Once I started realizing that all perpetrators are not the same, I could see that they fell into different subcategories. This is how I break it down:
There are the egomaniacs who believe their knowledge and expertise make their opinions above question or challenge. They have no tolerance for people who have the audacity to disagree with them. Someone who attempts to teach them something new, or who doesn’t fit neatly into their assessment of a situation need to be forced into compliance. People who outright disagree with them are treated like an enemy who must be concurred.
There are perpetrators who know that what they are doing to their victims is wrong or sinful, and after the fact might apologize; but their purpose for an apology is to relieve their conscience or minimize their offense. They don’t really care if it benefits their victim. Once an apology has been stated, their expectation is that the offense is forgotten. At a minimum, they feel no more obligation towards their victim, so when the offense occurs again, it’s no big deal and is completely unrelated to the earlier offense.
There are also perpetrators who are caught in a vicious cycle of abuse. They likely were themselves victims in the past who never had the ability to heal from their own wounds. They lash out or act out when the situation triggers an abusive response. Afterwards they may feel a huge weight of guilt and shame. They might sincerely regret what they did and promise never to let it happen again. Their resolve is genuine but doesn’t address the trigger that caused the outbreak in the first place. Therefore, sooner or later the abuse will be repeated.
There are more subgroups of abusers, but the last one I want to mention here is the perpetrators who experience true remorse for their offense. They own their obligation to their victims to help them heal. They own their responsibility to take specific action steps to do their own healing so that the abuse is not repeated. They accept and respect the victim’s need to rebuild trust over time. as part of the consequences of their acts.
These things I have written here are not coming from a book or expert in the field of abuse. I’m sure that things I have read and things my counselors have helped me recognize have helped to form these conclusions; but to the best of my knowledge they are coming primarily from my own history of being abused. I am not claiming authority to guide anyone else; but I am sharing my personal perceptions on this topic
I’ve been thinking about perpetrators lately. Someone very dear to my heart will soon be serving a jail sentence for viewing child pornography. Make no mistake, he IS a perpetrator; but at the same time, on many levels, he is also a victim. By participating in a repulsive, abusive crime against innocent children, he has severely injured his beloved wife, his family, and countless other people. Nothing I say in this post minimizes or excuses his actions. However, knowing him as I do and seeing his character & faith since he was exposed leaves no doubt in my mind that he is also a victim of his own crime. He compromised his integrity and behaved beneath his own code of conduct. The guilt and shame of a lesser man would have blamed it on someone else or excused his own behavior; but this young man has done neither. He could be bitter about the people (some he loved and trusted) who have turned away and completely withdrawn from hi., Instead he chooses to be thankful for the people who have come along side and encouraged him and his wife. He deeply and sincerely regrets what he did. I can’t help but feel compassion as he is now facing the consequences of his choices. There is so much more to him than this ugly fraction of his life. I know that what he is dealing with now as a result of his crime is only the tip of the ice burg. There awaits repercussions that will reach far into his future. My heart aches for him – this dear perpetrator that I love.
I will write more another time. My thoughts have not remained centered on this particular case. I may alter the focus to encompass reflection on some of the perpetrators against me.Stay tuned for further developments.
My separate self began soon after our family made a geographic move. My dad was a minister and our denomination was small, so when he changed churches, it often meant moving to an entirely new area.
I actually was very intentional about becoming someone new. Every time we went to a new place, people asked me about my double name (the name choice of my parents). I was embarrassed and felt very uncomfortable explaining that my parents had not agreed on a name for me for quite a while after my birth. When my uncle threatened to name me for them, they decided it was time they compromised. The result of that compromise was my double name.
Questions about identity always left me feeling vulnerable and exposed, though I didn’t know why.
I was 11 years old when we moved this time. According to my way of thinking, that was old enough to choose my own name. Changing my name was only the outward aspect of my new identity. I saw this move to a new place, where nobody knew me, as an opportunity to change my name and redefine who I would be.
I had become a Christian at age 9, so the new me was going to center on that aspect of my personality. The Beatitudes became my blueprint. I studied it in my new Bible (Amplified Version). It was all about being happy and blessed. I also studied the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, where Jesus taught people how to be as well as what to do.
I thought I had a pretty clear idea of who I wanted to be. It was only natural for me to have a new name to go with the new me. When people in the new location asked me what my name was, I gave only the first half of my previous name.
That was the easy part. I had no idea of the trouble and turmoil that was about to enter my life.
I mentioned in the last post that I want this sight and my book to be safe for people who read them. Here I want to expand on that statement.
One group of people I hope will find safety and a kindred spirit in the words I write is my fellow sufferers of trauma and abuse. A second group is the perpetrators. That might sound strange to you, so let me explain. Both groups of people are held prisoner by their own thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Their memories of the events bind them to silence; and their sense of self takes a terrible blow. I do not excuse or minimize the responsibilities of the perpetrator. I am simply trying to say that they also suffer from their actions, even if nobody ever finds out what they did.
Here my world view comes into play. I recognize that every human being is deeply and severely flawed. We all have the potential to become perpetrators, causing great pain and trauma to others. It is important to differentiate between someone who repeatedly, strategically sets their mind to do harm to others, and the people who unintentionally cause harm.Yet I believe all of us find ourselves in one or both of these groups at some point in our lives. We all desperately need the grace and mercy of our fellow humans, and we all need the mercy and grace of our Heavenly Father.Jesus’s words in the Bible are clear, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you use to deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.” Matthew 7: 1,2
No, I will not excuse or minimize the amount of harm a perpetrator brings upon someone else; but I can’t escape the fact that I also am in desperate need of mercy and forgiveness, Therefore I must be committed to the hard and sometimes long process of forgiving my perpetrators. I hope and pray you, dear reader, are able to comprehend what I’m saying.
For years we have written our life stories here; but we came to the point where the internal turmoil it was causing prevented us from continuing. Our difficulty wasn’t that we doubted what we were writing. Instead, we were troubled by how telling our story was apt to impact other people’s stories. We value our right to speak about our experiences with integrity and honesty; but in doing so it was inevitable that we were telling the stories of others who might not want their stories told.
It’s been more than a year since we last posted our thoughts at this site; but it is time to start fresh. We are beginning again from a new perspective and approach. We are still committed to speaking with integrity, but our focus isn’t on how people injured us, causing grief and trauma. I think it is apparent that trauma has been a huge part of life for us – a given which doesn’t need to be justified, amplified, or proven. We want this to be a safe place for everyone (internal and external), and giving details about traumatic events and experiences can be triggering to some. We want to focus more on the process of working through traumas and the challenges that we encountered in the process. We recognize the importance to our pears of having the insights and perspective of someone who has gone through the process of healing and learning to live a healthy, balanced life. That sounds a bit too much like we feel we have “arrived”, which isn’t the case at all.
When we were in the pit of our miserable, pre-therapy days, I would listen to people talk on the radio about how awful their lives used to be before they turned everything around and achieved their perfect, happy lives (and wrote a book about it). Many times I wished they would have a guest speaker who was still in the process of becoming who they wanted to be so that I could learn from their process. I want to be that voice for my brothers and sisters who recognize how much farther they have to go. One of the advantages of a blog is that we can grow along side of each other.
There is more to write before this “Beginning Again” post is complete; but this is enough for now. I will pick it back up soon.
Today was the anniversary of my mother’s death. Although the intensity of my feelings has subsided, I still feel the pain of the loss. The injustices of what followed only make the pain more intense. I’ve worked hard to heal, and the progress I’ve made is undeniable, yet the ache in the pit of my soul remains.
Recently our pastor’s wife passed away from Cancer. We are a very small group of believers in our church, so we are very close to one another, and we love our pastor dearly. We will miss his precious wife greatly.
In addition to the grief we feel at this loss, there is the added element of Cancer being the cause of death. It brings back very painful memories of my mother’s death. There are so many things about my mother’s death that shouldn’t have happened the way they did, and I can’t help but still feel the injustice of it all. I’m not mad at God for taking her, just mad at the people who should have been sensitive and supportive and weren’t.
I sent away for a course in writing creative nonfiction to help me with writing my memoir. It was very helpful in many ways, from having a better idea how to write about traumatic events in real life, to tips and instructions about sentence structure. I viewed all 26 lectures straight through over the course of a week or so. Now I am taking each section slower to absorb the teaching and apply it to what I am writing. Each session ends with a writing assignment which I didn’t do the first time through, but I will do the second time. I know now that I really need an agent to promote my book and help me in the process of refining my writing. I don’t know how I am going to go about getting one, but when the time comes I am sure God will open the necessary doors. He has never let me down so far and I don’t expect Him to start anytime soon.
It’s been so long since I put up a new post, I hardly know where to begin. I’ve been working on writing for the book. I purchased a course on writing creative nonfiction. There are many good ideas in it.
I also read a good memoir and got inspiration from that as well. So you see, even though I haven’t posted anything new for quite a while, I haven’t been totally idle. Hopefully it won’t be as long before I post again.