“It’s not a woman’s job to get smaller and smaller until she disappears so the world can be more comfortable.” – Glennon Doyle Melton
I need to talk to you about a truth I uncovered which has informed my faith deconstruction and parenting: the Generational Consequences OF Violence Against Women and when women are not believed. You need to know this history to understand my shifting faith and how my evolution as a person of faith also shaped my parenting. But before I can talk to you about raising whole-hearted, emotionally & spiritually healthy children – I have to talk to you about how violence against women affects future generations.
Generational Consequences of Violence Against Women
While I myself was never sexually abused or raped (that I can remember), I was from a very young age aware of what sexual molestation was, how detailed the harm could go, and what the consequences LOOKED like. I was a young girl surrounded not only by the foster children living in our home many of whom had known severe abuse, BUT also several of the woman around me had been raped or molested and harmed.
Abuse was on the table whether we wanted it there or not.
I was living among the 1 in 4 female abuse survivors.
Because such violent betrayal of one’s body brings with it years of consequences and further harm – I was also a victim of their abuse. I was a victim of their rage. I was a victim of their emotional immaturity and lack of having a place to appropriately work though the violence which had happened to them. I was a victim of them not being believed or heard or not having a place to speak up.
Jesus and the church was supposed to be enough for them. Counseling and medication wasn’t an option. YOUR fatih was supposed to be big enough so God could heal YOU. But the super-spiritualizing of trauma only makes the trauma worse.
I was a victim of their anxiety and fear and emotional distance. I was harmed by those who had been traumatized.
Sexual abuse – Rape – has generational consequences. Because these women I loved were unable to stop the tide of rage within themselves, and had no outlet for appropriate, thorough healing their anger overflowed right into the lives of those around them.
In turn – I knew abuse.
It was the second and third generation of harm that comes when women are not cherished, women are not heard, women are not valued and when their bodies are not their own.
When your story, voice, or truth isn’t valid, there is this gasping mute in the darkness feeling which then follows you everywhere in your life.
I have spent decades trying to get over the consequences of their rage which was NOT my fault.
While I have been able to forgive all of them for what they were unable to stop, understanding what had happened to them and HOW horrific their pain must have been, I have not been able to trust all of them with the important pieces of me again.
This has happened gradually as my faith has shifted wide, as I have found my voice, and my value and my enough.
As a consequence of being raised around suffocating rage – I have had a difficult time navigating the rage of other people I encounter in the world. I rush to fix it, silence it, make it right, and help others understand so they won’t rage as much. I enable the rage mongers.
I am susceptible to being a rage-monger’s victim all because I go mute, forget my worth, and navigate to make sure the RAGEMONGERS are OK.
This shifting and deflecting and appeasing is even at great emotional, spiritual, and even physical cost to myself.
While we can forgive much we who have known the generational consequences of violence against women tread lightly into the future. While their rage may not blow up the way it once did – it is often still there beneath the surface. It manifests itself through whispered words and judgments, mocking, lies, hiding, jealously violent actions, and inauthentic companionship.
My soul can no longer bear the company of inauthenticity. So I have had to let the hope of having relationship in some places – go. It can’t happen there for me. I am OK with that – I understand there is great cost to living honestly with others.
Writing the Truth Costs Something
However they don’t like when I write too much truth here. That’s OK. My story and way of telling it makes those extended from me very uncomfortable. Then I figure out how to navigate the reigniting of rage. They know for a fact these are the same conversation I would have to their faces. I am unable to lie to them about me or how the past was painful for me. I am not stuck, I simply refuse to ignore it or call it something other than what it was.
“The hardest thing about writing is telling the truth. Maybe it’s the hardest thing about being a woman, too.” (Sue Monk Kidd, “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 1)
I am not deficient or incapable because I work with intention at being ABLE. There is something to be said for being ABLE.
- When I am called “a brat for” having a voice this is not true of me.
- I am not a bitch for refusing to cooperate and fake it.
- I am not “too much to handle” simply because I believe I have a right to my “NO” whether they want to hear it or not.
- Simply because I am choosing to forge a different, better way for my own family does not mean I am weak or deficient.
I know writing is risky business.
The consequences of telling the truth are far-reaching – generational even. I also understand the consequences when we refuse to go there together.
The relationships I have which have known healing – this has only happened because we have been ABLE to be weak together, acknowledge our hurt, and offer authentic hope to one another – honestly. There cannot be relationship where authenticity does not exist.
Abuse reaches into the next generation when we are so busy hurting and healing we forget to pay attention.
But the patterns can be broken – only when we are honest about all of the generational consequences of violence against women. It doesn’t simply touch the women who were abused it harms the generations to follow.
Tomorrow I would like to share with you how I work about breaking the chains of rage and generational consequences of violence against women in raising my own kids.
Experiencing your own faith shift? Consider this book from Kathy Escobar (affiliate link) Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe Is Coming Apart
This is part 14 in a series on Confronting My Church Wounds a series on shifting faith. READ the rest of the series below:
- Coming Undone
- Pit of Despair
- Healing Takes Time
- The Act of Seeing
- Mean Church Girls
- You are NOT Good Enough
- A Year of Silence
- Evangelicals and the “Gay Agenda”
- I Felt Duped
- Critical, Sexist Church Men
- Anniversary of Tears
- Conservative Christian Women Support Trump