The Jerks Always Win

… was the text message I received recently from a heartbroken friend. I am not at liberty to share the details behind this, but emotional abuse figured significantly in the story that was summed up by that statement.

For several years, I have informally studied the short- and long-term effects of sexual abuse. I have read over a dozen books on the topic, attended trials and hearings, evaluated cases in the media, communicated with subject matter experts, and supported and interviewed survivors. The bottom line is, as Anna Salter wrote, “Child sexual abuse was like getting bitten by a rattlesnake: Some kids recovered completely, and some didn’t, but it wasn’t good for anybody.”

On the whole—unlike 20 years ago—our society is beginning to “get it” in regard to sexual abuse. Popular knowledge is now cognizant of the need to expose its occurrences, protect its survivors, and punish and forever monitor the offenders.

Sadly, the balance still favors the offender. Most are never caught; even those who are prosecuted often reach that stage only after permanently damaging numerous innocents. The jerks always win.

But there is another type of abuse, typically (but not exclusively) perpetrated by males against females, that we often gloss over: Verbal and emotional abuse.

There was a lot I did not understand about sexual abuse, due to my own ignorance—I could not fathom, for example, why Celie did not simply run away to escape her abusive husband when I read The Color Purple ages ago. Of course, now I know that her sexual abuse as a child played a large part in this, and that certain types of abusive behavior will nearly always produce certain types of behavioral results, such as remaining with or returning to the abuser. Whether this can be explained rationally is irrelevant; the causative facts remain both evident and consistent.

There is a lot I do not understand about verbal or emotional abuse. Why would one continually mistreat a woman with whom he shares a social or even romantic connection? Why would anyone continually belittle her accomplishments, describe her as worthless or stupid, scream profanities at her, become angry at her without provocation, or limit her financial and personal freedom?

Why take something beautiful and damage it, making it less valuable?

Why tarnish God’s most beautiful and intricate creation, rather than polishing it for all the world to see?

We’d like to think this happens only in our underclasses, but that is hardly the case. One account conveyed to me by a friend was of a woman who was a published biological research scientist, with a doctorate. This didn’t protect her from her boyfriend whose constant belittlement convinced her that she was of no value. This happens far more than we realize.

I confess, I simply do not understand verbal or emotional abuse. I absolutely cannot understand why someone would mistreat any woman, especially one entrusted into one’s care. I know what the advice is to those in an abusive situation: “Get out immediately”; but few will be able to heed that. I often wonder why women seem to be so predictably malleable under such abuse, but perhaps this is why the Apostle Peter referred to wives as “the weaker vessel,” and commanded husbands to honor them and be understanding.

I see that I need to improve my knowledge deficit, just as I studied sexual abuse.

In the mean time, I’m going to keep polishing.

One Mile, Baby!

For the past month or so, six mornings a week, I’ve been working on running, trying to get up to a mile without stopping. Today, I finally made it!

This is pretty much how I felt after finally completing a mile without stopping.

Previously my best distance before walking (and then resuming the run after I caught my breath) was only about seven tenths of a mile. Whew! Hope I can make it again tomorrow.

A Wedding Like No Other

Or, “A Match Made Where?”

Way back in October, Nichelle and I traveled to Florida for my brother Paul’s wedding. There’s much I could say here, like how Paul had to wear makeup after opening the truck door into his forehead, or how they “accidentally” played the Imperial March as they walked down the aisle together at the end of the ceremony.

Skvid Number One

Skvid = SKit on VIDeo

Last week our pastor asked me to put together a video skit to help illustrate a sermon in a series of lessons on stewardship: What happens when we overwhelm ourselves with choices and activities? Of course, it also illustrates beautifully the quirkiness of the Wilcox family.

I did the video in Windows Movie Maker, a free download for Windows XP. I had to overcome a quirk that kept locking the software up, discovering that previewing clips in the preview window wouldn’t work correctly, unless I dragged the clips to the timeline first. I can’t explain that, but wish I’d found the answer hours earlier. Movie Maker isn’t bad, but I need something that will let me treat the audio track from the video separately, as well as add more audio layers.

The film was shot entirely out of sequence, in order to meet the availability schedule of the actors (my kids), over the course of a very busy Saturday. The Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back clip was created by shooting our own HDTV, the quickest way I could think of to get the piece I needed.

Background music includes Ella Fitzgerald’s, “I’m Beginning to See the Light,” and the title theme from Back to the Future.

Overall, it’s a tad too long at just over 6 minutes (the goal was 5 minutes), and I never got around to including any video transitions. I may tweak it a bit in the next few days, especially if I try out a more advanced software package, and hope to get it down to 4 to 4.5 minutes. I recall seeing George Lucas talking about an old filmmaker adage, “Films are never finished, just abandoned,” and how he had the technology (and money) to keep going back to his films to finish them the way he wanted.