Monthly Archives: September 2015

Deep Spiritual Healing for the Abused

spiritual healing

Spiritual healing is often overlooked by many as they focus on healing physically, emotionally and psychologically; very few understand that spiritual healing is essential for the complete recovery of the abused from their traumatic experience.  On this post, we are going to read about the story of Elaine… a girl who witnessed evil at an early age in the form of her father. Elaine is just one of the many individuals who have undergone divine healing and gradual transformation. As she journeys through life, her pain is mended and her spirit is set free!

Elaine’s mother whispered to her to hide under the bed… she did as she was told and slowly peeked through the sheet from under the bed. She saw her father roughly dragging her mother out from the bedroom – a familiar scene, yet still painful every time she witnesses it. Elaine wished she could save her mother.

The other children in school never invited Elaine to come over and play; some even talked behind her back and called her ‘the daughter of evil’. Elaine’s father had quite a reputation – he was involved in gambling, corruption and stealing. Everyone in their neighborhood feared her father and did nothing whenever her mother was publicly violated.

Until one day, eleven-year old Elaine was forced to drive her mother to the hospital because she incurred a gunshot. The neighbors witnessed this and many other tragic circumstances, but they never helped because of fear. One afternoon, a pastor who happened to coach Elaine’s father in basketball during earlier years asked if he could have the young girl join a Bible School Vacation. Although reluctant, Elaine’s father agreed.

Later that day, Elaine’s father told her and her mother about the pastor’s invitation. He pointed a loaded gun at Elaine while stating ‘If you tell anyone secrets at that church, I will kill your mother’. Elaine knew her father meant every word and she felt deeply threatened.

On her first day to join Bible School, Elaine excitedly hopped of the bus and quietly stood in front of the church. Tears started to flow down her face for some inexplicable reason; the pastor waited and then softly whispered to her, ‘Elaine, always remember that Jesus loves you’. He grasped Elaine’s hand and led her to the church doors where children could be heard singing ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so’. Years later, Elaine healed and set free has never forgotten these words; it still touches her heart and soul.

Spiritual Healing Depends on Several Factors

There is hope!

For anyone who has undergone a traumatic experience, the world may seem dark and gray… However, all is not lost if the victim chooses to let God come into his or her life. There is always hope and light in God; He loves each and every one of us.

It is very important to understand that complete spiritual healing is dependent on several factors – the victim’s experiences, the degree of his or her belief and willingness to be healed, the type of therapy/counseling the person is undergoing and the time spent on inner self.

The ‘speed’ of an abused person’s healing is dependent on how he or she copes with the process; there are important factors that affect the healing process of an individual and each person has a different healing ability.

  • The person must believe in his or her own healing, despite everything that has happened.
  • The victim should learn how to trust again, especially in oneself. He or she must be able to take responsibility and manage his or her well-being. The therapist / counselor will be there to provide guidance and support, but it is the victim who knows what is best for oneself.
  • Victims should learn how to live in the present; their past wounds may resurface in the present, but it is only because so they can heal and move on from it.
  • Victims should respect their own rhythm and understand that each new step is their key to awareness.
  • In order to heal and move on from the past, the victim must release any tension or anger that he or she is feeling. They must understand that if they do not free the anger that they feel, they cannot be completely healed. Forgiveness is huge in the healing process.
  • Victims are encouraged to develop a sense of humor – to look at the bright side of life and avoid ‘overthinking’ their experience. It doesn’t mean that they should engage in denial but rather, learn and accept their vulnerability and allow personal growth after their unfortunate experience. During the process of spiritual healing, victims are encouraged to be humble and develop a positive outlook in life that is centered in God.

Healing Life’s Wounds

healing life's wounds

“We do not heal the past by dwelling there, we heal the past by living fully in the present.” – Marianne Williamson

Each and every one of us has our own cross to carry during our lifetime; to live through life unscathed from any emotional pain is a miracle. We all have our own battles to fight, own scars to endure… the difference lies on how we handle our life’s wounds – dwell on it or learn and move on from it.

My own battle began when my father molested me when I was 10 years old and my mother didn’t believe me. I felt alone and abandoned and ashamed. I was having identity issues and I felt my whole world shatter around me. It was one of those times that I suffered in silence because I felt that I have no one to turn to – I felt that no one will understand.

But after a long time of letting my life’s wounds pierce me, I decided to pick myself up. The process was not easy and it definitely did not happen overnight. I realized that I did not want to focus on the pain anymore; I wanted to become a better person so I welcomed the healing process.

Here are some tips that I want to share that might help you and other people in healing life’s wounds – choose to be happy and grow strong because life can be beautiful.

Learn to Forgive

Forgiveness doesn’t come easy; we are all going to get disappointed, let down, misunderstood and maybe even abused by our loved ones. We cannot control that… But we do have 2 choices: we can either hold on to our anger or simply forgive – forgive others and forgive ourselves. By doing so we are lifting a heavy load from our lives. I know it’s not easy and total forgiveness may take time… we have to allow time to assist us in the process of forgiveness, in the process of inner healing.

Forget and Forego

Stop going back to the hurtful experiences and try to think of how this experience has made you a better person, a stronger person. Try to stop talking about it and just move on with life. If you need to talk about it, go to someone who can help you like a therapist, a professional who knows how to walk you through the process.  Letting go will help you build a stronger character – someone who is more resilient who can bounce back from any challenge that life puts on his or her plate. Always remember that vengeance never helps solve anything; it will only deepen your wounds and you will have a hard time creating a life that you deserve. Stop believing that the world owes you an apology because it is the other way around – you owe life and you have to live it in the best way possible!

Protect Yourself

Always look after yourself because no one else will; let us protect our hearts, especially if we’ve already been through a lot of heartaches. Many of the pain that has been inflicted upon us are the result of our own naivety. There is nothing wrong about trusting people, we just have to be selective when it comes to whom we entrust our hearts to. Life’s wounds will continuously come to us as we go along, we just have to handle them in a positive way and learn from them. Challenges will make us stronger; we must believe that each wound that we incur will heal in their own time. With the right approach and attitude, in the end, our life’s wounds may be good for us.

Abuse Among Filipino Girls

abused Filipino girls and boys

Many Filipino families view their children as blessings from God; parents shower their children with unconditional love and provide everything that their child needs. Unfortunately, this is not the case in every household. Some Filipino girls and boys are not properly nurtured and attended in their homes; they are not secure and they suffer from abuse in the hands of the people who should be caring for them.

The increasing number of children who work in the streets and beg for alms is very alarming – it is the most ideal reminder that many Filipino girls and boys are neglected. In fact, many children are rushed into maturity because they are forced to work early on in their lives; they are forced to take on the roles and responsibilities of adults and to seek a better life for their families.

The number of children who are abused by their parents, relatives or complete strangers, especially Filipino girls, is also on the rise. Abuse comes in different forms for Filipino children; some suffer from physical and sexual abuse while others are sold for forced labor, trafficking or prostitution. Often, a child may be abused in more than one form – a street vendor may be physically abused and molested at home. Take for instance, the story of Mary…

Mary’s Story

Mary is now a teenager and in the care of a crisis intervention center for physically and sexually abused Filipino girls. She is a bright and courageous girl; it’s quite difficult to imagine that she went through ‘torment’ at such a young age. Mary used to live with her mother and step-father. Her mother was often physically violated by Mary’s step-father and things got worse when he started raping Mary.

Mary told her mother about the rape, but her story fell on deaf ears. She felt lost and afraid, so Mary had no choice but to continue to live with her mother and step-father. The rape continued for a number of years before her mother finally believed her. Mary was permitted by her mother to live with her aunt where she could attend school. However, her mother was unable to beg for enough money without Mary’s help.

Mary’s mother falsely accused her aunt of abusing her in an effort to get Mary back on the streets to beg for alms. A foster mother took pity on the girl and adopted her; Mary was cared for by the foster mother like she was her own. However, the foster mother got really sick which made it difficult to continue to care for Mary.

A street worker found Mary and her half-sister and referred them to the crisis intervention center. For Mary she was able to adapt well to her new structure and education given in Tahanan Santa Luisa, but unfortunately not for her half-sister who eventually ran away to resume the life she was raised in, back in the streets begging for alms.

Child Abuse as Defined by the Filipino Law

Republic Act 7610 defines child abuse as the infliction of physical or psychological injury which include but is not limited to – cruelty, neglect, exploitation and sexual abuse. There are different categories of abuse: physical, emotional and sexual. Physical abuse involves any act that results in non-accidental and/or unreasonable physical impairment of a child. Common examples are severe beating, strangulation and more.

When a child is deprived of his or her basic needs and general care, this may be considered as a case of physical neglect. Emotional abuse, on the other hand, is the infliction of non-physical harassment such as cursing and belittling. Sexual abuse usually happens among Filipino girls but it also occurs with boys; when a child is used to gratify the sexual needs and urges of an adult or any older person, it is sexual abuse. Common cases of this abuse include rape, incest, prostitution and pornography.

What is Battered Woman Syndrome?

battered woman syndrome

 

A woman who has suffered from consequential physical, emotional or sexual abuse usually develops a physical and psychological condition called battered woman syndrome. Men can also suffer from the same syndrome, but nowadays it is more prevalent in women. It is commonly used by lawyers as an explanation in court for a battered woman’s behavior of staying.

People often ask a battered woman: Why didn’t you leave? Why did you put up with your abusive partner? This syndrome is a subtype of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome); women who develop it may not show or feel all the symptoms of PTSD but they usually share the same mentalities and behaviors that a person with PTSD has.

The following are some of the most common symptoms of battered woman syndrome:

  • Victim experiences difficulty in breathing and her heart beats faster than normal; a panic attack may occur if she is asked to re-experience the abuse
  • Fight or flight. The victim ‘turns off’ her emotions and denies reality to avoid facing her fears and emotions
  • The victim may also repress the entire memory and act like it never happened
  • A battered woman often has trouble establishing interpersonal relationships with others
  • The victim has sexuality and intimacy issues

 

Second Stage Symptoms of Battered Woman Syndrome

The aforementioned symptoms are the most common shared by women who have undergone physical and verbal abuse. However, repeated cycles of abuse and reconciliation with the abuser may further affect the behavior of some battered women.

  • The victim believes that the abuse was her fault
  • The victim fears the life of her loved ones because the abuser has threatened to harm them
  • The victim develops the belief that her abuser is ‘omniscient’
  • She becomes trapped in the ‘ugly memory’; it keeps playing on her mind like a movie that she doesn’t want to see
  • She may take actions to harm herself

Causes of Battered Woman Syndrome

Researches show that battered woman syndrome is a result of a three-stage cycle that occurs in domestic violence situations; first stage – the relationship is filled with tension, second stage – the abuser releases her tension by exerting violence to his partner, third stage – the abuser attempts to reconcile with his partner. However, the tension between the abuser and the victim is still present and remains unresolved which is why the three-stage cycle is repeated over and over again.

The repetition of violence is usually the result of the abuser’s desire to be in control of the relationship; he wants to make his partner believe that she is at fault. As a result, the victim feels responsible and helpless which further leads to being depressed and passive. Once a battered woman feels this way, her thoughts are distorted and is unable to ‘collect’ the resources and support system that she needs to escape the abusive relationship.

Physiological Effects of Child Abuse

physiological effects of child abuse

Victims of abusive attacks develop the feeling of fear, confusion and anger even after their traumatic situation is over. Some of them are unable to form relationships with others and detach themselves from reality; the physiological effects of abusive acts may vary from one person to another depending on the victim’s experience and ability to cope.

Undergoing abusive attacks may cause a person to break down and develop serious mental illness such as depression, paranoia and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). If these physiological effects are not properly addressed, the victim may fall into greater physical, emotional and mental problems later on.

Mental health professionals may help a victim deal with their emotions; seeking the help of an expert may help you develop your coping skills and rebuild your self-esteem. Abused victims who do not undergo therapy after their traumatic experience may develop the habit of substance-abuse or alcoholism. Seeking professional advice is never too late; even if many years have passed since the abusive act you should still get help.

Effects on the Cortex and Limbic System

Adult survivors who have history of child abuse often easily respond to minor triggers; abused victims can be reactive even to minor stimuli that can cause their frontal lobe function to decrease and their limbic system to increase. Thus, their learning and problem solving development is slowed down while their impulsiveness is increased.

Decreased Hippocampal Volume

Your hippocampus (a small region of the brain that forms part of the limbic system and is primarily associated with memory and spatial navigation) plays an important role in processing information on the brain – without it nothing makes sense. It is very sensitive to stress hormones; when the hormones reach a high level they affect the ability of the hippocampus to function properly. If a person goes through excessive stress, he or she is unable to differentiate useful information from not. A particular stimulus may easily be misinterpreted in the absence of rational evaluation, which results to the inappropriate response of a person.

Thyroid Production is Affected

Your thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that can modulate metabolism. When it doesn’t function properly, your body may suffer from a number of health concerns involving your physical, physiological and interpersonal functioning. A deficit in thyroid production may compromise your neurobiological structures and decrease your resilience from trauma; creating additional stress to your ‘state of mind, body and soul’.

Unconditional Love

unconditional love

Unconditional love is often associated with complete love because a person gives it without expecting anything in return; it is love without limits and conditions. Everyone may have a different way of describing unconditional love, but most will agree that it involves loving with no bounds. In Christianity, this type of love is thought to include affection, friendship, Eros and charity.

It may mean differently in other areas of expertise such as in ethology – unconditional love is referred to as altruism (self-sacrifice) because the other is focused on increasing the well being of another. In psychology, it is defined as the state of mind to increase the welfare of a loved one without any benefit for oneself.

 

Unconditional Love is not ‘Blind Love’

Sometimes, a person in love fails to see his or her partner in full reality; he or she is ‘blinded’ from the person’s faults even if it’s already causing him or her pain. This state of love is temporary and should not be confused with unconditional love. If a love is meant to last, it should be faced with ‘eyes wide open’ – to love someone in all his or her essence without being blinded from the bad characteristics of the person.

 

Romantic Love Can Be Unconditional

Others may disagree that romantic love is unconditional because they view it as a partnership based on feelings, expectations and actions. Some even believe that it is impossible to love their partner in the same unconditional way that they love their children. However, love is not a relationship – it is a feeling. Some relationships end because it no longer functions for the people involved; but sometimes ending a relationship is the best way to love someone unconditionally.

 

 

Unconditional Love May Not Be a Feeling

There are times that people only love someone in response to what they get from the person; this idea makes love a conditional feeling. Unconditional love may be shown through actions in terms that one person strives for the well being of another without getting anything in return. They consider their ‘unrequited love’ as their form of ‘reward’ – the return they get from their own actions. Loving with expectations is conditional love while loving unconditionally, requires you to act under all conditions without any ‘rewards’.

 

Giving Unconditional Love to Others

The first step to loving unconditionally is learning to accept yourself – your imperfections, shortcomings and mistakes. You will not be able to love anyone else unconditionally if you are unable to forgive your own flaws.

One love doesn’t fit all; what one person deems as a loving act may appear as harmful to another. Always make the loving choice toward the person you intend to show it to. Help your loved ones get closer to becoming a truly happy person. Unconditional love is a new choice you have to make in different situations. Learn how to forgive your loved ones; let the feeling of anger and resentment go even if they do not apologize.

What It Feels Like To Be An Outcast

outcast

Grade school and high school are probably two of the most difficult times in my life. I always felt that I did not fit in, that I did not belong. I became paranoid – I felt that people were gossiping about me and that didn’t help with my already weak self-esteem. I felt like an outcast.

“Fitting in” was very important at that time. Whenever I look back at those times, I feel regretful at some of the things that I said and did just to feel or to believe that I wasn’t an outcast. The sad thing about today is that there are still times that I feel the need to belong. It’s not that I want to be popular or cool like I did in high school, I just don’t want to feel that I am an outcast.

Does the above scenario sound all too familiar? Most teenagers go through feeling of being an outcast and if not dealt with in a healthy way, for many it can lead into their adulthood.  However, everyone at one time or another has felt like an outsider from time to time. The feeling usually surfaces when we start comparing ourselves to others; when our parenting or lifestyle choices differ from our peers, we feel lost. When we make a decision and people around us don’t support it; when we no longer share something in common with our family and friends – we can feel isolated.

If you have these feelings of being an outcast what are you supposed to do to reduce or eliminate this feeling? Remember, you will always feel a little different from the people around you because you really are! You are special. But how do you deal with it positively? Here are some tips that may help overcome the feeling of being an outcast:

Getting Comfortable in Your Own Skin

Start by accepting that it’s okay to be different. God made each of us special and unique with our own amazing talents, ideas and skills. The feeling of isolation may only be negative if you don’t know yourself truly. If you take the time to get to know yourself better, you will learn to appreciate all the things that you are. Also, if you feel good about yourself you will attract positive vibes and more people would want to be around you.

Letting Go of the Past

Lingering on your painful past may hurt your future. When you remain angry and resentful about your past, this also hinders you from relating to anyone; you develop a habit of just expecting the worst from people, which can make you bitter and unhappy. Letting go of the past will help you feel more comfortable about yourself; you can easily get along with others because you give off a positive ‘aura’.

You are Not Alone

It’s quite inevitable to feel that you are the only one who feels a certain way when you are sad or depressed. But everyone living on earth has felt like an outcast at one point in his or her life. What you have to remember is that you are not the only one suffering from negative feelings. What makes you different from other people is how you handle things; you have a choice to either wallow in your sorrow or do something that will put you in a better situation.

Acceptance of Painful Memories in Life

acceptance of painful memories

Many people go through traumatic experiences during their childhood that greatly affect what they become as adults. Take for instance, Kevin – he has many bad memories of his father but what affected him the most is when his father said that he’s good for nothing. He keeps on failing with everything he does including school and work and has developed a habit of substance abuse. He grew up believing that he really is good for nothing. Acceptance of painful memories such as Kevin’s is important for an abused child to move on as an adult.

Traumatized individuals can use these helpful tips to begin their acceptance of painful memories and focus back to reality.

Ground Yourself

For victims of abuse, it’s quite easy to fall back to the familiarity of trauma. It is vital for victims to stay grounded to avoid making the same mistakes again in their lives. Some people find comfort and stability by engaging in activities such as yoga or Pilates. When they meditate, they are able to regain their inner peace and let go of the pain that they experienced.

Build Relationships

Acceptance of painful memories doesn’t come easy to victims of abuse. When they remember their traumatic experience, they embody the feeling that they are not deserving of love and support. Also, when they spend their lives alone for a long period of time the negative feeling only grows deeper. It is important for abused victims to build relationships and find people who will support them. These people may not always know what to say or do to take the pain away, but their support and company are very powerful tools for healing.

Learn to Forgive

Forgiveness always takes time. Victims of abuse find it difficult to completely forgive their perpetrators, especially if the abuser is a family or friend. They feel that they did not deserved what happened to them; that it was unfair! However, they must realize that they are only hurting themselves by holding on to bitterness and anger.

Of course, they didn’t deserve to be abused; it is not their fault. Understanding that their perpetrators are the people to blame may take some time. But once they do, they can finally move on with their lives and put their traumatic experience in the past.

Victims of abuse must also learn to forgive themselves; it’s not easy and it’s an ongoing process, but they need to. The most devastating events in a person’s life are the ones that hold the most essential lessons. The key to living is pushing pass through the hurt – acceptance of painful memories.