When Silence is Not Golden

Silence

I remember the first time I heard Mary’s story.
I had a knot in my stomach and angry, hot tears streamed down my face.
I couldn’t believe that someone could hurt a child like that.
And that others knew but did nothing to protect her.

I’d rather not talk about it–
sexual abuse.

I’d rather not know that according to CDC statistics:
–Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men report experiencing rape.
–A 2011 survey of high school students found that 11.8% of girls and 4.5% of boys reported being sexual abused.

Or that according to the National Center for Victims of Crimes:
–1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
–Children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13.

Sexual abuse is not something I have experienced first hand, but statistically many of you reading this have.
Many.
And many of you who have shared your story (or not) have been met with silence.
And silence has a way of speaking volumes.

As a former English teacher, I love words.
Words create and convey and communicate meaning beyond their literality.

For instance, when someone asks me where “Lydia’s real mom lives?”
The question has adoption-parent-child-relationship-implications, that communicate much more than just a simple question of location.
I am her real mom.

An empty, silent crib shouts painful echoes of heartache.
A frozen “I’m sorry” has the potential to thaw the marriage battle. Or not.

Word choice is important. But so are pauses. So is silence.

Because silence is not always golden.

“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would’ve lived in the land of silence.” ~Psalm 94:17

And so we tell our children, over and over…
If you hear someone being hurtful to someone else, it is your responsibility to stick up for the wounded, to encourage, to come along side–

Because silence has the power to unintentionally condone cruelty.

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know…” ~William Wilberforce

I just recently finished reading Mary Demuth’s new book, Not Marked.
I read it because I care about Mary, because I want to understand as best I can how to support the friends I have who were sexually abused, and also because I want to prevent our children from experiencing that same kind of pain.

As a mama, I so appreciated Mary’s wisdom about ways to protect our children from sexual abuse because as she states, “every crime needs these two elements.  A perpetrator has to want to abuse, and there needs to be a victim in proximity” (Not Marked  pg. 223).

She goes on to share several suggestions that may help parents protect their children, “while still letting them be children” (pg. 226).

#1) Know Your Child–

“The best defense in protecting your kids is knowing them well.  Know their nuances; become a student of their behavior…If your child has a sudden shift in behavior, take it seriously” (pgs. 226-227).
Mary goes on to list many common symptoms of sexual abuse that a parent should take note of.

#2) Be Vigilant But Not Immobilized–

“Be cautious about adults seeking alone time with your child.  Watch your children and who they hang out with…Remember that abusers seldom look like criminals…(but) don’t become so immobilized that you never let your kids be kids.  You don’t want to raise fear-based kids (pgs. 227-228).

#3) Teach Your Kids About Sex–

” …you’ll need to talk about sex with your kids at an early age– in an age appropriate manner…The more comfortable you are talking about it, the more comfortable your kids will be in bringing you any concerns” (pgs. 228-229).

#4) Entrust Your Kids To Jesus–

“Although I have warned (my kids) about stranger danger and how to flee, and we’ve talked about inappropriate touch, I have also learned to entrust my kids to Jesus…We can lean toward controlling our kids, micromanaging their worlds.  While we should protect our kids, we’re also role models, demonstrating a life lived in adventure, not fear” (pgs. 229-230).

#5) Our Greatest Gift–

“The greatest gift we can give our kids is our relationship with Jesus, modeling to them what we do when we’re injured or hurt.  Our own willingness to run to Him with our pain will show our kids how to work through their own difficulties as they grow up.  Contagious family life is not about appearing perfect,…It’s about a bunch of messy people living together, broken, but running to Jesus to find help” (pg. 231).

As we read these words and consider this heartache…

Some of us are processing as parents wanting to protect children.
Or friends wanting to come alongside those we care about.
Or spouses who daily watch a loved one struggle through the aftermath of sexual abuse.
But many reading right now, have experienced these wounds personally.

If you are reading this today, a victim of sexual abuse, my heart breaks over your pain and heartache.
I am so sorry.

I’d like to share with you Mary’s Prayer for a Sexual Abuse Victim.
And if we can pray for you today, we’d like to do that.

We’d also like to share 3 copies of Not Marked with our readers.
We are praying this book can be a source of encouragement and hope.
In it, Mary doesn’t gloss over the pain and struggle, she doesn’t minimize the heartache, but she offers real suggestions (not platitudes) for healing and progress and she proclaims the freedom of living– not marked, but with true hope.

“For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” ~Eph. 2:10 NLT

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

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Comments

  1. says

    You covered this painful and difficult topic with such grace. You are such a blessing and what can I say about Mary … she is such an example of loving the Lord and allowing Him to use our pain to His glory and for the good of others. She is an amazing woman of God and so are you, sweet friend! I praise God for you both! xo

  2. says

    I’m having some trouble this morning getting the Rafflecopter box to show…have tried several times to repost the code, but if you click on the link, it’s working and you can enter the giveaway.
    Sorry about that, Kara

  3. Melinda Todd says

    I completely understand Mary’s story. Ours are almost identical. And even to this day, if you mention sexual abuse everyone clams up because they do not know what to say, how to react, or do anything. I will never understand my parents reaction or lack there of. Because when I think of someone doing that to any of my kids, I see myself going to prison over it and if it wasn’t me, it’d be my husband. It’s why I wrote my book about it too. Others need to be heard and understood and we need the steps to move toward forgiveness so we can move forward in our lives. Sexual abuse can keep you stuck in life. That’s no way to live.

    • says

      Oh Melinda…I’m so sorry. It honestly breaks my heart to think of a little one hurt like this and I know God must weep over it too. I am so thankful that you’ve also been willing to share your story to help others heal. It’s just such a picture of courage and as Kelly mentioned below– allowing God to use your pain to help and comfort others. Thank you for sharing here… Love, K

  4. LeAnn Williams says

    This hit home, I am afraid. We have three grandchildren that have been affected by sibling abuse. The oldest one committing the abuse against the younger two. He was taken out of the home until he turned 18 years old. Meanwhile, the other two children received some counseling. They gather together as a family often but it has been an unspoken subject. There was some counseling in the beginning but not very much. It has affected deeply one of the children, who is presently 22 years old. She is really messed up. If only the parents had been there and talked about it and got the help for the all. The wounds are deep. Presently, it is the family secret. The emotional and psychological effects are deep. I think there are too many of these stories like Mary’s. Parents to need to be aware and be protective of their children. I will look at getting this book.
    Blessings for bringing this one out.

    • says

      Oh LeAnn…I didn’t know.
      I’m so sorry…
      I will stop tonight and pray for your granddaughter.
      You have been one of my most encouraging online connections…faithful, supportive…and I am so thankful she has you in her life and that you are willing to acknowledge the heartache and the pain. Thank for reading and if you don’t win a book I will send you my copy. Love, Kara

  5. Jennifer Laws says

    Thank you for this post. I suffer from rape-related PTSD and even more than a decade later, the repercussions of the sexual abuse I suffered effect my everyday life, my marriage, and how I raise my children. It’s an amazing thing when people speak up and give others the courage to use their voices too.

    • says

      I am so sorry Jennifer… so sorry.
      I will stop and pray for you tonight…for the kind of healing only God can bring about. I so appreciate your vulnerability and willingness to share…and I really hope you are able to check out Mary’s book. I so appreciated her words and also just how her husband shares his perspective in it…because I can only imagine how going through something like that might affect marriage. I am thankful for your words here and you have my promise I will be praying for you tonight. Love, Kara

  6. Kay See says

    For those who’ve suffered or are suffering… The book Rid of my Disgrace is awesome and can be found on the resurgence website, a ministry of Driscoll’s mars hill Church. I highly recommended. Blessing and healing through Jesus alone.

  7. says

    Oh, thank you, Kara for sharing on this difficult, but oh-so-very-important subject. Like you, I’d rather not talk about it, but I know too many dear, dear friends who have been through this terrible abuse. I so appreciate the sensitive and wise way you’ve covered it here. I’m entering the drawing because I’ve been wanting to read Mary’s book every since you mentioned it to me! With thanks for you, Lisa

  8. MotheringFromScratch says

    {Kathy} Thank you so much for sharing this. You have pointed out several important “gut reaction” affirmations when it comes to raising kids in today’s society. I needed to review every single one of them. It is hard for me to let my kids be kids without being paranoid.

    • says

      I very much understand what you wrote above Kathy…
      I really appreciated Mary’s chapter on protecting our children because, though she has personally experienced this pain, she nudges towards wisdom and caution, but not being ruled by fear…I need that reminder too. Love, K

  9. Mary DeMuth says

    I’m humbled and grateful to be featured here by Cara. I’m so sorry that some of you have walked the painful journey of sexual abuse. I am proof that healing is possible, though for me it has happened in layers over many years.

  10. Paula Jennings says

    great post about a great (although difficult but oh so necessary) book. I was on the launch team for the book. I am a survivor and although I spent so much of the time I was reading in pain and flashbacks I got so much healing out of the end. I am not going to say what as i don’t want to ruin that for anyone who is going to read but the image Mary shares with her words helped me SO very much.

  11. Egalitarian says

    The “1 in 71 men have been raped” stat from the CDC survey doesn’t tell the whole story. It defines “rape” as the attacker penetrating the victim, which excludes women who use their vagina to rape a man (rape by envelopment) which is counted as “made to penetrate”. The very same survey says “1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else,” which is far more than 1 in 71. Also, the study says that 79.2% of male victims of “made to penetrate” reported only female perpetrators, meaning they were raped by a woman.

    The above, lifetime stats do show a lower percentage of male victims (up to 1.4% rape by penetration + 4.8% made to penetrate = 6.2%) than female victims (18.3%) although it is far more than 1 in 71. However, if you look at the report’s stats for the past 12 months, just as many number of men were “forced to penetrate” as women were raped, meaning that if you properly include “made to penetrate” in the definition of rape, men were raped as often as women.

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