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Abuse

Two months later and I can still picture Isabella: her small arms gently rock a baby with more expertise than a fourteen year-old girl should have. Her tiny-heeled shoes and grown-up blouse seem out of place with her girlish dimples. I left Guatemala almost three months ago and still my mind brims with stories and pictures—Isabella among them. A soft-spoken, indigenous girl, she worked as a nanny for my host-mom, caring for a baby not her own instead of going to school.  But then again, she didn’t have many options. Guatemala has a prevalent machismo society. The many “rules” of culture revolve around men. Men’s wants are more important than those of their female counterparts. Discrimination and battery toward women can be commonplace. People are... Read more
I would suggest that most, if not all, women would have been the subject of ridicule in some form or other simply because of their gender. Sometimes it is felt even without words – the scorn, belittling behaviour and condescension. Then of course we know of the way many men talk of their mothers, wives, sisters and women in general when with their friends; berating women as being silly, emotional, talkative (fill in the dots). BUT….what about the way women berate men? Who hasn’t heard a woman talk as though all men are stupid, over-sexed oafs who can’t appreciate the finer things in life. Groups of women can get together for girls nights out and attend shows where they ogle at men’s bodies in the same way some men do with women. Even among groups of Chr... Read more
Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear. —Jeremiah 5:21 Twenty-three years ago an economist from India, Amartya Sen, reported the largest human holocaust in all of history. His research showed that over 100 million females were missing! Though Sen was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work, few were mobilized by the horror he had uncovered. Even the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Kristoff and WuDunn said that “when a prominent dissident was arrested in China, we would write a front-page article; when 100,000 girls were routinely kidnapped and trafficked into brothels, we didn’t even consider it news” (Kristoff and WuDunn, Half the Sky, xiv). How could the world be so disinterested in th... Read more
A wealthy couple brought “Cathy” from China to the United States to be their nanny and housekeeper. She was paid next to nothing and was worked unmercifully day and night, as well as being physically and sexually abused by both the husband and wife. However, the husband—a Christian man—regularly exerted his “authority” as the "head of the household" over his wife and daughters as well. Scripture, he believed, supported his hierarchal beliefs and defended his actions. With this power behind him, he acted as the dictator in a household whose lowest subject was a female slave. Human trafficking takes anti-egalitarian beliefs to their dangerous extreme. All people deserve equal rights and opportunities, but in human trafficking, some are slaves... Read more
Tim Krueger
Dozens of cities battle prostitution through a program called “john school,” a program designed to educate first-time “johns,” or male solicitors of prostitutes, about the negative consequences of prostitution. This includes learning about sex workers themselves. In 2009, CNN reported on a Nashville man who found himself in tears after hearing the story of a woman who had been bartering sex since the age of ten. By twenty, she was hooked on drugs and engaged in prostitution. She’d been arrested more than eighty times and been shot on the job. “I’m so embarrassed,” the man said. “These girls are somebody’s daughter. I have a daughter.” The program counts on this type of response. It is built on the idea that once we view a... Read more
It seems that everywhere we look today we see images of women in bondage. Whether it is CSI Special Victims Unit or a trio of poorly written novels with little plot and lots of pain, our culture is saturated with the idea that it is fun to abuse women. Increasingly themes of bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism (BDSM) show up in mainstream television and movies as acceptable sexual practice. The normalization of BDSM should worry all of us. The more sexual abuse is normalized in entertainment media, the more likely it is that consumers will act out what they have been watching. That is, desensitization toward BDSM deforms our conscience so that increasingly, we accept anything the vile imagination can conjure. In Judges, an often a disturbing book of the Bible, we observ... Read more
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth…” This prayer challenges us to live into the gospel and make it real for our own day. In the case of domestic violence, this may mean finding ways that local churches and people of faith can do something that will gently and persistently shape the way members view and respond to issues of intimate partner abuse, whether it be in the community or inside the house of faith. Here is a list of practical immediate ways to make your church a “Safe House.” Always assume that there are persons in your church who have experienced or are experiencing abuse. Be aware of subtle messages in your church that promote the assumption that “everyone here is okay and every marriage and relationship is healthy.... Read more
“You idiot!” “Who asked for your opinion?” “Get in here and clean this up.” “We never had that conversation.” When does communication cross the line into verbal abuse? When the words or attitude disrespect or devalue the other person. Both men and women can be verbal abusers. Verbal abuse in an intimate relationship most often takes place behind closed doors and the abuser generally denies the abuse, making it difficult for the one being abused to find help. In fact, a victim may hear from family members and friends that her husband is such a nice guy. Surely there must be a mistake. From the outside it appears that the relationship is functioning well. But underlying all verbal abuse is an issue of control. The abuser is tryin... Read more
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The statistics on domestic violence in the United States alone is staggering: one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime; each year, 3 to 4 million women will be the victim of assault by an intimate partner; 70 to 80% of intimate partner perpetrators also abuse their children; more than three women are killed every day by an intimate partner. In 2007, The Family Violence Prevention Fund surveyed 1,020 men in the Father’s Day Poll. The researchers found that the majority (56%) of men have had reason to believe that a member of their immediate or extended family, a close friend, or an acquaintance has been in a domestic violence or sexual assault situation. Eighty-eight percent (88%) of men think that our socie... Read more
This is the third and final article of a series on human trafficking. Click for Part One and Part Two. The New Testament has many examples regarding the restoration of women to a place of honor. The narrative of the life of Jesus in Matthew poignantly begins with underlining the lives of five women: Tamar (Gen. 38); Rahab (Josh. 2); Ruth, wife of Uriah (2 Sam. 11, 12); and Mary. Four of these women were sexually abused and trafficked by men in positions of power and authority. In spite of the horrible life faced by these women, the Bible elevates them to the highest status; they become the bearers of the Messiah seed. In doing so, paradigmatically, the Bible is elevating the status and name of all women who are abused and trafficked as a result of systemic evil in human h... Read more

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