Controversy over 'Getting Jesus' shows misplaced concern

THE WAY IT IS

August 09, 1992|By Jeff Griffith

The headline is becoming more and more common: "Man gets 13-year term in sexual abuse case."

A 54-year-old Taneytown man, said the news article three weeks ago, had molested both his stepdaughter and his stepdaughter's daughter. The abuse of the stepdaughter had included intercourse while the young woman was pregnant.

The abuse of the stepdaughter's daughter began when the child was 3 and continued for about 12 years.

Sexual abuse of children is an epidemic in this country.

The irony here is that, at about the same time that news story ran, protests over a fictional story about a sexual-abuse victim have caused more controversy in Carroll County than has the incidence of real abuse.

On a given day, 50 individuals await treatment in the Carroll County Sexual Abuse Treatment Center. That's just the waiting list.

Where are the protesters? Who speaks for the victims?

Letters to the editor filled the paper when a library patron objected that the Carroll County library shelves held "Getting Jesus in the Mood," which is the title of a short story about a sexual-abuse victim. " 'Getting Jesus in the Mood,' " said one of the protesters, is "sick, sick, sick."

We are still waiting for intelligent comment on the plight of the victims of sexual abuse.

G; The author of "Getting Jesus in the Mood" is a 67-year-

old grandmother of eight. She seems bemused by the objections to the story.

The short story, from which the book -- a collection of short stories -- takes its title, comes from the point of view of an adult incest survivor who, says the author, Anne Brashler, "got love and solace from the one figure in her mind that could give it to her -- Jesus."

Ms. Brashler notes that the publicity given her stories has been better promotion than her publisher could ever have provided. No one should be surprised.

Police, attorneys, counselors, therapists, doctors, and other incest survivors -- those of us who work with the victims of incest -- wonder what is sick about seeking help in Jesus. Where does the vaunted "Christian charity" draw the line?

Right in front of victims, one supposes.

Judging by their reactions, the protesters must believe the victims "brought it on themselves."

The short story itself is neither erotic nor titillating. Instead, "Getting Jesus in the Mood" is challenging and moving and depressing.

The story conveys what may be the torment of the incest survivor: self-loathing, confusion, insecurity, pain. No wonder the story is offensive to some.

One of the paradigms of sexual abuse cases is that the victims always blame themselves. Always.

The victim in "Getting Jesus in the Mood" has been taught that she is worthless. "Nobody wants you, clown," said her brothers as they "used her."

"Getting Jesus in the Mood" raises an issue that some of us just don't want to hear, the misery of the abuse victim.

This is not a fun story. This is not an amusing story.

This is a story fraught with pain and complexity.

Perhaps the message of "Getting Jesus in the Mood" offends some readers. Certainly the story deals with a horrifying subject.

The problem is sorting out what is more offensive in the story -- sexual abuse or the references to the Christian deity. Those who react to the latter simply miss the point. And, sadly, they perpetuate the real problem.

Would that they would expend their energies on preventing sexual abuse rather than on banning books.

PD "Man gets 13-year term in sexual abuse case," said the headline.

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