Scars Speak

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What comes to mind when you read the word SCAR?

A scar can be left over from a surgery or a “trophy” on a veteran of war. It can be a reminder of a painful accident or a traumatic physical assault. And not all scars are visible to the eye. Sometimes we carry internal scars caused by wounds from a verbal assault, emotional or psychological damage.

“We’re stronger in the places we’ve been broken.” – Ernest Hemingway

One thing all scars have in common is they tell us that at some point in time, trauma occurred. They also tell us by their nature, the incident that caused the trauma happened in the past. The hurt may or may not remain, but the scar always does.

Some may look at their scars and be unaffected or even laugh because they don’t have any recollection of the actual incident. They may have had surgery and been under anesthesia. Or, they may have received their wound in an accident but their memory of the event has been erased.

There are some people, however, who have to look in the mirror and live with negative memories associated with their scars every day. They are the ones I’m writing about today. Scars caused by abuse, neglect or violence. Their scars are a constant and merciless reminder of pain. The relentless pain of hatred, rejection or violence against their person or spirit. Those memories summon our worst nightmares and haunt us with torment. Sometimes the scars taunt as if to say, “You deserved what you got” or “You’ll never be good enough. You’ve got the scars to prove it”. They are reminders of the powerlessness in abusive encounters. To some, a permanent warning sign to stay inside an imposed boundary. And they can’t be erased. The most we can do is cover them so the world can’t see. Because if the world sees them, they will wonder how our scars came to be, and we can’t bare to reveal or re-live the trauma.

Donita’s mother burned her with cigarettes and left scars from beatings with an iron hanger. Veronica’s uncle sexually assaulted her and her sister leaving a different set of scars. The pain of shame on top of sexual assault with the pressure of keeping a secret no girl should have to bare. Morgan’s arm is scarred with needle marks from a life she desperately wants to forget from her drug-addicted past. As beautiful as she is, Chandler wears scars under her clothes from cutting. No one knows because she masks it with a fake smile. Shauna wears long sleeved blouses and lots of bracelets to cover her wrists after attempting suicide. Makeup and jewelry cannot completely hide years of abuse to Trina’s face and neck at the hands of an abusive husband. Women and girls with faces and bodies acid-burned by their own husbands, fathers, brothers and family members–people they should’ve been able to trust to love and protect them. Every single scar from abuse cries out, “Why me?” Our faces, our bodies, our minds and our spirits are such a deep part of our identity. When we are assaulted in any way that is meant to inflict injury and pain by another, visible or not, it is inexcusable. When it is self-inflicted pain or abuse, we hurt and scar the same.

Thankfully, as the saying goes, beauty truly can come from “ashes”. We can rise to a better place. The other thing that all scars have in common is they Tell a Story. Your story. A very personal story. A painful story. A pain-filled story. But yours, nonetheless. So what’s so great about having a personal painful story? Nothing. That is, nothing in and of itself. But your scars, our scars, tell us and the world, “I am here!” They say without speaking a word, “I lived through it!” THAT is the story. THAT is the grace. It is your badge of courage. It says you are a fighter, a victor.

The truth is, the scars are proof that you made it through. You are meant to be here. And maybe one day, you will come to understand that you lived (or made it through the pain) to tell your story so that others can learn from it. And in so doing, what someone tried to take away from you, (your confidence, self-worth, freedom, identity, voice) ended up positioning you to give strength (and courage and hope) to another. And in the process, gave you back the voice no one could ever truly take.

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Domestic Violence is a Choice

Let’s be clear on the issue of Violence Against Women. If a man physically and/or psychologically abuses a woman, it is not by accident and it is not by mistake… It is by choice. I posted an article on this issue in 2011 titled, Domestic Violence: But He Really is a Good Person. Here’s an excerpt:

How many times have you heard a woman say these words after she’s been abused: “But he really is a good person”. She then goes into all of the things that have been difficult in his life, all of the things that have kept him down and made him a victim.

As if to say what?  He really doesn’t mean to be a bad person. Just look at his life, the cards were stacked against him. As if to say: Because of his past, he doesn’t have a personal choice in his future actions? As if to say: If those bad things didn’t happen in his life he wouldn’t be the way he is today. Wouldn’t he?

Over and over we have seen statistics and read stories about women who have been caught in the storm of violence perpetrated by a husband or lover—someone she knows intimately.  They sit on their friends’ couches, in their therapist’s office, in a bar, or at a police station, with their bruises, cuts and outward scars. They say things like: “But he really is a good person.  I know he didn’t mean to do it.  He loves me.” Read Full Article

Every woman, every person, deserves to live their life to its fullness. Free from fear, free from torment, free from abuse, and the list goes on. Everyone deserves to love and be loved fully and freely. Take the first step to love yourself enough to be free. You are worth it!

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – ”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence 2013

Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women is a social mobilization platform on ending violence against women and girls. Launched in November 2009 by UN Women, Say NO – UNiTE showcases advocacy efforts and engages people from all walks of life, online and on the ground.(1)

Connect with Say No To Violence for news updates, stories, and ideas on how to get involved in your area. During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign (November 25-December 10), people around the globe will be wearing orange to raise awareness and act in solidarity against the violence and oppression of women. How will you be involved?

INSPIRATION TO GET YOUR ORANGE ON:

  • Share your stories and messages on Twitter on how you “Orange Your World” during the 16 Days of Activism. (Use #orangeurworld on Twitter)
  • Wear orange, take a picture of yourself and share with the world why you are taking a stand by tweeting #Iwearorange because…
  • Join UN Women’s #AskPhumzile Twitter chat with Executive Director @phumzileunwomen (Date TBD)
  • Tweetup with @SayNO_UNiTE and worldwide friends at the end of the 16 Days of Activism on 10 December. (Check UNiTE website for further information as available)
  • Read International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
  • Visit “Orange Your World in 16 Days” on Facebook
  • Check out more social media sites: Google+,Pinterest, Instagram
  • Visit UN Women In Focus web page
  • Watch the UNiTE Campaign and Permanent Mission of Italy’s hosting of a Theatrical Performance called “Wounded to Death”.

Powerless and silence go together. -Margaret Atwood

Keep the flame of hope burning… Speak out against all forms of violence and oppression of women and girls, (and while you’re at it, wear orange!)

(1) Say NO-UniTE to End Violence Against Women website

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Wherever Human Beings Endure Suffering

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” –Elie Wiesel

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International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women


“I welcome the chorus of voices calling for an end to the violence that affects an estimated one in three women in her lifetime. I applaud leaders who are helping to enact and enforce laws and change mindsets. And I pay tribute to all those heroes around the world who help victims to heal and to become agents of change.” –Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

This year, the UNITE Campaign is extending Orange Day to 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, starting November 25, (International Day to End Violence Against Women), through December 10, (Human Rights Day).

The Secretary General’s Campaign UNITE to End Violence Against Women
has proclaimed the 25th of each month, “Orange Day”, stating: Among other actions, the Orange Day invites us to wear something orange to highlight its calls for the eradication of violence against women without reservation, equivocation or delay.

QUICK FACTS:

1 in 3 women & girls experience violence in their lifetime. Violence against women is never acceptable, and not inevitable.

Over 64 million girls worldwide are child brides. 1 in 3 girls will be married before they turn 18.

140 million girls & women have suffered Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It’s a form of violence against women and girls.

40-50% of women in EU countries face unwanted sexual advances or other forms of sexual harassment at work.

Ending violence against women is smart for economies. Intimate partner violence cost USD 5.8 billion in the US, GBP 22.9 billion in England and Wales, and AUD 13.6 billion in Australia.

Violence against women happens everywhere, every day. In cities, women are twice as likely as men to experience violence.

Every minute 1 young woman is infected with #HIV. Violence against women increases the risk of new infections.

Women are 2-4 times more likely than men to get HIV.

For 30% of women worldwide, their first sexual experience was forced.

Over half of all victims of sexual assault are girls under the age of 16.

Join advocates from around the world for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Share how you plan to “Orange Your World” (#orangeurworld) from November 25-December 10, with actions to end violence against women and girls. Together, we can raise our voices and make a difference!

Get Involved & Learn More.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Freedom Series: Abuse to Favor

 “For me, my dreams were shaped out of a childhood that was fenced in by fear”

Abuse to Favor is a 96-page minibook that is a part of the Freedom Series created by popular author and speaker, Michelle Borquez. Each booklet shares a woman’s true story about her journey from brokenness to freedom.

In Abuse to Favor, Jo Ann Aleman shares her story, struggles, and triumph over abuse.  It begins with her father, a man she recalls as generous and loving with his children, but extremely abusive to their mother.  Her “normal” was a violently abuse home life fueled by alcohol binges. A home (a life) that healthy families would see as filled with fear-invoking, pain-inducing, spirit-shattering chaos.  Time and again, her mother would pack the children up and flee for safety, then return when things seemed more settled, and so it went on and on.

The cycle brought on by her father’s rage and abuse directed at her mother caused her to go to a place she felt more secure–her mind–a place that no one could touch, a place that seemed safe. Like so many others in her situation, she dreamed about how her life would be different. She fantasized about someone coming to rescue and protect her: a savior.

But, as with any story of abuse, there’s always more than what appears on the surface. Why did her mother stay in that abusive situation? Her mother stayed because of her own experience with abuse. She and her siblings experienced great physical, emotional and mental abuse by their stepfather.  So she promised herself that her future children would never be subjected to a stepfather. But it wasn’t that he was a stepfather. It was that he was a broken abusive man.

“Many times we think of abuse as being only physical; however, abuse takes on many forms. Sexual abuse, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse—even neglect–are all perversions of real, unconditional love.”

Fast forward to Jo Ann Aleman’s adult life… with her childhood promises to herself still with her, she married someone she thought would take her in a direction that was new and better. To a place she could only recognize in her dreams. But he didn’t.  She shares about his abuse and the ultimate disintegration of the marriage.  So longing to be loved, she quickly found herself in another marriage, this time to an older man. She hoped he would bring the security she so desperately wanted. Again, it was not to be found. He too, abused her both physically and emotionally.

“Many nights I was awakened by his fists pummeling my face. He would get so drunk that he would black out, and the next morning we would wake up to a house that looked like a tornado had ripped through it… He was bent on compete destruction.”

As you may have noticed in your own life, there is this resilience about human nature. No matter how bad things get, no matter how improbable the odds, in our little broken torn-apart state, we still somehow find a way to reach out like a flower in the shadows, straining toward the sunshine, hoping against hope for something good.  Jo Ann Aleman was no different. Her heart reached out yet again, longing for love. She spent twelve years in “prison” with her third husband. A man who abused her through fear and intimidation, lashing out through physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse. But this time, it spilled over onto her daughter.

That’s when something shifted. This time, she didn’t reach out to a man, but to God. She writes, “Although we are all somewhat conditioned by our environment, something deep inside of us reveals the truth.” There was more for her.  She wanted once and for all, to be free.

Sharon Kay Ball (a professional counselor) uses biblical illustrations to define healthy and unhealthy thinking and behaviors, and speaks to the issues of conflict, power, authority, power struggles, and abuse that can affect any type of relationship. She also walks readers through common abuser behavior:  using rage, silence, intimidation, altering your sense of reality, criticizing, and blame-shifting to control their victim.

“His words only confirmed my feelings. They shaped me, took root in my heart, and I believed the things he said.”

Ball breaks down the phases in the cycle of abuse and talks about making a “safe plan.” Although it’s crucial to get out of an abusive relationship physically, it’s not enough. Victims need to purge themselves from the damaging affects of abuse that are left embedded in their minds and spirits. That means talking about trust, low self-image, forgiveness, anger, and learning how to move forward.

Aleman writes, “I was free on the surface, yet broken and deeply wounded inside.” That was, until she decided to no longer allow herself to be defined by abusive men, but by a loving God who offered hope and healing.

You may also be interested in:

Domestic Violence: But He Really is a Good Person

What is Emotional Abuse?

Quotes From Women Who Have Suffered Emotional Abuse

Sexual Violence Against Women: Rape, Abuse and Incest

Innocence Lost: Women and Childhood Sexual Abuse

Note: Rose Publishing provided me with an advanced reader copy of this booklet.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™–”Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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International Women’s Day 2013: You’ve Come a Long Way Baby… But We’re Not Done Yet!

 

International Women’s Day is a global celebration of women past, present and future and their achievements.

As we read through history, and hear current accounts of the advancement of women’s rights, there is much cause to celebrate. Not because women want to be men, or because women feel the need to be superior to men. But because women being granted equal rights to treatement and access allows them to be treated equally as human beings.

So much has been said about the “War on Women”. In my view, the war on women includes anything that seeks to inhibit, destroy, demean, or deny a girl or woman her rightful place in existence. Not just at a certain point in history, or within her particular culture, but something even bigger than that. The war on women means the things that try to mess with her destiny to dream, be free, be valued, and to live her life fully. It’s about her purpose, her passions, and her very existence as a living breathing human being–one that will, if allowed, leave her unique impression in the world.

So blatant are these opponents, that they still dare to rear their ugly heads even in this so-called “modern civilization” of humanity. An old marketing slogan said, “You’ve come a long way baby!” But undeniably, there is still a long way left to go. That is why we continue to raise our voices, and to lead, not to be led. Let us think with our minds, feel with our hearts, for ourselves, and not be coerced into deception. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Things are constantly evolving, we must commit to being vigilant about the things that matter most. Walt Whitman said, “Either define the moment or the moment will define you.” In the same way, as fellow sojourners, we either choose to define ideologies, attitudes, and behaviors in our world based on immutable truth or, something else will define them for us.   

It is for the modern-day war on women. It is for those trapped in sex trafficking, and child pornography, and the corrupt hearts and systems of a broken world that perpetuate their enslavement. It is for the child brides, and those women who still today, are required to cover their faces as they walk the planet. It is because of dowry murders, using rape as a weapon of war, and all violent crimes against women. It is for the girls and women who are denied a proper education, property rights, medical care, or even a place at the proverbial table to simply let their voice be heard.

It is for the women who would have been, but whose voices were snuffed out before they could take their first breath–those counted as “nothing” through the assault of female gendercide and infanticide. For those baby girls who were denied their right to live just because of their gender, and for their mothers whose hearts are ripped from them, along with the daughters from their very hands and wombs.

So, today, I stand with so many other women (and men) around the globe who are grateful for the hard-fought accomplishments on behalf of women’s human rights.  And in the same breath we say, keep on keeping on, because we’re not there yet. It is nearing twilight, and there is still much work to be done.

Let’s celebrate the life, destiny, and freedom of all women–past, present, and future–their potential, their dreams, and their ability to accomplish great things with the help of a united voice championing their powerful destiny.

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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New Book by International Justice Mission: The Just Church

 

Millions of people around the world are living in the grip of injustice today. Who will be their voice?  Who will see and hear them? Who will help bring them to a place of wholeness? Who will defend their cause?

International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. Although the concept of political advocacy can be a challenge for many churches, IJM takes the scriptures offer as a clear call for the church to become a voice for those living in the grip of oppression and injustice.

“Speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” -Proverbs 31:8-9

The fact is that child victims of rape, slaves, and widows whose land has been stolen from them need others to advocate for them. IJM believes that churches, Christian leaders, pastors, and congregations can—and should—play a vital role in advocating for the voiceless.  While you may agree, you (or your church) may not know how to engage. 

Here’s the good news! Today, IJM released “The Just Church: Becoming a risk-taking, justice-seeking, disciple-making congregation” by Jim Martin.  Finally, a “roadmap” filled with practical and relevant insights and information applicable and critical for any church’s justice mission. The author asks and answers: “Why is it that the glaring global justice issues of our day—issues such as sex trafficking, modern slavery, illegal property seizure and sexual assault—are so seldom addressed in our churches? Why is it that the widows, orphans, aliens, and strangers so often mentioned in the Scriptures are so seldom mentioned (or present) in our churches?”

Author Jim Martin

Jim Martin is the VP of church mobilization for International Justice Mission. He has been on the front lines of the battle for justice in the world’s darkest and most dangerous places.

He (along with IJM) has “been there and done that”. They don’t just talk about the issues, they live the issues. The Just Church will challenge and equip any individual or church committed to justice!

Donations enable IJM to bring rescue and restoration to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. 100% of author royalties will support the work of IJM.

What have you found to be the biggest obstacle or fear when engaging in justice in your church or community?  Are you ready to be a voice for the voiceless by becoming a risk-taking, justice-seeking church? 

Related Articles:

When We Call Evil Good

International Justice Mission: Making Public Justice Systems Work for Victims of Oppression 

Bay area churches called ‘justice-seekers’ in book from anti-trafficking leader 

Join me on Twitter @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”

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Half the Sky Hosts Twitter Chat with Somaly Mam on Modern-Day Slavery

 

Half the Sky is hosting a Twitter chat with Somaly Mam, and… You’re Invited! 

Somaly Mam was sold into sexual slavery at a very young age. She was raped and tortured on a daily basis, and even forced to watch her best friend being brutally murdered. Today, she is one of the world’s leading activists against sex trafficking and advocates for the victims and survivors of modern-day slavery. She has teamed up with Half the Sky for a Twitter chat. “It’s time for a 21st-century abolitionist movement,” says Nicholas Kristof, Half the Sky Co-Founder. 

What: Twitter Chat with ex-trafficking victim and survivor Somaly Mam, hosted by Half the Sky.

Why: Because 30 million people are trapped in human slavery today, more than any other time in history (via sex trafficking, forced labor and debt bondage… and that’s completely unacceptable!)

When: Wednesday, July 18th at 2:30PT / 5:30ET

Where: Twitter!

Tweet your Questions to: @SomalyMam and @Half using #endslavery

The Half the Sky Movement is about igniting the change needed to put an end to the oppression of women and girls around the globe. It was inspired by journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book of the same name, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”.

The Somaly Mam Foundation is a nonprofit charity committed to ending modern day slavery and empowering its survivors as part of the solution.“She vowed never to forget those left behind and has since dedicated her life to saving victims and empowering survivors.” Read her book, The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine. 

“He Who Allows Oppression Shares the Crime” -Desiderius Erasmus

Join me on Twitter: @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”
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Somaly Mam: From the Jungles of Cambodia Rises A Voice for the Voiceless

From the deep forests of Cambodia to street brothels–Somaly Mam’s “grandfather” sold her into sexual slavery at age 12 where she suffered unspeakable acts of brutality and witnessed horrors that would haunt her for the rest of her life.

Unable to forget the girls left behind after her escape, she became a tenacious and brave leader in the fight against human trafficking, rescuing sex workers–some as young as five and six–offering them shelter, rehabilitation, healing, love and leading them into a new life.  

The Somaly Mam Foundation is a non-profit charity Foundation committed to ending modern day slavery in North America and around the world.

Vision: A world where women and children are safe from slavery.
Mission: To give victims and survivors a voice in their lives, liberate victims, end slavery, and empower survivors as they create and sustain lives of dignity.

Somaly has written about her own human trafficking story in the heartbreaking and hopefully heart awakening book titled, “The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine.”

Did you know that human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar industry and the fastest growing criminial enterprise in the world?  If so, share how you are helping to raise awareness about human trafficking or working in some way to eradicate modern-day slavery.

Learn more on the Somaly Mam Foundation website and/or follow Somaly Mam on Twitter: @SomalyMam.

Buy the Book: The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine 

Join me on Twitter: @DestinysWomen

(c) By April McCallum, Destiny’s Women™ – “Championing the Life, Freedom & Destiny of Women”
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