The Role of Blame In Healing
Posted May 31, 2006
I have some experience with child abuse, having survived it myself, and worked with "at risk" and "disadvantaged" children in after school programs.
Healing is like a dance, and one that requires a partner.
Of course the primary necessity is the will of the wounded to heal, and to take responsibility for acting on remedies that are advised.
But in order to have any chance of success, there must be something else present. Especially in the case of a child, and more specifically emotional and sexual or violent physical abuse.
Alongside the desire to heal, for healing to occur a person require support by their family, friends and fellow community members. When a person perceives this support, it is like a cast on a broken leg. Over time, the bone mends. So over time, they can feel encouraged in safety to regain confidence in themselves and gain self esteem.
This support is certainly incomplete when the leaders in the community do not stridently and uncompromisingly deal justice to the abuser. Regardless of the Karma of a past life triggering the reversal in this one, we only have the capacity as a community to deal with the present time scale. Thus the first breach of trust which we can functionally deal with was made by both the community at large that missed the signs of abuse, and the specific abuser.
So to even have the ability to heal, the wounded victim, especially an emotionally undeveloped child, needs to believe based on ACTION OF THE COMMUNITY that it will ever be possible to TRUST AGAIN. Otherwise they will justifiably be defensive and create a shell between themselves and others that will get harder to penetrate.
To lay the onus of healing on someone so vitally damaged without acknowledging the equal amount of effort needed to be expended by the one's policing abuse, is seriously flawed thinking, and can only perpetuate the lack of healing which will occur in all the wounded souls.
Evidence for what I am trying to say can be seen in the recent article entitled "The Blame Game". From where the author has come from, she has done an admirable amount of healing by taking responsibility for her own role in the cosmic dance. She offers some sage advice for the abused regarding focusing on self-improvement, and not wasting time in seeking revenge or questioning why me?
However, I see indications where she has some still subtle dissatisfactions and a bitter taste in her mouth, and I highly doubt it is from lack of her own vigilence in the healing process, but due to lack of assistance at the broader levels of leadership in the community.
She questions, "But will searching for fault really take away what has already happened?"
Of course the answer is no, but also that that is not the only point of such an exercise. The valuable point is to hold someone accountable in the hopes that through their repentance or imprisonment, another's karma can change, and they might have a less tragic and shorter path of purification then at the hands of a repeat offender.
Remember, our karma can change at any time. That is the transcendental glory of the Lord's mercy. Where many more people were perhaps meant to suffer abuse at the hands of a Gurukuli abuser, the fact that a vigilent devotee council restrains that person means the 2 and 3 year olds in the movement who would have faced the uphill battle of emotional recovery from that person's abuse, had their sinful reactions in that regard burnt to a crisp, and now may progress more functionally toward the goal of perfecting Bhakti Sadhana.
She questions, "This is a natural reaction - that when tragedy occurs, we, as humans, want to know why. But how do we know - how can we know all of the hands that were involved in this misfortune?"
Through investigation, in order to bring abusers to justice, so that misfortune need not be repeated.
She says, "Ultimately, this poor soul made a decision. He chose his reaction. - I am just so sorry, as many are, that it ended up this way. But we are all thinking, feeling, intelligent human beings. We make choices. I find it distressing that intelligent devotees are trying to blame other people for their choices to eat meat or take intoxications or even kill themselves."
It is my contention that if the blame for the amount of responsiblity that the perpetrators had in the abuse was acknowledged and dealt with convincingly by those adults capable of doing that, that Karttika-vrata devi dasi and all victims would see better results in their own life. Forget the apology of the abuser, which may or may not be sincere. I am speaking of a show of solidarity and force by able bodied adults to do everything in their power to make it a REALITY that those with equal share in the blame CANNOT DO SO AGAIN.
With this type of support, an abused person who accepts responsiblity can heal more and more quickly. Education against abuse and education against suicide as she points out are important, but must go hand in hand with immediate transformation of danger into a space of sanctuary where positive thoughts of healing activities are not constantly competing with thoughts of "Am I safe here", or "where is my abuser now?" or any of the thoughts that can come from lack of closure.
If Karttika-vrata devi dasi had seen this sort of action by those surrounding her, I believe she would see the value in an appropriate level of blaming. From what I have seen, this element is still lacking not just in ISKCON, but in western society at large. Let's face it, politicians, priests, big businessmen are still subtly predatory on the whole, and it is rare that anyone feels deeply safe and secure. May all the Ksyatria's in this movement who are awakening to the gravity of this situation be inspired to give Karttika-vrata devi dasi, and the rest of us a genuine show of community support in the form of sanctuary like protection, because without basic human healing, renunciation is a long way off.
yours in service,