Hope Bastine was brought up in a “free love” community where sexual abuse of children was rife. As her abuser Derek Lincoln is finally brought to justice, she speaks to Sharon Hendry
Sharon HendrySunday August 09 2020, 12.01am BST, The Sunday Times
For years I have suffered from raging insomnia, and as usual I was pacing the streets of my local town centre fuelled with adrenaline after a poor night’s sleep. I found myself in front of a drab police station and suddenly there was a eureka moment.
I was ready to break the codes of the deeply secretive religious organisation I had been born into and tell the story of horrific, repeated abuse that has haunted me for more than 40 years. So, just like that, in 2004 I walked into Watford police station and reported to the desk: “I want to talk to somebody about some abuse please.”
Christians talk casually about God’s plan for their lives and the lives of others. This can be grating to the ears of abuse victims (especially those new to, or unfamiliar with, the faith).
As victims are inclined to see it, God’s plan for them included abuse. Whether He caused that abuse or merely allowed it to occur, He failed to protect them against it. And they have the scars to prove that.
The issue of innocent suffering is a profound one, and cannot be papered over with a handy Bible verse. For abuse victims, coming to terms with it may be a lifelong struggle.
Trusting themselves can be as great a challenge. Abuse has effectively “taught” victims not to rely on their own judgment, their own instincts. This is something they must unlearn.
It is not helpful for Christians to urge victims to trust in God, rather than themselves. Such trust will come with time. It cannot be rushed. There are deep wounds which must be healed first.
Christians should be sensitive in the language they use around abuse victims. To victims of incest, even the term “Father God” can sound disturbing. To those who were sexually abused or tortured by siblings, the term “brothers and sisters in Christ” may be equally threatening.
Christians should not pressure victims to drop their defenses, and should not hug or make other physical contact with victims without their permission. Victims may experience either as invasive, and shy away.
Christians should allow abuse victims to take the lead, insofar as relationships. Friendships should not be forced. These will develop as victims gradually come to see they will not be harmed.
Originally posted 3/29/15
This series will continue next week with Self-Sacrifice v. Codependence
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