The Cycle of Abuse is a social theory developed by Lenore Walker to explain the origins of abuse. It basically says that abuse is a learned behavior characterized by certain repetitive actions with abuse (whether it be physical or emotional) usually being preceded by another act of abuse. This theory was developed in the 1970s and, like most revolutionary ideas that go under the name ‘theory’, are quickly trashed by fundamentalists as being not true.
The reality is very few professional psychologists, therapists, and even evangelical Christians, question the reality of the Cycle of Abuse. Those who have questioned it are generally coming from the angle that just because you came from an abusive background does not mean you will become an abusive personality.
Even Lenore Walker admitted that the women used for her studies were not ‘randomly selected’. Her original terms like ‘battered women’s syndrome’ have been replaced by the ‘cycle of abuse’ because abuse is not limited strictly to men abusing women. Both men and women have perpetuated the cycle of abuse.
The reason for contemplating the Cycle of Abuse is because a minority of fundamentalist Christians, who sincerely want to stop abuse, are not only questioning the logic of the Cycle of Abuse but are calling it ’emphatically false’. Just take a look at the thread from Stuff Fundies Like (link below) to read what I’m talking about.
Jeri Massi, the author of Schizophrenic Christianity, participates in the Stuff Fundies Like discussion with, “Definitely, emphatically, not all abusers start out as abused. That’s a myth propagated by criminals who plead victimhood to get leniency in their court trials and sentencing.”
She goes on to say that even children from good homes become abusers. She neglects to give examples or explore whether such abusive children were abused outside the family. If such a child was abused outside the family, and the family knew about the abuse but elected to remain quiet, does that family still qualify as a ‘good family’?
In my critique of Schizophrenic Christianity, I was struck by this passage, “If the stupid child is going to behave as a temptress, he will treat her as a temptress. If she is going to wear those frilly petticoat dresses to church, he will act on the lure she has provided.”
This struck me as a ‘blame the victim’ passage. I’ve posted the review which contains this quote on an earlier blog of Christian School Confidential in 2008 and she has not yet addressed this issue. Was it a misprint? Or, does she really believe that, in some cases, a child can (and should be?) blamed for the abuse ‘the stupid child’ has inflicted upon herself because of her behavior?
I am brought to the conclusion that this might not be a misprint. If she believes that the Cycle of Abuse is a theory seized upon by criminals in order to get leniency, then couldn’t her argument against the Cycle of Abuse also be used by abusive families to cover up their lack of action? After all, if no one from the immediate family abused the child, they must be a ‘good family’?
One of the posters on Stuff Fundies Like pointed out, “Aren’t we forgetting about original sin?”
Yes, original sin! That is the same motivation that drives fundamentalists into beating their children when they are mere infants and toddlers! Michael Pearl, the fundamentalist author of To Train Up A Child, believes that when an infant cries it is a sign of rebellion. It’s time for the parent to step in and show who is boss with some strikes at the crying child!
It makes me wonder if fundamentalist Christians really are capable of counseling those who have been abused. Can someone who believes in the doctrine of original sin be relied on by victims to advocate for them? Especially, if deep down, that Christian really believes the child was acting on innate sinful urges beyond his control? Who is arguing for leniency now? That sounds like an argument an accused molester, who recently found Jesus, could make!
“It’s a huge, complex problem with no easy answers.” wrote one Stuff Fundies Like poster.
It only becomes a mystery when the most obvious and logical explanation is ignored.
For information about:
Stuff Fundies Like discussion: http://www.stufffundieslike.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=5571
Review of Schizophrenic Christianity: http://christianschoolconfidential.blogspot.com/2008/12/fact-fiction-and-blatant-exaggeration.html
Cycle of Abuse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycle_of_abuse
My article which explored the concept of ‘professional victim’ has definitely set off a shockwave at ‘Stuff Fundies Like’. I will address some of the points brought up on this blog, but I will not journey to that forum to participate in the dialogue with Miss Massi. If she wants to dialogue with me, she can either come here or unblock me from her website and/or Facebook profile and continue the dialogue in the presence of her fans. Also, no private messages either. If Jeri Massi is speaking, I want witnesses!
It’s interesting how she keeps bumping up two articles where she answers charges leveled against her by Jocelyn Zichterman and allegedly by Camille Lewis. The ones by JZ are rather ridiculous but the main charge by Camille Lewis that Massi has (or at one time had) a bias in favor of Bob Jones University can be backed up. There was a time when it was difficult to find accusations against faculty or staff of BJU on her webpage.
The idea of Massi’s BJU bias was further fanned when she wrote this on page 68 of her book Schizophrenic Christianity:
“The dynasty structure in Fundamentalism is nothing new. It dates back to the Joneses of Bob Jones University, the somewhat feudal Fundamentalist university which, despite its weaknesses, has remained free of the rampant, flaming allegations of sexual deviancy found in the high places of some other fundamentalist schools and churches.”
Schizophrenic Christianity was published in 2008. In her current answer to Camille, Massi does make a list of cases regarding those who attended or affiliated with BJU. Notice the years of those articles are post 2008. Perhaps that’s when her ‘state of grace’ regarding BJU came to an end?
The questions I would like to see her address are the ones I leveled at her on the FFF and occasionally in my blog that have gone without an answer. It concerns a post by someone who may, or may not, be her sock-puppet: spiffenwheeze.
You can read his comments here: http://spiffinwheeze.blogspot.com/2008/05/snit.html
Underneath his blog, I left a comment about a few matters I would like Jeri to address.
1) Is spiffenwheeze telling the truth? Does she know him? Is he, or was he at one time, her sockpuppet?
2) Where is this synopsis I allegedly wrote about her life? Can I read it?
3) Where did I ever say she met Voyle Glover at Hyles Anderson?
4) If she doesn’t know spiffenwheeze and has no relation to his page, will she repudiate his lies and allegations in public?
If spiffenwheeze ever gets deleted, I have screen shots! Those are some questions I would like to have answered!
Regarding the other points brought up at SFL. The idea that ‘even good homes can produce a rapist’ argument can also be used to cover up parent’s neglect. There are probably some very ‘good families’, at least that’s their perception, who act shocked when their children wind up being abusive.
These ‘good families’ may only be good when it comes to cover ups. Was there neglect going on where we can’t see it? The kind of neglect that can be covered up when the police, or researchers, come asking questions?
Remember, at one time cigarettes were deemed healthy and homosexuality was considered a mental illness. Let’s not forget the advertisements which once stated sugar is good for kids! Many times, the reality is right in front of our eyes in spite of studies that merely act to give us so-called evidence we need to justify our denial and ignorance.
This is a topic I will explore in greater context as I begin the series. Nothing is ever totally resolved and studies do have a way of reflecting a bias of the organizations which sponsored it.
One thing most abusive people, and organizations, have in common is a reluctance to answer questions and a bullying approach whenever questions are asked. When I broached the subject of ‘professional victims’ one of the posters at SFL said the very idea will ‘shut down any conversation’.
Maybe over there, but not over here. When all is said and done, only a ‘professional victim’ will get upset over the term ‘professional victim’.
Stay tuned. . .
Fact, Fiction, and Blatant Exaggeration: http://christianschoolconfidential.blogspot.com/2008/12/fact-fiction-and-blatant-exaggeration.html
Spiffenwheeze blog: http://spiffinwheeze.blogspot.com/2008/05/snit.html
Stuff Fundies Like: http://www.stufffundieslike.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=5571
Do Right, Hyles-Anderson is alive and well!
I clicked on the link. It appeared to have vanished. Do Right Hyles Anderson appeared again so I rejoined the group but, once again, the group disappeared! It wasn’t until I logged into another Facebook account when I learned it had not vanished. The administrators simply blocked me.
Jocelyn Zichterman seems to be one of the administrators of the Do Right Hyles Anderson board. Jocelyn is the one who called investigators and gave them Tina Anderson’s number. A risky move since, when a similar incident happened during the Bob Gray case, the victim just told the police, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” In the case of Tina Anderson, it worked and a victory was won against Ernie Willis, the man who raped Tina Anderson.
During the Tina Anderson case, I was practically coming unglued that the media seemed to be ignoring the fact that Tina could easily have been sent to an IFB home. That’s how some victims of IFB abuse have been silenced! When I finally reached the journalist who covered most of the Tina Anderson saga, I was surprised to hear she wanted to do a story on IFB homes. Her editors killed the idea because not enough victims had come forward.
What? No victims wanting to come forward? Seriously? Had this reporter not been to Facebook? Multiply? Or even Heal-Online? Immediately, I put the word out and she was swamped with testimonies. ABC News Online finally gave that subject its due. Biblical Reform School Discipline: Tough Love or Abuse was the first national article to mention the Survivors of Institutional Abuse and their convention which was held this year in Long Beach, CA. That article proved instrumental in bringing solidarity amongst victims and survivors.
It was during this time when I found out a number of survivors trusted Jocelyn to tell their story to ABC only to find out that never happened. An ugly thread war started on Facebook.
Today, the folks at Do Right, Hyles Anderson are propagating the idea that the FBI wants survivors to give their stories to certain advocates within that circle (Jocelyn?) and then they will evaluate the stories and decide which to report to authorities. This has resulted in a number of Facebook posts where people claimed to have contacted the FBI only to learn the FBI does not use third party advocacy.
Victims who might be involved with the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana scandal are being urged to call the Merrillville, Indiana office at (219)769-3719 and speak with Agent Chikantek. All calls are confidential.
Cathy Harris of FB revealed that a person at the FBI told her, “3rd parties to gather reports and round up victims for the FBI is not how the FBI goes about an investigation.” The testimony can be tainted if the story passes through too many hands. The defense lawyers would love this!
This is not the first time I have been blocked from a Facebook page. I was blocked by Jeri Massi, for reasons that possibly lurk between my negative review of Schizophrenic Christianity and editing the protest against Calvary Bible Church in Lima, Ohio. That church supported Hephzibah House, which is a cause she apparently feels quite proprietary about.
Why write about this issue? To get people to steer clear of certain advocates? To argue they may be ‘moles’ working as false advocates? Not at all!
The purpose is deal with the wider issue of ‘Survivor Wars’. Angela Smith, founder of HEAL-Online, helped me edit an article about survivor conflicts that is currently posted at California Heal. It’s about the need for Devil’s Advocacy within Advocacy. Angela is no stranger to Survivor Wars having been the target of other ‘advocacy groups’ during the lifespan of her network of advocates.
HEAL has been quite successful. Not only have they persuaded some parents from sending their children to teen containment camps, but they have the distinction of shutting down a number of abusive homes. A growing amount of survivors from IFB homes are joining the cause and victims are gaining the knowledge that turns them into survivors.
There are always detractors when you have success.
If you step away from HEAL or even the two J’s I referenced, you’ll find numerous ‘minor’ survivor wars occurring on Facebook and possibly other message boards. ‘Minor’ in the sense few know about them. If you keep your ear on the virtual grounds, they’re kind of difficult to miss.
So what’s the solution? Plead that we all stand united since we all have a common enemy? That might be myopic.
We’re probably confused as to who or what the enemy is. We might say it’s the abusers and those who cover it up, but what about the philosophical beliefs used by the abusers to control?
Is it possible to stand against abuse and still endorse the concept of a patriarchy?
Can one stand against the abusive teen containment centers and maintain conservative Republican values if the party, as a whole, defends them?
Can one truly counsel a victim of incest that the abuse wasn’t her fault and, at the same time, champion the biblical figure of Lot as a just man? After all, his daughters got him drunk and forced themselves on him! Try to argue that in court.
We are all different and it might be impossible for all of us to agree. The damaging psychology of IFB group think can easily be carried over into the world of survivordom. How to stop it?
The solution isn’t to feverishly warn people about the abuses of so called advocates, but to wise up and ‘kill’ that part of us that is addicted to the ‘messiah/hero complex’. It’s that part of us still looking for a ‘hero’ or ‘messiah’ to come in and single handedly win the battle against the IFB, the Catholic Church, Hollywood, Washington DC, and the abusive father next door.
That’s our job.
It’s a tough job and seemingly impossible. The good news is each new scandal brings a fresh crop of people ready to take no prisoners in their pursuit of accountability and justice. Perhaps they can learn from the mistakes of those who came before them? However, you can’t do that if you’re devoted to never critiquing the methods of fellow survivors. It’s part of growing up.
Facebook groups are, in reality, the visions of only a few people. It’s time to recognize that and to stand as individuals. Without groups. Like a true movement. Making strong and logical arguments. And whenever we see flame wars and survivor wars, just accept that ‘such is life’. Do what we can to mend fences and, if that not be possible, just move on to the next battlefield.