Transitions and change to my work as a trauma survivor advocate

In the past few years, the focus of my work with Generations Unleashed has shifted quite dramatically, though it is still very survivor-support oriented. It began with the car crash in 2019 limiting my ability to carry on with seminars as I had been, and then Covid hit. Since that time, I have continued to support survivors online, as well as supporting others — pastors, friends etc — as they walk with survivors. But another shift began soon after the crash. I had long told Tim that one of my goals (on top of returning to doing training seminars) is to be available for victims pressing charges, and for law enforcement, lawyers, DA’s and the victim’s legal teams. I didn’t make this known publicly. By 2020-2021 the requests came in, asking if I would consider being an expert witness in several sexual assault cases, should they choose to call me.

To date, any role as witness has been with evidence to offer. While I offer expert testimony based on my experience and education, I have not negotiated a role as a paid expert witness for a variety of reasons. Since early 2020, all my work has been pro bono, and I completely stopped drawing a wage from Generations Unleashed. I do not wish it ever to be said that we do what we do for the money. It never has been the case. It never will be the case.

I have been considered an advocate in the world of survivors – a title I did not choose but have done my best to fulfill — and continue to do what I can to support survivors. Advocacy, as it is commonly held, is not an identity I choose or carry, but I will continue to support survivors of trauma in any way possible. My heart is to make a positive impact in all areas of supporting survivors and, as always, I am focused on truth, justice and the wellbeing of those who have been seriously harmed.

My work continues to be empowered by my faith in God, even while much of the practical work on this front is not ‘religious’. I believe, without question, that God has called me to continue to expose the injustices and spiritual wickedness in high places, in church. (I recognize it exists in non-religious affiliations and organizations too. That is not my calling). Part of my calling is supporting some of the court cases taking place. I was free to decline the invitation and be subpoenaed in one of two of the cases. I chose willingly to enter the fray, knowing it will cost me significantly to do so. I am encouraged to see cases that were ‘dismissed’ (as a result of LE trying to appease ‘church’ and/or b/c ‘good men’ came forward on behalf of offenders) being revived and unrepentant offenders tried for their crimes. Offenders who lie and cover up are, among all offenders, most dangerous. I unapologetically support the prosecution process and offer my service.

This work is much less public than the past, as I am often not free to speak about details. Rumours trickle out. People reach out and ask questions. But often there is little I am free to say. This is not due to lack of transparency, but rather to give cases their due process.

As I continue to do what God has called me to do, I ask for your ongoing prayers and support through this season. I wish to honour God with my life. I pray for a thick skin and a tender heart in the face of criticism, and the humility to own my failures when I make mistakes. I welcome you to reach out with thoughts, questions or concerns.

My goal is to be transparent, always, with those who walk beside me. I know for some the fact that I am giving myself and my time to legal processes may be a stumbling block. You may no longer be willing to partner in prayer and encouragement. I accept that as the cost for what I must do, though I do regret any confusion or hurt it may cause. Especially to survivors of trauma.

The nature of this present work is also such that most months we receive less than $20 in donations. As a result, Tim and I have largely been funding the costs of carrying Generations Unleashed out of pocket, the past few years. I understand that some will not be comfortable donating, knowing funds will go toward my work supporting survivors in legal proceedings. I am choosing to be transparent so that you are free to make that choice, with no manipulation or without feeling in hindsight that your giving was not used where your heart and faith are invested.

If you are willing to support this work with a one time donation, or with a monthly donation, knowing what I have shared, we would appreciate your support. Donations can be made at: http://www.generationsunleashed.com/donate on the donations page.

Your prayers are always appreciated. I will be called to testify (as a witness, not as a paid expert witness) several times across the USA in the next few weeks, if all goes as scheduled. I would especially appreciate your prayers in this. It is emotionally exhausting work, and hours of testimony remains exhausting with ongoing post-concussion-syndrome as the result of my 2019 accident. I still very much limit the amount of work I do as a result of this, but feel compelled to give what I am able on this front. I trust God to meet my needs on every front.

Thank you for walking with me… with us.

As always…

Love,

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2022

Filling freezers, Statistics, Glass Houses and ‘Why do we want to believe in miracles?’

Forty hours ago I logged out of Facebook and asked Tim to reset my password. He did. And I don’t have it. So I can only go on when he signs me in. I then went to WordPress and relinked my blog to my FB account so that I can post blogs automatically. While I do not spend a lot of time on FB, most days, it is easy to get caught up in the opinions and debates of current events. Some of that is good. Some of it is not. All of it is time consuming. And the fallout of various aspects is more than I have energy for in the middle of finishing up my PhD coursework.

Since posting it I have managed to squeeze an 836 pound beef in our freezer, canned 14 jars of stewing beef, and completed my final quiz for my Statistics course. (This beef will be shared, not hoarded. In fact, about 20 pounds already left the house this morning. And, for the record, it was ordered prior to this ‘craziness’ going on).  Now I’m working on my final paper for Stats course, and am about to start my final course, a reading course and research project to be completed between now and August. And then comprehensive exams. They will be the ‘make it or break it’ of my degree. The aftermath of medication last year, combined with a concussion after being rear-ended at 100km/h (65 m/hr) have made memory work a challenge. Exams require strong memory capabilities, or the determination to get everything into longterm. For stats, I overcame this by rewatching class lectures between 2 and four times, and rewriting notes 3 to five times. It has been extremely time consuming!

As I was doing all of these things, I’ve been contemplating why we humans reach for miracles. More specifically, why do I? I’ll admit, apart from taking Bible stories at face value, I’ve not seen many miracles and used to be a skeptic. And then one day a friend who knew I was having a lot of issues with my one knee ‘giving out’, and accompanying pain, called me up and invited me to church. We’re having a healing service, she said, and I think you should be there. I agreed, because she is my friend.

Nothing wonky happened. But I did muster the courage to ask for prayer, and a group of strangers gathered round me, and prayed. The problem left and never came back. That was about 14 years ago.

I am one of those who gets to have a colonoscopy ever 5 years. It started first in my 20’s, when I had significant rectal bleeding with no explanation. After the colonoscopy showed nothing, the specialist chalked it up to stress. That made sense. I was just starting to acknowledge and work through the trauma of my childhood. Nothing more was done.

In my 30’s, they started with the scopes every 5 years. Just keeping an eye on things after weeks of the same issues. At one point, I believe it was two weeks into another round of bleeding, we had a worship night. I had my eyes closed, hands raised, and when I opened my eyes i was surprised (and deeply moved) to be surrounded by a handful of individuals, including one of our elders, praying over me. A woman, who had no idea what was going on with my health, was among them. She placed her hand on my abdomen and began to pray. As she did so, I just knew the bleeding had stopped. That was around ten years ago. The bleeding has never happened again.

Were these miracle healings? Frankly, I don’t care what they were. I’m thankful for the outcome. Even so, I like to keep one foot firmly planted in the practical and scientific realities of this present world, while keeping the other firmly planted in the mystery of God and the spiritual realities that we cannot fully grasp. It keeps my faith in balance and rooted in the eternal, not the temporal. It helps me live in a place of trusting God, in the unknown.

And maybe seeing a loved one fighting a fierce battle with cancer right now, forces me to grapple with the absence of such mysteries as miracles. I have prayed. I have wept. I have tried to hold onto a fragment of faith in the miraculous, when the practical screams it is a lie. When the fight against cancer is a quiet,  persistent evidence of the absence of miracles. And when faith in God’s goodness boils down to knowing, “Even now. Even here. Even in this, He is good.” And to somehow reconcile myself with that certainty, when there is no evidence that good can or will be done in a given circumstance.

Maybe, hearing another’s ‘miracle’ offers us some borrowed hope in a place or circumstance destitute of such hope. It is a reminder that God is sovereign and He is goodness. It is the very essence of His nature. And where no miracle is granted to the naked eye, a greater miracle, reserved for the spirit to see, is born.

With the passing of time, my world has become more and more that of ‘living in a glass house’, thanks to my work and how public it is. I am ok with that, for the most part, as I have nothing to hide. I am human. When I fail, I will apologize. I aim for due diligence, and throwing in disclaimers in my writings, and apologize if I have erred. It’s who I am.

However, the standard of perfection that is required to function within Christian context is one to which I cannot live up. I never have. I never will.  It has been months of ‘off and on’ discussions with Tim, wondering how long I can do what I do, within the context and ‘audience’ of my work; conservative Anabaptists and ex-conservative Anabaptists. I’ve lived simultaneously the past four years in another (secular) world (university) that is, ironically, far more grace-filled. It is strange to say that out loud, but it is true. This contradiction has been challenging to process. It is in university I was trained to be culturally sensitive and separate the horror of sexual abuse I encounter from the Anabaptist culture in which it takes place. It is in university I was trained on Restorative Justice practices (that strangely echo the teachings of Jesus). It is in university I was taught to separate the crime from the criminal and remove crime labels from their identity. It is in university I learned to extend grace to myself, when profs would say, repeatedly, “Trudy,  you don’t have to be perfect”, and “It’s ok to make a mistake.” Most of my profs have said that, and several have gone above and beyond, entering into my world, my life, my story in ways that few people ever have. I never looked for it, and didn’t even realize how much that can do for a person, other than seeing what it did for others when I entered in. One prof (not a believer) in particular, sat with me for more hours than I can keep track of, and would say, “Someone has His hand on you.” I understand why people are drawn away from religion.

I could now do a list of things that do not align with Christian values, but I won’t, because I have no expectation that a secular entity will uphold my Christian values. Instead, I will thank God that He reveals His kind heart through those who do not believe. I will thank Him that He has protected my faith in Him, in spite of … in spite of so many things, even while He is eerily silent in the space of other prayers that are wanting in answers.

Today, while miracles are glaringly absent in the wilderness of many of my prayers, I will grieve those disappointments while holding on to this one thing: God is a God of miracles. Even if the only miracle is that I (or you) can somehow hold on to Him and embrace hope in spaces and experiences that, humanly speaking, should drive us to cynicism, atheism and rejecting God.

Maybe, at the end of the day, that is the greatest miracle. To live daily finding joy and hope in God. That my heart has not grown cynical, in spite of daily reminders that incredible evil lurks ‘among God’s people’ (along with goodness). To separate that evil from God and see Him is good and kind, and to separate that evil from the ‘personhood’ of the evildoer and still see him/her as holding value and being worthy of kind treatment (albeit good ad firm too). These are miracles of another sort.

I will trust Him as I process things what seem upside down in my world. Harsh judgement from the religious, Christ-like kindness from unbelieving professors and peers, sexual abuse blithely brushed off in religious community where children should be safe, and much more.

Because the thing about miracles is that they don’t make sense. They are the unexpected outcomes. So I will continue to believe that my God is a miracle working God.

As for Facebook… for now I will likely pop in from time to time. I care deeply about my friends. Hundred and hundreds of the 5000 are familiar to me. Many have engaged privately, so that you come to mind even in my day-to-day-not-on-Facebook work and world. You are not just ‘one of many’.  Your wellbeing, each one of you, matters to me. That does not change with my absence from Facebook. Maybe I’ll be back one day. Maybe sooner, maybe later. Or maybe I will find the world of real interactions is much more life-giving without it, even in a world suspended in time, with no gatherings. Either way, I am taking this time to be thoughtful, to live with grace, and to continue to seek the heart of God, and let Him seek mine. The processing of experience is my responsibility. The outcome of things that come into my life, good or bad, invited or not, is my responsibility.

And I choose redemption and grace.

As always…

Much love,
Trudy

 

© Trudy Metzger 2020

Is there grace for Harold Herr? His wife’s real cause of death… Why was he *really* let go from Life Literature? And a correction…

I’m sure the truth will come out,
if indeed that’s what we’re all interested in.

Matlock

*****

A correction/update to my previous blog:
Multiple people contacted me prior to posting my previous blog to ask if I heard Mose Stoltzfus and Darwin Hostetler, along with Harold Herr, met to discuss ‘what to do with Trudy’. That information came from someone closely linked to at least one of the men alleged to have been at the meeting. The individuals who contacted me each named Mose Stoltzfus, Darwin Hostetler and Harold Herr as being in attendance.

Since releasing the blog even more individuals have contacted me to say my sources had it wrong.

Allegedly, the meeting was not about what to do with Trudy. It is true that my name was brought up in relation to posting publicly the allegations. (It would be hard to have a meeting about this without talking about me, but the spirit in which this was done was not as understood and relayed to me).  It is not hard to understand how someone close to these leaders would have misunderstood that the point of the meeting was to discuss me and the problem I am. Just what created that misunderstanding, God only knows.

My interaction with the one gentleman who attended the meeting has been respectful and thoughtful, and I am taking at face value that the meeting was not to discuss ‘what to do about Trudy’. Furthermore, one of my trusted friends has spoken to the honour and integrity of the original source; therefore I do not believe that I was intentionally misinformed as a trap.  And I do not believe there was ill-will towards me by the source, or towards the people at the meeting. It was a sincere misunderstanding of facts brought to me.

The list of individuals said to be present at the meeting, were indeed present, but the list was incomplete. Present were: Steve Simmons, Darwin Hostetler, Mose Stoltzfus, Harold Herr, Nathan Zeiset, and Allen Hoover.

Having confirmed the details, and being confident that there was error in what was reported to me, I apologize for sharing the misrepresentation/misunderstanding of motive and intent of the meeting as shared with me. It is not my intention to ever misrepresent facts. I try my best to confirm what I hear. (Had I known Allen Hoover was present, with whom I have communicated  numerous times about various situations, I would have been inclined to contact him to ask questions).

*****

IS HAROLD HERR GUILTY OR INNOCENT & A THIRD PARTY INVESTIGATION:
I continue to maintain that I cannot declare guilt or innocence other than that to which Harold has admitted. (Nor can others. I hold more evidence than most of them). But, I can say with absolute confidence that the allegations are credible. (Credible does not mean true and confirmed. It means plausible and worthy of deep investigation and acknowledgement).

It is concerning that there has NOT been an independent third party investigation. It would be deeply concerning if a determination of either innocence or guilt was made by a committee made up of untrained ‘friends of the accused’, or even acquaintances. And lack of training and experience in investigating sex offence allegations makes the entire process traumatic for victims and family members. Particularly given the history of silence in our culture, and in their case in particular. Harold’s children are now being asked to trust an investigation to the very culture that has disregarded them for around 40 years, and some have even called them liars.

For truth and justice to take place, all cultural and friendship ties must be absent among those conducting investigations. Anyone who thinks they can speak to the ‘good character’ of the person in question, or the leaders who ignored the allegations for any reason at all — including the  assumption of mental illness in the mother, *from whom the allegations did not originate* — is not the right choice. For the sake of alleged victims and family members supporting them, this independent third party investigation team is important, as is extensive trauma sensitivity training. (*Daniel wrote the letter addressing the allegations in 1990. In our private interactions he disclosed that this was the initial disclosure even to his mother, to the best of his memory. See comments by his sister under previous blog for more insight. She is referencing the same private conversation that I reference here).

One alleged victim and one family member have requested such an independent third party investigation by trained professionals as a condition for meeting. [See copy of their request/response in following section).  They are not opposed to speaking of their traumatic history, and being interviewed, but they are not willing to meet with a committee of friends of Harold, or friends of the leaders who have looked the other way for years. Bias is inevitable simply because friends are, by nature, biased no matter how much they want truth. Therefore they  cannot possibly make a just determination, or make victims feel equally heard and cared for. Victims will inevitably feel cautious and on guard, as well they should. I would too.

Friends are the most likely to be manipulated and deceived by abusers. Abusers count on that.

And, now that another of Harold’s alleged victims wrote publicly this past week (also in comments under previous blog) this independent third party investigation, by a team made up of people with trauma sensitivity training and no ties to Harold whatsoever or the leaders who ignored allegations, is even more important.

Allen Hoover, Darwin Hostetler and Steve Simmons met with at least two of Harold Herr’s children. (If more were interviewed, I am not privy to that). There is overlap between this committee and those involved in the Jeriah Mast case. Whether that is good or bad, I offer no opinion, but I can say it does not feel healthy or safe to those [allegedly] victimized by Harold.

Following the one  meeting the committee reached out to Daniel Herr, who declined meeting with them as they are a committee of men untrained in sensitive investigations. His request was that they have an independent third party investigation done, by individuals not connected to Harold Herr. The following is a copy of what Daniel’s sister sent to the committee (Steve Simmons, specifically) on his behalf. Daniel later followed that up with personally contacted them to validate the message from Freda.

Screen Shot 2020-02-09 at 12.12.53 AM

I do not think Daniel’s request is asking too much. Particularly given the history of neglecting to hear victims. Neglecting such a direct and reasonable request continues the disregard of victims’ needs, and shows neither compassion nor care. That is true even with the best of intentions by any committee. If it is not sensitive to victims’ needs and requests, it is uncaring. It’s that simple.

If the tables were turned and the victims were bringing in a committee of their own friends and acquaintances, it goes without saying that Harold Herr, his daughter who defends him, and church leaders would not be particularly excited to share transparently and allow such a group to make a determination of innocence or guilt. So  they should not ask this of victims.

*****

Why was Harold Herr really let go from Life Literature in September, and more on an internal investigating committee 

I would urge this committee to also look into why Harold Herr was really let go from Life Literature (LL). They say that it was not because of pressure from Haiti Benefit Auction (HBA), as I reported…. (Which I reported because I knew of the pressure by HBA *prior* to Harold being fired in September!) HBA put pressure on LL, and Harold was released shortly thereafter.

However, now Life Literature says it was not because of the pressure from HBA, but their own reasons. My question is, Did the pressure from HBA trigger an internal investigation that resulted in concerns significant enough to release HH? Or what internal findings were so significant to justify firing Harold Herr? This really needs to be looked into, if it is truth we’re are after. It’s particularly important because of his history of sexual perversion, the impact of which he has never been fully owned up.

I have also confirmed that Harold Herr remained on payroll until after my blog came out. These are indisputable facts.

Couple those facts with the real reason Harold Herr was let go — info that doesn’t seem particularly forthcoming and should be, under the circumstances of unresolved allegations — and we will have a clearer picture of this whole scenario.

*****

Harold Herr’s Wife’s real cause of death:
Further to speculation that Harold’s deceased (estranged) wife, Anna Mary, committed suicide….

After posting what I did in my previous blog, about there being no autopsy, numerous people contacted me. They are quite certain she did indeed commit suicide, they said, and informed me that even the family believes this to be true.

I am aware of the speculation. I am aware that some family members have shared their questions . I am also aware that for some family members seeing the public speculate such a thing when they had never suspected such a thing has been very traumatic. There is an injustice in that, against the family. It is human nature to wonder what happened when we don’t have answers, but for someone to propagate such a thing as fact, when medical evidence does not support it… Well, I’d come back to this: What would be their motive? What could anyone possibly gain from the public believing it as fact, when it has never been anything more than questions in search of answers for the unknown? 

Before I present evidence (with permission), let me say the following: 

It is an absolute tragedy that some leaders and public are focusing on how Anna Mary died, rather than acknowledging the following:

  1. Organizations (and churches) have a history of not taking allegations seriously, and excusing that neglect. (We saw this in the Jeriah Mast case. And we see it in the Harold Herr case.
  2. Radical sexual abuse and bestiality allegations against someone in ministry have not been properly investigated and certainly not dealt with.

Those two things are what should be the focus. They are the reason the family went public with these allegations at this time; to warn the public about their concerns regarding Harold Herr and the potential risk to children, and to call CAM and LIFE Literature to account for their neglect to take allegations seriously and sending someone overseas with outstanding allegation that are not investigated and remain unresolved. And to hold church leaders to the same account.

That Anna Mary Herr has become the focus is a shameful continuation of the same abuse that she suffered by those who neglected her in her living years. (I recognize some of you contacted me out of shock that these rumours are circulating, including people who knew her quite well to a time.  This is not directed at you. It is directed at those who use this as a deflection from the allegations of sexual abuse).

In response to the speculation, I can say with certainty that it is not reflected on her death certificate. I can also say with absolute certainty that no autopsy was done and the death certificate states that she died of “cerebrovascular accident”, also known as “stroke”. I have a copy of the death certificate in my possession and have personally confirmed this as her cause of death.

And a more close up with date and cause of death highlighted:

Shortly before her death, Anna Mary became very ill and was hospitalized for approximately one week. Sometime in that timeframe it she was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm. During her one-week hospital stay she improved and was released to go home. Within approximately a week  she passed away in her home, having suffered a cerebrovascular event, more commonly referred to as stroke.

What caused that stroke?

From what I am told by her children, no one is certain what caused it. Was it coincidental that after Anna Mary got ill and almost lost her life, she improved in the hospital, but became ill again at home? If she showed signs of suicidal tendencies, would medical staff not have documented this? And would they not have kept her in to ensure her safety? Was there some toxin in the home that she was sensitive to and no one knew existed? Stroke has been linked to asbestos, arsenic, and cyanide, to mention but a few environmental possibilities.

Speculations of this nature have come to me from numerous sources, yet none have anything whatsoever to do with the allegations of abuse. What judge or lawyer would write off abuse allegations because of the accused’s spouse’s cause of death?

Speculation surrounding Anna Mary’s death should be not be the focus. If the family wants answers, there are ways for them to find out, but that is their private concern. As far as the public, I do not see value in speculating that which cannot be proven about a deceased woman, when the real issue is that there are allegations that have been disregarded for 40 years.

The more I hear this kind of deflection, from the abuse allegations at hand to Anna Mary, the more my red flags go off. I agree with the request of some of the family to have  an unbiased third party investigation team pursue the case. There is truth to be found, but it will not be found by those closely connected to the family or culture. No matter how pure of heart, it is not right to put the victims and family through that.

For anyone thinking I am also not the right person, I agree. I am biased. Definitely biased. I’ve seen the evidence, heard the testimony, and seen the deflection and neglect. I am very much the wrong person to investigate. But I am the right person to push for a bit of accountability. And what makes me the right person is that some family members asked for my help. That’s good enough for me. But if they asked me to deeply investigate it, I would decline.

*****

For the first time since interviewing Harold Herr in summer of 2019, and asking about the allegations, I listened to that audio again last week. When I mentioned Detective Ortenzi, Harold acts surprised, and says, “You say there were charges against me back then?!” as though he knew nothing of it. I later learned that, not only did Harold know there were allegations back then, the detective actually met with him in person. (i have evidence in possession of Ortenzi’s involvement in the case).

Why did Harold act as though he had no knowledge of the allegations or that a law enforcement officer was on the case? Either he was trying to intentionally deceive me, in which case I ask, “Why are leaders trusting him if he is being deceptive?” Or, maybe he doesn’t remember? Though unlikely, if true, why do leaders take at face value anything he says? If he can’t remember a police officer confronting him about sexual abuse and bestiality, why should we assume he is remembering truth about the abuse? It is neither logical nor responsible.

So is there grace for Harold Herr? Yes… generous grace if he humbles himself completely, tells consistent truth, and repents for thing he has not yet acknowledged.

“By their fruit you will know them,” said a wise Man some 2000+ years ago. And, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free!”

He was a truly wise Man. We could learn from Him in our handling of sexual abuse in religious communities.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

*****

Trudy offers support conferences for survivors of abuse, and training to equip churches and the community in caring for victims and offenders, or if you would like to inquire about having a conference or training in your area, send an inquiry via Contact TrudyTo support Generations Unleashed, the charity Trudy works for, Donate Here.

SURVEY: Conservative Anabaptist (CA) Leaders’ Response to Abuse: If you are/were CA and have been sexually abused and interacted with a CA leader regarding the abuse, this survey is for you.

I am preparing several other surveys and will release them on our SURVEYS PAGE.

© Trudy Metzger