Saints for survivors of child abuse

To all those whose childhoods were marred by violence, abuse, neglect, and pain.

There has been some backchanneling lately about child abuse, and while I do not wish to shrink from tikkun olam, the moral obligation to remove harm from the world, I also find myself in need of some saints, as a sort of palate cleanser.

Here are a few, specifically associated with child abuse and sexual abuse.

  • Maria Goretti (1890 – 1902) An 11-year-old girl who died as the result of an attempted sexual assault.  Her attacker later repented after visions of being burned by lilies.  She is patron saint of both attackers and those who fall prey to sexual predators.

“St Maria Goretti was mortally wounded with 14 stab wounds. The majority of victims of paedophilia, however, are lacerated within. They are condemned to a slow death – a long haemorrhaging of the spirit – by the interior disfigurement caused by the abuse.

“The victim is disfigured in his/her own eyes. Others might look and see a beautiful, gifted person; but the person who is abused views him/herself with intense and often violent self-loathing. The spirit weeps and the soul bleeds. This can go on for many, many years.

“St Maria fought back against her attacker. He demanded her complicity and she refused….

Lies of the abuser
“Many abused children did not have the strength, or the ability, to resist an abuser. That is no reflection on them whatsoever; but the important thing to remember is that now that they are older and stronger, they can fight back against the abuse. They can close their ears to the terrible lies that the abuser told them about themselves.”

But all of this seems quite medieval, especially when we are talking about people who are using Wikipedia to work out their personal traumas, and sometimes disrupting other peoples’ work flows in the process. Somehow it doesn’t seem quite strong enough.

How about an Amazing Grace, that is both strong and gentle enough to overcome anything.

Amazing Grace

The song was composed by a former slave trader, John Newton, who would have fit right in on Commons.  According to Wikipedia,

“In a culture where sailors habitually swore, Newton was admonished several times for not only using the worst words the captain had ever heard, but creating new ones to exceed the limits of verbal debauchery.”

But Newton turned his life around.  He even tried to become a priest in the Church of England, but was turned down for something even worse than slaving and swearing:

“…his leanings toward evangelism and tendency to socialise with Methodists.

But Newton persisted, and was eventually not only ordained, but married the woman of his dreams. And of course he also wrote Amazing Grace, which “became a popular song used by Baptist and Methodist preachers”. What goes around, comes around.

Here it is sung by Judy Collins. And there is another version by her, performed on the steps of the nation’s capitol in 1993, with the Boys’ Choir Of Harlem.

But what about the doodz, my loyal readers may ask, because by now they know that it’s not just a rhetorical question here, and that we do indeed say stuff about the dudes, sometimes even nice stuff. And boys do get assaulted; and sometimes in a sort of Stockholm syndrome, they may even develop a “betrayal bond” or psychological alliance with the abuser, and continue the cycle of abuse.

So I have scoured the internets and listened to untold numbers of unacceptable renditions of Amazing Grace, to bring you only the best.  And I believe I have found it.  This is UK musician Terry Miles playing a boogie woogie version on a piano in a London train station.

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