Sunday, 13 March 2016
Wednesday, 23 December 2015
Saturday, 21 November 2015
- approach her about the abuse in a sensitive way, for example by saying, ‘I’m worried about you because…’
- believe what she tells you: it will have taken a lot for her to talk to you and trust you. You will only hear the tip of the iceberg at first
- take the abuse seriously.
- focus on her safety: talk to her about it and how she could protect herself
- help her to understand that the abuse is not her fault and that no-one deserves to be abused, no matter what they do
- inform yourselves and take the safeguarding policy seriously
- blame her or ask judgemental questions such as, ‘What did you do to make him treat you like that?’ or ‘Why don’t you just break up with him?’
- focus on trying to work out the abuser’s reasons for the abuse.
- try and listen and mediate to both parties
- recommend anger management for the abuser. He manages his anger very well. His boss annoys him then he comes home and hits his partner where it doesn’t show
Sunday, 18 October 2015
According to psychologists, at times of crisis, humour can provide a vital way of expressing frustration at a baffling situation.
Following the problems in the global economy uncertainty has now hit
Sorry for that little diversion. Laughter and humour is a really important healing tool.
What I’d really like for you all to hold onto this morning is that we are all called to be part of God’s healing process. Healing is not something that is left only to priests. It’s not just a specialism that hospital or hospice chaplains have. It's not just for the medical profession either. It’s actually an ability we all have if only we are brave enough to use it. When you put your arm around someone who is sad or give a comforting hug to someone who is stressed you are participating in that healing process. When you ring a friend who is having a tough time or invite a neighbour in for a chat over a cuppa you are part of that process. When someone dies and you see a member of the deceased family in the street and you manage to resist the urge to cross over the road and pretend you didn’t see them, you are participating in God’s healing. You don’t have to be a theologian or a scholar, or a medic, in fact you don’t have to be clever in any way. It’s good enough to say to someone “I’ve heard the awful news. I’m so sorry I don’t know what to say. How are you coping? That then gives them the opportunity to talk if they want. If you don't know what to say then just listen.
Sunday, 26 July 2015
Saturday, 27 June 2015
It's been a tragic time. Watching the news yesterday required a far amount of fortitude. The awful slaying and maiming of innocent people in Tunisia, France and Kuwait has been hard to watch, even from afar.
Already we have had a lot of talk about the 10th anniversary of 7/7. Lot's of people who were bereaved then or hurt and injured whether physically or psychologically are already preparing for the hurt to come crashing over them again because anniversaries are always painful. Then we have this happening on top
10 years ago on 7/7 I spent the night with a friend in Derby. She was dying and I had been supporting her for a couple of years. It was to prove to be the last time I saw my friend. I came back the next day. I was alone on the only train that came into London. Once I got back I then discovered there was no London transport. The streets were eerily silent. I had people on the end of my mobile trying to help me navigate my way through the streets. Every time I thought I was getting close to where I wanted to be there would be a police cordon blocking my way. What should have been a couple of miles turned into a mammoth hike. My pain was nothing compared to the victims.
When my daughter was little I got her a t-shirt from a festival I was at that said "Why should I tidy up my room when the world is in a mess?" It can feel like that for all of us. We may be adults but we just don't know what to do when ISOL seems to be creating so much fear and destruction. When austerity measures target the poor more harshly than the rich. When the Eurozone seems so uncertain.
It can all feel too much and then what happens is we turn on each other or blame those who are blameless and that plays right into the hands of those with power or the terrorists. People often ask priests to speak out at times of national sadness or to make sense of difficult situations. That's one of the most challenging things about public office so please accept my humble thoughts as a way of looking at these horrors but not feeling totally impotent in how we tackle them.
Earlier I was in discussion about some complex issues. A young woman who was very troubled ended up having sex with her boyfriends father. She was only 15/16. Her uncle found out and went mad at the girl and went round to the blokes house to punch his lights out. This man that had inappropriately had sex, as far as I'm concerned, filled the uncles head with lies saying that the girl was wild and it was all because of the abuse she had suffered at her own fathers hands. When the uncle went back to the girl and started questioning her about it, he was kinder and less mad at her. She went along with the lie to keep him off her back and before she knew it, it had got out of hand. It created a horrible problem in the girls family and was years before she admitted the truth. 10 years on the family are all ok with each other and have worked through their issues. the vulnerable teenager has turned into a well adjusted and confident young woman. Some stories do have a happy ending.
Why on earth have I told you all that? Many people would be looking at the girls behaviour and thinking how despicable it is. While I do not condone what she did, she was a minor. How many of you have already forgotten about her boyfriends dad? That man groomed a vulnerable teenager while she was away from home on holiday. Not only did he groom her, he then had sex with her despite being over twice her age. His final act of sabotage on this young woman's life was to tell the lie that further estranged her from her family and took the heat completely off him. Abusers are so clever and know how to manipulate people. We have to be aware of that and be more clever. That young woman just needed to feel safe enough and loved enough to admit the great big hole she dug for herself by going along with the "abusers" lie.
Time and time again I hear people bagging out Muslims because of the actions of terrorists. When I was a kid it was Christians blowing each other to pieces and shooting each other. I don't accept that those people were Christian who used violence and fear and intimidation in that way. They were just violent thugs. What would Jesus do and what did he do? His ministry was all about love and releasing people from tyranny peacefully. Islam is also a peaceful religion. It is profoundly sad that these terrorists are not seen in the same way as the Catholics and the Protestants but that instead all Muslims are tarred with the same brush.
The young woman I was talking about is also indicative of the young people that leave the UK to go and fight for ISOL. They have been groomed by an abuser. They have been fed a pack of lies and had their vulnerabilities exploited. Maybe some of them are living with too much harshness in their lives. maybe too much pressure or maybe it's just because they are young and impressionable.
It's an awful situation and again takes us back to my daughters t-shirt why should we care when tidying up our room is miniscule compared to the rest of the world. The thing is I was an abused child and I know the difference that people reaching out in love can make. It could have so easily been different story. I could have totally gone off the rails because of my vulnerability. I was lucky I met the right people at the right time and they made an enormous difference to my life. I in turn am trying to repay the favour. I try to make a little bit of difference. The name of my blog comes from that "where angels fear to tread" That's because I never back out of horrible situations. If someone needs me to hold their hand and offer them some love I will. Fortunately I have a never ending supply as I ask God to channel that agape love through me because I couldn't do it all on my own.
There is a poem I love and it sums up my ministry. If all of us had this pinned up in our houses and tried to run our houses along these lines I think the world would be a better place. Sure horrible things will still happen, like loved ones getting cancer, and tragic accidents and even terror attacks but there will be less broken people around because every time something awful happens an angel will turn up to help.
I hope these jumbled thoughts and random bringing together of different events encourages a few more angels to develop their wings.
This blog is dedicated to all who lost their lives in yesterdays atrocities and to all who mourn their loss
Here is that poem
If this is not a place where tears are understood,
Where do I go to cry?
If this is not a place where my spirits can take wing,
Where do I go to fly?
If this is not a place where my questions can be asked,
Where do I go to seek?
If this is not a place where my feelings can be heard,
Where do I go to speak?
If this is not a place where you’ll accept me as I am,
Where can I go to be?
If this is not a place where I can try to learn and grow,
Where can I be just me?
William J Crockett
Sunday, 8 March 2015
Rebel Rev bring two passions together, theology and domestic abuse in a challenging sermon for International Women's Day
May my words be in the name of the living God creating, redeeming and sustaining. Amen.
Thank you for inviting me back to your lovely community and church. I hope all goes well as Joyce leaves you for a few months and comes back as the vicar.
Thank you for your prayers for our school. I’m pleased to say that St Augustine Academy is thriving. We are officially good in al areas and are full in year 7 for the first time. That is an amazing achievement since we only took over in Sept 11.
I love working with children and young people. We had a great day at Diocesan Synod yesterday looking at the variety of ways we engage with our young people. It was challenging and informative and full of energy. It’s important to remember that our children are the church of the present and if we get it wrong they won’t be the church of the future. We were all encouraged to do the conversations differently and really listen to our young people and give them some responsibility.
Children say the funniest things. In a research project with primary school children the following statements about what love is were made.
“Love is when a boy puts on aftershave and a girl puts on perfume and they go out and smell each other.”
“Love is when you kiss all the time and when you get tired of kissing you talk to each other”
“Love is when a girls eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of them”
“When you love someone the way you speak is different. When they say your name you know that it is safe in their mouth”
“Love is when mummy sees daddy on the toilet and doesn't think it’s gross”
Did you know that today is International Women’s Day? It’s great to have a day when we celebrate the achievements of women which in general around the world are still under acknowledged. I have to look for 3 quotes each week and it is hard finding quotes on the various themes in the school that are written by women. There is still much work needed to created true equality.
I remember I went on a Barnardo’s course on child prostitution once and this little quote really hit me. “Some things have to be believedto be seen” “Some things have to be believed to be seen” I guess it hit me because it’s the reverse of what Jesus says to Thomas. If you don’t believe that domestic abuse is happening here in this church, then you won’t see it. If you don’t believe any of your friends or families are in abusive relationships, then you won’t see it. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, and in all kinds of relationships - heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. People suffer domestic abuse regardless of their gender, social group, class, age, race, disability, religion, sexuality or lifestyle. The abuse can begin at any time either in new relationships or after many years spent together.
I have been associated with the field of domestic abuse for over 20 years. I have worked in women’s refuges, managed women’s centres been on various management committees and helped set up the first ever women refuge in Slovenia.
When I speak about domestic abuse I do not use gender neutral language because to do so would deny the reality of the situation. I talk about men as the perpetrators and women and the survivors of abuse because statistically speaking, and overwhelmingly so, that is the case. The danger in doing that is that some of you may be sitting there thinking “but what about men who experience abuse?” I accept and agree that men also experience abuse. The good practise that I outline applies to whoever is experiencing and whoever is perpetrating the abuse.
The next area for us to be clear on is what is the definition of domestic abuse? I was in Southwark Diocese before I came here. I helped them with their policy and definition. This is what we came up with:
All forms of domestic abuse cause damage to the survivor, particularly to their self esteem, and express an imbalance in power in the relationship. Abuse can on rare occasions happen only once, but usually it is a systematic, repeated and often escalating pattern of behaviour by which the abuser seeks to control, limit and humiliate, often behind closed doors. Abusive behaviour can take many forms, and the following examples are not exhaustive.
Physical, psychological and emotional, financial, sexual, spiritual or neglect and isolation.
Ok having laid some groundwork let’s look at the reality. If anything I say touches a nerve for you please see me afterwards
If you've never experienced domestic abuse it can be difficult to imagine just what those affected have to go through.
We all know what a bully is...
That is the reality that 1 in 4 women live with during their lifetime. In this country alone 2 women are killed every week by a current or former partner. Of those women that are killed 75% are killed at or around the time of leaving, so leaving is a very dangerous thing to do.
Many people ask me why do women stay in these relationships? I think that’s the wrong question because it puts the responsibility on her, we should be asking why does he do it? But going back to the original question, when a woman leaves we’ve already discovered this is the most dangerous time. What she gains from leaving is an immediate loss of her house and possessions. Maybe she has to leave her children behind, she loses her status, her pets. She loses her local support as often for safety reasons she needs to move away. Her children have to change school. She also loses the man she fell in love with because she fell in love with a charmer not an abuser.
What she gains is a heightened risk of attack, financial worries, lack of security of tenure for a while, as refuges and hostels can keep women for up to 2 years sometimes before they go into a permanent housing. Stop I hear you cry, what about all the positives she gains. Yes she does regain her freedom and independence, her self esteem and confidence but they all take years to build up whereas her losses are immediate.
As I said it’s a complex subject, it’s not just as simple as why doesn’t she leave.
On top of all that we have a load of well meaning Christians as well as a few dodgy ones propping up the abusive situation using verses like these:
1 Tim 2: 11-14
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man. She must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
There are hundreds or verses like this in the bible but that’s only looking at it from one perspective and not seeing it as the historical document of its time and context. In our reading this morning we have Paul talking about our wisdom is nothing compared to God’s foolishness. Let’s try and be wise and have a new conversation now about some of these issues. Bishop Trevor was very challenging about the need for certain conversations to be had in order for the church to survive. Wouldn’t it be good if we put our listening ears on, like I say to my grandchildren, and see the world through God’s wisdom.
So ok let’s have a look at a few other verses and see what’s there:
I Corinthians 16:19
The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
These are just a few verses that can be used to counteract some of the other verses. I did an exercise in the school where I used to bechaplain. Lots of people used to wear those WWJD bracelets but I asked the students to tell me “What did Jesus do” and of course I got a great big list of things like, ate with sinners, spoke to women, didn’t judge, taught people and was hospitable, never judged anyone, loved everyone. At the end I told them to go and do the same. Wouldn’t our churches be great places if we did that too and based ourselves on what Jesus did and then argue about all the conflicting scriptural verses when we get to heaven and meet the various authors?
As I finish off I’d like to give you a few really important do’s and don’ts when working with people affected by domestic abuse.
•approach her about the abuse in a sensitive way, for example by saying, ‘I’m worried about you because…’
•believe what she tells you: it will have taken a lot for her to talk to you and trust you. You will only hear the tip of the iceberg at first
•take the abuse seriously.
•focus on her safety: talk to her about it and how she could protect herself
•help her to understand that the abuse is not her fault and that no-one deserves to be abused, no matter what they do
Remember: if you feel overwhelmed or frightened yourself, get help.
•blame her or ask judgemental questions such as, ‘What did you do to make him treat you like that?’ or ‘Why don’t you just break up with him?’
Even though I became quite senior in the secular work I was doing in relation to domestic abuse, I always insisted on doing some face to face and group work. Although this was disconcerting at first to my colleagues, they soon got used to “the boss” working with them.
For two years there was an overlap between my theological education and being the manager of a large women’s centre. I was really glad to have the challenge of working out my theology in this context.
One of the women I was supporting was extremely religious and took her marriage vows really seriously. She felt she couldn’t leave her abusive husband because of the vows she had made in church. I tried to reassure her that her husband had broken the covenant of the marriage by the use of his violence towards her. She was having none of it. She told me her husband was the head of the household and she must submit to him. I urged her to read further into St Paul’s words and that it also says that husbands should look after their wives. Again she wasn’t convinced.
Sometimes she was so sad that tears seemed to plop straight out of her eyes without even touching her cheeks. At times like that I’d reassure her with those lovely words from Romans 8 about nothing separating us from the love of God.
One day she came to see me and had obviously taken a beating the night before. I wanted to take over and tell her what to do I was so outraged. In as calm a voice as I could manage I asked her how long she was going to put up with this. She told me that her husband had begged her to forgive him and reminded her that the Bible says you must forgive.
I then spoke to the woman that true forgiveness requires real repentance and it’s through that that we can be reconciled. She still kept saying but the bible says I must forgive 70x7 and that I must turn the other cheek. I then found out that the Pastor in their church had been working with both parties and told her she must be a dutiful wife and not provoke him and that he (the pastor) would help the husband with his anger management.
I think at that point I needed anger management and I prayed very hard for God to help me out. During my studies, at the time, we’d been looking at marriage and the most common reading during wedding ceremonies, which of course we all know, is 1 Corinthians 13. I got my bible out at this passage and said to her this was the passage that most people had in their marriage service and was a good passage for Christian marriage to be built on. She agreed. I then asked her to read it out loud but every time she came across the word love she was to substitute her husband’s name.
That would change the reading from this:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Abuse is patient; abuse is kind; abuse is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude...
It was that simple substitution of his name that made this woman see that her husband wasn’t doing his bit in the marriage and it was his abuse that had broken the covenant of the marriage. He also wasn’t living with the most important Christian virtue of love. She clung to me as I reassured her that it would be alright. She stayed while I found her refuge accommodation and arranged a police escort so she could pick up her belongings.
I hope and pray that more of us can give away that love which means we can all have life and have it abundantly. Amen.