Parenting, #MeToo and Family Values

“Boys will be boys”

This statement explains why boys sexualize girls and blame women for being assaulted.

How did your parents or caregivers prepare you for the #MeToo reality?

Every day another sexual predator struts into the news and the public debate begins whether they are innocent, guilty, framed or simply ignorant.

Even when the abuser admits their horrendous behavior, their family, friends, high school teachers and selected co-workers rush to their defense by loudly blaming the victim, minimizing the allegations and questioning the victim’s attire, motivations and timing.

As a #MeToo survivor, I am grateful for the new wave of supporters who believe the victims because they understand there is absolutely no benefit in lying about being harassed, assaulted or raped.

However, the risks of being ignored, shamed, blamed or called a liar are real.

It takes courage.

There is way too much responsibility and blame placed on victims who are primarily female. Blaming the victim gives predators a pass to continue to assault other victims. And this is terribly true in the church.

The church and their families have very different expectations of men and women in their ability to uphold traditional family moral and ethical principles of honesty, loyalty, purity, and faith.

The burden of family values fall heavily on women. While boys are raised to simply police and test girls’ ability to uphold these virtues.

Girls can’t protect themselves if boys are given a pass for self-control.

This culture has existed since the dawn of time so one post isn’t going to change all that but let’s talk about something very basic and teachable yet missing whenever someone is assaulted or raped.

Consent

It is never too early or too late to talk about consent.

Consent may seem like a new concept but it’s not. Parents expect children to ask permission (consent) for a snack, to go outside, stay overnight at a friend’s house or borrow the car. And if they don’t ask for permission, there are consequences.

We also teach consent in school when we expect children to ask permission to get out of their seat to throw something away, ask a question or go to the bathroom.

Consent is power and control that can be abused.

Children are easily preyed upon by adults because almost all children are taught to respect all adults.

Assault at its core is about boundaries.

Consent is as simple as “yes” or “no.” Some make it more complicated than it needs to be.
Teaching consent begins by giving children control over their own bodies and teaching children the proper words for their body parts.

At fifteen months, children become naturally fearful of strangers. Children should be taught to trust their feelings and that they have control over their body by allowing them to choose who holds them or kisses them.  This lays the foundation for learning to check with their parents for assurance and not to getting into cars or walking off with strangers.

By age two, children have heard “No” so much they say it all the time. We teach consent by respecting their choices about their bodies and belongings.

As noted earlier, children learn consent in relationships when we teach them appropriate boundaries such as asking for a toy instead of grabbing it out of someone’s hand. They learn consequences when they have a time out for hitting someone.

It is also important to teach boys and girls that it is never too late to change their mind and to respect their friend’s choices.

As children grow, parents use teachable moments to begin teaching children the value of their bodies, respect and compassion for others, responsibility for their actions, accountability, and admitting hurt, and seeking help.

Some loving parents teach their daughter’s self-defense to help boys respect their choices.

 

I admire parents who teach their daughter’s self-defense and brag about how their daughters can surprise any would-be villains by swinging into action like the tough super hero they’ve been trained to be.

I cheer for those girls. I applaud their parents and their instructors.

It is very important to teach children to say “No” and have their choices respected. We teach this by respecting their choices when they are young. Children must be given permission and tips to defend themselves.

All of these lessons lay the foundation for deeper discussions about relationships with the opposite sex which should begin before children begin middle school. The key is to keep communication open.

Their interactions with other children, adults, and authority figures provide lots of opportunities to discuss power and control, bullies, and consent.

Having this type of dialogue with children when they are very young keeps the discussion open for them to discuss relationships, things they saw on television, heard or saw their friends do, or even things they said or did.

These discussions help children develop empathy and the value of others.

Their lives offer many teachable moments to talk about sex, love, assault, rape. Teach them how to de-escalate situations, as well as the importance of intervention if a situation wasn’t safe or someone was in danger of hurting themselves or others.

All children mess up sometimes and fail to respect someone. When they mess up, they should expect consequences for their behavior and understand the importance of apologizing to the satisfaction of the harmed. They should seek forgiveness, but can’t force forgiveness.

Unfortunately, no matter how well we train our children, they may still encounter bullies and predators.

We hope they are successful in defending themselves.

And if they are successful, we need to be available with open arms to wrap them in comfort after they stood up to the beast.  We also need to support and encourage them to share their experience to protect others.

I wish self-defense was the answer to prevent being bullied, assaulted or raped.

Unfortunately it didn’t work for me. I tried to fight. I didn’t win. I was outnumbered. I was drugged. And I was raped.

Therefore, parents must also be prepared to wrap our daughter’s in the courage to know that even if she encounters a bigger, stronger offense trained villain, she is not at fault if she is wounded or outnumbered by the beast(s).

It is NEVER the victim’s responsibility to prevent rape or any other assault.

It is very important to teach our children to stand up for themselves and recognize times to fight.  It is equally important to learn when to run if able or when to remain still and quiet to survive to tell your story even if you wished to die. All equally noble and wise choices (opportunities).

Victims can’t prevent what someone else does because being a victim is being stripped of choices.

It is important to continue to discuss teachable #MeToo moments as they pop up in the news.  Talk about how to process who to believe, rape myths about drinking, the good guy who is well liked, whose life was messed up and how to determine if it was consensual. 

And whether we are in a position to judge the truth.

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Is Hillary a Sheep or a Goat? Vote to Find Out

Is Hillary a Sheep or a Goat? Vote to Find Out

This election is like two opposing Christian families facing off.  There is so much fighting, bickering and meanness.

When I go into the voting booth I use Matthew 25:31-46 to vote for the person I believe is more likely a sheep than a goat.

In otherwords, the candidate most likely to care for their neighbors. Which 2016 candidate do you think will feed, clothe, visit and care for Jesus?

I’m interested in knowing which 2016 presidential candidate you think is more of a sheep and which is more of a goat, and will that make a difference when you go into the voting booth?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor.  We are called to feed, clothe, visit and care for Jesus in our homes, churches and yes even at the polls.  Please vote!

Friendly Friday Proclamation

Whereas, my friend and blog follower told me she likes my posts but said quite frankly my recent Domestic Violence (DV) posts are depressing.

Whereas, my DV posts are written for victims and survivors as on on-line support group to say ‘we’re not alone.’

Whereas, if they were overly upbeat and optimistic, I’d need my head examined.

Whereas, I don’t want my readers to feel they need to take antidepressants before reading my posts.

Whereas, I love my friend and believe her opinion may be echoed by other readers.

Therefore, I planned to write a rainbow, unicorn, happy face love fest today for my friend.

Whereas, a daily post inspired me to make it a Friendly Friday feature.

Therefore, on the tenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, I issue this proclamation to my beloved friend and readers.

Therefore, while I had a few darker posts planned for a Friday or two during Domestic Violence Awareness month, I declare that I will publish them another day or night of the week.

Therefore, I promise to only publish warm, positive, upbeat posts on Fridays with one exception – Good Friday.

Therefore, I promise to all my fellow victims and survivors that I will never post a “I’m so glad I was raped” or “How rape is part of God’s plan” post. Not happening.

Now therefore, by the power invested in me by WordPress as a blogger, I, Karen P. Simpson, call on my readers to help me with this endeavor by providing me inspirational pictures or stories of Christ in action.
Prayer

Karen P. Simpson
Sisters of Christ

Good-bye Downton Abbey!

Photo: My bell is ready but are the servants? CLICK ‘That was the last time I’ll watch that show ever again!’

Good-bye Downton Abbey!

I can’t believe it’s over but you definitely dowsed the fire. Just fifteen minutes before, I wouldn’t have believed our love would come to such a screeching halt. Just forty-five minutes before we parted, I couldn’t wait for you to start and just one week ago, I posted my love for you on Facebook but today I say farewell without a single drop of regret.

While my husband may disagree, I didn’t know I was so fickle and could turn so cold in less than a moment.

I realize many may not be fans or have ever heard of Downton Abbey. And for others, this is an old trauma because the episode aired three months ago in the United Kingdom. But for me it is old and new. And it is time for me to say farewell and close the door.

SPOILER ALERT: Season 4, Episode 2 of PBS’s Downton Abbey

It was an awful shock. I wanted to swim across the pond and back in history to save my favorite character from being brutally raped.  I looked about the screen for a weapon, any weapon, any possible defense. But I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t defend her. And I couldn’t change the storyline.

While all the other characters remained blissfully unaware, I watched.

When my husband asked if she were dead, I responded the writers wouldn’t be so kind. It was after all Downton Abbey.

While I respect that given there are more than 7 women characters, at least one has been raped  and rape awareness is very important BUT…I am already the one in seven women who understand the ‘mental and emotional damage’ of these traumas.

Downton Abbey was not giving me a safe glimpse into the past, a beautiful opportunity to live in another time, across the pond with the upper social class.  It hadn’t nor would it provide the type of escape from reality I seek.

Downton Abbey is not a fan of nice people.  In all four seasons, the most beloved characters are always punished while evil is rewarded with promotions, good health and trips abroad.

I cannot tune in each week to watch my favorite character be raped, humiliated and forced to co-exist with her perpetrator again and again. I will not risk reliving my own nightmare knowing Downton Abbey will never offer a happy ending.

So looking again for the perfect weapon to defend her and me from further harm, I found the remote. CLICK!

Good-bye Downton Abbey! Four seasons and 2 episodes were more than enough for me.  Thank you.

I will get my British fix somewhere else.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Matthew 10:14, Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5

LIAR! Pants on Fire

Pinoccio LiarA preacher’s wife confession:

I am a liar!  I have always been a liar and deserve to be thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur for my sins.

What a person desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar. Proverbs 19:22

I don’t know when I told my last lie, nor do I recall what it was about.  I assume it was to my husband but really don’t know. My last lie may have been to myself when I promised to stop lying. Or more likely it is when I pretend to know what it is like to have a happy childhood, loving family or be a preacher’s wife.

I lied for too long and about too much to recognize the truth. The truth and I have an anxious love affair. I fear I will always wrestle with truth.

I confess my love for my many lies.  I miss the salve of laughter and joy they brought. I really wanted to believe my parents were good.  I really wanted to believe they loved me.  I wished with all my heart and soul that my sister would become the beautiful, kind, loving and protective big sister I held in my heart. I wanted these to be truths.

Lies kept me alive. Believing them made them believable. It is so hard to put so many of them to rest.  They became my companions. I owe them a great deal.  And I have no idea the proper way to repay them.  I feel like a murderer every time I put one down.  I stand before their graves and pay homage to the ways they kept me safe.

I learned to lie to survive.  It isn’t an excuse just a reality of an abuse victim. It is the truth to how I survived.  It is the truth to how I turned out so well. Lies provided hope to me when I lived in a very dark world. They inspired me to live the life I wanted.

Lies promised God would magically make my dreams come true if I just prayed hard enough, my faith was deep enough and if I just let the bad stuff go and pretend to live the fairy tale.

Happiness is a state of mind!  And lies helped me achieve it. Although it may only have been the mask of fear and grief, lies helped me to laugh harder and louder, hoping the truth would be scared away.

I do recall the times I pulled the curtain of lies aside to step into the light.  I realize it is shameful to admit the lies far outweigh the times of truth.  Yet the truth must start somewhere.

Truth always lags last, limping along on the arm of Time. Baltasar Gracian

I’m not sure why I pulled the curtain aside the first time because there was no one to save. I guess the pain got so intense after my brother died and the rape I sought a therapist to abandon these truths from the vault hoping to return to the safety of my lies.

Perhaps revealing these truths would bring my brother back to life, give him the will to live and restore my relationship with the other brother whose friends raped me.  Magical thinking provided a beautiful briar patch of new lies.

But therapy didn’t work the way I expected.  The truth really hurt and I wouldn’t recommend it to the faint of heart. I wasn’t sure I would survive but I did. Dissociation, a close relative of the lies stepped in to help numb the pain as the truth poured out.

The therapist refused to adopt my half-truths and made me take them home to cultivate into truths. While they took up less room than the lies, they weren’t easy to live with. And the truth made it very difficult to return to the den of my perpetrators.

The next time I pulled the curtain aside the truth tore such a huge hole that it couldn’t be mended.  My son had gotten caught in the briar patch of dysfunction and needed the truth to set him free.  So I peeked out with both children under my arms and began to run.

I’m not sure where I am.  I no longer live in darkness.  The truth has kept me much safer than any tale I’ve spun but I definitely haven’t been fully reconciled with truth.   I’m thankful Truth has never abandoned me and never will. Amen!

If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:10

Monday’s Child

Mother Goose Monday's ChildMonday’s child is fair of face. The youngest child is free-spirited, manipulative and outgoing. Virgo serves others, strives for perfection and works for the greater good. A gentle, sensitive artist born in the year of the sheep is prone to wander. Sound like me?

Prophets and angels predicted the future in the old testament. Saul sought a medium to talk to the deceased Samuel (1 Samuel 28) And magi from the East followed the star to a newborn king (Matthew 2:1-12).

Astrology, zodiac, tea leaves, palm reading, Tarot cards… Are they Sorcery or prophecy?  Are their predictions from God or Satan?  Am I risking eternal shame and damnation for reading my horoscope? Do the angels weep or laugh when I read Mother Goose’s Monday’s Child? Am I fair of face? 

What exactly does it mean to be fair faced? My fussy year of the sheep, “need to be right” Virgo personality characteristics wonder or do they wander?  I’m not really sure.  I’m definitely out of my expertise.

I haven’t had much luck with fortune tellers.  A friend convinced me to seek the knowledge of a tarot reader at a local café – just for fun!

My friend went first.  While I waited for our dinner she met with the reader.  She was gone forever. Our food arrived. I wondered if I should start eating without her. I didn’t want to be rude but it would be my turn as soon as she got back so I nibbled a bit.

She returned all lit up with pages of notes.  I didn’t know she had a notebook in her purse.  I didn’t have a notebook.  How was I going to remember everything the reader told me? I felt so unprepared.

The reader told her things that happened in her past, described her to a T, knew all about her children and gave her insights about her future career, love, finances etc… That was all she said before the waiter came to get me.

I heard a familiar voice telling me I didn’t need all that.  I grabbed the paper place mat and took off challenging the voice to join me. I fell into the booth, paid her my fortune and waited to hear her prophecy.

We exchanged small talk as she shuffled, dealt and sorted her (my) cards.  We became quiet as she sorted, sorted, sorted and resorted the cards.  Her brow wrinkled.  I pulled a pen out of my purse, smoothed the place mat, watched her hands, looked at her face, studied the cards, tried to figure out the system while I anxiously awaited her wisdom.

She asked if I knew someone with dark hair.  Of course I knew people with dark hair.  Everyone knows people with dark hair. As she continued to slide the cards around she said everything seemed centered around meeting someone with dark hair. Someone with dark hair was going to be very important to me and my future. And this person with dark hair was making it very difficult to see anything else because it was all about this person with dark hair.

I asked her to be a bit more specific and she hesitated but finally said it was a man. Nodding and making eye contact to make sure I knew that she was definitely almost confident of the sex of this mystery person.

Really? A man with dark hair?

Well I admit, I lost my good Christian composer (composure lol).  I was jealous! My friend had pages of notes and all I had was a “man with dark hair!”  Work? Love? Nothing! And she seemed very anxious to get rid of me. Advising me that I needed to work things out with the man with dark hair before we could go any further.

Really? How can I work something out with someone I wasn’t even sure I knew?

death-tarot-card

I’m not a tarot card reader but I recognized the ‘death’ card so I picked it up, told her I knew it was the sign for death, pointed to the grim reaper and challenged her to explain what it had to do with me.

She reassured me that it doesn’t always mean death. It sometimes represents loss.

Yeah! The loss of my hard earned money!

And once again urged me to work my issues out with the dark haired man in the cards.

The waiter magically reappeared and ushered me back to my table.

Sheep and Virgo hate conflict so I reluctantly schlepped back to my glowing friend.

And I’m pretty sure I heard the soft chuckle of that familiar voice.

I’ve had several glowing friends tell me their inspiring spiritual encounters with psychic healers.  I smile and nod.  I don’t know if God communicates through these people.  Who am I to limit our Lord’s ability to communicate?

I’m still working things out with the dark hair guy. So I’m pretty sure if someone asked to read my palm, I wouldn’t refuse, I wouldn’t pay and I wouldn’t be surprised when they accuse me of having my life line surgically altered to be all about who? The man with dark hair!