silence doesn't make abuse go away
"Silence" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
The amount of effort that goes into silencing victims and their advocates is really overwhelming and quite unbelievable.
I know it happens everywhere, but it seems especially powerful in the Christian community. I've learned a lot this past year about abuse and the tactics used for silencing victims and their supporters.
One of the most naive beliefs is that if you just ignore it or forget about it or shut up about it, it will go away. In fact, if you talk about someone's story of abuse for too long, apparently you
become the abuser by reminding people of past abuses that have not been addressed appropriately if at all. You become the nuisance. You become the problem. You become the one who is ruining the community for everyone.
Too many people believe that an incident of abuse is an episodic mistake and that in contrast talking about it is an incessant whining. Too many people think abuse is a forgivable oversight on the way to success whereas constantly trying to address it is an expression of deep-seated bitterness and an unforgivable betrayal of success. Too many people think these vocal victims are unwilling to sacrifice themselves to some greater good. Too many people fail to see that this episodic abusive event is symptomatic of a deeper malady, and that is the abuse of power.
Too many people think those who talk a lot about their abuse are selfish. In fact, all the victims I know speak up about it not so much for themselves but for others. They want to stop abuse. They don't want others to suffer what they did. They are advocates for justice.
It has been suggested to me that there are other issues to address in the church besides abuse. I wonder. In fact, I've come to the conclusion that the core issue at the heart of our communities is the abuse of power and its privileges. All other problems stem from here. It is the church's enthrallment with power and power's parasitic, and, yes, symbiotic, relationship with our communities that too often concludes with the dehumanization of people.
I've come to the conclusion that it is a political problem... that is, how people dwell together.
Join us at The Lasting Supper where we try to be a truly democratic community without the abuse of power.