Pedophilia; a sexual orientation? And if churches protect molesters, should society overlook pedophilia?

Next Thursday I will lead a discussion in my Sociology of Deviance class. Our prof has given us an extensive list of readings from which to choose, as discussion leaders, out of which we choose two for our class to read and discuss. One of the two I chose addresses whether pedophilia is a sexual orientation, versus a crime. My interest in the topic is self-explanatory. My father was a pedophile. But my interest in this slant to the subject is not so straight forward.

I’ve long taken issue with church protecting pedophiles in the name of forgiveness, and then fretting over how they can protect their children from predators ‘out there’. The same holds true with the prevalence of homosexuality and lesbianism in our Anabaptist culture, and then being all horrified at the ‘sexual perversion’ that exists ‘out there’. Or, as one elderly conservative Anabaptist woman told me a few months ago, they knew ‘back in the day’ that if you missed your period and were not ready for another baby, that you just purchased naturopathic products to cause a miscarriage. But abortion is met with extreme judgement against those ‘out there’. (I understand that some readers will find this shocking and hard to believe, as I did also, at first. Now I have enough stories documented from eight years of working mostly with ‘my people’, and by that I mean conservative Mennonite, not the people of my birth culture – that the shock factor is lost on me.)

Of all of these, pedophilia is the only one that is blatantly and openly ‘protected’ in our culture, by many at the leadership level, as well as lay members. And, I shudder to say this out loud, but in my experience women more actively cover for men than men cover for themselves, many times. Homosexuality/lesbianism, premarital sex and abortion are present aplenty – albeit, with much denial all around – but harshly condemned, whereas pedophilia is openly and actively protected. Yet, not one person in my experience has ever expressed that pedophilia ‘out there’ should be overlooked. In fact, when such news comes to light ‘out there’ all the appropriate gasps escape lips in church.

This double standard ‘because we are sorry, so we must be forgiven and not face consequences’ boggles my mind. I would think that if we are so sorry, truly, deeply sorry, then we would face the consequences with humility. (I also know if I was a sex offender looking to hide, I’d put on some cultural attire and adhere to the strictest rules possible, and look as holy as possible.) It has been my observation that many times when society pushes for a particular agenda – ie; same-sex rights and marriage – that church has already long lived that very thing in some form and hidden it. Same holds true for abortion. It was in church, secretly, long before it was legal at a political level. So who are we to judge?

Pedophilia is no exception. It has not only been present in church for ages, but there’s the blatant protection of those who engage in child molestation. It is only reasonable to expect (and dare I say support) society to legalize it as a sexual orientation, and decriminalize it, if we are already there in how we handle these crimes. So, when this happens, church, spare us all the gasps. At least until first there has been a great repentance across the many denominations in Christendom because we have blood on our hands, and pointing bloody fingers at others is especially shameful. And when that repentance has come, the gasping will cease – because gasping at ‘their sin’ is the work of arrogance, self-righteousness and denial, not the work of love, grace and the Gospel of Jesus, and especially when we begin to acknowledge we have the same sins among us.

So, on Thursday, when I engage a handful of young scholars, I anticipate there will be a stronger stand against pedophilia than what I am accustomed to in my work, as relates to engaging leaders of pedophiles, or their spouses, parents or families. On Thursday I anticipate the class will say even if it is determined to be an orientation, that the person should have to face consequences, and it should still be a crime.

Ironically, in this secular space there seems a much clearer view of the horror and damage done by molestation than I am used to hearing in church …. unless, of course, if we are talking about the man ‘out there’ who, God help him, ‘used’ his children. Or the school teacher ‘out there’ who touched a student. Or the neighbour man/boy from ‘out there’ who so much as makes a flirtatious pass at one of ‘ours’. Or the ungodly man who stalks, kidnaps and rapes one of ours. When it is one of ‘them’ we gasp and weep and ask why. We cannot grasp what wickedness would drive such a person. We acknowledge the horror and the trauma. Our worlds are rocked when ‘one of them’ invade our space and do the very thing that is already happening among us. But when it is one of ours, we don’t believe the victim.

I was around fourteen years old when a young aboriginal boy attempted to rape a girl at knife-point in our community. We were all shaken. He was one of my best friends and had never so much as looked at me in a way that felt inappropriate. In a matter of days he was shipped back to where he came from, leaving our community reeling. I felt both loss of innocence (mostly because of the knife, and thus the violent nature of the crime) and loss of my friend. But no one shipped away the leader’s son who, minus the knife, sexually assaulted some of us to varying degrees. He was successful. It wasn’t an attempt. But he claimed at least one as mutual consent, and took ownership of what he did to me, and life went on as always. It is the most profound example of my youth, of that ‘us and them’ difference, and how in church it just goes away.

There comes a steep price tag with that kind of thing. God says “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). I am convinced that most of what we gasp at ‘out there’, is directly linked to what we hide and overlook among us as God’s people. I am convinced that our repentance and the ‘turning from wickedness’ that moves the hand of God to heal our land is not because we repent for them ‘out there’. He heals our land because we repent for having first wandered away from Him.

Our land needs healing. God’s people need to stop pointing out there and living a double standard, and start repenting in here. If ‘ours’ don’t deserve punishment for molesting children, then I vote that the law criminalizing such behaviour be done away with. The day our expectations of society are higher than that of God’s people, we have absolutely nothing left to offer. And shame on us if that is how we live while proclaiming the name of Jesus.

It’s time to choose which it will be.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

Is There Life After #Denial About #Sexual Abuse?

canstockphoto14749489 (1)

Denial. That ability to survive in a state of extreme trauma, by living as though that reality does not exist. It is a gift in childhood, when our young minds have no understanding of that trauma, and cannot formulate words to express it. A natural response, it sustains life for a time.

But there comes a time, as we grow older, when living out of a place that is not reality robs us of experiencing life to the fullest. The energy we invest in survival, and keeping the truth of trauma buried, leaves us with little to offer in the way of life and hope to others. Spouses live with walls in between, children with a disconnected parent.

And if that denial is the offender’s manipulation–his or her way of avoiding responsibility–it pierces the heart of the victim. Twice victimized, is how it feels when offenders play that game.

Denial forces victims to retreat in lifeless existence, dieing in the shadows of buried trauma and painful memories. But truth is life and freedom. Truth breathes life into the soul. Because all truth is God’s truth, and all truth makes people free. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

canstockphoto25089939 (1)

And when Truth breathes, it coaxes life from death itself, offering hope in the shadows of nothingness that are left in the wake of molestation and abuse. And all that denial and lies tried to suffocate, breathes with new purpose. And in a sudden and ironic twist, life suffocates death, as the thing designed to bring death is redeemed and brings life to others trapped in denial.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Duggar Sister’s (Part 2): Long-term Impact of Juvenile Molestation on Marriage & Trampled Young Hearts

Juvenile Offenders & Potential Impact of Their Crimes, Later in Life & Marriage:
One reality about Josh–and we can hate this reality or not, it is true and necessary to consider–is that he was a juvenile offender whose crimes should not have been made public, if I understand accurately. That said, though, there again are various opinions, even from lawyers. (According to information I found online outlining these laws, my understanding is it should have been protected….but God only knows, at a quick glance, if this info is up to date. And maybe the lawmakers know too.) Here in Ontario this is certainly the case with victims, as I was reminded when I recently provided support for several underage victims and the detectives reminded them that there would be  publication ban, and the information would not be made public. One can always hope that will be the case. And it is also the case with offenders as I discovered when I learned that a former deacon’s son molested a boy under age 18 and was protected. Those are the laws. And on that front the Duggar family has had their privacy severely violated.

While most fourteen-year-olds do not fully understand the consequences of their behaviour, it is no less a crime and should be called just that. It is also sin, in our ‘Christianese speak’ and according to God’s Book–and a crime for which a teen would have been stoned in ‘the olden days’–so we Christians should call it a sin and a crime, not a ‘a bad thing’ or ‘a mistake’. That is not appropriate terminology for molestation, when we call homosexuality–a consenting sexual interaction between ‘adults’–a sin, which it is in the Bible I read and believe. Regardless how biblically wrong and sinful, it is not a crime against the innocent and vulnerable. So let’s call molestation a sin and a crime, not ‘a bad thing’.

Reinforcing the severity of that crime, and the sinfulness of it, will help the victims realistically understand and deal with what happened to their spirits in the process. Because the truth is that the offender being juvenile does not lessen the impact of the violation on victims, as it relates to the heart and spirit of a child. Many victims–both male and female–pay a high price in marriage for that violation. A relatively high percent of victims I work with were violated by offenders under eighteen, and even under fourteen, but the PTSD and other ‘aftermath’ they suffer is all the evidence I need that age does not negate damage, in many situations.

canstockphoto19790503

A woman may find it difficult or impossible to enjoy sexual intimacy, or go into panic after or during intercourse as a result, depending on the extent and nature of the violation. Or she may push her husband away if he wants to touch her breasts, and not immediately associate the repulsion or resistance to past violation. A man may find it difficult to allow his wife to touch his genitals, or feel inadequate and struggle to enter into intimacy, or retreat sexually in some other way. This is a big deal. When it becomes a marriage struggle, which in more cases than enough leads to infidelity or struggles with sexual addictions, even having been groped and grabbed become a ‘big deal’ that cannot be ignored.

Unfortunately many couples don’t understand their feelings or associate them with past victimization, and therefore don’t get the help they need.  And spouses often take that rejection personal, escalating the dysfunction and increasing the risk of the marriage failing. The good news, for those who do get help and piece these things together, is that many can and do overcome these barriers. Once that understanding is there, the individuals can move past blaming themselves,  or feeling helplessly and hopelessly inadequate. Then restoration can begin. (I’ve helped more than one couple work through this and restore healthy sexual intimacy. However, I am in no way trained or licensed and it can be quite emotionally draining, so I’m not signing up to be the next Dr. Ruth…)

These consequences will potentially come into play in marriage even when things have been ‘dealt with’ and victims have ‘moved on’, borrowing the words of Jessa. For these and many other reasons, it is important to recognize that victims need space and the ‘right’ or ‘permission’ to go through the rise and fall of  the aftermath. There will come a time when Josh’s victims may need that permission, and hopefully that will be respected. On the other hand, some victims, particularly those who were not violated to the point of rape, attempted rape, or other more invasive abuse, may be able to move on and face few ongoing consequences. Every victim is unique, with needs as unique as their ‘person’, and those needs should be honoured.

Juvenile Victims & The Careless Trampling of Hearts:
Certainly, Josh’s victims were very violated as the media trampled through their private lives. I don’t care what TV show they were on, the victims should have had their privacy respected. And while names were not given, it didn’t take a particularly brilliant mind to do the math and piece it together. In this the girls are right to feel violated. I am not ready to jump on the ‘they are being persecuted’ wagon, but at the same time I feel badly for them to have had their stories thrown in public that way, at a time not of their choosing.

On the flip side, one clue that maybe the healing isn’t as deep and permanent as they would hope and wish–speaking of the girls’ and their parents’ presentation of healing–is the reaction to this whole thing becoming public. Once that healing is complete, and every aspect has been dealt with and truly moved on, then there is no fear or anxiety in the public knowing, if there’s nothing to hide. But that exposure must be subject to the victim’s timetable, not the public’s. I write from experience here.

duggar sisters_Jill in tears

Two years ago, when I was writing my memoir in which I disclose numerous incidents of having to perform oral sex (mostly on females) in early childhood, I had mild panic attacks at the prospect of people knowing even superficial details. It felt horribly vulnerable, offensive and somewhat violating, just to think about the public knowing. By the time my original manuscript was complete, I had come to relative peace with it, and suffered only occasional moments of mild anxiety. But the day my editor wrote and said I would need to be more direct, in summer of 2014, only about seven months from my release date, and told me I need to actually ‘name’ the abuse–that abuse being oral sex–I freaked out. I burst into tears, and my fist landed hard on the countertop as I declared to my husband, “They can’t make me do this! They can’t make me do this!” And then, having composed myself somewhat, I said, “I don’t think I can go through with publishing my story. I think I have to get out of the contract.”

Having vented, wept, grieved, and cried before God… and begged Him to help me say it in a way that would not be destructive, but would still tell the truth, I set to work one more time. And that time the words came. I ran parts past several friends, Monica Orr and Tina Miller, who did not know me in person, but with whom I had developed a trust relationship, and batted the manuscript back and forth, back and forth, until I felt it was balanced. When that process was finished, my heart had healed at a whole new level. At age 45, actively in ministry for almost 5 years, and with 24 years of healing behind me, I finally felt released fully, for the first time in my life.

So I understand the panic the Duggar girls felt at the story leaking, and I also believe they could still have a bit of a healing journey ahead of them. My prayer is that they find the support and encouragement they need, and that they are given permission by the gentlemen in their lives, and even their parents, to walk that road, as needed. My prayer is that they (and their parents eventually as well) will have a solid grasp on the consequences and severity of sexual abuse, even in juvenile cases, as that is an important part of breaking the chains and generational cycles that begin… or carry on, as the case may be. It is a sad thing when reality hits with the next generation. At that point some snap, and others simply talk it down again…

While it is very possible, maybe even likely, that there was a strong PR influence in the interview, my instincts tell me the girls were being honest about ‘what they know and believe’ including how healed they are and feel, based on where they are at in life, right now. Just what that will mean with time, is a story yet to unfold, and a journey only they can walk. And one the public would do well to stay the heck out of.

To be Continued…

Love,
~ T ~

TO REGISTER for Lancaster Pennsylvania Conference,  July 10-11, 2015 visit: GenerationsUnleashed.com
full brochureLancaster County 2015_C


© Trudy Metzger

“When I prayed, I felt big arms wrap around me”… Do Angels Really Visit Children?

“I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.”
~ GOD ~

****

(Part 2: The Forgotten Children)

…First a little story that happened in 2015:

angel with child

Had I not been there, face to face with her, and had I only heard it on GodVine or whatever other social media forum out there, I wouldn’t have believed it. I would have concluded someone coerced her, or framed the questions just right. But when it played out in front of me, I had no choice but to believe. I tell the following story with permission from ‘mommy’.

This year I’ve traveled to numerous times to various states in USA, to offer support in difficult situations. Being a Canadian, I go solely to offer a listening ear and spiritual encouragement. I do not tell people what they ought to do, beyond encouraging them to educate themselves with the law, and fight for their children’s best interest and healing, and to get them support, help or therapy they need. Always.

It was on one such trip that I found myself sitting with a little girl…. yet again. Her blonde, fly-away hair caught in her ice cream cone, and she licked it clean, giggling. Her blue eyes sparked with mischief… until that one topic came up…

I asked if we could talk about what had happened, and explained that mommy had told me everything. Immediately, it was as if someone had turned out the light and drawn the blinds in her beautiful little eyes. With great intensity she told me that mommy had explained we would talk about it, and it was okay. Still, I could see the shame.

“What do you feel when we talk about it?” I asked.

She shrugged, then said, “Bad. Like it was my fault and I ruined his life.” My heart filled with sudden deep pain, on her behalf, and immediately I assured her it was not her fault. I told a little story, using a practical example, of a grown up wrecking some precious toy, and asked if it would be her fault. “No!” she giggled, in that ‘don’t-be-so-silly’ way, and shook her head.  The sparkle returned.

“Then, can it really be your fault when an adult hurts you?”

She shook her head, and smiled. “So it’s not really my fault at all, is it?”

“No, sweetie, it isn’t,” I said. Relief visibly washed over her. We talked about many things, and repeatedly her deep thoughts amazed me. And then I asked about fear. I remember debilitating fear surging through my body, so that I could hardly breathe, especially at night, and how there was no one to talk to about it. “Are you ever afraid?” I asked.

“Not very often, any more,” she said, “but sometimes I am.”

“What do you do when you’re afraid?” I asked.

“I pray and talk to Jesus,” she said. I nodded, contemplating where to take the conversation. I asked what she says to Jesus. “I just tell Him I’m scared, and ask Him to help me,” she answered.

sleeping girl

“Who taught you to pray when you’re afraid?

She looked thoughtful. “No one. I just do it.” She went on to tell me how the first time she lay in the dark, terrified, she began to ‘talk to Jesus’.

“Then what happened?” I expected her to call her parents into her room to hold and comfort her. Because they would. They’re like that.

“When I prayed, I felt big arms wrap around me and hold me, and then I fell asleep,” she answered matter-of-factly, as though it should have been what I expected. Whatever emotions I felt in that moment, I pushed them down. I was here to support her, and tears were out of place. So I smiled and told her how beautiful that is, and how it makes me so happy.

“I told my little brother to try it when he was scared. I said, ‘you can just pray, and these big arms will come and hold you’, but he said it didn’t work for him.”

“Have you told mommy and daddy about this?” I asked. She furrowed her brows, thoughtfully, and then shook her head, adding that she never thought about it. “Do you think we can tell them later?” I asked. “I think it would make their hearts happy.” And that is just what she did when we returned. There were tears and relief, at knowing so  that Someone had been with their daughter so intimately all along.

The words of Jesus, “…their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven…” replayed in my mind, over and over. She won’t have an easy road; it never is for victims of molestation, but she will never be alone.

God has an amazing plan for this little girl, as He does for all of us. Being molested will bring unnecessary struggle and pain into that journey, but I know this; God will redeem it. He will turn her into a dynamic young woman whose faith will be a testimony to God’s faithfulness in spite of tragedy.

I do not thank God for what happened to her. I do not downplay the wickedness because of God’s promised redemption. I am heartbroken that children continue to suffer. It should never have happened. But I will never stop believing that God will raise us up, as victims, to be the strongest voice for healing in our land, on this topic.

****

I will share this interview with Boz Tchividjian, on each of these ‘Forgotten Children’ posts, because it is worth watching. Boz is a man of great wisdom on the topic of sexual abuse. He is a Christian and a former prosecuting lawyer in child abuse cases, who speaks with insight, compassion and offers balance. If ever you find yourself wondering if something is ‘sexual abuse’ or ‘normal curiosity’, have a listen.

Boz interview with CBN

To be Continued….

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

The Forgotten Children: Would Jesus Drive Out Child Molesters With a Whip?

Cattle wander. Sheep. Oxen. Doves. Each animal contained and constrained. Obedient. People. Everywhere. Rushing about. All wanting top dollar; highest bids. Each one scrambling, greed rushing through their veins like black poison. Money changers. A little extra here, withholding a mite there. No one will miss it. No one know. Except for the well-lined pockets of slippery fingers.

One hand reaches in, jingling the extra. A wicked smirk. A little security. Selfish hand wrapped around coins…

A whip cracks, piercing the air…

The man startles, ducking; hands flailing, coins scatter. Cuss words. Yelling. He dives greedily after rolling promises, breaking from his reach. Takes cover under a table. Cattle, oxen, sheep… they all charge carelessly; owners flee.

Tables topple with violent force…. the man crawls, bumps his head, stumbles to his feet and flees. Still cussing at the man, whose descent on the lucrative heaven, disrupted and brought utter chaos. Who in all the world would have the gall?

He pauses at the sidelines, looking back… and then he sees Him. He squints in disbelief. It’s the gentle Rabbi, “teacher”, as they call him; those foolish ones who trail after him like lost idiots. The whole irresponsible lot of them, a nuisance.

Children dart out from hiding, snatching coins. “My coins,” he mutters grudgingly, under his breath. “Those bratty little rascals!” The same little ‘bratty ones’ that the teacher defended in one of his teachings, he recalls. Yes, the teacher declared boldly that anyone who dared offend one of them–these bratty little ones–would be better off with a mill stone about their neck and cast into the sea. And something about their angels always being in God’s presence; some warning for the offender and a promise of comfort and care for the little ones, it seemed. Well, didn’t He see them here, now, stealing coins? Were they not asking for a little ‘offence’!? If I could get my hands on them, they’d get it good! But then, there was He, the teacher, the ‘Master’, and what kind of example was He for the children?

“Little brats,” he mumbled one last time, slinking away. It was useless. The whip cracked. dangerously. The cattle, sheep, oxen, and doves; a chorus of confusion.

And above the noise, a voice of authority echoes for eternity, through the land: “This is My Father’s house! And you have made it a den of thieves! You have taken what was not yours!

The words echo deep in a young man’s soul. “You have taken what was not yours“… They burn the heart of a young woman, “Den of thieves… You have taken what was not yours...” … An old man hobbles away, the words stinging deafened ears… “You have taken what was not yours“…  The woman, bent and crooked, led by her grandson, feels her heart splinter in two, til she can’t breathe, “You have taken what was not yours“…

The young man, the young woman, the old man, and the old woman, hunched and blind, see them there, the chorus of little one crying eerily, “You have taken what was not yours“.

Their soul blood cries from the dry ground of devastated hearts, seeking justice. Naked child bones, whose flesh was ripped away in that one selfish moment, lie lifeless…. Without lips, without tongues… they cry. Without tears or eyes… they weep.

But their lifeless hearts begin to warm and soften, with His light, beating as one with the Master’s, at the cry of His voice, “This is my father’s house and you have made it a den of thieves…. You have taken what was not yours, but I will keep my promise…  I have not forgotten the children… I will enter this valley of dry bones! I will replace hearts of stone with hearts of flesh, and bring these bones to life, covering them again with fullness and life. I will rebuild the ruins… I will restore ….

canstockphoto18748720 c

To be continued….

Love,

~ T ~

I will share this interview with Boz Tchividjian, on each of these ‘Forgotten Children’ posts, because it is worth watching. Boz is a man of great wisdom on the topic of sexual abuse. He is a Christian and a former prosecuting lawyer in child abuse cases, who speaks with insight, compassion and offers balance. If ever you find yourself wondering if something is ‘sexual abuse’ or ‘normal curiosity’, have a listen.

Boz interview with CBN

Note:  As promised, I am working on the list of links to the Mandatory Reporting laws in all states and provinces; at least all for which I am able to find them. It is a time-consuming (and may I say ‘boring’) task, but I will get there.

© Trudy Metzger

The Duggar Family; A Few Things… And a Secret of My Own…

What a wiggly can of worms I let loose Yesterday! My, my! And all I was doing is clearing my mind so I can sleep! Not twenty-four hours later, over forty thousand people ‘tuned in’ to my blog about Josh Duggar, and gave me lots to think about. And that’s a lot more people that I contemplated influencing with the unburdening of my heart; a thought that is quite sobering. Still, apart from some new insight into the bigger story, I stand by what I’ve written, 100%, at the core of my message.

As a result of the many comments and messages resulting from my previous blog, I spent my day responding to comments on FB, email messages, private messages etc. (I was going to clean my house! Too bad, eh? What a thing,  to be ‘stuck’ writing instead of cleaning. lol!) I’m responding to as many as possible, because this is an important topic and misunderstandings and incomplete information has the potential to do a lot of damage, on many levels. (Messages from readers, ranged from support, to rage, to hate… well, all I can say is when you swim upstream you have to watch for sharks.)

Covered in this post: 
• The  fact that Josh was a Juvenile
• The Duggar’s ‘reporting’ of the incident
• Was it the Victim’s Fault in any way?
• Mrs. Duggar’s statement regarding homosexuals and transgenders being pedophiles
• A Secret of My Own

There are a few things I learned throughout the day, yesterday, that are worthy of further exploring. Things that I want to ‘correct’ because of that new information. But first let me say this, in response to some of the ‘heavy pouncing’ as to why I would leave a blog up after I learned that I did not have full information. It’s this simple;

1.) I still feel the same way about the core of my message, that SOME victims  do not want to be made to feel like victims for life. SOME victims want to use the very thing that almost destroyed them, to bring hope and healing. SOME victims… and I am one. (Nothing of my post tone is all inclusive. To victims who read it that way, do as I did and ‘take YOUR voice’ to the streets. I will read it (if you send me a link) and I will not bash you. We all heal differently.) Just heal.

2.) The other ‘faulty’ information is still out in the media. so anyone who isn’t merely trolling and trying to poke the poop piles will know I’m not trying to be a moron. They’ll have heard the info, and since I was blogging about my feelings, that info can be corrected in this blog. In fact, it might help others get accurate information. I read enough I would have thought I’d have stumbled upon the truth at some point but I didn’t until people sent me links. So others will go through the same thing. I’d rather keep my original post up, and not retract the message, when new information does not change the core. I hope I can always be humble enough to take correction. I have not always been and it’s something God’s been teaching me in the past few years, so this is good practice.

3.) I wasn’t writing about the home dynamics. I wasn’t writing to document the events, or tell the world everything they did or did not do right. I was writing about how I FEEL as a victim when I see people speaking for ALL VICTIMS. I was using MY VOICE to express MY HEART. It is MY TESTIMONY of healing. And it’s just that: MINE. You  can love it, hate it, like it, share it, leave it, condemn it or curse it. It is MY JOURNEY and I WILL NOT BE MOVED by the masses. If I would look around and see a host of victims who are way more healed than I , then I’d say, Gosh, you know, maybe something is really screwed up about my healing journey. Maybe I’m missing something here… But,  alas, I don’t. I just don’t. There are others as healed, who healed very differently, and I bless them. But this is what works for me, so I will speak, write, and share my heart. You can do with it as you wish. I’m good here.

And now to the items I feel are worthy of addressing…

I had read that Josh Duggar and the victims received counseling and how dad went to a trooper, even if a year late. I took these things at face value, and based on these ‘facts’, I felt they had done all they could have done, at the time, even though they did it a year late. Now, with more information, I have found that information to not be fully accurate, and it raises questions. Did they handle things in a way as to keep a lid on it and keep family image in tact? Was there an agenda? Did they put themselves ahead of the well-being of their sons and daughters? What we know with certainty is that, at the very least there was mishandling of information by parents. church leaders, and the trooper. I am still not willing to throw rocks on how they should have done things, but I did want to correct this information. (To read the police report, visit InTouch. It is a bit insightful. And for Josh’s confession click HERE.)

Even so, attacking Josh on how it was handled is not right, because the handling of things does not fall on him; he was a juvenile. Questions I ask are: What more could he have done at that age? What more would he have known to do, to get help? And then, if we all agree that most 14-yr-olds would look to the adults for guidance, can we release him from the burden of the failure of adults in his life, and put that blame where it belongs? The crime he committed, is his burden, but what the adults did or didn’t do, is not. He can never get away from the reality of what he did to the victims; that is his to ‘own’.

Further to his age, and the anger regarding my statement about ‘fully understanding the consequences of his actions’. First of all, if you have a problem with it, read it again. I use the boy who molested me as an example. Secondly, I write about understanding ‘the consequences’ of his actions. But I will say again that an ‘over protected’ child who had not been taught much about sex, if anything, also will not understand the sexuality of it. They will feel that it is wrong, but not understand it. In my early teens I asked a friend if she wanted to ‘put our bodies together’, and she agreed, so we did. I had no idea that the encounter was a sexual thing. I knew boys shouldn’t touch girls, and girls shouldn’t touch boys, but even there I didn’t understand the ‘sex thing’ behind it. But no one taught me about sex, and certainly not about girls with girls. So, yes, I stand by the statement that it is very possible for a young teen to not understand. If you were not raised in a closed culture, or were withheld teaching on sex to the point of sheer ignorance, you have zero authority to tell me what it’s like inside those cultures. We who lived it, know. My sisters didn’t even get a warning about their periods. They just started bleeding one day and thought they were going to die. I read about it in an old Britannica encyclopedia. That doesn’t justify what Josh did to those children; he committed a crime. And it doesn’t make it any easier that my first ‘consensual’ sexual experience was with a girl. Because I instigated it, I went back to her soon after with a note that said I was so sorry, that I didn’t know what it meant but that I felt bad. Ignorance is a painful thing. (For the record, I believe in not hiding things. So I tell this in my book, and I’ve blogged about it before. I live my life an open book. Literally. )

As for the victims, they are not and were not at fault, in any way, and the fact that it was put on them, is not okay. I’ve seen that too many times. (That’s the most disturbing piece here, how victims can be blamed. And spare me the ‘if the victim didn’t scream’ line. Seriously! That’s a twisted abuse of scripture. And, furthermore, “then ya’ll shoulda taught ’em to scream, thank you very much!” Which, BTW, would mean actually talking about sex, and protecting your children. But if you don’t do your part, don’t bother with other lines from scripture to justify abuse and abusers. It’s wicked.) It also troubles me, after discovering that Josh’s crimes were only told to a trooper-friend, and he never had counseling, the in his confession he boldly states it having been taken to the law, and that he had counseling. If that was an attempt to ‘cover’, and make it look as legitimately ‘cleaned up as possible’ or not, I cannot tell. Or maybe he sincerely believed it… That’s his to carry.

Many readers have shared details of what has been described as cult-like’ environment in the Duggar home, and their adherence to the Pearl’s (Train Up A Child) methods of parenting. I cannot prove or disprove their claims, but will say that whole parenting method about make me ill. I can’t read that stuff, and for many reasons not the least of which is the abuse we suffered and witnessed at home, in childhood, with beatings and whippings and sometimes having to strip to the skin. My mind can hardly handle reading such vile and abusive parenting advice. There is nothing of our Heavenly Father’s compassion and love that is reflected in the harshness of it. If you want to know more, go looking. I don’t intend to do a lot of digging into this, but simply say this much to firmly declare I do not support any form of violence or abuse. Beating children into submission is not right. Period. All discipline should be relationship driven, and relationship building. More on that another day… maybe. But for now, I don’t support it. But it still has nothing to do with the message of yesterday’s blog. I never voiced support for them. I don’t know enough to hang them or hail them.

I also commented that I had never seen, until this Duggar case, a dad turning in his own son. And I still can’t think of any. But several of you sent private messages detailing just such accounts and how that worked out for you. I applaud your courage, even though it didn’t always end well for you. And I recognize that following proper protocol is no guarantee that victims or offenders get the help they need. It’s possible the Duggars would still be in this mess and nothing would have turned out differently, other than the media would have had a lot less clout. But those of you who had to fight against the system to get help for your children, when the system wanted to ‘turn a blind eye’, hats off to you.

Many also pointed out “hypocritical comments” made by Mrs. Duggar that equated homosexual and transgender people to sex offenders and pedophiles, and that men will pretend to be trans as a means to to access women and children in bathrooms etc. Again, my blog wasn’t about that but since so many said something, there is clearly a lot of pain out there about her words. I have worked with many clients in these areas, and won’t get into details but want to at least acknowledge that the identity struggle (and bear with me if you find that offensive, there are no right words to express everyone’s heart here) is very real. I write in my memoir about wanting to be a little boy, about thinking God messed me up and I don’t fit. That started as a toddler. So a statement like Mrs. Duggar’s is a very painful way to judge quickly something that goes deep inside. I am sorry your pain/struggle has been so casually brushed aside and turned into something it is not; I have never come across any documentation–scientific, biblical or otherwise, that would support her statement creating a link between homosexuality/transgender with pedophilia. When it comes to some pretending with agenda, are there exceptions, and some who do pretend? Maybe, I don’t know. But for those of you who struggle with that deep ‘lostness’ of wondering ‘who am I’, this is a painful statement, and I’m sorry.

Lastly, before I share a ‘secret’ of my own… there is one correction I need to make regarding a comment I made about ‘the duty to report’ in Ontario, and that the father would not have been required to report. In a case where I was involved ‘on the fringes’ back in 2013, we did some research on the duty to report and what it means to acquire information ‘in the line of duty’. I found my information on the Government of Canada website and understood it to say all are required to report, and that is what I told my client. But my client also found a clause that indicated the ‘duty to report’ was only if discovered ‘in the line of duty’. Furthermore, my client being a medical professional investigated through work, and sent me the same clause, indicating that the obligation, from a legal perspective, is only for professionals who discover ‘in the line of duty’. If you visit the Government link I shared, you will find that the ‘in a line of duty’ clause is no longer to be found, and it now says the following:

“Professionals and officials have the same duty as the rest of the public to report their suspicion that a child is or may be in need of protection. However, the Act recognizes that people working closely with children have a special awareness of the signs of child abuse and neglect, and a particular responsibility to report their suspicions. Any professional or official who fails to report a suspicion is liable on conviction to a fine of up to $1,000, if they obtained the information in the course of their professional or official duties. [CFSA s.72 (4), (6.2)]”

I felt it prudent to correct that, for the sake of those who read my comment and possibly shared it. I am relieved that someone is doing something to demand accountability. One day, I am hopeful, it will be a chargeable crime to keep molestation hidden. I do pray that we continue to work closely with our youth, and ‘retrain’ their brains to not commit such crimes. And, yes, I believe they can be retrained in the same way that violence and trauma ‘retrain’ for ‘damage’, I believe that the brains can be retrained for good, and healing can come. If it works for other things, like joy and positive thinking, why would it not work for this?

The ‘Secret of My Own’ is something only a small handful of people know, until this moment. And it is regarding the devastating impact of sexual abuse. I understand the desire for ‘justice at any cost’ because the psychological impact of molestation goes far beyond that moment in time.

When I was in my mid-teens, I  started to loath my own body at a whole new level. (I write in my book, Between 2 Gods, how as a young preschooler I tried to put a stick inside of my body, and how I wanted to be a boy. So the ‘self hate’ started very young.). By my mid teens, because of how I had been used and abused, sexually, I hated my body so much I wanted to have surgery to remove parts of my genitalia. I was sure it had grown ‘all wrong’ because of it. When I broached the subject with my doctor, he told me there is nothing wrong with me, that my body is ‘normal’. But I didn’t believe him. So I went to his son, also a General Practitioner. He told me that my body was normal, and there was no need to remove anything. I was still not convinced. My mind was so obsessed with there being something desperately wrong with me, that I refused to give up. In hindsight, and having worked with many different victims, I finally understand what was going on, but all I knew then is that ‘there is something wrong with me, and I want it corrected’.

It is odd, really, as I think of it now, that I didn’t trust the word of two doctors who delivered many babies and saw many women’s parts. Other than childhood molestation, I had never seen the genitalia of any other adult female. They had a frame of reference, I did not, but still I didn’t accept their word for it. I went to yet another doctor, and he finally referred me to a specialist, a gynecologist who later became a plastic surgeon; a detail that only matters because I was actually asking for plastic surgery, and didn’t realize it… And the rest is history.

There are drastic consequences for sexual abuse and what it does to the mind and body. Yes, I made my own decision to have that surgery, but my mind was messed up by all the trauma, and as a result I didn’t comprehend what I was doing. The impact of abuse is long-lasting. So I am certainly not trying to defend a crime in any way. (And yes, it is a crime.)

I would wish for the victims, who bear the greater scars and consequences, to have some say in what happens next, rather than to see them further stripped publicly. I’m okay with crimes being made public-except for the little detail of ‘the identity of juvenile offenders being protected’ being violated in this case–because at least now it’s not lurking in the dark. Hopefully the victims now get all the help they needed a long time ago, and are given permission to grieve, to face the loss and to work through the aftermath without the angst of it all. Hopefully the burden can now be lifted from their backs, so they know they are not to blame, in any way.

And hopefully other victims will use their own voices, and speak for themselves, like I did. We all need healing, and however that healing comes best for each one of us, is our own personal journey.

Thank you all for your feedback–whether supportive or challenging–and a special thank you to those who vehemently disagreed, and yet spoke with at least an element of kindness. It would seem to me that is a sign of your healing. And to those who attacked quite viciously, I have no hard feelings or animosity. Some of you are angry people looking for punching bags. But many are sincerely distressed and desperate to be heard and have your pain acknowledged, and my blog yesterday made you feel again unacknowledged. That is the only thing for which I am sorry in all of it. Because victims are always my first priority.

Today I acknowledge your pain. I am so sorry for the things you suffered. I am sorry that guilt was imposed on you, for what others did against you. I am sorry that your body bears the scars, as mine does, for crimes carelessly committed and often carelessly swept under the carpet. I pray that you find hope and healing and that someone will walk through the dark with you, so you can walk in freedom on the other side. If I can offer you the tiniest glimpse of the love or our Heavenly Father, I thank God for it. I really do care. And God really does love us; He loves you.

Love,
~ T ~

July 9 – 12  Pennsylvania:
I plan to be in Lancaster Pennsylvania, July 9 – 12. To receive updates on where I will be speaking, join our email list by sending your name and email address via my “Contact Trudy” page. I would love to meet you if you’re in the area!

© Trudy Metzger

BETWEEN 2 Gods: a Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community:
eLectio Publishing
Amazon Canada
Amazon USA
Barnes & Noble

“Line ’em up & shoot ’em” said the Baptist Pastor… “Get over it” said the Mennonite Minister

It’s all a bit ironic now, looking back, how the first two pastors responded when I spoke with them about sexual abuse in my early twenties. The most intriguing part of opening up the door to working through abuse was the way these pastors responded, given that they were in a position of spiritual leadership.

My cousin Maria seemed to feel an element of responsibility for my wellbeing, after our conversation, most likely because I was so much younger, and she knew what it was like to be victimized. She called me some time after my visit and wondered if I would meet with her and her pastor some evening. She had already told him her story, so the groundwork was laid. I wouldn’t need to do a lot of explaining, but maybe he could be of some support.

“Sure, I’d do that,” I said. What harm could it do?

And that is how I found myself in a pastor’s office in the Baptist church, a few minutes from Maria’s home. Maria and I sat, side by side, across the desk from the pastor.

The pastor opened the conversation. “Maria tells me your father sexually abused you.”

“Yes. The memories are still very vague, but something happened. I went to her because I remembered rumours in my childhood that I didn’t understand then, but I thought maybe he had abused her too. She confirmed it.”

The pastor leaned back in his chair. “He should be shot.” He said it as nonchalantly, yet matter-of-factly as if he had said my dad needed medication.

Startled, I did what I always do in an awkward, uncomfortable situation that catches me off guard. I snorted. A half laugh, half something-I-can’t identify sound that says, “You didn’t just say that… I must have heard wrong…” I said something like, “pardon me?”

The pastor, unflinching, and still leaning back in his chair said again, “He should be shot. Anyone who does that to a child should be shot. Line ‘em up and shoot ‘em all.”

“No. I disagree,” I said. “What about forgiveness? What about grace? What my dad did is terrible, but God’s grace has to be big enough for that too,” I spoke more in defence of God’s grace than my father. I understood well the desire to see my father pay for his sins. As a young teenager I had prayed for his death many times. I had often asked God to ‘make him repent and then run him off a cliff so he goes to heaven, and we don’t  have to hurt like this anymore.’ Each time, immediately after praying that prayer, I felt a pang of guilt and shame for wishing him dead, but I had never withdrawn the request. And at night, when he would pull up again, I felt the same guilt for being sorry he was still alive. I couldn’t judge the pastor. I understood. Still, when Jesus saved me from my ‘hell’, He had offered complete, unconditional forgiveness. How could I withhold that from someone else?

The pastor insisted that it was the one crime that should always result in death. Every time. When an innocent child suffers sexual abuse at the hands of an adult, it should go without saying.

We chatted a while and parted ways. He was kind enough, and compassionate towards me, but I was not interested in a pastor sentencing my father. No harm was done, and nothing was gained.

The first time I told my one Mennonite pastor and his wife, when I was struggling with some life ‘stuff’, the pastor also spoke quite matter-of-factly, but with a very different message. “You know, Trudy, you can’t use that as an excuse for your struggles. You need to take ownership.”

And that was the end of that discussion. I was simply to choose to ‘Get over it.” There was no effort made to hear my heart, to encourage me to get counselling or go for other help. I was simply to ‘not allow’ it to impact me. It seemed really quite simple, from their point of view.

Their response, in hindsight, reminds me of the Bob Newhart skit ‘Stop it’. (click here to view clip on YouTube.)

As though the impact of a traumatic past would simply have an on off button that you simply press ‘stop’ and the impact is gone and your whole life is right. You simply ‘stop it’.

Both pastors—the first two that I told—responded to extremes and neither had the answer, yet both had an element of truth.

Sinners deserve to die. Death is the consequence for sin, just as the first pastor said it should be. But, because Jesus took that penalty, we go free and we are given life eternal if we repent. And that is all sinners.

The second pastor also had a point. I don’t have to give the past power over my present and I do have to take ownership of my life. Part of taking ownership, however, and it is the part he failed to recognize, is in acknowledging the past and daring to walk through the pain. In seeing how horrible it was, and allowing Jesus to heal that pain.

Freedom does not come through denial and suppression. If the past causes a present struggle, then I need to invite Jesus into that, allow Him to heal that past and set me free from the bondage of unforgiveness. The instant I choose to forgive, I am free from the burden of that perpetrator’s sins against me.

I have since spoken with many pastors who give very different advice to abuse victims. Thank God. The first two spoke out of ignorance and a lack of experience, and I won’t hold it against them. Fortunately I had Howard and Alice, and a few other great people, speaking into my life and the advice these pastors gave didn’t throw me. It could all have turned out very differently, had I been fragile and without support in either situation.

Somewhere between these two responses is a healthy response to abuse. Both of these examples go to show the importance of leaders being educated on the topic of sexual abuse, and sexuality in general, and knowing how to deal with abuse situations in a redemptive, healthy way. In knowing how to hear hearts, while not compromising God’s redemptive truth.

If you are a pastor reading this, or someone who works with victims, and would like resources, email me at info@faithgirlsunleashed.com and I will do my best to assist you.

© Trudy Metzger

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series

Enter to win the August Book Draw

See Previous Month’s Winner

This Heavy Millstone

I finally understand the reason many victims choose silence. And those good-hearted souls who would wish to fight on behalf of victims, whether pastors or others. To do anything at all requires unmatched strength and resilience. I am not one to shy away from standing for truth–whether my perception of that truth is accurate or not–but this standing up for victims has required more of a steeled commitment, denying the fears of my heart, than any other thing.

For years (I confess) I have thought critically of those who don’t fight, don’t take a stand. Not the victims, but those who know the truth, or at least an element of it, and do nothing as people are victimized. Especially those who set out, and turn back, suddenly, to silence. I’ve thought especially critically of them.

As of two days ago, I understand. As I tackled the Prairie Bible Institute Abuse Allegations, I discovered a side of standing against abuse I had not previously encountered.

Having connections to some of the victims I felt I needed to show my support for the hell they’ve been through, and write about it. In ‘doing my homework’ and background research I came across names of people recognized. Names I have respected for years. I cannot say that they are guilty of cover up, as I have not yet spoken directly to them and, since they are not listed as involved, I hope (and assume) they would stand for truth. Still, it did something to my heart that I was not prepared for.

I saw this whole thing of standing up for victims, breaking the silence and fighting against the victimization of innocent children from a much harsher perspective. It forced me to contemplate a few questions I had never before considered.

What if I had to stand ‘nose to nose’, if you please, with someone I love dearly, in order to fight for the protection of a child? What if the person or persons covering abuse were those closest to me? What if it meant going through the kind of trauma some of the victims in abuse cases go through, just to be heard? What if I was attacked the way some are? Would I still be willing?

This contemplating is what led me to write yesterday’s post, Allegory of the Silent Woods. That feeling of ‘aloneness’. The uncertainty of the cost. The awareness that one day, I may have to choose between truth and relationships.

I needed to come to that place of commitment that say, ‘If it costs me all that I am and have, I will stand for truth. Not blindly for my perception of it, but with an open heart to hear both sides. A commitment to find truth. And never to abandon a victim, or stop believing their story.’

I understand what it is to be the victim. To be misunderstood. To not be believed. To have a life so scarred and messed up by my own bad choices, later in my teens, that I would not have been considered credible.

I also understand the hell that propels victims down that road. The very victimization that pushes many victims into dark lifestyles, is the victimization they are no long ‘credible’ to testify against. Irony that supersedes all ironies. And a sure defence for many a perpetrator.

I know what it is like to be the victim, and the healing and freedom that is there when someone dares to reach out. Knowing this, because of my own freedom, I asked the hard questions. And when I had asked them all, I made a vow to follow the call of God, no matter the price.

Yes, that level of commitment frightens me. But only enough to make me more determined. As long as God gives me breath, as long as He says, ‘Go’, I will go.

Jesus said:

Matthew 18:6

King James Version (KJV)

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

I cannot help but wonder, how many Christians–leaders in particular–carry millstones about their necks. How many need to repent for apathetic, wilful blindness? Or covering their ears to the cries of the children being raped, abused, violated, while the perpetrators indulge in sexual pleasures.

 

I dare you to picture it just long enough to motivate you to action… the weeping of a child and the lust of an adult…. An adult who often blocks the memory, or denies it. A child who grows up to struggle sexually, to struggle with identity and suicidal tendencies…. A child who thinks he or she is worth nothing more, and seeks out abuse.

I hear it from the people I meet. They say it, just like that, many of them. I listen. I care. I pray. And then I give it to Jesus, because it is more than any human can carry.

I understand why some turn back. Why they are silent. It’s easier to block the harsh reality, than to face it, head on. But the easy way never changed the world. Never did a positive thing in revolutionizing that which is wrong in the world.  Most importantly, I know this. Jesus would not stand silently by.

What will you do with the truth?

© Trudy Metzger

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series

Enter to win the August Book Draw

See Previous Month’s Winner

Childhood Sexual Curiosity… .

Is it innocent exploring and ‘child’s play’, or a set up for devastating behaviour patterns and a life of guilt and shame for one or both parties?

Depending on your life experience, your answer may be different than mine. Each story is unique, each journey personal. But, in any case, silence does not bring hope to others, so, for this reason, we’ll dive right in to yet another taboo ‘talk’.

***

As the injustice of abuse impacted our Mennonite community in negative ways, back in the early 1980’s, a keen sense of right and wrong developed in me. Not right and wrong in the ‘religious’ sense, based on cultural beliefs and norms, but based on hearing God speak in personal ways, on topics that parents, and the Christian culture in general, failed to speak. God began to teach me through that deep inner sense that warns me the enemy is trying to bring destruction, and the gentle nudging that God has a better plan…

One of the curses of being sexually abused as children is that it frequently results in exploring and experimenting sexually. At a very young age it can trigger behaviours that go way beyond natural curiosity, to re-enacting abuse experiences. This is particularly likely when healthy sexuality is not taught, and the only frame of reference, for what is normal or appropriate, is their own abuse.

I’ve heard every excuse in the book for this ‘exploring’ and curiosity…. “It’s just our fallen, sinful nature… It’s natural curiosity… It’s generational”… and so on.  While some of these reasons are true, some of the time, all of them are not true all the time. If we take the easy way out and chalk everything up to this, without looking deeper, we could leave our children vulnerable and struggling through life, hiding memories they don’t know what to do with.

On the other extreme, some adults react in anger, rather than casually writing it off as innocent child’s play. I’ve had many broken adults describe the beatings and anger they experienced when their parents or some adult caught them. This is the most damaging response I have seen to date, causing life-long devastation to the child. It destroys parent-child relationships, as trust in adults and authority figures is broken, and creates a warped sense of sexuality. These kids grow up to believe sex is dreadfully evil. And, for some, suffering violence for something done in innocence with no appropriate teaching or awareness, causes extreme sexual confusion.

We need the balance of recognizing the children are innocent, but acknowledging that they need to be taught and guided, rather than punished, shamed or ignored.

When certain sexual behaviours seem normal, because of life experience, it’s easy for kids to spontaneously get into mischief and instigate exploring, to no fault of their own. Shame and punishment further silence them.

Twice, when I was the instigator as a young child, the Holy Spirit gently let me know, through a quiet ‘sense’ that it made God sad, that it wasn’t good. The first time I was six. I didn’t fully understand it until many years later, in my twenties, when the memory returned.

Shortly after I turned twelve, I recalled an incident where I was the instigator. I wrote a note to the other child saying I didn’t understand why it was wrong, or what it meant,  and how sorry I was. I asked for forgiveness, knowing it was my fault, and then it was history.

Before sharing this story I asked permission from my friend, now an adult, to make sure it would not create unnecessary trauma. We remain friends, knowing that God’s grace is bigger than any sin, let alone things that happen in the innocence of childhood. I received more than permission yesterday. When we spoke I was strongly encouraged to share, if it would give hope to other adults who carry similar childhood stories of guilt that haunts, if hidden. I hear confessions frequently from adults struggling now with guilt over what happened in early childhood. It is time to set the children free.

I cannot help but wonder what would have happened, had I ignored that still small voice in those preteen years. Would I have become a perpetrator? Would I be ‘Dan’ in yesterday’s story? I don’t know the answers, but I thank God for His grace.

When I sit across the table from an adult who tells me that they victimized children or instigated inappropriate experimenting as children, I remember that grace. It could have been any one of us.

Children experimenting with children may be innocent, but it still creates struggles for both parties. I hear the stories often, and I know from personal experience the damage it does. The ‘victim’ is prematurely introduced to sexual awareness and some instigators carry intense guilt and shame, knowing it was wrong, but not fully grasping why. Years later, with awareness and understanding, this guilt and shame threatens to destroy lives, ministry and purpose.

However, I don’t feel the other children ‘victimized’ me. How could they? They didn’t know what they were doing any more than I knew what I was doing. Their intent was innocent, having no understanding of sexuality. My intent, as a child, was not to wound my friend, because I was completely innocent of any sexual understanding, but it scarred us both. Because of our innocence, and me taking ownership, our friendship was not destroyed.

When an adult wounds a child, the dynamics change. Adult perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse must face the consequences of knowingly harming the innocent. It has to be that way. But when I sit across from the perpetrator, my first thought is not judgement, it is, “But for the grace of God, there go I.”

When I remember the exploring of early childhood, I feel sad that, when it was prevalent, no one guided us and taught healthy sexuality. I wonder, would my life story be different if someone had empowered us, taught us the right to say ‘no’? Would it have been different if we had known the truth about our bodies, about sexuality (at age appropriate levels) and if we had been told that it is important to respect other people’s bodies? I think it so.

I ask those questions not to live in regret, but to encourage you to positively impact the children in your lives. Parents, teach your children well. Adults, protect all children in your care. They need to be safe with you.

God is a Redeemer. I don’t regret my story. All of those things shaped me and taught me. Much of life’s wisdom comes from inviting God into our experience and finding His truth in the tragedies of life. It is a never-ending learning experience. It is to this that I attribute my healing. When He spoke, even in childhood, I took ownership for my sins.

And, somewhere in that trauma of childhood, the ‘truth warrior’ developed in me, and that has served me well.

Having taken ownership for my wrongs, I was able to take a strong stand, several years later at age fourteen, in the face of violence in the school room…. But, that will be tomorrow’s post…

© Trudy Metzger

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series