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Chapter 32

Abuse and Neglect


There is neither father nor mother nor son,
nor any other person whatsoever,
who can embrace the object
beloved with so great a love
as that wherewith God embraces the soul.
—Blessed Angela of Foligno



The awful emptiness of neglect, in some cases, may even be worse than the terrible suffering of sexual abuse.  The aching emotional and spiritual loneliness, emptiness and pain from having little or no love in one’s childhood is unspeakable.  It must be covered up, covered over with alcohol, drugs, sex, Rock ‘n’ Roll or something else that satisfies the senses, temporarily, but still leaves a huge hole in the soul.  Those who were sexually abused when they were young may have, apart from that atrocity, received some kind of love, though generally the damage done by the abuse and, consequently, the suffering is enormous and, to some extent, lifelong.  Their sacred personal boundaries were violated, broken through and destroyed, and will need to be restored.  Until that happens, they are more open to being abused again, more vulnerable in this area than they would be otherwise.  Likewise, they are more likely to violate the boundaries of others, to one degree or another, not knowing any better or even being aware of it at first.  “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”   To be healed and made whole with the help of the Holy Spirit, they will need to mentally, emotionally and spiritually push the abuser out of the sanctuary of their soul, close and lock the door, stand secure behind the wall, and dwell within the tabernacle of God’s loving presence safe and sound.  From this holy detachment and union with God, they will be able to forgive and love again as a Christian, without being hurt.

The void and emptiness of those who were neglected, rejected or abandoned in childhood is buried in their soul, perhaps under some kind of mental illness or emotional disorder.  It will take the Living Flame of Love, God’s Holy Spirit, to break through and replace that lonely empty space with God’s love and grace.  That empty “bubble” is protected by pride, anger and fear, and surrounded with profound sadness.  To some extent, the devil will also be involved, using the vulnerabilities of the person against them by feeding their imagination with negative depressing or angry thoughts and then suggesting something rotten, like “self-abuse,” for example, as a temporary relief or escape from the pain.  But this will only increase their loneliness, emptiness and isolation.  They need someone who will help them overcome their addiction to sin and negative thinking by giving them hope and encouragement without puffing them up with pride, along with a real relationship with Jesus Christ the Lord who loves them perfectly and completely, indeed infinitely, as only God can.  “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.  I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)


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