There seem to have been so many items in the news over the past few weeks relating to the abuse of children and young people. Every day there's a new and horrific revelation from the guilty plea of TV presenter Stuart Hall to the sheer scale of abuse in children's homes in Wales, and then the harrowing accounts of the murder of Tia Sharp today. And this is to name only a few.
One of the hardest things to acknowledge is that human cruelty is an everyday event. One of the most revealing details came when the neighbour of Ariel Castro struggled to get his head around the fact that an average bloke who attended backyard barbecues and made small talk was also capable of abduction, abuse and torture.Finding out that someone you assumed was basically decent can carry out atrocity shakes your faith not only in them but in your own judgements and ultimately in human nature.
If, while listening to these cases on the news, you have had a fleeting moment when you have asked yourself whether it is safe to trust anyone, or safe to assume that most people are decent, imagine how much more of a challenge this poses to those who have been abused. Those abused as children have grown up with that disconnect between appearance and reality because they have experienced what a trusted and seemingly decent adult, who goes about their everyday life in an ordinary fashion, is actually capable of. Survivors of abuse are rarely very surprised at what goes on behind closed doors.
Yet trust is an essential part of human life, without it you close down and emotionally you die. You can't let people get close to you. You can't be honest with others or be yourself with them. Because you are unable to develop a sense of who others are, you may lack a sense of self and show a casual disregard for your own needs or be unable to identify your own emotions.
We all need to be able to trust others and I think that to have a faith can be an enormous blessing for those who have been abused and for all of us in our doubts about goodness in ourselves and others. If you can truly grasp that God is pure goodness, pure holiness, pure love, and can be utterly trusted, then this provides that still centre in a turning world. If you have this, then the knowledge that evil is real and everyday is balanced by the knowledge that goodness is also real and everyday- and you will begin to find it, and even to expect it, in yourself and others.