When Children Need Us to Be Fierce

a moment in my shoes jkmcguire

It was during the school day when I was called to the office to take a phone call. I was in 5th grade. My mom asked me one question, I could tell she was tense about something and I didn’t fully understand what she was asking, but I could hear her relief at my answer.

An accusation of sexual abuse had been made in the extended family – her first reaction probably after shock and anger was to make sure I was OK.

Later I would find out that a member of the family was being accused of raping a child.

I believed the victim because I knew her well, and loved her (still do). She was a constant in my life. I had watched her fearful reactions a number of times towards my father’s brother and never understood it until the truth was told.

What I am not going to tell is her story or his… what I am telling is my feelings about what I witnessed as a preteen. This is me bearing witness to the silence and yuck and pain and the constant turning away of grownup’s faces. And how those consequences of denial and hiding have touched my life.

Now as a grown woman who was raised with foster children, who went on to be trained and work as a social worker – trained to watch and to see and to understand situations: this revelation of abuse was the hidden puzzle piece that brought clarity.

This often happens in cases of abuse: a child or young person can show all the symptoms and then one day parents who are left wondering what is going on learn the horrible truth. As a parent you need to know the symptoms of sexual abuse and rape (these are some frequently asked questions and answers provided by GRACE or take a look at this site). Be aware. Ask questions.

Do not assume you know someone.

Worse yet do not assume that you know your child or that they would tell you if something horrible was happening – silence & fear & shame & disguising the whole thing are the perp’s friends.

Don’t assume that because your church or agency has security clearances that your children are safe.

There are so many predators with abuse in their history who have NEVER been caught or who have NEVER been convicted of their crimes. (this article is a must read for all parents)

My uncle walks free.

family oldies

The Memories of  Young Girl
I remember the day that the letter from the victim was read in front of the family with the accused in attendance. I was not allowed in the room. It was a letter from the one who had been hurt – an innocence stripped. Even now I do not know what is in that letter – the details of that horribly evil act. From bits and pieces of conversations I get the gist. I don’t need to know the details because I remember the ways and behavior of the perpetrator. I remember even as a young girl how he looked at and treated me… how he was with other very young girls and women.

“There is no limit to the defenses we contrive against the inbreak of truth into our lives.” (Manning)

Who is anyone kidding to deny it? But they did. People I kinda look like, and sound like, and laugh like. Those I had grown to know at least until I was a preteen – they sat there and denied the truth placed in front of them. I watched people I trusted escort the “poor picked on and misunderstood” into a waiting vehicle because it was so uncomfortable for him. My big bad daddy was being so “unforgiving.”

The turned their backs and ran for it.

The memory of their protective arms making sure that rapist was safe – has never left me.


A church or family that does not automatically defend the innocent in their midst… well I just can’t even go there in telling you how reprehensible and completely wrong that is.

When I graduated from college I worked for a private foster care agency as a case worker. I managed a caseload of teenage girls. I loved those kids. Some of the girls had been through so much. They were too young to see what they had seen and to have experienced what they had experienced.  These were unspeakable acts by the hands of those they trusted and loved.

Those placed on this planet to protect them and defend them had instead harmed them sometimes beyond repair.

I know that Jesus can redeem and heal even these unspeakable acts, but God why do you have to? Why does this stuff have to happen to innocent, beautiful little girls and boys?

Any family or church that believes a predator and justifies his actions, denies, or places the blame on an 8 year old child does not understand the seeking of justice that has to come when we call Jesus our LORD.

If you do not instantly seek justice for those who have no voice – for the innocents in our midst when these types of things happen, then you clearly do not have one clue about the truth of Jesus Christ. You have no idea what it means to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

I would wonder if you even know the real God.

When HIS SPIRIT abides within you – it demands a response to evil. You can’t simply sit on your hands and pretend like everything will be OK and it will never happen again.

You can NOT run and hide.

Most rapist and molesters do not stop at ONE.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” (James 3:13-18)

There can be no piece in a swirling vortex of hiding and lies.

If your response to accusations of abuse is silence and hiding then I’d imagine you might need to ask some questions about what you believe about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and how the truth of God demands that we act in this life because the denying and hiding will pass on to future generations… unless someone stops it. Unless someone says NO to the unrepentant man.

love asks the right questions jkmcguire

So I have lived the choices that my father made to protect me and my brother – distance, silence, rejection, abandonment, blame. When an unrepentant sexual abuser is in our midst – in our families, denying and lying and hiding – it is the righteous among us who have to break cycles.

Even if that means we bear reproof and condemnation for standing in the light.

Even if that means as a grown woman that I am blocked – mocked – watched – stalked – and rejected for speaking what I have seen and stand against what I know is wrong.

I learned a lot from watching my Dad.

While you can forgive there is no way forward without truth.

You can’t walk out life well with those who “did nothing wrong.”

That isn’t being unforgiving or not allowing things to rest –  this is called refusing to allow abuse to continue in the places you are called to protect.

I am the mother of five children – if an unrepentant womanizer or pedophile wanted access to my life and my children you know darn well I would block their every move.

And I would shout HIS NAME to every person he came into contact with… I am no fool.

Denying generational sin does absolutely nothing for the generations to come.

You cut your kids and your grandkids off at the knees when you refuse to stand in truth, confess, and seek God’s redemption for yourself and your family.

When you hide it… deny it… dress it up to look pretty… justify… or blame…. your kids will reap the consequences.

Because this same yuck will come full force into their lives and they will not be equipped to 1. recognize it and 2. seek God to break it apart. It’s like throwing them in the lake without teaching them to swim.

My mom asked and listened. My dad stood up even when it hurt and was uncomfortable, spoke the truth, and defended.

This is me following their example.

That little girl could have been me…

I could have written that letter…

And I have often wondered would they have reacted the same way if it had been me?

It’s the answer to that question that has hurt my heart the most…




Want to Celebrate?
Join Me ON the Front Porch

Never miss an update! Sign up for a biweekly newsletter of exclusive content and weekly blog updates sent directly to your inbox.
Join me?

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted

I shook my head in disbelief recently after reading a glowing article on the history of a denomination that hides, protects, and honors perpetrators in their midst and ignores the generations of victims still struggling under the crushing weight of silence, betrayal of trust, and injustice. Let judgement begin with the house of God.