The Scars that Throb

buds2I was getting ready for work the other morning when I was struck by a sudden pang to see my father. Because of some terrible things he did, I cut him out of my life a couple of years ago. He hasn’t called in several months, and I was worried that something might be wrong. What if he’s dying? I thought.

And then I thought, if he were dying, would it change anything for me? I still have little capacity to tolerate any sort of drama. Talking to him wouldn’t close the rift that he created in my heart, wouldn’t bring back the years I lost feeling unsafe with him. And then I felt it: that old, all-too-familiar ache of having been robbed of a nourishing father/daughter relationship. Memories and milestones I should have had, but didn’t. And I had to pause and breathe and just let the wave of grief wash over me.

Overall, I’m happier and healthier these days, but I still have these moments when the scars throb, when I have to face the fact that I was hurt in significant, life-altering ways. I recently shared some of my story with a colleague, and he said, “I hope you continue to heal and are stronger for it.” I responded: “I will certainly be wiser and more compassionate, but never stronger.” I’m learning to walk with an emotional limp.

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“Biblically” Counseling the Sexually Abused

This is Part 6 in my series on the Biblical Counseling Movement (BCM). Go here for all the posts in the series.

**Content Note: Victim blaming, ignorance of trauma and description of sexual abuse.**

If you’ve been following all the posts in this series, you’ve probably seen how Biblical Counseling would be damaging to people suffering from mental illness. Today, though, I want to show you how biblical counselors view sexual assault and abuse, and how this type of counseling is particularly devastating for sexual abuse survivors. Being a survivor myself, this issue is particularly close to my heart.

If you want something that will keep you awake at night and possibly cause you to hurl your electronic device across the room, reading the G.R.A.C.E. report on Bob Jones University should do the trick. For those unaware of the reference, BJU was recently investigated for their inappropriate ‘biblical’ counseling of sexual assault victims. For the really retch-inducing stuff, I suggest starting around page 70 and reading through page 100. The amount of ignorance and victim blaming these counselors have displayed over the years is almost beyond comprehension. And they have the gall to justify it. Continue reading

The Biblical Counseling Movement: Exposed

A couple of weeks ago, I revealed that I was researching a shocking expose’ to feature on the blog. I am now far enough along in my research to begin the series.

Let me tell you how this series came about:

As you may recall from an earlier post, my dad confessed to being a sex addict a few years ago. My dad attended pastoral counseling and a 12-step program, but eventually fell off the wagon – which lead to my parents’ divorce. Their pastor, desperate to get him help, suggested an out-of-state, 9-month live-in rehab program for sex addicts. “It is a Christian program,” he said.

I was less than thrilled at that little revelation. My father had already attempted pastoral counseling multiple times, and it had not helped to resolve his core issues. At the time, I was encouraging my dad to seek a professional, state-licensed psychotherapist. But whenever I expressed my doubts about the program, the pastor assured me (via my mother) that the center was staffed with “certified counselors.” That was enough to reassure me and support his attending the program.

My father graduated the program sometime around July this year. About a month ago, he asked if he could contact me. Wanting to evaluate where he was in his recovery, I agreed. He called one night, and we talked for about 40 minutes. I wasn’t satisfied with how the conversation went and mentioned it to my therapist. He asked, “What do you know about this program he attended?” I confessed that I didn’t know much; the program’s website had been somewhat vague about the method of treatment. So, I decided further research was needed.

What I uncovered was the Biblical Counseling Movement. Continue reading

Responding to Trauma

Image from traumahealingpa.com

In my last post, I talked about what it means to be a trauma survivor and how difficult trauma can be to heal. Today, I’m going to enumerate the ways in which the Church can respond to trauma survivors to help them find healing.

Before I delve in, let me be clear: This is a common problem. Most pastors would be absolutely gobsmacked to know how many trauma survivors fill their churches every Sunday. Current estimates put the incidence of child molestation at 1 in 3 for girls and 1 in 10 for boys. That means in a congregation of 100 people, 5 men and 17 women are likely child sex abuse survivors. And that figure doesn’t begin to include survivors of other types of trauma, such as rape, assault, mental and emotional abuse, neglect, war, abandonment and accident.

If the Church wants to get serious about helping survivors, this is what is needed: Continue reading

Understanding Trauma

Image from The Low Down Blog

Because of a sexual predator’s recent article in Christianity Today‘s Leadership Journal (which has since been removed, hallelujah!), an important conversation has been taking place online about trauma survivors and the Church’s poor response to them. Some bloggers have suggested that church leaders should be educated on what survivors experience and compassionate ways in which they can reach out to help them. To this end, being a survivor myself, I’m going to share what I’ve learned. Because it’s really important. Continue reading