A great many people go to great lengths to avoid the reality of evil.  This is especially true when it comes to evil deeds committed by people, rather than governments or corporate entities. In my experience, there are two exceptions to this tendency.  One is for African Americans, who cannot avoid the evil reality of racism.

The other exception is childhood trauma survivors. Child abuse is one of the ultimate evils, and abused children must grow up knowing that even the people who are supposed to love you the most can do terrible things to you.  Childhood trauma forces its victims to confront the conundrum of evil and undeserved suffering, something those with decent childhoods can choose to ignore.

Furthermore, entire cultures can be evil-deniers, including the reality of child abuse.  Acknowledging the abuse of children presents challenges to entrenched power systems, including patriarchy.  It has been proposed that the overall health of a culture can be assessed by how it responds to its trauma survivors.

When survivors ask, “How could they do this to me?” or “Why did this happen to me?” they need people in their corner who will struggle with them concerning both the existential aspects of these questions, and the horrifying truth of the abuse.  To do this requires courage and perseverance.

As Victor Frankl would write about his concentration camp experience, the search for meaning in the midst of suffering enables one not only to survive, but also to accomplish the uniquely human task of transforming the experience.  The trauma survivors in our midst have come through a particularly evil fire.  If we listen and support them, they have much to teach us.

1 thought on “Trauma & Evil

  1. The childhood trauma survivor in my life taught me that this is real and that one needs a village to help try and overcome it. And, the God of one’s choice.

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