Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Prayers of a Child

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake…
If I should die before I wake?  If I should die before I wake?  What a scary, frightening prayer for a child!  Yet this is an all too true statement for children who are victims of custodial / parental abuse; the children who were or are being threatened with, “If you tell anyone about this, I will kill you.”  In a scenario such as this that prayer has become all too real and all too frightening. 

If and when the child does make the effort to tell someone, often they are not believed.  I know this on a personal level. At the young and tender age of nine I learned a valuable lesson about the old adage of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”.  One must remember the year was 1961 and families, communities and generally John Q. Public didn’t speak of such things let alone discuss them publically.  

Current statistics say that one out of every three to four girls has been sexually assaulted by the age of 18. One boy out of every six will be abused by the age of 18.  

* Although we have some reports and convictions to base these statistics on, they are actually not accurate. So many cases of child molestation go unreported each year, so we really cannot estimate the real numbers. The FBI reports that the National Institute for Mental Health found that only 1% to 10% of victims ever tell that they were abused. Boys report far less than girls. 
  • The average child molester will molest fifty girls before being caught and convicted. 
  • A child molester that seeks out boys will molest 150 boys before being caught and convicted and he will commit at least 280 sexual crimes in his lifetime.
  • The standard pedophile will commit 117 sexual crimes in their lifetime.
  • Most sexual abuse happens between the ages of 7 and 13.
  • There are over 491,720 registered sex offenders in the United States.
  • 80,000 to 100,000 of the above offenders are missing.
  • Molesters known by the family or victim are the most common abusers. The “Acquaintance Molester” accounts for 70-90% of reported cases.

This website also defines Child Molestation and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the common “signs” of childhood sexual abuse.

My constant companion since I can remember had been guilt, depression and low self esteem.  It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I was formally diagnosed with clinical depression. 

For years I felt victimized until I read an article about situations such as these.  I more than likely was not the only victim of this person and it was not against me personally.  Crimes such as these are based upon power and control.  Somewhere, somehow I developed the mentality that “you can be a victim once, but the next time you become a willing volunteer.” 

I remember anger at God for allowing this to happen, especially since this person was a deacon in our church.  I raged against God (and society) during my tumultuous teen years.  Certainly there was no God if things like this are allowed to happen to children, I reasoned.

Through all of this the miracle was that God was calling me, speaking to me, drawing me into a deep and profound relationship with Him.  He had a lot of filth and crust to penetrate, but He did it ever so gently, peeling back the layers as if they were the skin of an onion.  He somehow taught me to recognize those who also had been abused and victimized as children and more importantly, to reach out to them.

Then the Lord was faithful to forgive me and to show me how to forgive others, even the perpetrator of these crimes.  I learned that forgiveness is not for them, but for the victim.  What we call “The Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew chapter six, verses 9 – 15 reads as such:
9 In this manner, therefore, pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
~the New King James Version 

For years I ignored verses 14 & 15.  Later in Matthew 18, verse 6 we read: 
6But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
~also from the New King James Version 

Forgiveness is my act of obedience.  Judgment belongs to God.

I often struggle with how much do I or should I share on this blog?  How transparent do I want to be?  Or maybe this issue is how exposed do I want to be?  Some of you may be offended by the subject of this blog.  That is your choice.  I am merely sharing the amazing grace of God.  I, after all, am the Wretch the song is about.