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

…Continued from Part 4...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

…Continued from Part 2...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued… (PART 4)

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

***

ANONYMOUS SEXUAL ABUSE SURVEY BY ANABAPTIST MEDICAL DOCTOR

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

 

What every sex abuse victim must know

One of the worst things about being sexually assaulted is the power the offender has, both in the moment of the attack and after. Especially if that offender ‘presents well’ spiritually or socially (or both), in which case he/she has even more power, and the word of a victim is easily dismissed. Especially where there is little evidence, or where victims didn’t keep evidence they had, and present with anger and ‘issues’. No one wants to believe that good citizens and spiritual men and women would victimize the vulnerable, so it is easier (less messy) to protect the offender and write off the victim.

And often victims think they are the only ones, but truth is, when offenders self-report, they often have over 100 victims, and the average offender has 117 victims. (To those who only have one or two, for heaven’s sake don’t use this to make yourself feel good. One victim is 100% too many).

If you’ve been molested, raped, or sexually assaulted in any way, report it sooner than later, whether it is rape, sexual groping, perverted phone calls or any other thing that victimized you. The more influential, powerful or ‘spiritual’ the person presents, the more critical this is. The more you fear ‘No one will believe me’, it is especially important to document, as soon as possible and with as much detail as possible. People who do these things should not be in ministry or leadership. And the ‘spiritual’ ones will make it appear as though people are flocking to them in droves for spiritual support, when in reality they manipulate things behind the scenes to entice the victims and then abuse the ones who are most vulnerable. If you are a victim of such a person, odds are high that you are not one, but one of many victims. The average offender has 117 victims. This number is based on self-reporting on how many victims offenders in prison have. Think Larry Nassar. That is highly skilled victimization, and I know of others who are as skilled and still moving through churches but until victims rise up *together*, they will not be stopped. So let’s do this. Document, document, document…

You can do this by:
• Save all communication – screen shots of conversations, emails, copies of voicemail etc, copies of pictures sent etc (Keep *everything* that is evidence.)
• Mailing yourself a letter that is date-stamped. Don’t open it. Store it in a safe place.
• Report it to police, even if you don’t want to press charges. At least it is documented.
• Email someone you trust who will keep if confidential… or even email it to yourself.

And if/when you are ready, report it. If you need help reporting, find a trustworthy support person and do it. If you don’t know of anyone who will support you, email us at https://www.generationsunleashed.com/contact-us, and we will do our best to support you. You don’t have to do this alone. (Where feasible, we will physically have someone present with you as you report. I’ve traveled many miles to support a victim reporting, and if possible, will do so for you, or where we have contacts in your area, will connect you with someone trustworthy and supportive.)

By the time a powerful person becomes your church leader or political leader, if the sexual assaults are not previously documented in thorough detail, exposing it will re-victimize you more likely than it will stop them from moving into power. Or it may do both, and you both lose credibility because there’s no evidence that the assaults were previously documented. And, let’s face it, false allegations do happen, when there is an agenda. They are documented as far back as the story of Joseph in the OT, and by the time people rise to positions of power, they are usually surrounded by those who idolize them and see them as victims of heartless attacks. And in their eyes, you are the villain, fighting with hate and anger against the Kingdom of God, or against the beloved politician or church leader.

So document. Document. Document. Keep a journal. Talk to a counsellor. It is a tragic thing when evil hides behind the guise of goodness (wolves in sheeps clothing, as they are often called in New Testament) and the victims are publicly slaughtered. Jesus has some choice words for this type:

Matthew 23:27-28, 33
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. […]
33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?

The grace of Jesus is great enough for every sinner, but the one who hides sins and crimes behind the cloak of spirituality casts that grace aside and invites condemnation in its place.

Victims, document, report, speak out as you are able. Together we can help stop this madness and crimes against children.

Offenders, I encourage you, don’t hide your sins and crimes. We (the church) have paid a high price for hidden sins among us, and have carried the curse of criminals being applauded and lifted up while victims are shamed and blamed. Just as in Joshua’s day, when innocent men fell dead because of the hidden things under Achan’s tent, many innocent victims today have turned their hearts away from God because of what you did against them, betraying their trust and blaming them. Your hidden sins have pierced the Bride of Christ through with a sword and left her bleeding. I urge you to repent, turn yourselves in, and bring an end to the haemorrhaging church. There is grace for you… there is forgiveness, but you cannot and will not access it as long as you hide behind a facade, and protect yourselves from the consequences while you let those you’ve wronged carry the burden of your sins in silent shame.

 

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

Dear Victim: When Thanksgiving is Lonely & Hard…

This day is about gratefulness, a time of celebration, food and family get-together celebrations. Some of you will laugh, love and party together, in a safe and loving environment. And so you should! Without guilt. Because you are blessed to be with people who care and protect you; your abuser is not a family member, and you look forward to these gatherings.

But for some of you it is a painful day, and you find yourself  ‘giving thanks’ through tears, and loneliness, in the middle of deep trials, trauma and tragedy. It is a day that makes you reach deep for the next breath, through threatening panic, as family drama unfolds, or you find yourself in the room with the person(s) who abused you. Or maybe home, away from family, swallowing hard on yesterdays leftovers in solitary communion, because they have chosen the offender over you. And when you do go, the manipulation and sexual advances are present to this day…

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Today, if that is you, I encourage you to look deeper, not to avoid the pain but to strengthen your heart.

Remember who you are; you are courageous, resilient and redeemed. Remember Whose you are; you are a son, a daughter, of the God of the Universe, held in your Father’s heart. God is intimately present with you and interested in every part of your life. He is not afraid of your raw feelings, and invites you to share them. He is not intimated by your anger; trust Him with it. Remember that you are not defined by the crimes committed against you, or the person(s) who committed them; you are defined by the Love of the Highest Being ever to exist. You have purpose and value.

Draw from that well of truth, drink deep until you are giddy with drunkenness from it. Let them think you are crazy…

 

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Is There Life After #Denial About #Sexual Abuse?

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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.”

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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