Interview with Boz Tchividjian, Founder of Grace

The horrors of child abuse not only extinguishes the innocence of childhood, but so often defines survivors who spend a lifetime struggling to process such devastating childhood trauma. When abuse is perpetrated in faith communities and is rationalized with scripture and distorted theology, most victims come to understand God as the ultimate abuser. All too often, these precious souls get weary of processing what seems to be a forever dark journey and simply give up hope.

Last year, I was privileged to come into contact with an amazing individual who is walking that journey and has given up hope more than once. The life of Trudy Metzger is one that is both deeply tragic and remarkably hopeful. She was the one beaten and left to die on the side of the road in the parable of the Good Samaritan. She is also the one pursued, embraced, and loved by the ultimate Good Samaritan. Trudy’s journey is not unlike the painful journey of so many others who are weary and who have or are giving up hope.   Her life is a declaration that there is hope.  

In order to share this hope with others, Trudy recently wrote a book about her journey entitled,Between 2 Gods.   This amazingly honest memoir doesn’t hide the truth about the deep physical, emotional, and spiritual pains caused by childhood trauma. It also doesn’t hide the truth about a loving God who crosses the road and gets down into the dirt with the hurting and brutalized.

I hope that we can all find some comfort in Trudy’s words that have been formed out of a life that for all intensive purposes should have ended long ago. I’m so grateful God had other plan. – Boz

Boz: Can you tell us a little bit about your family background?
Trudy: I was the 12th living child, of what would eventually be 16, born into an Old Colony Russian Mennonite home. With a history of unaddressed abuse and violence in my father’s family, and murder and unacknowledged sexual abuse in my mother’s family, we didn’t stand much of a chance at escaping abuse. Intertwined with this were deeply rooted religious beliefs that presented God as volatile and harsh, rather than a kind ‘Abba Father’—or ‘Papa’—who loves us and understands our humanity.

Boz: What was it about the culture you grew up in that you believe contributed to an abusive environment?
Trudy: This topic would produce at least a chapter, but more likely a book, if covered with any kind of thoroughness. Certainly male dominance was a problem—and I say that as someone who believes all are created equal, with something of value to contribute in every situation—and this robbed women and children of any voice. Contributing to this was the ‘elders are to be respected view’ that required younger children to submit to older siblings, giving older siblings almost the same authority as parents. While these older siblings were not necessarily the abusers, the mentality very much affirmed ‘voicelessness’ and demanded submission and surrender to the wishes of anyone older. This is a set up for abuse throughout life.

I want to add that our communities in Mexico were infested with sexual abuse on every level, and it was not only the girls who were victimized by fathers, brothers and men in general. Male to male violations were a tragic reality, leaving young boys devastated by the impact of rape, often from older boys or fathers. Teen boys raped teen girls and older girls seduced younger boys, and mothers molested their children. I wouldn’t have known all of this in childhood, and didn’t address its brutality in my book but it goes without saying that such depravity is the result of multiple issues, not only male dominance.

Another piece was little teaching about sex, and what was communicated was presented more in strict warnings to ‘not sin’, and warnings to protect against ‘evil boys’. This made sex an altogether horrid thing, feeding the unhealthy lifestyles and resulting in much sexual promiscuity on besides abuse.

Continue reading interview here: Rhymes with Religions

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Between 2 Gods Facebook Page

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The Elephant Grows Fat in Church

The tragic series of events unleashed on our church near Bayfield, by The Travelling Missionary… Rapist quickly became the elephant in church. No one talked about it, or helped victims of the ‘domino effect’. There should not have been gossip, but appropriate leadership should have been given to the families traumatized by the aftermath.

Instead, we suffered silently. I thought I was the only one on whom an attempt was made. Each ‘victim turned perpetrator’ was aware of themselves, plus the one or more they victimized.

Having come from the ‘outside’ our family was already viewed as ‘different’. And we were. We were not as crafted in the art of living pretentious lives. We had issues. Obvious ones. And lots of them. There was Dad’s temper. Our finances. We didn’t ‘think’ like they did. At first we didn’t dress right, or talk right, having not yet learned their cultural norms.

Because of silence within our family, I thought that I was the only one who had been abused. I had suppressed childhood sexual abuses, but the attempts made in my teens made me feel like there was something wrong with me, that I was somehow at fault. This left me feeling isolated in our family, and our family isolated in church.

When it was just God and me, I prayed and cried out to Him. I didn’t understand what had happened to me, and I certainly didn’t understand my struggle with my identity and sexuality. Even my gender became a struggle for me, as I raged against God for making me a girl, wondering if by some miracle He could change that so I, too, could have power and not be victimized.

In this struggle I asked God why He had not simply ended my life before birth, as He had the nine other babies my mother had lost. I imagined what it would have been like to never be born and simply go to heaven, and the thought seemed quite appealing. Other times between ages nine and fourteen, I begged God to take my life, and end the pain that I could not understand. All of these struggles surfaced in various ways.

To the church I appeared to be a rebel, getting me into trouble with leaders. I wonder now, did it ever occur to them that I had been victimized? Were there many who knew and did nothing? Or was it only the father, our then lead minister, whose son was victimized, who knew? Did he withhold the truth from others? Did he hide it to protect his son, who had become a perpetrator, or did he hide it to protect his role in the church?

Was it ignorance that made them hide it from other parents and pretend it would all go away, eventually. Was the over focus on our behaviour their way of distracting themselves? Of willing themselves to believe that it was not as bad is it seemed?

So many questions remain unanswered.

The elephant still remains in church. Growing ever larger, crowding out life, crowding out hope. Silence is the feeding trough from which it dines and the ongoing abuses force the church deeper into silence. Even if they dared to break the silence, the elephant has grown so large, how would they ever remove it?

Maybe the elephant seemed innocent when it was little, but it’s big and ugly now. It’s filling the pew where yester-years’ children should sit, where their children should hear of Jesus.. the place where their grandchildren should laugh and squeal and do the things that little children do.

If we will dare to speak, to help victims,  and hold perpetrators accountable, then we stand a chance at making a difference, and protecting our children and grandchildren from this evil.

But the pews are empty, with only the sound of deafening silence. And the elephant grows fat, as the church thins out… and it will continue to….

…. until we break the silence.

© Trudy Metzger

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series