A woman of action

... is generally what I'd refer to myself as being. I hate having loose ends over my head and things left unfinished around my house. I'd rather NOT start something at all than have to wait weeks or months to be able to finish what I started. I'm a do-er, not a waiter. I lack patience, this I know for-well, everybody- tells me so!

I'd like to share a story here that has raised up questions in my mind regarding the church and how abuse is treated in many church-circles. Here is a story of my own experience of second-hand abuse of power from spiritual and literal authority figures.

It all started my freshman year of university, I attended a Christian college which was like any college really- full of assholes but I was fortunate enough to meet a few really good people who became close friends despite the many jerks out there. One of my friends suffered with a strange roommate. Someone I can only look back on and classify as having major psychological issues. Someone who - if they were evaluated by a psychologist- probably wouldn't have been able to live in close quarters with other students. But they were. No one checked. Becoming friends with the girl who was this psycho's roommate I was surprised to hear a number of stories escalating from their first night in the same room to months into our first semester. This girl made off-comment remarks about wanting to have a sex change even though she came from a strict near-Amish background and only wore what her family deemed appropriate (usually long denim skirts, bun-wearing people). These comments were made out of the blue and were highly inappropriate in their timing as she would bring up subjects like sex-changes, etc out of the blue when no one- at all- was discussing anything similar. I found this strange but didn't say anything. I met a lot of crazies this year. This roommate would go from sullen to happy and angry in 60 seconds flat. She hated oranges-random but it always sticks out to me as I remember this chick as hating certain fruits lol. She wouldn't sit at a table if you were eating one. I have no idea why.

Her comments and topics became more odd as she brought up the fact she had weapons hidden in her room from her roommate (my friend). My friend had never seen them but was understandably a little concerned as it wasn't allowed for students to have guns, certain types of knives, etc in their dorm rooms for safety. The rest of our circle of friends were like.... um, okay. We should probably keep an eye on her- let us know if she says or does anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. Sure enough almost a month later this psycho chick facebook messages her roommate while she is out at classes, saying she had a gun and was planning on killing her  (the roomie) on such and such date when she got back to the dorm. WTF.

My friend was obviously stressed and upset and scared. Another friend went with her to show this message to the dorm resident director immediately who told the girls to 'pray over it' with her and invited them to pray over the subject-nothing more.

Well- at our urging (me and a few other girls who were freaking out by that point)- we helped our friend call the local police department and campus safety who immediately jumped on the case and arrested the psycho that afternoon to be taken in for questioning. She was expelled from school and given restrictions as to stay a certain distance away from her old roommate and the campus buildings. My friend's room was turned upside down as policemen took apart her psycho roommate's belongings looking for weapons. They didn't find any. However her threats and actions were deemed dangerous enough to get her expelled permanently and (I HOPE) her family sought to find her psychological help after this incident.

The girl was released that evening after being arrested and came back to our dorm to pack her things. I'll never forget how she smiled at me so innocently giving me chills down my spine when she saw me. She knew I was aware of what happened. It freaked me out when this psycho was allowed to just walk on into the dorm with no police around her after seeing her escorted out in handcuffs earlier that same day.

Just an example of what I've experienced in Christian circles (a poor experience but nevertheless true) regarding abuse and threats. I couldn't believe that the authorities in the dorm told my friend to 'pray about it' when her life was being threatened.

The same way I can't believe the things I have been told by misinformed Christians about the abuse from the N's. 'Do something to ease the tension before your wedding' 'do something to fix it'- as if the problem lay on my shoulders not theirs. 'Pray about it' or 'I'll be praying for forgiveness and reconciliation' as if there is NO price to be paid for wrongdoings in their twisted, religious minds. Not taking abuse seriously or threats against another person seriously angers me.

I am a woman of action and although I DO appreciate those who actively pray for me in illness, etc- I find prayer to be a first- NOT last and only step in a crisis involving abuse. A proper reaction should not be one that tells the abused to wait and see- to pray and wait- whatever the mumbo jumbo is at the time. A proper reaction should be one of a person willing to DO something- to help the abused. To take action to stop the abuser once and for all. For God's sake- don't sit on your ass and talk Christianese to me- if you really want to help pray for strength and guidance as you HELP me seek appropriate action on this. Don't pray for me to forgive them. For reconciliation. Pray for an END to abuse and a way to reach that end. Only in doing so can you really be loving to an abuse victim. Otherwise- you're just enabling the abuser and adding MORE guilt to the victim by throwing shame and finger pointing that they are part of the problem.

Comments

  1. Absolutely agree with you!! Action and protection is required.

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  2. While I wont argue the power of prayer, it is a very PASSIVE response to an AGRESSIVE situation. And that is no form of protection at all.

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    1. I agree! I do appreciate it from the people who MEAN it- not those who pat your head, say 'there there' and offer to meekly to pray for you and then forget. Kinda like saying 'let's do lunch' and never actually planning to do it. Lame!

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  3. Hi Gracie!
    Very glad that you wrote this blog about how religion can occasionally be inadvertently used to "aid" and "abet" abusers.

    Seriously... you took the words right out of my mouth!

    Here is a pet peeve of mine-- when some "religious" people use God or the scripture as a mechanism to give themselves permission that they do not have to change bad behavior. i.e. "I have been baptized and so it doesn't matter if I sin because I have already been forgiven." That kind of thinking can lead down dangerous paths.

    But what is worse is when religious organizations specifically use God, prayer, or scripture as an excuse not to take action in situations in which they feel uncomfortable. Or, they also use prayer/God to protect (bad) others in the congregation who they know are doing harm.

    That kind of thinking and logic is displayed in the story that you re-counted from college. It is very dangerous when religious organizations are willing to ignore the harm some members can cause. Using God/prayer in this way is really an adulteration of everything that is truly spiritual. Sheesh!!

    Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Glad you could connect to this topic! This really is the reason I haven't been to church in over a year. :/ I know not all Christians do this but have learned so much from my friends who do not believe in Christ on this topic. It seems when people don't believe in heaven or an afterlife they often choose to live more righteously than those that do! Live by the golden rule- etc. I've seen Christ's love better displayed by those rejected by the church due to their homosexuality among other things.
    I can't abide when other use spiritual abuse to silence the abused and I have to say that I feel God doesn't approve of that either- how mad this must make him!
    (ah dont know how I deleted my previous post but re-typed it here)

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  6. Gracie,
    Agree 100% with your views on this stuff.

    Makes me frustrated that "religious" people are supposed to be the best of the bunch, but many of them behave in ways that are absolutely against Biblical teaching.

    Unfortunately, I have seen much spiritual abuse over the years as well and lives ruined as a result. Just like you said, all of this must make God mad!

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