Tag Archives: victim

For One of the Least of These: Helping The Emotionally Naked and Vulnerable

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

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Have you ever felt emotionally naked? Perhaps a secret is exposed, or you fear you shared too much of your inner struggle. Maybe a friendship or relationship ends and you regret trusting so deeply.

These situations and others make us emotionally vulnerable.

I have met people who in the spirit of self-protection have all but eliminated social connections from their lives. It is easy to shake my head and wonder how someone could make such a decision. However, in all honesty, there are times  emotional vulnerability felt too scary, and I have backed off too.

Maybe we all have.

There is one particular type of vulnerability we will do well to attend. That is, the painful, terrifying, likely years-in-the-making, admissions of victimization by abuse.

Abused children and adults generally have great difficulty asking for help. Perhaps they believe the lies of the abuser – you deserve this, you made me do it, or  if you tell I will make your family suffer,  and other emotional beat-downs and threats.

Some victims have tried to tell before, and received poor responses from family, friends, church, or even professionals. They fear trying again. Unfortunately, many who come forward find it challenging to make people believe their story. This is especially true when the abuser is narcissistic and will lie, cry , or blame the victim in an attempt to keep up appearances.

The kindest way to help these vulnerable folks is to believe them.  To anyone to whom an abuse victim shares their experience – do not judge. Even if you think you grasp the situation, do not judge. Listen, and do what you must to keep this person safe.

To anyone currently in an abusive situation – tell your story until someone believes you. Your best options for that are probably shelters and abuse centers.

We can each provide “clothes” for the emotionally naked. Acceptance is the garment that will help a person recover and not retreat again into the shadows.

Today’s Helpful Word

Matthew 25: 37

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you … naked and clothe you?…’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers (and sisters), you did it to me.’”

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

Living With Mental Health Disability: the Power to Live With Purpose

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

Fear has threatened to take me out of the game. I thought my challenger is Major Depression, which it is, however through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy I’ve learned to manage that quite successfully. Fear is what overpowers my coping skills more than I would like to admit.

Three years ago, two psychologists, a psychiatrist, and a therapist told me I am disabled. Their professional point of view was that major depression recurrent, generalized anxiety, and PTSD would keep me from working full-time. 

Initially, I took it hard. It felt like a punch to the stomach that these people who knew me so well did not believe I could make it on my own. My husband had just moved out, and although I was writing and two years into my advocacy work, my income was not enough support. I worried about employment and entrepreneurship. Possibilities stretched before me.  After hearing  I am disabled,  instead of looking at major depression as something conquerable,  I started to believe it had conquered me.

When these professionals whom I respect and trust, originally stated their case, my mental health issues were arguably disabling.  Evidence they interfered with my ability to work was clear. It still is.

The other side to the story

What a roller coaster my last two years have been!  Challenges have included: a major move; loss of relationships;  learning to live independently;  financial issues;  a court case; loneliness; health problems, and stressful decisions concerning this ministry. In my family alone, my dad died, I saw my estranged brother for the last time, conflict with a son resulted in a change of living arrangements, and my divorce was finalized. Yikes!

Most of these make the life’s major stressors list. Depression has been naturally triggered sometimes.  In the worst of it,  major depression never took a solid foothold. Coping skills and strategies did their work.

Ironically, I felt victimized by a chronic condition, and yet it is fear that actually slows me down. Anxiety is a true disorder; I am not making light of that. To be honest however, there are moments I choose fear when it could be overcome. 

I have feared being incapable, or of trying because failure is certain. I have catastrophized worst case scenarios when evidence points toward positive outcomes. The word “disabled” rings in my ears, causing me to hesitate.

The lesson here is not that anxiety and depression are easily controlled, or that we who struggle with them need to shape up. NO, to say that would be to contradict my years-long message.  Rather, it is important to believe we are not victims. Our lives are challenged by mental illness and disorders that do not define us. 

There is more than meets the eye

We witness courage in ourselves each day we take small and glorious steps. Sat up in bed today? Took a shower? Ate? Bravo! Stepped outside? Called a friend? Went to work? You are a conqueror! Has someone labelled you disabled?  You do what you can!  Push the envelope safely, yet try.  

No one has the privilege of telling you what you do is not enough or that you cannot move forward. Learn the skills that make you functional. Use them every day. Choose hope even when life is dark, and in the face of limitations, know you have the power to live with purpose.   

girl lookingToday’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 31: 25, 26

“She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear at the future. When she speaks her words are wise and she gives instruction with kindness.” 

 

**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

Cross Your Line Between “Stuck” and “Growth”

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

photo-24747927-downcast-womanNila believes.

Kyrian believes.

Even Rusty believes, but hopefully not.

Nila lost her temper on the job in an occupation where losing control is especially frowned upon. Consequently, she was sent to anger management classes and therapy for depression. It was in the latter that I heard her speak of her troubles and desire for peace.

Something was missing, though. It seemed that week after week for months, her story remained the same. She mentioned a painful, difficult relationship that grew worse when she yelled. Any suggestion she stop yelling was met with agreement, followed by no change.

Change is hard. We all struggle with it. Nila’s experience was not unusual in that it was complex – fixing her relationship was not her job alone. Nevertheless, her lack of movement was not because there was nowhere to go. I witnessed her unwillingness to try.

Kyrian is spending his life in front of his television. His opportunities include higher education, social circles that want him, and a decent job that pays the bills. Yet he avoids school and friends, choosing instead a pattern of work, TV, sleep, and repeat. Occasionally Kyrian expresses dissatisfaction.

Social anxiety and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are not simple nervousness or unwillingness to reach beyond shyness. They are in fact characterized by episodes of paralyzing fear. Overcoming them is to reject everything one’s body and brain are saying.  Fight, Flight, or Freeze become daily choices.

Kyrian used to say he wants more for his life. He has defeated many fears in the past. Lately though, he says he is content. I believe he is tired of stretching his limits.

Rusty’s eyes barely lifted. He was ashamed and humiliated by his father who abused him with vicious words. At the time I knew him, Rusty was a child who still had a little light in his eyes. Years later, I wonder about adult Rusty and whether he is ever able to see himself in the mirror without hearing his father’s lies. I hope he has learned his value is not defined by a bitter man.

Nila believes she is a victim. It has become her identity. Kyrian believes he is defeated by anxiety. Rusty may believe he is a nothing. I hope not.

The line between “stuck” and “growth” is drawn at the point of decision. Will we be teachable? Will we accept responsibility for our own wellness? Will we crucify the lies and search for the truth?

Therapy is only as effective as the client’s decision to participate in healing. It may be a slow process, however each step forward is a positive choice.

It was not until I was in my early fifties that I understood God loves me as the perfect Father who cherishes his daughter. Prior to that I believed I was a disappointment, and that God only loved me out of pity. I had interpreted Scriptures that speak of God’s unfailing love through a lens of fear.

Finally, from the bottom of the darkest pit of hopelessness, I had to look up and admit maybe I didn’t know everything. People were able to teach me the truth because I decided to learn.

No one has to stay stuck.

pct250sToday’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 8:8-11
“All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse.
To the discerning all of them are right; they are faultless to those who have knowledge.
Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”   -Wisdom of Jesus

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*picture from Kozzi.com

The She-Devil Made Me Do It! Blaming Victims Makes No Sense

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2015  Nancy Virden

photo-24800378-frustrated-womanTwenty years ago, my responsibility at a church was to sing with a worship team at the beginning of each service. Because we were on stage, our belongings had to be somewhere else. One Sunday, my purse was stolen from the office where I usually kept it.

One Sunday, it was gone.  As some suspects were confronted, my purse was found.  A church member returned it saying, “You shouldn’t have left it where [the thief] could find it. Of course he stole it!”

On another occasion, a friend was taking her groceries into her home. A young neighbor boy with a bad reputation keyed her car while she was inside. When my friend confronted the boy’s parents, the dad said, “You shouldn’t have left your keys where the boy could find them.”

About ten years ago, coming around a corner on a city street, I saw in front of me a driver doing a forward-then-back-then-forward U-turn in the middle of the road. He broadsided my van, oblivious to other traffic. He was cited for an illegal turn, yet when I told the story to my family no one asked what it was like from my side of the road. Instead I heard,  “What were you doing that he hit you?” 

A woman was drugged in a bar, raped outside the bar, and in the morning had vague memories of trauma. It took her a long time to tell a friend what she remembered of the incident. When she finally dared, she was accosted with, “What were you doing there? What were you wearing?” 

A wife was repeatedly assaulted by her husband of nearly twenty years. Several bruised ribs, a broken bone, and a bottomed-out self-esteem later, she tried to report he had raped her on numerous occasions. “You are making your husband look bad and need to be quiet,” she was told. 

Do these stories turn your stomach? Whatever the wrongdoing,  it is always the fault and responsibility of the wrongdoer. Period. 

Most of us would agree that only evil men do evil deeds. Yet somehow we turn that around to suggest that an evil man’s victim somehow created a no-win situation for him, and the poor guy had no choice. This mentality suggests men are puppets incapable of following a moral compass.

Crime occurs when someone takes advantage of a vulnerable person. Period.

Why should I or anyone have to photo-24800380-a-shocked-womanexplain this? Shame on us for not protecting our vulnerable citizens. Shame on us for shaming victims. Shame on us for teaching evil people they are not responsible for their actions.

What a woman is doing, who she is with, where she is, what she is wearing, what she is thinking or feeling, her intelligence, her mental health, her self-esteem, her social position, her faith, or any other detail of her life are not factors making her responsible for crimes and abuse committed against her.

That is because evil people do evil deeds. Compassionate love does not accuse victims.

*****

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*picture from qualitystockphotos.com

To Amanda Berry, Gina deJesus, Michelle Knight, and the Rest of Us

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013 Nancy Virden

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Not Today.

I have been a victim; I am not today. 

Pain has threatened to overwhelm me; today I turn to loving support.

There have been hours and days I’ve been too afraid to run; I can run today and declare my freedom.

Sometimes my thoughts take me to anger, then rage, then revenge; I choose today to trust God with my vindication.

This moment it is tempting to go into the shadows and curl up and be sad; today I can limit that time.

My emotions will rise and crash driving me to wonder if I will ever be OK; today I will not worry because I am not alone.

Vicious words aimed for my heart are on the tip of my tongue; today, I will not be my own abuser.

I have been vulnerable, felt helpless, and scared; today I recognize my strength has come from inside, buttressed by God.

In the years that are gone I can see regret and waste; today I choose to look forward to watching how my experiences will play out for good.

I have cried incessantly; today I cry in the arms of those who care.

Darkness has been my existence; it is not today as I rest in the sun’s light. 

This is a day sorrow, grieving, and hurt could steal my life from me. I was a victim.

But not today.

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NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is,  please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*photo from Kozzi.com

 

Get Angry!!

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2013 Nancy Virden

Yes, get angry! Be upset that someone treats you like an object. Be offended when your voice is not heard. If you are hit, sexually attacked, insulted, and taught you are worth nothing, then be mad!

If your family rejects you, doesn’t believe your story, or tries to control your behavior, be irritated. Squinch up your eyes, throw back your shoulders and scowl if significant persons lie to you.

Be livid when people use your looks as a basis for judgement. Fume when bigotry excludes you from the country club, the pool, or the church. If religious folk treat you like less-than, be incensed! If the world mocks you for your beliefs, economic status, or size, be furious!

There is nothing wrong with anger. What’s sad is when a person does not believe they have a right (or reason) to combat maltreatment.  Learn to recognize when wrong is done to you. Then think very hard about what to do next. 

Make sure that anger is pointed in the right direction. Do not allow anger to destroy you. Why go from one poison to another? Bitterness is the poison we drink hoping someone else will die (author unknown). No, be angry at the prejudice, intolerance, holier-than-thou attitudes that incite hatred. Stand up and be angry for justice, not only at injustice.

Allow your anger to forge a path for energy, but be sure to adopt assertiveness, not aggression.  Leave violence out of the picture. Harshness, controlling behavior, and abuse of yourself or anyone else do not belong in your repertoire.

You are unforgiving of ignorance, not the ignorant. You feel infuriated by how long you have allowed others to pin you back, but this fuels your desire to make tomorrow better. Rage may not quite describe the intensity of your reaction to abuse, but while you used to be a victim, now you can be the conqueror.

Be angry, and live your God-given life!

*****

NOTE: I am not a trained or licensed mental health professional. I am not a doctor. I speak only from my experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

*photo from qualitystockphotos.com