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Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

Found 5 results

  1. If you haven't seen it yet, there is a hashtag floating around the past week that says simply #MeToo. This is in response to the growing fire storm in the media this past week about Harvey Weinstein's despicable behavior towards women he worked with. Many have come forward alleging instances of unwanted sexual advances, sexual touching, and even rape. Additionally, some other male actors have come under close scrutiny after being confronted about their own behaviors towards fellow female actresses in Hollywood. Much of what has always been acknowledged in the movie industry is now becoming a banner to rally under for the respectful treatment of female peers not just in the acting industry, but everywhere across the United States. But, as I posted my own recognition of this very important hashtag, it brought out a lot of deeper reflection on what this is all about. This is not just about women coming forward and sharing that they have been sexually harassed or abused in life so that others do not feel alone in their suffering. This is about male victims too. And it is a physical showing of hands on the national stage. It is a movement that is putting a sea of faces out there for all to see and measure. It is showing the grim reality that it isn't a rare occurrence at home, work, school, or public bar scene. Turns out that sexual harassment and assault are more common place in our communities than most want to admit or ever realized. This is mostly in part due to under reporting to appropriate authorities. Under reporting is a tell tale symptom of the lack of support we have in our nation for those who suffer sex crimes. As a victim, I can appreciate this feeling of lack of support. In my case, police officers had my father's own admission, and they still insisted I go back home later that night after everything was brought out in the open. This is the cruel reality for many sexual abuse victims. An even crueler reality? There is a growing awareness in this country of what is happening, but it stops there and isn't blossoming into a larger community outreach to fix this problem. Case in point. Friend of mine and I were discussing my own sexual abuse and assault experiences, and he made a comment along the lines of this kind of thing is all too common a story among the women he knows. He then recounted how one previous girl friend had been raped by an ex that broke into her home one night, another by her father growing up. Another close friend of his had been molested by family members growing up. Then he recalled his own half sister having been raped repeatedly by his estranged father. He found out about this from his half sister some years ago. Even worse, her mother knew about it, and even watched and yelled at her during the event because it was considered a just punishment. All of this he found out years later from his half sister, and at that point he pretty much decided he would avoid his dad from then on. But our conversation didn't stop there. He then realized he knew at least two men who had been sexually abused in their youth. And then of course his own experience of being fondled by a Boy Scout troop leader when he was young. He often down plays this experience though, as he doesn't see how it has affected him other than it being awkward, and never went further than fondling. Nonetheless, our conversation really made him put into words what many are realizing this week: The majority of people he knows have been sexually abused, molest, assaulted, etc. What does this awareness accomplish after this moment? What do we do with this shared knowledge and perspective once we have it? Does it mean he is now more sensitive to trauma? Possibly. Is he going to call up his local city leaders and state level officials to start putting money into programs to help victims report the abuse? Maybe push for a counseling initiative? Or insist we get comprehensive sexual education in schools? Probably not. What do we do once we get others aware of the epidemic that is sexual abuse? Not everyone can be the activist that is beating down the doors of legislators to get funding in place. The reality is that this is where the local community has to step in and find their own initiatives to develop solutions to under reporting, lack of education on sexual consent, and poorly funded crisis counseling. It could be something as simple as volunteers getting schools on board to do two week elective classes on sex ed and consent. Or volunteering at crisis centers to man the phones and be that rock for victims to cling to at 2 a.m. in the morning after being hurt by someone they trusted. Awareness is a key part of the problem, but it is not enough. We cannot just leave it as sexually abusive behavior happens everywhere to everyone. If you cannot contribute money to funded education or crisis programs, consider contributing your time. Or at the very least, sit down and have that conversation with your kids, your parents, your neighbors, or a teen that you know is possibly struggling with these issues. Have the conversation and get them help immediately. Don't just be a visible reminder of the trauma, help fight it any way you think you can. #MeToo
  2. The headline is colorful, chilling, and woefully short sighted about the issues of incest, pregnancy, and consent. I think it goes without much emphasis how quickly it hit all the wrong buttons that put me back to my youth being molested by my father. It made me immediately reflect on the moment I said yes when he asked if he could pretend I was my mother. That headline made me stand up and pace the room for a good three minutes, reminding myself how often incest happens: voluntarily - but with limited understanding of what it all means until the damage is done. Virginian delegate, Bob Marshall (R), is well known for his blatantly reckless, and often abhorrent, public airing of his reasoning regarding issues ranging from disabled children being nature's vengeance on mothers who have had abortions before, to making cursing in an email a misdemeanor offense if he had his way. When reading his rationale that there should not be an exception to an abortion ban in cases of incest because sometimes incest is "voluntary", one cannot help but wonder how many victims of incest, let alone those who became pregnant, has he ever been socially involved with. To take the attitude that because some victims were complicit in the demands of their abuser should automatically disallow abortion, even for those who were forcefully abused and impregnated, demonstrates how little this candidate is familiar with the dynamics of sexual abuse to begin with. My own experience of being molested by my father underscores the need for legislators like Marshall to understand that it is not black and white when it comes to abuse. My father was a verbally, physically, and emotionally abusive man. He pretty much left me walking on egg shells, anxious when working on projects with him, and never sure if I would become too annoying and he would find a way to punish me and make me go away for awhile to my room, or worse, take the belt to me. When my father approached me to come to his bed while my mother was nearly dying in the hospital from severe pancreatitis, and he was being gentle, caring, even conversational and patient, how could I at such a young age say no? I was completely ignorant on what sex was, or that his desire was inappropriate. My church never spoke on such things to children so young. All I knew is that dad wasn't acting like the normally recognizable monster that kept our home a nightmare of bipolar highs and lows, and I wasn't going to pass up on a chance to have a father that was calm and loving for once. Of course, I didn't realize he was hurting me until later on, and this is where Marshall's public opinion on "voluntary" incest is woefully misguided and lacking any real depth of the situation. It leaves out the reality that a lot of "voluntary" instances of incest and other forms of sex abuse are situations of "uninformed consent" -- which is assault..... It's been two years since Marshall made these statements, and sadly, he is in his 11th term of office, and even more politicians are taking the same attitude, but with different rationale. George Faught (R) state representative of Oklahoma, made it clear that except for genetic anomalies and Down Syndrome, that there shouldn't be an exception to an abortion ban. His attitude, like that of Rick Santorum and many other conservative congressional leaders, is that the suffering of one will "bring beauty from the ashes" in the form of the child that is forced to be carried to term, despite how it was conceived or the lingering psychological damage that the mother must recover from. Rape and incest, no exception, but genetic anomalies, kill it. The attitude that ultimately beauty comes from sexual abuse tells me they watch way too many Lifetime movies, or this demonstrates how much cognitive dissonance is at play in the policy making minds of many conservative congressmen in this country. The romanticizing of suffering, and the more personal an assault the better for such a process, is undeniable in the Bible. There have been many stories shared not just in religious studies, but in everyday life and story telling, of how a person is sexually violated, and the resulting child brings about a metamorphosis of recovery and strength to defeat all the odds against the victim. But as Faught seems to point out, a genetic deformity is not the same as sexual abuse. There wasn't an an act against one's will involved. There wasn't trauma. There wasn't a good enough story of a human life being shattered behind it. Worst of all, this type of romanticizing of suffering and humiliation of an individual creates an obligatory martyrdom that is then demanded to be shared publicly for all to gain a lesson from, which is atrocious and dehumanizing in my opinion. It takes away the right to process your pain in a manner that best suits you, and even encourages a suppression of hurt as there is an expectation to perform for the general public an astounding feat of an "overcoming the odds" underdog story of encouragement. It's pure selfishness on the part of these congressmen and ideologues pushing this line of rationalization to the general public. They are saying to victims,"We want a feel good story from your tragedy that reaffirms our faith values, Suzy, so you have to have that rape baby your daddy put in your belly. Don't worry, it's a blessing you can pay for, sweetheart." This is exploitation of the vulnerable to benefit the masses, and it must stop. Some might argue that it isn't about any of what I've just said, but actually a focus on the beauty of someone trying to survive and recover, and that the baby in the mix makes it all the more beautiful. But to whom? This refusal to offer exception for incest is not about the rare cases of sister and brother, or uncle and niece, who are of age, informed of the risks, and willingly in a desired relationship together. This is about the 15 year old, or 22 year old, who finds themselves pregnant after sexual abuse. They are feeling depressed, used, overwhelmed, and are struggling to survive. And you think that this notion that being in this predicament is benefiting them by showing others the strength and resilience of their desire to get through that mess? That in the long run, everything will end up like Queen Simonida of Serbia, and these abused souls will take solace in being the example for everyone else? That this constant recognition of pain and anguish will be a pep rally for their psyche to continue on and look back on their lives with a grateful attitude?
  3. "No truly dedicated human being would stay with someone that sexually abuses others." "I wasn't happy about Bill Clinton's sexual harassment charges and affairs in office either." "Why would someone wait until an abuser is running for office to come forward? It's fame. S/He wants fifteen minutes of fame." I want to address the first statement from a Trump supporter's interview on CNN earlier this week. Honestly, this one is the most difficult to deal with, not because it's horrible to think that someone would stay with anyone known to have been predatory with other human beings, but because it reveals the humanity in HRC. Yeah, I said it. She's human. HOLY FUCKING SHIT! I've broken the internet. And this isn't an excuse. I'm just stating the obvious that HRC seems to try to hide or avoid discussing publicly. Not the affairs of her husband, but the rationale she employs in relationships, the motivations that drives her to make a relationship work, and why she seems so impersonal to the world about her very human experiences that would reveal her vulnerabilities. Some say her remaining with Bill was to further her political career. That could be true. It could also be true that she truly enjoys her humanitarian work (I know, there are some poor decisions that have cost lives too), and recognizes that same fact in her husband. I have little doubt they are at the minimum close friends, people. C'mon, there is a camaraderie there that can't be ignored. Also, there is definitely a passion within her to push for betterment of society and living in some sectors. We see she has chosen to make do with what she has. We employ our personal standards of rules for relationships to her life to try and understand her because she is giving us nothing to go on. And yes, I think in the public life, that is a huge flaw. True story. My father is a sexual abuser. He is an emotionally abusive man. And he would physically abuse me at times while I was a child, not just to punish me, but to release a lot of pent up frustration. My mother was unaware of his sexually abusing me, as far as I can tell, until I told her when I was sixteen years of age. She couldn't claim ignorance of his physically abusive rages as many times she would have to intervene and pull him off of me at times. She couldn't deny the tears of guilt, shame, and sadness from when he would drive her into the ground with words from his lips either. Yet, she remained. Much like Clinton, my mother doesn't discuss my father's abusive behaviors. Much like Clinton, my mother minimizes the damage done, or scuttles away the hurt with excuses about his childhood. And exactly like HRC, the veneer my mother has painstakingly shellacked over the image of her family remains spotless.....in her mind. This persistent need to not show vulnerability is exactly the chink in her armor that is glaringly obvious to everyone around her. I think HRC is aware of this, but isn't capable of processing it. If I hadn't been around this type of behavior from my own mother, I would be perplexed like the rest of America. This vulnerability doesn't make HRC incapable of leadership though. Quite the contrary, as with my own mother, HRC has many truly notable successes under her belt alongside her failures - like many of us do- though not many of us will be at such a high level of authority in our lifetimes either. Again, this is not a plea for you to vote for HRC, this is simply a perspective I take into consideration when weighing the public image versus the person away from the microphone. The next area I want to tackle is the this whole "You think Trump is bad, look at what Bill Clinton did to women while in office!" All I have to say on this matter is that it would seem to me if you were pissed you found out after Bill Clinton was elected into office the nasty things he did to women, then why aren't you glad you are finding out about it now with Trump and will be saving us millions in tax payer dollars to avoid impeachment and lawsuits? Share the same level of outrage, do not minimize the trauma of others to benefit your personal desires. To do so makes you as bad as HRC's supposedly staying with her husband to save her political career. Seriously. Pot meet kettle. If Bill's abuse of women is serious enough to never want him in office again, then why put another sexual predator in the Oval Office? And lastly, the fifteen minutes of fame argument. The problem isn't that many victims of sexual harassment and abuse wait what appears as a lifetime to come forward with their revelations. It isn't a problem that for many years they kept their suffering quietly to themselves and one day finally cracked open their scabs and let the pain come flowing out of the wounds again in public forum. The problem is that when these victims were abused, they looked in the mirror afterwards whispering over and over for many decades later,"It isn't that bad. I've seen worse." The problem is being programmed to immediately compare one's suffering to a social bar of acceptability and not personal self. The problem is we are not allowed to own our suffering in the public eye, or even have it recognized without being put on a litmus scale of public opinion. We are victims of not just our abusers, but our peers' standards of what is considered the acceptable course of action if one is victimized. Victimization knows no sexual identity, age, creed, or pain process. It is truly the most personal of all experiences in this world that can fairly be compared to no two snowflakes being exactly alike. Trauma never has a standard order of procedure. When women come forward during contested political seasons, or men reveal that they were pressured into horrible situations with upstanding community members, instead of looking at their coming out as suspicious timing, consider this: Maybe seeing their abuser's face all over every form of social media is a cruel flashback that is the catalyst they need to finally process their victimization and understand that it was THAT bad, and it is the WORST they have personally ever experienced. Which in itself, is very traumatic. Some find this realization angering, and they blast their anguish loud and clear for anyone that will hear, while others will simply file an anonymous lawsuit, wanting the public to be aware, but not wanting to have their pain politicized. At the end of the day, we all share a lot of traits with HRC. We minimize certain facts or news that disrupts our world view in an unpleasant way. We try to preserve our self image, because to not be secure in self is uncomfortable. I look at the POTUS race as a job interview for a CEO position. I care about personal life issues up to a certain point. I worry more about education, qualifications, experience, and work related professionalism. Some say HRC has been in politics far too long to effect any change, and that if she were truly going to change, then show the proof throughout her career that she has pursued change. I agree to some extent on this mindset. Career politicians will always leave me with a pessimistic attitude. My worry is that without a career politician who understands how government actually works, then that outside candidate will be completely taken advantage of by the hundreds of other politicians who know the system. If you want change, you have to change all levels of government. And to do that, you have to change the mindset of society to not act like those who are currently governing them. Maybe start with a willingness to accept standards outside your own. It is possible to accept that your standards are not the golden rule for an entire nation. I would really push to stand by unwavering empathy, and finally quit moving the goal posts to fit your views. I say it all the time. The political realm isn't a Burger King. You can't have it all your way. Find a candidate who is like you: someone who needs intimacy, empathy, and love. These traits require compromise. Make that the standard in your worldview, in your society, and you will make that a standard in government to be proud of, not a sign of weakness. You will encourage trust between government and the populace that allows for dialog. When we hold impossible standards to meet, almost to the level of saintliness that many of us abhor in the secular community, how can one expect personal honesty?
  4. **This is a reblog since I have some nosey relatives following me around on the net. Might as well just give it all out there, right?** I have been on a journey of disbelief in religion for my entire life. Over the last six or seven years, I finally reached that final destination of atheism and am confident in who I am and what this means in my life. Getting to that point, has been one hell of a fight of control over my life. Only child, born in the late 70s to a Pentecostal family, I was indoctrinated early on in life. My earliest memories are not without this church. This place of worship was a kind one, filled with a lot of love and enthusiasm. I do not remember a single sermon threatening fire and brimstone, but we only attended until I reached 9 years of age, so I never got anything more than learning right versus wrong and the evils of temptation from Gospel Bill shows. But I had been involved in the church long enough that the motivation to succeed at being a good follower of Christ was already burning within. I remember the day I asked Jesus into my heart. Pastor Jerry was knelt next to me at the pew and leaned over and asked me,”Amanda, do you want the Lord Jesus in your heart?” My mom was standing near by, tears streaming down her face with pride, and naturally, at age five I did not comprehend what it meant to let this guy name Jesus in my heart, but I liked the attention so naturally I said yes. I was baptized a week later. Several months after that a select number of us from Sunday School were gathered in one of the quieter classrooms, and we were taught about speaking in tongues. Then we were encouraged to pray, and feel what god was trying to tell us. Then we were encouraged to vocalize what we were being told. Thus began the recruitment competition for a gifted child in the class. I tried so hard to hear what the Lord was saying. He spoke through my mother all the time. My mother sung in the choir, fervently spoke in tongues when services reached a fevered pitch during the singing and prayer, and was generally an obedient wife. I wanted to be the same naturally. I prayed and prayed. I wanted my chance to be in the light and acknowledged by something positive in my life. I started praying, feeling that desire to know God, or know acceptance in general. I even kick started the process by mumbling under my breath Boom-shaka-laka. It sounded similar to what the adults would say when they prayed so maybe this would put my own tongue on the right track? Needless to say, after about 20 minutes the spotlight landed. But it was on the girl next to me. She actually was crying and speaking in tongues. She had me beat. And so did my father. Ironically, my father was active with the other "brothers", intensely studied the Bible, and believed that Christ would surely come back in 1988. With my mother, they seemingly modeled the picture perfect family. Naturally, the model didn't match the reality. My earliest memories of my father are angry ones. Shouting behind closed doors, hearing various items crash off the sides of the walls, and his general contempt for me and who I was. I ended up being angry and depressed early on. My mother often defended his abusive rages. Needless to say, I continued to wet the bed until a very late age (nearly 12), habitually lied, stole and destroyed items that were special to them out of anger (this started by the age of 5). I was one hot mess, and either received whippings, slaps, punches, threats, and even forced to pack my bags several times over by the age of 8. My parents did not seek true professional help for me though. They would speak with the pastor of the church, or their religious based marriage counselor who tried to explain to me (on only two occasions) that the lying, bed wetting and theft were symptoms of my flesh overruling my spirit. Not very helpful, but pretty much teaching me it was my fault these two adults couldn't maintain their marriage. All this under the pretense of religious duty. We dropped out of church for a year. I am unsure what the falling out with the church was all about, but when they banned my grandfather from seeing me anymore around that same period in time, I overheard the accusation that dad broke away from the church because they wouldn't help with childcare. Either way, we ended up at a new church called Trinity Fellowship. It was in its beginnings and we held services in an elementary school gymnasium on Sundays. Eventually, a new church was built. Good memories during those days. Life wasn't as angry at church. It was a fresh start. That year I was abused sexually by my father as well. Mom was ill and hospital ridden, and dad panicked. Not excusing it, just what it is. I remember him sitting on my bed one of the mornings afterward and apologizing for what he did, and not to tell mom since she was too ill to handle the news. He assured me he would talk to her about it. Naturally that never happened, but at the same time, in a way I wasn't angry at first because it was the first time I received attention from him that didn't involve being threatened, screamed at or hit. This was 1988. Mom eventually got well and came home after a month away. God didn't return, and I remember hearing the screaming and yelling behind closed doors again. Mom trying to pacify this monster of a man and items crashing against the walls again. I remember laying on the couch downstairs, pulling my grandmother's handmade afghan over my head and crying out of fear. Church members eventually showed up and counseled my father, but after that night we randomly attended church. The physical and verbal abuse escalated once again and I behaved even worse. Still no help. By the time I was thirteen and fourteen, I had begun sharing what had been happening to me with friends, but with all the habitual lying I had already been caught at, no one would believe me. You would think they would connect the dots with my behavior right? I had NEVER spoken of being mistreated. I had lied about simple things like attending a concert I hadn't really been too and such. That is when I realized that despite my dad's behavior behind closed doors, the man actually had a sparkling reputation in our town. I couldn't bring him down, or my mother, a first grade teacher of some nearly 20 years at that point. Needless to say, at 16, I ran away with my very first boyfriend and got married. We ended up having two children together in the 3 years we were together off and on. Sadly, the abuse cycle continued with me. During this time I found myself completely rejecting God in my heart, but would still call on Him to help me during times of stress. When I look further back on my life and the things that had an influence on my belief and lack there of, I think the two biggest factors that contributed to my waking up would be the family history of abuse I had to confront, and the fact that since I was 5, I was reading newspapers, keeping involved in world debates and in general educating myself in my free time. I just wish I could have applied it sooner and avoided all the heartache in my life. Needless to say, it all hit a crescendo about 8 years ago. My youngest daughter, at this point 8 years old, and much like myself, experienced abuse by her own father and uncle, add to that my frustration with her misbehavior (bed wetting, lying, theft, violent rages towards her siblings). I couldn't get help from her doctor, the schools wouldn't step up, and I was so poor I couldn't get her help. Add to that my own personal life drama. I was so blind and lost in my own problems that I ended up whipping her with a belt one night and turned her bottom black and blue. It is eery when you suddenly have an epiphany and look back at that moment. It only took 15 minutes after whipping her for my blind eyes to open to the reality of what I had done. I'd become my father. Needless to say, I immediately called my ex-sister inlaw (remarried and divorced again by this time) to come over, along with my newly ex-husband. We went to the hospital to document everything, had the kids go home with her for the night and contact the appropriate authorities. I called my mother, ashamed for what I had done and neglected to do for my daughter. I needed someone to talk to, and since my parents had alienated extended family, they were the only people I had to call. And I was dumbfounded at her reply when I told her what happened. She literally asked me why I would have bothered to get children services involved? That was it. I was finished with God. I realized what a delusion I had really been living under. I was dismayed at how I had neglected to step up and pay attention to what was happening in my home because I was so wrapped up in my own blind search for answers. The last 8 years has been a process of rebuilding my life. Confronting my demons and getting help, not trying to pray them away. I will not show the arrogance of my parents and take the attitude that if God forgives me, then that is enough. I want to make sure that this stops, and stops NOW. I was ordered to only 6 weeks anger management by the court, but I opted to extend that and attended intensive therapy for 3 years. I served time in jail, worked on a reunification program, but realized my life was so unstable I needed to protect my daughters, so they were lovingly adopted by a wonderful family near by. I still have contact with them whenever possible, and overall, their life is stable, safe, and they are getting the right structure they need to be sure that they know what normal is. I never would have accomplished any of this recovery if I had remained with a church. My own father is attending yet another church, but I highly doubt he has confronted what he has done with other church members. I know he has still never admitted the full truth to my mother about what he has done to me sexually, and she was there when he verbally and physically hurt me and did nothing. I hold no hope for her whatsoever. I still get reprimands about how I live in sin and need to find god in my life. And I look at the examples I have personally seen, I look at the transgressions against my own children that I had previously justified under biblical thought, and I refuse to submit to such blind behavior any longer. Sadly, I have been to several different therapy groups and have met many more in my shoes, and I realize I might receive some heavy handed criticism here for my transgressions against my family, but I want others out there who have been victims, and have created victims, to know that you have to take responsibility and step forward out of the haze you are living in.
  5. http://www.amazon.com/Crooked-Cross-Journey-Religious-ebook/dp/B0073NQBXC/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1328389907&sr=1-2 This is the link to "Crooked Cross: A Journey Out of Religious Abuse" on amazon.com. This heart-wrenching story starts at my early childhood, being born into a strict fundamentalist Christian environment. It traces my steps as I fell deeper and deeper into harmful religion, and ended up in a cultic world that I didn't know how to escape. I did escape, however, and start down the road of healing and freedom. Find out how. -Willow-
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