Crime Victims and Spirituality

Sliding Otter News

April 30, 2010

Volume 2, Issue 10

~Your trauma is not who you are.
It is something that was done to you or happened to you~

Carol Anika Theill

Gull in Flight

Gull in Flight

What is spirituality? I read somewhere that defining spirituality is like trying to nail Jell-O to a tree. I have seen many definitions and found all of them wanting until I met Manny Fortes, a chemical dependency counselor some of you might remember. He defined spirituality as “awakening to the goodness and joy for which you were created.”

Goodness and joy are probably far from the mind of a recent crime victim. More prominent are anger, revenge, justice and feelings of betrayal. We don’t appreciate people trying to help us feel better. Nor do we turn to God initially for comfort. Many of us become angry at God: “Why did You do this? Why did you let this happen? Where were You when I needed You?

We try to make sense of it from God’s point of view as if we could read God’s mind. Just because we try to think logically, we expect God to be logical too. If we can’t figure it out, there must be something wrong with God. We look for someone to blame. God joins the usual suspects: society, people in general, our police system and the criminal justice system.

Some of us wallow in self pity for years, further victimizing ourselves in addition to what has already been done to us. This doesn’t make much sense when we think about it, does it? What are our alternatives? While sadness, anger and fear are common first reactions, do we want to spend the rest of our lives caught in these emotions. Given a choice, most of us do not.

What else can we do? Perhaps not much alone. We can take steps to prevent further trauma by learning how to protect ourselves and seeking legal or police protection. But then what? The rest of the work to be done is inside us. In addition to physical trauma, our spirit has most likely been damages as well. What can we do about that?

Spiritually, we have a choice of wrestling with God over who is to blame for our misfortune or asking God for help getting on with our lives. Approaching God alone can be difficult in such troubling times. Friends or clergy who understand our spirituality can help in our quest toward a spiritual resolution of our feelings with God.

We can start by asking God to help us release our feelings of anger, revenge and self pity. Next we can ask God to help us focus on the present rather than on the past. We don’t have the physical, mental or spiritual energy to live in the past as well as in the present. We can’t do anything about the past but there is plenty we can do about right now. Focus on your goodness and joy will follow.

Spiritual Life Lessons

  • Ask God to help you stay in the now.
  • Ask God’s help with forgiveness (letting go).
  • Find friends or clergy to help you keep going.
  • Help someone else who is struggling with their life.
  • List what is good about you and read it every day.


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