Friday, October 27, 2006

Molestation: Stealing Someone's Soul, Restoration: Recovering It--UPDATED

Update: Thank you Anchoress for your kind words. I'm glad you decided to write about your experience. One of the travesties of justice is that a woman or man cannot speak publicly about her or his experience for fear of being sued by the perpetrator for defamation of character. Many women remember molestation experiences as adults, especially when they go through pregnancy and childbirth. Other women stay silent to protect their current family from the spectacle of a court case.

If the truth does come out, people quite ignorantly ask, "How come you never said anything before." These people obviously don't understand the tyranny of molestation, the shame that binds the victim and the psychological defenses that cause a victim to "try to forget". To understand more about that, doctors are trying to find ways to help the elderly who experienced the Holocaust and WWII deal with their formerly suppressed memories as they are causing these poor people untold grief as their defenses break down in old age. Far too many women and men must deal with their own personal war stories in private. The Anchoress' post gives people the courage to share their stories, and hopefully, find a path to healing.

Also, dear visitors, you must be extraordinary people in your own right, if you're reading The Anchoress every day. I hope you'll enjoy what you see here. Please bookmark my page and visit again, often. You might like some other posts here from the past and present: this one is about Religion in Politics, this post is Gender Neuterization. Thank you again, for visiting.


I'm not sure, but I think it was M. Scott Peck's book People of the Lie, where he talked about the Native American (I forget which tribe) notion of "soul stealers". Soul Stealers are people who were denied something in their childhood and rather than being filled up by God, seek other souls, often their child's, to devour to try to find wholeness.

Can there be a better description of a parent molesting a child and stealing her innocence? Rather than make his own light or allow God's light to shine in him, the Soul Stealer tries to get it the easy way: by dominating and taking the light by force. Light stolen is light extinguished.

The Anchoress posted about her interaction with her soul stealing father:

Either way, his somnolent tears would induce my sympathy, and looking back on it, I am glad to realize I could - even then - feel sympathy for my father, even as I cringed in my corner. It tells me that despite all the things he took, he never fully had me, he never possessed me at my core, where grace did still abide.

It's hard to imagine wanting someone's soul. It's harder still to imagine a parent taking it from their own child, but it happens far too often.

There have been so many abused people come through our practice, I had the impression early on, that child molestation at the hands of a deranged parent or step-parent or grand father or uncle, was an American pastime. I'm still not sure if it's an American thing, our particular practice, or that people self-select to come to a health care worker to help them get rid of the somaticized pain. It could be all of the above or none of the above.

The people who really heal from these abuses, invariably turn to a Higher Power to fill the space by the fallen power who failed them. Siggy says this about The Anchoress' walk:
In a way, her relationship with God is also substitute for the relationship with her biological father. That is not necessarily a bad thing. The Anchoress' relationship with God is more intimate than the relationship with God has with most believers. Most believers relate to the majesty of God- The Anchoress also relates equally to an intimate God, the kind of relationship a child has with a parent. She has developed this relationship in it's nuance, sublimity and boundaries. She is comfortable with God more than she is awed by God. She doesn't see that of course. The Anchoress is ever the dutiful daughter of God, not realizing that His countenance radiates from her.
What a grand and fitting compliment to The Anchoress by Siggy. I agree. She is a testament to the power of God to transform a life and continues:
Creatures, behold your Creator: He doesn’t beckon with a kingly nod, with silence and guards and gravity. He comes as a child, lying in a manger - in the very thing the animals eat from - and He offers you Himself for your own food, your own nourishment and strength. We are loved into being by One who is All Good. Flickers from hell may singe and scar, but they will never consume us. Be not disconcerted.
A blogger who linked to The Anchoress who I have never read before, K-Dad, laments men who put lusts before God. He says this, first:
When you love something more than God, it's idolatry. My passion for ideas is “idea-olatry.” I always said I "loved" ideas, but that was a mistake. It is lust that makes us do what God forbids, not love. That lust hurt my children, and messed up our homeschool. Throughout those years, I would have said that I was “teaching my children” when I talked to them about my latest thoughts—but now I can see that I was serving my idol, and dragging them into idol-worship with me.
He talks, from a very male perspective (duh, but I bring attention to this because I'm always fascinated when I talk to my husband or read pieces like this describing the hunger in a man, that drive. When applied correctly is awesome to behold, but when out) about lust:
A father's lust is a terrible thing, whether it is a lust for ideas, sports, "success," or sex. It scares me to think how many fathers think they are "loving" their children when they drag them to the idol that they serve. This gets scariest (and clearest) when the thing that makes us disobey God is sex.
"A father's lust is a terrible thing..." I think of the word terrible in the context of dreadful or formidable. It is formidable. That is why when that energy is poured into love of God and family, a man is an equally constructive (rather than destructive) force of nature. This drive ensures survival of the species, protects hearth and home, is self-sacrificial and productive.

Just like a mother's love reveals one aspect of God, a father's love reveals another aspect of God. That is why when a parent abuses their position of authority in the home it is an utter abomination. Jesus said this about anyone who causes a child to sin (Matthew 18:1-14):
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come!
Of course, Jesus isn't just talking a literal child, but children in the faith. To see a child's faith and belief ebb away in a sea of confusion and mistrust is heartbreaking. A child is built to believe. A child is born to faith.

Life's trauma's at the hands of "the one through whom they come", steal the belief and faith. Only God can restore a person's faith. Only through the Living Father of Life can we be born again.

Some people, I know some, who never had a faith crisis. They traveled safely from childhood to adulthood without having a significant part of their soul stolen. They are blessed. Others must travel through the valley of the shadow of death, come out the other side, and believe again. They must be restored. Still others must touch Christ's wounds themselves to believe.

No matter a person's walk, faith is complex, soul-satisfying and renewing. It is also a burden--a light burden, mind you, but a burden none the less. Struggling to make sense of a stolen past, wrestling like Jacob to be blessed by God, wanting to believe and having moments of fearful faithless narcissism like Elijah, I'm reminded of the a passionate loving father's words to Christ when he asked for his son to be healed of convulsions that left him deaf and mute: "I believe! help my unbelief!"

The only way to satisfy and fill a soul that has been robbed is to turn to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. And believe.


For those who have experienced this particular soul stealing, please seek help. The unresolved emptiness in your life, left unhealed, can result in inadvertent soul-stealing. When a chasm that huge is left in a soul like is left from an abusive parent, people often have marriage problems or other relational problems. Why? The answer is quite simple really. We all hope to find the one person who will fill up the emptiness, but no person can do this for another no matter how hard he or she tries. Ultimately God heals and a person must choose happiness for him or herself.

Once on the path to healing, the energy shifts from taking from those around you to giving to those around you, and wonder of wonders, you receive more than you ever imagined before when you sought to fill that need by taking. So much of transcendence is a paradox.

Anyway, the Catholics have this right: confession is good for the soul. Find a trusted counselor, confess, and start again.

Another thing, those who have experienced molestation often walk into relationships clueless as to how to make them work. It is really a matter of learning the rules again. We absorb the rules for relationships through our parents, but when the learning has been so corrupted, it takes active training, practice and dedication to do things a different way.

Give yourself every chance to succeed in the life you live today.


Anonymous said...

This is the side of Dr. Melissa Clouthier I like the most. It reveals a lot.

Anonymous said...

Spiritual things is often the only thing that makes sense in this world and the only thing that has any real meaning at all. I am not speaking of "churchiness"...too many poor souls have been completely destroyed going that route.

Unfortunately, counselors and therapist see things thru their own grids, have their own opinions and often have many problems in their own lives. It is not assuring and leaves one more questioning then anything else.

What we are all looking for is to be loved and understood just for who we are. It is difficult because we are all in grown up bodies and our feelings seem so a small child lifting its arms wanting to be held. How in the world can you share that with someone? It's so embaressing!

There is a beaufiful verse in our Bible that I often take to heart:

"He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

Our divine God is a faithful God! I know we are not accidents that have been place here on this planet. I believe with all my heart that the pains of today are the blessings of tomorrow. In the spiritual world things are backwards from the way we see things in this material world. It is important for our survival that we learn to see things thru spiritual eyes and think on a spiritual level. With turning our pains over to God and with commitment and practice this can be done effectively. There are heights that can be realized if we have the courage not to give up. Sometimes I am so tempeted to give up...because I am so tired. But then I'm reminded that I'm not an accident, and know I can't.

Christy're said...

Dr. Melissa, this is a wonderful post. I am so lucky to have grown up with completely healthy relationships with all the men in my life--a fact that (I think) contributed to my having chosen my (wonderful) husband.

A friend of mine had been abused and molested by her father. My mother-in-law was molested by her father. It's so common and I honestly had no idea of that until recently.

Dr. Melissa said...


You sound depressed and discouraged. What a good therapist can do is help you frame your life now. I do agree that one of the shortcomings of therapy is that therapists come to the solutions of what is best for you because of their own life experience.

The best therapists help a person see the truth, which helps the person to be free.

Anonymous said...

The Anchores tells it well. I also don't like to consider myself a "survivor" yet I am keenly aware that the damage was great. I've confronted my "soul stealer" (the one in that context at least),and have forgiven him. That was at least is a beginning to move on. Like the Anchores, I feel sad for my father for his life was pathetic as well.

Chrity're, you are a blessed young woman. Pray for your friend, she will need much love and support!

Anonymous said...

Discouraged is not the right word here. Perhaps "hopeless" at the moment is describing it better.

Hopeless that despite all effort, time and money spent, things can never be fixed completely.
Hopeless that being understood, really understood and loved is one big illusion and a naive dream.
Hopeless because one does not want to become "inadvertently a soul stealer as well". How frightening is that! Totally unacceptable as well! Hopeless that even the ones most entrusted will not be forthright because of politeness of not wanting to hurt feelings, or simply lack of courage. Yet, that which goes on internally often does not match that which is perceived outwartly. Perspective from an entrusted source would be so helpful...even if it hurts. And, hopeless that one has damaged relationsips, friendships that were important and cherished.

Somehow though, hope is always found again. It is found again and again because God is Hope and He never left. The key for me at the moment is my willingness to turn my own anguish over to His loving care. Miracles still do happen, second chances still happen because I give many second chances to those I love. Can that happen for me? I believe, help my unbelieve!!!

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