KAVANAUGH – FORD: A WINDOW TO THE SOUL OF THE CULTURE

U.S. CULTURE TODAY, ANY OTHER CULTURE TOMORROW

Thomas – Hill. Kavanaugh – Ford. Republicans – Democrats. Men – Women.
And more …

This isn’t just a Supreme Court nomination. Most people realize that.
This isn’t just a political conflict. Many people realize that.
This isn’t just the fight of many women and some men to end misogyny and bring about healthy, respectful, human, heartful treatment of women by men. Many more people are realizing that.
And this isn’t just the insistence that women who were sexually abused be heard, believed and not blamed. Some are coming to that.
More are coming to that.

If you open your eyes more …
if you open your ears more …
if you open your mind more …
if you open your heart more …
you will know …
this is a window to the soul of our culture.

A window that has been closed and locked.
A window that has been boarded up –
as if to keep a storm in the outer world from blowing it in.
But truly, it has been boarded up to keep what is inside
hidden on the inside, kept secret, and buried deep within.
This window is now being blown from the inside out.

This is a window to the soul of our culture.
Where we have been hiding the trauma that lives deep within our culture.
Where we have built on top of that trauma layers and layers of defenses.
Where we have been hiding the trauma that lives –
not only in our government and government processes;
not only in our businesses and their day-to-day transactions;
not only in our religious organizations and houses of worship;
not only in our institutions of learning and their daily activities;
but also where we have been hiding the trauma that lives in our everyday families in our everyday homes –
where our children are born, live, and develop in trauma.

To an eye and a heart of someone who works with men and women who have been abused, neglected, and sexually abused as children, this whole process of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and hearings, is a clear out-picturing of what goes on in a family in our country where one or more of the children have been sexually abused by an ”authority” in the family, and where even one of those children tries to tell the truth.

Tell the truth about having been sexually abused? Almost never as a child. Too scary. Too dangerous. But even as an adult … the family authority and very often the whole family – even extended family – circles the wagons to protect the abuser. That occurs in many ways. Two of the strongest are to enlist everyone to not believe the one who has been abused and to blame the abused one for what has happened. The child – now adult – victim of the sexual abuse is attacked, scapegoated, eliminated from the family. Or there may be a fight within the family, with some supporting and some attacking the person who was hurt. Often in either case the truth-teller is accused of having “ruined the family.”

To the eye and heart of someone who has for decades worked with the early trauma of men and women, I can see how that trauma is out-pictured in their own lives. And I can see how that trauma is out-pictured in the life of our country and our world. In the recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, I could see the early trauma of many of those who spoke. Some might not have seen angry outbursts and defenses as signs of early trauma. They might cover the real explanations and understandings with justifications and normalizations. But I know what I saw. And I saw the trauma beneath the boarded-up windows and doors.

The steps that have been taken to listen with respect to Dr. Ford and others who have been sexually abused … are, indeed, important steps. But they are not enough. They are not nearly enough.

We need to see the trauma that is showing itself in this process …
the trauma to Dr. Ford and any others sexually abused by the nominee.
the trauma to others who have come forth and may come forth about the sexual assaults they have experienced.
the traumas to children in our country who experience sexual assault –
and other assaults – every day in their homes.

And the trauma to the others in the picture.
The trauma to those who witness the assaults.
The trauma to those who react to the assaults.
The trauma to the family in which the assaults originally happen.
The trauma to those who commit the assaults.
For although some of us may wish to blame the abuser …
that person also has been traumatized in his/her life at some point
in development …
or the assaults would not have been committed by that person.

If we do not look at the trauma that is out-picturing itself in this process…
if we do not see the trauma that is out-picturing itself in this process …
if we do not hear the trauma that is out-picturing itself in this process …
if we do not feel the trauma palpable in this out-picturing that is occurring in the
context of our government …
we ourselves will help to continue such out-picturings,
while believing they are something else.
And we ourselves will help to continue such out-picturings,
while being unaware of our complicity.

This article describes just the tip of the iceberg of the depth exploration revealed In my recent book – How Did We Get Here?* – on the heart of where we are in the life of our nation and our world, and what is here for us to see and heal in our country … and in countries all over the world. The relationship between trauma and accountability is woven throughout the book.

© Judith Barr, 2018.

*Barr, Judith. How Did We Get Here? (Brookfield, CT: Mysteries of Life, 2018). Available through Amazon or JudithBarr.com.

 

SEXUAL ABUSE: OUR COUNTRIES MIRROR OUR FAMILIES

Although it is starting to come out in the open in the U.S. …
This occurs not only in the U.S. but all over our world.

There is a growing list of men who are being exposed for having sexually abused women, men, and children … not only in the recent past but in years long ago. This ugly and painful aspect of the patriarchy has been known, yet kept secret, for far too long.  For too long there have been:  the one who perpetrated the sexual abuse, the one who was victimized by him, and those who colluded with the perpetrator – each for his or her own reasons. We recently got a very public glimpse into this dynamic when the accusations against Harvey Weinstein in the U.S. (and abroad) started coming out into the open in the public realm. An even more public view of the perpetrator-victim-colluder dynamic is being seen as Roy Moore, candidate for Senate from Alabama and former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, denies his sexual abuse of young women and even worse … of children. Those in collusion with him, support his denials with all sorts of guises – from his “godliness,” to the guise of his “innocence,” to claims of dirty politics by the other side, to the insistence on voting for him even if he did these things … just to keep the other side from winning.

This plague of sexual abuse – isn’t only limited to male abusers. It also includes women.  But still it is part of the patriarchy – which includes men and women. And the women who stand by their abuser husbands are definitely part of the patriarchy.  Just like the women who stood by Clarence Thomas were part of the patriarchy, when Anita Hill was exposing to the world his sexual abuse.

The sexual abuse aspect of the patriarchy – and the destructive patriarchy itself – must end. How? Through healing to the root. When? Now.

***************************

When the sexual abuse is over…
The end has only just begun.
The end of sexual abuse in the church.
The end of sexual abuse on the couch – in the therapy room.
The end of sexual abuse in entertainment, by producer, director, agent, actor.
The end of sexual abuse in business – the board room, the CEO’s office, the supply room.
The end of sexual abuse in the doctor’s office, the hospital, the ambulance.
The end of sexual abuse in sports, by coaches.
The end of sexual abuse by national and world leaders, by government officials, and
candidates running for office.
These brave women and even men … they’re exposing the abusers, one by one by one.
The numbers grow and flood the news.
The exposure gives hope to millions of women and also to men.
Hope for the end of sexual abuse.

But alas, that will not come
until …
the exposure of sexual abuse in families
all across our nation,
all across our world,
has taken us closer to the roots of the painful experience …
closer to the source of the wound that causes the wound of sexual abuse.

Though committed by men and women alike,
sexual abuse is a scourge in our world.
In too many places, an accepted scourge,
a normalized scourge,
a way of life.
A wound that’s passed down,
generation to generation,
mostly by men.
Acted out upon women, and other men,
and innocent children.

Innocent children …
needing, trusting, loving freely,
hopeful, growing, expressing, being.
Innocent children
stopped in their tracks.
Frightened, frozen, running away,
frightened, angry, fighting against …
Stopped on the path to becoming their selves.

Innocent children …
Powerless in the face of the sexual abuse.
Powerless in the face of the grossly distorted sexuality.
Powerless in the face of the grossly distorted use of power over them.
By someone who …
once was an innocent child sexually abused himself.
Once was an innocent child powerless in the face of distorted sexuality.
Once was an innocent child powerless in the face of distorted use of power.
Once was an innocent child who so deeply wounded,
turned into someone else.

Those who have been sexually abused in their families,
alone in a patriarchal family culture,
are terrified of telling their experiences of being sexually abused.
They’re frightened of not being believed.
They’re frightened of being blamed and scape-goated.
They’re afraid of being humiliated, threatened, abused.
They’re terrified at the possibility of being cast out, abandoned.
If all those possible consequences of talking
are intolerable to an adult in the entertainment industry,
how can they be at all bearable to a child?

When the sexual abuse is over …
The end has only just begun.
The end won’t be completed until
we want to know.
But we don’t want to know.
Too few of us want to know.
Too few of us want to know the truth.
Too few of us are willing to go through the fear
and through the painful feelings
the truth will bring.
Too many of us want to defend ourselves against
the truth and all those feelings …
the consequences be damned.

And they are …
the consequences are damned by the willful defense
and denial of the painful truth.

So when you defend against the reality of sexual abuse –
somebody else’s or your own …
you fan the flames of sexual abuse at its roots.
And when you defend against the reality of sexual abuse –
the abuse you, yourself have committed …
you fan the flames of sexual abuse at its roots
in your family and in families all over our world.

But should you dare to end your denial …
you have begun to contribute to the end of this horrible wound.
And should you dare to dissolve your defenses against this painful wound …
you have begun to feed the end of this terrible wound.
You have begun to feed the end of the wound of sexual abuse
not only out in the world in public arenas,
but even more importantly …
right at its source …
right in the homes of families all over our world.

© Judith Barr, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

CATHOLIC PRIESTS, COSBY, WEINSTEIN AND MORE

CAN YOU SEE IT?

This occurs all over the world, not solely in the U.S.
But recent events in the U.S. are instructive to us all.

Sexual abuse of the young and vulnerable by the rich and powerful has been brought out of the halls of secrecy into the light of day. The part of the Catholic Church in childhood sexual abuse came out in the open many years ago – brought out by the Boston Globe in 2002. More recently we’ve seen this in the cases of Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein. And after Harvey, men in entertainment and other arenas of our world, as well … James Toback (screenwriter/director,) Ben Affleck (actor,) Chris Savino (animator,) Roy Price (entertainment executive,) Lockhart Steele (Vox media editorial director,) John Besh (celebrity chef,) Mark Halperin (author and political analyst.)

It is a healthy step for our society that journalists are finding and documenting the stories of sexual abusers. It is also a healthy step that those who have been abused by them are coming forth and speaking out. Each step taken helps us get closer to the root. But we’re not there yet.

A number of things from this past week give us glimpses that can lead us to the root.

  • Corey Feldman, of the movie “Stand by Me,” has spoken about Hollywood’s secret of childhood sexual abuse of children in the entertainment industry, expanding the view past young adults and adults.
  • Ashley Judd’s statement in her interview with Diane Sawyer, that “we act like we’re between 3 and 6 years old in those moments,” meaning the moments when someone is starting to or in the act of sexually abusing us. We usually do regress to a young age within ourselves when traumatized. And sometimes it’s to the age we were first traumatized when we were children.
  • Ashley, responding to Diane’s question, what would she say to Harvey if she saw him today, responded: “What I would say to Harvey is, ‘I love you, and I understand that you are sick and suffering, and there is help for a guy like you, too. And it’s entirely up to you to get that help.’”
  • Ashley also described her response to her getting out of harm’s way and away from Harvey by making a deal with him to do what he was pressuring her to do after she won an Oscar in a movie he produced. “Am I proud of that? I’m of two minds: The part that shames myself says ‘no.’ The part of me that understands the way shame works says, ‘That was absolutely brilliant. Good job kid, you got out of there. Well done.’”
  • Alternet published an article recently, whose title is, “How on Earth Is Corporal Punishment Still Legal at School in 19 States?”1
  • “Law & Order: True Crime” is airing a television series about the story of the Menendez brothers’ murder of their parents and the real cause of that murder. Whether the brothers are in jail or not, whether or not you believe the series’ portrayal of the real cause as the brothers’ having been sexually abused and threatened by their parents, the series is clearly showing us all some of the deadly consequences of childhood sexual abuse.

All of these point to the root – the part that hasn’t yet been brought out into the light of day. What is coming out into the open is not just about powerful men out in the world today sexually abusing women, men, and even children in the arenas in which they work – entertainment, media, politics, business, spiritual, and more. It is showing us the outpicturing into our world of what occurs every day in families all over our country – and the world.

Powerful parents – fathers and sometimes mothers, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles – who are kings and queens of their domains, sexually abuse children in their homes, where it can be done in secret. Or if others know – like the extended family – they collude in keeping the secret. The children are vulnerable and innocent and terrified. The very people they are supposed to be able to trust are the people sexually abusing them. And others who could protect them are not protecting them … at all. Even the law in the US, which should be protecting, ends up colluding in the abuse by protecting the abuser.1

People are afraid of looking at what their part is in the perpetuation of this family dynamic. People are afraid of seeing how their part of the family dynamic outpictures into our world outside the home – whether they have sexually abused others, whether they have been sexually abused, or whether they have colluded in the sexual abuse in the home.

It is urgent that we look. It is urgent that we see. And it is urgent that we each heal our part in what is showing itself out in the world, but starts in our childhood homes.

We can see the huge, damaging impact it has on ourselves and on others when we don’t. We can see and feel the destructive consequences for ourselves, our families, and our societies, when we don’t.

This is the root of what we’re seeing in the exposure of sexual abuse in our world today. Healing it necessitates going to the root.

All of us, those who have been sexually abused, those who have colluded with sexual abuse, and those who have sexually abused others …
All of us who are part of this are sick or wounded … and our society is, as well.
All of us who are part of this are suffering … and our society is, as well.
There is help for all of us … and our society, as well.
The help for our society depends on all of us, each one of us individually.

And it is entirely up to each of us to get that help.

Will you do your part?

© Judith Barr, 2017

1 To learn more about how the law can be used to dehumanize and allow abuse in our country and world, see my article What Is Beneath the Willfulness in Our World? at http://judithbarr.com/2017/10/01/beneath-willfulness-world/