Tag Archives: abuse

New Report Paints Vivid Picture of Abuse Among Homeless Youth

This is depressing

Of those young women in D.C., more than 40 percent had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, compared to only 16 percent of their non-abused peers. We recommend providing increased and targeted trauma services to sexually abused young women, 85 percent of whom report they were asked to leave their prior residence, where they were usually staying with family or friends. With intervention services that address the emotional and psychological issues associated with untreated trauma, the young women can begin to heal, and avoid some of the dangers that a history of untreated abuse puts them at risk of.

I have spent the last two and a half years working on a book about kids like those who come to Covenant House every day. It’s called Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope, and the figures conjure up the faces my co-author Tina Kelley and I have come to love — of Benjamin, who spent his childhood in more than 30 places — foster homes, residential treatment centers, group homes, psych wards — after his mother went to jail for abusing him when he was a toddler. I think of Creionna, who became a mother at 17 and found our homeless shelter more welcoming than her father’s home. And Paulie, who got his high school equivalency diploma up here in Alaska, where I recently attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a new shelter with many more beds. These young people, all of whom had abusive families, are thriving now, thanks in part to the unconditional love and respect they received at Covenant House shelters.

In the D.C. report, a couple trends jumped out at me, in part because they showed clear directions our programs need to take. For one, the recession has not been kind to young people. In the two wards of the District of Columbia that send us the most residents, Ward 7 and the one our shelter is located in, Ward 8, the percentage of 16-21-year-olds who were unemployed nearly doubled, to 72 percent from 38 percent. Yikes! (In our five-shelter study, almost 80 percent of our kids were unemployed, almost 60 percent hadn’t finished high school or gotten an equivalency diploma.)

Submission to physical abuse?

I know many of you are John Piper fan boys but this is appalling. Piper is telling women to "submit" to abuse for a season and then go to the church. Really? What about an abuse shelter? What about pressing criminal charges? What about leaving him? Abuse can never be tolerated.

Piper talks about abuse being sin and the answer is in the church.  Of course it is sin but violence against women and children (and anyone) is illegal and the answer is first to get the women to safety and then the courts.  Yes the church is a part of the solution as it can be in any restorative process but there are laws in this land that say that no one needs to tolerate physical violence and abuse, not even for a “season” as Piper suggests.

The idea that this needs to be done in the context of the church and community is wrong.  If I hit Wendy or abuse my kids, I have crossed a line that as a society we say that we won’t tolerate, it’s why there are laws that prohibit family violence.  The actions of the abuser have taken the consequences out of the realm and authority of the church and into the realm of the police and judges.  This isn’t an issue of submission, this is a criminal issue now.

I have no idea why some of you believe in the submissive crap that guys like Piper keep preaching. I have listened on the phone to women being beaten by husbands and parents while they were trying to protect their children and have listened to friends tell me they thought they were going to die from the abuse they were enduring.  No one should ever deal with that ever. People knew that they were being abused (and yes they were in the church) and didn’t take a stand because they women were submissive.

That "doctrine" drives me crazy. It’s based on bad theology and a bad translation of the Hebrew.

The end of the line for Prairie Bible Institute?

Canada’s oldest fundamentalist Bible College finds itself in the middle of a sex abuse scandal.  As Jeremy Klazus reports in the Calgary Herald, instead of looking outward for a third party, it is trying to handle things internally.

Callaway, who did his master’s research on sex abuse in churches and recently completed a doctoral thesis on Prairie’s history, says the school had a "high authoritarian" atmosphere in which L.E., who died in 1984, spoke for God.

"You just didn’t question him, at least publicly," he said.

After L.E.’s death, the school slowly started relaxing rules (staff, for example, were allowed to have TVs in their homes).

Callaway says he’s not surprised but saddened by the allegations of abuse at Prairie. He was also not surprised when he heard that the board appointed a member to handle the matter, given the school’s history.

"I thought, ‘This is a chapter out of that same book – going to keep it internal, going to try to solve it in-house,’ " said Callaway.

The school has suffered from plummeting enrolment and internal strife over the past decade, but this year the numbers levelled out.

Mark Maxwell, who took over as president last year, has repeatedly said the school is taking a new direction toward openness and transparency.

"There’s this idea that the board is going to protect the image or the reputation of the school," said Maxwell. "No, that’s the way you destroy the school, actually, by trying to artificially protect its reputation. I think we can leave the reputation of the school with God."

Prairie’s willingness to publicly acknowledge the allegations would have been unheard of in years past.

The school put a news release about the matter on its website before the Herald broke the story on Saturday, more or less inviting media scrutiny.

"The move could backfire," said Callaway.

"It’s one of those situations where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, really."

I am not sure what to think.  I have several friends my age who were sexually and physically abused in churches across the country and the families and churches when they found out, kind of just ran the abuser out of town.  In rural areas there wasn’t the capacity to deal with a lot of the abuse.  When Wendy came out about her own sexual abuse, many women we know (and readers of this blog) reached out and said they went through the same thing.  You also have the residential school abuse.  Even noted lawyer and scholar Larry Lessig went through is own personal abuse.

If I was Prairie, I would bring in a third party, offer whatever help that they can offer, and cooperate in whatever way they can.  In many ways I would pay as little attention to my lawyers as possible and listen to some pastors and counsellors.  If victims want to sue, I doubt Prairie has the resources to survive and if you are going to go down, go down trying to do the right thing.  I feel for the victims.  Hopefully there is a process that can lead to peace and heading.