The Face–and Soul–of Abuse, Part 2

Phyllis Nissila

I am posting on this topic again today because, in light of the revelations by several women who, they allege, were taken advantage of sexually, at best, raped, at worst, by a very famous celebrity back in the day, one more thing occurs to me.

Whether or not the allegations are true (for this is not my point, here, and justice needs to ensue), what is true is the fact that something happened to so many women from such diverse areas and eras to have come forth.

Why, first of all, would they come out of obscurity/safety, if you will, at this time to testify to those events?

Setting aside the fact that perhaps one, maybe more, want to “cash in” on some kind of secondary “fame/remittance,” why do this in such a “dangerous” way?


Well, look at the backlash by the rich and famous and powerful…and by ordinary people who shift blame to them while, in a state of cognitive dissonance because of his sterling presentation to the world in public and in profession think, “surely not HIM!”

Why expose oneself to that, if not for some great, compelling reason; some need for closure, justice, peace, comprehension, or, if only to stop the self- and society-blaming voices in head, heart, and spirit that erode peace, well-being…and more.

I am reminded of the words of one woman I know well, a member of my extended family, who, after exposing and bringing to what justice she could (many years after the facts of her experience), said of her predator who started molesting and raping her when she was four years of age and did not stop until she stopped him when she was nine, “I’ll bet that he never thought that that little four year-old girl he threatened into silence and assaulted way back then would one day pursue justice.”

In the interim, however, note: she suffered in many, many ways as she doggedly sought justice, resolution, peace, HEALTH, starting when she was in her twenties when she first was able to garner the strength (and the funds to begin therapy) to address the horrible, awful secret.

She is still, now in her fifties, recovering in physical ways from all that (including major pelvic floor reconstructive surgery a few years ago for the physical effects of the assaults on her tiny body back then).

By the way, when she finally did pull herself together mentally, psychologically, and spiritually, with the help of therapists, counselors, and friends, to confront this man, the police, though sympathetic, told her, “Sorry, the statute of limitations is up.”

But, thanks to one of her counselors, just a few years ago, now that the laws have changed somewhat, there was an amount of confronting and documenting that could and has been done that will at least protect his grandchildren. We hope and pray.

But, some will think, these cases in the news are different! Those women who accuse the celebrity were all grown up when those thing they allege happened, happened!

And weren’t they just looking to get ahead in their careers? They shouldn’t have been there/done that/accepted the drinks/drugs/ and so on…

Ah, yes. Easy to assume. But consider: there is historical context to consider as well.

The young may not remember or know much about how it used to be between men and women (and still is here and there), the kinds of cultural messages, as it were, that enabled some men to claim advantage over women, to feel entitled to molest with a sense of impunity, for laughs or worse. (A brief review of certain movies and television shows from back then, even in this “enlightened” nation, may help.)

Cultural mores and popular memes are sometimes hard to define. It might take a close examination to expose the underpinnings, the error, the “unintended consequences,” at best, “crimes” at worst.

And the alleged molestations took place not that many years ago!

The young may not understand that even in the ER, the attitudes of the doctors and nurses back then were not necessarily in their favor…and in police departments, the same, and attorneys could bring up all manner of evidence against HER in court, such as, well, look at how she was dressed, and think about the fact that she was sexually active elsewhere, and, after all, she WAS drinking at that party or in that bar…

Granted, it is imprudent for anyone to be in places where evil is more likely to lurk, but is this, then, just about her immature or unwise choice of social venues, even her professional ambitions, or can we get back to the real issue?

Back then, there wasn’t all this talk of “taking back the night,” and “girl power,” and “No means no.”

Historically, there was context…

Once again, I am not necessarily supporting any allegations, here, of the women accusing the man in question. I am using the occasion only to shed a little more light on the issue.

I fear we have a long way to go, but exposure to the realities of abuse, be it sexual, physical, verbal, psychological, or spiritual, needs to continue to be part of civilized conversation, fact-finding, and problem solving.

Individual victims can and may recover, find the strength to heal and forgive, as they will–although forget, they never will.

Perpetrators, we can only hope, can and may fess up, make restitution, and do the hard work of recovery themselves…

I only hope that the young woman in the video is okay now.

And for some who might think, “she’s just an actress,” perhaps it will help if you to go down to the police department and ask to see some pictures, if you can, of what you might deem “real” victims.

Or, if you know someone who works in the ER, ask him or her what “real” abuse looks like.

Or, visit to a local women’s shelter and have a talk with staff there about what they see on any given day, night.

Truth is, what you will see and hear about is not a lot different, often, worse than what you viewed in the video (linked in the first post on this topic).

Oh, there’s one more place you might visit.

The morgue.

Sound harsh?

Abuse is harsh.

Sometimes, even fatal.

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Merely Well Behaved—or Beloved and Gifted? (On Joseph of Genesis)

Phyllis Nissila


I have heard yet another preacher expound on the superior character of Joseph of Old Testament fame who was betrayed by his brothers, unjustly accused by his master’s wife, imprisoned and then forgotten by two who could have helped him get out (see Genesis 37-50). Nevertheless, he consistently responded by taking the moral high ground.

The preacher insisted Joseph never complained; he never reacted imprudently to injustice.

And we ought to do the same while we wait for our own answers to prayer.

Indeed, perhaps our wait for God’s provision would be shorter if we, like Joseph, always mind our P’s and Q’s.

For that young man, it was a mere thirteen years, the preacher noted and estimated as a brief period of time, from when his brothers threw him in the pit until he was appointed to prominence in Pharaoh’s court.

For some of us, on the other hand, he noted, perhaps our bad behavior/attitude is not only what hinders our progress it may even be what delays God’s actions on our behalf—or worse, what stills His hand of deliverance and blessing altogether.

For we ought to, he noted, at all times, despite the cruelties of critics and circumstances, choose the high moral ground ourselves, react rightly in adversity, and then we will see God work on our behalf and end our troubles, whether they be self- or other-inflicted, whether caused by circumstance or happenstance.


Well, yes, of course.

In a sense.

I mean, didn’t The Law demand perfection for entrance through the famed pearly gates? (Actually, for how Jesus took care of that for us see below. But back to the post.)

Shouldn’t we, no matter what faces us, whether a sudden shock, continuous assault, or some pesky bad habit, always do and think and say the right thing?

And doesn’t the human logic of the good pastor make sense? If we shoulda coulda woulda we probably would not be in the pickle we’re in today.

Another sigh…


But if I may, my take on Joseph, whose story has inspired me over the years, tells me something quite different. Continue reading

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The Face–and Soul–of Abuse

Cindy Burrell at has linked the video that I have re-posted below. Her blog post is titled: “The Face of Abuse.” Her site and her ministry provide much help to people “on the other side” of videos such as this, as well as to those new to dealing with this nightmare.

The video clip is a powerful testimony to the reality of overt abuse.

But what the viewer doesn’t see is the damage caused by the covert abuse, the young woman’s undoubted loss of safety, confidence, hope, self-esteem, perhaps faith in God, in others (certainly the “other” who did these things to her); her dreams of love, and even, as she implies, her dreams of a tomorrow as her core erodes in the onslaught against her, and terror reaches critical mass. Continue reading

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The J-Team (On Spiritual Special Ops)

Phyllis Nissila


I listened to a fascinating presentation by a special operations trainer. He’s one of the developers of neuroscience based methods employed to build the body, brain, and psyche of qualifying applicants to high levels of resistance to outside and inside stressors to achieve a state called “ferocious resolve” [1]. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, Devotionals, encouragement in hard times, most recent posts, spiritual survival, spiritual transformation, survival tools | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

On the Church and Domestic Abuse: “Who Will Help Me Now?” (Lisa’s Story)

Phyllis Nissila

A responder to my previous post has prompted today’s story and comment.

What is so very disheartening,” she wrote, “is: it is ‘the church’ (her church), the leadership and long-time members that don’t care about abusive relationships as long as the marriage ‘looks decent’ in the public eye. Sadly, it is the secular crowd that have actually given me the protections that I have needed…”


I remember a case from years ago involving a young woman named Lisa, my sister’s room-mate at the time. Lisa was seven months pregnant when the incident, detailed below, occurred. Continue reading

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Update on “Is it The Silent Treatment or Emotional Survival?”: Another Good Resource


Many months ago I posted a guest commentary written by a woman who had left a long-term relationship because of verbal abuse:

There had been some physical abuse as well early on in the relationship, she reported, but in the end, it was the long-term, often unpredictable, spates of verbal abuse that left her numb.

She wanted to explain the difference, in her piece, between what’s called the “silent treatment,” itself abusive, and the opposite phenomenon, what she calls, “emotional survival”. They may appear to be similar, but are in fact, opposites. Continue reading

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On “The Gospel You Win Them With” (Be Careful)

Phyllis Nissila

I’ve been pondering an expression spoken by a pastor who was emphasizing the critical need to “preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2) to the unsaved.

“What you win them with,” he said, is what you win them to.” In short, be careful what you preach. They will follow.

And it might not be the right path. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, Ex-Roman Catholic/Catholicism, most recent posts, Out of the Fire: On Leaving Roman Catholicism, Purgatory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment