Christian Humanism

Christian Humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, rational inquiry and a commitment to the values taught by Jesus as a guide to the ethical life are not only compatible with Christianity, they are fundamental to a proper understanding and interpretation of Christian belief. Being a Christian means at the least feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick, supporting the poor, comforting the lonely, seeking peace and standing with the powerless against the mighty.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Sexual Abuse and Pornography: My Name is Adam

Sexual abuse of minors is in the news regularly but only gets headlines when it involves large numbers of abused and abusers over many years as in the Catholic Church, or the Boy Scouts, or orphanages and schools in Australia or Ireland, or public schools in general or the New England boarding schools in particular.  Most of the interest seems to be on the institutions (their negligence and their silence) and the abusers (how did they get away with it so long and what will happen to them, if anything or is it too late because of statutes of limitation) but not much attention is paid to the abused victims and what they suffered at the hands of their perpetrators.
 
One crime involving sexual abuse of minors is not talked about very much—child pornography.  The back pages report that “John Doe, a teacher at Lost Children Primary School, was arrested at the school today and charged with multiple counts of possession of child pornography.  An investigation of his computer revealed 731 images of child porn.  The school reported that happily none of the victims so far identified were students at their school.”  There is nothing said or reported about the victims who, after all, are just digital images.  They are not real so our concern about them is not real either.

I counsel teens.  One of the teens I am currently working with was a victim of sexual assault starting when he was 10 years old.  From age 11 onward he was kept as a virtual prisoner by his family until he reached puberty and was no longer useful in porn for pedophiles.  During the long years he was a victim of pornographers he kept his sanity and his humanity from the daily degradation of his life by writing in a journal.  He has sent me pages from that journal and what he sent me a few days ago was difficult to read without wiping the tears from my eyes.  His graphic writing demonstrates the struggle of the human spirit against evil personified.  Pornography is not just illegal, it is an assault on the victim’s humanity, it destroys what is essential in being human, it kills the human spirit.  

This young man’s ordeal ended when he was 15 after four years of hell.  He is a survivor and in the past three years he has been healing.  He is a remarkable young man.  Here is his story, written when he was 12 or 13, in his words:

My name is Adam*.  I see men, big men, their faces hidden by shiny black leather, men in a circle, men without clothes. I can’t look up, I don't want to see. I look down, I'm so relieved, I have my pants on.  Maybe its ok.
  
In a mirror on the wall I see a boy, a small thin boy, standing on a low table surrounded by naked animals, circling like a pack intent on the kill. I look into his eyes. I see the fear and confusion. I see the hands like the claws of some crazed animal, tearing at what clothes I have left, pulling clothes, tearing clothes.  Now I'm naked before them all.  The hands, so many hands, touching, pulling, prying.  Inside I'm dying.  The hands are pulling me down.

They are above me now, filthy black faces with mouths that will touch the filthiest places.  My body betrays me like everything else—mumbled comments about size and beauty, about how he seems to really enjoy this.  At the edge of what’s left of my mind is a flashing light… flashing… flashing…  getting closer and farther way.  It’s very close now and I can see it’s my uncle with his camera…  snap!... a part of my soul taken away… snap!... a moment of my pain captured forever… snap!... my shame preserved for all time… my face frozen in time… the lights are bright… I am so hot.

They are smothering me now, sweating huge bodies, rolling and thrusting, my body like a leaf in a storm.  I scream out in pain… snap!... gotta get that one!... how many of you were there?  I was too scared to count. I marked time by times of intense pain followed by minutes of relief as the next one stepped up. 

They are holding me up now.  I can’t even hold myself up.  I am gagging, choking.  They are on me, they are in me.  I am not there anymore.  I am a shell with nothing inside.  I don't know who you were.  I don't know about your lives.  Your black hoods made you invisible to me. 

Why didn't I get a hood?  Did you need to see who I was?  Did you need to see my face?  Did you want to see yourself in my pain?  Did you want to know this boy?  Was I more than just an object?  Was I everything you could never be?  Did it make it better to see how innocent I was?  Was the innocence part of it? 

I know I'll never know your names, but I want you to know mine—my name is Adam*.
__________ 

*I proposed using an alias but Adam said, as his last line indicated, that to all the perpetrators of this evil, which includes anyone that saw the pictures, he wants them to know that he is a person by the name of Adam.  That is not his birth name, it is the name he has chosen for himself for his new life as a survivor.

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