I finally understand the reason many victims choose silence. And those good-hearted souls who would wish to fight on behalf of victims, whether pastors or others. To do anything at all requires unmatched strength and resilience. I am not one to shy away from standing for truth–whether my perception of that truth is accurate or not–but this standing up for victims has required more of a steeled commitment, denying the fears of my heart, than any other thing.
For years (I confess) I have thought critically of those who don’t fight, don’t take a stand. Not the victims, but those who know the truth, or at least an element of it, and do nothing as people are victimized. Especially those who set out, and turn back, suddenly, to silence. I’ve thought especially critically of them.
As of two days ago, I understand. As I tackled the Prairie Bible Institute Abuse Allegations, I discovered a side of standing against abuse I had not previously encountered.
Having connections to some of the victims I felt I needed to show my support for the hell they’ve been through, and write about it. In ‘doing my homework’ and background research I came across names of people recognized. Names I have respected for years. I cannot say that they are guilty of cover up, as I have not yet spoken directly to them and, since they are not listed as involved, I hope (and assume) they would stand for truth. Still, it did something to my heart that I was not prepared for.
I saw this whole thing of standing up for victims, breaking the silence and fighting against the victimization of innocent children from a much harsher perspective. It forced me to contemplate a few questions I had never before considered.
What if I had to stand ‘nose to nose’, if you please, with someone I love dearly, in order to fight for the protection of a child? What if the person or persons covering abuse were those closest to me? What if it meant going through the kind of trauma some of the victims in abuse cases go through, just to be heard? What if I was attacked the way some are? Would I still be willing?
This contemplating is what led me to write yesterday’s post, Allegory of the Silent Woods. That feeling of ‘aloneness’. The uncertainty of the cost. The awareness that one day, I may have to choose between truth and relationships.
I needed to come to that place of commitment that say, ‘If it costs me all that I am and have, I will stand for truth. Not blindly for my perception of it, but with an open heart to hear both sides. A commitment to find truth. And never to abandon a victim, or stop believing their story.’
I understand what it is to be the victim. To be misunderstood. To not be believed. To have a life so scarred and messed up by my own bad choices, later in my teens, that I would not have been considered credible.
I also understand the hell that propels victims down that road. The very victimization that pushes many victims into dark lifestyles, is the victimization they are no long ‘credible’ to testify against. Irony that supersedes all ironies. And a sure defence for many a perpetrator.
I know what it is like to be the victim, and the healing and freedom that is there when someone dares to reach out. Knowing this, because of my own freedom, I asked the hard questions. And when I had asked them all, I made a vow to follow the call of God, no matter the price.
Yes, that level of commitment frightens me. But only enough to make me more determined. As long as God gives me breath, as long as He says, ‘Go’, I will go.
King James Version (KJV)
6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
I cannot help but wonder, how many Christians–leaders in particular–carry millstones about their necks. How many need to repent for apathetic, wilful blindness? Or covering their ears to the cries of the children being raped, abused, violated, while the perpetrators indulge in sexual pleasures.
I dare you to picture it just long enough to motivate you to action… the weeping of a child and the lust of an adult…. An adult who often blocks the memory, or denies it. A child who grows up to struggle sexually, to struggle with identity and suicidal tendencies…. A child who thinks he or she is worth nothing more, and seeks out abuse.
I hear it from the people I meet. They say it, just like that, many of them. I listen. I care. I pray. And then I give it to Jesus, because it is more than any human can carry.
I understand why some turn back. Why they are silent. It’s easier to block the harsh reality, than to face it, head on. But the easy way never changed the world. Never did a positive thing in revolutionizing that which is wrong in the world. Most importantly, I know this. Jesus would not stand silently by.
What will you do with the truth?
© Trudy Metzger
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Hard questions for.sure..I have met a.couple people who. championed truth at a cost to themselves. Others ducked into silence and.encouraged the victims to “forgive” when they came against a brick wall.
How do you keep.standing and speaking for truth when people really don’t want to hear it unless.it can be tidied up into a clean testimony.
I wonder at the inconsistency of making two.consenting adults make a.forced.confession of something in the past that is forgiven…yet continually cover up.and
And make excuses and cover up the abuse of.children …
Kim, what you describe is common. In the first place, I have a huge issue with forced public confessions. I’d like to see one (valid) scripture verse (not taken completely out of context) that even hints of such a thing. My understanding, biblically, is that if an individual sins, is confronted, and shows repentance, it is no other person’s business.
Secondly, you are right in addressing that inconsistency. Funny thing is, you try to make them aware and all you get is, “Ummmm… I can’t believe that would happen ‘among us’… ” a bit of shaking with the head and that sums it up.
The problem is that spiritually abusive environments know only how to deal with sin. They haven’t a clue how to shepherd a heart. And child abuse is a matter of the heart. A little body is so violated that it penetrates every part of life, and there is nothing of ‘religiosity’ that can offer even a semblance of hope or healing. It doesn’t exist.
For the church to ever take Child Sexual Abuse seriously, leaders must first acknowledge hearts, and stop living in cold and calculated religious moves. They must dare to go to the hard places and love with the kind of compassion that Christ lives. I would like to believe this is still possible, that I am not hoping against hope.
Sounds like you have been around the block.with this.:) Your writings.and.addressing the.issues.give.me hope…but most times I wonder. One thing I know…I want to be a part of the solution.
Yes… been there, done that. I’ve watched adults confess things they never did, because they were forced to on a single ‘eye-witness’–namely my sister–all while the church of our youth dressed the naked elephant to blend into the congregation. No one seemed to notice that the clothes didn’t fit, that it was still badly exposed.
Currently I’m supporting/mentoring several people going through this type of scenario, in several congregations. It stuns me that in nearly 30 years, nothing has improved, by all appearances.
I , too , want to be a part of the solution. I weep as I read the hard questions you ask yourself. I am in the midst of the same questions. I am so grateful for a BIG God who can and is in the midst of my situation and gives assurance and peace that HE is concerned about these things, and will stay with us. My word picture is— Standing beside God – our Warrior, and facing the enemy , not running away . Walking hand in hand with our Commander and going forward in victory. Let’s join hands and go forth with HIM.
Regina, you wrote: “…Standing beside God – our Warrior, and facing the enemy , not running away . Walking hand in hand with our Commander and going forward in victory. Let’s join hands and go forth with HIM.”
Yes, therein lies our victory, our courage, our boldness…. and our ability to forgive those who fall and those who fail. Without Him, we would be tragically, hopelessly foolish to even try to tackle this epidemic. Thank you for this.
Just yesterday afternoon my wife and ! sat in a living room, talking with the mother of a child that has not yet been abused, but in a situation where the possibility is more likely then not. After over an hour discussion, we offered our home to the child. Thankfully, mom agreed with us, thinking it would be a wise choice. Now it is up to child, who is a low teenager, if she wants to move to our place. This is a small way people can be part of the solution. I would encourage others to prepare to do the same. It is a stressfull jorney; I have also been surety for an abuser, that is much harder yet. When God calls, be ready to answer ‘ I Will”
Leroy, bless you and your wife! One of my upcoming blogs is going to be a tribute to the couple who took me in, and literally gave back my life. You may never know the gift you are offering the young girl but, trust me when I say it is priceless. I don’t know who I would be, where I would have ended up without the people who spoke into my life, and especially the couple who took me in when I was twenty years old. I owe them my life, yet they have never made me feel indebted. In teaching my children, one of the things they have learned is that ‘Grandpa Howard’ and ‘Grandma Alice’ changed my life, and gave the generations to follow an incredible gift of freedom.
I pray that in the moments when you find this sacrifice challenging, that God will give you courage and grace to love. Bless you!