send is: “I understand your feelings. Not only do I hear you, but I understand why you feel the way you do. You’re not bad or wrong or crazy. ”

Just as I was shamed by a friend (who really does not know me at all). Instead of receiving validation, most victims are ignored, rejected, or judged. Instead of being encouraged to express their feelings, most are shamed into silence, we can’t admit that we are afraid to hear them, afraid to face the fact that this kind of trauma really exists.

Worse still, many have their feelings and perceptions attacked, dismissed, or question the reality of a person’s feelings. This is done through denying, ridiculing, ignoring, or judging another person’s feelings. Regardless of the method, the effect is clear: this makes the invalidated person feelings somehow “wrong.” Showing compassion for someone can be a form of validation.

By continuing to blame victims, we all get to avoid facing up to our own acts of inappropriateness, indifference, and cruelty. If we continue to hold to the ideas that it is always the victim’s fault, or if we can convince ourselves that there really are no victims and even when people are victimized they should “just get over it,” we can continue to avoid looking at how we have hurt others and how it has affected them.

We desperately have to get over our hatred of victims. We have to stop pretending that victimization doesn’t exist in our society. We have to admit that when a person is victimized—whether by abuse, by poverty, by racism, or by any other form of trauma or adversity, that person is changed, at least temporarily. We must allow that person to cry and to scream and to feel his or her pain. To tell their story and believe them. That person desperately needs our compassion for his or her pain and suffering. And perhaps more importantly, that person needs validation that yes, she was abused, yes he did lose his house, yes she was raped, yes she is living in poverty. And yes, it hurts, it is painful, it is debilitating to experience these traumas, these assaults, these inequities.  And it’s ok to not be ok.

So together, as a society let’s stop making “victim” a dirty word. Let’s open our minds to the truth of their situation. There are people in this world who are victimized and they have a right to have that victimization recognized and affirmed. They have a right to feel their pain and anger and helplessness. They have a right to the time it takes for them to heal. They have the right to not be pushed to “get over it” or to be grateful it wasn’t worse. They have a right to not be further shamed because they aren’t getting over it or seeing the bright side in our timeline we have made up in our heads.  And perhaps most important, they have a right to our compassion, our care, and our kindness.

So, as for that man who felt the need to tell me “As long as one chooses to be a victim there can be no Victory”  I have never met a victim of abuse, rape, or assault that chose to be a victim now or ever.  We don’t share our stories to give you ammunition in your arsenal to hurt us or anyone else who has faced adversity.  We share our stories to inspire, educate and come along side other victims of trauma.  To usher in healing and hope.

To my fellow survivors, know that you are not alone. You will have days where it feels like it is all too much, but you have to believe that what you have been through is something you can handle and that asking for help will never make you weak. You are no longer a victim, you are now a survivor and that is a powerful thing.  Never again will we be defined by what happened to us or what people may say.

And to those who fail to understand, I am not sorry for the words I have written here, for my story, for living my life to the best of my ability. I will not apologize for calling people out for their inappropriate behavior, for bringing awareness and educating the public on what it is like to be called a victim.  The choices I have made are my own and I stand by them as I heal and become a stronger woman.

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When The Church Prefers Perpetrators

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Something is wrong when the church protects perpetrators and marginalizes victims. In recent months, we’ve seen a bit of the underbelly of covering up sexual abuse, demanding victims forgive and forget instantly for the sake of the poor offenders whose lives might be ruined if they were found out. (See this article at Christianity Today that summarizes a recent case).

(Note: This post isn’t about the Sovereign Grace Ministries situation particularly as much as it is about any church that listens more to the perpetrators than to the victims. I believe this is a universal problem.)

Cover up that exalts the “ministry” or a ministry personality over the well being of one who has been sinned against does not represent the Jesus I follow. 

Continue reading

http://www.marydemuth.com/perpetrators/

The Ultimate Sacrifice

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I witnessed the worst and the best of humanity last night.  I was on a call as an advocate on a child abuse case.  A 14 year old girl had called the police to report her step father for sexually abusing her. This had been going on for 7 years.  Her mother had threatened her continually, if she ever told anyone she would be thrown out of the house. During the interview the young girl was asked why she decided to call the police now she said “because my little sister just turned 7 the same age when he started molesting me, I wanted to protect my sister.”

This young girl had endured horrible abuse at the hands of her step father for years, Threats from her mother, no emotional support.  Yet, the love she had for her sister caused her to risk everything to save her.  When the stepfather found out what she had done and why, he responded..”I would never touch my biological child, I have morals” really you have morals?  He was arrested and the mother decided her abused daughter could no longer live under her roof.  she would be going to her grandmothers house to live.  At the end of the night about 3am, I was sitting in the sheriffs suv crying my eye’s out and looked over and the big strapping deputy was doing the same thing.

While thinking about what a loving sacrifice this young women made for her sister. I thought about the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  Jesus paid the highest price for you and me because He loves us more than we could ever imagine. He was put to death by being crucified on a cross, and his body was laid in a tomb behind a stone. He lived and then died rejected and alone. Like a rose He was trampled on the ground. Jesus took the fall and thought of you ABOVE ALL!

Jesus saw sacrifice as something beautiful because it would bring us life.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” 1 John 3:16.

Jesus’ calls us to voluntarily lay down our lives as He did–to sacrificially love people even when it’s uncomfortable or painful. What if you saw sacrifice as a beautiful word?

Just as this young girl sacrificed all for her sister, sacrificed her home, her security. This is real love.  I pray for this young women, I pray when we follow up that she comes to know Jesus as her savior.  That his transforming power will heal her heart.  I know this young women changed my life with her sacrificial heart and bravery.

 

 

 

 

Thriving After Your Storm

 

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As, I look back on this year, I am amazed at the goodness of the Lord.   And I’ll tell you why.

My son was married, to a beautiful christian girl.  My oldest daughter is engaged to her long time love.  My youngest is in the final stages of wedding preparations.

I have a wonderful fulfilling job working as an advocate for women and children.  I find myself strong, happy and more peaceful than I ever thought possible.  At the beginning of the year I was diagnosed with cancer…after radiation treatments and medication, I am doing better than I should be.

At the beginning of this year, I heard the Lord speak to me as I sat in church with my head bowed in prayer.

I felt God speak louder and clearer than I had ever heard before. a short message that held life-altering repercussions. “Go and share!”

I became overwhelmed with emotion. I had stop speaking to women a year and a half ago due to the affects of my divorce and past abuse. I was amazed that God had spoken to me about this at all, but even more so at the three words I heard. Go and share? Go and share what?

Then it hit me. Fear immediately overwhelmed me and I sank into the pew, trembling at what I thought God might be asking. I began to question God, “Surely You can’t mean share my past, Lord. I thought you wanted me to stop sharing? I don’t want to continually relive this hurt….Surely You don’t mean go and share what I prefer to keep secret.” Yet, that is exactly what He meant. And I was full of fear.

Return home and tell how much God has done for you. So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him. Luke 8:39

The man who was healed from demon possession in the scripture above experienced similar feelings. He was a tormented man that lived as an outcast for many years, naked and alone in the tombs of Gadara, near Galilee. When he saw Jesus, he fell to his knees and shouted at the top of his voice, begging for mercy from God. Jesus commanded the demons to leave him and then cast them into a herd of pigs that rushed down the steep bank into a lake and drowned. The man was healed physically, but more importantly, spiritually.

He was so overwhelmed with gratitude for what Jesus had done, he begged to travel with Jesus and stay by His side. But Jesus had other plans. Instead, Jesus told him to go and share his story. And he did.

What had once been a burden to bear became a powerful story of holy transformation. This man’s past, and the healing he experienced, became the foundation of a purpose in life that he would have never imagined — living his life as proof of the life-changing power of Jesus.

This man’s story became a testimony he was willing to share with others. How many people believed in Jesus and are now spending eternity with Him simply because this former demon-possessed man willingly allowed his terrible past to become a story of redemption and purpose?

People can cannot deny, dispute or ignore God’s transformational power in someone’s life. Our stories of pain, adversity and overcoming in Christ are meant to serve as a testimony of God’s faithfulness and power, evidence that God really can take what the devil meant for evil and use it for good.

I’ve since learned it is always God’s desire for us to go and share our stories, whether we want to or not.

God never wastes our pain. Only we do. God has a plan a great purpose and a beautiful future for all who believe in Him. Not despite our past, but because of it.

For years I’ve believed in, written about and spoken about the promise found in Jeremiah 29:11, which says “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  Do I still believe it?

During the year of 2016 – which honestly had felt much like a disaster – I had endured one of the most difficult, heartbreaking and horrific storm I’ve ever had to go through.   But I have to admit there have been times when the burden felt too heavy to bear and an overwhelming deluge of emotions seemed to be controlling my mind and my life. I was not only dealing with a divorce, but the painful memories of years of childhood sexual abuse.  There were days when I felt weak, inadequate and hopeless, despite leaning into God as hard as I could.  The future I once thought was secure and all planned was now so uncertain, in addition to the personal sorrow of being catapulted into the unwanted roles of a single woman.

At the time, I loved my husband dearly, and have always prayed fervently for him and our marriage. Over the years, I prayed endlessly for a change in his heart and mind, and even prayed for some type of miraculous restoration to occur if that was God’s will. However, at this point, it seems abundantly, clear that restoration does not appear to be in God’s plan for us.  I have since learned many truths about my marriage that caused me to see that it was never what I thought it was.  Played for a fool in the hands of a man that used me because he could not have the life he desired. An unwilling participant in his obsession with youth and the paradox of what is appropriate and what he desires.  I was forced to play a game, I had no chance of winning. I sadly, realize now, he will never be happy, no matter who he marries until he sheds his old life and confesses, allowing the Lord to shed light on his dark life.

I would have done anything in the world to avoid this happening. However, I’ve finally come to realize through a lot of prayer, faith, and emotional and spiritual healing, that sometimes, no matter how badly we want something, strive for it or pray for it, it may not work out the way we wanted or prayed for.

The reason the Lord wanted me to share is:

God uses the hurting to help the hurting. He uses the redeemed to help redeem. God used a divorced women during my darkest days, early in my divorce healing, to give me hope that I too would survive this divorce… and maybe even thrive someday.

Every day women need to hear that I have been through an abusive marriage and a divorce, that I have been abused as a child, that I have been raped and I’ve healed, and I’m more than thriving on the other side sharing this hope and healing with them. Someone you meet is going to need to hear that you too have been through a divorce or whatever storm you have been through. Seeing how your life is better now, what it took to get through the healing process, and that you’re doing well, which will give someone hope, needed to keep moving forward in her own healing journey.

Whatever God’s purpose is for you, do it to shine a light into the dark places of pain, hurt, and struggles. Your purpose may look very different than mine, and mine different from yours, but we all can be used in distinct ways to comfort others in their times of troubles and use our purpose to benefit the Kingdom of God.

The good news is that God has been incredibly,  faithfully present throughout this storm.  I can see tangible evidence of His speaking hope into my spirit every time I so desperately needed it and how He gave me strength on the hardest of days.

Admittedly my faith has felt weak at times, but I have now personally experienced how God is strongest when we are at our weakest.  His obvious intervention in my life, along with the unconditional love, support, encouragement and prayers from beloved friends and family, are what have carried me this far.

So today, despite it all, I can honestly say I do still wholeheartedly believe in the promise of Jeremiah 29:11.   I truly believe God has a great plan and purpose for what I am going through and for my future.

Although the happenings of 2018 are yet to be known, I am choosing to be hopeful and believe God has a wonderful year ahead with exciting new opportunities, relationships, blessings and adventures in store. I am choosing to believe my story is still being written, and trust God will be with me during the journey.

In His love and trusting in His continued goodness,

Sexual Assault Should Transcend Party Loyalty

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Sexual abuse, assault & predation transcends politics & party loyalty. From top to bottom and left to right it is wrong regardless who is doing it!

For a moment there, It was exciting to see the tide turn and all sexual assaults were being taken seriously.   It looked as though the public conversation about sexual harassment and assault might for once escape political polarization by virtue of the plague’s depressing ubiquity. Fox News founder Roger Ailes was a pig, but so, it turned out, is Hollywood producer and Democratic donor Harvey Weinstein. There was little to gain by quibbling over whether Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly or Eric Bolling is pervier than NPR’s Mike Oreskes or ABC’s Mark Halperin.

Then came the accusations against Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, and just like that, the issue was jerked back into more familiar, more partisan territory. Two women have accused Moore of sexual abuse, seven others have said he pursued them when they were teenagers and Moore was in his 30s and an asst D.A. Party lines were drawn, the wagons were circled, and that old familiar positions were staked out. Moore’s fan base (heavy on religious conservatives) blamed the liberal media, Democratic haters, the Republican establishment, and, of course, all those lying women—all of whom Team Moore set out to discredit. Classic victim blaming at it’s highest.

In Washington, Republicans issued statements about how Moore needed to leave the race “if” the charges proved to be true. Fox News generally tiptoed around the erupting scandal, while Sean Hannity treated Moore with such gentleness that his advertisers began to balk. Donald Trump remains uncharacteristically quiet even now.

Having Moore ascend to the Senate would be like pouring kerosene on a campfire: “The Democrats could basically run on, ‘Look at what the other party has become: the party that protects sexual harassers and child molesters!’”

The Long Con Of Child Grooming

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I never imagined I’d be writing a post like this one.  I’m sharing this scenario because it was unimaginable to me and may be to you, too.

As I have watched the news about Roy Moore and Bob Coy, I started thinking about the phenomenon of child grooming.  Reading the controversial article released a torrent of memories.

Many wonder where were the wives in these situation?  Why did they allow this?I thought I would share a story from the wife’s perspective:

I want to share a story about a women who married a man that was grooming a student of his for years.  This was before they were married, but she now realizes she was used in his long con.  She knew absolutely, nothing sexual happened, because she knew the young lady well.  In fact, she was mentoring her. But, she now also realizes, she is the one he desired all along.

Looking back, she was extremely naive, which is why I’m writing this. This women wishes she had been aware of the scale, method and ferocity of child grooming.  He spent time with this student, bought her gifts and treated her like she was special.  He joined our church, which she also attended and became her youth leader.

The worrying truth about child grooming, however, is it’s not just the child who’s being manipulated by a predator – it can be you, the adult, as well.  She realizes now that the reason he became her friend in the first place was to have access to her.  You see, In order to have access to a child, a predator needs to go through their care-givers – and in such a way that they don’t arouse suspicion.  The three of them were always together they enjoyed, sports, movies and church.

It’s also important to note that the perpetrator most likely won’t exhibit behaviors which would make him look like a predator.  So, you can imagine our surprise when she was a senior in high school after allegedly grooming her for 4 years, he gave her a gift for valentines day.  He was a man of 40.  In the envelope was a proposal and a diamond ring along with a letter of his desire to have lots of children with her. Luckily, she declined and showed her the letter and returned the ring.  But, not before this young women was shocked, startled and afraid. Especially, because she was innocent and blindsided by this whole revelation. She was not alone in this.

A few months later he had a major mental breakdown, which in her mind explained his bizarre proposal and behaviors.  She assumed he was in a desperate situation and clinging to any life line he could find.  She found herself as his medical contact as he had no one else, so she became his proxy.  She sat at his bedside everyday, meeting with doctors and counselors.  When he was released, She was forced to be his legal guardian, even though they were the same age.  This was the only way, he could be released from the hospital after several weeks.  He came to live with her and recovered for more than a year.  Unfortunately, due to this women’s strong nurturing side, she let her guard down and after 2 years fell in love with this man.  Thinking he was genuinely remorseful for what he had done.  She chalked it all up to his mental illness.  The counselors said with medication he would be fine.  She believed them.  He went on to attend Bible college and they were married.

As most of you can guess, this marriage did not have a happy ending, they  had a marriage filled with domestic violence and lack of trust.  She had learned early in her marriage, while he was at bible college he was interested in a relationship with a 19 year old girl from another country.  Again, nothing inappropriate happened to this young lady, I doubt she was even aware of the situation at all.   This relationship (in his head) happened at the same time he was at her home everyday as if nothing had happened. So, once again she had become an unwilling participant in his obsession with youth and the paradox of what is appropriate and what he desires.

One of the aspects that has been the most difficult for her to deal with is the realization that she was fooled by this man. Conned if you will. She felt (and still feels) like a fool.

Her life was like a virtual reality — her home like a movie set consisting of false fronts. Like the Truman show.  She came out of the marriage confused, unsure of what was real and what was fabrication. She was embarrassed. Thinking, how could she have been such a fool?  She had been literally sleeping with the enemy. The crime was intensified by the fact that it was carried out by the man who had sworn to love and protect her.

She hopes that writing down her thoughts will help her untangle them. She still doesn’t know how she feels or how she is supposed to feel. She is constantly reliving her many interactions with this man, hearing his voice and his laughter, remembering his every touch and facial expression — a slideshow of once pleasant images, before they were married now viewed after their marriage through a distorted lens, nightmarish and cruel.

Now the cold, hard truth sets in. She was deceived; She was played! She was led on. You see the relationship was never what she believed it to be.

It’s funny, when the dusts settles and the pain goes away, you are able to see things so clearly.  She realizes now, she was used..plain and simple, by a man that wanted a relationship with someone else much much younger.   I believe now this was the reason her now ex-husband became friends in the first place.  She was part of the long con.  She was not the one he wanted, she was the one society would approve of.  No wonder he has told people, he felt pressured to marry her.

Hearing this story, I am starting to be much more educated on the subject now.  After training to be an advocate for women and children.  I am becoming more aware of the signs and the behavior of these men that have a mental illness and are preoccupied with young women.   As parents we need to learn the signs, be aware of who our children are spending time with.  Talk to your children and educate them too!  We must understand that the Christian community is not immune to this phenomenon.  Sometimes, I think we can be more vulnerable.  In our attempt to give forgiveness and look for the best in people, we sometimes over look dangerous behaviors.

The Christian vision of manhood is men as givers, not takers. Men as self-sacrificers, not self-gratifiers.

I am dedicating my life to educating and bringing awareness to this phenomenon.  I pray for her ex-husband that the Holy Spirit reveals the truth to him and his pastor.  I pray he gets the help he desperately needs.  She has revealed the truth as she now knows it to his pastor and the people that need to know,  it is no longer her burden to bear.  People need to be accountable for their actions.

In the meantime, the Lord has richly blessed her. Her kids are healthy, Godly and all either married or will be in the next several months.  She is happy and fulfilled.  She is happier than she has ever been.  Peace reigns in her life.  She no longer bears the shame of her marriage and realizes through the Lord’s help it was not her fault.  Her biggest fault was being a gullible women wanting to believe the best in someone she loved.

Was she foolish to marry this man, ABSOLUTELY!

While she is no longer “in love” with her former spouse, this side of divorce.  For her, divorce was the beginning of understanding that God’s love never fails, it never gives up, and it never runs out. That kind of love will never leave her.

She has learned that there is a freedom on this side of her divorce, a freedom that she was hoping for.  The Lord has shed light on the darkness in her marriage and in her life.

1Cor 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 

For more information on the signs of Child Grooming:

https://thejoyfulchristianministry.com/2017/11/15/stop-child-grooming/

http://themamabeareffect.org/1/post/2013/11/do-you-know-how-to-identify-grooming.html

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Stop Child Grooming

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Nobody ever thinks it can happen to them. Nobody thinks they know a child predator. Until it is too late.

Child predators are not some strangers in a dark alley. They are  people we all know. They are our friends, our relatives, our teachers, our youth leaders and our kid’s coaches. The best way to keep your kids safe is to learn their tactics. Ignorance and naivete is dangerous in this situation.

THEY GAIN TRUST

The most important step in grooming a child is to gain the trust of those around them. Predators are skilled at taking on the attributes of a “good guy” and that is unfair to the REAL good guys among us. Before they even meet their victim – Predators often place themselves in a position of trust. They seek out roles that place them around children. They ingratiate themselves into your life and into your routine. Predators are often patient and they will take months or years building up the trust with those around them.

THEY GIVE GIFTS AND FAVORS

Once the predator has established a role in your life and has gained your trust – they take things one step further. They might offer to do you favors or bring gifts and treats for your children. They appear extremely helpful and friendly. They may be playful and silly with your children, but they are careful to not be overly attentive to your children in your presence.

THEY ISOLATE CHILD

By now the predator has gained your complete trust and approval. Your child knows you trust them – so they trust them too. It is at this point the predator’s goal is to isolate your child. They might offer to babysit, give your child a ride, tutor them or give them extra coaching. The predator continues to work on the child’s trust and tries to develop a “special” bond with the them.

THEY DESENSITIZE THE CHILD TO TOUCH

You may get comfortable leaving your child alone with this “good guy.” Your child is always eager to go with them and they seem happy upon returning. It may be at this point that the predator starts to touch your child. At first it may be a tickle fight – where the predator “accidentally” touches the child’s private parts. The sexual contact will progress from there.

THEY SECURE SECRECY

Young children may not understand what the predator is doing. They may not know they are being abused. The predator might convince them that they are playing a secret game or have a secret bond. Older kids may think they are “special” or have a relationship with the predator that no one else would understand. Some kids are told that no one would believe them or worse – that their family will be hurt if they tell.

YOU PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN:

-Look for these warning signs.

-Understand that no role or position exempts a person from being a predator.

-If something feels wrong in your gut

– trust your instincts. -Keep the communication open between you and your child.

-Talk to your child about their time away from you.

-Talk to your child about sexual abuse and arm them with knowledge.

Knowledge is power. Spread the word. Share with others.

If you’re a parent, please make sure that your children are aware of the dangers online.