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Some Resources for #metoo

October 18, 2017
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This week’s #metoo campaign on social media has been a powerful and sad reminder of how many of us have experienced sexual abuse, assault, or harassment. If you missed it, the point was for women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted to write “Me too” as a Facebook status in an attempt to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.

I have especially appreciated the #complicit follow-up, in which men have acknowledged their part in the problem even though they may never have perpetrated violence against a woman. They confess that their objectification of women, their silence in the face of misogyny, their laughter at statements degrading or mocking women make them complicit in a culture that allows abuse and protects abusers.

Jackson Katz’s insightful statement pointing out that the way our language about sexual violence practically ignores the existence of predators is also making the social media rounds again. By the way, his powerful TED Talk about violence against women being a men’s issue is definitely worth watching.

Awareness of this issue is so important and is a topic Christians should be addressing regularly because so many women and men in our churches have been affected by it. Jesus was an excellent model of respect for women. In The Gentle Savior Bible study, I pointed out in Chapter 10 that

[Jesus] did not treat women as servants or children or property or paragons of virtue or sex objects. He saw each woman for just who she was, and he was sensitive to what she needed. He considered women capable of intellectual conversation and even broke some social taboos to conduct those conversations.

His words and actions communicated that their value was unrelated to their marital status or number of children or physical features or housekeeping skills or nationality—or even their sexual purity, for that matter. Jesus, as God in the flesh, Creator of all, demonstrated boldly to the first-century world that women were of equal value to men in God’s eyes.

Resources

With all the disclosures being posted, there may be some people who need to know what to do next. Here are a couple of resources I have found really helpful.

Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

by Dr. Dan B. Allender (NavPress)
Book and Workbook

Allender, a professor of counseling psychology, identifies coping mechanisms we may have carried over from childhood into adulthood and addresses the process of changing our thinking. He calls for us to acknowledge damaging thought patterns and self-protective behavior that keep us isolated and dead inside. He encourages us to exchange them for healthier thinking and behavior that is open to love and relationship – abundant life that is attainable even for those who have believed it was no longer possible.

Although the title targets the book to victims of childhood sexual abuse, many of its principles are applicable to victims of adult abuse and assault as well. Allender, a Christian, presents his material from a perspective rooted in his understanding of New Testament scripture, which he references at length throughout the book.

After reading this book (but not until the second time through) I finally realized that some of my own adult behavior had been influenced by my experiences, which are maybe best characterized as childhood sexual harassment – inappropriate attention and requests (which I was allowed to rebuff). For example, I finally realized why I was so uncomfortable with the idea of men looking at my body. For many years my response was to be overly concerned about covering up and wearing loose-fitting slacks to discourage it. I like that the book doesn’t keep you focused on the past but helps you acknowledge it and move forward in the present.

 

Go Beyond Recovery to Restoration

By Rebecca Born and Rachel Davis (Thumbprint)
Workbook

Authors Rebecca Born, a licensed therapist, and Rachel Davis are gentle and non-judgmental as they encourage victims of sex abuse toward self-awareness of the impact of the abuse and speak gracious truth into any areas of flawed thinking. They are extremely careful about labels and vocabulary as they promote restoration of parts of ourselves that we may have submerged for many years out of fear. They speak of empowerment to “rewrite unhealthy coping systems,” conquering them rather than merely managing them.

Although these women work from a Christian worldview, there are no scriptures in the workbook, and they limit their discussion of the role of spirituality in restoration to a single brief chapter. If you want to try them out before buying the workbook, check out the blog and other free resources on their Connections website. I thought their recent “3 Lies that Cause Great Suffering” post was especially good. Here’s an excerpt:

I am not enough. No matter the form this lie takes, at its core is the minimizing of your capabilities and the burying of your potential.  Sometimes this lie manages expectations, i.e., I do not have to face possible failure.  It keeps you trapped in fear and anxiety with a loss of power.

Everything is my fault. I can feel the heaviness and burden in this lie.  My shoulders hurt just thinking about it.  In a bizarre twist, this lie can be a form of feeling powerful, often because you might not want to know the reality of being unsafe.  The lie says if I am the one who causes things, I can find a way to make it stop.  It keeps you living in “should’s” a form of suffering all its own.

I don’t matter. This one has a double edge to it.  It explains the mistreatment and sets you up for accepting further disregard.  Moreover, if you believe the lie and feel what it implies, the pain is immobilizing and paralyzing.

 

I’m no trained counselor, but if you ever want to talk, I care and I’m here for you.

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