|Photo Credit Scott Mills|
When we learn about stories like Tina Anderson, and others encouraged to basically let it go or to basically 'be silence'? That is what is meant by the Holy Hush.
The Shattered Silence as quoted from Ms. Nason-Clark's paper:
The silence is the being shattered as one woman at a time tells her story of battery under the umbrella of her local congregation within a safe space that has been created for such disclosures.Sadly, for people like Tina Anderson it took 13 years to find. There are what I call 'safe churches', but I think for most of us we need to feel that safety prior to opening up completely.
The church that I attend was a place that I felt out or checked out first . I wanted to be comfortable with their line of teaching, preaching, etc. I made a point before becoming to 'invested' in this church to attend a new members orientation type of meeting. I was in the room with some leaders and members, and I decided right away I would tell them I am a victim of domestic violence. My daughter was in the next room waiting for me, and they basically got up - closed the door - and handed me a business card to our local domestic violence shelter. The conversation THEN moved to my safety, etc. You could literally FEEL the concern.
At this point I felt so much more safe with them. I mean they handed me a secular agency's card, because they knew I needed experts in the field. Then they concentrated on key factors like safety from there. You knew they would be there for the journey if I needed help, AND they were not afraid to partner with experts as well.
I remember a poster over at Our Place - an online forum for abuse victims or survivors (both men and women are there) there was a woman that had been out for quite some time. She still searches for that safe congregation, and I remember the last one she found turned out didn't 'get it' either.
Well, I've been to meet with the pastor.Let's be honest with ourselves, and say if this pastor had indeed read anything about domestic violence? He would have said so, but he offered up no type of education, books, papers, etc on the subject.
Gut feelings - yes. I had some during the interview and now after too. It's not that the pastor was outright rude or anything, but just that "gut feeling" that something wasn't right.
One of the first things I said was, "So you've actually had training in domestic violence related issues?"
He answered in the affirmative, and then I asked, "Have you read the book 'What Every Pastor Needs To Know About Domestic Violence'?"
He kinda rolled his eyes - not outright rolling of them, but a sort of ... I don't know how to explain it, but something that gave me the feeling that he was sort of diminishing my question, and he said, "There are hundreds of books out there on domestic violence..."
Mmm-hmm. Gut feeling not comfortable.
Keep in mind the above is just a small portion of what she wrote about. She did tell them upfront she needed someone knowledgeable. This wasn't a surprise to them - like my meeting was.
She has been out for a number of years, and she has been earnestly searching for church family. She truly wishes to have one, and she pretty much lost her support from her church when she left her abuser. Sadly, that is very common in some faith circles.
The bottom line message for her from this pastor?
As I recall some of the things he said, I might add to this. The bottom line of what he said to me was that I really need to get involved in a local church body, whether it be the one where he is the pastor or another one.He was basically more concerned about her being in church than anything else.
If you look at - again some faith circles - this seems to be a familiar theme. If you can't 'feel' you will be safe there? (Notice this pastor didn't go out of way to make her feel that!)
Trust your gut, and find another place of worship. People being in church maybe important, but it will do more harm than good if the church doesn't 'get it'. Its not your job to educate them, because only they can be responsible for NOT having major blind spots. They have to make the decision to be a realistic form of support, faith family, etc.
I'm going to leave you with an audio that speaks of the 7 commandments of a survivor that I felt was very helpful. Its about 3 minutes, but I felt it was packed with wisdom and encouragement. I think it also speaks of Nancy Nason-Clark's Shattered Silence and Holy Hush's theme.
Google Doc (For Nancy's Paper) only gives you so much room for documents with a preview. She had 'references, footnotes, etc' on that paper as well, and if you would like the entire thing? I have uploaded it as well. You will need to download the file, due to google doc's size restriction. Preview of the Shattered Silence or Holy Hush? without footnotes is available as well. I enjoy papers on human behavior, and she mailed this to me back in 2005. I basically scanned it for everyone else.
If you have a hard time listening to audio's online? Here is Dee Ann Miller's transcript of the audio.
Survivors are fielded with commandments that come from the spiritual community, even if you aren't a survivor of clergy abuse.
You have heard many commandments:
Thou shall keep quiet - would be one
Thou shalt preserve the institution
Shall shalt not bear false witness - meaning that you are lying
Shall shalt not speak against your neighbor
on and on it goes as if these were these are the voices of God.
For survivors who have a deep religious faith or have had one?
It is important in the renewal of spirituality to understand that everything that one is commanded from the institutional leaders is not necessarily helpful
I thought giving you 7 commandments could be helpful
So here they are:
Commandment one - thou shall NOT blame thy self when others do not get it.
They suffer from short sightedness and blind spots. You are not responsible for changing that. THEY ARE!
Commandment two - thou shall NOT set a timetable for your healing, OR for the healing of the larger community. While time alone can not heal - healing takes time.
Number 3 - thou shall not accept without question anyone else's prescription for your healing. YOU alone can judge when, and how to proceed. When to take a rest, and when to celebrate.
Number 4 - Thou shall not fail to celebrate small successes. You may the only one that recognizes them, and the only one that can reward yourself for them.
Commandment number 5 - thou shall NOT isolate thyself. No matter how strong the temptations seem, or how overwhelming the struggle taking time to be alone may help. But staying in isolation stifles creativity and leads to OVER AWFULIZING! (lol I love that word - awfulizing!)
Commandment #6 - Thou SHALT surround thyself with beauty. Beautiful people, nature - beautiful music and enriching experiences. Reminding yourself that all of these good things produces strength, and growth.
Commandment #7 - Thou SHALL stand TALL! even when feeling low. Showing to the world what you are learning about yourself as you overcome.
Isn't that awesome? Take Courage is Dee Ann Miller's website, and AdvocateWeb is where I found her podcast.
I pray one day that churches around the world will realize to pigeon hole abuse victims and survivors, and basically think of the 'establishment' more than the people? Its hurtful, sinful, and they can be so much more. It's sad that abuse victims can be more strong, faithful, and transparent than they can.
It's time to GET REAL, and allow the healing to begin!
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