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A Voice for the Poor – The Parallels Between Poverty and Abuse

June 14, 2020

Number in Poverty and Poverty Rate (1959-2017), Author US Census Bureau, Source https://www.census.gov (PD as work product of federal govt.)

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31: 8-9 NIV).

Poverty and abuse have much in common.

The traumatic and repetitive nature of child abuse, and the huge imbalance of power between adult and child, can leave profound psychological scars on victims – scars that may include PTSD, depression, and anxiety to name a few.

Often, victims are left with a fear of authority as adults.  The impact of poverty is surprisingly similar.

Fear of Authority

Their hopes chronically dashed and their pleas for justice routinely ignored, the poor frequently assume further effort on their part will be futile.

People who have been repeatedly downtrodden – deprived of basic necessities, cheated of their rights by abusive landlords and the host of other scam artists who prey on the poor – will forget that they have a voice, and throw in the towel (already exhausted).

Angry and Overwhelmed

The thought of challenging a fraudulent real estate agent or employer can leave the poor feeling angry and overwhelmed.  Why bother?  Why risk failure and the associated pain?

That is one of the reasons getting the poor to vote is so difficult.  They fail to recognize their potential power as a voting block.  It is, also, one of the reasons the underprivileged sometimes explode in violence.  Their patience at last at an end, they may see no other course open to them.

Of course, anger turned inward can become depression.  That can manifest as apathy.

A Sense of Empowerment

Regaining control over their lives is essential for the poor.  They deserve dignity and security.

Just as with the victims of abuse, if the poor can be convinced to risk confrontation in a judicial setting where their rights are protected, the act of standing up for themselves can help restore a sense of empowerment.

Success in any small degree (particularly when coupled with appropriate legal support and simple kindness) can help re-establish belief in a system from which the poor have felt excluded.

Whatever the outcome of litigation, the poor need no longer view themselves as voiceless children, forced once again to submit.

READERS CAN FIND MY VIEWS ON ABUSE AND ABUSE-RELATED ISSUES AT ANNA WALDHERR A Voice Reclaimed, Surviving Child Abuse  https://avoicereclaimed.com

12 Comments
  1. Very good article Anna, good information and as far as my experience goes during the course of my professional life in law enforcement, so very true. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Francisco! Given your past experience in law enforcement, I would be interested to know your thoughts on the Floyd protests going on here.

      • Anna, in 30 years as a LEO, I’ve not seen anything like this! We were forbidden from doing that and advised to be very careful with the neck area and if we used the lateral hold on the neck we had to immediately render aid and resuscitate. In my opinion it was murder, I’ve no doubt and I never would support a dirty cop that puts blood on all our badges. But the protests? I’m not in favour of violence in the streets…

      • I agree. I can understand the rage, in response to excess force. The violence serves no purpose but to foster anarchy. The good police do in society is being overlooked.

      • Yes. I recently posted an article…along with the Bob Dylan song…of a horrible crime committed against a man only because he was black, the case of Rubin Carter, the boxer. His approach was to fight for the cause through the court systems, and in so doing, he accomplished much to help those who were imprisoned illegally and wrongly because of racism. That is how you tackle an issue, not smashing in store windows and burning cars. I am so sorry for what happened to Mr. Floyd, but that was not the fault of the white people of the US, it was the fault of Off. Chauvin who should be the only to pay for his crime.

  2. The post itself is empowering. Thanks for sharing, Anna.

    • I am glad you liked it, Benj. My life experience has put me in a position to observe both poverty and abuse.

      • That makes you an effective herald for both.

      • [He] comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any [a]trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1: 4).

      • Amen to that. Couldn’t say it better.

  3. Anna, you have made a profound statement about the poor failing to recognize the power they have at the ballot box. Just think of this: in this country of ours there has been one method available to all to enact change, and that is to vote. Rioting and destroying property is completely unnecessary in order to change outdated, ineffective, and unfair policies and laws. Get out and vote! As ridiculous as it sounds, it really is that easy.

    Back in the days when the right to vote was suppressed for African Americans, and more recently for Hispanic Americans, entire segments of our population have had no say in how its own government operates. That is appalling by anyone’s definition. Even today, I have no doubt that there are still pockets of this country where such a mindset still flourishes. Truthfully, I could drive you to such a community about an hour from me. That mindset however can be overcome at the ballot box. It MUST be overcome at the ballot box if real change is going to happen. That is the way it is done in America.

    That being said, I am of the opinion that it is inexcusable for people to say they cannot participate in the electoral process. Any excuse offered as to why a person cannot vote(assuming they are eligible)is just that…an excuse. It comes down to how bad do we want change. Do we want it bad enough to follow the process, or do we simply want to exert enough pressure on society via riots and looting to make society say “uncle”?

    Frustration is one thing, we all get frustrated at the pace of things sometimes. I cannot help but wonder however, how much quicker needed reforms could have happened in this country if the same level of effort that we see being exerted today in our streets would have been extended to the cause of voter registration and education 50 years ago.

    As always my friend, you have blessed us with another article that forces us to look deep inside ourselves.

    • You are always so kind, Ron. Like you, I find the violence in our streets troubling. While I applaud the public calls for justice, I believe that real change must start at the ballot box. Voter suppression, however, remains a concern.

      The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed such tactics as literacy testing and the poll tax. Voter ID laws and gerrymandering are the latest approaches — stricken down by some courts, upheld by others.

      As Christians, we are called to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly w/ our God (Micah 6: 8). That applies whatever the color, race (assuming that concept even exists), or creed of our fellow man. It means that we must care for the needy, and help the voiceless regain a voice.

      This will never be a perfect world. But we must make the effort.

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