When I first read Daphne’s review of my book, I gasped. Oh, my God, I thought. She is identifying with the clergy who breached confidentiality and congregants who chose to gossip about me. What does that say about her? Does she value civility over truth and kindness while stigmatizing anyone with a history of depression and anxiety?
In her review Daphne distorts the facts of my life by minimizing the abuse I suffered and exaggerating the length and intensity of my emotional problems. She appears to view my depression and anxiety as long-term and unchangeable character defects rather than the predictable and treatable response to sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Consequently, she rejects my premise that nothing I did merited the spiritual abuse I suffered. Instead she agrees with my adversaries that I have “significant problems getting along with other people” and that I “fail to take responsibility”. Like my adversaries Daphne does not take into account my successful marriage and good relationships with my children and others outside of the congregations I wrote about.
In addition to her belief that I lack good social skills, Daphne concludes my therapist had to be right when he wondered if my perceptions created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Dr. Emmett’s knowledge of the self-fulfilling prophecy comes from a well-known study where it was shown that teacher expectations about student’s potential achievement influenced how well or poorly students performed. Less widely known is that the study was never replicated and subsequent research showed that the “effects are minimal for most teachers because expectations are generally accurate and open to corrective feedback.” Even if the phenomenon of self-fulfilling prophecy was real and significant Daphne ignores that prior to being betrayed and rejected I had expected friendship, loyalty and understanding. Instead I was emotionally abused and shunned.
Finally, in her review Daphne is using the self-fulfilling prophecy as a way to blame the bullied and to exonerate the bully and the bystander. By blaming victims and insisting that if they behaved differently abuse wouldn’t occur gives onlookers a false sense of security that it couldn’t happen to them. Some how they are stronger and wiser than the victim and it is the victim’s weakness that is the cause of the problem. However, all of us have vulnerabilities that other people can manipulate to further their own selfish agendas without regard to our welfare.