Growing up in this continual emotional or physical trauma has devastating effects. Among other things, it impairs a person’s ability to trust others. Is it little wonder that many people are not able to trust us with their life stories?
From an early age Shauna remembers being screamed at by her father, while her mother sat nearby. At times her father would become so agitated that he would pick her up from her seat at the kitchen table and throw her against the wall. Her mother sat nearby, seemingly indifferent to the chaos of her home. When the abuse began, Shauna was a toddler and it didn’t end until she left home.
She continues to struggle with the idea that there can be any safety in her world. When she’s honest she doesn’t believe that God will protect her. After all, if he didn’t do this for her as a child, why would he do it now? As a result, she struggles to understand what is a safe situation and what is not. She continues to put herself in dangerous situations.
Despite her distrust of God, she has a deep desire to follow Jesus. She is an evangelist– eager, sometimes too eager–to tell others about Jesus. One day, she told me about going to a shabby hotel, in a bad part of town, with a man she had met on the street. She knew he was lonely, and wanted to tell him about Jesus. They talked in his room. While she told him about Jesus’ love, he tried to seduce her. She never realized how close she came to being raped. She still has a hard time understanding that that this was an unsafe situation.
She continued to look for a positive father figure, someone she could trust. Until recently, she would gravitate toward male ministers whose counselling techniques bordered on manipulation and control. These individuals would often use guilt to try to get her to think right thoughts. Shauna has clinical depression. Even with medication she struggles to maintain thought control. This is not simply mental laziness. One of the symptoms of clinical depression is the inability to control thoughts; it is not simply feeling sad, as many people think.