Five ways to honor survivors and a book giveaway

Last evening I lost it.

See, I’d decided a while ago not to post or say anything about the whole disgusting Fifty Shades phenomenon (books, movies, all of it), because I didn’t want to give it any more air time than it was already getting. Not that my piddly little blog will add much, but even adding a little is too much. But last evening I realized that by staying silent I was breaking my promise to never be silent when it comes to survivors and victims of sexual assault and abuse. Long ago I adopted Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel’s quote:

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

And so last night I posted this online:

“I swore I’d refrain from saying a word about [Fifty Shades], because I didn’t want to add any attention to this disgusting phenomenon. But…even The Huffington Post gets it. And as a survivor and victim advocate, there is no doubt in my mind this whole book/series/movie and anything remotely in its genre are straight from the pit of hell. On behalf of silent victims, I swore always to speak when wrong is being done. This is wrong.”

Click here to read the Huffington Post article. Share it. Spread the truth about the lies perpetuated by these books, this movie. For the sake of women who are scared for their lives and who have lost their lives because of men like the one portrayed in this, and because of women who think it’s okay for men to abuse–because there are a lot of enablers around to who are excited about the sick things and porn in this series, too.

Before last evening, I had planned on writing this blog post for today, but I hadn’t planned on mentioning the book/movie. I simply wanted to give people positive, proactive alternatives to helping survivors and victims and people hurt by the sociopaths and lies that indicate abuse and porn are love. I’m not going to list the facts and reasons why Fifty Shades is wrong…because every single one of the organizations below are dedicated to saying it better.

Lest you think I’m a prude, visit even one of these sites, read the statistics, read the survivor stories, and then I dare you to come back and tell me you still think sexual deviance and the silence–or not so silent acceptance–surrounding it is AOK.

The fact is, sexual deviance starts with small, silent instances of abuse and escalates, gets covered up by money or lies or both, and then escalates some more.

We can–we must–do more.

I have three challenges for you today:

1) Read through and visit the websites of the organizations listed below. Pick one and donate whatever money you’d spend on a night at the movies to one of them. 

2) Enter to win a signed copy of my first novel, How Sweet the Sound, and if you win, give it to a friend who needs hope.

How Sweet the Sound is a modern day allegory of the story of Tamar from II Samuel 13. Tamar was raped and then abandoned by someone she trusted, someone who was supposed to care for and protect her, too. Then, Tamar was left to live out her life utterly destitute, because the crime was covered up by murder and by a King who did nothing to restore her. This is where the allegory stops and my novel starts, however. Because I know from experience that life after a crime like that doesn’t have to stop at destitute. No, I know that there is hope and healing after abuse. There is freedom from fear and the bondage of shame. And the characters in my story tell how they find hope and healing, too. 

3) If you feel led, memorize Philippians 4:8, and never forget that true love is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and of good repute. 

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valentine

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Here are the organizations I find trustworthy and who are doing pretty amazing things for survivors, victims, and the prevention of sexually deviant behavior and crimes against children and women. Support one and make a positive difference in the fight against these horrendous evils today.

 

homepage-logos1. LoveIsRespect.org

Per their website: “The repercussions of teen dating violence are impossible to ignore – they hurt not just the young people victimized but also their families, friends, schools and communities. Throughout February, organizations and individuals nationwide are coming together to highlight the need to educate young people about dating violence, teach healthy relationship skills and prevent the devastating cycle of abuse. With their adult allies, youth activists achieved a major victory in 2005 and 2013 when the importance of addressing teen dating abuse was highlighted in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Loveisrespect.org is a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Break the Cycle. By combining our resources and capacity, we are reaching more people, building more healthy relationships and saving more lives.

“We designed loveisrespect.org to:

  • Create the ultimate resource for fostering healthy dating attitudes and relationships.
  • Provide a safe space for young people to access information and get help in an environment that is designed specifically for them.
  • Ensure confidentiality and trust so young people feel safe and supported—online and off.

“We are proud to call loveisrespect.org the ultimate resource to engage, educate and empower youth and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships.

“Looking for more info about healthy relationships and respecting boundaries? Check out these pages on our site:

logo2. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), has worked since 1978 to make every home a safe home. NCADV works to raise awareness about domestic violence; to educate and create programming and technical assistance, to assist the public in addressing the issue, and to support those impacted by domestic violence.

logo3. RAINN

One of America’s 100 Best Charities
— Worth Magazine

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.

images4. I Am One Voice and partner organization, OneVOICE4freedom

OneVOICE4freedom’s founder, Nicole Bromley, is an international spokesperson on child sexual abuse and trafficking. She is the author of Hush: Moving From Silence to Healing After Childhood Sexual Abuse, Breathe: Finding Freedom to Thrive in Relationships After Childhood Sexual Abuse and SOAR: A Film Series and Study Companion to Hush.

She speaks to universities all over the US, sharing her story and breaking the silence on sexual abuse and trafficking and is a guest expert for the media on such topics.For more info on Nicole’s personal story and books, visit http://www.iamonevoice.org.

Nicole began to expand her voice into the area of trafficking a few years into her public ministry after learning more about it and hearing story after story of sex trafficking survivors; she came to find a common thread—that beneath every domestic story, child sexual abuse had been occurring in the home. These trafficking survivors were running away from one trauma that Nicole could relate to and unknowingly they were falling into the arms of even further trauma by sly traffickers and those who purchase girls. Nicole felt called by God to be a voice against the injustice of trafficking as well. She stayed committed to her work as the founder and speaker and writer with OneVOICE but began to study, pray and get her hands dirty as a freedom fighter, bringing light into the dark world of sex trafficking, both domestically and internationally.

CGI-Logo-for-web5. The Center for Global Impact

This organization’s vision is to hope and pray for a future in which those we serve experience the freedom, dignity and fullness of life that comes when we enter into relationship with Jesus Christ.

Center for Global Impact seeks to bring the Good News of Jesus to those in the grip of poverty and bondage through education, vocational training and business development. Primarily working in Cambodia, many of those we serve are victims of — or vulnerable to — human trafficking.

Visit their site to see several different ways you can get involved and/or support them.

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Book Giveaway Details

Leave a comment on this blog and you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of How Sweet the Sound. One winner will be chosen at random (I put all the names in an online random name selector) and announced on Saturday, Valentine’s Day!

HOW SWEET THE SOUND 9781434705440_3D

Yesterday’s game to play. A poem.

Yesterday

the teacher asked my middle
son what do you want to be when you grow up
and he replied in the usual fashion of one
who believes
there is a world to grow up into
where souls don’t have to flee to mountains
and days are not filled with reminders of how things must have been for Noah
And so I smiled and nodded trying
hard to believe in growing up
and peace under
darkened suns and moonless nights

Today

I fled to my garden where mounds of hydrangea blooms cool
if only for a moment
the low grade fever of sadness spiking within me
Truth be told I’m hot and shaky and my head is filled with news flashes and the

thud

thud

thud

of boxes of food and diapers–diapers!–as they land on hills
trembling from the cries of the least of these and
despite the hydrangeas my soul screams
where
are the Bonhoeffers and Niemöllers and
why
didn’t we listen to them in the first place
but still
the bright yellow cross painted by my oldest son years ago stands steadfast beneath our river birch
and the Still Small Voice moves me like a
trumpet call and I choose
not to grow weary but to

go

keep watch and
live.

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Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play
Now I need a place to hide away

~The Beatles

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cross

 

 

 

 

Plain truth about the obscurity of abuse survivors.

paradoxical_silence_by_philomena_famulok-d6kcg8dShe adored him. Cooked for him. Tended to him. Laughed with him. Grew up with him.

He was her brother, after all.

Someone she looked up to.

Someone she could trust.

Someone who, because of the roles they naturally assumed, had authority over her.

***

He adored her.

Grew up with her.

Looked out for her.

Developed an all-consuming attraction to her.

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And then, he raped her.

***

Oh, sure, their dad was angry when he learned of the incident, but that soon passed. After all, he couldn’t bring himself to punish his eldest son, the apple of his eye.

The girl’s other brother, he took care of that, though. Killed the incestuous sibling.

And they lived happily ever after.

Most of them, that is.

Except for the girl.

They told her to hush.

They told her to get over it.

They told her to forgive and forget.

They told her the wounds would heal with time.

Get over it and get on with it, they said.

And they did.

Except for the girl.

Who, as the history books tell us, went off to live in desolation and obscurity.

Things haven’t changed much, have they?

Thousands of years have passed since the book of II Samuel was written and the lives of King David’s children, Tamar, Absalom and Amnon documented. 

Much ado has been rightfully made in the last week or two about an article published and then rescinded by the Leadership Journal. I’m not writing about it here to attempt to add to the wisdom of other writers have who’ve already posted on and led the way in successfully toppling this particular offender’s platform.

I only have a question.

What will you do about the Tamar’s, one out of every four (by conservative estimates) girls and women all around you?

In your church?

Yes, your conservative, evangelical, wealthy suburban church?

In your quiet little country church?

In your burgeoning, established city church?

Because the Amnon’s of the world know no boundaries.

It’s not the people you don’t know who will hurt your daughter, girlfriend, wife.

It’s the people you do know.

The charismatic worship leader.

The hipster youth leader.

The incred-amazing coach.

The theater professor.

The cousin.

The uncle.

The aunt.

The brother.

The father.

The mother.

The guy who got caught but weeps and grovels and praises Jesus for breaking him and makes everyone believe he’s been redeemed, who convinces everyone he had a mean judge who sentenced him to prison. Because you know, the girl in his youth group, she was sorta slutty, and she sat on his lap. What was he supposed to do? (See Maureen Garcia’s brave article here: I Married a Sex Offender.)

***

There is a better question.

What will you do to shatter the obscurity of the Tamar’s around you today?

To give them a voice?

To give them a platform?

To give them a reason

a purpose

and a hope

that they can step out of the shadows of shame

that they can live strong

and out loud

instead of in desolation?

***

Note: I wrote my novel, How Sweet the Sound, to give the Tamar’s of the world hope, and to let the rest of the world around them know what it feels like to suffer and begin to heal from the vices of sexual abuse and assault. I took great care to write the story in a way that is gentle enough for survivors to read without being triggered. But make no mistake: the book tells the truth. If you know a Tamar, they might like my book. And if you just want to understand a Tamar better, you might, too. 

***

For further reading, see also:

Ed Stetzer’s article, It’s Abuse not an Affair

Mary DeMuth’s brave post, Dear Man in Prison

Karen Swallow Prior’s heartbreaking article, #HowOldWereYou: Origins of a Heartbreaking Hashtag

Elizabeth Esther’s Open Letter to Christianity Today

HerMeneutic’s article, To Publish a Predator

The Leadership Journal‘s editorial apology for publishing their article, “From Youth Minister to Felon.”