In Harold Herr’s own Voice… CAM/Life knew; Jeriah tells the Law & Repentance Pizza Party


During my time in Haiti I met with Harold Herr. I did not seek out this meeting, but was advised by several people to meet with “Grandpa Harold’ to talk about this case. I was completely disinterested. I do not know him. Nonetheless, after some nudging I agreed to have him answer what others could not. Who knew?

I sat with him and another gentleman and said, “I was told Paul Weaver knew. I was told Eli Weaver knew. And … I was also told that you knew.” To this he replied, “I’ll tell you exactly how it is…”

Rather than transcribe it, here I’ll let you listen for yourself:

Note: What is troubling is that some people will be more outraged that I recorded this information than they ever were or will be that Jeriah molested so many children. I know the drill.

EDIT: To avoid it being a distraction to readers, I will add this. I checked with a lawyer about Haiti law and if I am within legal boundaries here with this recording. I am. Had CAM told the truth, there would have been no need for sharing this.

***

It seems a follow up blog addressing some of the events of Jeriah Mast’s first three weeks back on USA soil would be appropriate. I’ve heard from numerous sources – both public and private – that I failed to present the full story. As I stated in my previous blog, there are things I cannot say, related to more crimes unrelated to Haiti. There is an investigation, and I will do my best to leave that to law enforcement.

Then there are things I chose not to say, simply to keep the focus on the case and the boys. Now, with word having reached nearly 50,000 people – plus the email copies that were made and sent via ‘mass email’ through CAM… well, who really knows how far it went – and given CAM feels I have not been forthcoming, I will tell some of those details. (Still excluding info regarding stateside crimes). It is my expectation that CAM will wish I did not know what I am about to tell you. Yet, you, the donors and fellow believers, deserve to know the other side of the story.

***

The following is what I wrote to law enforcement before posting the blog:

I am most interested that truth is told and that this will not be another case that slides under the proverbial rug. Having done my best to cooperate with the law, whether Jeriah gets jail time or not is not my problem. Whether the American (including Canada) church is informed or not is my duty, just as reporting to the law is.”

My personal thoughts are that a serial sex offender/pedophile/child molester who has duped the public for 20 years would do well to spend time in prison. We are not talking about a 14-year-old who has looked at a child and returned to plead forgiveness, unsolicited. We are talking about a man who has completely pulled the wool over the eyes of many, many people. With the help of leaders who reduced the crimes to ‘moral failings’, he was able to do this. Had they named it, he would never have gotten by with it. So, yes, prison is a reasonable outcome. But my responsibility is limited to reporting and giving information to the law. I have done that. As more reportable info comes in, I will continue to do just that.

***

I will now create a bit of a timeline, with less storytelling than the previous blog:

Friday May 3, 2019: Confronted by Pastor Eris:

Pastor Eris confronted Jeriah regarding allegations of molesting many Haitian boys. Initially Jeriah denies, but with enough pressure, he admits to the crimes.

(There is some discrepancy in reports. Some say Jeriah is immediately ‘let go’ (aka fired) from CAM. Others say this is not true. The only relevance to the case is that if they fired him, there was at least one person taking it serious… or at least trying to protect CAM).

May 3 to May 4, 2019: Jeriah Flees Haiti:

Realizing he is exposed, Jeriah takes his family in the middle of the night and flees to Dominican Republic, rather than flying out of Haiti. He has an accomplice for this, and takes a vehicle that is not his usual transportation.

May 11, 2019: Jeriah and Marian renew wedding vows:

Six days after fleeing Haiti for the crimes he committed, Jeriah and Marian renewed their vows. (This ‘ceremony’ to be somewhat known in Ohio, where I was only days ago). When I asked why, I was told because of his moral failings and unfaithfulness to her.

May 6 – May 21, 2019 (approximately and throughout):

Visits stateside victims:

Jeriah apologizes and learns that none are interested in pressing charges. This information is useful. He plans to turn himself in after these visits.

Connect with Amish Steering Committee (ASC) for help:

A ‘restoration plan’ is put in place including accountability and professional counseling.

Regarding ASC  & the “restoration plan” one of the family in Ohio says the following:

It is basically doing what the law would do, but it’s in a church setting, and it also includes professional counseling and all that.  Basically, it’s a Restoration Plan to bring restoration and healing to the situation… Through the ASC working with the law enforcement they have been able to keep these people from having to pay the consequences…” And, regarding the crimes they say, it’s definitely been an addiction. I think looking at it from that perspective helps everyone understand more how some of these things could happen.

Also during this time period, there was great enthusiasm and encouragement brewing that God would redeem this mess and that Jeriah would be used powerfully in men’s ministry after the “Restoration Plan”

Somewhere in these weeks, they also prayed daily for the victims. I am told the prayers were by name. I’ve been told that they maintain that all sins are equal, and that those talking are sinning.

And I’m told that Jeriah spent much time in prayer weeping. Good. But until we see repentance with fruit – and in this case it involves facing the people and the law where he committed his crimes, those tears don’t mean too much in the way of practical transformation.

May 22, 2019, Jeriah ‘turned himself in’ to law … with no intentions of admitting to crimes in Haiti:

To that end, the following details are critical when looking at the ‘turning himself in’ part of this story:

  • he intended only to report stateside crimes and tell the law the victims don’t want to press charges
  • he lined up Amish Steering Committee support and had a “Restoration Plan” to avoid consequences (Whether stated or not, those involved said they would request going to Whispering Hope or Fresh Start instead of prison)
  • was not going to talk about the Haiti crimes because CAM had a lawyer looking after that

That was the plan. But… alas…

Several people reported and made sure the FBI knew. (How the interview was scheduled I have not asked and do not know). But the FBI liaison was there for the interview, and what he was not planning to confess, ended up being confessed because it had already been reported.

This was followed by a pizza party to celebrate finding favour with the law. In attendance was CAM staff member Dwayne Stoltzfus and wife Lois.

Pictures of this event, I am told, are floating around USA… If you have photos, I’d welcome them as they would make a convincing addition to this blog post.

***

 That same day I reported to FBI everything I knew and had received from numerous sources; individuals who were concerned it would all be covered up again. This included missionaries, former CAM staff, and friends of Jeriah.

***

I have a very good friend who I learned early on is closely connected to the case. I told her two things:

1. I will do what is right, no matter how close this strikes. And I am so sorry if you get hurt in the process.

2. I will get information from other sources. It will come to me. And it did.

 

***

And, now, I am told, a public statement has been released by CAM… I will go and read that and possibly do an update after the fact, depending on how closely what is said there matches what I learned from Harold Herr.

I am interested in truth and justice, with mercy. In the face of lies, deception and coverup, not one of those can truly exist.

So let’s hope they’ve admitted they knew since 2012, that they did nothing for years, and only now that they are public exposed they finally are doing something. It isn’t good enough, for an organization to neglect crime so blatantly, but it is a starting point.

Until we get that level of truth, there’s nothing to work with.

To read part one: “Haiti Commissioner Order CAM to Appear in Court...”

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

 

Haiti Commissioner Orders Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) to appear in court with offender

Introduction:

June 6, 2019

The court hearing has come to a close. Le Commissaire (the commissioner) sits in the judge’s chair. The court summons sent weeks earlier, was signed by the Supreme Commissioner Me Jonas Bertrang, and Le Commissaire is here on his authority. Today he has the power to arrest and imprison.

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Le Commissaire speaks in (French/Creole), just as lawyers and witnesses have throughout. I do not understand either language and rely on interpreters. Le Commissaire has given CAM (Christian Aid Ministries) 15 days for their top officials to appear in court accompanied by Jeriah Mast, the sex offender, several interpreters tell me after court is dismissed. If they fail to do so, not only will they arrest a pastor who is present and hold him until they do so; they will also close doors to CAM in Haiti. Little do they realize that CAM is unlikely to be moved to action; it would have to be one of their own or one of Life Literature’s staff members for it to inspire action. Pastor has had no ties with CAM for years already.

Le Commissaire and legal representatives, alike, made it clear that failing to report crimes will not be tolerated; not even by an organization such as CAM. I find myself wishing I was hearing this in church.

The pastor they say they will imprison if CAM officials do not show up with Mast, has been placed in a holding cell, to the right of the courtroom, where he watches the proceedings. He bows his head, appearing to pray. The injustice is hard to stomach. While the offender rests and recovers on American soil, others pay the price. And those speaking out are already being judged as unforgiving gossips.

Pastor Brucely

Jeriah has admitted to the crimes, but only after first lying repeatedly when confronted by a pastor May 3, 2019. With enough pressure he has confessed that he has at least 30 victims.

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***

We, fellow Christians and fellow Anabaptists, alike, insist on transparency and honesty. For organization leaders to say “we knew, but didn’t know details” is not good enough. And if what these leaders did was so Christ-like, they should be ready to die for it and not avoid traveling to the countries where these crimes were committed.

Pedophiles and sex offenders, no matter how repentant, cannot and must not be left on missions. They must be reported. Under no circumstances will we look the other way, the lot of us who are rising up to bring to account the sex crimes, and the federal crimes committed in other countries by organizations looking the other was as something much akin to sex trafficking takes place in the guise of religious service. It is our duty to take a stand, and take a stand we will.

***

For me the story begins in Ontario Canada. Someone messages to say that a missionary has assaulted young boys. They are overwhelmed. The number, the offender admits are “too many to count”. Initially it is unclear if he came forward on his own, or if he was caught, but reports from within America’s Anabaptist community say he is broken and penitent. The few people who know offer him their support and prayer, grateful he is forthcoming. Fellow Christians are encouraged to be forgiving and not speak of the atrocities, now that they are repented of and forgiven. What few, if any, realize, is that the thirty victims to which he has confessed, is not representative of the true number. There are victims in numerous communities.

Initially, I am given no information. This appears at first to be a blessing. My intentions are to not get involved in the case. I am recovering from a spontaneous coronary artery dissection and minor heart attack, only weeks ago. Things remain relatively silent for a week, and I have no information to work with; nothing to provide leads. Not what mission organization. Not the name of the offender. Nothing.

Then, gradually, bits and pieces of the story appear in my inboxes and conversations trickle in. The name of family members. The state the offender lives. The organization. Like a puzzle in a box, as I look at the pieces, the details begin to shape into a coherent story. Still concerned about my health and suffering from fatigue, edema and other symptoms, I stand back.

Having been born into an Anabaptist family, and having worked for nearly ten years with Anabaptist victims of sexual violence, predominantly female victims of childhood sexual abuse, I am keenly aware of the crisis of epidemic proportions. As a donor many years ago, I am familiar with CAM Canada. I presume there is some connection between CAM USA and them, but don’t know the extent.

“I would hope they would do the right thing,” I tell someone. They are a massive organization. They know the law. You don’t get that far and that big through naivety. Besides, there’s enough conversations about sexual violence in our conservative Anabaptist culture that no one can easily claim innocence any longer.

I hope against hope that they will put out a public statement. I will give them two weeks from the time of his arrival in USA, I tell my informants, to do the right thing, and then I will do something if it appears the case will slip through the cracks. They have not given me enough details to report, but years of working with these crimes have taught me that lay members of the Anabaptist community are weary of these crimes; I will get the details sooner or later. Probably sooner.

As details of his time in USA trickle in from various sources – all of whom are forbidden to speak – I grow increasingly alarmed. He has spent two weeks in USA building a fortress that will serve him well, if law enforcement takes at face value, his repentance. His church and family have recruited the support of the Amish Steering Committee (ASC), a team of Amish men who come up with a Restoration Plan to be presented to law enforcement, to help Anabaptist sex offenders escape prison as consequences. A powerful committee, these men boast having had only 2 men sentenced to prison, of over 100 brought to them, in their two [edit: and a half] years since being implemented. People seem hopeful that the ASC will be able to keep this serial child molester out of prison.

Nearly twenty years of crimes, and this is the priority? My spirit grows restless.

***

A CAM leader, Dwayne Stoltzfus, who is also a leader at Mast’s home congregation, accompanies Mast to the police station. Nothing is heard of the victims, other than comments that CAM will reach out and help them; law enforcement likes to see that as part of a Restoration Plan. Word trickles out of Ohio stating that CAM has turned the case over to Mast’s church to handle, thus joining Pilate at the wash basin. This has been done before, when Life Literature staff, Harold Herr, was told of the crimes in 2012, four [EDIT: two] years after Mast was excommunicated from church in Haiti for molesting boys. [EDIT: The crimes were committed in 2008. Excommunication was 2010. Harold Herr was approached 2012 about crimes committed in 2011].

Stories surface stating there were more crimes in other countries, by other CAM staff members. Not all informants feel comfortable sharing names of alleged offenders, but some names and details by various informants begin to fill the gaps left by others. An orphanage. Three offenders.

These details, coming from unrelated sources, combined with CAM’s failure to address the current crimes publicly, compels me to speak out. Heart condition or no heart condition, I find myself committed. Some things, I have learned, are worth dying for. Giving voice to the victims of heinous crimes is one of those things.

We, the Western church, and more importantly to this case, the Anabaptist church, must learn from these tragedies to better screen our missionaries, to take seriously allegations against potential missionaries, and to respond more adequately when we fail. Victims should not bear the weight of crimes committed against them. Crimes, committed in the guise of presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ; that same Christ would unequivocally condemn such actions.

To learn from these tragedies, the darkness must be brought to light. And to do so, we must speak.

***

A former CAM staff member contacted me and asked if I would consider going to Haiti if CAM were to agree to fund such a trip. Sadly, I responded, I cannot align with their handling of things, and would not accept their funding. If I would go, it would need to be completely apart from their involvement. I remember well other cases of exposing crimes and how it worked out attempting to work in partnership. I would be willing to go, but it would have to be without CAM’s involvement.

The idea took root but, practically speaking, it was not feasible. I am still recovering from the heart attack, albeit steadily improving. I have many other commitments as a mother. I’m a PhD student and have ongoing medical testing, not to mention the financial commitment. However, as the time of the Haiti court case drew near, and I learned it was unlikely that CAM would appear as summoned, nor had they reached out to victims, I felt compelled to respond to the question, “Would you go…?”

Wednesday morning, June 4, I posted a status on Facebook, asking my friends – most of who remain conservative Anabaptists – if they would consider funding a flight for me to meet with numerous survivors of sexual violence at the hands of one of our own. Response was slow, and I understood that. I couldn’t offer any public information about the case, the organization, or the country. At 5pm we had almost enough for a one-way ticket to Haiti. The phone rang. A gentleman asked what we had raised and what we still need. “I’ll give $500,” he offered.

With that, I booked a one-way ticket to Haiti, trusting the remaining funds would come in. On Facebook, I offered an update. More friends responded. I decided to do a countdown, “.. now only need $375 … now $300…. ” and within minutes we had the funds. It was surreal.

***

June 5, 2019

The air is heavy, much like my heart, and surely the hearts of those we are about to meet; Haitian victims of an American missionary. I have come to Haiti to hear them; to give life and voice to their stories. This is more than a federal and international crime investigation for the Haitian government and FBI. It is that. And necessarily so. But it is more.

This is about lives, shattered and broken. Their stories matter. They matter. I have committed to do everything within my power to let them know this. My comfort is of little interest to me in the process. Truth must be told.

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Apart from several chairs and an old bench, and a few bags, the room is empty. Here we seat ourselves for the interviews. With the help of my interpreter, I introduce myself and explain why I’ve come. I have heard of the terrible tragedy Haiti communities have suffered at the hands of a professing Christian from my culture. I tell them how sorry I am, and that I am offering to hear their stories and share them with Christians in USA and Canada. They are under no obligation to speak if they would rather not.

Almost immediately they say they would like to tell their stories. I explain that we will do this with one victim at a time rather than as a group, with none sitting in as the other shares. Each tells their story. And to each I express my sorrow at their suffering and apologize to them for the crimes committed in God’s name. I remind them that they are worth so much more, that God loves them, and that there are people back home who care and are not going to look the other way. I promise to do my best to have the stories heard and used in a way to influence accountability and deep and lasting change.

They tell of all the lost. They tell of his crimes; how he manipulated and accessed them at sleepovers. His ‘Modus Operandi’ matches what I’ve heard in other testimonials from other communities. It is compelling. But it would be in any case. Their eyes. The grief and sorrow. The mother whose son told her and was spared further assaults. Other boys who did not speak, and endured years of abuse.

A Haitian gentleman who has filled the role of mentor and father shares briefly what it has been like for the community and for the boys. It has brought deep, deep shame, he tells me. The boys are called “Madanm Jeriah” whenever they walk the streets and are mocked for being ‘gay’ because of the abuse they suffered at the hands of a male. They were not able to attend school without being bullied, and they cannot find work because of the shame. They have no place in the community.

The mother speaks. She is angry, she tells me. Angry that her only child, is paying this high price for the crimes of a missionary. Angry that her survival depended on CAM’s support, and that she had to choose between silence about the crimes to survive, and her son’s wellbeing. Angry that CAM knew [edit: knew that Jeriah was a molester] and did nothing. She tells me how, in his hardest struggles, she couldn’t manage and had to reach out to the mentor gentleman.

I hear her anger, but I feel her broken heart. I tell her how fortunate her son is to have her. Fortunate that someone cares about his suffering and about him. He nods. The two share a bond in suffering, but it is more than that. I tell her, too, how very sorry I am.

I ask them if they have a message for the churches in USA and Canada. They plead for churches and organizations to screen people properly and not send child molesters. At one point a young man makes a comment that it seems like all missionary men are homosexuals. (Their word for molesting boys is the same as the word for homosexual). I don’t blame them for feeling that way. Even as we speak a missionary gentleman they trust is translating, so I know that isn’t how it really is, but they don’t need to hear that right now. It seems too often that is the story that plays out.

“If you could send a message to Jeriah Mast, what would you say to him?” I ask.

Most ask for Jeriah to really repent and come back to face the crimes he committed against them, in their country. They ask him to stop thinking about himself and start thinking about them and the harm he has done to them, if he is truly repentant. All ask him for restitution. They have lost all standing in the community and any hope of thriving as homosexuals. (Again, they are sexual assault victims, not homosexuals).

At one point in the interview, “You Raise Me Up” by Josh Groban, plays loudly. A young Haitian girl’s voice joins in. The laundry on the wash line moves gently in the breeze. The sweltering heat has become almost unbearable, and my head ache is getting worse.

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I ask permission to take photos, and they grant it, on the condition that I will not post them. I may post pictures of the empty room and those without people. They feel vulnerable. I make a promise.

Will I come back, they ask. I hope so. I truly hope so. Silently I pray. I ask God for health and life, and the opportunity to return, even as I feel the strain of the heat on my heart and observe the swelling it has caused in just a few hours. I will do everything I can, I say again. There are many things I cannot do, certainly not alone, but I can remind America that this is about victims, not about silencing crimes and protecting offenders from consequences. I can keep fighting for victims, and particularly for them. I can keep holding toes to the fire and press for accountability and insist that our religious communities stop looking the other way.

I thank them for being so gracious and sharing such vulnerable stories. They thank me for coming and giving them permission to speak the unspeakable.

We step outside. Here, a handful of children and youth gather around. A few linger, curious why this stranger has come.

The wash is off the line now. A lonely bird sings.

We are wrapping up our time in this community. Even as we do, I feel my heart wrapping around the community. A part of me is staying, right here. I will never forget these young men, this mama, and the gentleman who has fought for these boys.

***

Would to God that my culture, the conservative Anabaptists, could begin to grasp what we, collectively, have done to these children. Through sending pedophiles as missionaries, knowing they abused children. Through silence. Through looking away when the shame of their sin was more than we could bear. Through shaming those who speak out. Through perverting forgiveness to mean we dare not tell truth. To make any claims at all that Jesus would respond in kind. He would not.

The Bible is chuck full of bad stories that would have remained untold if such a God existed at all, and such a Gospel had even a sprinkling of truth to it. If such a Jesus had ever walked among us. Because that Jesus called for truth. He ripped the cover off the nest of vipers oppressing and subjecting the people to their own power. He flipped tables. He spoke with healing and gentleness to the broken-hearted. And never did he favour religious oppressors over the wellbeing of the wounded.

His Gospel… that’s what we need here. The Good News of Salvation that cries for truth, invites it… yes, even demands it, for the Gospel to be real at all.

That’s my Jesus. That’s the Gospel. Any other should never be spoken, and certainly not imposed on the wounded. And most definitely not taken to an impoverished people who rely on us for sustenance, so that we can take advantage of them.

***

JUNE 6, 2019

Outside the courthouse, prior to the hearing, the handful of victims pressing charges have initially declined to comment or have their photos taken. The lawyer forbids taking photos, saying is not permissible. I respect their decision. Instead, Pastor Blakely and I engage in conversation and he shares his story. He has been summoned to stand trial for knowing many years of Mr. Mast’s crimes against their children of Haiti and not reporting these horrific crimes. As a pastor, he says, he did the only thing he understood to do, and that was to excommunicate Mr. Mast and turn him over to CAM. If he could do it over with the knowledge he has today, he states, he would report Mr. Mast and support the families of victims in reporting. He grants permission to take a photo, and use it as needed to help them seek justice and acknowledgment of suffering.

My interest in the case is to give victims opportunity to share their stories, I explain, and hold churches and organizations accountable so that these crimes are not taken lightly. I do not wish to harm anyone, including CAM and Jeriah Mast, but assure the I will stop at nothing within my means to bring truth to light and have victims voices heard. I express concern that CAM did not immediately report Mast, and notify the public, their donors and all families and communities with whom Mast had contact. I also extend an apology, as a Christian and fellow Caucasian, for their ongoing failure to release a public statement condemning the actions and apologizing for their failure to respond adequately years ago when the crimes first became known. What has been done is very wrong, and hopefully accountability will ensure better protocol for screening missionaries, thus protecting children from such horrific crimes. Pastor Brucely expresses his appreciation.

***

Mast’s crimes did not begin in Haiti, though details of former crimes on US soil remain a closely guarded secret [edit: as far as the public is concerned. The law is aware. Hence my reticence to address them before charges are laid]. Mast’s church leaders – of whom Mast’s father is bishop – knew of crimes [edit: though not called crimes] many years ago, and still sent him as a missionary in Haiti, giving him access to many, many victims without accountability. When it was discovered he committed more sex crimes in Haiti, he was sent home and the community was informed there had been moral failure. Being allowed to return, they assumed it was likely porn; other missionaries had been sent home permanently for porn use. Never did they imagine that Mast, who was their friend and fellow missionary, was so skilled that even those closest to him did not see the signs. Having repented, Mast was allowed to return and continue his crimes, unchecked.

One community member told me of 25 victims in 3 communities. But the count is much higher, in numerous other communities. Mr. Mast allegedly admitted to 30, after initially denying the allegations when questioned by a pastor on Friday, May 3 2019. Within hours of learning that he was exposed, Mast packed up his family and fled to USA via Dominican Republic , leaving pastors and other staff members to face the consequences of his crimes.

According to some Haitians, Mast is a talented speaker who preached a fine message; he was as skilled at maneuvering and accessing victims. His position within CAM required him to visit many communities.  While some Haitians knew or suspected the crimes were taking place, they held little power to do anything, as they rely heavily on CAM for basic provision, and lacked the corporate and financial backing the CAM provides. An impoverished people are no match for such a massive organization (approximately  EDIT: $150m $130 budget). It wasn’t until a handful of courageous young men came forward with a lawsuit that there was any hope of the crimes coming to an end, victims’ voices being heard, or there being any semblance of justice in this case.

As people seek to come to terms with the news, in Haiti and across the world, the list of Haitian communities impacted by Mast’s crimes continues to grow. Missionaries who condemn Mast’s actions are concerned at CAM’s lack of response and have reached out to various communities. Testimonials from other communities confirmed that the Ti Goave was only one of many impacted.

Mast befriended young boys, mentored them and scheduled sleepovers, giving him access. The details of acts committed, were similar, with slight variation from community to community, case to case, but similar basic MO. Mast carried with him a bottle of oil for the purpose of the assaults. He went under the guise of loving children and mentoring boys. He offered some gifts and cash, thus using their poverty against them.

Mr. Mast has repented numerous times for ‘moral failure’, offering a vague statement leading those nearest him under the impression that he struggles with pornography, or some personal sexual struggle. Nearly all are shocked to discover that he has, in fact, sexually assaulted so many children or the course of almost 20 years, that no one is quite sure how many there are. That shock intensifies at the discovery that leaders knew and did not send him home or warn the public.

Yet more shocking to some, is the discovery that Mr. Mast used bribes to silence some of his victims. Others say they heard unconfirmed rumours prior to victims coming forward.  An attempted rape of one young man, sources say, resulted in Mr. Mast paying to build a house to silence him. (To this I ask, how did no one get suspicious of this type of ‘generosity’?) That gentleman’s brother also received a house. His story, for the most part, remains untold. A mother, whose son was assaulted, received a plot of land, but the deed was never given to her. And another young man was given money which was used to by a motorbike. And now, Haitians say that CAM’s lawyer has offered hush money, and even pressured victims to meet up for the purpose of silencing them.

After the court hearing it is announced that CAM’s lawyer and the victims’ lawyer have reached a tentative agreement. All that is needed is for CAM officials to sign off.

This is legal ‘hush money’, but hardly becoming of a transparent organization seeking to represent Jesus. Going to court against brother is forbidden, but paying off the victimized … I’ll leave that there. Again, if what was done by the organization is Christlike, there ought to be no need to pay off these victims to silence them. To help them, sure, but silence them? Never!

***

Now, sitting in court, I look at the pastor, behind bars. He has been temporarily arrested during the proceedings. He granted me permission to take photos of him and use them as needed. His trust is an honour, as they are in the thick of addressing trauma inflicted by my culture; my people. I promise to use them only to create awareness, help the victims, and ensure their story is told. I will not exploit them.

Prior to the hearing my interpreter has asked the Commissioner’s secretary permission to audio record, no video, and take photos. Permission is granted.

Much of the hearing is in French, some in Creole. I understand little, but several interpreters give me updates. I have read the boys’ testimonies, translated into English by several people, to cross reference and compare for accuracy, so while I do not understand, I know their stories.

***

Le Commissaire speaks in (French/Creole), giving CAM (Christian Aid Ministries) 15 days for their top officials to appear in court accompanied by Jeriah Mast, the sex offender, several interpreters tell me after court is dismissed. Mast has admitted guilt, albeit after lying repeatedly until backed in a corner.  If they fail to do so, not only will they arrest a pastor who is present and hold him until they do so; they will also close doors to CAM in Haiti.

Le Commissaire and legal representatives, alike, have made it clear that failing to report crimes will not be tolerated; not even by an organization such as CAM.

That, frankly, is how it should be. However, it should be the church rising up to say it, rather than the law.

***

NOTE: I have documentation of court records, as well as evidence that certain CAM leaders, Life Literature, and other individuals were aware of these crimes. I forwarded all information I have to FBI. I have also informed the FBI liaison of my intentions to write and expose what I learned in Haiti. There are many details I know about the USA side of happenings that I have chosen not to include here. This is to avoid interfering with the FBI investigation. What I have shared here is public knowledge in Haiti, and I was grated permission to share, by victims and their lawyer. Following translation of the victim testimonies I collected, I intend to post them here at a later time.

 

Love,
~ T ~

 

PS. To the best of my ability, I have portrayed truth. There is more information that I am not free to share. I have documents, recordings, and photos to support what I have exposed here. The following is one of the numerous messages I received from Haiti affirming the accuracy of the above information.

Female sexuality, after sexual abuse, in conservative Christian context (Let’s talk sex: Part 2)

WARNING: Content in this blog may be triggering. It will be considered sexually explicit and offensive to some readers. Others – namely the little children who have suffered the things addressed here and have lived with the consequences addressed here – will consider it a breath of fresh air. For me, it is about ‘truth telling’. Jesus said, “the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Until we dare to discuss the truth surrounding sexual abuse, in all its horrible and explicit reality (albeit without titillating the audience), we will not find that freedom. We must address the truth of it. We owe it to the children of past generations, whose blood cries from the ground. And we owe it to the children of the next generation, whose freedom and protection we seek.

I’ve said it before, and will say it again, if the children are forced to live through these things ‘among us’, we better have the stomach to read and discuss it. When you read and are tempted to judge as pornographic or explicit, remember that, somewhere right now, it is highly likely that a little child lives this life. I will say again, if a toddler has to live it, we better grow the stomach and sense of holiness to be able to address it without going into perversion.

“To the pure or heart and mind all things are pure – (so you should be able to read this with a pure mind) – but to those who entertain and walk in corruption, nothing is pure”. (Titus 1:15, slightly paraphrased for clarity)

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After committing to writing about female sexuality (and note that I am doing so in conservative Christian context so this has nothing to do with being politically correct), I sat back and wondered what I’ve gotten myself into. Since when do conservative Christian women talk openly about their sexuality? However, having made some broad statements in my recent blog “Sex-crazed men? Frigid women? (Let’s talk sex: Part 1)” about female sexuality, without addressing it more in-depth, including addressing the exceptions, this one is necessary. Furthermore, the epidemic of sexual violence in our culture demands conversation. Without knowledge the people are led to destruction. And our silence on this front has surely validated that biblical principle.

Women are ‘beautifully sexual’ creatures. God made us that way. He didn’t hide in shame when He was finished, and with half an apology present her to her husband. He didn’t tell Adam not to enjoy her beauty. He didn’t tell her she is a whore if she desires sex, or that she’s there to serve her husband’s every demand. He didn’t respond negatively at all. He didn’t say, “Sorry that every man after you will lust uncontrollably after every woman conceived. It’s the women’s fault. And you men are fresh out of luck, victims of fate.”

In fact, He said it was very good when He created Adam and Eve. He presented her with delight. He knew what lay ahead. He knew The Fall was coming. He knew the struggle that lay ahead. And He still said, “it is very good” of His beautiful creation, and declared her to be created in His own image and likeness. Not in the image and likeness of Adam. Not a second-rate afterthought. But a creation made to represent and reflect something of Himself to the world. Sexual creatures… females… made in the image of God. Truth, spoken by God. Truth we have resisted to our own demise.

Yes, as sexual creatures, He spoke blessing over us. And, what’s more, He added ‘fun parts’ and feelings that serve absolutely no other purpose than to bring sexual pleasure to the woman. No female needs an orgasm for procreation, nor does she need to experience pleasure to ‘be fruitful and multiply’. He could have made humans so that males orgasm and females experience nothing. He didn’t. Those fun parts – ie; the clitoris and (for some) pleasure from nipple or vaginal stimulation, tells us that He intended sex to be a delightful encounter. It tells us that this is good. It isn’t shameful! It is delightful!

With rates of abuse as high as they are, many women struggle with seeing their sexuality as ‘good’, and are not able to ‘get into it’. Many have no desire for sexual intimacy.[1] It is not always due to abuse, but often.  If this is you, there is nothing wrong with you. In either case, you do not need to accept it as a ‘life sentence’ without trying to heal. I cannot promise you healing. I wish I could. But I would encourage reaching out to a medical doctor or a professional if you are struggling.

The other part of this is the warped portrayal of sex pretty much everywhere you go. In the media it is presented as this explosive thrill that rocks your world. Every time. Sex is this crazy amazing out of this world experience. Every time. Truth is, sometimes it can be. But realistically, it isn’t always. And in any case it shouldn’t boil down to that. There is a bonding and an intimacy in sex that goes beyond the orgasm. The orgasm can be part of that but it is not the epitome of it, and the closeness can exist without climax. There are women who have never experienced that climax, despite every effort on her husband’s part, and whose fulfillment must come from other intimacy.[2]

The loving husband will patiently work with his wife, consider her needs, slow his pace, listen to her share her day and her heart (some need their ‘list cleared’, before they can enter in), and he will seek to meet her needs first. It has been said men are like microwaves and women are like crockpots. All I can say, men, is if you tend well and lovingly to your wife’s needs, both of your hearts will find a safe place. No one likes to feel sexually used. And it is easy to feel that way, especially for those who have been abused and have to process flashbacks, sometimes in the middle of intimacy.

Along with this possible repulsion for sex due to past abuse, there is the lack of good teaching regarding sex, and plenty of shaming. “She’s boy-crazy”… “she always has to have a boy’s attention”… “She’s so desperate she’s always chasing after anything in pants”… etc.  Crushes are a normal part of life. Guidance is important, but the shaming that goes on in religious cultures about interest between sexes is causing unbelievable struggle and destruction.[3] Then, having been shamed about sex her whole developing years, she gets married and, “Voila!” now you must have sex. Whoa… back up a bit. That thing that defines you as a whore and a slut just for desiring relationship, you now must perform, on command? How does that shift even happen? And we wonder why so many of our marriages are ‘divorced’ at heart? This is one reason. Not the only one, but one. She feels like his prostitute, not his bride, if he enters marriage with that mindset.[4]  When women enter marriage already having been abused and having a very warped sense of their own sexuality, when they land with men who have no desire to understand their needs – not only in bed, but certainly there too – things deteriorate quickly. He demands sex, she hates it… What can possibly go well from there on out?

That said, not all abuse victims of sexual abuse dislike sex. On the contrary, many crave it and struggle with addictions to it. (This is true for both males and females, but we’re going to focus only on females). While repulsion for and disinterest in sex may not show up until marriage – though in some cases it does — for some addictions begin at a very young age in various forms, and progress with age, access and exposure.. This is common in the little girl who has been sexually stimulated since two… four… six – pick your number – and where this abuser has used coercive means and by pleasuring versus violence. He/she introduces the little girl to sexual pleasure, desire and bonding. She has been sexually awakened and trained to desire sex.

And before you conclude that the undeveloped girl can’t orgasm or experience sexual arousal, think again. In conversations – whether formal or informal sessions – women have reported sexual stimulation and orgasm at various ages, with some saying they experienced them ‘as far back as I remember’. Process that for a moment. An innocent little preschool girl experiencing orgasms and/or sexual arousal and desire due to sexual abuse, never having known any other life. And this continues for many years for some victims as a father, an uncle, an aunt or, most commonly, in cases I’ve encountered, an older brother abuses her. (I will use the older brother scenario to make the remaining of my points, to make it less cumbersome, even while any other person can be the abuser).

It is critical to know that the little girl should carry no shame! She has no understanding of what is being done to her. And it is just as important to note that her body responds precisely as God created it to. The fault of that awakening lands squarely on the shoulders of the abuser for the rest of her life and struggle.

Both God and science tell us that the hormonal response to sexual stimulation is a combination of pleasure and bonding, and establishes a desire for more. Starting at a young age with this pleasure, a little girl will quite likely become addicted to sex. Before she is old enough to understand any of it, she will pursue more interactions with her abuser and even initiate what he or she started against her. In her teens, she will quite possibly be promiscuous. And the more she is shamed, the more she will reach for affirmation in the one way she can get it.

As ‘church’, we have done a dreadful job of responding to this. First, we’ve downplayed abuse without ever daring to look this closely at what is happening to the victim, sexually. We’ve accepted a quick “I’m sorry” from the offender, and then judged the girl for her promiscuity, sexual addictions and inability to mature spiritually and respect herself. She is dubbed a slut, a whore, a shame to the family and community, all while the offender preaches on Sunday morning, leads Sunday School, serves as Youth leader… You get the picture. And we’ve judged those who dare to talk this bluntly about sexuality and sexual abuse. (For example, supposedly I’m sick and perverted for talking about sex so bluntly, and it is pornographic! And now I’m talking about children having orgasms! Bring out the gallows.)

To this I say, again, “Grow up!” If I a child is forced to live with this reality, so help us God if we cannot be mature enough and pure enough of heart and mind, to face the hard reality of a child’s story. Shame on us! How can we be so selfish as to think they must live with what we cannot handle hearing? If that somehow turns you on sexually, deal with it. Master your sexual responses, and if you can’t, get some counselling or help to deal with your heart. The Bible is clear, “To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt nothing is pure” (Titus 1:15). If you are pure of heart and mind, you will be able to discuss this tragic epidemic without pushing some corrupt label on the victims and their advocates speaking out.

When she is a teenager, and that older brother gets married, this little girl will quite possibly grieve, become angry and depressed, and turn to other sources for sexual fulfillment, or alternatively to self harm. And then she will be told she is just looking for attention. You think? A child with no understanding of sex and relationship, just wanting attention because her one source of connection has abandoned her? All those years she has had sexual relations, now suddenly she is abandoned, rejected and unfulfilled. She must now compete with her sister-in-law, and clearly she has lost. If she has a younger brother, she may well turn to him. All of this can happen before she has even reached puberty.

Masturbation will be another outlet for her sexual energy and awakening, or pornography. Or both. (It is important to note that many women who were not molested also masturbate. The notion that it is something only males do, and only the troubled ones, is nonsense. It is a common human struggle). Some will argue masturbation is good for you, others will condemn those who engage in it. (And many will respond much more harshly to this than to sexual abuse!) I’m particularly disinterested in making a judgement call either way as to how sinful it is, or is not, in this blog.

God is gracious and kind. He understands humanity and struggle. And He specifically addresses in Hosea that He will not judge the daughters who commit adultery and turn to prostitution because men have been using them (Hosea 4:14). God doesn’t change. That, alone, tells me that the church (broadly) is failing terribly at dealing with abuse, and the various forms of aftermath, in ways that don’t reflect the heart of God. We have it backwards. We give that grace to those God holds accountable, and condemning those who are stripped. This is not of God.

If God doesn’t, why would I? So if you take issue with that, take it up with Him for influencing me that way. Furthermore, I have walked so closely with so many struggling conservative Mennonite/Amish Christians, that any illusion of slapping on quick judgement and punishing them to solve the problem is long gone. Patiently leading them back to the love of Jesus, to His grace… that’s been effective. Encouraging them to skip ‘living in shame’ and moving immediately to repentance with every sin they commit, but not dwelling there and instead shifting to what Jesus did on the cross, that has been effective. Encouraging them to invest no time in ‘trying to overcome’, because the whole time we spend trying to overcome is time spent focusing on that thing. And the more we dwell on it, the more power it has over us. Instead, investing energy in relationship with God, thanking Him for His grace and kindness, that has been effective.[5]

It doesn’t cheapen grace. It doesn’t cheapen the cross. It shifts the focus away from ‘me and my struggle’ to God and His goodness. Away from me and my failure or imperfection to God’s incredible love for me, and the value I hold in His heart. And that is one way that inner need is met. One way that healing comes to broken places. And that restored identity and healing helps in overcoming sexual addictions.

So, no, I’m not interested in passing judgement on the victim of abuse who masturbates and struggles sexually. What I am interested in addressing is the practical outcome of any sexual addiction. When masturbation (or any other sexual activity) becomes an addiction, it will rob you. Married women (and men, but we’re talking about women here) have shared that they struggle to engage in sex with their spouse, because “it just doesn’t work”. They are so programmed for masturbation that they instinctively turn there for release, and are not easily aroused by their spouse. Or they may be aroused, but their body is conditioned for masturbation. They don’t want it to be that way, but it is their reality. And the marriage slowly – or not so slowly – disintegrates if they don’t invest deeply in understanding and overcoming these addictions.

Sex bonds people. That’s a fact. Masturbation robs a marriage of that bond. It is hard work to move past those addictions, but it can be done. And it is worth it.

These addictions can play out within the marriage as well. We hear a lot about sex-addicted men, demanding sex from their wives, but we hear little about the wives being addicted to sex. It happens. Again, I have no stats to support the prevalence, nor is that my goal. What I have is the stories of couples who have fought through that struggle. The husband may simply have a lower libido, or maybe he was abused and responded by being repulsed by sex. Or maybe he has a healthy sex-drive but simply cannot keep up with his wife’s constant need for sex. Again, remember that the woman who has been used sexually for years by multiple people has been conditioned for constant sexual activity. One man cannot keep up to the energy of two.. four or more men and women who may have stimulated her as a child.

This results in feelings of frustration and inadequacy in the husband, or even resentment. He may find her sex drive repulsive and frustrating. He may internalize and conclude he is not man enough, that there is something wrong with him. Or he may start using her aggressively and raping her, calling her perverse names and mistreating her, or judging her harshly in other ways. All of these responses are unhealthy. And I have encountered all of them.

But there is the alternative. The man who gently works with his wife, entering into her struggle with compassion, will bring healing and invite trust. This man is confident and secure in his identity. He does not neglect her needs, but also does not internalize her struggle as his fault. He does not label her, or view her with repulsion. Rather, he cares for her in that struggle and values who she is, and cares for the little girl she was in a way no one has before. It takes teamwork, and she does need to be willing to learn to trust, however slowly.

Women who are sexually addicted because of sexual abuse tend to expect their spouse to perform sexually at levels that are simply not realistic. They are looking to have something filled by sex, a need met, that is connected to their core identity as a victim of abuse. Survivors of abuse function out of that need on many levels, looking for affirmation. And sex cannot meet that need. Only healing from the abuse and the love of Jesus can meet that need.

Sexual frigidity due to sexual abuse and ‘zoning out’ (disassociating) with no resistance or interest, is common. Women do this to avoid the trauma and reminder of the abuse… avoiding flashbacks, memories and the ‘grossness’ of those traumas. There is no expectation of affirmation from the experience of sexual intimacy, no expectation of bonding, and not necessarily any open repulsion. She may be happy to snuggle – or not, as the case may be, and may even want babies, but sex as an act of intimacy is of no interest. She may (and many do) give the husband permission to ‘do what you need to do and be done’, but when it is over they don’t really know what happened.

Overcoming this takes patience on the husband’s part. The temptation will be to internalize her lack of interest in sex as rejection of him, personally and sexually as a man. Don’t give in to that. And wives, be careful not to transfer negative feelings about sex based on past trauma onto your spouse’s sexuality. This is true for men too; guard your tongue when tempted to blurt out a negative comment about your wife’s sexuality. Of the many things marriages struggle to recover from, this is one of the hardest. Negative comments about the other person’s sexuality are deadly and strike at a very core part of our identity as humans.

There are professionals who are willing to help, willing to work with you. There are people who understand. Find someone, and work through it. There is hope. Yes, it is usually a financial investment, but it is worth it if it’s what saves your sanity, your marriage, and your relationships. Everyone has expenses — all ministries, families, people have bills to pay — so expect to have costs associated. A coffee a day for two people (at Tim Horton’s, Xlg) is $4.00. That’s $20 a week. That’s $80 a month. Add junk food. (I admit, I don’t go for coffee even once a month, so this isn’t going to be everyone’s reality. But it’s amazing where you can find money for what really matters, when you’re desperate for help. We know from experience).

So start tracking where you spend money that you could put toward what really matters. And if you don’t have places you can adjust, reach out to local churches to sponsor your sessions. Many are willing to support even those who don’t attend their congregation. Be proactive and fight for your freedom.

The topic of sexuality and the aftermath of abuse is somewhat endless. This is a synopsis of what could be a whole book. (A book that I have on hold since starting university, but is near completion). For now, I hope this helps some of you struggling with these things. You are normal. You’re not crazy. There is hope. Reach out. Fight forward.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

***

Footnotes are below, but first… we have a free seminar starting tomorrow night in Newburg PA. If you wish to donate towards the event and support the work of Generations Unleashed and Trudy Metzger’s travels/teaching, you may do so at:
http://www.generationsunleashed.com/donate

Here is the poster:

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 11.39.01 PM

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Footnotes:

[1] This blog focuses on women, but the impact of sexual abuse on sexual desire affects both male and female. There are similarities and differences, from what I’ve observed. But I am not male, and my work with male victims is still but a fraction of my work with females. I am hoping a male survivor will write a blog addressing this… but am still waiting to hear back.

[2] Some women who have been abused cannot climax or even enter into sexual intimacy. When this is due to the terror of being used and overpowered, being the one to initiate intimacy can help some women overcome this terror. When she were abused, the aggressor disregarded her safety and overpowered her. It works for some to reclaim this through working patiently with her spouse to initiate intimacy, and engaging her when he initiates. Rather than reaching over and touching, if she guides his hands there is safety. This is not a quick fix for everyone. It is one of numerous things a couple can do, practically, to reclaim what has been stolen. Husband, hold your wife tenderly without sex when she is afraid. Hold her when she cries if that is what she needs; ask first.  And know that those tears are common; though most of us hide them as long as we can. (It’s not your fault, unless you wounded her, which is a separate discussion). As you seek to enter in and be there for her, be mindful of things that will make her feel overpowered and invaded. Move compassionately and with her permission. She had no one to protect her when she was abused and raped. To enter into the trauma and emotion of that space, requires deep trust and risk on her part; you need her permission.

Wives, I speak as one who had to walk these steps at various times. I get some of your struggle to an extent. I learned to heal. Then I reverted back to old fears at times. But I overcame. And I’ve advised couples to try these steps over the years. It has been effective for some, though not all. I entered marriage without that fear of Tim and sexual intimacy. But I faced various forms of it later in life when flashbacks started and left me feeling like a whore. I felt ugly, ashamed, guilty. I desired intimacy but feared rejection and at times hated myself. Overcoming this took patience and courage. It’s worth it. That’s all I’ve got to say about that. Don’t give up on your intimate relationship easily.

[3] A few things in our conservative culture –and note that I say in our culture, which I draw from their own admissions, and I am not speaking broadly of society –are profoundly linked to homosexuality. This shaming is one. Sexual abuse is another. Oppression of women is another; to be valued you have to be male/masculine. And all the shaming/condemning of femininity and beauty is another.

[4] Many men are gentlemen. I tend to still believe the scales tip heavily in favour of honourable men who treat their wives well in bed. I pray and hope I am right. These men deserve respect, yet they don’t demand it. Their wives are safe emotionally, sexually, physically and spiritually.

[5] This paragraph on addictions also applies to men. It doesn’t mean there will suddenly be no struggle. But there is growth and there is empowerment to overcome. And moving quickly to focusing on God, rather than our wrongs is incredibly important. However, if those wrongs include violating another person, there is an addition step. And that step is facing consequences. If a crime has been committed it must be reported without self-preservation. This frees the victim from false guilt and blame, and helps the person who offended see the gravity of what he/she has done.

NOTE:

Thank you to all who sent in thoughts and questions that helped shape this blog.

If you have questions, feel free to email: trudy@generationsunleashed.com. I am back in university, traveling for speaking, and still going through post-heart attack and other medical issues, so my response time is not as quick as I would like it to be. But I try not to let any fall through the cracks. I will respond as I’m able.

What about the “victim mentality”?

The term ‘victim mentality’ is one I don’t use, because I have found the true ‘victim mentality’ is an incredibly rare phenomenon. I would dare to say that what we often call victim mentality is the aftermath of dreadfully under-acknowledged terror and trauma, rather than some notion of ‘wanting to stay there’. (More on what drives this being stuck in trauma later). In 9 years of interacting closely with them, I have watched most victims of abuse move ‘beyond survivor’ to truly thriving, with few exceptions. This includes those who were my clients, and many who were not my clients but stayed in close contact as they worked through their stories with other mentors and counsellors.

At least a percentage of these individuals would have been classed as having a ‘victim mentality’. Always needing sympathy or affirmation — or both — and seeming to feel ‘poor me’ at every turn with everyone around them always being out to do them harm, no one ever understanding them, and ever being on the fringe of an emotional crash (including threat of suicide etc).

Along with this there was, for some, the need to have somewhere between 6 and 8 people at any given moment whom they would hold on emotional string, as I call it, that they could yank at any moment to have people running from every direction to ‘save them’ from themselves. This is exhausting for everyone.

Sometimes we call it ‘victim mentality’ because we are tired, so that we can remove ourselves from the suffering, which is not productive. It is a sign of deep wounds that need healing. And those who have no concept of offering healthy support, make things worse by accommodating every yank of the string. And yet, ignoring them is not the answer; these victims do need support.

What has happened is that their boundaries have been brutally violated in the same act that left these victims of abuse so emotionally/psychologically, sexually, spiritually and often physically devastated. They, therefore, do not know how to respect healthy boundaries, and when their pain surfaces, for many the only survival skill they have is drawing emotionally from others.

We judge them for it, when the reality is that their suffering has never been acknowledged, and no one has ever said, “I’m so sorry. May I just sit with you in your pain, and love you where you are at?”

When we do that… When we stop judging their neediness… When we stop defining their place of suffering as ‘victim mentality’ …. When we pull up a chair at that preschooler’s table – or that pre-teen’s or teenager’s …now that young woman or man – something beautiful happens. They begin to heal.

To offer this support well requires having boundaries. Set specific times to meet. Have a limit on how many texts, emails, phone calls etc, and set time restrictions on how long those calls are. Or you will be consumed, and they certainly will not heal. We enter into their suffering, but must do so with wisdom.

Then, when we have been there with them, in that dark place of their suffering, only then have we earned the privilege of being invited to speak. It’s not a right. It’s a privilege. And the best gift we can give, when we do speak, is an invitation to walk together. An invitation to share with them the Love of One who gives us life and hope. Not an invitation for us to ‘fix’ them. Or for us to help them arrive where we are. But an invitation to meet the One who is our life and hope. The One who defines us.

When we are given permission to speak His life, His hope and His purpose over them, they grow. They learn to trust. They learn to forgive. As we care, they become stronger. They heal. And when they heal, they no longer see only their own pain, but the pain of others.

Some fear healing. It isn’t that they don’t want to heal, most of them. But a few are terrified of healing. If they heal, who will be there? The only connections some have ever had, have been linked to their trauma and need. If they heal, who will be there? If they heal, will they be alone… lonely? And who will they be? They’ve never been anything other than in pain and suffering? What if being whole demands things they are not capable of. More than one survivor of trauma has admitted these fears to me.

It is easy to judge from a distance. It’s easy to say those fears are not reasonable. Yet they are very real for many survivors of terror and trauma. The shift from fear to thriving happens with recognizing we have something to give, that our need doesn’t have to be the source of our fulfillment.

When, having sat with them in their sorrow, we have earned the privilege to speak… And when, having earned the privilege to speak, we have encouraged, and believed, and spoken life and purpose… Then we can ask the hard questions…

worm to butterfly

What if healing didn’t mean you would be alone? What if healing meant that you could be there for others? What if healing meant that you would be more fulfilled than you ever imagined you would be or could be? What if…?

And when they dare to embrace that challenge, a courage rises up, and they reach out. And in reaching out to others, they are healed. Again. And this doesn’t mean they will never struggle. Tomorrow might be a hard day. Next week they might call their counsellor because they feel lost. Next year they might need someone to ask again, “What if healing doesn’t mean you will be lonely, or alone? What if you keep reaching out to others? What if…?”

It isn’t a victim mentality. Not usually.  And we do a lot of damage when blithely we write it off as that. Mostly it is fear. It is the aftermath of deep trauma. It is a failure to thrive because there has been a failure in those of us around them to sit with them patiently in their suffering, and acknowledge it. And it is a journey. A rising and falling. And rising again.

Only when we have walked through deep trauma, or dared to entered into the suffering of others can we grasp that battle.

***

When we reach out to others in hope and healing,
our healing comes more quickly.
~ Isaiah 58 ~ 

 

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

God hates injustice. Manipulating those who expose abuse is injustice.

“Blessed are…”
(God extends His benefits
and reward and makes large the blessing of)
“…those who are persecuted…”
(mistreated and used wrongfully)
“…for righteousness sake…”
(for the sake of justice)
“…for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Matthew 5:10

 

There are leaders who have gone out of their way to handle abusively those who have tried to address abuses and wrongs. Those who stand up against abuses (not just sexual, but those too) are being sued by churches (see a post I put up yesterday), and leaders are using their power to seek to destroy those who have legitimate concerns…. concerns that have been addressed first privately (for those who are hung up on Matthew 18… albeit out of context, often), and then publicly. Those who address abuse are losing friends and family as leaders use their power to sabotage relationships. Some leaders have gone so far as to ensure that those speaking out have lost their jobs — positions in church, as well as other jobs — including both men and women who speak out.

These abusive leaders who are sabotaging the lives of people standing for truth and justice are leaders many of us look to for guidance. We need to recognize that they cannot lead us into truth or justice until they value it in their day-to-day personal lives. Leading with self-preservation and retaliation is not the way of Jesus. True believers and godly leaders humbly receive correction when they have wronged someone. And when accusations are false, the same humility and honour is expressed. True representatives of Jesus Christ do not retaliate in the face of wrong and persecution, and they certainly do not set out to destroy people’s relationships and livelihoods or cause intentional damage.

When leaders retaliate, it is sometimes misconstrued as a response to persecution. Exposing truth is not persecution, nor is retaliation a godly response to anything; it is self-serving and often linked either to insecurity or to the individual’s guilt; an indication that the allegations are true, not false. When allegations are false, Jesus followers will try to respond with honour. When they respond wrongly, which sometimes they will, they humbly repent and do everything in their power to restore what they have destroyed, or at least acknowledge it. Because often it cannot be restored. Godly leaders are human. They will fail. But they will not blithely go on, having destroyed a person’s relationships or livelihood, or other damage done. Those who do not pause and take ownership are not godly, they are arrogant.

Manipulating, to destroy relationships of those speaking against injustice and bringing  them harm, is very different from the fallout that comes from exposing abuse and bringing corruption to light. Often we are told that someone destroyed a person’s reputation by speaking of their sins. That’s utter nonsense. The Bible is full of ‘bad stories’ told openly — think King David, or the Cussing Apostle (Peter) among others — and it didn’t ‘ruin their reputation’ because they walked in humility and did not hide their sins. The sins and crimes committed can destroy a reputation if the offender hides, refuses humble correction and consequences, but telling of their sins and crimes cannot destroy them. It is biblical to expose the hidden thing, and it is biblical to remove from leadership those who do such things. (If leaders are first to have their house in order, don’t imagine for a moment that this begins anywhere but in their own hearts. It has nothing to do with controlling their children).

Sadly, when evil is confronted, we see over and over again as ‘pedestal leaders’ cry victim. They declare they are the victims of heartless persecution. Yet, when looking at what righteousness they are persecuted for, it is merely that injustice, oppression and wrongdoing are being exposed. Matthew 5:10 offers blessing to those who suffer for the pursuit of justice, not those who resist justice being pursued. That’s not persecution. That’s avoiding truth, and heaping injustice upon injustice when there should be repentance.

True leaders rise up for justice. That’s what righteousness is. It isn’t some perfectionist religious performance, religious presentation or other such accomplishment. Righteousness is justice. Justice is righteousness. And God has strong opinions about justice among His people.

Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 3.18.35 PMKingdoms are unraveling. God has given us years to repent. And when the exposing started, it was a gradual thing. Now it is snowballing. In each phase, we as ‘the church of Jesus Christ, and churches as institutions and organizations (dare I say, empires and kingdoms with pedestals, too often), have had opportunity after opportunity to humbly acknowledge that the things God hates are thriving among us, and repent. At each phase we have had opportunity to “let justice flow like a river”,  not a little stream. Not a wee crick, or some overflow running from a puddle. Not a tiny pond, dug out near the church house to look like justice. But a river, flowing. A river, with momentum. Moving waters. Justice that is does not sit still, but has and offers life to the oppressed.

justice like a river

And we still have that opportunity. Many, including honourable leaders, are rising up against oppression and injustice inside church walls. People are asking for accountability among leaders, and for evil to be exposed. God’s people are rising up, across the nations, to stand for truth and against evil. Those who continue to harbour evil, turn a blind eye to injustice, God will allow consequences to play out.

Note, too, that the scripture addresses, specifically, ‘justice in the courts’ for the oppressed. We say “New Testament, New Testament… that no longer applies!” But we borrow all manner of other Old Testament references when convenient, so this deserves consideration. Where the oppressed are not offered justice, God rejects worship and offerings, and eventually brings the oppressors to destruction. Exile. Nothingness. No kingdoms. No pedestals. The end. 

… but always with opportunity to repent in the place of exile, when stripped of all personal glory.

To those standing against corruption, when resistance comes against you for standing against injustice… when relationships are sabotaged… when jobs are lost as a result of corrupt leaders manipulating circumstances…  when your church kicks you out for blowing the whistle… leave the outcome of Amos 5 to God. And remember it was Jesus who said, in Matthew 5:10, that God will bring His rewards and benefits to those who suffer for the sake of injustice. And when God speaks, His words accomplish their purpose.

So, rise up in truth. Rise up in defence of the poor and the oppressed. And let justice flow like a river. God has your justice covered.

 

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Poll Re: Responses to Sex Abuse Victims in Conservative Mennonite/Anabaptists

In a recent post on Facebook, I was trying to point out two wrong response to the whole topic of sexual abuse:
 
1. That child molesters are most despised in society
2. And victims who speak out are most despised in church
 
Both statements have exceptions, and I was not intending to overlook those exceptions to say that ‘all people, in all situations’ respond this way. (In fact, that short quote was a mini-introduction to the longer post I was working on, which immediately followed and addressed the bigger message).  But the initial status was met with a defensive response to how wrong I am about how victims are treated and that it isn’t all churches, because I failed to ‘say it in so many words’ that it is not all, in every situation. 
 
I made a statement, based on 8 years of working internationally with victims of sexual abuse in conservative Anabaptist communities and spending the past two years reading academic papers from other religious communities, that victims who speak out are most despised in church and offenders most despised in society. I absolutely believe what I said. The statement about victims applies in two ways. Victims are not as despised outside of church, they are most despised in church. And, when considering those who are despised in church, I know no group to be more despised than victims who speak out about abuse and won’t be silenced. 
Acknowledging this was not meant to stir hatred toward offenders. It is what victims experience (less so in my case than in many), and to acknowledge and look at it is key to changing how things are. Frankly, I believe this is why half the crowd can’t read what is intended because someone is hell-bent on preventing Christians seeing it for what it is. If we do, we stand a chance at making a powerful impact.
 
Nonetheless, rather than take my word for it, and in order to let the stats speak for themselves, I created a poll for all victims of sexual abuse in/from conservative Mennonite/Anabaptist churches to vote on their experience in this regard. I trust the responses will be honourable and honest. (It is completely anonymous… I don’t even have access to names or identities of who voted).
The victims I work with may well be the group who are damaged through abusive response from church, and represent a small portion. The rest might be thriving because the church responded so well; I do not know. What I know and am confident in is that what I said is truth in the demographic of hundreds, even thousands with whom I have interacted, internationally, for nearly 9 years. And the statement regarding offenders is also true, based on academic papers written regarding sex offenders in prison — child molesters in particular — and the testimony of child molesters who have done time.
If you were abused in the conservative Mennonite/Anabaptist church, you can take the poll here: poll on response to sexual abuse.  After you have voted, the results (in percentages, will pop up. Currently, for 50% their church never found out, and the other 50% the church new and did not offer support to the victims.
As always…
Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

On becoming a grandma and God interrupting a prayer for our unborn grand-baby…

There I was, praying for our family. I had just started a prayer for our unborn grand-baby, when God interrupted. And He seemed quite off-topic, at that. I mean, I’m praying blessing over the next generation, and asking Him to keep His hand on this child, and all kinds of good things, and He says, “You keep taking your eyes off of Jesus”.

Wait… what?

It took me off guard. “You keep taking your eyes off of Jesus,” He said again.

Let me tell you, when God interrupts a prayer for a grand baby, you listen. Because it must be important. After all, He knows all about how we grandparents get on about grandchildren, from the day you find out about the first one being on the way, until the great-grand-babies and great-great-grand-babies show up. He wired us that way. (And you never interrupt a first-time grandparent prattling on about the baby, and how the mama is doing, and “he’s going to be such a good daddy”…. You just don’t. You let them chatter and you celebrate with them.

God knows this. And He still interrupted me. Funny thing, I didn’t have to shift from grand-baby chatter to ask, “What are you talking about?” I knew. But to make sense of it, let me tell the backstory…

****

It all began few months ago, toward the end of ‘the crazy’ of things with the ASAA, and the other two guys, whom I shall not name. (And if you don’t know the story, just settle for knowing there was some conflict surrounding a young woman who was molested, which intertwined with a lot of other insane stuff, and I was involved. I had hard evidence — and still do — of things that needed addressing. And still do. But, alas, male power and religious dominance shall prevent such things. As for the law, some of the details could go either way at this point, form my understanding).

But it began there, when I realized the darkness of the way things were handled was getting to me, and I decided “I’m out”. I intended never to address it again, publicly, and respond in private to people by offering evidence and letting them deal with that, rather than taking my word for it. And that is what I did. Until this week. Over the weeks and months emails, phone calls and facebook messages trickled in. One of the two ‘other guys’ involved was saying “…..” and is it true? Or “From what (the one guy said), you [….]”

Other messages were kind-hearted souls wanting us to ‘kiss and make up’ and play nice in the church sandbox again. The pain of us leaders not being in relationship was/is almost too much. And some shared what they had been told were the issues. Peripheral things… I was just trying to destroy the one guy. I was jealous of his ministry, some said. Whatever trickled in, trickled out my left ear about as pick as it slipped in the right. When tempted to tackle it, I reminded myself, “I’m out”. Until this week.

I’ll confess up front that when I first heard it, I laughed. It was, in my mind, the most absurd accusation to date. I don’t recall when someone first said it, but it was some weeks ago, and I ignored it. Until I learned more details (which would require half a dozen blogs to explain, and it isn’t relevant, so I’ll not bother about that), and the story behind it. I forgot completely that “I’m out”, and I addressed it.

The story was pulled out of thin air that I wanted to be on the ASAA board, and being offended, I started spreading lies about the aforementioned group and people. In January I was asked by the then-vice-chair of the ASAA board if I had any advice for them. Not other than one thing, I said, and that was to vet their board, interview each one personally and make sure there is no history of abuse or molestation that is not taken care of. With so many ministries associated through board members (Life Ministries, Strait Paths, Kenny K. – as a pastor and counsellor, the Reed brothers, and others) I urged them to be thorough so it would not damage those ministries. He let me know that the board was fully in place and nothing could be done about it, and if that were to take place, he would also be disqualified. I said that since it has nothing to do with me (by extension not Generations Unleashed), it was merely advice and up to them. However, Tim and I talked and decided that if they did not vet their board members thoroughly, we would not have anything to do with any formal or informal involvement, beyond attending.

Based on that interaction, he decided I wanted to be on the board, or so he said when I confronted him about spreading the lie that I wanted to be on the board. That’s how he took our interaction, he said, and he was sorry *if* he had misunderstood. There was exactly three days between that conversation and our falling out, which happened about the time I asked him to explain what he meant when he said he would be disqualified from ASAA leadership if they vetted those with unresolved abuse/molestation history. ( I won’t get into those details.) From that point forward, things in our relationship deteriorated, with some attempts to work through things.

That’s the backstory, but the reason I laughed when I heard it was two-fold. First, I tried to picture me working with a team of conservative Mennonite men that closely. Somehow, as much as I’ve learned to respect many of them in healthy relationship,  including leaders, the picture makes me giggle. Knowing me and my story… Nope… I just can’t see any formal ties like that working well for either side. And I’ve never had any such ambitions. I’m happy to help them in any way possible, and support them, but a partnership?

While I wasn’t so much ‘put off’ as humoured, it was that tie to the organization (ASAA) that bothered me.

In fairness, I had taken information that was brought to me and I believed to be true, and shared it publicly (regarding the break and enter). Immediately upon discovering it could not be proven with evidence, I apologized both publicly and privately to him.

 

img_5408  .       img_5409 .     img_5410

 

I was content to leave it at that, assuming he really had nothing to do with it, and feeling badly for ever having brought it up with no evidence.

And all I was hoping for from him when I approached him about the unfounded rumours of me wanting to be on the board, was to own up that pulling such an assumption out of the context of our January conversation — when our conversation was really only focused on addressing vetting board members and his comment — was neither right nor justifiable. No such apology was forthcoming.

****

Truth is, I’ve hardly thought about any of this since starting school apart from tending to the messages and questions that come in, as I was able. Somehow PhD work is not easier than the Masters was, and leaves little time for worrying about past kerfluffles. But, having confronted the source of the rumours/lies, and receiving no acknowledgement, it is hard not to shift at the waves.

So here I am, now, having spent several days looking back at the mess of this past year once again. Nothing resolved or appropriately addressed. The man who was sending inappropriate texts over the past few years and who molested one young woman, as recently as October still offered massages to someone via text and voice mail. (To his church’s credit, they have finally acted on the allegations and put him out of membership). The leader with whom I had a falling out … well, that remains as it was. And ASAA… besides my alleged disappointment at being excluded, it all sits as it was, and so shall it remain by all appearances.

And that is where that interruption came in… Having spent a day with our daughter, shopping all things young mama for her birthday, seeing her round tummy, hearing her tell about the kicking and the changes, and loving life. And suddenly finding myself back in the muddle of things gone by that stand no chance of resolution, no hope of relational redemption… And the only good having come so far being that, while fluffy popularity dropped this past year (thank you Jesus! I don’t do fluff and bandwagon), the truth is we have become surrounded by countless warriors and hundreds of new people we never knew before have stepped up to support us in so many ways. I’ve never had such a thing before. Total strangers, over and over and over again, writing to say they are praying. Some also contributing to the costs of all the travel this past year, and all saying we are in this together. (Thirteen out of country trips in a year add up… So, again, thank you to those who contributed).

Those are beautiful and meaningful things, for which I am so grateful! And I value each new friend and partner in this war against sexual violence with deep appreciation. But none of those things replace loss of trust and loss of relationships that have fallen by the wayside as a result of this past year. They do not replace the loss that comes when things are not handled in an open and forthright manner; when politics and polite society is more important than truth. These things are huge losses I grieve from this past year, and the zero-hope-of any future redemption, saddens me. But I embrace the redemptions that have come out of it, and accept that those may well have been some of the purpose in the first place.

But the losses… They are the things that, when the waves start to rise — sometimes because someone dropped a giant boulder in the water, sometimes for other reasons — and the waters get unsteady, those things distract me. And I struggle to see Jesus in the chaos. The waves of discouragement at how things unfolded. The waves of lost trust. The waves of my own failures and mistakes in it — especially getting it wrong and speaking out about the break-in with no evidence, and the harm and injustice toward so many of the wounded out there..

These waves rise and fall….

And through the waves, in the middle of that prayer for our grand-baby, where the heart is quiet and tender and undistracted by the ills and evils of life and the world….

There God whispered. And I am now deliberately, determinedly, yet humbly turning my eyes away from the waves, once again, to the Master of the waves; the Creator of the Universe, the One who made the heaven and the earth….

And our sweet grand-baby.

Because I want my heart to be quiet and tender, undistracted by the ills and evils of this world. And God and grand-babies, even unborn ones, they offer that.

As always…  with another shift in focus…

Love,
~ T ~

Psalm 23 English Standard Version (ESV)

    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

Forced bestiality, beatings, and other sadistic abuses in religious communities

When I think I’ve heard it all, and am beyond shock, every now and then something strikes such a shocking blow that I am left reeling. This week was once such week. Frankly, I’m glad I wasn’t sitting face to face with some of the people whose stories were told to me this week. I have a ‘thou shalt not gasp’ policy, meaning no matter what I hear, I remain even-keel, calm and reassuring. What I felt as I read stories this week was not even-keel. In truth, I felt anger. And, at moments I slipped towards hopelessness that we will ever make any real headway, with all that lies hidden, and carefully swept under the proverbial church mat. But then the realization, We are making headway! This stuff was hidden yesterday! Today it is not. This conversation was silent not so long ago, now it is not.

And that is true whether we are talking about sexual abuse, bestiality – forced or other – and beatings often justified as spankings. We have made unbelievable progress, as far as I and the victims/survivors/overcomers of abuse are concerned. Of course that means for those who wish to hide it, the job of sweeping has suddenly become the job of shovelling waste, as the carpets are ripped away. But that’s another problem entirely. And that one isn’t mine.

What I mostly want to address in this blog is two things: forced bestiality and beatings justifies as spankings. Predominantly the former.

First the beatings as spankings… My Facebook friends and I have had some rather engaging conversations this past week. I could try to capture the conversations here but will leave you with the links, if you are interested in reading the many thoughts shared. (Visit links to read/engage discussions: spanking wives/adults and Christian ‘counsellors’ saying that is what abuse victims need if they just don’t get over it , also,  on bowing to religion – the not-God-kind of religion, that is.) My request is this, if you engage, choose to also listen to opposing views. Some strong feelings were expressed on both sides of the spanking debate, but from what I saw, it mostly stayed respectful. That is my expectation.

The ‘birthing’ of these conversations all began a few months ago when — not for the first time and not the first person — someone wrote and asked if I would address the topic of spankings and the religious justification for it. But, most specifically, this individual asked if I would address the topic of sexual arousal in the child being spanked. I’ve heard of this over the years when working with survivors of abuse and trauma, but what was unique in this case was that the individual was raised in a loving home, protected from abuse – sexual and otherwise. Even in that environment this individual struggled with sexual arousal during spankings, which developed into a spanking fetish later in life. (Read the conversations on spanking & fetishes here: First conversation and Second conversation.)

(To better understand this,  I have read claims that the increased blood flow to the genital area can, in some individuals, cause erections in males and engorgement of genitals in females. I will not link the articles as there was other information that I am not comfortable linking in my blog, given my audience. I offer the disclaimer that I cannot endorse or disprove these claims, but it would make some sense of the phenomenon.)

The result of this sexual arousal during a spanking can lead to spanking fetishes, as was explained by the individual asking me to address it, and it can also lead to fascination with BDSM. (I have supported and engaged multiple clients/individuals, internationally, who have experienced this, and most, if not all, developed the struggle through spanking  and/or sexual abuse. Not all were sexually abused, but all were spanked. So I am personally familiar with this, though my experience is limited.)

My motive for opening the conversation, especially when my knowledge and understanding of it in our settings is so limited, is quite uncomplicated. To give voice to those who are isolated and ashamed, with no one who understands them. There was a day when we, as survivors of sexual abuse, thought we were the only one, that no one would understand us, and if we spoke out we would be judged, condemned and shamed. Well, part of that proved to be true. Most of it, in fact, except the being all alone part. And the judged, condemned and shamed parts were already our reality, so nothing was lost. But we gained a community of supports, a place to be understood, to stand together in our brokenness and try to heal. And, just as importantly, to try to influence change for the next generation, to make sure they do not suffer what we suffered. Or, at the very least, that some who would have suffered if we had not spoken out, do not because we spoke out. For survivors, that is often more important than our own healing and justice. So I give voice to this today, for those who have suffered, so they can rise to the Light and find freedom and support. (Yes, you will be judged, condemned and shamed, I can’t make that go away; it is the painful reality of religious responses to suffering and speaking out. But I can promise you that there is also a community of supports who will rise up, cautiously at first, but then grow stronger, and hopefully save the next generation of children this horror.)

Before I address forced bestiality, I want to address the many who have engaged in bestiality out of ignorance and a lack of teaching surrounding sexuality. People freak out when you talk about bestiality. Yes, it’s tragic. It is horrifying. It is dehumanizing. But lay aside the disdain and the judgment for a moment and hear me on this. It is not as cut and dried as many people make it, of a perverted teen deciding one day to have at it with an animal. It mostly doesn’t work like that. The reality is, it often starts young, and often because of abuse and/or exposure to things no fault of the child/youth. That doesn’t make it ‘okay’, but for heaven’s sake, consider the context. Their recovery/healing and redemption depend on it.

The number of people who engaged in forms of bestiality as relatively young children – I believe the youngest I am aware of is around age 4 – and into teens is shockingly high in our farmer-family conservative Anabaptist Christian groups. (This is not to say it isn’t a problem in other cultures, but I cannot speak for non-Anabaptists because I have no such stories to draw from.) Some engage in bestiality because they were abused (forced to perform sexual favours such as fellatio/cunnilingus) and this sparks the idea of engaging with an animal. Others see older siblings, hired hands, or fathers engage in bestiality and experiment. Some experience sexual feelings and watch the animals and decide to experiment. Whatever the driving force behind it, almost without fail there is no teaching on sexuality, and no awareness of what it means, or the consequences. I do not wish to shame you, judge you, or further impose that darkness on you. I have worked with many clients who were involved in various forms of bestiality and I have a lot of compassion for you. It is heart-breaking, the lack of teaching and whatever you suffered that influenced the choices that flowed out of that. There is healing and freedom for you; you do not need to carry that shame.

The real issue I want to address on this topic is the use of bestiality as a weapon of abuse. I will not expound at length on it, nor will I be graphic in it. My intent is to create awareness and hopefully give voice to those who are and/or have suffered this violation. Furthermore, I want to make leaders, family, friends and fellow believers aware of it, so they can respond and be available to help these victims heal. Our minds cannot fathom the horror if we have not been there. And we have no right to silence them, or to rush them to healing. (Which, in religious communities often equates to pretending things while the mind slowly deteriorates into insanity. Not healthy at all!)

It was early in ministry when bestiality crossed my radar the first time. I had heard of it, a little, but was relatively naive. And certainly naive to the prevalence. In 2012 a counsellor from Guelph – a city not far from us – asked to meet. Their team had heard that I was doing conferences and wondered if I would be willing to share how I do what I do, what my training was, and other various questions. I agreed to meet and candidly responded to anything they asked. When the counsellor asked, bluntly, if I was encountering many stories of bestiality I was stunned. Yes, I said, more than I expected, including young women. This was their experience as well.

Over the next few years, from near and far, the stories trickled in. Were there hundreds? Probably not. Though I never kept track. But there were men. Men and women, alike, told me their stories – or wives told me their husband’s stories, and men their father’s or brothers’ stories – and the shame, the guilt, the brokenness that ensued. Fathers teaching their sons. Sons seeing their fathers. Brothers shamelessly engaging together. Young women. Sisters….

Several years had passed, with story after story trickling in. Wives resenting and despising their husbands, wanting nothing to do with them after they found out. And then the first story of forced bestiality appeared. Nothing can prepare the mind for such a thing. Daughters told of their fathers forcing them into it. Sons told of their fathers ‘teaching’ them. And wives… wives forced to engage in it at the commands of their husbands.

I have not been able to write about this before. And even now, as I do, my heart is sick. I really do not care what people think. That’s not what troubles me. It’s the horror… the opening up of something so deeply buried inside our walls and our churches. A cancer eating at the souls of our people … A poison draining the life from souls. And, like everyone else, I’ve just not had the stomach to open it up.

But the time of silence is over. As I said on Facebook, I have no one left for whom to perform, and the weight of that burden lifted is a gift. It frees me to speak all the things that need to be spoken, with no fear of consequences. Oh, there will be consequences, but they really can’t take anything from me. I have nothing left to lose in the religious world. (Thank you Jesus!) Nothing and no one left for whom to perform. And even my personal life, upon my death – should someone see it necessary to eliminate me, I expect a series of disclosures to be set in motion that will rock the world. I do not plan to die with secrets left to kill another generations. So I really don’t have anything to lose.

What I stand to gain is the freedom of those crying from the shadows. And that, to me, is everything. What I stand to gain is the hope that maybe someone in the next generation will not suffer because some adult found healing before they hurt that child. That, to me, is everything. What I stand to gain is that one person, currently in bondage, will hear the voice of Jesus saying, “I have not forgotten you. I have not ignored your suffering.” And that, to me, is everything.

If these are your experiences – whether the person who willingly engaged in bestiality, through ignorance and confusion, or the person who was forced into it, or the child (maybe now adult) who struggles with fetishes or BDSM – you are not alone. There are godly and good men and women who will walk with you, love you, support you. As many of you know, my world is quite busy/full right now with university, but I am not too busy to do my best to link you to support in your community. If you need someone to talk to, private message me, (EMAIL FOR SUPPORT) and I will do everything in my power to find someone safe for you to connect with.

Don’t suffer alone. Don’t suffer in silence.

And if you are guilty of committing the atrocity of forced bestiality, whipping, beating or spanking adults without consent/participation, or abusing children, youth or adults, reach out. I will help you face the truth. It won’t be easy. But you will find freedom. You will have to face the consequences, but it will be worth it to break the chains for yourself, your victim(s) and the next generation. There is no price too high for freedom.

With compassion… sadness and deep love for the broken… As always…

Love,
~ T ~

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing consensual spanking and/or BDSM as a healthy practice, I’m merely saying it isn’t my business and it isn’t illegal or criminal. My calling is for the victimized and to help offenders face consequences.

Kavanaugh & Blasey-Ford: Just another political/religious feud? Who is fibbing? And is anger a sign of guilt?

In spite of my busy schedule, I’ve followed this case as closely as time allowed. My interest in the case is not even a smidge political, other than how this will impact the future of victims who have legitimate allegations, and who will undoubtedly be questioned because of the political nature of this case. There is no doubt that it became a political weapon in the hands of Democrats. As a survivor of horrific things – along with many other survivors, including some who would otherwise praise the Democrats for taking a bold stand – this is violating and counter-productive. I am concerned it will do great damage to society acknowledging the trauma of victims and giving them a voice.

This week staying somewhat up to date with the case meant squeezing in time for Ford’s testimony and abandoning the last segment (because missing class and sacrificing marks seemed excessive). By the time I returned home, people had sent links to the the testimony and I watched the rest. I read some reasonable pieces about the case, and some with glaring biases. I tried to pick out the ‘information bits’ in them. In the process I’ve formed some strong opinions, most of which I will lay aside because opinion or assumption is all they are.

Speaking of assumptions and speculation… Any argument based on that for which there is neither evidence nor witness, does not sway me. And I’m amazed by how many people put full stock in speculation to the point that it becomes their truth. (Keep in mind that a victim’s trauma and experience are evidence, albeit less and less verifiable with the passing of time.) That in mind there are a few things that I really don’t put much weight on until evidence surfaces:

1. The two phantom men who allegedly came forward claiming to have been the ones to assault Dr. Ford. While a possibility, I have zero reason to believe such men actually did come forward.  The media producing such a story, with no names and nothing to show that such men exist, looks glaringly like the clean up crew getting called in. At first, I admit, it made sense of the story for me, based on things I had already observed, but when no names or identities were forthcoming, that all flushed down the pipe real fast. I’ll believe it when these alleged men have the cajones to make themselves known publicly, and their stories check out under intense investigation. Until then, they are a phantom in my mind. (If you were to ask me whether it is possible that two men, not including Judge Kavanaugh are guilty of the assault, the answer would be a resounding, Yes. It’s very possible. In fact, given other observations, that makes the most sense to me. But that teeters on the edge of speculation, so I leave it only as a possibility, nothing more.)

2. The claims that Dr. Ford was paid by the Democratfor launching allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. I would expect politicians to be far more self-serving than to leave an obvious trail, though it is again one of the possibilities, and if it surfaces, I won’t be shocked. I do know there’s a ton of fundraising happening – though I didn’t know that until recently – but I’ve seen nothing to corroborate claims of any association with the Democrats and money.  I would welcome such evidence being produced. (Again, knowing how crooked political games are, do I think it’s possible? Yes. Absolutely. But, at this point it is pure speculation based on what I have seen or heard. Stating as fact what has no evidence is not only troublesome, but it amounts to saying “We can make unfounded allegations, but you can’t.”

I don’t like them in any case, and when I recently used unverifiable information – which I discovered to be unverifiable after the party denied it, an outcome I did not anticipate – I took ownership. After the party declared his innocence, combined with realizing that the person who told me in good faith could not produce evidence, I publicly apologized. I hold the same position in this case. If it cannot be proven, don’t hold to it as truth. If you present it as fact and there is no evidence, apologize.

3. People are saying if you’re innocent of charges, you don’t respond in anger, thereby assigning guilt to Judge Kavanaugh. That is bogus. And that is one of the things I will reference a bit later, based on my experience with confronting alleged abusers. Especially religious ones. (Keep in mind, this is based on my experience; it is not scientific evidence. It has not been proven or stated by anyone else, that I am aware of.)

The part I am interested in commenting on, is based on observation in this particular case (drawn completely from watching the testimonies and producing my own screenshots) as well as what I have observed in eight years of working with victims and offenders.

Was Dr. Ford assaulted?
Watching Dr. Ford’s testimony, I have no doubt that the woman experienced the traumatic event she describes. I believe she was assaulted, at least close to the manner in which she describes. And I say ‘close’, not to minimize her experience, but to account for things that may have altered her memory. So I believe she was sexually assaulted, but am not sold on the facts she presents, but I do believe she genuinely believes them to be fact. Furthermore, she spoke with various people over a period of years as she processed that trauma, indicating that trauma was not conjured out of thin air for political agenda… which is not to say such agenda was absent in her timing. It’s glaringly obvious, in fact, that it was present. (Keep in mind that no names were ever formally documented, so there is no evidence that she previously named Kavanaugh. Also no evidence that she didn’t.)

What about the booze?
Dr. Ford says she had one beer. Maybe that is true. Maybe it is not. I promise you, when I partied in my teens, if there was booze available, I did not stop at one and I couldn’t tell you after the fact how many I had. If she had more, then her memory would be altered based on that. And, without searching, I expect there’s scientific evidence saying that booze alters mind function and memory recall. But with or without scientific study, just hang out at such a party and watch them walk and talk, or talk to the victim of drunk driving and we will all agree that booze alters memory and reality. However, it does not eliminate the ability to recall some information with shocking detail.

I was drunk out of my mind in this excerpt from my memoir, yet I recall vividly the kindness of the taxi driver and the grace he spoke into my life that night. Ironically, I do not recall the actual scenes to which I awakened, other than being completely horrified.

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Time will tell… But will it tell the truth?
We have to account for the passing of time. I am a trauma survivor, and I have one heck of a longterm memory. I’ve had people from Mexico corroborate things that I wrote in my memoir; things that even some family members questioned. I was writing from a place of memory that, at times, felt too surreal to be real. But it was real. When I visited Mexico in 2017, I returned to a childhood home where several traumatic events took place. I was five when we left. Yet, forty-three years later, I was able to tell my driver which direction to turn out our lane to drive past Hildebrandt’s home, to the first road left, and to a field on the left, just a short distance down that road, past a creek. My driver called his father to confirm that it was, indeed, my father’s field. It was.

Memories with significance, for me, are deeply rooted. I know them to be true, even while they have that sense of surreal-ness about them. Even so, I know my memories are not perfect. I approached a woman who, as a girl, I recall molesting me. She was shocked when I described an event that happened to her too! She named the girl – some years older than her – who molested her. And from that moment on my certainty about which of the two molested me was forever questioned. I do not, to this day, propose to recall the accurate identity. They had similar features, were both older than me and had access, and at about five there is no way to be 100% certain which of them molested me. But, regardless of any uncertainty, I do know without question that I was molested that day.

If we, who work closely with sexual violence, cannot acknowledge this reality, we will contribute to grave injustices to both the victims and the falsely accused. Because false allegations – whether intentionally or through faulty memory – do happen.

EDIT: A reader brought to my attention a failure to acknowledge what I already acknowledged numerous times on social media, and what I intended to address here but overlooked:

Just as it is possible that Dr. Ford’s memory is not perfect, it is also possible – always possible – that Judge Kavanaugh does not remember that night even if he was there. If he was there, and if he was inebriated, then we must also conclude that what applies to Dr. Ford in the way of faulty memory, also applies to Judge Kavanaugh.

What about Judge Kavanaugh’s anger; does it suggest guilt?
Soon after Judge Kavanaugh gave his testimony, I started to see comments like, “If he was innocent he wouldn’t be so angry”. Wherever that evolves from, it makes no sense. I have confronted many religious sex abusers who were either proven to be guilty, or who at some point admitted guilt. The one response I have never seen from a guilty party is anger. Never. It has always been some form of quiet and calculated defence, some form of deflection, some form of religious justification or denial, or – if absolutely, inescapably caught – then a rush to repent and make things right. (The latter, while maybe not always the case, is a strong clue that there are other victims they don’t want to come forward or be discovered by the allegations going public, therefore the rush). And it has always involved some form of manipulation. At times they start preaching to the victim; “where would you have spent eternity if you had died, knowing all these years I had sinned and you did nothing to help me?” (At which point I interrupt and stop the abuse.) Or, “How can I make this right?”… “I had no idea that is how it felt to them… I thought it was mutual consent…” (Ummm… no… 8-year-olds can’t consent to 4o-year-olds wanting to have sex.) Or, regardless of age, “I didn’t abuse them; they wanted me to do it”… 

The list of deceptions, manipulations is endless. But anger is the one thing that has never manifested in my experience. (And a short study into the workings of a sex offender would quickly explain why that is, but I won’t get into that here.)

I would argue that many of the expressions displayed by Judge Kavanaugh are not only anger, if anger at all. Studying them, there are a few that appear to be anger and an array of conflicted emotions besides, but many show incredible grief. Not the kind of grief that Larry Nassar showed, or that I have seen repeatedly when speaking with both men and women guilty of abusing. There is deep, genuine pain in both of these individuals. What lacks in Judge Kavanaugh’s eyes that is very present in Dr. Ford, is terror. Her eyes seem constantly to dance between terror and numbness or disassociation from reality. Neither hold contempt in the above, though there are several that suggest contempt in Judge Kavanaugh’s expression. (However, as you will see in my further comparison, this is not reliable). Both seem to be pleading for truth to be acknowledge; for their story to be understood.

(Note: Photos such as this are being circulated as evidence that Kavanaugh is angry. So I watched the testimony again, looking for similar expressions, since the likelihood of finding the exact ones is quite unlikely. The next three photos are screenshots I took at between 9.58 minutes and about 10:40 minutes into this Youtube of his testimony: Click here)

(In this photo Judge Kavanaugh is in the middle of saying “Allegations of sexual assault must always be taken seriously. Always”. Yet he looks ‘angry’. Or does he?)
Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 7.58.46 PM.png
(In this photo Kavanaugh has just made the statement, at almost exactly 9.59 minutes into the clip, that victims and the accused should both be heard.)
Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 8.10.58 PM(Here Judge Kavanaugh has just said, of his parents, “they’re here today”. He looks yet angrier.)
Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 8.12.55 PM(Here Judge Kavanaugh has just said how hard his mom worked when he was 10).
Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 8.13.35 PM(And here he is addressing the sexual harassment his mom had to overcome and “that so many women faced in the time, and still face today.”)
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Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 8.19.05 PM.png(Here Judge Kavanaugh has just said “not even a hint” and just before “a wiff, of an allegation like this” at 11.40 minutes).
Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 8.18.37 PM(And this final screenshot is at the moment immediately following his statement that there has not even been “whiff, of an allegation like this” at 11.46-47 minutes).

So, I would propose that reading expression without context is not particularly effective. Where he should be angry, he shows less emotion. Where he looks angry in the pictures I screenshots of, he was speaking with emotion and passion that held no anger or reason for anger. There is certainly much emotion, but that should be understandable. And fighting to gain or hold composure has seldom made anyone particularly photogenic and chipper-looking. Let alone emotions under these circumstances, assuming he is innocent.

As for the notion that Judge Kavanaugh is guilty because he got angry, or seemed angry? Utter nonsense. Nothing of that speaks to his guilt. While I would not go so far as to say it speaks to his absolute innocence, I would argue quite emphatically that it certainly does not speak to his guilt. If it speaks to one or the other, I know which I would vote for, but that would be as inappropriate as being certain that Dr. Ford is intentionally deceiving the nation. I may not trust her motives for choosing this moment in time, but would put a generous burden of responsibility for how this played out on whoever leaked the story, if she genuinely played no role in that and had no knowledge of it. On that front, and with the assumption of that being true, and assuming Judge Kavanaugh is indeed innocent, she and Judge Kavanaugh were both victims and both wronged.

Again, assuming her trauma is as real as I believe it is and she sincerely believes the Judge is the offender, and also assuming his innocence (for the sake of argument), that political move did more damage to victims of sexual abuse being heard – especially in historical cases – than any other impact. Judge Kavanaugh, if innocent, will thrive. This will empower the Republicans and all who support them. Dr. Ford, even if telling the truth about the trauma, as I believe she is, will bear the consequences quite personally if at some point it is proven she had the wrong man, or men. In this, assuming the previous sentence is reality, the Democrats deeply wronged both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. Dr. Ford’s vulnerability was exploited for political gains, and Judge Kavanaugh falsely accused. While lawsuits are not my recommended usual ‘go to’, assuming this paragraph is accurate, I hope both sue the pants off of whoever got this ball rolling in the way that it rolled.

Those who care for victims will also be cautious about not launching unfounded allegations, or even questionable allegations, for selfish gain. All allegations brought forward in good faith, or believed to be presented in good faith, should be taken seriously, And they should be investigated. If there is failure on the part of those who should investigate to do so, in my opinion (and I recognize it is not a broadly held view), there is a time to expose and go public. In this case there was no attempt at such an investigation, and that is one of the biggest strikes against the credibility of this whole case against Judge Kavanaugh. Any attempt to have it investigated or addressed before going public would have given it much more credibility.

Closing thoughts
I cannot and am not interested in determining innocence or guilt, but those observations are some of the things I cannot ignore. There is strong indication that Dr. Ford was assaulted, and strong indication that Judge Kavanaugh is not the person responsible for that assault. Surmising all manner of things on the sidelines by either side – (ie; the claim that Dr. Ford was paid off, or that Judge Kavanaugh is guilty… well, just because he is and he didn’t even bother to get a lawyer) – those things weaken the arguments of their respective sides and distract from the real issues.

My status on Facebook, after people asked what I think or if I’m following the case, is where I still stand:

If Kavanaugh did what he is accused of – or anything close to it, I think he should own up and apologize to Dr. Ford. If Dr. Ford made up the accusations for political gain/agenda, she should apologize to Kavanaugh and the rest of the world, especially victims of abuse. If the allegations are true and she is using them for political gain, she should apologize to every victim who will not be heard because of this. Because this case will, without question, impact the credibility of the voices of victims, no matter what the outcome.

The problem is, none of us can prove what actually went down, or didn’t – as the case may be, and none of us can prove the heart intent of Dr. Ford.

For those who have asked what I think, that’s what I think.

I see no need to pretend we know as fact the parts that cannot be proven as fact. I see both sides – the conservatives and liberals – making claims that make, while logical, are not grounded in anything provable… at least not yet. I was not there, and you were not there (unless you are one of the few who were), and we are not God. Therefore we do not know with 100% certainty what actually happened.

I shudder to see an innocent man (or woman) accused of sexual assault. And I cringe at a victim not being believed. Both things are wrong. I pray that truth will be revealed. I pray that the corruption behind what is playing out – including any money trails, and political manipulations – will be exposed. I pray that Dr. Ford finds healing; there is no doubt she suffered trauma. And I pray that Judge Kavanaugh, if innocent as he appears, is exonerated from all allegations and goes on to serve well.

My personal position is with truth. That’s all.

Love,
~ T ~