Most newspapers carry heartbreaking stories of abuse – mental, emotional, physical, sexual, drug, online abuse; as well as neglect. The media has reported cases of rape, incest, a child chained and starved for weeks for stealing, and maltreatment of those labeled as witches. The courts are also rife with cases of abuse. The list seems endless. Abuse is pervasive and extremely worrying. And it is not just a Nigerian problem.
Bentley, H. et al (2016) reports in: “How safe are our children? The most comprehensive overview of child protection in the UK 2016”, that all 4 nations in the United Kingdom saw a sharp increase in sexual abuse cases in children in 2014/15. Coming closer to home, a 15/9/2015 online report by Chris Stein presents Rachel Harvey, chief of child protection for UNICEF in Nigeria, saying 6 out of 10 Nigerian children experience some form of violence before they turn 18.
What can be done? Indeed, what must be done? It goes without saying that all arms of government, institutions, families and security authorities must devise and implement effective legislation and policies to safeguard victims, monitor and apprehend offenders, and reduce the level of permissiveness in society, in a bid to arrest abuse. There is also a need for healing – effective healing that breaks the cycle of abuse and stops it dead in its tracks.
Medical workers treat physical and psychological trauma arising from abuse with drugs and therapy. Many religious institutions offer counseling sessions. This work, well done, is deserving of praise. Treatments and counseling, based on viewing a person as violated or damaged, focus on giving patients tools to cope with, or manage, emotional scars left by abuse. Healing, however, goes beyond treatment. It helps individuals discover a whole new view of themselves.
Healing happens in a spiritual space, where there is the assurance of wellbeing. It comes from feeling God’s powerful, cleansing love that enables forgiveness, brings freedom, and establishes man’s real nature as God’s child. Mary Baker Eddy writes about the true individuality and identity and of man in Science and Health with key to the Scriptures. She describes identity as spiritual and therefore inviolate. An understanding of this can begin to bring full and permanent healing. Eddy writes, ‘God is the Life, or intelligence, which forms and preserves the individuality and identity of animals as well as of men’. She insists that whatever is evil, [like abuse], being devoid of spirituality, has neither identity nor power.
An April 2014 article: “Spirituality and Medicine” by Thomas R. McCormick, Department of Medical History and Ethics, University of Washington, USA, says ‘Research shows that religion and spirituality are associated positively with better health and psychological wellbeing’. This study is one among an increasing number in the medical field where results are consistently indicating that spirituality, and a view of God as good, are practical inner resources that can bring significant and effective healing.