Breaking Barriers - Winter 2016

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Abuse and disability - More people with disabilities experience physical, sexual, and emotional abuse than the general population. We hope that this issue will help readers begin to understand the experience of abuse and to respond appropriately.

For more information on preventing abuse, find resources from Christian Reformed Safe Church Ministry, and see this article about Dove's Nest in the Anabaptist Disabilities Network newsletter. 

Update (April 28, 2017): This issue of Breaking Barriers received Honorable Mention from the Associated Church Press 2017 Best of the Christian Press Awards in ACP's category "Reporting and Writing: THEME ISSUE, SECTION OR SERIES: Newspaper/Newsletter."

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As a child I was slow and had coordination problems that were "side effects" of the schizophrenia that developed in adulthood. (See "Schizophrenia : Stolen minds,Stolen Lives" on YouTube.)  For example, I had a neurological handicap that prevented my eyes from focusing at the same time, and still makes it difficult for me to see things in three dimensions, which is why I don't drive.  And because I was born left-handed but was taught to use my right hand to write, it was difficult for me to do basic tasks like setting the table because I always had to think first on which side of the plate to put the cutlery.  But my father was an impatient man, and he would often call me names if I didn't do things fast enough to his taste or do them himself so they would be done faster thereby denying me the opportunity to practice and become more skillful at them.

In addition, I was also bullied at school because I was different in some way than the other kids.  At times I had a weight problem, and they would pounce on that. Or I 'd have to wear glasses, and back then glasses only had one style of frames--black and square--regardless of age or gender, and that also made me a prey to those kids. Whoever believes that kids are naturally good has never been living with a handicap in a schoolyard.  Anyway.  Good thing cyberbullying didn't exist back then because I would have been overwhelmed.  Between my dad and the kids at school I had little reprieve to begin with, and when I did start hearing voices, one of those voices telling me to kill myself was my own father's.

I did forgive.  Because I don't burden myself with grudges.  For me, forgiveness is a matter of psychological hygiene.  I can go for days now without hearing the voices, but if something upsets me there they are again, and forgiving whoever is the cause of my getting upset shuts them up so fast they don't know what hit them. And even if they do know they're still silenced.

Guide

Michele, thanks so much for sharing a bit of your journey. I appreciate your vulnerability, letting us get a glimpse of some very painful experiences. I hope your sharing will help me and others who read this to be a little more understanding and compassionate.

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