Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Touch not the Lord's anointed" - the doctrine of immunity

This piece is the third in a series called "The language of Mercy".  Please click here to read my disclaimer.  I have deviated slightly from my original plan for the series with this piece. It is structured around the use of loaded language, but focuses more on the “fruit” of the principles represented by the language.

My experiences relate to Mercy Ministries Australia, however women from the Mercy homes abroad may identify with aspects of this piece.

Please note that as I share my encounters with Mercy staff members, I do so to illustrate the dynamics being discussed in this piece that were operational in the program, and not to bring condemnation on those who acted these dynamics out.  I have no malice in my heart toward them and I sincerely hope they have since had the opportunity to gain some freedom from their own issues which were evidenced by their actions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"You are unwilling to change"

This piece is the second in a series called "The language of Mercy".  Please click on this link to read my disclaimer.

Throughout my recovery, I have benefited immensly from various cognitive therapies as well as improving my communication skills through boundary awareness.

CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) helped me to become aware of faulty thinking patterns.[1]  Among them are mind reading (assuming another's motives or thoughts), "black-and-white" thinking (polarised good/evil, all/nothing mindsets) and emotional reasoning ("i feel ______ so strongly that it must be true").[2]

Healthy and functional communication involves being able to share the impact of another's behaviour, or hear the impact of your behaviour, in a mutual, boundary-respecting way that is free of emotional manipulation or control.  Using "I" statements ensures that we take ownership of our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs and wishes when expressing them to another.  Healthy communication is clean in that it distinguishing between objective observation and subjective experience of that observation so as not to enmesh the two.

When communicating, a person with healthy boundaries might say "when I did not see you look in my direction when I said "hello", i felt sad" rather than "you made me feel sad when you deliberately ignored me".

A highly respected book called "Boundaries"[3] written by two Christian psychologists taught me that I was entitled to my own thoughts, feelings and opinions, and for those to be interfered with or overridden by another's subjective experience (for example, an accusation of having a particular thought/feeling/motive) would constitute a violation of my boundaries.  This book also discussed manipulation and what this might look like in various settings.  Ironically, we worked through this book and its study companion as part of group therapy at Mercy Ministries.

"You are unwilling to change"

In this piece, I discuss the dysfunctional and oppressive nature of the communication style used by Mercy Ministries staff which can be captured in the phrase "you are unwilling to change".

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Mercy appropriate"

This piece is the first in a series called "The language of Mercy".  Please click on this link to read my disclaimer.

Some of the words and phrases used at Mercy Ministries were ambiguous in meaning.  Because of this, they could be used as blanket words to avoid reasonable explanation, or they could change meaning easily depending on the situation or to whom they were being applied.  They could be applied as heavily or lightly, as broadly or specifically as desired by a given staff member.

"Mercy appropriate" was one such example.

Mercy appropriate

The word "Mercy appropriate" set the word "appropriate" apart from the limited application it might have in the real world.  The idea of it was to make the environment as safe and untriggering as possible.  But because of it's ambiguous nature, the meaning changed depending on the subjective understanding of the staff member on duty, what mood they were in and whether or not they liked you.  Obviously, each staff member was different so not all of them would favour one girl over another or take their moods out on people, but it was certainly an option available that was exercised by those who did.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The language of Mercy

I have a few pieces in the pipeline about the words used at Mercy Ministries.

I was inspired by a recent blog post of a fellow Mercy survivor friend called "Loading the Language".  Loaded language can be found in cults and destructive groups.  As I read it this piece, I began to recall many words used at Mercy - their ambiguity, the unspoken messages they carried and the sometimes changing meanings.

For the disclaimer, I feel it pertinent to mention that these pieces are not intended as a critique of the beliefs or methods behind the Mercy Ministries program, as much as I may have to say about certain things.  Rather, my goal in these particular pieces is to explore how the loaded language used by Mercy Ministries contributes to and maintains the two contrasting images - that which is conveyed to the general public and hopeful applicants, and the wicca ("witchcraft", literally "to bend" or "to twist") that I and others experienced behind closed doors.