Why can’t you shut up about sexual abuse and get a life?

That question. Why can’t I just shut up? I’ve been asked this question in various forms over the past several years, by a variety of people. I’ve been unfriended (both in the real world and on FB) because I won’t shut up. One woman, a victim herself, who claims it’s had no impact on her and “it’s not a big deal” had a most condescending way of telling me to give it up already and find something better to do with my life.

Here’s the thing. With my personality, my nature, or the way I was trained – (I don’t always know where the ‘born this way’ starts or ends, and where the ‘trained this way’ picks up) – but in any case I would rather shut up. Yes, you heard me. I would rather shut up and pretend that sexual abuse isn’t an epidemic. And I’d especially like to pretend it isn’t in churches and faith communities. But it is. And I can’t.

In part I’d like to shut up because it’s not a fun way to spend my life. And I like fun. I love laughter and doing fun things. And I’d rather do them all the time than to even once get my hands bloody and feet dirty in the messy world of sexual violence against children. I’d rather plant flowers and manicure my lawn and sit in my flower garden and sip coffee, tea and water all day long in frivolous conversation with happy people. (Okay…stroke the ‘frivolous conversation’ bit. I don’t enjoy that.) And eat fruit. Because in The Garden it was supposed to be that peaceful and nice. But we don’t live in that Garden and hell has invaded our worlds in ways our first parents never imagined when they took that bite.

So the thought of sitting in a garden chattering with friends, laughing and playing games is appealing. Not gonna lie. No one would threaten to sue me.  No one would hate me. Everybody would love me. If all I did was sit in a garden with friends and never spoke another word of confrontation about sexual abuse and the agenda to cover up. Okay, they might hate me if I was super rich and if it was only an elitist group welcome in my garden. But if all were welcome and I simply served biscuits, treats and drinks, no one would hate me. Except maybe those who hate everyone and are always jealous. But mostly I would be loved. And that is my bottom line, based on my personality and who I am: I like to be loved and accepted. I am born for that. I am conditioned for it. Follow the rules. Don’t stir the water. Love everyone, and be loved back generously.

But I can’t shut up. And I can’t because every day children are conceived. Every day they are born. And every day they are molested, raped, brutalized and used. And every day I am aware that at any given moment, if I pause, a child enters the world, somewhere. And in that same moment another is being raped or molested in some way. And in that same moment an abuser, a church leader, a parent… someone, somewhere, is denying the horror that child lives. I cannot ‘un-know’ these things. They are as real to me as the breath I breathe.

But the real reason I cannot shut up is because I know there is hope for that child in spite of all that darkness and hell and trauma. And if just one child (whether an adult or still a child) hears that someone, somewhere is willing to fight for the truth and their hearts, then defying everything my heart longs for (peace, no conflict, Garden-kind-of-innocence, and to be loved by all) is worth it. Because that child might not commit suicide. That child might find the courage to heal and get help. And that child might not grow up to molest others, if that child knows that their story matters to someone.

So, go ahead, ask me if I can’t just get over it already, or move on or get a life. But first dare to picture the graphic truth of a toddler (male or female) being raped, an adult body forcing inside, and that adult getting away with it as a “member in good standing” because he said he is sorry. (Now recreate with a female offender). Too graphic? This is the reality of many children so we as adults better be able to handle it if we demand they live with it.

If you can physically step over that toddler, spirit torn and flesh bleeding, and keep on walking and literally ‘get over it’…. then send me your challenge to get over it and move on. But I can’t. And I won’t. Because I have ‘seen’ those little bodies left to bleed… I have seen them in the broken lives of struggling adults. I will continue to pick up those little bodies, wipe up the blood and bodily fluids that have left forever stains in their spirits – stains which remain, fluids which continue to spill, and blood which continues to flow from those scars for decades. And I will speak the love of Jesus over them, tell them who they really are and what they are worth. And I will confront boldly the dark sins hiding in our communities.

Because Jesus would. And He would say a whole lot more than I have courage or boldness or words for. And it wouldn’t be laced with an ounce of self-preservation or fear or wanting to be liked.

Matthew 18:6-9.

I invite you to speak up. Educate yourself about the truth. And fight for the lost children, stripped of innocence, and born into the silent sex-trade of what we call church and faith community.

Rise up. Join in transforming our communities so children are safe and offenders are called out and held responsible. Together we will create an environment where image means nothing and truth means everything. We need you. Even if the only ‘speaking out’ and ‘fighting for’ you can muster is on your knees in your room. The children need you.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2017

I Will Set My Children Free

In 2006 I visited Ethiopia, travelling with a ministry team, through seven prisons, ranging from the harshest environments, to the best facilities in the country.

We entered a small room, and, to my horror, it was filled with children–the offspring of the real prisoners. I had been fore-warned. But nothing could have prepared me for that first day, the first scene. I had sunglasses with me. Thank God. I wore them. And I smiled. But the entire time tears threatened.

Before we left, I was asked to pray a blessing over them. I kept my voice steady and sweet as I prayed. And I wiped the silent tears that fell as I prayed.

On my bed that night I fell apart. I sobbed. And I told God that if I have to see that kind of thing one more time, He will have to make me stronger. The children didn’t need a puddle on the floor. They needed hope. Courage. Encouragement. For someone to believe in their future, to see them free, by faith…..

Sometimes I hear things from friends or family, and it all hits so close to him. The trauma, the tragedy, the violence and the evils of sexual abuse…

We have created a prison of our own, in the walls of our own churches. And I see children, free to run, to come and go as they please, trapped in the walls of that prison of shame, silence and victimization. And I see that they need hope. Courage. Encouragement. For someone to believe in their future, to see them free by faith…

It is hardest when it hits so close, and you can’t even reach out, because it’s too close. This, for me, is the hardest thing when it comes to abuse.

When I meet with people who are not part of my inner circle, or immediate family, I am able to remain calm and objective. But, for some reason, when it’s too close, my mind cannot separate myself from the trauma. I find I have to guard myself more closely, so that the past does not regain power over me. It is a very helpless feeling.

Like with the people I mentor, I am committed to confidentiality and letting ‘their story’ be just that–their story to tell. But it is the hardest thing in the world to be silent when people close to you, suffer like that, and your hands are tied. And you watch hearts break, and lives shatter….

These are the things that are hard to bear.

And when I hear the evil that is said and done, after abuse takes place in the church, I am undone. Completely.

One mom told me last week how she recently discovered her child was abused by someone in the church, a man in his twenties. In its own neat and tidy way it was ‘taken care of’ in the church, careful to guard image and protect  the church name, the conservative Mennonite church. Wisely they took it to court and let a fellow church member know that he is not above the law. A crime against children is a crime to be dealt with by the laws of the land. (Bless them!)

Not long after, the older teen-aged brother of the young victim was told, by another man in the church, that what happened to his little brother ‘isn’t a big deal’, because there was no penetration. This is a cruel thing to do to someone who is grieving what happened to a sibling. As if ‘survivor’s guilt’ isn’t enough to deal with. Turns out that, years ago, the man had violated the man who abused the young boy.

How long will we turn a blind eye? How long before churches take a stand, openly, publicly and fearlessly? How long before we stop sacrificing our children on the altar of pride, religion and sexual perversion. How long before we release them from the prison we have created for them, through silence?

My heart can only cry out for mercy. And pray that God will Set the Children Free .

© Trudy Metzger

Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series

First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series

Allegory of the Silent Woods

I find myself now, in a dark woods. Having wandered deep enough to be caught at nightfall, unable to see the path clearly. The stillness more frightening than the foreboding growls and the threat of creatures unknown to me. The creatures warn me, the stillness does not.

I want to turn, to run back from where I have come and never look into the woods again. Never to see again, or even remember what I have seen here. If only I could tell you, you wouldn’t believe it. The stories, whispered here, by the dying, the wounded, the lost. But I cannot tell, for they are not my stories to share, save a few who have asked me to speak on their behalf. But I cannot tell them now, it is not yet time.

It was beautiful when I set out into the woods, the flowers at the edge of the woods. The path clear and predictable. Birds chirping cheerfully, as if to encourage me. Furry little creatures, darting about, as if daring me to follow. How naively I wandered deeper.

I cannot say that I was truly naive. For I had heard of the tragedy that had befallen many in the woods. I, myself, had lived there, years ago, one of the fallen. Dying. But I had not seen the others then. Not most of them. Because I was so wounded.I could not comprehend the pain around me, or discern their cries. I could not see, so wounded that my sight was dim.

And then they rescued me. The strangers who heard of my fate and wandered into the woods, offering to carry me out, to dress my wounds, to feed me. Slowly my health was restored.

Then the memory of the cries around me, deep in the woods, returned to haunt me, begging me to return into the woods. A dream was born. I made a vow. I would return. Like those brave enough to rescue me, I would go back into the woods….

I imagined how brave I would be. How many wounded I would find in the woods, and how I would carry them out, one by one, fighting off demons, and monsters, and dragons. Fearlessly. At least so I would tell myself. Inside, where no one could see but me and God, the fear would be there. But that fear would be my driving force, to keep me going, fighting, bringing salvation to the wounded. On the surface I would be brave, and strong…. That is what others would see….

As the night gets darker, the fear is no longer in my heart, hidden. Now it is bold. I feel it, choking me. Threatening to make me freeze. Stealing my strength, causing me to drop the wounded, without even the strength to stand.

It is not the demons and monsters that frighten me so, that make me want to run. No, it is the familiar faces. It is those I see, and recognize, in the woods who stand there, beside the wounded, covering their eyes, as they pray. As they pray for themselves and their own ambitions. Closing their eyes so they cannot see those wounded, and bleeding out on the ground. The blood so near them, it is on their feet, their hands. Praying so loud that they cannot hear the weeping, the cries, the final gasps as the wounded draw their last breath. The blood drips from their hands as they cover their eyes. Still they pray.

The demons and the monsters and the dragons, these I was prepared for. I was ready to slay them, to command them to leave, to chase them. To do whatever I had to do. But now I am in shock. Not shocked that these familiar faces exist. I expected a few. I planned to work around them, to even win them over and encourage them to help.

But nothing could have prepared me for the vast numbers of them, except for experience. And experience is a cruel teacher. A heartless lecturer, forcing one to sit and listen, to contemplate things one might never have known, without experience.

No, I did not come prepared to have them stand there, watching me drag body, after body–if they dared to stop their praying and open their eyes long enough to see–while they stood there silently, or worse, stepped into my path.

This is what is most frightening in the dark. Because I do not know if they caused the wounds, if they would hesitate to slay me. Or if they too, like me, merely wandered into the woods with good intentions, and were seized by fear that consumed their will to fight.

But I have taken a vow, and I cannot break it. I will keep my sword at my left side, carry the wounded on my left shoulder. My right hand is free, always, to reach out to God. It is free to lend a hand to those I meet. It is free to rest on my heart and remember to Whom I have vowed my allegiance. It is free to take hold of that sword, when I need it, and fight for freedom.

I have taken a vow, and I will keep it.

My sword is the truth. My vow is to stand by it, and be faithful to it. For Truth cannot fall. It prevails. Always. And with that vow comes strength, courage and hope.

The woods are darker now. And lonely.

It is a long dark night ahead. But morning will come again, and with it, victory.

© Trudy Metzger

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series

Enter to win the August Book Draw

See Previous Month’s Winner