The Groanings of Trauma Telling



December 21, 2015 · 11:55 am

12 responses to “The Groanings of Trauma Telling

  1. Tom

    Hmmm… From a poetic angle, nice. Andi your goal is empathy, well, okay for starters. But if your role is to determine the accuracy of 10 to 20 year-old allegations of abuse, this statement has some problems. Phil, are you saying that anytime someone speaks of personal abuse, it is the Holy Spirit and truth coming out of their mouths?

    • Tom, I believe you are being intellectually dishonest. And I base my view on the wise words of one of the most eminent police officers in Australia, Ken Lay, who is now retired but used to be the Chief of Victoria Police.

      Ken Lay says (view it at )
      “Here’s something I’ve noticed. Claims of sexual assault inspire a level of suspicion that isn’t generated by claims of theft, fraud or street assaults. Somehow — despite the awesome and verifiable prevalence — claims of sexual abuse are considered more dubious than reports of other crimes. Our threshold for doubt is much lower for women. It’s as if we assume women have less credibility.

      “So I can tell you that false claims of sexual assault occur — but just as it occurs for theft, fraud and street assaults. And I can tell you that the vast majority of sexual assault claims are legitimate. So to those men who fixate on the bogus claims, I say that you are being INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST. You are emotionally cherry-picking data to make a case that women fundamentally lack credibility.” [caps added by me]

      Ken was speaking as the Chair of the Council of Australian Governments Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence Against Women And Their Children, at International Women’s Day this year.

      • Tom

        Barbara, I can’t say I disagree/w Chief Lay. That doesn’t make Phil’s statement more tenable, nor my point less relevant.

    • I published a post about Ken Lay’s speech, in case any readers here are interested in following it up.

      Here is the link to my post.

      (Phil, it’s your blog — only publish this link if you wish to. )

  2. Tom, stick with the poetic. Not every trauma is 20 years old. I am saying that when we listen to the groanings and beginnings, that whenever truth is being spoken–no matter how mixed up and jumbled, the Spirit is there. Tom, I know you are often concerned about false accusations. But remember, there are also forced confessions of false accusations too:

  3. Tom

    Hi Phil, No, I get the desire to link the unutterableness of abuse with the Holy Spirit’s transcendence of our mortal ability to express it. That is the role of the Holy Spirit. But it doesn’t go the other direction. Traumatized people say all kinds of things for which we should offer space and lots of grace. But if you’ve ever been at the other end of a false accusation of abuse, your statement sounds like heresy. In fact, it could be blasphemous.

    • Tom, no one is saying that everything out of any Spirit-led person is truth all the time. Certainly not mine or yours! But the Spirit is present, as Grateful says, when individuals are moving towards life and light. Is it a straight line? No. Does it mean everything a person says is truth. No. But the point is that they are in angst and moving and God is present and speaking.

      • Tom

        Yes Phil, but your original statement was categorical. That is why I commented. Your response above is much more palatable. It leaves room to “test the spirits” when there is cause.

  4. Grateful

    I remember being desperate for healing, yet so jolted to learn I would have to speak about my trauma in order for healing to occur. It honestly seemed like a cruel joke. This quote was like an arrow of comfort that hit straight into my heart as it reminded me that even though the journey was incredibly difficult, never once was I alone. It was a journey where I truly learned that there was not a single aspect of my life, past or present, where He was not interceding on my behalf. How grateful to Him I am for interceding so specifically in every (un)imaginable kind of groan within me and for graciously leading my heart into a much deeper understanding of God’s love and to the steadfastness of Christ my chaotic life so needed. Yes, “if you see evidence of someone attempting to speak about a trauma, you are witnessing the Spirit speak.” Any movement towards life is His.

  5. Tom, the text of Phil’s post was only one sentence, and being delivered in a meme format it was clearly meant to be only offering empathy for victims and a (perhaps) new perspective for those who seek to support victims in their recovery.

    In response to Phil’s post you have ignored the genre of text. The genre is a meme, not a lengthy discourse, nor a carefully nuanced discussion about the dynamics of abuse. This begs the question: Why did are you so intent on ignoring the genre and picking holes in Phil’s simple message?

    No meme can deal with the nuances involved in discerning false allegations from genuine allegations of abuse. You know that.

    Of course, I cannot say whether or not you have been false accused of abuse. But in your response to Phil’s post here you sound like a man who grabs anything and moulds it into a bullet to fight a war he is particularly obsessed with. You response to Phil reminds me of the vexatious litigants who slow down the processes of the Family Court so much.

    Please stop trying to divert the point of Phil’s post.

    There is a place for studying how to discern whether reports of abuse are genuine or phoney. But this post of Phil’s is not that place.

  6. AS

    What a stimulating and refreshing discussion. Phil, I love your epigraph. I also think this point is profound: “The path toward life and light is never a straight line.” Wow, how true.

    Who would look at the Titanic and claim it could sink? Who would hear a child speak of abuse and then use antagonistic inquiry on the stand to ferret out the “real story?” Barbara, your reminder of how claims of abuse are inordinately challenged is sobering and angering…for this survivor. Today I innocently read a Myers-Briggs overview of my INFJ profile as a child, and I had to choke back tears as I read it to my children, trying to figure out how such a trusting and sensitive youth could be ambushed in their own Christian home.

    Part of the reason abuse stories are not believed is because of who is telling them…the traumatized person, often locked in the emotions of their horror. Some kinds of trauma are word-shattering. No wonder the Spirit is needed to communicate through such frailty! 99% of children don’t dismantle their own support system. For the sake of the abused “exit watchers,” let’s listen closely.

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