The Ugly Truth About Child Abuse
Understanding past and present influences to find freedom for the future. by Muriel Larson
My dedicated Christian friend, Melissa*, told me, "The memory of that awful experience when I was four has been indelibly seared into my mind; I have relived it again and again. It has profoundly affected my whole life. It is the first of many such horrible memories."
Melissa's mother was washing her hair in the kitchen sink that day. It seemed to take forever. "Are you almost finished?" little Melissa asked.
For an answer, her mother grabbed her head between her hands and began slamming it against the kitchen faucet.
Pound . . . pound . . . pound! Pain shot like a nightmare to her brain with each blow. Is she going to kill me? Melissa wondered frantically. Then she started screaming, but it seemed as if the person screaming was someone else.
Years later I interviewed Melissa to write a book about her experiences. During our long interview, I saw two different personalities emerge from my friend. As she related the above occurrence, she spoke in a little girl's voice. Later, when she told me about a beating her mother gave her while she was attending college, a totally different personality emerged -- extremely angry and profane, using all kinds of foul language.
Later I called Melissa's Christian therapist to ask about it because I was deeply concerned. He verified that these were multiple personalities -- psychological devices that had enabled Melissa to come through her horrible experiences.
We're shocked at how many children and young people today kill their parents and other people. And we're shocked at the epidemic of children being physically and sexually abused. What's happening to our society?
The answer is that moral standards have been driven to a new low by films, television, magazines, public schools, and the Internet. As Dr. Muriel for Christian Women Today Online, I receive many letters from women whose husbands have become addicted to Internet porn. Unfortunately, the porn often involves children. How many boys and men, and even women, are now driven by lust to sexually abuse children?
Drug and alcohol abuse is rampant. When people are under such control, they may do horrible things to children, mates, and others. Their behavior is more understandable considering that violence, torture, sex, and horror are crowd-drawing features of films made today.
Homosexuals fight for acceptance. Their cause is promoted by the media and even by many public schools and legislators. Child abusers stride proudly in homosexual parades with chains around the necks of their unfortunate child victims.
The toll of child abuse
Unfortunately, today's victim of physical or sexual abuse often becomes tomorrow's victimizer, thus perpetuating and multiplying the plague.
Melissa is a dedicated Christian, which has helped her overcome her past abuse in many ways. But she told me that she never dared wash her own daughters' hair; her husband always did it. She never wanted to be tempted to abuse her own dear children.
I receive many letters from women who were physically or sexually abused as children, who now suffer the effects of that abuse as adults: depression, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem, fear, anger, hostility, illnesses. Some of them have sought professional help but are still haunted. But professional counseling over a period of time can help abusers, as well as those who were abused as children.
Remedies from the Bible
Because I believe the Bible has the answer to all problems and because I am limited by how much I can say in an e-mail, I encourage these hurting women to forgive those who hurt them, as Jesus strongly advised when He taught us the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13).
Ephesians 4 warns us not to let the sun go down on our anger, or else we will give the Devil a foothold in our lives. It tells us to get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger. For many who have suffered abuse as children, those terrible feelings have been penned down in their souls for years. The remedy that appears at the end of Ephesians 4 is to forgive those who have caused grievous things, even as God forgave us through Jesus Christ.
The remedy to what ails any of us is Jesus Christ. He will deliver us from our sins if we haven't asked Him to do so yet. He will free us from the past and grant us strength to overcome destructive patterns.
*Names used in this article are fictitious.