In the book Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse by Dr. Steve Tracy, he evaluates and outlines the nature and impact of abuse and then outlines an organic path towards healing from abuse. In the third part of the book called “The Healing Path”, he highlights a story of a girl named Samantha who found it hard to process memories of her childhood and family history. Through telling her story and learning to feel the pain of her childhood, Samantha was able to remember that she was abused by her father. Her counselor had her look at pictures of herself when she was a little girl, which led to her to begin to live in truth with the pain that her abusive father caused her. She began to have compassion on the little girl she saw in the pictures and realized the deep shame she felt because of the abuse, and how she loathed herself all these years because she felt that it was her unloveliness that brought about all the pain. She then wrote a poem about herself from the mind of the little girl who was abused and how she felt inside and what she longed for, and she titled it “Reaching Out”:
Who will cry for this little girl?
Who will quiet her tears of pain?
Who will reach for this little girl
Who will shelter her from the rain?
Please won’t you hold me and just let me cry,
Say words of comfort and wipe my sad eyes?
Please won’t you play or just spend some time,
‘Cause just being with me would be very fine.
I hear words of anger and I try ways to hide,
But the words are so cutting and they hurt deep inside.
I long for attention and for someone to care,
I feel like that’s bad, so I hide away in despair.
I’ve learned to be strong, but feel very weak.
O Lord, help me find the wholeness I seek.
In this poem, we hear the sad words of loneliness in her own home which was supposed to be a place of rest, safety, and comfort. Often times, in homes where a parent is an abuser, the family as a whole (the other parent and siblings) is dysfunctional in the sense that they are all powerless to address the real issues that are going on in the home. The inaction of other members of the family to acknowledge or protect their child or sibling from the abuse that they have experienced is often harder to heal from than the actual abuse that took place.
Many times, the abuser is also a “loving” parent who shows many wonderful qualities as a parent, but in the secret places, he/she is a narcissistic, self-pleasing person who will do anything to gratify the flesh and not own up, admit or even be able to see that his/her behavior is despicable. The hidden sin of the abuser causes a false reality or a false dance, that the whole family dances to and everyone thinks that it is just the way things are.
So when a little girl like Samantha begins to cry out for help, she is looked at as a troubled child, or over emotional or too needy. Everyone in the family is too unhealthy to realize that children learn to behave in certain ways according to the environment they grow up in and their behavior is not necessarily because of their inherent personality.
This is a wake up call to family members to learn to live in truth and listen to their children. I do not mean to say that one needs to assume that there is abuse or trauma just because a child is acting out, but to write off children’s cries for help and not to take the time to care for them, extends the child’s pain and ability to relate properly and healthy in the future.
This is a wake up call for parents to deal with their own junk and emotional pain so that they can be healthy enough to truly love their children.
This is a wake up call to family member who are grown up now and have a sibling who has come out with memories of past abuse, not to live in denial and to resist going to the place that just maybe their life that they thought was reality, was really a dance that was off beat all these years. Denial of a family system that was abusive and unhealthy will never allow one to truly mature in the Lord and experience the fullness that Christ intended for His children.
This is a wake up call for all of us to realize that denial and deadness to past hurts (to us and/or others) may provide temporary relief, but they are actually weak replacements that will only leave us more tired and more disconnected from God and the ones we love.
This is wake up call for all of us to get healthy so we can walk with others who are hurting and have been silenced because of years of powerlessness and shame. We need one another. God uses people to help heal other people. God desires family members to trust in Him over a family system. There are too many silent sufferers who need people to listen to them, empower them, and give them a voice. God desires family members, friends, and pastors to stop neglecting sin that is right in front of them and start advocating and taking proper (and healthy measures) to create a safe place for abuse victims to begin their healing journey. Reach out to someone you know who needs you to walk with them.