Howdy folks! Trying something new today: I’m gonna just read from “A Comprehensive Course in Effective Counseling, part 1” and start writing when I find something worth commenting on. I’m diving in now: wish me luck!
Ok, first off we get a letter from Mr. G himself, telling us that this booklet is an answer to prayer. He wanted a new approach to counseling, and God answered by…allowing them to reorganize all their material into two charts? Like…seriously? That doesn’t sound much like a “fresh, new approach.” I guess this isn’t exactly a huge, horrible issue of Biblical scholarship, but it still bugs me. It’s promising one thing, and delivering something else. “Fresh” and “new” are not adjectives you can honestly use to describe putting pre-existing course materials into two charts. This is dishonest advertising, plain and simple.
At any rate, moving along.
(Trigger warning: this post deals with the sexual abuse of a young child and addresses some pretty sick and twisted advice on how to “counsel” this girl.)
Well folks, it looks like our topic for today is sexual abuse of minors, and the sins that 3 year olds commit while being molested. That’s not a joke.
So, the booklet starts out with a hook: what would you do if faced with these questions? We’re given three stories of people dealing with problems in their lives. Then comes a few pages of teaching about what counseling is and how to trace problems to root causes (I counted about 8 topics for future posts in there), then they give their answer to the question about how to help these people. We’re going to focus on the first story.
A girl they name Gail (they tell us it’s not her real name) was kidnapped by her father after her parents divorced. She was three (keep that in mind). The father placed her in day care while he was at work, where Gail was raped by a 15 year old boy, who threatened to kill her if she told anyone about it. Seven years later (at age 10), Gail told her parents about the abuse. At this point her mother informed her that she was the 4th generation in her family to be abused in this way. The mother said she dealt with “the same destructive emotions of bitterness, fear, immoral thoughts, and nightmares.”
They then pose the question, “How can they (Gail and her mother) conquer these problems?”
Ok, these are extremely tricky waters here. Sexual abuse, especially of a very young child like this, has extremely destructive and far-reaching consequences. You need a lot of love, training, experience, knowledge and wisdom to counsel someone who’s been through that. If you take nothing else from this post, please catch this: No matter what Bill Gothard has told you about the wonders you can work if you just learn how to counsel with a quick “counseling seminar,” don’t even begin to think you are qualified to counsel somebody working through sexual abuse.
If you are talking to somebody who has been sexually abused, feel free to tell her that she is worthy of love. Tell her she is not to blame. Tell her that you will do whatever you can to help her get good counseling. Follow through on that promise. TELL THE POLICE. But for crying out loud, don’t try to counsel!
Quick review before we see the how IBLP says we are to counsel this girl. Gail was kidnapped by her father at age three, then repeatedly raped and told she would be killed if she told anyone. At age 10 she told her parents about the abuse. Now Gail is 17 and battles “bitterness, fear, immoral thoughts and nightmares.”
On page ten of the booklet we get a chart showing “How to Give Effective Counsel to Pull Down Strongholds.” There are six steps, which you can view below.
Ok, first we are told that this girl is bitter as a way of getting back at the boy who raped her. I’m actually going to leave this one mostly alone: perhaps someone who has more understanding of sexual abuse would care to comment about how rape victims commonly view their abuser? I’m sure there is a lot to be said here, I just don’t know what it is. My one comment is about how the word “rape” never appears anywhere in this story. The boy “abused her body.” Notice how the author is attempting to separate the person from her body. This is significant because something done to your property is not nearly as big a deal as something done to your person. For example, I could probably get over somebody slashing my tires. Yea, I’d be very angry, and I’d have to pay for new tires, but that’s really nothing compared to somebody chopping off my leg. If I’m still bitter about that guy who slashed my tires 7 years after the fact, maybe I need somebody to give me a talk about how it’s not actually that big a deal, and I really should get over it. But if I were bitter about the guy who chopped off my leg 7 years ago, well, that’s an entirely different story!
Point two is…oh my. “Gail failed to tell her parents how she had been wronged.” She was threatened with her life, and this THREE YEAR OLD GIRL is to blame for not telling her parents? And this is step two of “helping” her: tell her what she did wrong!
Just so we’re clear: three year olds are not to blame if they don’t tell someone about abuse. They are especially (is it even possible to add an “especially” after the previous sentence?) not to blame when their abuser has threatened to kill them. NO PART OF TALKING TO A RAPE VICTIM SHOULD INVOLVE TALKING ABOUT WHAT THEY DID WRONG.
This is sick, and it is wrong. I can’t even begin to imagine what might be going through this little girl’s mind. It makes me nauseous to think about it, and I hope that’s true of you as well. Her entire world is ripped apart by her parents’ divorce: everything that was stable and sure is called into question. Then her father kidnaps her. She was told she’d live with her mother, but now she’s with her father, and he says she won’t be seeing her mother again for a while. Then at day care a pervert rapes her, and threatens to kill if she tells. She’s three. She’s never heard of sex, much less of rape. And these horrible, cold-hearted people look at this situation, tsk tsk softly and say, “Oh, I see the problem here. Hmmm, yes, it’s very clear. She didn’t tell her parents. Obvious violation of a Biblical principal here: what a shame this girl didn’t do the right thing.”
How heartless do you have to be to victim blame a three year old? I’m literally shaking while writing this. I’m gonna go get a snack and calm down for a sec.
Point three: wrong emotions. Note that these are wrong. Like, sinful. Why am I not surprised that Gail’s fear, anger, self-rejection and (this is a good one) her nightmares are wrong for her to experience? Yep, nightmares. Those are wrong. Bad Gail! Bad job! How dare you have nightmares about being raped?
Look carefully at that picture folks: I’m not making this up. When talking about the rape of a 3 year old girl, it actually says that if she didn’t cry out “she is also guilty.”
You know, the internet is a horrible, awful place. Go read some of the comments on the news stories about War Machine and Kristy Mac (MMA fighter beat his adult-actress ex-girlfriend almost to death, in case you aren’t familiar with the story.) Rape culture (which is essentially victim blaming) permeates our society. You can find people arguing that rape victims asked for it, or deserved it. But you know what? I don’t think I’ve ever see someone in a comment section blame a 3 year old for her rape. Perhaps a comment like that exists somewhere, but you’d have to search for a long time to find it.
Bill Gothard is literally more into victim blaming than the internet. He beats out YouTube comments for worst people on Earth. Let that sink in for a minute.
(I’m not even going to talk about the use of the word “sin” when talking about her not crying out: I’ve kinda run out of emotional energy for expressing outrage here.)
I’m not going to cover point 5 and 6 because they’ve already been covered very well by Recovery Grace here.
Page 13 contains a testimony written by Gail, presumably around the age of 17. It’s just as horrible as the chart we just covered. But honestly, I’m drained and I can’t write about this much longer. I’m sickened by the callousness towards a hurt child. I cannot fathom the pain of being lectured about the sins that make you just as guilty as your abuser. I pray that Gail somehow got real counseling and found healing. I hope that boy is in jail (but sadly, I doubt he is.)
But more than anything right now, I hope if you have been sexually abused you will realize that you are not to blame. You did not sin, and God is not angry at you. You are not broken or useless; you can be loved. If you have no friends to help you find help, check out this page as a place to start.
You are not to blame.