Finding Hope Between Gunshots, Affairs, Sex Trafficking & Wringing Hands

This week I sit here, hardly knowing how to speak hope into a dark situation. For if it isn’t about offering hope, then what purpose is there?

Sometimes the hope I present is that victims will be heard and their hearts cared for, while not over-compensating and leaving them stuck in hopeless victimization, soaking up sympathies. That’s a destruction all its own, to get absorbed in self-pity, and leaves victims lonely as hell. Sometimes the hope I present is that churches are starting to perk up and listen, and hold perpetrators of abuse accountable for their crimes and letting them face consequences, while still offering Jesus and His love and grace. But always, even in the most exposing and revealing of writings, my prayer is that truth will speak and hope will rise up in hearts of readers. And, where I ‘get it wrong’–because all of us are flawed and sinful–I pray that Truth will speak, and override my scribblings.

Looking at the scandals, the violence and the helpless wringing of hands, words don’t come so easily. It’s all a bit overwhelming. And, yet, apart from the shootings–and actually carrying out such ideation, it’s just a larger scale of the same kind of thing I deal with: people dealing with murderous thoughts and/or suicidal ideation, and hearing dark voices in their heads telling them to act out and follow through; molestation and sexual abuse–often covered up; affairs and infidelity… and children carelessly ‘pimped out’ in their own homes and churches…

And to accompany this there are usually people who want to make these things go away as fast as possible through religious lingo, cheap grace and shallow forgiveness.. The offenders, on the other hand, try to make it go away by putting blame on the victims. (My wife/husband didn’t fulfil me sexually… the child asked for the molestation and flirted with me… The people made racial slurs against me… They treated me different because I’m homosexual… She shouldn’t have been out on the street, especially not dressed like that… )

And we offer hope how?
By siding with making it go away as fast as possible, if we’re religious? Or by siding with the offenders and endorsing their faulty beliefs, or demonizing the victim? (It is the duty of a spouse to give into every sexual desire and whim of his/her partner, without a voice… If people didn’t make those racial and bigoted comments maybe Vester Lee Flanagan–Bryce Williams–wouldn’t have snapped… I saw how the little girl handled herself in a very sexual way and I can believe she did things to ask for the man to touch her… The girl shouldn’t have been so foolish as to get messed up with those people and get pimped out…)

No, we speak hope by pursing truth, both on a practical level and a spiritual level…

Truth in Marriage:
Husbands and wives are blessed, relationally, when they connect at a heart level and care for one another. Sexual intimacy is a beautifully bonding experience, when partners respect each other’s needs and desires, both sides of the equation. Being a trustworthy lover requires sensitivity to our partner, rather than using him or her without consideration. A spouse who is considerate and gives his/her partner a safe place, sexually– a place to engage or decline; a place to sacrifice personal preference by choice for the sake of the spouse–will have a more fulfilling relationship. Caring for others is always more rewarding, and truth is, barring other struggles or health issues, the partner is likely to be more responsive in bed. Simple math. That’s all that is.

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Truth in Bigotry Based on Race, Religion or Sexual Orientation:
Victims of racial/bigoted slurs or mistreatment because of homosexuality, religion or any other thing, will feel hurt. It’s human nature. And though no human has the right to attack another for their choices, their beliefs or for differences, it will happen to all of us and it is our responsibility to learn to deal well with that side of it. However, not all opposing views are attacks, slurs or bigoted. It stands to reason–if there’s much reason left in the world–that if one side expresses themselves, the other side should have the same privilege, even if it steps on toes and collides with beliefs. That is not ‘homophobia’ or ‘persecution’ or ‘bullying’. It is the expression of differing views and if you have any confidence in your point of view at all, hearing an opposing view won’t offend. The greater the offence, the more glaring the insecurity. Shooting people to make a statement is about inner rage and personal issues, not about racial slurs, job losses or other offences. I would venture a guess that it’s a narcissistic response to the consequences of personal irresponsibility.

Truth in Sex Trafficking:
Sex trafficking victims are often struggling teens, though not always, whose vulnerability is exploited by predators. In rebellion or not, to put the crimes of skilled criminals on vulnerable and immature youth, not to mention often very trusting and naive ones–and sometimes even sweet, gentle and innocent youth–is simply not right. They are victims of horrible crime and need us to do what we can to help, and to stop this evil.

Truth in Child Molestation:
And a child ‘asking for it’ when he or she is molested is just out of this world insane. That a full grown adult could say such a thing is beyond horrific. Even more so coming from a person professing Christ. Unfortunately some buy into their lies and excuse themselves based on it. I could list numerous such (current) cases, but won’t. But I will say this, when a man in his 40’s has the audacity to say, “But she wanted it”, of a girl not quite ten years old, things are going to hell in a hand basket, and fast. And in any community that accepts this as a reasonable argument, there is a lack of discernment, to say the very least. Often there’s a bit more behind it than all that, but we’ll not go there today.

Truth, Freedom & Hope:
The reality is that truth brings freedom, and the hidden thing brings death and destruction. I’ve referred to the story of Achan before, and will again, because it’s a reality that will never change. God hates the hidden thing, and He’s creative about exposing it. And when He does, we are each given the opportunity to respond with repentance and ‘owning up’, or we can push the blame, excuse ourselves or find some other way to derail responsibility.

Truth brings freedom and offers hope. And part of truth is accepting responsibility, without excuses. But hope… hope is a Promise from Heaven that is given to us, a gift from God through Jesus, when we embrace truth; all truth. And hope is the beautiful thing that makes accepting responsibility possible, without being swallowed up in shame.

Hope…

Because of what Jesus did on the cross… And He did it for the worst sinners, the likes of Josh (we all know at least some of what he did), and Noel Biderman (founder of Ashley Madison who justifies adultery and isn’t the least bit sorry)… And then there’s me… who once held a gun contemplating murder….

And maybe that’s why, even though I believe in accountability and consequences, I believe in the power of Jesus and hope to transform lives. It’s so hard to deny the existence of a precious gift I hold in my hands…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

At the End of the Road (Suicides, Crime & Fallout from Ashley Madison Leak)

The house is empty now… devoid of laughter and voices; perfectly still. The family dog no longer runs playfully after the pitter-patter of little feet. Mostly she just lays there, on the mat by the door, disinterested and depressed.  The teddy bear, still curled up on the floor where it was dropped that day, remains untouched. I wonder, does she cry for it, or has a new one taken it’s place? Covers unmade, hanging off the bed… A dress never worn again, on the arm of the corner chair. Everything else, perfectly in place, and clean, except for the collecting dust. It builds up so fast.

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Has it really been only two weeks? Two long, hopelessly silent weeks? It seems like forever. The sun stopped shining, as if drawing a curtain on the world, with no promise of tomorrow. It has rained for two weeks now, and the forecast shows no sign of change. How did the elements know that on that day, my world would lose it’s light? I didn’t even appreciate the light when I had it…

I should have seen it coming, I suppose. And in a way I did. But I kept saying it would change. I would change. I kept promising to get help; to do better, that I would stop, and they would be safe. I kept telling myself that I meant it. And I thought I did. But always, always, I was too weak and gave into my addictions. And always I abused them one more time until there was nothing left of the light that once sparkled in their eyes. The joy that once danced there, gone.

I wonder, was their world this dark, all those years? Had the sun set on them long ago? Did I just pretend there was laughter… that the dog wagged and chased and played? Did I lie to myself about that too, just so I could live with myself? Telling myself it wasn’t so bad, that they’d be okay?

Are they okay now? Now that I’m not with them, does their sun shine again? Do they laugh, and play and sing? I can’t bear to think of it, of them…

The house is empty now… devoid of laughter and voices; perfectly still. The family dog no longer runs playfully after the pitter-patter of little feet. Mostly she just lays there, disinterested and depressed.  The stuffing spills carelessly onto the floor, from the teddy bear still curled up on the floor, where it was dropped that day. The dog walks over, picks it up and carries it to her bed…  It’s all that’s left of the scent of her…

…that teddy bear, and the haunting memories and nightmares that visit me in my sleep…

This is the end of the road, for me, for us. The end result of the choices I made, this lonely hellish silence. I study the photos in my hand… My face has been ripped from some of them… I try not to think about it, but truth is I wonder which one hated me that much… or did they all? I run my finger along the outlines of their faces… I imagine standing in front of them and, if I had one more chance to talk to them, what would I say?

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“It’s not your fault.” I think that’s what I would want to say, to release them.

But it’s too late now…. now that I finally see it. Oh, I used to blame them, and say if they did better, I wouldn’t be like I am…. I wouldn’t make these ‘mistakes’. I did that to make me feel better too. But it wasn’t their fault, the way I was, and they were not ‘mistakes’, the things that I did… They were crimes,  and they were sins… And I did it to them. I chose to hurt them… I betrayed them. It was my lust, my lack of self control, my self interest, my sin… All of it is mine to own. Here. Alone.

“God, forgive me…. I don’t deserve Your grace. I don’t deserve them.”

****

As crimes and suicides are reported as possibly, even probably, being linked to the Ashley Madison leak, this ‘image’ of lonely people in vacant relationships played out in my mind… I pray that people will come face to face with truth in a way that is redemptive, not destructive, and that no more lives will be lost. The choices we make, relationally, always come with a price tag, a reward, or both. And the choice is always our own, and therefore the end result is the thing we each must face. And at the end of the road, when we stand in front of the mirror and see ourselves as we really are, we are confronted, again, with a choice. Do we accept responsibility or do we blame others and demand they overlook, ‘forgive on our terms’, or find some way or another to try to get off the hook?

There is always hope for a new life, and that is true whether you are a pastor, a police officer, a politician, a doctor, or a “Josh Duggar’–someone who has presented idealistic Christianity while sinning blatantly in the same arena–or any other human. No matter who you are, or what you have done, there is always an opportunity for new beginnings. But sometimes that ‘new’ begins by sitting alone in an empty house, because everyone who tired of the betrayal has packed and left. No matter who you are or what you have done, the ‘way out’ is to face it, own it, and ask for forgiveness without agenda; forgiveness that releases the people we wounded, allowing them to grieve and heal their way, and even to walk away.

My prayer is that many of the 40,000 people on the Ashley Madison list will own their sins, repent and find hope, freedom, forgiveness and new life.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Josh Duggar; Saint with Banged Up Halo, Or Scoundrel Imposter Defaming the Beautiful Gospel of Christ?

About the time I had almost forgotten the Josh Duggar scandal the action ramped up again. This time not about child molestation charges, but rather an affair scandal disclosing that Josh had an account on the notorious Ashley Madison affair site. Explicit details are easily found online, and are disturbing for a man who promote(d) family values while holding such an account. And that is true whether he ever consummated his intentions or not. In this there is double hypocrisy. And the troubling reality, quoting his sister Jessa, is that ‘he was (…) just a little too curious about girls, you know’….except that she excuses it somewhat by the fact that he was in puberty. He isn’t any more, and yet is still experimenting in ways and places that are not appropriate.

Presumably it is true, with all the ‘evidence’ they’re including…. and with the public apology issued on the Duggar website this afternoon. At first the apology included a line about Josh’s secret addiction to porn and infidelity, but, alas, it has been edited out…. This editing out of parts of a confession, particularly under the circumstances, doesn’t build confidence in the least. Rather, it confirms what some of us have believed since the  previous scandal’s interviews, that truth is edited for the public eye, at least by some of the family. ( If the link above does not work, or if the apology is removed, please contact me so I can remove the link.)

The whole thing made me sad and sick, when a friend sent me the initial  link. Sick because I wanted to believe Josh was forthcoming in May…. And sad because it’s the same broken song I hear sung often in Christian circles when sin is discovered and the church everywhere is encouraged to forgive quickly, celebrate God’s grace and move on. And then too often the tune repeats itself, like an old record with the needle stuck, as the cycle continues, because we don’t get to the next level of consequences and accountability. So to feel better and make things go away, we push everyone to forgive and forget and believe the best in everyone.

Heck, I want to do believe the best. Because I want abusers to be ‘for real’ when they say they are sorry. I want to know that a quick miracle of grace and moving on will guarantee that every child is safe with that person. I want to believe that they are trustworthy and are making good moral choices. And I want to believe that they are not just sorry they got caught. However, to accept such idealism as reality, without boundaries to protect the vulnerable and hold the offenders accountable, is irresponsible. Especially based on the realities playing out all around. Still, one can’t be faulted for desiring it. Who doesn’t want a safe world?

Even now I believe in hope, freedom and restoration, and celebrate the beautiful Gospel of Jesus. But I don’t believe in turning a blind eye to the blatant and glaring truth. And it certainly isn’t appropriate to push a grace and forgiveness agenda, to make Christians seem squeaky clean, when things are seriously messed up. And right now they are.

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What troubles me most, is that the scandal in May came and went with nary a peep of a confession about affairs and affair sites. And before anyone says it was a private matter, I’ll inject that it wasn’t and it isn’t; it is a wide open public matter. Just like the sins of King David who was in the public eye and God exposed him so the whole nation saw it. The minute someone is in the public eye that way it’s best to be transparent, or eventually be exposed for public failure. It’s that simple. And I’ll add that it’s especially true of Christians, and even more so those who fail morally while promoting family values and sexual integrity, whether pastors, or others who advocate in the name of God, because of the damage done through hypocrisy. Ironically, according to the data, while we didn’t hear any confessions in May, it just happens to be when the account was shut down, after two-years. I’m thinking that it would have been wise to admit to the hypocrisy at that point and get some serious help.  A public disclosure and confession might have made a few extra ripples back in May, but they would have been worth it because it would have built trust and credibility. This public disclosure isn’t causing ripples; it’s causing tsunamis.

It’s this ‘not coming clean part’ that breaks down trust as much as the moral failures themselves. Maybe more so; sincerity and authenticity, even after failure, are the foundation of trust. (Not talking only about Josh here, but in general). It’s a disgrace to God, to the Christian community and to families to have an opportunity to be forthcoming, and waste it on self-preservation. It is one thing to fail and sin. We all sin. No, we don’t all molest children and we don’t all have affairs, but we all sin. And inevitably sin breaks trust when it involves using, betraying or hurting other people. But the level of trust broken by the initial sin does not compare with adding insult to injury, and hiding another scandal for later trauma. This does near irreparable damage, relationally.

And it isn’t really about Josh. I mean, there are nearly 40 million people who were reportedly making use of the site, out of our 7.3 billion world population. And 95%, approximately, of those are male. At first this posed a question or two, for me, starting with where they find the women for the affairs…. Or were the 5% of women on the site just very busy. But then I discovered the company allegedly made up fake female profiles and it was all just a money grab that exposed a lot of men’s willingness to cheat on their wives, and a few women as well. (Then again, 5% of 40 million is a substantial number of people…. certainly more than just a few. )

With numbers that high, there are a lot of marriages in trouble. And, like Josh who could have made his confessions in May, there are presumable a lot of people holding their breath and playing Russian Roulette, of sorts, with their marriages and taking their chances that they won’t get found out. That’s a dangerous gamble. Quoting the God of the Universe, it is safe to say this: ‘Be sure your sins will find you out!’ They will, sooner or later.

And of course the ‘hey, let’s attack all Christians with sarcasm, because one was hypocritical’ blogs are popping up, and our faith in general is under attack because ‘one of ours’ seriously misrepresented God. I won’t bother to link to any as the language and disrespect isn’t worth it. At the same time I can’t blame the unbelievers and atheists; if I was still there, I’d be having a hay day too. Especially after all the preaching against immorality… We really can’t blame them…

When I think of recent scandals involving prominent Christians and hear the defences from within Christian communities, trying to protect and cover up, and then listen to the Christian outcry against Planned Parenthood and selling baby parts, I cringe. It is embarrassing. I look around at the moral failure of those claiming God’s name, and see the damage done to God’s name. But it’s not really the failure that does the damage. It’s the hypocrisy. It’s the not being honest about that failure, while pointing furiously at the world around.

But for all the hypocrisy, and whether these men and women are saints with halos that look like a train wreck, or whether they are scoundrel imposters defaming God, the one thing that doesn’t change is my faith in God. God is good. He’s not too excited about protecting His name. He simply is God; the very essence of love and goodness. He is interested in making us whole and will go to great lengths to have our darkness exposed so that the light can shine in. And He’s a God of consequences, so wherever the chips may fall on this one, it probably won’t be as harsh as Achan’s death in the book of Judges. He is also a God of mercy and doesn’t write off the fallen messed up lot that we are.

So to all 40 million Ashley Madison users, the Christians in particular: there is still grace and mercy for your sins. Consider this your opportunity to come clean and not make excuses. Your sins have brought shame on Christianity, but then so have my sins. The aftermath and consequences of your sins will play out over time, and will be used against people of faith for many years to come, but even that God accounted for when He chose the way of love, the way of the cross, and died for you… for us.

To Josh, I pray you get some real help, whatever it takes. (And, yes, I actually have prayed for you, your wife (especially your wife!) and your family, and will continue to do so. Those are more than words.) I’m all about the grace and mercy of Jesus. I am also all about not writing things off with the line ‘it’s under the blood’. You have disappointed many of us who tried to believe you were sincere in your repentance, and have proven to be untrustworthy. Clearly your conscience kicked in when the first scandal broke loose, and you closed down your Ashley Madison account, but you still chose to protect your image rather than admit you are a very broken and disturbed man. (I was one who chose to believe you were sincere, and encouraged forgiveness with boundaries….)  I pray this breaks you to a place of genuine humility and repentance, so that you understand any grace coming your way is just that; undeserved…which is why it is called grace. And whatever consequences that come are the result of sin and your choices, not because your sweet wife didn’t give you enough… or any other excuse. Own it, without blame or excuse, and repent before God. And as for image, it’s gone, so that’s the good part; you can be real and lose nothing but gain everything.

We all face the music and bear the consequences of our sin and choices, but there is always hope through repentance  and faith in Jesus. That is the gospel that does not change, and therefore deserves to be shared and preached in every situation, even while going through those consequences.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God… and God loved the world so much that He chose to come–Emmanuel, God with us–to die for those sins, so that whoever believes in Him–including Josh Duggar, and including me–would not perish but have everlasting life. He didn’t come to condemn the world, in spite of our sins, but to offer us salvation. (based on Romans 3:23; John 3:16-17.)

Thank God for Jesus. I needed Him, and 40 million Ashley Madison users do as well, as does the whole world.

That’s why Jesus came.

Love, Grace and Peace,
~ T ~

Duggar Sisters (Part 3): Comparing Lena Dunham’s(Childhood) Sexscapades & Josh Duggar & The Hunger Games

A Few Thoughts on Brainwashing :
Finally, in regards to brainwashing and indoctrination, and what the Duggar children have been taught, or how the teachings (Gothard or other) influenced them… I have seen some of the Gothard material, and rumours boldly declare it was used on the girls. I have nothing to substantiate that, so I will simply say some of what he offers is deadly stuff! And if you want healthy adult Christians, stay away from it. But, with no proof Duggars used it, I will assume it was not used until proven otherwise, and will merely comment on the  ‘brainwashing’ and ‘indoctrination’ accusations, in a general way….  Because I think we have some warped ideas of what brainwashing is, though I do think some of the material in Gothard’s teaching is the kind that would require it.

If brainwashing is the ‘repeated presentation of beliefs, for the purpose of causing someone to believe what you tell them’, then we are all brainwashed. The whole lot of us, to one extent or another. Listen to the news, and they will try to brainwash  you. Start expressing thoughts that collide with socially accepted views and someone will try to brainwash you. (Or accuse you of trying to brainwash them.) If you disagree with homosexuality and express it, you will be told you are guilty of hate, bigoted thinking, intolerance and any number of labels simply for being honest about what you think. The whole Western world didn’t arrive at this kind of ‘general’ thinking without brainwashing. Watch World Vision or Compassion Canada for a show or two, and you will be ‘brainwashed’ or at least the attempt will be made. Go to church or school, and it will happen. Again, presuming that brainwashing is  the ‘repeated presentation of beliefs, for the purpose of causing someone to believe what you tell them’. And, if that is what defines it, then all brainwashing is not bad. We take young people whose minds are dark and hopeless, and repeatedly speak positive truth over them, building them up, and see them come to life and hope. That is, potentially, brainwashing, if that is how we define it.

But if we take brainwashing to the ‘being coerced through mind control to believe certain things, with no room for questioning’, then some of the things I listed are not brainwashing. Others are. If the criteria for it not fitting that category of brainwashing is that there is room for believing differently, then World Vision, Compassion and some churches get taken off that list, but it still doesn’t tell us if the Duggar children were brainwashed. For argument’s sake, let’s assume they are. That in mind, what is the right response from us?

If we assume they are brainwashed, then we must also assume that they really believe what they live by and stand for, regardless of how they arrived at it. Take the example of popping out babies. If they are ‘making, baking and delivering’ offspring as naturally as they happen, with no effort to take a break or stop conception, more power to them. That’s their prerogative. Yes, if it’s a ‘this is what you should do as a Christian’ mentality, then there’s probably some brainwashing involved. But many of us have also been brainwashed into believing that two is the perfect number and four is a big family. That is ‘cultural brainwashing’ and isn’t any better, it’s just different.  We had five because Tim wanted four, I wanted six, and I was sure I didn’t want an odd number so four it was going to be… except that I discovered I was pregnant right about the time I was going to get my tubes tied. So that’s how we did it. And had a party about it too. No regrets.

These are the ‘little things’–no pun intended–not the big things, like how we respond to molestation, and whose fault we believe it might be, and that kind of thing.  If they are brainwashed in those areas, writing them off or not taking them seriously because of it isn’t the answer. I was brainwashed once too, and probably still am in some areas. Come to think of it, I reckon you are too; we all are. For me, getting away from warped belief systems was a very personal journey of asking deep questions, exploring life, getting to know God personally and struggling with Him, as well as the input of loving friends who dared to ask hard questions… These all worked together to transform my beliefs and learning to think for myself. We all live in the beliefs we have in a given moment, based on information someone presented to us, and hopefully are wise enough to make adjustments when we discover our beliefs are faulty. The Duggar children deserve the same space and grace without slapping ‘indoctrination’ and ‘brainwashed’ on their every statement.

The Comparison Between Lena Dunham and Josh Duggar:
In another interview, with Howard Kurtz, host of Fox News Media Buzz
 they address the ‘ideological battle’ and the political battle this has become. In it, one of the issues brought up is the way the right-wing reacted to Lena Dunham telling of her dreadful sexual behaviours toward her then 1-year-old sister, with no sign of remorse, while not questioning more the issue with the Duggars ‘potentially’ covering up. (Their words, not mine.)

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To be completely frank, this thing has bothered me too. We did react to Lena’s casual tossing around of inappropriate acts against her baby sister. We were horrified!  And that horror was born out of her apparent (shall we say obvious?) lack of remorse. But then we were also horrified when the left-wing freaked out on Josh Duggar, while having turned a blind eye to the whole Lena Dunham fiasco. Rightfully so. But the imbalance goes both ways….

We immediately compared the left-wing response to Josh Duggar with their response to Lena Dunham, and concluded they are persecuting the Duggars. Having addressed the matter of persecution several posts ago, I’m not going to revisit it. But I will say that we have also been inconsistent in our responses with being so quick to ‘forgive’ Josh and ‘move on’, when demanding accountability from Lena Dunham. Lena was 7 years old when she messed with her baby sister. Tragic? Absolutely! It was not funny in the slightest.  However, the reality is she was 7…. Josh was 14. That is twice the age of Lena–who was only 3 years past the preschool years. I presume the greater offence was Lena’s handling of it, but the fact that Josh apologized does not negate the fact that he committed a crime at 14. A juvenile offence, granted, but still a crime. We must concede that the two cases are not comparable, and it was a mistake for us to go there, and that we could have expected a louder ‘outcry’ against a 14-yr-old than a 7-yr-old. (To get a bit of a visual on that gap, put a picture of a 7 year old next to a 14 year old and ask if that is really a fair comparison. And, hopefully having concluded it’s not, let’s be wise as believers, going forward. Because this was not wise.)

However, while not appropriately comparable, the two cases do expose the gap between right-wing and left-wing thinking, on the matters of sexuality, and the individuals in these cases have become pawns in the game. It is not fair to either one of them, or their families. Yes, I wish we could all be confident that the Duggar parents have been completely authentic and forthcoming without a PR team, because the perceived or apparent lack of authenticity has done no favours in establishing trust. The alternative, however, could well be a noose… and maybe that noose would be better in the long run. Who really knows?  I cannot help but wonder what we would hear, if they were not told what to say….

Old News, Roman Colluseums & The Hunger Games:
BTW, in older news…. whatever happened to the Bill Cosby scandal? Observation would indicate he has disappeared behind the next and more exciting scandal… Go figure! Maybe the real problem is that we have created our own virtual Roman Colluseum, where we sit by to watch the next entertainer fight the lions, or two draw swords and see who will be the first one down. Maybe our cheering from the sidelines feeds some perverse desire for the emotional slaughter and bloodshed to continue. I’m all for accountability and authenticity, but maybe it’s not about that anymore. Maybe this is our Colluseum, or maybe it’s more like ‘The Hunger Games’ playing out, as one soul after another is hunted and killed as we cheer….

Yet, in the middle of that cheering, the answer is not always to stand silently by. The key (for me) is to acknowledging when ‘our side’ has it wrong, while continuing to stand for the things that really matter. Love, forgiveness, hope, truth, and redemption… Jesus.

Love,
~ T ~

TO REGISTER for Lancaster Pennsylvania Conference,  July 10-11, 2015 visit: GenerationsUnleashed.com
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© 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

The Duggar Sister’s Interview (Part 1): on Forgiveness & Indoctrination… because you asked what I think

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. 
~ Paul Boese ~

****

Almost twenty days have passed since the Duggar sisters were interviewed by Megyn Kelly, Fox News.(Whom, by the way, I love to listen to! Her voice is, for me, an easy listen, so that’s a bonus.) With the passing of time the ‘noise’ has died down somewhat, and maybe sensible conversations are now possible, without all the hype and high blood pressure. Maybe.

People wrote and asked for my thoughts on the interview, immediately after it took place, and (fortunately or unfortunately) I had more pressing things to do than to write this blog. However, I did listen to the interview immediately after it happened–only days after the interview with Ma and Pa Duggar–and listened to it again before and during writing this blog, replaying pieces numerous times to get details right. These posts are heavily intertwined with what I have learned from victims, and working through my own abuse, so I am dividing it into several posts to break it up rather than posting a long and overwhelming post.

duggar sisters 1

Factors that Impact How We Process Trauma:
Some questions being asked are: Should the interview be taken at face value? Were the girls coached in what to say? And do some of their comments and responses indicate ‘indoctrination’? There are many questions from many people, and we do well to remember that every one of us, myself included, process through our experiential filter. That is 100% inevitable. However, the more we exchange thoughts and ideas with others, and the more we hear from those who have lived through this kind of trauma, the broader our frame of reference will be, and with it the awareness that all of us do not face trauma the same way.

Many factors play into how we process traumas that happen to us: personality, environment, religious views/teaching, parental ‘handling’ of the event(s), and many other things. If we are not willing to acknowledge this, then the rest of the conversation is pretty much useless because we will transfer our ‘needs’ onto the victims, and not give space to be true to themselves.

Another thing to consider is that we work through trauma in phases and stages, so what the girls feel today is different than what they felt twelve years ago, and it is different than what they will feel ten years down the road, when their own sons and daughters are the ages that they (and Josh) were at the time of the abuse. So, if what we hear in the future collides with today, they are not lying; they are moving through these phases and stages. Let them do that. Most if not all of us, who do the hard work of facing what happened, do this to one extent or another.

That all said, I applaud both of the sisters for their courage in coming forward. They did not choose to have their stories disclosed but they chose, of their own will, to come forward and share their stories. Their motivation to come forward is ‘for truth’s sake’, as Jill says it, because ‘most of the stuff out there is lies’, and they wish to ‘set the record straight’ and also to speak in Josh’s defense against labeling him as a child molester, pedophile and rapist. Jessa makes it very clear that the molestation did not go to those extremes, but was limited to touching over clothes, or ‘mild inappropriate touching’ on fully clothed victims slept. (To watch the full interview: Duggar sisters Jill and Jessa Interview with Megyn Kelly)

Forgiveness Doesn’t Equate Trust:
Jill also says that their father explained to them that forgiveness doesn’t equate trust; that trust is something that must be rebuilt, and they were given freedom to forgive with boundaries. These are good things, from my perspective. I get it that offering forgiveness for those who molest is not something we can confidently shout from the mountains without anticipating a few tomatoes sailing our way, but it is an important thing, nonetheless. More so for the victim than the offender. Forgiveness, with boundaries, is the best protection for victims. Popular or not.

The unforgiving victim remains in bondage to the offender, whether the offender is repentant or not, and cannot move forward. Certainly it is up to the victim when or if they forgive, but the cost for withholding that forgiveness is not to the offender; it costs victims. The victim who becomes embittered is a difficult person to associate with, that’s just the way it is. I have watched as they burn out their friends, jump from counselor to counselor, never finding freedom and never moving forward. Eventually, stripped of friendships and emotionally bankrupt, they conclude the whole world is against them. The world isn’t against them; the world is weary.  Having said that, bitterness and self pity should not be mixed up with grief and sorrow over loss; that is a very different thing, with a different focus and not toxic.

With this understanding of forgiveness, I cannot criticize what Jessa and Jill say, or doubt their sincerity. Their eyes, body language and tone all speak of authenticity and truth, as do their statements that are more incriminating of Josh. Jessa says that Josh was ‘subtle’ and  ‘sly’ and  “…he knew in his mind ‘my actions are wrong and I have bad intentions’…” These comments expose the manipulation behind Josh’s behaviours, and are not things you would say if you were trying to cover for Josh, or excuse all of his actions. That sly behaviour is, without question, ‘predator like’, which is not to say it will continue long-term, but it definitely indicates a need for intervention, as it is more likely to continue without it.

Of Honest Confessions or Getting Caught:
One piece of information that collides with the rumour mill and media is that Josh came forward on his own, rather than being ‘caught’ when returning from a sister’s room, as the media presented. I don’t doubt for a moment that they are telling ‘the truth that they know’. There’s too much information out there to know the facts with certainty, without talking to ‘Ma and Pa Duggar’ and asking a few questions. Numerous reports stated the parents saw Josh coming from the girls’ room(s) and it was after this that Josh confessed, but neither the interview with the girls nor the one with their parents indicates this to be accurate, though it is not directly addressed. If he confessed without ‘getting caught’ it makes a significant difference in the sense of ‘spontaneous repentance’ versus repenting when caught; with the former indicating inner remorse and desire for change. In either case, he was young and impressionable, and with the right help stands a much better shot at life than those trying to overcome on their own. (I’m still not buying into the ‘once an abuser, always an abuser’ declaration… I refuse.)

The key is the right help and proper reporting, and here again there are conflicting reports. In the interview with Ma & Pa Duggar–which I will only touch on a little here–they call the place Josh went ‘a treatment centre’ where a man ‘counselled’ Josh. What that looked like, I do not know. If ‘undeniably accurate’ info is out there, I have not seen it or found it. Some say he received licensed counseling–numerous sites reference it, but I found none who name that counselor–others say it amounted to helping a ‘pal’ with construction work. Who knows for sure? (And if you do have access to this info, I’d be grateful if you sent it to me.)

Jim Bob and Michelle’s Interview & A Few Alarm Bells:
In regards to the interview with Josh’s parents, alarm bells go off, if for no other reason than because I work with victims and some of what they say is disturbing. Statements, referring to the girls being victimized, like: “…they didn’t really understand though….” by dad, and “… it was more of his heart, his intent, he knew that it is wrong, but … they didn’t even understand that it was improper touch…” by mom. These statements show ongoing and extreme ignorance surrounding the impact of sexual abuse and molestation, and come across as downplaying Josh’s behaviour. (This ‘minimizing of the crimes’ is reflected in the girls’ interview as well, and no doubt is a bit of ‘influence’ spilled over.)

While the parents can declare the girls are free and have moved on, my work with victims tells me it is naive to assume it will never affect them negatively again. What a victim ‘handles well’ for years, can crumble in one second, when or if his or her own child is victimized or becomes the offender, or in that ‘flashback moment’ when suddenly they want to beat the daylights out of a spouse because something ‘took them back’ to a time gone by.

duggar parents

I work with many, many victims and hear these stories. And when victims ‘crash’ and fall into depression, I frequently hear questions like, “Why, after (so many) years can I not handle being around him/her? I don’t understand…” or “the abuse wasn’t even ‘that bad’, so why does it bother me so much now?”…  and other such comments. And along with that comes the awareness that parents, church leaders or other trusted people downplayed it or did not take it seriously. Nothing personal against the Duggars, but these things concern me in this interview, and would in any situation. But back to the girls…

The girls talk about being interviewed by the police in 2006, and how parents encouraged them to be forthcoming and ‘tell everything’ because it would be protected. Many question why the parents waited until 2006 to report, but the reality is that their laws didn’t require mandatory reporting from parents. (That info is readily available online.)

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

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 ….

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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

 

© 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

Josh Duggar: Who Will Join the Crucifixion March (Hammer & Nails Not Included)

© thefamilyleadershipsummit

Weighing in on the Duggar story is something I was not going to do. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is my decision in past public hype, to stay out of it. I tire quickly of it. And the whole thing, in most cases, is media driven poison that is detrimental to healing and hope. Therefore it doesn’t interest me, because healing and hope are my mission.

I work with abuse victims and I am an abuse victim, well, an overcomer now, but I was victimized many times. And I, like many of my clients, was violated by family members. I also have very close friends who were sexually molested by family members. And we do not all agree with bold statements being made on our behalf, about how victims feel with Josh Duggar. That’s actually the thing that tipped me ‘over the edge’ into writing about it, a bold statement on behalf of victims. And I, as a victim, do not support much of what I read and I’m hoping I can offer some hope and healing. Besides, I needed to sleep tonight, and writing is how I usually ‘clear my chest’.

Having been victimized and now working with victims, I occasionally end up in front of offenders when I support a victim who is confronting their abuser or alleged abuser, and I serve as mediator. Other times I work with the offenders who seek help for the crimes committed. (If victims are under 16, I report. If not, the voice has to be theirs, and they decide if they wish to report or not.) Sometimes my gizzard gets all in a tangle about the offender–whether a family member of the victim or not–even the ‘very young’ one, because there is an arrogant and unrepentant heart, usually exposed by denial and excuses. And sometimes they are ‘repentant’ when confronted, and then spend the rest of their lives finding ways to bully and blame the victim. These are dangerous offenders. There is nothing of their behaviour that makes me believe they wouldn’t offend again, and I’m all for dealing accordingly.

There are times, however, when the offender is repentant and humble, and their behaviours support repentance. They are broken, and make no excuses, wanting only for their victims to find help. I’ve worked with both, and the latter evoke something very different in my heart and spirit than the former.

In both cases there are consequences for both the victim and the offender. In both cases there are wounds and scars, guilt and shame, and always, always brokenness. Molestation is always damaging. That is the harsh reality of it, no matter the situation, the repentance, the brokenness. I do not downplay that.

However, that does not always mean that a family should be ripped apart and the victim and offender be kept apart for life. I do not believe in pushing the ‘forgive, forget and move on’ agenda to provide a quick cover up and push the consequence on the victim that way and make it the victim’s problem to ‘let it go’. That is wicked beyond wicked, and often does even more damage than the initial abuse, from what victims tell me. But I do believe in ‘forgiveness with boundaries’. I do believe that the offender should not be alone with the victim or other vulnerable (younger) children. It is on the part of wisdom to protect the children, and ensure there are no questionable or risky situations. That’s not genius; it’s the most basic of common sense. Unfortunately still missed by many.

Where the Duggar case goes south for me in a hurry, is the vehement judgement from people everywhere, considering that Josh has made no excuses for his sins and crimes. I was molested by a fifteen year old, and I have no desire to see him dragged through the legal system for what he did to me than I have to see Josh dragged through. My offender apologized and owned it. Unfortunately he did much worse to others over the same time, and refuses to this day to take ownership for those crimes, therefore I do not trust him at all. If those victims decided to take him to court, I’d be there to support them. I never trust an offender who does not own the wickedness of his/her crimes against another, and finds ways to put the crimes on the victim. That is deserving of punishment and legal justice.

I am not a ‘Duggar fan’. I’ve not watched them, even once, or followed their story. I do not care if their show ever airs again or not, on a personal level. It’s simply never interested me. But I do care about truth and justice, and justice and mercy, and I do have a problem with the media attacking Josh and the Duggars and the general public chiming in with no apparent compassion. And the reason for my feelings are multifaceted: 1. Josh was a minor. 2. Jesus changes lives. 3. Victims should have some input, or they simply become victimized again, and their voices are taken away… again. (And it makes me cross, to be honest, to see some of what is being said about ‘victims’ out there and how molestation destroys us for life. Also not true. I am not destroyed; I am empowered. So, if you’re not one, don’t decide for us. If you are one, decide for yourself.)

What Josh did was very wrong. He ‘owned’ that. He has made no excuses, that I’ve seen or heard. He has not blamed his victims. And he was a minor. Fourteen, my friends. Fourteen… That is incredibly young! In my home right now I have a thirteen year old, and he is very young. He has the advantage of talking openly with me and daddy about sex, but even so, he is very young.

Even where I was victimized, there is no way anyone will convince me that the fifteen year old who violated me fully understood, or understood at all, the consequences of his actions. I’m sure he knew what he did was wrong, but understanding what it was he did to me… not possible. So I forgive him, with boundaries.

When I see Christians throwing their rocks at Josh, it troubles me. I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus died for all my sins. I believe that He transforms lives, and that people change. Even those who molested. If Jesus cannot do that, then He is neither God, nor the Messiah. Then Christianity is a farce. Either He can save and restore all, or He can save and restore none. There is no middle ground.

The popular belief of ‘once a molester, always molester’ is a tragic life sentence to put on anyone, and a slap in the face of God/Jesus. And I do not support it. I never have, and I never will. Admittedly I feel most hope for those who come forward on their own with their sins, repent, and ask for help. I also feel hope for those who are caught at a young age and are forced to get help. They have the advantage of not establishing life patterns. And the manipulative, lying ones… they’re not repentant or looking for change; I am not speaking of them.

But the notion that they are all molesters for life is not truth. I doubt we can begin to grasp the impact that kind of teaching has on people. So I will look every young offender in the eye, if they are repentant, and tell them I believe in them. I want them to believe in themselves. I want them to believe they can overcome and are not sentenced to a life of crime. I want them to set a higher standard for themselves. And I want them to look to God, through Jesus, for that strength. I want them to understand consequences and comply with the laws of the land, because it is scriptural, but I want them to know they can be free, that they never have to do it again. So, yes, I am willing to swim upstream and speak against the tide of judgement, condemnation and hopelessness. Because I believe in God, and what He can do.

If I understand right, Duggars removed Josh from the home for a while. No doubt they were reeling in shock, uncertain what to do. They should have reported right away, true. And, yes, it took them a year, but Mr. Duggar turned his own son in for his crimes. That is unheard of. I work with sexual abuse almost daily. Even on weekends I get messages and emails. Never, in my five years of working closely with sexual abuse–or my twenty-five years of speaking openly about it and listening to stories–have I heard of a father turning in his own son. And as a young teen. Not until now. (Note and addition: In this paragraph, in particular I had some inaccurate information. I have addressed these things in a follow up Blog: “The Duggars; a Few Things… And a Secret of My Own” I have posted the link again, below.)

And if I think back fifteen years to when this happened, the topic was not open like it is today, which makes that reality doubly shocking. In many ways they acted ahead of their time, and from what I can find and read, seem to have done all that they knew to do, and more than most would have done. For that reason, along with what seems a humble and repentant heart in Josh, not to mention my faith in Jesus Christ, I cannot and will not join the crucifixion march. I am appalled at what I see and hear from Christians on this matter and I cannot help but wonder what we have done with Jesus, and what He would do with this situation. He looks very differently on the repentant heart that is open about sins than the hidden thing. (And if you’re going to cry ‘but they hid it’, let me remind you that they went to the police, and he was a minor protected by law from public exposure, if I understand correctly.)

I write this as someone who struggled through the confusion and aftermath of having a teenage boy rub himself all up against me, groping me, grabbing me and doing things to my body I never wanted done. Please don’t decide for those of us who were victimized, how we should heal and that all those who offended us at a young age should be marked for life. Some of us want them to get help and go on and live whole lives, if they are repentant. And please don’t tell me my Jesus isn’t big enough. I won’t buy into that lie. And I hope Josh doesn’t either.

And, for the sake of those who hold the hammer and nails for his crucifixion march, let me repeat, I do not believe in cheap forgiveness. I believe in forgiveness with healthy boundaries and protection, and for the victims to be empowered to heal. And I believe victims should not be forced to have a close relationship with their offenders, even if they are family members, and if the scars are so deep that psychological trauma results from being near the offenders, they should have the liberty to keep a safe distance. But all of us do not want that.

I will end with this; I am healed and whole. And as a healed and whole adult, I have a very healthy and mutually respectful relationship with several of the individuals who touched me inappropriately as young teens. I have forgiven all other offenders as well, but I do not feel safe around them, because they did not take ownership of their crimes, and I have no desire for a relationship. With my father I kept safe boundaries for myself and our children, even after he asked me to forgive him. It was my responsibility to do that, and take care of my family; those are consequences. He was my father, and should have protected me. As a father, and as an adult, he violated that trust. Still, I sat by his hospital bed in the last two years of his life, held his hands, and cried with him and told him I loved him. It was healing for both of us, and set me more free than I’ve ever been, and it gave back my voice (or ‘power’, as some say it).

So please don’t sentence teenagers to a life of crime with thoughtless judgement. If ever he offends as an adult, I’ll offer no defense. I’ll still not let you borrow my hammer and nails, but I will understand the outcry. Until then, I will thank God for His grace in my life, and do my best to extend it to others.

And please don’t rob us, as victims, of that deepest healing, where we reclaim our voice by offering forgiveness in a way that gives life to our spirits. I know most, if not all of my clients would echo this. I’ve not had many (if any) who did not want to extend forgiveness with boundaries they were comfortable with. And I’ve not had any clients who, when I finished working with them, were not healed, whole and confident adults who reclaimed their voices, yet offered forgiveness. That freedom is what Jesus came to offer, so I will boldly declare it, even if it means swimming up stream… alone… through a crowd.

Follow up Blog: Here

Love,
~ T ~

Ps. For those who read how a teen rubbed himself against me and groped me, and presume I have no concept of ‘real’ victimization, I refer to that isolated case here b/c of the age comparison. Two things: that *is* real victimization, and I went through a lot more ‘hell’ than all that. In my book Between 2 Gods; a Memoir of Abuse in the Mennonite Community I tell of repeated molestation and later being raped in my teens. I understand abuse. And my first ‘passion’ is *always* compassion and care for victims. There is never excuse for molestation.

© Trudy Metzger

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!