CC Matthews Blog, The Victims, Randal Martin & the Dilemma

Yesterday morning, August 21, 2019, Randal Martin (ASAA founder) contacted me on behalf of one of the victims in the recent blog involving CC Matthews. In it he included a statement from the victim (which I shall withhold; it is hers to share), in which she said she felt disrespected. From her first request to make changes, until that message, I had made every attempt to honour every wish and request, removing her name, removing the link to her story etc.

The one request – to remove the blog – I interpreted to mean remove her blog, which I did. I have been in contact with the site/blog owner since day one. At her request, and with her appreciation I have kept links to her blog, but just the main blog, not specific stories.

This morning, after some engagement with Randal Martin, it became clear that I was being asked to remove my blog. This left me to choose between two victims – the one who wants the blog up, the other who wants it down. Given that I had done everything in my power to honour the other victims requests, I have kept the blog up, and will do so for the present.

I do not wish to dishonour either of the victims. It is an unfortunate situation, at best. There is a deeper story and it needs to be investigated, and those details are emerging. It is a story that is about the handling of things — both the ideal and the negligent — and one that will hopefully lead to healthier responses in the future.

For the present, I am in the dilemma of trying to respect two victims’ requests, and am leaving my blog up with a link to the site. I have (since the day I posted it) told the blog owner I will remove it at her request. That offer remains.

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

PUBLIC STATEMENT RE: Blog on CC Matthews

Questions are coming in regarding changes I made to my previous blog in which I shared links to blogs written by victims of CC Matthews.  These changes included wording edits, removing of a victim’s name (whose name is public by her choice in the blog originally referenced; I do not make victims names public!), as well as removing the reference to the blog from my main Facebook page.

Out of respect for the particular victim originally mentioned in that blog, I have removed reference to her name. I have also linked to the main blog – GRACE UNASHAMED – rather than the story posted on the blog on her behalf. It is not my intent to wound victims in re-sharing what they have made public. 

Also out of respect for that victim, I am stating publicly that I used the word pimp in my original title and post, in reference to the pastor’s suggestion to young women to sell their bodies. I placed it in quotations to indicate it was not a literal ‘he is selling them’. This was offensive to the victim, and immediately upon hearing what it communicated to her, I edited my blog. She asked me to do a public retraction of what she felt was a misrepresentation of her story, so I am doing that here. CC Mathews did not sell her or make money off of her; he suggested to her to sell her bodyPimp was not the appropriate word choice to communicate her story. I apologize for this poor choice of wording and any misunderstanding this caused, and I am especially sorry for how it impacted the victim. The shortest word to sum up a sentence, I’ve learned, is not the wisest or most thoughtful way to tell it. I will be more mindful of this going forward.

Finally, within minutes of the victim requesting that I remove the reference from my Facebook page, I did so. I was told that the negative comments (bashing CC) were overwhelming for the victim(s), so I honoured that. On the professional pages the bashing did not take place. Nonetheless, I removed all comments that were made, since some referenced the victim by name.

As I mentioned in my original blog, the victims make it very clear in their writing that they are not out for revenge, but rather are hoping that other victims will come forward. That is my hope and prayer as well.

***

PLEASE NOTE: Given the public outcry over me sharing the blog link originally without asking, be advised that the blog owner has given me permission to keep her blog linked in the previous post.

***

The story is far from over. What I have learned in just over 24 hours, having communicated with pastors, church members, community members in both locations, is both alarming and encouraging.

It is very encouraging that the leader – John Weaver – made every effort to expose the wrongs and hold Matthews accountable. It is equally alarming that these concerns were disregarded by individuals who should have heard them, taken them seriously, and responded accordingly.

It would be appropriate, and seem necessary, for a thorough and unbiased external review of the matter to be done. There is a trail of evidence that points to blatant disregard and dismissal of these concerns. Unless addressed, this will continue to wreak havoc going forward. At the very least, we ought to learn from our mistakes. And as long as they are glossed over, that can’t happen.

There needs to be greater transparency and accountability for offenders, and protection for the vulnerable.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Training and conference, Dayton Virginia, October 9-12, 2019.

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To read a recent 5-part series addressing victim healing and forgiveness for offenders, click: HERE.

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

 

 

Anabaptist Pastor (CC Matthews): Sex Abuse & Telling Young Women Sell Body for Sex

When a pastor and his wife take in a vulnerable young woman (in this case no longer a minor), and that pastor begins to coerce, seduce and molest, something has gone pretty far off the rails. When he then suggests she sells her body for sex, pays her to sext him, suggests a threesome, and the like, and continues in leadership (Mission board) – and other pastors and leaders have knowledge of it, that is a much bigger problem.

We are not talking an affair with two people of similar age and power – which, when a person is a pastor and given revered status is really not possible anyway. We are talking about a married man – a pastor at that – with a family, and young women with difficult stories and situations who look to that pastor for guidance and protection, not seduction and to be sold or bought for sexual thrills.

Someone reached out to me just over a year ago, in May 2018, concerned and stating they have evidence of Matthews’ indiscretions. That was all I knew until a blog was sent to me Sunday August 18, 2019, with survivor stories.

The story is a tragic blend of an abuser coercing, manipulating and sexually assaulting. It is a story of being told ‘no’ and not respecting the ‘no’.

My concern is that a pastor does any of these things in the first place, and then continues in religious leadership with influence over minors and the vulnerable. Allegedly he was in a Charity-type church. Not Charity, they said, but similar. I do not know which state. Allegedly at least one or several leaders at the church confronted Matthews. Sources say he was removed him from leadership.

Matthews relocated within weeks, in fall of 2015, and started serving on a mission board fall of 2017 with another Anabaptist church affiliated with Biblical Mennonite Alliance (BMA) group. (I say “affiliated with” because I am not particularly familiar with them, or how intertwined they are from region to region). He was later removed from the board.

As a parent, this mess is something I would want to know if my children were going to be under his leadership. Well, they wouldn’t be under that kind of leadership, if I could help it… and I’d want to know to make sure of that!

***

A gentleman I spoke with, involved with the case early on, offered the following timelines of church involvement:

Fall 2015: Matthews was confronted by his leaders and removed from leadership
Fall 2015: Matthews moved abruptly within weeks of being confronted
Fall 2017: Matthews was placed on the Mission Board. (His church had believed he had an affair between consenting adults).
Fall 2018: Matthews was released of duties when more information came forward regarding his sexual abuses.

***

TRIGGER WARNING:

⚠️ Please note the trigger warning if you choose to read the blog in which several stories are shared: Grace Unashamed ⚠️

PLEASE NOTE: Given the public outcry over me sharing the blog link originally without asking, the blog owner has given me permission to share her blog.

***
***

In other, more pleasant news, we are doing a training and conference in Dayton Virginia, October 9-12, 2019. Would love to have you join us!

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 1.59.27 PM.png

To read a recent 5-part series addressing victim healing and forgiveness for offenders, click: HERE.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

(Part 5 of 5): Is there hope for the offender?

…Continued from Part 4...

OPPOSING VIEWS ON OFFENDER TRANSFORMATION
If forgiveness, and the abusive teachings surrounding it, make it the Christian F-word to many survivors of trauma and horror, the topic of hope for the offender is hard for many to stomach. For those who are in the thick of deepest trauma, this blog may not be the one to read today. It’s a topic that needs to be addressed, but it is one that — due to the dreadful mishandling of sex crimes by both church and state — is extremely traumatizing for many.

There are several popular streams of thought related to whether there is any hope for offenders at all, either in this life or the next. And the two most popular ones are also the most extreme and not the least bit healthy.

One is that if the offender says “I’m sorry”, he/she should be offered unconditional forgiveness, with no consequences or boundaries. And that is true whether caught in the act or if they come forward on their own. The minute they cry their tears and say their sorry’s, they are embraced with great rejoicing, and anyone who dares to ask questions, speak to the inherent risks with this kind of response, or fails to join in the celebration, is deemed a faltering Christian, at best. A wicked person, playing the devil’s hand, at worst.

The response at the opposite end of the spectrum is “once a child molester, always a child molester”, with no hope of them ever stopping. Some apply this broadly. If a child, pre-teen or teenager is caught (or comes forward after) molesting a child, they are doomed and destined for a lifelong curse of molesting and should be cast from society. Others apply it to adult molesters only. Anyone who believes that offenders who take full and complete ownership with no excuses or justification and humbly accept consequences and accountability, may change, is irresponsible.

I am opposed to both extremes. I believe in God, and I believe He is who He says He is. I believe He is capable of what He says He is capable of. Therefore, He can transform the life of the offender. Absolutely. And when He has, we will know it.

MANIPULATION CAUSES DOUBT TRANSFORMATION IS POSSIBLE
If victims manipulate to survive, predators do it for the thrill, and to protect whatever image they have or think they have. The religious ones will lie on technicalities. They can’t flat out lie, some of them, so they find some loophole to appease the conscience and mislead people.

For example, I sat with an offender last year and asked, “Did you molest ____ in your car?” He looked me full in the face, without flinching, and said, “No.”

This bewildered me. He claimed to be open and transparent, and willing to talk. (Which means nothing, in many cases). He said he had repented and deeply regretted his crimes. I knew he had assaulted the young woman in a very specific vehicle. I paused a moment, puzzled. And then it struck me…

“Did you molest ____ in her car?” Again, he looked me full in the face and with the same ‘honest’ expression said, “Yes.”

I’m pretty good at spotting liars. There are little signs in their body language. Little flickers in the eyes. And that first ‘technical truth’ but still a ‘technical lie’ threw me. He looked as honest with that answer as with the second. Suddenly I remembered that he had given the vehicle to the victim — one of the many thousands of dollars worth of things he gave not only her, but other women too, in his grooming — so he could say no and convince himself he is telling the truth.

There is nothing of that kind of game that speaks to the repentance he and his ‘buddies’ claimed he experienced. He was arrogant, deceptive and all manner of manipulative.  That case was a crash course on how to spot the likes of him, and those who cover for them.

Contrary to his claims fo repentance, that was not the ‘fruit of repentance’ shining through. That is a master manipulator and high-risk predator at play. And I say play because it is all but a game to them. The more players they engage, the bigger their ego and the more exciting the game. They are narcissists with no capacity for caring for anyone other than themselves.

This behaviour is common, and it is this group of offenders — the majority of them, based on my experience — that make it difficult for the general population, especially abuse survivors, to believe any can ever be trusted to repent. (Which is different than being trusted to be around the vulnerable unsupervised. That should never happen).  And it makes leaders who insist people trust them lose credibility too.

THE BARRIER TO TRUE FREEDOM:
The problem with offenders among us, and the rare event of such open and thorough repentance, is that many Christians — especially leaders — stand in the way of it. The deep shame surrounding the crimes they have committed  — which are first sins in the eyes of God and then crimes against the victim and the laws of the land — makes it difficult for offenders to tell the whole truth of what they have done. It takes courage and commitment to sit with them and invite them to ‘tell all’ and then walk with them through the consequences.

Few leaders are willing to offer that, it seems, based on what I have seen. Some are willing to an extent, but when push comes to shove, they abandon the process at the consequences part and protect the offender. I’ve seen this up close. My theory is that they can’t follow through because they have their own history of molesting children, often in their teens, and they feel guilty standing by the consequences when they got off scot free. (Most often still having their own story hidden, or partly hidden).

I have seen this in cases that are not well known. And I’ve seen it in cases that got the spotlight. It is a common pattern that seriously needs to be addressed. If a leader groped breasts and grabbed buttocks in his youth, how is he to stand by consequences for the man who is caught doing the same thing? When a leader downplays breast-groping as not being abuse because of his own history, how will the offender trying to take ownership be helped? How will consequences be taken seriously?

IS THERE HOPE FOR CHANGE AND HOW CAN WE KNOW REPENTANCE IS REAL?
Yes, there is still hope. It is up to those of us who are aware to insist on accountability. If leaders refuse to do their part to protect the vulnerable and hold offenders accountable, the congregation needs to address it. It shouldn’t ever be only the leaders’ responsibility in the first place. But if they actively protect and defend offenders, they are standing in the way of their freedom and are no longer serving the kingdom of God effectively. It is the duty of the congregation to intervene.

Jesus says you will know them by the fruit they produce. That doesn’t mean you give them a chance to be with children so they can prove they have changed. That’s absurd. (And, yes, I’ve heard such arguments. Sheer ignorance, that is). That’s way past ‘watching for fruit’. That’s giving them opportunity to plant and sow rotten seeds. The fruit appears long before that.

Don’t mistake fake meekness for repentance. The same dude that said he didn’t molest the girl in her car — lying on a technicality — also meekly said he is willing to go back to the one person he remembered saying something in appropriate to, when I first confronted him. In reality there was a long list, and the assault victim besides.

Beware of the offender who is quick to admit and then throws in the disclaimer that there is one victim, but only one, and is super anxious for your to tell the name of that victim so he can ‘make it right’. This urgency is part of controlling the narrative to ensure the public does not find out the truth.

When offenders are truly repentant, they won’t be asking you for the names of victims. They will know and offer names, and seek to make amends — as much as one can make amends for such horrific crimes — and will do so without excuse. They will make no demands. Not even for forgiveness. Or should I say, especially not for forgiveness. They long for it, of course, but recognize that imposing such a request on their victim is not fair and serves only to serve self. They recognize that forgiveness comes from God, and not humans, and draw their strength from that. They don’t speak out of both sides of their mouth — repentance on the one hand, and blaming the victim on the other.

TRUE REPENTANCE BEARS FRUIT
In contrast to lying on a technicality, the repentant offender comes forward on his own, turns himself over to the church for discipline and the law for whatever criminal consequences he may face. If shame has held him back, when the crimes come to light he humbly acknowledges his wrong and brings himself under leadership and the law, accepting consequences. I insert this part about shame holding offenders back because I have been involved in cases where offenders responded with repentance when confronted. No excuses. No blame. One wrote years ago and shared his story and how relieved he was when it came to light, and how long he had wished he had the courage to bring it to light, but feared the victim would not remember and therefore he  would impose trauma on her. While not as ideal as coming forward, if it is true repentance, it will be revealed shortly.

A repentant offender offers his remorse to the victim(s) without demanding forgiveness, admitting he does not deserve it. He is concerned for what the victims’ needs are, and respects their boundaries. If they attended the same church, he offers to go elsewhere and inform the new congregation of his past and places himself under accountability. He does not seek any positions that place him in authority over the vulnerable, and even declines them when asked. He recognizes that it is a small price to pay in comparison to what his victims have to carry for life, with the scars and pain he imposed on them.

That is true repentance. It is rare. It is unmistakably genuine. It invites trust, but also sets its own boundaries so trust will not be broken, and accepts additional boundaries, if requested. Such a repentant offender understands he/she has broken trust completely, and does not demand that people get over it, or demand silence. Their victims are free to speak without accusation, blame or shame.

Personally, I know only of three cases that were handled even close to this. (I do not doubt there are more, but I haven’t met them yet).

IS THERE A PLACE IN GOD”S KINGDOM FOR OFFENDERS?
Successfully integrating the truly repentant offenders is a community responsibility. If they were in a church with the victims, they should attend elsewhere out of respect for those they have traumatized. I would suggest this to be the ideal in all situations where victims are minors. Where they are adults, the victims’ should be consulted.

They should be accompanied by one or two individuals when in church or where there are children, if they are going to be there at all. Laws vary from region to region on this. And churches are subject to those laws. This means it is not always possible to prohibit someone from attending, even if they have a criminal record, but there are no laws preventing accountability.

They should not be placed in church leadership, or any kind of leadership with access to minors and the vulnerable, or authority over them. If we have such a shortfall of men who have not molested, that we have to put men in leadership over the vulnerable who have committed crimes, we have a bigger problem.

Families should be made aware of the individual’s history of molesting. Parents cannot protect their children if they are not informed and those who have molested – even repentant offenders — are free to roam ‘among us’ without supervision. Due to high rates of manipulation and reoffending, anything less is irresponsible.

A team should be formed to give leadership, and to ensure the social, emotional and spiritual needs of these individuals are met. The more connected they are to community with boundaries and accountability — and without access to minors or the vulnerable, the less likely they are to revert to abusing. Isolation and loneliness contribute to crime, addictions, and delinquent behaviours in general.

To counteract that, we do well to find some way to protect our children while also reducing the likelihood of repeat offences. You’ve heard it said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” This, while ensuring no access to vulnerable and minors is critical. Never should children or minors be placed at risk in this process. If there are women willing to be part of social interactions with male offenders, this is healthy. (I am comfortable in such interactions as long as I know there are no minors/vulnerable at risk).  It gives them opportunity to learn healthy interactions. And visa versa. But, again, with boundaries and never putting anyone at risk.

There is a place for repentant offenders. Jesus died for all, and invites all to be saved. So there is not a question surrounding grace and forgiveness. However, practically speaking, that place should never invade, disrupt or threaten the safety or space of the victimized, the vulnerable, or children.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

(Part 4 of 5): What about forgiveness? (The Christian F-word?)

…Continued from Part 3

WHAT ABOUT FORGIVENESS?
Ah… forgiveness. The Christian F-word, and used almost as ruthlessly, sometimes even more so, than the F-bomb. The message it sends in the way it is often used, is not unlike flipping the birdie.

The thing is that, the F-bomb’s dreadful misrepresentation of what sex is intended to be — an expression of intimate love, not a weapon — makes intimate sexual love no less wonderful. It remains a deeply bonding act of love and intimacy. And that, in spite of it being used as a weapon by abusers.

The same is true about the way forgiveness is used and abused. It is a dreadful misrepresentation of what God intended to be one of the most freeing choices we can make. Forgiveness, when chosen by the victim without coercion, forced silence, or other religious manipulations — like the famous “you’ll go to hell if you don’t” — remains one of the most critical and beautiful steps in the victim’s healing journey.

I am asked why I don’t talk about it more in the public domain. The answer is quite simple. Because of further abuse imposed on many trauma survivors through false teaching on forgiveness, it is a topic best addressed in relationship when it comes to the intertwining with sexual abuse and victims’ healing. (This is also true of domestic violence and some other abuses of which I have less understanding). It is complex to address it in a way that is meaningful to them, so that their spirits do not shut down due to triggers and past trauma.

Sitting face to face, and speaking heart to heart creates space for interaction, exploring, inviting dialogue so that they can discover the beauty of forgiveness in safe relationship. To do it any other way is much like trying to convince a rape victim that sex is a beautiful and wonderful thing. It can’t be imposed on them. Through safety of relationship many rape victims discover safety with a spouse, and learn to love sexual intimacy. They may have ongoing flashbacks or nightmares and triggers, but in the safety of that relationship they are free to weep, to struggle and to find deeper emotional intimacy with their spouse in the process of the struggle.  I speak from experience. The emotional trauma of the past was very present at various times in our marriage, and it wasn’t unheard of for me to weep in my husband’s arms after intimacy. And it was ok. It was part of the healing for him to hold me, knowing I love him deeply while reconciling past trauma to a similar act.

When we walk victims through to a place of being able to extend forgiveness, that same gentleness, that same compassion and tenderness is necessary. To avoid sexual intimacy in our marriage would have served no good purpose. To have it forced upon me would have destroyed me. To avoid the discussion of forgiveness also serves no good purpose, but forcing it on the victim for whom it has been weaponized is deadly. Inviting victims into forgiveness is a delicate and relational process. And the trust to get there in a meaningful way requires deep listening, assuring them that what was done is wrong, and that we are willing to walk gently and patiently with them.

Forgiveness is not what most of us have been taught. It is not a commitment to silence. The Bible is full of bad stories we should know nothing about if it meant silence.

Forgiveness is not a commitment to reestablishing a relationship with the offender. Some victims choose relationship, and sometimes it is healthy. But forgiveness without reestablishing relationship is possible, and sometimes the healthiest option for the wellbeing of a traumatized person.

Forgiveness is not a promise to avoid reporting crimes to the law, or keep the offender out of prison. If a victim reports to the law, in most cases — in fact, all but one that I have been involved in — it is to prevent further victimization. I’ve heard one victim say they’re doing it to get back for the pain inflicted on them. That, in my experience with victims, is the exception. The thought of more children being victimized is overwhelming to victims, and is often the thing that drives them to report, knowing they will likely go through hell all over again, in the legal process.

Forgiveness is not saying “It’s okay”, and it certainly is not a commitment to giving a ‘second chance’ that puts others in danger. And it is not overlooking the wrongs committed. It does extend grace for the soul of the abuser to be redeemed, and even wishes that redemption for them.

Forgiveness is not a one-time choice. It is a struggle. It is choosing, day after day, with every nightmare, flashback and trigger, to say, “I forgive.” It is being honest about the depth of suffering the wrong has brought, without hating the person who wronged us. It is about acknowledging truth, and the severity of the violation.

Forgiveness is saying, “I refuse to be in bondage to the offender.” It is saying, “I release him/her from my retribution and I will see no revenge.” And that is something you can do even while sitting with a law enforcement officer to report. Because reporting to the law and doing what you can to stop the violence against the vulnerable is the right and responsible thing to do. It is not at odds with forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing in the life of the victim. So beautiful that it should not be thrown around carelessly in such a way that it only serves to further traumatize them and increase the struggle. Through relational exchange is the best way to invite survivors into a journey of forgiveness and a place of freedom.

Leaving anyone stuck in a place of bitterness is cruel. And, sometimes, throwing teachings like forgiveness at victims without relationship or without understanding of victimization — or even forgetting out own journey and struggle to get there — does exactly that. It serves to lock them in more deeply than before because they have not yet had their pain acknowledged and have not had opportunity to grieve.

That, my friends, is why a careless command to forgive, or a thoughtless criticism of victims who we perceive have not forgiven, is never welcome in my space.

My goal is always to move victims toward healing. Jesus confronted arrogant religious folks boldly. He never did so with the brokenhearted. And until we have tended to their broken hearts, we have no business preaching at them.

Continued… (PART 5)

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

 

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

…Continued from Part 2...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued… (PART 4)

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

 

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

….Continued from Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every victim needs someone to listen without judgement…

Continued… (PART 3)

 

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued… (PART 2)

 

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

 

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

Screen Shot 2019-08-12 at 10.18.52 AM

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Allen Hoover, Advisory Board for ASAA ~ 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God help us…

God help the children… And He will.

Someday, He will come and set the children free…

He will come…

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

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ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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