Why Now??

Sexual harassment and abuse have most likely been going for thousands of years. What God created to be an equal and respectful relationship between genders turned into one gender wanting power and control over the other and putting them in a place of submission under them. So why is everyone coming forward now about being sexually harassed or abused? If you look at this issue from the aspect of the fear love continuum, the earlier generations were based in fear. Fear controlled their lives, life was about survival of the fittest, war was the method to resolve conflicts, people saw themselves as separate from each other, competition more important than cooperation, life was hierarchical, and male dominated. In a fear based culture, someone needs to be the one in control and then subdue others to insure they keep their place of dominance at the top.

In 2012, there was an energetic shift on the planet and the love vibration of the collective population/consciousness of mankind finally surpassed that of fear. Now that love is in control, everything related to fear is being brought to the surface, so it can be transmuted into love. The Bible talks about a time when what was done in darkness will be shouted from the housetops and where your sins will find you out. This is a time when everyone’s “junk” is coming to the surface and they are being given a choice to admit and face it, seek help and receive healing, or continue to deny it and remain in a place of fear, insecurity and separation. So, choose wisely when your junk erupts.

So, I thank God that our society is going through a state of turmoil, because the only way injustice can be healed is to be brought out of the darkness and into the light. I am grateful for all the women who found the courage to come forward and talk about their experiences.  When we learn what we need to learn, heal from what we need to heal, and successfully make these positive changes in our society, we will have created a much better world for us and future generations to live in. A world where men and women respect each other, where men and women have balanced out the feminine and masculine energies within themselves. A world where our beliefs and actions are motivated by love rather than fear.

In next week’s blog I will address how we can create a culture without sexual abuse and harassment.

 

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Can a Victim be Healed?

For the victim, healing begins when you find someone you can trust to share what happened to you. This can be a friend, co-worker, counselor, pastor, family member, it does not matter who, as long as they believe and support you.  Sexual abuse and harassment affects every part of who you are so healing needs to occur at all levels for you to fully recover and enjoy your life again.

Physical: Your physical body was violated so you may struggle to love your body, feeling like it betrayed you. Any future sexual experiences are going to be impacted by what happened to you.

Emotional: You feel many powerful and conflicting emotions; fear, hurt, guilt, anger and shame. In order to survive abuse, you may disconnect, deny or minimize your feelings or you may act them out and project them onto others.

Spiritual: Your understanding of God can be shaken, you are taught that God, prayer and angels will protect and keep you safe so when they don’t, it is common to feel anger toward God and not trust him.

Mental: Sexual abuse and harassment mess with your mind. You begin to believe lies about yourself, dissociate from the experience, and continue to be re-triggered by what happened.

Relational: It is very difficult to trust again so it can be challenging to develop relationships with others, to know how to set appropriate boundaries and effectively assert yourself.

Healing involves:

  1. Telling someone you trust
  2. Looking at your beliefs about gender roles and replace those that no longer serve you with ones that empower you.
  3. Whether the abuse happened in the past or the present, get into counseling.
  4. Forgive the one who harmed you

Do not allow yourself to become bitter or hold long term anger toward the one who hurt you. This only puts you in a victim role which will then become your identity and run your life. Rise above and become a victor, realize the one who hurt you, was hurting themselves in some way. While this does not justify what they did, we are called to be compassionate and seek to understand one another. The best place to process this and heal is through individual or group counseling. Many women avoid this because they do not want to re-live the trauma. The good news is with energy based treatments, while you will need to share some of what happened to you, you no longer need to give a detailed account of the abuse.  I have had the privilege of helping many women go through this process and know that it is possible for you to fully heal and enjoy living your life again.

Why Women were Silent

Sexual harassment and abuse toward women has been going on much longer than most people realize. Before the internet, this subject was hidden and rarely talked about in public or even within a family. Today, people can openly share their stories with each other. Here are some of the reasons why women were silent for so long:

  1. It is a generational pattern of behavior experienced and witnessed in families. You grew up witnessing your mom being abused by your dad or you or your female siblings being abused by a father, brother, uncle or other male figure. When you finally got brave enough to tell someone what was going on, you where not believed, you were shamed for accusing one of these men of harming you in some way. If you challenged mom as to why she allowed dad to treat her this way, she began to justify how it was okay, how she deserved it, how you should not question these things.
  2. The abuser/harasser threatened you that if you told anyone, something bad would happen to you or those you loved. Your voice was silenced and, so it remained silent when you encountered this behavior at the workplace, school, church or in relationships.
  3. Energetically you attract what you experience. So, if you were raised in a home where sexual harassment and abuse were common place, you may continue to attract that energy from others outside of the home until you are healed of your own sexual abuse/harassment trauma.
  4. Women are taught, especially in the church, that your sexuality is something you need to keep under control. If a man makes unwanted advances toward you, it is your fault for tempting them by the way you dressed, the way you walked, the words you spoke. You were asking for this behavior; therefore, it was your fault you were sexually abused or harassed. The fact that a man could not control himself, was all your fault.
  5. Women are taught, especially in the church, to submit to men. This is what good Christian woman do. You do not question men, they know what is best for you because they are in a superior position, placed there by God, therefore, they can hear from God better than you and know what is in your best interest better than you do.
  6. Women are taught in the church not to disrespect men. When you question their behavior toward you, you are disrespecting them and their spiritual authority over you. So, you keep silent.
  7. Women are not taught in our culture to see themselves as equal to men. Therefore, when you are in the presence of men who are more powerful, of a higher social/economic standing than you, you may automatically submit yourself to them, even if you are not doing it on a conscious level.
  8. Many women work in places where the boss is a male. They believe the only way they can move up in the company is to accept the sexually inappropriate behaviors of the boss and not tell anyone about them. Many of them are single women raising children and they cannot afford to lose their job by speaking out.
  9. Because women were taught to keep silent about being sexually abused or harassed, they did not talk to other women about it. They believed that it was only happening to them and did not realize so many other women were experiencing the same types of sexual abuse and harassment that they were.

As a society we have done a poor job of raising women up to respect themselves, find their voice and learn how to have healthy interactions with men. The fault lies in so many different places as you can see in the different reasons behind their silence. If you are a parent, raising girls, look at this list and ask yourself what you can be doing differently so your daughter knows how to identify sexual abuse and harassment and how to stand up for herself and speak out against it. If you are a woman reading this, and identify with anything I mentioned in this list, take the time to honestly assess your life and see if you have fallen into any of these patterns of beliefs and behaviors. If so, seek counseling to help you process it all and become healthier in how you relate to men. Next week I will write a blog on how women can be healed after being sexual abused and harassed.

Can a Perpetrator be Healed?

The media will lead you to believe you can get men to stop sexual harassment and abuse by:

  • Educating men about why sexual harassment and abuse is wrong
  • Firing men from their jobs
  • Having women tell men how their behavior affected them
  • Educating men about gender equality
  • Shaming these men, posting their names on social media

These solutions on their own, are doomed to fail because they only address the symptoms rather than the root cause of sexual harassment and abuse which I addressed in the previous blog. Both the symptoms and the root need to be addressed for healing to occur.

For the perpetrator, this pattern of sexual abuse and harassment has most likely been with them for quite a while. These behaviors come from beliefs that were instilled in them from their family of origin, their religious upbringing and from the society in which they were raised. Things they were taught and things they observed. They usually begin as thoughts and they try to ignore them. Then they begin to entertain the thought, then imagine what it would be like to do this, what would it feel like, and then turn it into action. Usually the first time it is done they feel some shame and guilt. But whatever positive benefit they received from the behavior, it is strong enough to entice them to do it again until it becomes a habit and they find ways to justify what they do and often blame the victim for their behaviors. Healing involves:

  1. Becoming aware of these behaviors
  2. Admitting their responsibility rather than blaming others
  3. Understanding where these behaviors came from, why they did what they did and then doing what they need to change their beliefs, thoughts and feelings associated with these behaviors, so the behaviors will stop.
  4. Becoming aware of how these behaviors affected the victim
  5. Making appropriate amends to the one they harmed
  6. Forgiving themselves
  7. Being accountable to someone who will alert them when they see signs of this behavior again, so they can stop before they do it again.

The best place to process all of this and heal is through counseling. However, most people resist this and think they can just stop these behaviors at will. Or they just get another job, move to another city, find another girlfriend and begin the behaviors all over again, hoping their past won’t be found out and they will not get caught this time. If you know of someone who is struggling with these issues, please encourage them to seek counseling.

 

10 Reasons Why Men Sexually Harass and Abuse Women

While there are many reasons for this behavior, following are some of the reasons why I believe this happens:

  1. It is a generational pattern of behavior experienced and witnessed in families. If you were a witness or victim of sexual harassment or abuse growing up, there is a greater likelihood that you will either sexually harass or abuse someone or allow it to be done to you.
  2. It is a projection of the perpetrators own unhealed issues that they do not want to face or heal from so they project them onto the victim.
  3. When you repress your sexuality, your sexual energy will leak out in unhealthy ways. We were all created by God to be sexual beings, but few people are taught growing up what healthy sexuality looks and feels like.
  4. Men are not taught to respect women as an equal.
  5. When men feel insecure or have low self-esteem, they may feel threatened by a woman who appears to be more powerful, secure, educated, etc. than they are, so may look for a way to exert themselves over the woman, so they can feel better about themselves.
  6. Men are taught through religion that they are to be the one in control, the wife and children submit to them. They are often taught to see women as property rather than as an equal.
  7. Men are taught in our culture that they are smarter than women, better decision makers, they know what is right, they have greater value and worth than a woman.
  8. Men in a place of power believe they are invincible. They believe they can do whatever they want without any negative consequences.
  9. Pornography instills in men the belief that women are just objects for their own use, so they lose their ability to understand how their actions toward women affect women. Men are conditioned through pornography to believe that women enjoy how they are treating them, so when a woman says no, they do not take it seriously.
  10. Men fear the divine feminine energy. They fear any feminine traits they find within themselves. They do not know how to balance both the feminine and male traits that God created them with. They fear the rise of women in places of leadership and influence in our culture and church environment. Their identity as a male has always been tied to being superior to the female. Sexual harassment and abuse gives them a temporary feeling that they are still dominant and suppresses the feminine traits within them. The idea of gender equality is difficult for many of them to accept.

As a society we have done a poor job of raising men up to respect both themselves and women. The fault lies in so many different places as you can see in all the different reasons behind this behavior. If you are a parent, raising boys, look at this list and ask yourself what you can be doing differently so your son does not grow up to treat women disrespectfully. If you are a man reading this, take the time to honestly assess your life and see if you have fallen into any of these patterns of beliefs and behaviors. If so, seek counseling to help you process it all and become healthier in how you relate to women. Next week I will blog about how men can heal from this behavior.

 

Sexual Harassment & Abuse

I have doing a series of blogs about relationships. I am now going to address the role of sexual harassment & abuse in our culture and relationships. Initially, I had not planned on writing on this topic, but after seeing what is happening in the media, I decided to share my insights on this topic and will be doing several blogs on the following subjects:

  1. What is sexual harassment & abuse?
  2. What causes men to treat women this way?
  3. What causes women to silently put up with it?
  4. Why is everyone coming forward now about being sexually harassed & abused?
  5. How do people heal from this as both the victim and the perpetrator?
  6. How do we create a culture without sexual harassment & abuse?

The dictionary defines these terms as:
Sexual harassment is an uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate (such as an employee or student)
Sexual abuse is the infliction of sexual contact upon a person by forcible compulsion or the engaging in sexual contact with a person who is below a specified age or who is incapable of giving consent because of age or mental or physical incapacity.

I would define these two terms as a selfish act of control, power, intimidation or manipulation toward another person to get what you want. Sex is not the primary purpose for this behavior, sex is just the vehicle used to express it through. It has been going on for so long that this behavior is considered acceptable by those who engage in it. While both men and women can sexually harass and abuse one another, in this series of blogs I am going to refer to the perpetrator as male since this is what is most prevalent in our society. What does sexual harassment or abuse look like?

  • Unwelcome verbal or physical sexual advances
  • Unwanted physical contact of any kind
  • Request for sexual favors
  • Making conditions of employment/school/relationship dependent on sexual favors
  • Threatening you that if you do not comply or if you tell, something bad will happen to you
  • Inappropriate conversations, jokes, emails or other communication with sexual innuendos/verbiage.
  • Showing inappropriate sexual cartoons, images, pictures or objects
  • Being forced into sexual acts you did not consent to or being forced to watch unwanted sexual acts

Many of you who are reading this may relate to at least one of the above as either a victim or a perpetrator. If so, please continue to read all the blogs I will be writing in this series. Next week I will address what causes men to sexually harass or abuse women.

Leaving a Relationship

I don’t think leaving a relationship is ever easy. We were all created by God to be love, receive love and share love. We were not meant to do life alone. When we begin a relationship, we feel those wonderful loving feelings. We all want to believe the fairy tale that this relationship will be different from all the others and this relationship will feel this way till death do us part. But not all relationships were meant to last a lifetime. So how do you know when to consider leaving a relationship?

Abuse: If you are consistently being physically, emotionally, verbally or sexually abused or manipulated, you are not in a safe relationship. You are living in a state of high anxiety, never knowing when the next attack will come. It is so easy to justify this, make excuses, tell yourself it is your fault this is happening. These are the most difficult relationships to leave because the abuser will threaten to kill or harm you or themselves if you talk about leaving.

Little in Common: As humans, we are designed to grow, expand, learn and experience as much of life as we can. Because of this we are always in a state of change, either for the better or for the worse. In a healthy relationship you support and encourage each other, seek to understand and respect your differences. However, in some relationships people are threatened by change, and their security comes from a person remaining the same through the years. If you no longer feel supported in who you have become, and the direction life is taking you, it is best to leave rather than remain with someone who is always pulling you down, holding you back, or criticizing you.

Loss of Love: Many people remain in relationships because they fear being alone, fear they will not be able to financially support themselves, fear what people will say if they leave, etc. Fear is not a reason to remain in a relationship. It is not fair to the other person that you remain with them because of fear rather than because you love them and enjoy sharing life with them.

Unbalanced: The relationship is out of balance. One person is doing all the giving, all the initiating, all the effort to try and make the relationship work. You feel exhausted and drained at the end of the day. The other person may be saying they are going to do this or that, but fail to follow through on anything with action, making lots of empty promises.

Before you choose to leave a relationship, seek counseling. Some relationships can be made stronger and healthier through counseling. For those relationships counseling is unable to help, whether a dating, living together or marital relationship, the breakup can be a painful process. It is a loss and you will go through a grieving process and feel the intensity of an assortment of emotions such as anger, denial, depression, sadness, joy, gratitude and eventually acceptance. Have a support system of family, friends and counseling to help you process the loss and create a new life for yourself. Do not immediately get into another relationship. Take the time to process what happened, learn from the relationship and get yourself into a healthy place before you begin your next relationship.

If you know someone going through a relationship break up, do not judge or shame them. No one makes these decisions lightly and only the two who were in the relationship understand what was really going on between them. Give them grace, pray for them and support them in whatever way you can.

Relationship Expectations

We all come to relationships with our expectations of what we believe will happen when we date, live with another person, or commit to marriage. One of the things that I noticed when working with couples is how they failed to discuss these expectations with each other ahead of time. Perhaps you have experienced some of these:

  • The Bible Says: Partners accuse each other of not doing what they are supposed to do according to the Bible. They use Bible verses as weapons to beat each other up with.
  • Comparison game: People compare their relationship to others or what some book said and then try to force their relationship to meet these expectations.
  • Obligation & Duty: You do things for your partner out of fear, obligation, or guilt because it is what is expected of you to do, leading to feelings of defensiveness, resentment or bitterness.
  • Meet my needs: This is too much pressure to put on another person. Only God can meet your needs. God may work through your partner to make this happen, or he may use other people in addition to your partner.
  • Be like me: Why can’t my partner just do things my way, think like me, feel like me, or believe what I believe. You then judge, accuse, criticize, manipulate, or become offended or defensive instead of seeking to understand your partner.
  • We have to agree: The point is not to decide whose values and beliefs are right or wrong but to understand the reasons each of you has for your values and beliefs. Acceptance does not always mean you like or agree with your partner, but it does mean you will not judge your partner as being wrong.
  • Read my mind: If you really loved me, you would know what I want, need, am thinking/feeling, I should not have to tell you. This is what I call lazy communication. Rather than take the time to learn how to communicate well your partner, you link this unrealistic expectation to love and pour on some guilt.
  • The Vow: I can do whatever I want in the marriage because you said you would be with me till death do us part. Hence, a spouse will sometimes become selfish, lazy, abusive, inconsiderate or take their partner for granted
  • You can’t Change!
    • People should not be the same at forty as they were at twenty-five. Therefore, they will sometimes grow apart and have little in common anymore.
    • People feel threatened and insecure when a partner goes through changes.
    • If a partner changes for the worse, divorce may be necessary for the safety of the family.

Relationships work best when two individuals create the relationship to look and feel however they want. While it may be easier to form your relationship based on what marital or spiritual books suggest, this can add conflict because you are trying to force someone else’s ideas on who the two of you are and want to be. While it takes more time and effort to communicate deeply and openly with each other and talk about your relationship expectations, what you create will be more satisfying and long lasting because it is uniquely yours, unlike any other relationship out there.  Then, be willing to revisit the relationship expectations and adjust along the way as you both grow and mature through life. Not all relationships were meant to last a lifetime. Some will come and then go when their purpose has expired, and it is usually best to release your partner rather than forcing them to remain in a loveless relationship.

 

 

Cant We All Just Get Along?

While people often ask this question, our society has been set up to insure this idea of everyone getting along does not consistently happen. From a young age we are trained to see those different from ourselves as our enemy. We are trained to compete against each other.  We are trained not to trust each other. We are trained to blame others rather than taking personal responsibility. We see this in politics, religion, education, sports, economics and in many other areas. One of the things that fuels this “us versus them” mindset is competition. Competition has been around for a long time because it does have some positive aspects such as:

  • Encourages us to strive to be better than we thought we could be
  • Teaches us to set goals and to keep after them
  • Not to give up when things get difficult
  • Keeps us from becoming lazy and mediocre.

However, competition also has some negative aspects that prevent us from getting along with each other. It sets us up to have winners and losers and our value and worth as a person is determined by if we win or lose. Rather than seeing you as an equal, I put you down, instill fear in you, see you as an enemy, verbally attack/taunt/bully you, so I can win rather than you. It is hard to feel love toward another person when you are treating them this way. While competition will most likely always be apart of our culture, I would like to encourage you to consider the benefits of cooperation.

  • You are valued, wanted, loved, and accepted for who you are, not for what you do.
  • You work together to help each other meet your needs or wants.
  • You feel loved whether you win or lose.
  • You can celebrate who you are without having to prove yourself against anyone else.
  • You value other people and do what you can to help others, not just yourself.
  • Because you feel love toward others, you seek to understand them rather than fear your differences.
  • You live with less anxiety when you are not competing against each other.
  • It is easier to trust people when you are working with them rather than opposing them.
  • You see yourselves connected to each other.

As you interact with people this week, whether is it co-workers, friends or family members, start noticing the times you find yourself competing versus cooperating with them. When you find yourself competing, ask yourself why, who is it benefiting, how does it make you feel, how does it affect the one you are competing against, it is helping you get along with others? And when you are can, choose cooperation over competition. Let us celebrate and seek to understand and respect the differences between us rather than trying to prove we are better than someone else. We are all part of the human family, all from the same Creator God Source. We can all get along when we choose to.