(Part 3 of 5): Healing; Boundaries & Manipulation

…Continued from Part 2...

THE ROLE OF THE SUPPORT IN VICTIMS’ HEALING
The most profound gift a support person can offer a survivor or horror is listening without judgement. This is not the same as listening without boundaries, but I’ll get to that. Listening without judgement grants the victim a safe place to begin to put words to terror that is stored in deeply emotional context rather than coherent and organized story.

This means that story is going to be messy. You might hear things you later wish you could unhear. You might be shocked when the F-bomb slides off the tongue of a sweet little woman in a cape dress and bonnet. You might not know what to make of her anger. Or her admission that she sneaks liquor into the house to self-medicate so she can survive parenting and wifely duties. But you have one gift to offer: listen without judgement. The moment you judge, that door will close and she will lock up and not trust you. And she will be loathe to trust another.

Listening without judgement does not mean you listen to details you cannot cope with or stomach. If you are sensitive but want to offer care, simply outline early in the relationship what you are able or willing to offer. (In the next section I talk about boundaries and manipulation. This falls in the boundaries department). It can be beneficial to sit together at the beginning of the relationship and write out what is agreeable to you, what you can handle, and have it available to refer back. Keep that boundary firmly and gently.

Listening without judgement also doesn’t leave someone in a place of addictions. It means you offer compassion for the suffering that led him/her there, and don’t focus on it at the moment. When the time is right, and you have given them your heart and compassion, when you have spoken truth and purpose over them, you will have permission to speak into addictions and destructive behaviours. It won’t be about ‘fixing their sin’. It will be about caring too much to leave them stuck. It will be about empowering them to overcome, rather than condemning them.

In every phase, listen and care. And do so with healthy boundaries in place to protect their wellbeing and your own.

BOUNDARIES AND MANIPULATION
Abuse victims who are forced or feel forced to hide and bury their story learn to manipulate. To keep something of that magnitude under wraps, requires lying to oneself and masquerading as healed and together when really we are falling apart. Protecting oneself also requires managing people and relationships in ways that will prevent opportunity for hurt. To do this effectively, victims master manipulation. They have needs that they cannot openly address, so to get those needs met without being forthright and honest; they manipulate the world around them.

Exemplifying healthy boundaries in relationships with victims is not only important, it is critical and it is a gift. (It is also something I wish I had known before I started meeting with victims!)

One of the ways victims manipulate is through disregarding boundaries. They often do this in such a way that they play with emotions, and make the person whose boundaries they are violating feel guilty for keeping boundaries. For example, you may say to them that you are willing to meet for coffee once a week for 90 minutes, but they are not allowed to send you text messages about their trauma because it invades your life when you want to be present with and for your family. They may disregard this and text to say something like, “I’m in a really bad space right now, and I don’t have anyone else… ” Or, more extreme, “I might as well go kill myself. No one cares anyway.”

When victims send a message like, “I’m in a really bad space right now, and I don’t have anyone else”, they are really saying, “I’m not comfortable with myself in my pain and I’d really like you to be here with me.” Critical to healing is learning to sit quietly with our pain. It is easier said than done, and easier for some than others. It takes time, for most victims of trauma to get there, so be patient, but don’t cater to the demands. It will become a habit if you do, and you will find yourself sooner than later, unable to be present for them at all… unless you are codependent, and that’s just unhealthy. But that’s another topic for another day.

Immediately upon facing a severe trigger — especially when we aren’t aware we have been triggered — we don’t see it. Reaching out in a moment like that is likely neither conscious manipulation nor conscious violating of boundaries. It is reaction to trauma, and a desperate cry. And in that moment, reassuring the victim that you care and they will be ok, might be enough. Tell them you are not available in the moment, and encourage them to journal what they are feeling and send it via email in advance of your next meeting so you can discuss it when you get together.

Alternatively, with a newer or deeply traumatized client, I gave the option of sending a request to schedule another session between regular weekly sessions. The reality is if we don’t have boundaries, we will burn out. We will begin to resent the demands of the victim, and sooner or later we will be of no use to them, and likely needing therapy ourselves. With healthy boundaries, they grow stronger and learn to be comfortable with themselves and trust themselves again, and we don’t wear out.

When the message is “I might as well kill myself”, you have to make a tough call, and how well you know the individual plays into that. Most victims know that other humans will respond to such a cry, as well we should. Whether the cry is urgent or not, makes all the difference in the appropriate response. It is one I have never ignored, and never will. However, the way I respond will in itself help with healthy boundaries.

In the past, if the victim was a young teenager, I made arrangements to meet face to face, if possible, when such a cry came in. Families have called me to come sit with youth in that place at ‘all hours’ and I made exceptions. There is a fragility to youth and especially youth in pain. They do not have the experience we have, even by age 22 to 25, to draw from and know they will be ok. Their pain really is the end of their world, and they tend to be more impulsive. They are also (in my experience) more responsive to having purpose, hope and life spoken over them.  Once with them, I ask the typical questions, “Do you have a plan?” if yes, “What is the plan?… When?… Where? …. How?” etc. If there is no plan, we have a conversation to help ground them.

When such a message comes from a known manipulator, there is a time when the best gift to give is to call in and report a suicide threat. It’s not that the person isn’t genuinely tormented and wanting to die. That can be very legitimate in manipulation cases. The problem is when they draw others into it in such a way that it causes compassion fatigue (aka burnout). It’s a form of self-sabotage that in the end costs them more than one visit from police to ensure they are ok. I have done this, and in most cases – not certain if in all – I have told the person I am making that call. If it is a game, it will end. If it is a genuine cry for help and a suicide plan, they will be offered that help.

There is so much that could be said about boundaries and manipulation in victims, that a book couldn’t contain it all. For many it has been a necessary tool for survival, and learning to undo those patterns is the best gift we can give. In all things, we need to respond with compassion and care as well as firmness and boundaries. One without the other is not a gift.

How we establish those boundaries, and when we introduce the various steps in the healing process is a matter of relationship and knowing the victim. Introducing the ‘next step’ (not meaning a particular order) before the person is ready is not productive. If they say they are not ready, respect that. Their boundaries are important too.

And that brings me to the one hot topic that has been used, abused, neglected and confused…

Continued… (PART 4)

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

***

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

 

(Part 2 of 5): Healing: Acknowledgement, Lies & Truth

….Continued from Part 1

There is no formula to healing for sex abuse survivors, but there are certain things, in no particular order, that bring deep healing. The following are some of those steps far from exhausting the list.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
What is not acknowledged, cannot be healed. It can be suppressed. It can be buried. It can be downplayed and ignored. But it cannot be healed. And it will surface, one way or another.

Many female victims talk about misplaced rage and anger. Others talk about being shut down and feeling nothing at all. Yet others talk about resenting their husband’s touch, or feeling disdain for all males – if abused by males — including their own sons, husband and other male friends. Others talk about a constant desire for male attention that is not theirs to have. (Referring to married women struggling with the need to seek the attention of other men; often the husbands of close friends). Many talk about obsession with body image. And sometimes the fear that they will do to children what was doen to them. Those are some of the ways buried abuse resurfaces in females.

My experience with male victims is more limited, but I have seen a few patterns. Among them are men shutting down after being sexually abused. Disdain for sexual intimacy with spouse, if the abuser was female, and disgusted by female anatomy. Desire for sex with other males, if the abuser was male…. or deep disdain for their own sexuality, because their own anatomy is like the weapon used against them. Escaping life through addictions, whether porn, alcohol, drugs… or work. Fear they too will molest someone one day.

Many of the patterns that are there in lives of victims who are in denial, are also there in those who acknowledge the abuse. The difference is that what is acknowledged can be worked through and healed. Once healed, there is a whole new level of peace, and when those same struggles come up, there are strategies for handling them in a healthy way. In contrast, what is buried will continue to negatively impact the individual and those around, with no hope of healing or change.

Acknowledgement alone is not enough. While it is the first step, therefore a critical one, to stay there with no further hard work does not offer hope. It opens the door to finding hope, but it only admits darkness exists, and darkness can never produce light.

UNRAVELING THE LIES & REPLACING THEM WITH TRUTH
I’ve heard it said that the only real power Satan has is ‘the lie’. I’ve pondered often on this, and am more and more inclined to believe it. In every circumstance of my life, spiritually, it has not been the circumstance that caused the deepest mind and soul struggle; it has been the lies. But there is a practical this-world-reality of humanity and the physical mind and body that must be considered or we will destroy victims’ faith yet further.

We must separate the traumatic aftermath of violence, assault and terrifying experience from how we deal with those lies. That human element of struggle – ie; flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety – are not based on lies. They are reality. (Often unacknowledged and/or unresolved reality, but reality nonetheless). Many people in ministry demonize these human responses to terror, and that, in itself, is spiritual abuse. It imposes on the victim the sense of being in the devil’s grip when in fact they are responding as the human brain and body are wired to respond. God created our minds and body to live in a Garden without pain, suffering or sorrow. This thing we were hurled into, we are not designed for.

With gentle healing, these things generally resolve themselves. No hypnotherapy. No manipulation. No casting out demons. Just patiently living the love of Jesus in their world. I make this claim based on my work with survivors these past 9+ years. This is not scientific research, or any other research, for that matter. There have been two exceptions with victims I worked with, who did not find deep and ongoing relief from the triggers, nightmares and flashbacks just from having someone listen, care and speak life. And most of the rest did not take years to get there. On average, I worked with clients for 3 to 6 months, after which most were equipped to handle the aftermath both spiritually and practically.

Having clarified that, I will address the lies. In every traumatic event, there is a lie…. or many. And there is usually truth entangled with it. For example, when a person is raped several things happen. Their safety is taken in an instant. But not safety only in the broad sense. It is their very body, which they must take everywhere they go, making the victims feel helpless.

Already there is a lie, and there is truth.The truth is, they were indeed robbed of safety. No one can argue that. Rape is not safe. The body is attacked physically, spiritually and psychologically. There is nothing safe about it. The person might carry aids or some other STD. Not safe at all. It could, in fact, cost the victims health or life. We must acknowledge that truth with the victims. Downplaying these harsh realities or minimizing them escalates trauma. A simple, “I am so sorry” is all it takes to acknowledge the suffering.

The lie is “I am helpless”. While safety has been robbed, the individual is not helpless. We feel helpless, and once upon a time I thought I was. (Imagine that!) It felt so real that I genuinely believed I as destined to a life of emptiness, worthlessness and that I had no purpose. I cried out to God in that place over and over, “Please don’t let what I went through be in vain. I can live with it if it has purpose. But I can’t live with it if that’s all there is.” I would tell Him I’m willing to go where He sends me, and do what He tells me. The only thing I couldn’t accept is purposeless suffering.

Little did I know then that God would answer that cry be asking me to do what goes against everything in my desire to be loved and it accepted by people. Had I known the cost then, I’d have been too afraid to pray half the things I prayed. I’m thankful I had no idea.

Another lie is, “this is all you are worth.” I’ve only encountered a few victims who did not struggle with this lie. Rape and other sexual assault communicate to the victim that they are not worthy of love; they are only worthy of being used and assaulted. They take on themselves the identify of the vile abuse – not even that of the abuser, usually – and live out of that. The truth is the offender chose you because of his/her own wickedness and depravity, not because there is anything wrong with you. It has nothing to do with your worth, and everything to do with their opportunistic depraved selves. You are beautiful, precious, beloved… made in the image of God. You are worthy. You have so much more to give. You are valued and cherished by God, and deserve that same gift from your fellow humans.

Sometimes offenders focus on making the victim’s body respond to his/her assaults. The power to force the victim’s body to respond via orgasm and stimulation is its own thrill. This leaves victims tormented on so many levels! Unlike rape at gunpoint, the victim is terrorized by his/her own response rather than a gun. There is guilt and shame. If I truly hated it, why did my body like it? If I didn’t want it, why did I orgasm? There is betrayal. It is as if the victim’s body has conspired against the victim to partner with the offender in the attack. If safety is robbed in every sexual assault, there is no case where such safety is more stolen than when the victim’s body takes the side of the offender.  The truth is the offender weaponized sexuality. Your body responded precisely as it was designed to respond to sexual touch, and the offender took advantage of that. It is not your fault. God created you to be loved intimately by your marriage partner, in safety. The offender stole that from you, and violated you.

The list of lies goes on, and on, and on. While I stopped taking clients in 2016, and no longer do 1:1 sessions while studying — and don’t know if I will ever again — when I did, looking at the lies was a key part of the healing process. I asked clients to write out what they believe about themselves, about others, and about God. Having done so, we picked out the lies, unraveled them, and replaced them with truth.

It wasn’t a formula. And it can’t be made into one. It is about listening at a gut/heart level, listening to the victim’s needs, and speaking truth into the lies. It is about showing victims how to do that in the day-to-day, and finding a new and healing mantra to replace the lies that attack our soul and being.  Every victim’s story is unique. So walking in with some agenda or preconceived notion of what it will look like – or should look like – is arrogant, at best. Abusive, at worst.

Every victim needs someone to listen without judgement…

Continued… (PART 3)

 

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

***

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

(PART 1 of 5): Should abuse victims sue? And what about healing & forgiveness?

SHOULD VICTIMS SUE?
My previous blog “Why Anabaptist Sexual Abuse Awareness (ASAA) Founder Hopes Conservative Anabaptist Church Gets Sued…” left some questions unanswered, I’ve learned. In it I addressed a conversation with ASAA founder, Randal Martin, and his wife, and him saying he hopes the conservative Anabaptist church gets sued, as he believes it is the only way they will take the ongoing problem of sexual abuse seriously. What was unclear in my blog, and left people with questions is my position. Where do I stand on victims suing abusers?

I’ve worked with survivors for nearly a decade. None have ever, to my memory, expressed interest in launching a lawsuit. And I have never suggested such a thing. But I do tend to agree with Randal’s statement, and am concerned the issue will never be taken seriously by some churches and communities until such a thing happens. Will it then? Possibly. Or will they revert to the cry of, “We’re being persecuted for righteousness sake.” The latter is more likely, but, Sunday after Sunday they will think about victims when they pass the offering plate to cover the lawsuits, I imagine. They won’t think kindly of them, or compassionately… but they will part with their hard earned dollar and remember…

I’m also fairly certain if the problem of sexual abuse hits the wallets they will have a vested interest in functioning differently, going forward. So, while the heart wouldn’t necessarily change, the methods might, and children be more protected. I mean, how often can you afford a massive lawsuit? A recent case against the Jesuits, whose missionary Mr. Perlitz abused around 150 victims in Haiti, cost them a whopping $60 million. The similarities to the current Jeriah Mast case are uncanny. I’m suspicious the Jesuits will be screening their missionaries better, going forward. And that, I would expect, will happen with our culture too, when a massive lawsuit hits. It seems that might be a positive outcome, regardless of anyone’s personal opinions about suing.

While suing has never come up with my clients, if one were to express interest in launching a lawsuit, I would definitely not interfere or try to talk them out of it. And I would continue to support them as I did before. They’ve been robbed of their voice and thrust into deep struggle against their will. Finding their way back out is messy.  And whether they sue or not in that process is none of my business. I trust God will allow what needs to be done to bring accountability to the church, and bring the people of God to their knees in true repentance. And that may well include this kind of thing, given other cries have been long disregarded by religious communities.

That said, what I would tell any client is that the lawsuit will not bring you peace. It can’t. It might provide the funds to afford the help you need, but it won’t heal you. It might make it possible for you to relocate to a new start. But it won’t remove the hell you must walk through. That hell will follow you. It may distract for a while, but sooner or later you will have to face the truth and walk through the healing process. Much like grief, it comes in stages and phases.

There will be anger, for most. There will be tears and sorrow over the loss. There is, most often, phases of denial. There is despair. There’s the overwhelming sense of lost identity.

Money doesn’t address any one of those things. It can’t. But that doesn’t mean God won’t allow – even orchestrate – a series of events to shake up His people through lawsuits. He’s been known to do things like that and use uncomfortable means and methods to call His children back to truth and what really matters. And right now money and power matter too much. Don’t be surprised if God strips those idols.

So I let those things play out as they do, knowing God has a higher purpose, and in all things He pursues all hearts. That is who He is, it is what He does..

HOW THEN DO WE HEAL?
Every victim has his/her own journey to walk toward healing. I’ve not met two people whose stories were identical. None that could be turned into a calculated formula to apply to every individual. There are steps and layers. And how they bringing healing, or what order, is dependent on so many things, such as temperament, the nature of the crimes committed against the victim, and by whom.

Sometimes it is non-victims who offer more compassion and understanding than other victims. It is easy for victims to get down on each other for how the other is not healing their way. I see comments and statements by victims directed at other victims that are not helpful. And when I ask the nature of their stories, the one may have been a rape victim at the hands of a father, pastor or brother, the other had someone pull down their panties and looked at them.. sometimes touched. Or, they may not have suffered sexual abuse at all, but suffered emotional abuse, and somehow feel all healing should follow the path that worked for them. And, sometimes, once victims are healed, they forget their own struggle and have no grace for others to walk the journey they themselves walked.

It isn’t realistic to expect victims to arrive overnight where we took 20 years. Not even if we impart our wisdom. Is it possible they can avoid 20 years of agonizing struggle with healthy support and guidance? Yes, by all means! This doesn’t mean they will never struggle or have tough moments even after healing, but there is a far cry between living in that dark pit and slipping over the edge at moments, or being triggered. But, no matter what, they still deserve space to walk the messy process of healing.

While there is not a formula, there are certain steps that must be part of that process, for deep healing to be achieved. …

Continued… (PART 2)

 

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

***

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

 

Why Anabaptist Sexual Abuse Awareness (ASAA) Founder Hopes Conservative Anabaptist Church Gets Sued, Mr. Hoover on Mandatory Reporting, & the Porn and Sex Trafficking Problem

Screen Shot 2019-08-12 at 10.18.52 AM

***

When I met face-to-face with Randal Martin, founder of ASAA, and his wife at a Panera Bread in Lebanon PA, he said he hopes victims will sue the conservative Anabaptist church to force them to take sexual abuse seriously. His message was that if they have to pass the offering plate to collect money to pay for those lawsuits, they will be forced to take abuse seriously. Until it hits the pocketbook, he said, he is concerned that the issue will not be given serious attention. I agreed. Said that I fear, too, that victims will never be truly heard until this happens.

I had no notion on doing such a thing then (and still don’t), but I told him I know of someone who mentioned launching a class action against the Eastern Mennonite church. Randal gave me the name of the lawyer who  handled the Haldeman church lawsuit, to pass on.

It seems that this wish for a lawsuit – or was it a prophecy? – is coming to pass in the current CAM case. Ironically it is in the very case in which ASAA is being asked to help the victims in Haiti. God has an uncomfortable sense of humour, in the timing of things.

It is my hope that ASAA will support the victims in Haiti who wish to pursue litigation, even if it is against Christian Aid Ministries rather than the Eastern Mennonite Church. It is the only non-hypocritical thing to do in light of Mr. Martin’s comments.

***

The following article on reporting sexual abuse is well written. Excellent, really. I’ve heard criticisms of details like, Is reporting really only important because it is a legal duty.. like, what about moral obligation? I’ll speak for myself and say this. Dealing with sex crimes is always a moral duty. Always. But how we deal with them is influenced by the laws of our land. Knowing Mr. Hoover a bit better than I did a few months ago, I know he also feels a sense of moral duty to get involved and does so. He and I do not agree on some of the ‘how’ of what he does, and he knows I have some grave concerns, but he does feel a sense of moral duty. Also, in fairness, he has disagreements with me as well. I am comfortable with that, and far as I can tell, he is too.

Some time ago I asked Mr. Hoover for permission to share it on my blog; permission he granted. He is on the Advisory Board for the Anabaptist Sexual abuse Awareness (ASAA). I have interacted with him a fair bit in recent months, and have been forthright with him about my concerns, both in ASAA handling of events last year — details he still knew nothing about — as well as ongoing concern over how offenders are being prioritized to the neglect of victims. (For example, victims’ voices are not yet being invited into the legal processes, nor are they being represented with skilled and informed support persons who know the legal processes. This support is still being given to offenders). In my honesty about my concerns, I have felt he tried to hear me in spite of disagreement. He has been honest with me too, from what I can tell, and I have tried to hear him.

Where truth is spoken, I appreciate it. The following article is truth.

***

How can Conservative Anabaptists reconcile the command of Matthew 18, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone,” with the reporting requirements in Pennsylvania?

The entire issue hinges on the words, “If thy brother shall trespass against thee”. What sins would this include, this “trespass against thee?”

Perhaps he trespassed by having moved the line-fence and thereby taking some of his neighbor’s land, or borrowing something and returning it broken, or slandering a brother’s name by repeating unkind gossip. There are many ways that a brother may trespass against a brother personally, and we then need to go to him alone to see if we can come to an understanding.

But what about serious sins that are much more than a personal trespass against an individual? Did Jesus also imply that if my brother murdered his neighbor or raped my wife that I would need to go to him between me and him alone, and if he hears me I have gained my brother?

God forbid! Such a sin needs to be reported immediately to the proper civil authorities, who do not carry the sword in vain (Romans 13:1-6, 2 Peter 2:13-17), then to the church.

Yes, we believe that if a brother has trespassed against us, we should first approach him alone. But if we discover that he has seduced a neighbor’s 13-year-old child and ended up violating her (either emotionally or physically), we do not believe that Jesus would direct us by this command to keep it “between thee and him alone.” Such a brother has not only trespassed against his neighbor, but he has broken the laws of God himself as well as the laws of the land. This is not only a trespass against an individual, but a heinous crime. We are duty bound, both for our brother’s sake and for our daughter’s sake (as well as possible future victims), to report him.

Today we know of the terrible hold of sexual addictions. We have seen perpetrators who have been found out, and who “repented” and made their sins right with the church, and life supposedly went on as usual. But, life did not go on as usual. The sexual addiction had not been dealt with, and later there were relapses, with more cover-ups, more victims, and more children whose lives were forever changed, because we did not deal with the sin in an appropriate and timely manner. 

We need to acknowledge and recognize the difference between a trespass against a brother that can be taken care of “between thee and him alone,” and serious sins that are much more than just a trespass against a brother. This is why we believe that it is good, proper, and indeed necessary to obey state laws on mandated reporting.

The offender can only be brought to redemption if he or she takes full ownership of his or her iniquity, transgressions and civil responsibilities. Using civil authority is a part of that not a power play. We are loving the offender when the sin is exposed to authorities because he/she is in bondage to their sin and full of deception – and an emotional response to exposure and a few words of apology are no sign of repentance. The offender is self-injuring, not just injuring others. No habituated sin is easily stopped. If we are honest, we all know this on a personal level.

~ Allen Hoover, Advisory Board for ASAA ~ 

***

I was surprised that ASAA advisory board wasn’t even made aware of the details surrounding last year’s fiasco, in which a man admitted to their vice-chair having assaulted a young woman and the young woman was not offered care while the offender continued in close relationship with the board member. And I am just as surprised that the Advisory board didn’t think it was important to know details or get involved, being too busy with other things.

As I said to Mr. Hoover, it is this sort of lack of engagement that created the dreadful abuse situation we have in Haiti, and I struggle to grasp how a group can help others overseas if they don’t first deal with their own situations appropriately at home. When victims are blatantly neglected in cases at home, how are they equipped to go to Haiti and help there. I would hope they can and will do better. Especially since Mr. Hoover’s statement so clearly states that “an emotional response and a few words of apology are no sign of repentance” as was proven true in last year’s fiasco. The offender at the centre of that case has continued with inappropriate connections with women. This summer I heard from three more women regarding the same offender, proving Mr. Hoover’s words to be accurate.

In light of this, while I support what is written by Mr. Hoover and promoted by ASAA, and I am posting it as I had told him I would after he granted permission, I appeal to them to live up to their own words and teachings. I appeal to ASAA to first deal with their own issues honourably at home, before going overseas. Don’t just teach better ways of responding; live it. When that happens, I will be happy to support ASAA efforts.

Disclaimer: When I asked permission to post the above, I did not yet know that the ASAA founder and the board of directors had not informed their other committees thoroughly of my concerns. This only came up in communication with Mr. Hoover on August 5, 2019.

***

ASAA also posted the following video on their Facebook page. (It was from their site that I took my featured image, to give credit of sources). It is a powerful video addressing pornography. If you are into porn, you are part of the sex trafficking industry. You are funding it. Advertisers rely on your addiction to evil, to fund this industry. 

 

***
***

If you have the stomach for it, the following news report is a powerful, powerful news report on sex trafficking. I submit that political agenda is intertwined, quite obviously. Tune out the jargon and listen to the problem of sex trafficking. It is real, and it is closer to home than you would imagine. I know of conservative Anabaptist youth being used as prostitutes, where one ‘user’ (Anabaptist adult male, in one case) will alert others to the girl being vulnerable. I know of them being offered money for sex. I know of one case where money was exchanged. This is not so far out there.

The video clip is hard to watch, admittedly. But this is based on the true story of a young woman who was trafficked.

Her brother speaks after the video clip. He shares a lot of wisdom on the problem of sex trafficking, and how it works. He isn’t about fear-mongering. He gives solid information. He addresses the fallen morality of the nation of USA. He talks numbers of what pimps make.

And he makes this gut-churning statement, “You can almost order a child like you order pizza.” And later he says, “This shouldn’t be a conservative issue or a liberal issue […] children should not be for sale.”

He also states, “It starts with a pornographic culture. Soft porn. It’s the objectifying of women. Which, we as a country have done a great job at completely objectifying women into sex objects and emasculating men.”‘

These statements should startle us. According to several studies, a high rate of men in church admit to porn use

There is no child immune. No culture protected. This wickedness is something we need expose. And we, as the people of God, ought to be leading the way. But I challenge you to consider that sex trafficking in a different form is happening among us. Just as in the country structure, in religious structure the top most powerful are protected. There is grace for these offenders, and protection, while those ‘sold out’ are mistreated to keep them in line. The similarities are startling.

Like our sexualized culture, we are desensitizing church culture to child sexual assault, but we are doing it through treating victims shamefully and protecting offenders. The culture is such that abuse thrives, the oppressed have no voice, and sexual violence against children is viewed as ‘moral failing’ and ‘a mistake’.

Children are being trafficked among us, and it starts with the cavalier attitude toward child exploitation that allows adult men and women to call it ‘moral failing’, or ‘a mistake’. It starts by dehumanizing the victims in the eyes of the congregation or community. It starts be silencing victims. And it starts by leaders hearing things and shrugging them off rather than digging deeper and doing their due diligence in cases such as Jeriah Mast. (Using one that is public of the hundreds or thousands I could choose from). Because when abuse is handled this way in church, it is the exact same thing as sex trafficking, with different players and a far more deceptive mask.

All of these things teach the ‘pimps’ and abusers that it isn’t really that big a deal to use and abuse the vulnerable. They do not take it seriously. I had one man say, after molesting his daughters, “I only did it for 60 seconds.” His church gave him a short proving period and then life went on as before. He had a history of sexually assaulting starting in his teens, right up to his late 40’s when I confronted him. The church blinked. Didn’t report. Bishop from PA intervened in TX to help navigate it. And life went on as before. (I tried to report. The social work I was communicating with who was passionate about the case, when I called back a few weeks later, was told, “She is no longer with us”. The church leaders talked with the Sergeant, and he stopped responding. I will never know why. I have solid evidence and an open confession in my possession, legally obtained. And the law does nothing. The church does nothing more than they have to.

That, my friends, is how sex trafficking continues in church.

These things have desensitized many in the church culture, and silenced others for many years.

And while all of that is going on, and children are being stripped, destroyed, raped and programmed… on the streets and in church… We can’t get our act together to stand firm against this wickedness….

God help us…

God help the children… And He will.

Someday, He will come and set the children free…

He will come…

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

Some time ago, a friend told me of a medical doctor (Anabaptist) who is doing research into sexual abuse in Anabaptist communities. To take his survey visit:
Anabaptist Medical Matters

***

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

Convicted Pedophile Epstein Dead, Apparent Suicide

The first message I opened this morning was a friend sending an article to say that  Billionaire convicted child molester Jeffry Epstein is dead of apparent suicide.

The greatest tragedy, even in light of such news, is when these criminals destroy a child’s life. The next greatest tragedy is when they are not man or woman enough to face the consequences, and choose instead to commit suicide.

While it is not totally uncommon for child molesters to commit suicide, foul play is always a possibility when there are links to other big names. This case is certainly no exception. Though it is also plausible that going from the kind of power he had to exploit everyone around him, especially children, to sitting in prison was just too much to face. In either case, my heart goes out to his family and loved ones, and especially to his victims.

When offenders commit suicide, or when they become suicidal without following through, often the people exposing are blamed and shamed, which usually includes the victims. I’ve been up against that myself after exposing a horrific case – of which I have an audio recording that law enforcement has in their possession – where the child rapist became suicidal. The recording was evidence that I was not unkind or harsh; I merely appealed to the offender to own up to all his crimes, and informed him I would be notifying the law.

Sad truth is, the same people who blame victims and those of us who expose criminals don’t worry that the victims might struggle to the point of committing suicide. (As was the case with one of William McGrath’s victims. Yet McGrath, who victimized many, is idolized in conservative Anabaptist culture to this day as some hero and saint, and the suffering of the victims is disregarded).

What’s more, when victims become suicidal, they are told they are bitter and unforgiving. There’s the shaking of the heads, and the clucking of the tongues, with little to know compassion or understanding, in too many cases.

But when the offender is exposed and struggles with depression (whether to the point of suicide or not), those of us exposing are thoughtless and bitter people. And in those cases, groups of men gather (as was the case in the DD case last year) to support the offender and try to make their suffering go away. (As was the case in the confession a group of men helped DD draft to post on social media in order to quiet the public. That ‘drafted confession’ was the work of a handful of men, including a Beachy Amish church leader, a leader of a ministry in PA that ‘helps victims’, and several other men. And those of us exposing were called names, such as “Matriarchal woman” and “Matriarchal Witch”, to name a few).

This habit of protecting offenders and making victims and advocates villains, while insulating offenders from facing the reality of their crimes, is a significant part of the problem. And the leaders who do it, are too.

Here are the facts. Child molesters choose to commit heinous crimes. The best thing we can do for them is help them face the truth and the consequences of their crimes. Their freedom depends on it.

And child molesters who commit suicide choose the cowardly way out. It’s that simple. There is always a way to own up, without excuse, and face the harshest of consequences for their own actions.

Some choose suicide. Some do the right thing and face honestly what they have done, and accept the punishment they deserve. And they recognize the grace of God as an undeserved gift that is for their eternal benefit, not a way to manipulate their way out of consequences in this life. Which way they go is on them, not on their victims, and not on those who expose them.

If you are tempted to go there, think Judas. It was not Jesus’ fault Judas committed suicide, for not finding some way to stop him. That’s on Judas. There would have been forgiveness for him, had he repented, I have no doubt. And there is forgiveness for sex offenders too. But there is never an excuse.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

JASON GRAY CONCERT:
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster PA
7:00pm
CONCERT TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC: Here

NOTE: Due to the concert being the celebration for survivors of abuse,
we ask that any who have sexually abused as adults not attend out of respect

November 2, 2019:  THE GATHERING, held at Lancaster Bible College, is a place where survivors of sexual assault, together with our support person(s), collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse and trusted support persons to gather for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering and sexual violence among us. We will cry out to God, together. Come as you are in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. We welcome you! The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to grieve and heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

 

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

HAITI: 4 New Charges Filed Against Jeriah Mast & CAM, and an Analysis of CAM Statements & Timelines….Was it Perjury?

Christian News released an article stating that four more young men have come forward, pressing charges against Jeriah Mast and CAM in Cabaret, Haiti. The article, More Young Men Come Forward as Being Sexually Abused as Boys by Amish-Mennonite Aid Worker also mentions the possibility of a fifth young man filing charges.

A fifth charge may additionally be filed, but the young man is no longer living in Haiti as the societal mistreatment from the scourge of being abused forced him to have to make a life for himself elsewhere.

A source who has been in contact with a sheriff’s office in Ohio told Christian News Network that he believes federal officials are pursuing criminal charges against Mast in the states to hold him accountable for his crimes in Haiti.

Read the full article HERE.

The information regarding this case was sent to me July 29, however, I was not able to gain access to documents to confirm, so I declined reporting. If I have learned one thing, given the intense scrutiny by Anabaptist readers, it is the need to be thorough and ensure I have evidence to support every little thing I write. To the best of my ability, I do this.

***

Prior to this news coming in, I had already written a brief analysis and overview of CAM statements and timelines. There are some rather glaring questions hounding the analytical folk in this whole CAM and Jeriah Mast case. I am not alone. The following outlines just a few of those questions.

The first item is a very short clip in which Harold Herr states that in 2013, soon after 3 victims came forward to Steve Simmons (Gospel for Haiti), he told Jeriah “If you’d be in the states, you’d be in jail now.” (The detail of “three victims” is important to remember. These three were in Port au Prince).

While claims continue by CAM that it was believed to be homosexuality, it is clearly documented that in fact it was known to be a crime, as evidenced in Mr. Herr’s statement to Mr. Mast in 2013. No one in USA gets put in jail for homosexuality! To state now that Mr. Mast was told in USA he would be in jail, and at the same time claim it was believed to be homosexuality is contradictory. By the time a missionary is told “If you’d be in USA you’d be in jail“, there must be admission that, “in fact, we knew a crime was committed and still did nothing”.

Listen to the following audio clip, just over a minute long, and hear it for yourself:

After the three victims came forward in PaP with allegations against Jeriah, Harold Herr of LIFE Literature had a meeting with Eli Weaver of CAM and Lamar Nolt also of Life Literature.  This was not thought to be homosexuality by Steve Simmons of Gospel for Haiti or Harold Herr of LIFE Literature; it was known to be a crime. The following are quotes taken directly from Harold Herr’s comments on a recording posted on the second blog regarding this case, “In Harold Herr’s own Voice… CAM/Life knew; Jeriah tells the Law & Repentance Pizza Party”:

“.… so (the one victim) reported these things to Steve Simmons […] he told some of the things that were happening in the past by Jeriah, at… some… various locations. […] When this came out, Steve was distressed about this…

If there was no crime, why distressed? But there’s more…

This needs to go to CAM […] this is serious!”

I told Jeriah very plainly, this is very serious. If you’re really repenting, you need to go back to these boys’ fathers and confess and ask forgiveness. And I went along with him to do that.”

EVIDENCE STILL IN TACT, JUNE 7, 2018:
As of the day I sat and talked with him, Harold Herr still had a copy of the communication. (Hopefully still does. Otherwise that would be tampering with evidence). “To the best of my ability I’ve shared what transpired. And I read [the report written by Steve Simmons and passed on to CAM] on purpose [before you came tonight] so that I could answer … the best I can.” 

CAM’S PUBLIC STATEMENT – Haiti Investigation

(My comments are underlined and not in italics.)

June 11, 2019

As a supporter and member of our larger community we know that you have questions. This information is provided for your benefit and to help understand our efforts to date:

In response to serious allegations that a former CAM staff member sexually abused minors while serving in Haiti, CAM has initiated an investigation into this conduct. We recognize that any form of abuse of a child is both a horrific sin and a serious crime. We are actively working to investigate and address this situation and to care for those who have been harmed. At CAM, leadership and staff join the larger community in Haiti in their sorrow and concern about what has happened and the human lives impacted.

CAM has and is gathering information about these allegations. CAM can report the following:

  • Without CAM’s authorization or prior knowledge, the individual left Haiti and returned to the United States.
  • The individual was promptly discharged from CAM. (“Promptly discharged is misleading. Two key leaders, Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver had known of concerns for at least 6 years – Harold Herr states late 2012 to 2013 in his recording, they say 2013 – and had not taken allegations seriously enough to report or discharge Mr. Mast. It wasn’t until rumours reached CAM that victims were coming forward to press charges that Mr. Mast was ‘promptly discharged’. Mr. Lebady acted immediately upon Mr. Mast’s admission on May 3, 2019. It is inconsistent for CAM to take credit for a “prompt dismissal” and not take responsibility for at least 6 years of top leaders in Haiti knowing and doing nothing to protect victims.)
  • We understand that the individual made a confession to leaders in his local church in the U.S. and has reported himself to Ohio state legal authorities. (This, again, is misleading. Mr. Mast had no intentions of turning himself in for his Haiti crimes. And, in fact, he did not. He was confronted about those crimes upon turning himself in for Ohio crimes, when an FBI Liaison was present, to his surprise. To leave the public believing this was repentance and willing confession of Haiti crimes is not accurate and serves to sway the public in seeing Mr. Mast as far more forthcoming than he was in reality.)
  • CAM’s representatives are still investigating what took place and who was affected. (This is all well and good. But it’s never wise to have a fraudster audit his own books. An independent third party — and dare I say one who has no Mennonite or Anabaptist affiliations in this case — is necessary. There is far too much cover-up and collusion to preserve image for anything less to be trustworthy.)
  • CAM’s representatives have already communicated to one U.S. federal government agency about the situation and have been in communication with another federal agency with greater authority to investigate the situation. (Because the individual’s conduct took place in another country, state governmental authorities have limited ability to investigate and respond.)
  • CAM has been working inside Haiti to make contact with those who have been affected by the individual’s actions and actively pursuing ways to help them. (At the time of this statement, all 12 victims with whom I was in contact informed me that they had not heard from CAM. This remained the case until my most recent contact with them a few weeks ago).

As you consider this situation, first, please pray fervently for all those who may have been harmed or otherwise affected by this conduct. Please also pray for CAM and our Haiti staff to walk through this very difficult situation with godly humility and integrity.  (Godly humility would include asking victims what their needs are rather than imposing prescribed ‘help’ that may not meet their needs. Numerous victims have stated that they have no interest in having Anabaptist men ‘counsel’ them when it was an Anabaptist missionary who violated them. To insist on such a thing is extremely disrespectful. One of the greatest evils following the sexual violation of an individual is to impose on them the prescribed ‘help’ that potentially further victimizes them. Integrity would include allowing a third party of the victims’ choice, or at least with whom they are comfortable, do the investigation). The exploitation of anyone, especially children, is devastating to the trust in and impact of any ministry or NGO. Moreover, such abuse by one individual damages the reputation and ministry impact of all those who have worked selflessly over many years to help care for the Haitian people and who have not been part of any harmful conduct. (Frankly, it is not ‘one individual’ who does this level of damage when, in fact, at least five grown men in ministry were aware of the crimes, three of whom were CAM high level staff).

Going forward, CAM will work to keep our community appropriately informed about progress in this case. (Last I heard, CAM had not yet notified their donor base by mail, and merely responded to the public online outcry enough to hopefully appease them). Because the situation involves ongoing responses by the U.S. federal, state, and Haitian courts and government agencies, CAM is limited in what it can say and do. However, since being made aware of these allegations several weeks ago, CAM has fully cooperated with governmental authorities and has taken appropriate steps to report the matter to federal government agencies, to cooperate with the legal process, and to pursue care for those affected by the individual’s wrongful conduct. (CAM has cooperated with US officials, not Haiti, which is further disrespectful. While CAM formally announced placing Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver on leave, at least one of the men continued some duties for CAM after being placed on ‘leave’. Lest CAM would say what Weaver and Weaver do is not on them, as representatives of CAM they, in fact, were not cooperating with Haitian government. Being on leave – particularly with ongoing duties – is not the same as being fired. These technicalities do not speak to integrity.)


Christian Aid Ministries (CAM)

ISSUED:   Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 12:25 pm

 

*****

 

An Open Letter from the Board of Directors of Christian Aid Ministries Regarding the Case of Jeriah Mast

Thank you to the many believers who are praying and waiting patiently for our team to find its way. This case has strained our human ability to process and comprehend why anyone would harm children and abuse trust. We humbly ask for your continued fervent intercession as we respond.

In light of the magnitude of this case, we are in communication with government officials in law enforcement in the United States to ensure that we do not unintentionally impact any ongoing investigation. We continue to piece together the details of what took place.

It is already well known that our former employee, Jeriah Mast, has confessed to molesting boys while working for our organization in Haiti. It is also well known that he has fled the country of Haiti and is residing in the United States. It is understood that he is wanted in Haiti for his crimes.

The question that many have asked is this: What, if anything, did the board of directors and executive management know about Jeriah prior to his deplorable sexual abuse exposed in May 2019?

1. Is it true that CAM management allowed Jeriah Mast to continue working with CAM after they knew that he had sexually abused minors?

CAM’s Board of Directors was not aware of any sexual conduct between Jeriah and minors until 2019. (The public has not yet heard from Director David Troyer, clearly stating whether he knew or not. The public and donors deserve a forthright statement from Mr. Troyer addressing this concern. Anything less lacks transparency and integrity). Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver are two men who have faithfully served the Lord and our ministry for many years in management roles. (Management roles, in this case, is the executive board that includes the Director, David Troyer and others). Unfortunately, they allowed Jeriah to continue to work in the field even after his confession in 2013 of sexual activity with young men that had taken place several years prior. Both men recognize that their failure to properly investigate and inquire into Jeriah’s conduct was a serious failure in judgment and should have severe consequences.

2. Is it true CAM is trying to cover up this case by providing settlements?

The board of directors has not authorized any settlement payments and has no interest in covering this up. (Yet it is CAM lawyers approaching victims to this effect. Since the lawyers are NOT footing the bill from their own pockets, but rather CAM’s coffers. it is the responsibility of CAM to know what is happening under their noses. To ‘not know’ is not the same as being ‘not responsible’, as we see in the Jeriah Mast case. Pilate washing his hands did not make him innocent). 

3. In light of the circumstances, what is CAM going to do with respect to Jeriah?

Although CAM no longer has any control over Jeriah, the board believes it would be the right thing for him to appear in Haitian court to answer for his confessed crimes. However, this needs to go through the proper judicial and extradition processes of the United States and Haiti.

4. Will CAM take any personnel action in this case?

CAM is placing Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver on administrative leave pending a full investigation of their role in this matter. (As noted earlier, being placed on leave did not prevent at least one of the men from continuing in some role with CAM). The Board and leadership of CAM understand the gravity of the situation and have mutually come to realize it would be difficult to work through this case with their involvement.

5. What is CAM doing to care for the victims?

We are deeply committed to the long-term goal of ensuring the boys Jeriah molested will receive the help and support they need. CAM is still attempting to understand the scope of the tragedy. We realize there are no easy solutions and any steps we take will require extensive preparation. We will be seeking counsel and support from those in Haiti and the larger Anabaptist community.

These are just the first steps in our journey to find God’s direction for this situation.

We close by repeating our request for your prayers, most of all for the victims, and also for us as we agonize over the tough decisions to be made in the coming days.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors

Christian Aid Ministries (CAM)
ISSUED: Monday, June 17, 2019 at 10:45 p.m.

 

*****

The following is a statement released by Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver the same day as the previous statement by CAM was released to the public, with this one addressed to Missionaries in Haiti, not the general public.

June 17, 2019

Fellow Missionaries of Haiti,

As leaders of CAM Haiti management, we are deeply sorry for our part in the decision in 2013 to allow Jeriah Mast to continue to serve with CAM in Haiti.

We have asked God for forgiveness, we ask the victims for forgiveness, and we ask you fellow missionaries for forgiveness.

Following is information about what took place in 2013. We are not saying this to excuse ourselves but to clarify our knowledge of this situation until May 2, 2019.

In 2013 Jeriah confessed that he had homosexual involvement with four youth in Haiti several years prior. (This statement flies in the face of Harold Herr’s statement that Jeriah Mast was told he would be in jail if he was caught in USA doing what he did in Haiti. USA does not imprison people for homosexual relations. Therefore, we must conclude that they knew it was criminal activity *if* Harold Herr relayed the extent of his concerns to Eli Weaver, as he says he did. Furthermore, in 2013 Jeriah was 30 years old and the young men were in their late teens, and as stated here the “homosexual involvement” was several years prior. The most basic of math here is evidence that crimes were committed, and it was not homosexual relationships). After his confession and restitution, we met with him to verify his repentance, brokenness, and present walk. (How does a child molester make restitution on the mission field for sexually assaulting boys, and then continue on the field and victims being forced to encounter him, to their **expressed distress** with victims’ expressed needs being completely disregarded? It is documented that such distress was expressed to leadership, and dismissed based on ‘it being taken care of’ by Jeriah. And how do leaders ‘verify repentance, brokenness and present walk’ with a man who has deceived them for years?) We then allowed him to return to Haiti, believing that everything had been resolved. Looking back, we realize we should have asked more questions, gotten more details of what took place, and reported the matter to legal authorities. (I reiterate, was the distress expressed by Mr. Simmons and Mr. Herr not enough? Hindsight is 20/20, but the honourable thing to do – if indeed Mr. Herr relayed the extent of his concern, as he claims to have done –  would be to to go beyond stating “we should have done more investigating” to admitting “we knew more than we wish we knew and we failed to take it seriously. For this we are deeply sorry.“)

No information surfaced between 2013 and 2019 that was brought to our attention. (A discrepancy comes into play here. There were three young men in Port au Prince,  and there were four young men in Petit Goave, who approached Pastor Brucely and for which Jeriah was excommunicated and sent home). 

As we consider the loss of purity in the young boys who were victimized by Jeriah, their shame, their reproach, their fear of being found out, their concept of Christianity and missions overall, and we again consider that we were a part of the decision to allow Jeriah to continue working for CAM, we feel deep remorse. (These young men did not lose their purity. They were robbed brutally of their innocence. Their purity remains in tact, based only on being violated. To impose ‘impurity’ on the abused is further abuse, albeit out of ignorance. On this front we are all learning, and do well to take note of the difference).

In closing, we ask for your forgiveness and prayer for the victims and for CAM. We need your prayers.

Eli Weaver

Paul Weaver

NOTE: This communication from Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver was sent June 17, 2019. These men were placed on leave at that time, and several days later I learned that James Mullet – who formerly served in Haiti and at that time served on the Board of Directors – was to take over in Haiti. If this communication was not sent to the Board of Directors, it was either irresponsible or intentional failure to communicate. If it was sent out, then Mr. Mullet perjured himself in court, because this letter clearly states Paul and Eli knew of the four boys – which were the four in Petit Goave, which were not the same victims as the three boys in Port au Prince. It is inexcusable to not do proper homework before going to court to testify, and adds to the disrespect of the Haitian authorities. Critical thinking and analysis is necessary. Blind trust is one of the things that has allowed abuse to flourish in our culture. Criticizing those who take time to analyze and apply critical thinking is part and parcel with that spreading of an epidemic). 

 

***

Prayer needs for Haiti situation

Jul 9, 2019

Thank you for your prayers, words of advice and correction, and notes of encouragement. We need your prayers! Here are some specific ways you can pray:

• Victims and their families. Sexual abuse leaves victims in a wake of trauma and difficulty. Pray for their healing and restoration.

• CAM Haitian and American staff and other mission staff in Haiti. Both CAM staff and those from other Anabaptist missions face many pressures in relation to this situation. Pray that God will give them strength and grace for today and the days ahead.

• Board of Directors and CAM management: We have been meeting frequently to work through this situation. Pray for us as we make decisions and take action to care for those who have been affected. Much discernment is needed as we review policies and practices, work to heighten staff awareness of abuse, and create better ways for staff members to communicate questions and concerns. We want to continually improve mechanisms to protect children and other vulnerable people.

• Victim care groups: Pray for all those who are seeking to respond to the needs of victims. Independent Anabaptist groups who have experience in dealing with sexual abuse victims are organizing themselves to help victims in Haiti. CAM also needs wisdom in fulfilling its responsibility toward victims.

Thank you for praying.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors

Christian Aid Ministries (CAM)
ISSUED: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 7:00 A.M

 

****

Unrelated to these statements by CAM, one of my biggest concerns is the number of men involved in leadership in various ways, who have themselves sexually offended in the past. On staff with CAM in key leadership are at least three men with such history – granted, with one of the three coming forward on his own to apologize but with all three never having faced legal consequences. A second apologized when he was confronted. The third I do not know if he apologized or not. Besides this, there are allegations against another leader that I continue to investigate and document.

Why is this information important? (Especially when they have apologized!) Two reasons:

  1. Jeriah Mast also apologized but continued to molest youth and abuse power with the information being kept secret. To keep this information hidden is to risk the abuse continuing. If these men are truly repentant and forgiven, being forthcoming and transparent about this gross past failure should be expected, in particular in relation to working with the vulnerable. In particular, in this case, those who are delegated to be part of the Haiti Crisis Operations team should not have any such history, anywhere in the past. At least one individual who was proposed for consideration to help with Haiti’s crisis has such history. My question is, how can a man who has molested children in the past justly be part of a team to meet the needs of victims?How is this not being screened? Is no one sitting face to face with these men and boldly asking “Did you ever sexually assault anyone, molest a child or engage in sexual misconduct that victimized another human? Did you ever touch a child or minor in the breast, groin, or anus area? Did you ever expose yourself sexually without mutual consent to anyone, or to a child or minor (in which case consent is irrelevant)? Did you ever force a child, minor or unwilling adult participant to touch you sexually? Did you ever undress a child/minor or unwilling adult participant and look at his/her genitals?” Those who have done such things should be disqualified from providing care for victims. That is simply common sense.
  2. The second reason is because those who have done these things in the past and not faced legal justice or exposed their own crimes – having never turned themselves in to the law – will not likely insist on such legal justice in cases such as Jeriah Mast. If they think they can hide it from the law, many have proven they will try. They may be willing to cooperate and even accompany an offender with turning himself in once the offender is caught and his hand is forced but it is likely that they will attempt to keep it quiet and ‘in house’. After all, their crimes were never exposed, and the programming to “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” runs deep. That is problematic when dealing with sex crimes against children within a culture that avoids going to the law. It allows crimes to slip under the proverbial rug, and continue in the guise of repentance.
  3. The third reason is to encourage analytical thinking, since a lack of it has opened the door to all manner of evil among us.

So why am I not naming these men publicly? Because their victims have not given me permission to do so. And it is for that same reason that I am not offering any identifying information beyond saying that three of the men are in leadership in CAM. That is also problematic.

When it comes to missions and going to vulnerable countries, those delegated to go should be of all men most honourable, presently and historically. As it stands, given the number who have been exposed in leadership in relation to this case, we are forced to contemplate the following:

  1. Either we have such an epidemic among us that we should expect a percent of leaders on a board are past offenders…or …
  2. We must admit that offenders are drawn to missions….or ….
  3. Both….or ….
  4. It’s a fluke.

And that last one isn’t believable. There’s too many other situations with similarities to this to be a fluke.

In any case, no matter what conclusion we draw, we must admit we have a problem. And that problem needs to be appropriately addressed. To date it has not been. Proper screening is not yet happening, not even within CAM. Men ‘investigating’ either are not being screened to ensure they never victimized minors, or they are getting the ‘go ahead’ to do so in spite of such history. How can men who have molested minors be appropriate candidates to send to investigate sex crimes against minors?

Surely we have enough men among us who never in the past, not in their youth and not in adulthood, molested children, and who are willing and able to take on roles in missions leadership! Surely there are enough without such history to lead in roles that gives them authority over the vulnerable! Surely we can do better, and start properly screening who gets sent, and where they get sent.

Totally unrelated to all of this, I recently learned that another missionary heading overseas sexually assaulted a teenager. … And I find myself in an ethical dilemma… To hold the confidence of the person who told me, or expose publicly what I was told, or report to the mission board (with little confidence they will hear me), or report to the law, or all of the aforementioned? Holding crime confidentially is not the right thing to do. Nor do I offer any such promise. I never have. I never will.

(On which note I will state: If you send me information that is ‘confidential’, if it involves crime, I will report. It’s that simple. I am frequently sent information with no opportunity to offer my preamble of “If you tell me of a crime, I will report it to the law. If you tell me of a minor who is abused or neglected, I will report. I offer no confidentiality by virtue of moral and legal obligation to report to the law.”)

In an effort to notify the mission board – for whom I have no contact information – I made a call to Stanley Fox. More accurately, I should say I attempted to make a call to Stanley Fox, because I was told explicitly the mission is affiliated with Mid Atlantic which is the “same church as Stanley Fox”. I figured if Stanley sincerely is as repentant and sorry as he stated, he is one man I should be able to trust to do the right thing. His wife answered when I called, and after telling Stanley who it is, said, very politely, that Stanley declines to speak with me if I can accept that. Certainly, I told her, I can accept that. Truth is, I wouldn’t want to talk to me either if I was in his shoes and exposed for not responding to an apparent sexual trauma and crime. I shared the information with another professional, reading the statement of what the man had done as sent to me by the person he admitted it to, and alerted the law. I do not know the victim, and therefore cannot do more without her knowledge or consent.

It is the responsibility of every adult to protect children. Hiding the crimes of anyone, especially those who hold this kind of power, will not serve us well, and it surely will not serve the vulnerable well.

It is my hope — even if ‘hope against hope’ — that people will learn from this and ask blunt, blunt questions. Very blunt questions. “Did you ever touch a minor sexually? Did you ever sexually assault anyone?” Sure, they can lie. And they might. But that’s no excuse to not do due diligence. And with any discernment at all, the Holy Spirit will speak and the interviewer, if indeed led by the Spirit, will have a niggling of unrest.

That niggling should never be disregarded. The safety and wellbeing of the children of the world depends on it.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

NOTE: After August 1 concert is included dependant on availability. Once concert tickets are sold out, registrations will continue until October 1 and include lunch only.

One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate. In light of having Generations Unleashed’s vehicle totalled in a crash on August 1, 2019, and insurance not covering the full replacement, your contributions are especially needed and appreciated.

Car crash, close calls & the fragility of life

This year, like few others, have reminded me how fragile life is… how each day is a gift. How each moment is but one breath away from our last. That sounds morbid, in a way, but it is not morbid to me. It is grace.

February 3 I landed in emerge a second time in 2019 with heart issues. February 19 an echo-stress test revealed nothing. March 10 I was hospitalized. March 12 an angioplasty revealed a minor heart attack and Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), believed to be caused by medication. April 13 I was in a minor car crash. April 22 my doctor’s office called to say they saw a spot on my pancreas when they did a CT of my chest to check my heart. June 12 an MRI showed the spot was gone.

And then…

On August 1 I set out for Ohio to attend a conference the next day. My GPS said I would arrive in Millersburg around 9:45pm. About 20 minutes from the border, traffic came to an abrupt halt. I hit my brakes and came to a stop. I leaned my head back, and let out a big sigh. 

Seconds later, the sound of metal crunching, followed by an explosion of airbags in my car – all but the passenger dash airbag… and then more metal. It all happened in split seconds. I don’t know if I passed out, or if it was shock that shut down my mind, but a moment later I saw ‘smoke’ and smelled this awful stench. I reached for the door handle, which I could not see under the airbag, and crawled out under it onto a busy four-lane highway. Barefoot. I reached back under the airbag and felt for my trust Birkenstocks. I realized then that I had lost my glasses in the crash. I felt around the floor, and found what was left of the frame. They had shattered. My left arm stung.

A police officer was nor far behind us, and was already on scene by the time I approached the vehicle that hit me. He stopped traffic and sent us to the shoulder.

I called Tim. That’s the hardest part, I think, calling him AGAIN to say some horrible thing has happened. He has seen me through several near-death encounters, and while this one didn’t injure me severely, to tell him the driver hit me (according to him) doing 100km’s an hour and the car is totalled, is not fun. I keenly felt the fact my life was in danger. Tim said he would come immediately to pick me up.

Not moments later three tow trucks arrived and removed our vehicles. The police report was done, and the tow truck driver dropped me off at Walmart. I stuffed my suitcase and belongings in a grocery cart – feeling like a true Walmart shopper – and started looking at glasses frames to pass the time.

Tim arrived and offered to take me back to the car to get the rest of our personal belongings and plates, since the write-off is inevitable, and the items have to be removed. I declined, even though it was the most practical thing to do. I wasn’t ready to see the inside of that car again.

We returned the following evening.

There is something overwhelming about seeing the inside of a vehicle, ripped apart in a split second. Bags, deployed everywhere. Debris strewn inside. Threads. Torn seats. Shattered sunglasses. Sunglasses that were on my face when the crash happened.

For a moment that mess and those airbags looked like the enemy. I felt all manner of emotions. They destroyed my car. The best car I ever had… Well, technically it was Generations Unleashed’s car, but the one I drove most.

I thought about it then… Maybe that’s not so unlike how people feel about me exposing sexual abuse. The airbags destroyed the inside of my vehicle but, in reality, they may well have saved my life, or at the very least saved me from severe injury. Given that I was jarred back when I was rear-ended, then hurled forward when my car rammed the car in front of me, I should be in rough shape. Yet, I have relatively minor pain and stiffness in various joints, neck and shoulders, only a few bruises and an 1/8th inch scrape. Not painless, but unbelievably good.

Exposing sexual abuse is like the airbags. The purpose of exposing is to save lives. But the process of exposing is messy and feels like destruction and looks much like ‘the enemy’.

Hopefully it will save many children the horror of being sexually assaulted, and save many families the trauma of broken relationships, and spare spouses the secondary trauma of watching their partner suffer.

For today, with the freshness of the shock of the recent exposure, many are not ready to give thanks for the exposure of sexual abuse. For today, criticizing the telling of these truths is not surprising. But hopefully one day people will look back at this exposure and thank God for the airbags that have saved lives and changed the course of history, for at least a few children. I pray so.

***

I’m nearing 50. This is the big year. And I sure know how to celebrate big milestones, having had one of the most eventful years of my life. I have lived passionately, and continue to.

It’s been over 21 years since my first near-death encounter, and almost 13 years since the first heart attack that almost took my life. I made a commitment after that heart attack that I would do what God calls me to do. And do so ‘fearlessly’ – which does not mean without fear, but rather facing fears head on and doing what is right, no matter the cost. I do not regret that commitment.

This weekend, in the aftermath of the accident… with mild headaches on Saturday and mild stiffness… and processing the numerous crises these past few months, I commit, again to do what God calls me to do, going forward. As fearlessly as before.

And… then there’s the practical every day stuff. Like shopping for vehicles ‘before their time’. The premature end of a vehicle is inconvenient. And shopping for a replacement is a small thing, in the grand scheme of things. But a necessary one….

In the inconvenience I continue to believe that God works all things out for good. That includes heart attacks, health crises, and car crashes. Everything. And exposure of sex crimes, especially.

Nothing but death can kill me. While I am alive, I will live. And live as though each day is my last with concern only for what God requires.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate. In light of Generations Unleashed’s vehicle being totalled in a crash on August 1, 2019, and insurance not covering the full replacement, your contributions are especially needed and appreciated.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

THE GATHERING
(for survivors of Sexual Abuse in Anabaptist communities)
NOVEMBER 2, 2019
LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:

  1. Registration for THE GATHERING will close October 1, 2019 or when sold out.
    To register: THE GATHERING: Registration
    For information:  THE GATHERING Information.
    To register for concert only: JASON GRAY CONCERT NOVEMBER 2, 2019 LBC 7:00pm

NOTE: After August 1 concert is only included dependant on availability.

I know what it’s like… (A sex abuse survivor’s wife speaks)

The following post is the voice of a survivor’s wife. She is a brave, loving and compassionate soul. For all who have lived the trauma with a spouse, this post will resonate deeply. To all who have not, I urge you to lean in and really listen. Broken hearts lie scattered on church floors, overlooked, unheard, unknown, unhealed. Unhealed in a place where Jesus is said to dwell.

I urge you to notice one such heart and breath the life and hope of Jesus into just one. Speak life. When you speak. But mostly, listen. Listen, and really hear the heartbeat, no matter how weak, how erratic and how uncomfortable.

Always remember that Jesus chose the broken places. He dwells there. Not in high and together places, but in the lowliest of places, there He enters and makes His home and declares, “If was for the lost children, that I came”.

***

I know what it is like to live with abuse second hand. I know what sexual and religious abuse looks like up close and personal.  I haven’t experienced sexual abuse but I’ve lived with the affects for all my married years. We’re working our way out of extreme spiritual abuse.  I’ve lived the trauma for many years.  If I could sum it up in one word it would be TEARS. Endless rivers of tears.

I know what it’s like to raise a family, praying over them, pleading for God to cover them with His protection and for the trauma of the abuse to not be passed on to them, while their father goes through periods of being completely zoned out. I know what its like to have to know when to follow my husband’s lead and when to realize he’s flipped and irrational and then to step up and fill in the breach. I know what its like to sit in the grocery store parking lot counting the little cash I have to see what I can buy that week for my family because my husband is in a black hole. And I have to try and figure out how long we can survive till he comes out again. I know the heart break of walking alongside him when he realizes all the things that have slipped away while he was “not there,” picking up again, then going through all of it all over again. Because with the triggers and the ongoing mental trauma there’s no continuity.

I know what its like to be married to a man who is a survivor in so many ways, has qualities and gifts that contribute to mankind in many beautiful ways, but to sit with that same man as he curls up on the couch in such emotional pain that words are useless. To watch him reach out to others and have compassion for the hurting but feeling complete worthlessness in himself. To live alongside and watch while normal life is so exhausting that finally he wonders if its even worth it.  The intense struggle of wanting to believe in God but wanting to have nothing to do with the god he was shown, yet unable to grasp the difference. All this while appearing to be a normal family and functioning the best we can because it feels like no one understands.

canstockphoto23608061_ text

The damage abuse does is deep and devastating.  It ripples out and affects so many people.  Its crippling beyond belief. It’s mind altering. It completely strips away identity.  It puts them on a path to prove their worth for many years, and then when their efforts are finally exhausted they give up.  When it’s a man it affects the family financially because when he’s the main provider and fear and flashbacks are a constant reality, there’s not much energy left for making good decisions. So there is added financial trauma.  It affects the whole family.

In fact, years of trauma and dysfunction can happen before one even realizes the brokenness and what is actually happening.

Then there are others.  I know what it’s like to walk with abuse victims who dissociate. To hang on to a victim in a flashback until you can arrive at a safe place for them to throw themselves out of your vehicle once it’s stopped, to cry it out in a roadside ditch. To listen to the pain of their heart’s cry that doesn’t even make sense to themselves. But what do I do when they continue to believe the lies in their heads?  When they would rather believe the lies and that they’re worthless than to even accept the love that they’re given because love doesn’t feel “safe.”

Yes, God is the answer, He’s the healer.  But what if the mere mention of God fills the victim with such anxiety and anger that they shut down because the abuse was so wrapped up in their “godly religious” experience?

There is so much more that could be said.  I just want to bless you and encourage you to keep going.  I believe that once the victims find their voices and speak the reality of what they live with, the reality that so many wish to not hear, that is when people will wake up.  It’s critical that the victims be given their voice.

I’ve prayed many prayers, I will continue. I applaud as I read the (victim’s blog) posts.  I praise God and cry hallelujah when yet another victim has the courage to step up and speak, when yet another leader speaks out in truth, exposing yet more of the abuse.

And then I face the next battle on the home front and I hope and pray that fighting the battle well here will somehow contribute to the war against abuse at large.

~ Anonymous ~

***

The spouse who sits compassionately with the survivor of horror, as he or she grieves the trauma, or lives through the hell of its aftermath is a true hero. This wife is a true hero. I have such a hero in my life.  To this author… to my husband…. to every other spouse who sees and knows what it’s like… Thank you!

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:

  1. Registration for THE GATHERING will close October 1, 2019 or when sold out.
    To register: THE GATHERING: Registration
    For information:  THE GATHERING Information.
    To register for concert only: JASON GRAY CONCERT NOVEMBER 2, 2019 LBC 7:00pm

NOTE: After August 1 concert is only included dependant on availability.

One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

 

Sexual Assault, Death Threats & Terror: One Young Woman’s Redemption Story

INTRODUCTION
Tonight’s blog is the story of a teenager caught in a nightmare of sexual assault, death threats and terror in the Anabaptist community. It is also a story of hope, redemption and healing. I do not know this young women well. We’ve only met on Facebook. (I hope that changes one day). But I did engage at length with her and am blessed by her courage, compassion, transparency and resilience.

She made it very clear that her story is her own; it is not a pattern for everyone. God redeemed in ways that are not always possible because it is so rare for offenders to be allowed to get to the end of themselves. Too often people – church, family, friends – stand in the way of offenders coming to that end, and facing honestly their own crimes and evil.

I love a good redemption story. To see healing, that is what our hearts long for, above all. Sadly, in sexual abuse cases, the redemption stories are often used to beat other survivors over the head, or guilt-trip them for not choosing a similar path. This should not be. We need to give space for redemption to play out differently in different stories. We are not all the same, and God has not given us a ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula. He leads us gently, and remembers that we are human, and has compassion on us.

I am working on writing the redemption story of my life. How I went from being a teenager who prayed my father would get killed (because murder wasn’t an option), to sitting by his bed in the hospital, holding his hand as we talked, and giving him hugs. It is a story that needs to be told, when the time is right. As do many redemption stories. But with those stories there must always, always be space for other survivors to choose walk their own redemption story without any guilt or shame imposed on them if they cannot cope with relationship. There is only One Way to redemption, but the practical ways in which we walk that path varies.

Remember that as you read this story, and any other story.

***

SURVIVOR REDEMPTION STORY
My story has much in common with many of victims: Grooming, abuse, death threats, depression and PTSD, forgiveness (eventually!), and a remaining deep concern for other sex abuse victims.

Prose leaves more questions than straight-up story-telling. Nonetheless, I felt too ashamed and horrified to document in journal form the abuses and death threats as a teen; I wrote it in prose instead, after I had recovered enough to see it for the evil it was.

That prose was destroyed by an adult who knew and had allowed my abuser more opportunities. “I thought it would be too traumatic for you in the future.” Too traumatic for me to read my own writing?! I rewrote, saving the key phrases that most clearly stuck in memory, and adding pieces to reflect the story of reconciliation.

I do not believe that reconciliation should be the first goal in an abuse story. Nor do I believe that every story should end in reconciliation. Most will not. And that is OK! Reconciliation [in those situations where it is part of the story] hinges, not on the victim’s forgiveness (although that’s a piece of it) but on the abuser’s change of heart; this should be common sense!

My story ends well enough: I am at peace even in the presence of the abuser. But that is NOT due to HOW the reconciliation took place! Instead, it is due to the fact that he came to the end of his rope, and got desperate enough to go to extreme measures to address key factors that drove him towards abuse. I’ve watched him in a crowd since we reconciled; his eyes do not follow beautiful women. His speech is not fueled with hatred. His demeanor, once powerful and aggressive, has mellowed. It is on THIS change of character that reconciliation can be considered—and such a change is rare. Even then, it must be the victim’s choice.

How did the reconciling take place?

When I was an ordinary church member, I had a sad story and I needed to learn how to cope well and move forward. That was all. But when a desirable church position opened up, I was strongly urged to pursue reconciliation.

If reconciliation is not important enough to help an everyday member pursue, it is not important enough to help a candidate for a Sunday School class, youth ministry, regular ministry, or single mom’s ministry, or ANY other position, to pursue. This idea that ministry somehow makes a person eligible for the pursuit of God’s goodnesses such as reconciliation, is nothing more than arrogance; the most ordinary, every-day, unseen person should be the focus of equal care. Yes, ministry requires knowledge of reconciliation and conflict resolution. So does marriage, so does holding a job. People in ministry aren’t special.

I am keeping this anonymous, as the people behind this reconciliation are people I care for, people I have learned from, and, most importantly, people who get most of the things right when dealing with sex abuse. I have no desire to ‘call out’ anyone who is on the side of victims, and can extend grace to cover blunders. These are people who believe in being honest and cooperative with the courts; if they were humble enough to sit down and listen to my hindsight view of what happened, I would welcome that, because I think they would sincerely use it to do what’s right by the victim next time.

I was very uneasy about meeting the abuser due to previous death threats; these fears kept me up at night prior to the meeting.

My concerns were downplayed.

Just because he was penitent, and it did work out in my case, doesn’t make it healthy.

If “Avoid the presence of someone who threatened my life” is a boundary the victim wants, by all means, honor it. Find some way to pursue reconciliation without breaking that boundary. Helpers of victims—be it family, friends, a counselor, or a pastor—need to realize that while some threats are bluffs, some are real, and it adds to a victim’s sense of powerlessness to override those threat concerns. And even where the threats are a bluff, because the victim has already been assaulted sexually, they will be real to them.

My story is one of God providing tremendous grace in the face of great hardship; tremendous kindness towards a prodigal; wisdom for the helpers; grace to cover the helpers’ blunders; and the daily graces to walk well with others as I pursue ongoing healing.

While I believe that I have largely healed from the sexual abuse, due to an accurate understanding of sexuality and an ability to participate in healthy relationships, I have NOT yet healed from the verbal abuse. If I am given a rebuke in a manner that seems powerful and condescending, it stirs up the darkest memories (kind rebukes don’t do this) and I will cut the powerful and condescending person out of my life in an attempt to maintain sanity. In addition, I still find myself irrationally paranoid of guns. So, like many of you, my story is an ongoing story of “Wow, look how far I’ve healed!” and “Wow, so much more to go!”

Without further ado, the prose—the only written remnant I have for the singular most life-changing story I’ve experienced to date.

The dungeon was musty, damp

With straw and rats

One small window in the wall opposite the door

Too small, and out of my reach,

No hope of escape

A passerby’s foot could shut out near all light–

And there were passersby,

Just none that ever saw the window

Or even seemed aware that they walked so near a prison

despite the immensity of the building itself.

They had potatoes to chop

I dreamed of being seen by one—just one—passerby

Someone who would go speak to someone

who would let me out

before hunger and loneliness and insanity and torture began.

I was too young.

I heard human footsteps.

Not from the ground above where the passersby hurried to and from market

Potatoes to chop, parsley to sell;

But from within the prison itself

Past the other dungeons,

 slowing down,

 and,

 could it be,

stopping at mine.

Keys jingled, hushed

I could not clearly see who this was

or why the form seemed to wish itself disguised,

as though we were not already in a dungeon

musty and damp,

precious little light,

with straw and rats.

But the voice was human!

I relaxed.

Perhaps I would not be tortured

But yet, I might.

A hand reached out, friendly

Wary, I shrunk further

Even the rats seemed unsure

Then I saw his eyes

Seeing me, not as a fully clothed girl,

 Just the body beneath.

The hand twisted

And I saw at the last moment, this was no human hand!!

Fingers fashioned as if, no, these are,

The hot red prongs of the Devil’s pitchfork.

Eyes now saw

Not my clothes

Not my body

My very soul.

His intentions were for the very core of my being.

With a gentle swipe,

The Devil Prong Fingers ripped me open and I

Fell off my bench

Into the pile of

Straw and rats.

The ripping continued.

I would not survive this.

The Monster left.

I lay dying in my own blood

Gargling screams for help.

I could not arise.

Time passed and barely conscious,

I became aware of light

Not from the window.

But how?

The purest, the kindest light

I had ever imagined.

Angels.

My very own angels

To take me out.

As if nobody had ever locked my dungeon

As if nobody guarded the prison

With hushed voices and gentle touch,

These angels caused me to stand and I saw

Jesus.

Not distant

Not angry

His presence invited truth, so

I asked Him where He was when

Devil Prongs touched my body,

Ripped my soul

He cried.

He’d been crying the whole time

When all I was aware of was my dungeon

Musty, damp,

With straw and rats,

And my near-lifeless form flooding blood.

He held me, and cried, and promised to be a

Counselor to me.

I healed.

I, too, became a passerby of the prison

The Devil runs.

I had potatoes to chop when

I was sent back in

But Jesus went with me.

There was a prisoner I must speak to—

The Monster Human with Devil Pronged Fingers

I shrank back

He told me to forgive and

In a moment borne of soul honesty,

Not rebellion,

I told Jesus I don’t forgive monsters.

“He saw you not as human, but as an object of his darkness;

You see him not as human but as an object to be despised.

I died for no mere object, but for humanity.

When you see him as human, you will find it in your heart to forgive.”

See him, no longer a monster?

Jesus, You’ll have to help me with that.

The earth shook

My heart’s guards fell over as

Morning broke

And the tremendous stone

Got pushed aside.

From deep inside, Jesus Himself rose up,

Extended forgiveness

And peace fell.

But I have not forgotten

The Devil’s Prong-Fingers

Jesus,

Compassionate when I wondered where He’d been

The passersby

Too high, too distant

Blocking the light

What with those potatoes to chop

The blood gargling from my throat as I screamed

A muffled,

Dying

Scream

 for help.

The prison still stands.

The Devil still runs it.

The young are still tortured.

~ anonymous ~

***

 

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

NOTE OF UPDATE RE: RAPE VICTIM
The survivor of rape at the hands of three men is now focusing on counseling. I will meet with her before long for the first time, God willing, and look at what are the right ‘next steps’. Based on preliminary conversations, is likely that she will need a lawyer to help navigate the process. When and if that time comes, will do an update and give you opportunity to contribute to those costs. For now we have funds to pay for about 20 sessions of counseling. If more funds are needed on this front, I will post a request. Until then, thank you all! God bless you for entering into her story of healing!

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ONLY 1 MORE DAY TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to heal another layer, together.

NOTE: Anyone over 18 who sexually assaulted someone – whether child or other adult – is not welcome. This does not mean they are not forgiven if they have repented. It means victims should not fear being confronted with the source of their trauma on such a vulnerable day. Security guards will be present to remove any who show up and are identified as offenders by the victims.

Until August 1, 2019, registration for the day’s events includes lunch and attendance to the evening concert with Jason Gray, whose music had brought hope and healing to countless victims. Songs like “The Wound is Where the Light Gets In“, “A Way to See in the Dark“, Sparrows“, “Nothing is Wasted“, and many more speak a language we understand.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERINGRegistration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

EARLY CONCERT REGISTRATION FOR ALL SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE:
If you are a sex abuse survivor – Anabaptist or not – and are not a sex offender, who wishes to attend the ‘concert only’ portion of The Gathering, we will allow for early registration before tickets are released to the public, August 1, 2019. For link to register for the concert only, email AslanHasHeard@gmail.com. Subject line: “Concert link for survivors”.

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If you are able to contribute to Generations Unleashed and our work with and for victims, you may donate via PayPal or e-transfer to info@generationsunleashed.com. Or visit Generations Unleashed Donate.

© Trudy Metzger 2019