A wheelbarrow and a shovel… “Where to from here?”
It’s the same manure that stinks to high heaven,
and frustrates the life of the housewife who hangs wash on the line,
… Or her husband, if he did it for her, God bless his heart…
that causes flowers to bloom and gardens to thrive.
~ Yours Truly….
….from in the middle of the stink ~
I wrote “Part 1 and Part 2” of this blog and then, as I wrapped it up, I looked at it. And I realized “Part 1” was for my personal processing, and Part 2 is for posting. So that is what I am doing. Because Part 1 does nothing more than present evidence. For now I am sharing only this portion because I’m not sure any good can come from the other part at this time, and I am just not at peace with it.
Going public, while not fun, was the right thing to do. I have zero doubt about that. It was necessary. (It has, however, been my most successful weight loss ‘program’, with a record over 8 pounds shed in four days. But it is not a ‘program’ I recommend). And it has brought forward countless stories, each naming D by his full name, and giving those individuals a place to speak. It also brought some new allegations to light in other scenarios. The level of shame some of these individuals have carried is staggering.
So where to from here…
S and I have both acknowledged that trust is broken between us. Our positions are completely polarized. I do think if S and I could meet and share all the ‘evidence’ and ‘story’ we each have, we might have a starting point to work from. I am almost certain that if he saw and heard all the messages in my inbox, and if he would compare D’s word to me – which I would have him hear and see – with D’s word to him, and see if it matches what D told him, we stand a chance at progress.
I would like S to take breast-groping and butt-grabbing more seriously as a sexual assault than he has indicated in some of our communications, and as relates to the case with D’s victim. (Even if that was all he did – which isn’t accurate because I have a confession by him to doing more than that – it should be taken seriously and the damage to the victim acknowledged.) I would like him to meet with me and see and hear the evidence, and let it speak for itself. (Something I have struggled to even contemplate trusting him with since he went back to D with everything I already shared.) Yes, there is more to the story than the evidence tells, but the evidence is very incriminating. Under no circumstances will I send any of it to him because he broke my trust before I had opportunity to show him the evidence. I would hope that, if he saw the evidence, he would see the urgency that I see. And if he saw that urgency, I would hope he would publicly admit that he knew since September, and that his decision to be silent left many people vulnerable.
I acknowledge that he also does not trust me – more specifically he has said he does not trust the conclusions I come to, because he believes I see abuse scenarios through the lens of my experience. This is fair. I freely acknowledge that I do, and that every human does. S does too. I do my best to be consistent in how I respond from case to case. It means that clients whom I love and care about know that I will report them if they abuse someone. That’s the lens through which I function, and it seems to not be an adjustable lens. I would appreciate if S contemplated the reality of his own lens.
So, while I am willing to meet with S, I am only willing to do so with my pastor present – Pastor Dale Ingraham and ideally also someone like Dan Beachy of Life Ministries (whom I have never met and do not know other than the testimonies I have heard), and he could have whomever he chooses present for support. S and I are far too polarized to make headway without that.
We have had a pastor ‘in the middle’ for the duration of this conflict, and I appreciate him very much. (An interesting ‘aside’, his initials, like S and D are also a double of one letter. I am choosing not to disclose his initials because he’s been dragged into enough already.) Our temperaments and spiritual giftings are actually quite fascinating. The pastor has an incredibly tender heart and would define his ‘calling’ to be to bring unity to the body of Christ. S has a very tender heart as well, but I have not heard him define his calling, so I will not attempt to guess. I do know he is firmly committed to what he believes. I am also tenderhearted, and tenaciously committed to my calling: To bring healing to victims, to expose the darkness of sexual abuse in religious communities, and to help offenders. Each of our gifts are valuable.
My first commitment is to support the victim(s) – whether the victim of the sexual assault, or the victims of D’s phone calls and the shame these individuals carry, not to mention the psychological aftermath. Numerous victims have suffered physical/psychological consequences such as panic attacks, nightmare or terrors, fear and trauma at the thought of ever seeing him again, and nausea at the memory of what he did. In whatever way I am able, I offer to help these victims find support. That is my first priority.
I sat for almost 2 hours yesterday with a man who molested a young woman years ago. I told him the same thing I just wrote… I will report all abuse, no matter who. No matter what. We worked through some ongoing identity issues. We dug deep. In the end he looked at me and, tears in his eyes, thanked me.
Maybe those who have offended, or are at risk of offending, actually crave someone to take them to hard places… Maybe we owe it to the victims first, but maybe we owe it to the offenders too.
This is my prayer for D, that he will take full ownership without *any* blame toward victims. That he will stop lying about “all the hurting who come to him… for support… for money… for ‘whatever” when the evidence trails proves he is writing people and offering them money and many are declining. It is my prayer that he will be surrounded by men who will walk with him
When I met D, I saw a tormented man. A man apparently helpless in the clutches of his own sins and crimes. Begging for forgiveness, drawing temporary relief from ‘forgiveness’, but never having had someone who would dare to also hold him accountable to face the legal consequences of his crimes.
I have had the opportunity to walk with tormented offenders as they turned themselves in to the law knowing they could be sentenced to prison. I have heard them express after that they ‘finally have peace’ even before the knew the outcome. And I have heard them say they are no longer tempted, having laid aside any perceived ‘right’ to protect themselves from those consequences. I would be willing to go with D to support him if he decides to turn himself in to the law for the sexual assault that he has admitted to (in writing and verbally to S in September 2017 and to me in March 2018), any other and other crimes he may have committed, or allegedly committed. I would be willing to arrange for him to have a support system should he be sentenced to prison, and to ensure he has support when he is released so that he is less likely to reoffend.
At the very root of the issue of sexual abuse and why it continues thriving in the church – not only hiding, but truly thriving, for a lack of better word – is a list of ways we mishandle abuse cases when the cost of dealing with it looks greater than the cost of blinking an eye. We would never say we are inconsistent, or show favouritism. Yet, when it’s someone close to us, or someone we trust – because they’ve never done that to us or to ours, therefore they would never do such a thing – we trust our feelings about them rather than entertain the possibility that they are predators, in some cases, or have molested.
I made a promise in about 2012 that I would not ask how wealthy an alleged offender is, how prestigious, or how closely related to me or those I love. That may have been stupid. But I did it. No matter the story, I would do what I have always done as long as the victim asks me to confront it, or gives permission to report in cases where the victim is an adult. This means I’ve stepped on some toes that were gold-plated. I’ve confronted leaders. And I’ve confronted someone in a family one of my siblings married into. What I do is not popular when the offender is an elite, or close to an elite. When there is no ‘higher’ association, I do my work unhindered and undisturbed. And then there are times that there is an impenetrable power covering the offender. I still do what I am called to do. (It’s why I have a wheelbarrow and a shovel, not a bandwagon. The advantage is when it’s time to shovel…)
This is my appeal to all leaders. Help the victim in seeking support. Expose the abuse and the abuser. Don’t do it to destroy them, do it to protect the people from danger and to make sure they cannot further harm others or themselves. (The hell they live with, knowing the damage they have done – for those who are not so narcissistic that they don’t care – is awful.) It is your God-given responsibility, to the best of your ability, to protect all the vulnerable, the women and the children. Don’t show favouritism. Don’t compare banning a sex offender from events or church with banning people who have other addictions, or who are divorced and remarried, or some other thing. These are not comparable, because the others do not pose a threat to the safety of vulnerable people.
Sex offenders need help and support, but don’t be afraid to tell them to seek help elsewhere if their victim is in your church, or if the environment of your event is one where many vulnerable people are present. If offenders are so arrogant that they demand seeking help in an environment where they make others unsafe, they are not repentant. Repentant sinners are humble. And repentant sex offenders humbly accept that they need to stay away from certain places and activities for the protection of others, and to ensure they do not commit those crimes. I have been thanked for helping them set boundaries to ensure that safety. This is our duty as leaders.
“Open your mouth for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all who are destitute.”
~ T ~