Posts Tagged ‘school shootings’

Something that is difficult to explain to those who have not lived through abuse as a child is the monumental effort it requires to try to trust anyone or anything in life. They don’t even know what a healthy relationship means. Because they were never given the tools to build trust or to engage in a productive connection outside of the hell they experienced as a young child. I experienced this myself and that disfunction became my normal. As I grew older so-called friends and loved ones began to avoid me and sometimes spread rumors about me. My mistrust grew even more.

I have often heard other survivors express that they feel as if they have a target on their backs. That predators, sexual or otherwise, can sense them from miles away and are able to find and easily exploit their weakness and hurt them over and over again. I would love nothing more than to say this isn’t true, but in my experience it is incredibly accurate. It’s the reason that sex traffickers are so successful at luring young people into the sex trade. 

You see, if you are taught from an early age that your own needs don’t matter and that your sole purpose is to gratify the physical needs of someone else, your sense of security when it comes to anything outside of humiliation makes it challenging to have a healthy relationship. If you were conditioned to feel guilty beyond measure and manipulated to not think about what your individual needs might be outside of your abusers, chances are you are going to attract further abuse. 

Too many times victims of child abuse have experienced re-victimization by those they falsely believed were different only to be exploited again. Not just in physical relationships, but in any way possible. From so-called friendships, to doctors, to therapists and even family members. How do you trust when not given the opportunity to do so without being betrayed and how do you heal when the same patterns of dysfunction repeat itself over and over?

I was fortunate to find hope and healing through Jesus and by studying God’s promises in the Bible. I can tell you for a fact that it is possible for a victim of abuse and disfunction to heal. But it will take time, therapy and support. 

Without it some will walk with their shoulders down staring at the ground because it is easier than making eye contact with anyone that they believe will try to destroy what little of themselves that might be left? While others allow their anger to boil over inside them and take their abuse out on others—We’ve seen these results in many of the school shootings. 

In just the last few years we have read about some young adolescent who has been tried as an adult after killing family members and/or other students. As tragic as these crimes are, it is even more tragic for society to condemn these dysfunctional adolescents to a lifetime in prisons with hardened criminals, taking no thought of what caused them commit such heinous acts. 

According to a report released by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics on April of 1999, Almost half of the women and one tenth of the men in the nation’s jails and prisons say they were physically or sexually abused before their imprisonment. For prisoners who had spent their childhood in foster care, the rate of abuse was even higher. 44% of the male prisoners and 87% of the female prisoners who had spent their childhood in foster care reported being abused. The study draws a strong link between prior abuse and violent crime. In 2016, the Vera Institute of Justice conducted surveys of jail populations and found that 86 percent of inmates reported being sexually violated before being incarcerated. 

This year the nation watched, transfixed, as more than a hundred women stood before a Michigan courtroom to describe how Larry Nassar altered their lives with his abuse. They were heard and heeded. The judge listened, the media listened, the world listened, and those girls and women were told that their suffering mattered. 

But many more children who are sexually abused in their own homes rarely get their day in court. And even when they do, judges do very little to give justice to the victims. Most judges only sentence their perpetrators to probation and require them to register as a sex offender. Nebraska is one of 22 states that have no restrictions on those convicted of child sexual abuse. And so their abuse, it seems, counts little for the victims—until they act out and commit crimes themselves. In other words, the United States has made a practice of locking up victims. 

When are we going to stop locking up these victims and asking “what’s wrong with them?” and instead begin to ask, “what happened to them?” And, “How can we help?”

“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

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Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

While the motive for the recent shooting rampages remain a mystery, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School especially shook many across this country to its core. Like many other people, I am in shock and disbelief at this horrible tragedy that took so many innocent lives. As a father and grandfather, I cannot conceive why anyone would want to hurt innocent children and their teachers.

While families in Connecticut are dealing with heart ache and grief, the rest of us will be trying to wrap our brain around this madness. We may want to focus blame on something that makes sense to us. The lack of gun control; the broken mental healthcare system; the lawlessness and apathy of this generation; and the list goes on and on. We can debate the reasons for this tragedy but in the end many of us still want to scream, “Why?”

Many Evangelical Christians have been quick to lay the blame for this tragedy on the fact that we have taken God and prayer out of school. It’s true that more and more Americans have moved away from traditional Judeo-Christian values, but I don’t believe the reason for the increasing gun violence is that cut and dry. The fact is, there is evil in this world and there will be things that happen that we have no explanation for.

Years ago my son and his friend were killed in a car accident on their way to work. I grieved and wept and prayed to God, but I never got an answer as to why. I suspect that the parents of these precious children will grieve and weep and pray the same as I did.

When dealing with such a sensitive subject, the Bible is very specific about how we as Christians are to speak: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Col. 4:6) When we speak in public and in private our speech should be kind, gentle, positive, helpful, and insightful. So instead of trying to lay blame for this tragedy on an unbelieving world, maybe we should pray and grieve with them, knowing that our heavenly Father is grieving with them too; and will comfort them as only He can.

The Church needs to be careful not to become ignorant of what it means to be truly godly. We are to be a light to this darkened world. And without it mankind is capable of committing terrible atrocities to both individuals and groups. I pray that Christians will wake up and see how much we need to pray for God’s divine intervention and protection from evil.
In memory of all who left us too soon: