ASAA Founder confirms CAM “badgering” Jeriah Mast’s victims, The Gathering update, and upcoming Ontario Training Day

Someone sent me a screenshot of a statement made by Anabaptist Sexual Abuse Awareness (ASAA) Founder, Randal Martin, regarding the Jeriah Mast case on November 5, 2019 following Mast’s sentencing:

Randall_M_ASAA_Haiti

Whatever presently-irreconcilable differences I might acknowledge in regards to ASAA — that is until last year’s deceptions and gaslighting are appropriately addressed — I appreciate truth, regardless of it’s source.

What stands out most is the bold statement that CAM continues to use coercion and abuse of power in Haiti in regards to the victims, as well as the lack of Christ-likeness in the tragic responses to abuse.

He offers no testimony or proof to corroborate the claims, and I can’t speak to the ‘continuously’ part of it, but it does echo what some of the victims have said all along. But certainly he is right to call out the response of Jeriah, his leaders and church. And he is so right that no symposium or conference will bring change. Only repentance will.  True repentance. With repentance will come a new way of responding to crimes in church, and new care for those victimized as well as new respect for the laws of the land.

It will take more than lip service.  More than saying reporting is important and consistently doing it without interfering with the law and trying to get sentences reduced. 

THE GATHERING:
At The Gathering this weekend we had a time of repentance on behalf of the church for the dreadful response by so many to those who have been traumatized by sexual abuse. We worshipped together.  We cared for victims by giving them a safe space to speak the truth of their experience. They were free to identify and name their abuser and his/her role in their lives, if they wished, and tell what he/she did, and how we can pray for them. It was sweet, the safety and the support in the room.

At one point a survivor shared that her abuser has been in prison for 10 years, and honoured their mother for supporting her children in the process. A cheer rose from the audience. A cheer that offended a few people, concerned there is no grace for offenders. Here’s the thing, there is grace. Lots and lots of it. There’s also consequences. And there are survivors who will cheer because, at least for a time, they feel safe. At least for a time that person won’t hurt a child. That’s something to celebrate. Not to mention that giving a safe space to feel and heal means a safe space to feel and express some uncomfortable things. Some will cheer. Some will cry.  Some will be conflicted.

It was safe to cheer. And next year, when we plan to do The Gathering again, it will be safe again, if that is what they need in the moment. And we won’t judge their hearts for cheering, or assume they don’t hold the grace of God in high regard. That kind of judgement is what makes church unsafe in the first place.

We shared communion in the truest sense of the word; in relationship. No performance. No shame. Just true connectedness with a room full of people who understand each other. Acknowledging it is JESUS, only JESUS, who makes us worthy.

We also spent part of our day giving opportunity to acknowledge the lies we believe, and speaking truth over those lies. And then we worshipped some more. And in the evening we had a concert with Jason Gray and Behold the Beloved.

Many expressed it was the best day they ever had being together with other survivors. Feeling safe like they’ve never felt before. Knowing that if anyone who offended sexually as an adult, and if they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, there was security present to remove that individual. It was a commitment we made, and without excuse or exception, we would follow through. Not because it is easy, but because it is right. This, again, has nothing to do with grace or no grace. There is grace. Lots of it. And there is a place for offenders in the kingdom of God. But it isn’t at a healing event for survivors where they are promised safety … for most, the first time. We plan to offer that safety again next year.

We are deeply grateful for the volunteers who gave all they had to give, and then a little bit more, to make the day run smoothly. Above all, we thank JESUS for loving us and inviting us to gather in relationship. First with Him, and also with each other.

On that note, if you are a survivor of sexual abuse that took place in an Anabaptist community, set aside Saturday November 7, 2020. We plan to make The Gathering an annual event, and for at least the first few years plan to hold it somewhere in Lancaster County. We have not determined yet if we will open it to survivors outside of Anabaptist community or not, as there is also something healing about gathering with a group who understand the cultural aspects of our journey. We rented a room to hold the events of the day this year, and with 120 people it was packed out, but a perfect size audience for deep connections. Going forward we will need to determine whether we want to keep it small or grow it, and how large.

In any case, it is the beginning of a ‘family’ where survivors of horror are understood and worship God together. The focus was not on the abuse, but on Jesus and healing, while addressing and acknowledging the horror of abuse, the injustices and misrepresentation of God in many of our experiences, and the need for a more holistic response to abuse in our communities.

That said, it is not for everyone, and a few attendees had some complaints. And that’s ok too. None of us are called to reach everyone, and I certainly have no ambitions to cater to all or please everyone. If what we do ministers to you, come out again. If not, hopefully there’s a place for you elsewhere that is healing and encouraging. Either way, we wish you God’s very best.

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EVENT IN ELMIRA ONTARIO:
November 28-29 we are doing our first event local since 2014. The reason for this is that the past five years we have had so many request from out of the area that we’ve not had weekends or time available to look for a local venue to host an event. Recently we were asked if we would do a training locally, if the venue was available.

Training is very different from the conferences we do. (We still do conferences when invited). These days are focused on practical ways to support survivors of abuse as well as how to help offenders responsibly. Day One focuses only on supporting victims, understanding their needs, the pitfalls that come with helping them, and then how to ensure we don’t burn out. Day Two focuses on protecting the innocence of our little ones; the reason responsible help is so critical. It then moves to offender needs and the pitfalls that go with helping them, after which we interview someone who has offended and who speaks very honestly about that journey.

Survivors of abuse are welcome to attend, even though training is geared toward those who want to support them, rather than for survivors.  However, it is critical to be aware of the presence of someone who has offended. Here in Ontario, for this particular event, he will be present both days, though not in the room on the first day. He has offered to prepare the meals both days (with whatever help he recruits), and will be present in this context, as well as the interview and whatever sessions he sits in on for Day Two. If his presence is problematic for you, or our interview with him, we urge you not to attend. We do not wish to traumatize or trigger anyone. Your safety is of utmost importance to us, emotionally, physically/sexually, and spiritually. For this reason we are making you aware, while we also assure you that we have worked closely enough with him to believe he poses no risk. He is respectful of our boundaries and safety protocol, including publicizing his presence in advance.

To register you may fill out the form (below) and mail it in, or go to Generations Unleashed and register online. Group sizes for Training generally range from 20 to 50, and are more intimate and interactive.

Screen Shot 2019-11-05 at 11.55.12 AM

 

As always,

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

 

 

Convicted Pedophile Epstein Dead, Apparent Suicide

The first message I opened this morning was a friend sending an article to say that  Billionaire convicted child molester Jeffry Epstein is dead of apparent suicide.

The greatest tragedy, even in light of such news, is when these criminals destroy a child’s life. The next greatest tragedy is when they are not man or woman enough to face the consequences, and choose instead to commit suicide.

While it is not totally uncommon for child molesters to commit suicide, foul play is always a possibility when there are links to other big names. This case is certainly no exception. Though it is also plausible that going from the kind of power he had to exploit everyone around him, especially children, to sitting in prison was just too much to face. In either case, my heart goes out to his family and loved ones, and especially to his victims.

When offenders commit suicide, or when they become suicidal without following through, often the people exposing are blamed and shamed, which usually includes the victims. I’ve been up against that myself after exposing a horrific case – of which I have an audio recording that law enforcement has in their possession – where the child rapist became suicidal. The recording was evidence that I was not unkind or harsh; I merely appealed to the offender to own up to all his crimes, and informed him I would be notifying the law.

Sad truth is, the same people who blame victims and those of us who expose criminals don’t worry that the victims might struggle to the point of committing suicide. (As was the case with one of William McGrath’s victims. Yet McGrath, who victimized many, is idolized in conservative Anabaptist culture to this day as some hero and saint, and the suffering of the victims is disregarded).

What’s more, when victims become suicidal, they are told they are bitter and unforgiving. There’s the shaking of the heads, and the clucking of the tongues, with little to know compassion or understanding, in too many cases.

But when the offender is exposed and struggles with depression (whether to the point of suicide or not), those of us exposing are thoughtless and bitter people. And in those cases, groups of men gather (as was the case in the DD case last year) to support the offender and try to make their suffering go away. (As was the case in the confession a group of men helped DD draft to post on social media in order to quiet the public. That ‘drafted confession’ was the work of a handful of men, including a Beachy Amish church leader, a leader of a ministry in PA that ‘helps victims’, and several other men. And those of us exposing were called names, such as “Matriarchal woman” and “Matriarchal Witch”, to name a few).

This habit of protecting offenders and making victims and advocates villains, while insulating offenders from facing the reality of their crimes, is a significant part of the problem. And the leaders who do it, are too.

Here are the facts. Child molesters choose to commit heinous crimes. The best thing we can do for them is help them face the truth and the consequences of their crimes. Their freedom depends on it.

And child molesters who commit suicide choose the cowardly way out. It’s that simple. There is always a way to own up, without excuse, and face the harshest of consequences for their own actions.

Some choose suicide. Some do the right thing and face honestly what they have done, and accept the punishment they deserve. And they recognize the grace of God as an undeserved gift that is for their eternal benefit, not a way to manipulate their way out of consequences in this life. Which way they go is on them, not on their victims, and not on those who expose them.

If you are tempted to go there, think Judas. It was not Jesus’ fault Judas committed suicide, for not finding some way to stop him. That’s on Judas. There would have been forgiveness for him, had he repented, I have no doubt. And there is forgiveness for sex offenders too. But there is never an excuse.

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

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.

 

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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.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Podcast: Conversation on Sexual Abuse with Asher Witmer & Answering Questions

Last week I had the honour of chatting with Asher Witmer about sexual abuse in conservative Anabaptist settings. It was a delight to engage in such a meaningful and respectful manner. He has posted the link on his podcast:

Unfeigned Christianity: Episode 2

***

Today I will take a few moments to answer a few questions I’ve been asked many times, and especially recently in light of the shocking news of Jeriah Mast’s crimes in Haiti, and CAM leaders’ knowledge and failure to act responsibly:

  1. What are rates of victimization in Anabaptist communities?

    We know rates of victimization are high. Is it 10%, is it 90% or somewhere in between? We don’t know.

    In two schools I am aware of (each during a very particular timespan) the rates of students were over 50%. This was circumstantial in one of those settings, where the teacher molested many of the students. The other case was a mix of various abusers; a mix of adult abusers and teenagers. In a third setting several minors (all under 14) abused many children.

    In contrast, I’ve been in communities that remain relatively free of abuse, by all appearances. People seem to speak freely enough about it, and there is a ‘sense’ that they really do have a protected community.

  2. Do I believe all conservative Anabaptists are sex offenders? (especially males?

    Not at all. I don’t know the rates. Statistically the number lands at 117 per offender, based on self-reporting by sex offenders in prison. In our Anabaptist communities, I do not see the rates that high very often, but I do see between a dozen and twenty victims far too frequently. More than that, I see ‘trails’. Uncle ‘so and so’ molests his niece. The niece later molests a male child she is babysitting, and so on. Multiply that by 5 victims per offender and you have an epidemic, if those patterns are replicated. I could draw many ‘maps’ of abuse that span 4 generations, simply because victims have come to me spanning across the years.

    Also, there are missionaries (not referring to Jeriah Mast), who are said to have many victims in several countries, as well as at home. But, again, the number of victims is unknown. And confirming that the details takes deep, deep investigation. (What made Haiti unique is that a few came forward, and several missionaries believed them, and soon realized it was a massive crime case.In other cases, while I do report to law enforcement as soon as I have reportable information (which has to be more than a rumour without names or location of offender), I often cannot report. There’s simply not enough information. All of the leads I have with even a hint of a trail that can be followed have been reported in 2019. Approximately half before the Jeriah Mast became public.

    As more and more cases come forward and are exposed, I think we will get a clearer picture of how widespread this is. And if we can respectfully also name those who have taken ownership, we might be able to get ahead of this thing.

  3. What about those who have apologized for past offences, and are now church leaders who never turned themselves in to the law? 

    My role is to work with what is known, and to take my queues from victims.

  4. Is there no place for redemption in the life of someone who has offended?

    Absolutely! I hold the grace of God in high regard. In light of the spiritual and eternal, the moment they genuinely repent they are free before God.

    The grace of God, however, does not let me avoid the consequences of stealing a million dollars without repaying or doing prison time. Who of you, if someone took all that you had, would begin an outcry for everyone to forgive?

    Are we really willing to say that a child’s life holds less value than money?

    When a child (or adult) is sexually assaulted, the core of all of who they are is impacted; emotionally, spiritually, psychologically. Many, many victims struggle deeply with faith in God. Many walk away from their faith.

    Are we really willing to say that a child’s soul is worth less than money?

***

These are a few of the questions I’ve been confronted with in recent days. There are more. Many more. And I am working towards either addressing them, or having someone address them.

Some take considerable work and research, which I don’t currently have time for.  I have asked Hope Anne Dueck of A Better Way to pull together a post to address what signs to watch for that might indicate a child or teen has suffered abuse. She kindly agreed to work on organizing this.

If you have questions you would like addressed, please send them to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Blog: Question”. If I am not able to answer, or the time factor is more than I can commit, I will do my best to find someone willing to write an article.

If you are in ministry for the victimized and would like to submit an article appropriate to the topics addressed here, please send your idea to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Blog Article Idea”.

If you have resources to recommend for churches or for victims, please send them to info@generationsunleashed.com with the subject line “Victim Resources.” (NOTE: these will be screened. Content must be sensitive to the suffering of victim. Furthermore, resources cannot be the product of organizations or leaders and authors who *are known* to be abusers or to enable offenders, cover for them in any way, or neglect to address abuse appropriately in their own sphere of influence.

***

By way of update on the young woman who was assaulted at age 7… Today was ‘search for a counselor day’. Two donations have come in so far with enough funds to cover the first few sessions. (We are still waiting to confirm the fee, so not sure just how many). Thank you for contributing. This is will require ongoing support. If you wish to contribute, you may do so via PayPal through: aslanhasheard@gmail.com.

She extends her thanks and appreciation. One day, when this all comes to light, I pray that you will continue to hold her in prayer and support. And I pray that you will see the powerful redemption God brings to the most horrific of places and stories.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

ONLY 2 MORE WEEKS TO REGISTER WITH LUNCH AND CONCERT INCLUDED!
(ENDS AUGUST 1, 2019)
THE GATHERING, NOVEMBER 2, 2019, LANCASTER BIBLE COLLEGE:
One of the things we are working toward November 2, 2019, at  THE GATHERING, is creating a place where we collectively invite God into our grief.  It is exclusively for Anabaptist survivors of sexual abuse, and their trusted support persons to join together for a day of acknowledging the generations of suffering. We will cry out to God, together. The invitation is to ‘come as you are’ in your raw brokenness, if that’s where you’re at, or in your healed togetherness. The itinerary is simple. It isn’t about ‘who’ or ‘how’; it is about Jesus and a safe place to meet, to 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.

(More information for potential attendees is available under THE GATHERING Registration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

***

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.

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Kavanaugh & Blasey-Ford: Just another political/religious feud? Who is fibbing? And is anger a sign of guilt?

In spite of my busy schedule, I’ve followed this case as closely as time allowed. My interest in the case is not even a smidge political, other than how this will impact the future of victims who have legitimate allegations, and who will undoubtedly be questioned because of the political nature of this case. There is no doubt that it became a political weapon in the hands of Democrats. As a survivor of horrific things – along with many other survivors, including some who would otherwise praise the Democrats for taking a bold stand – this is violating and counter-productive. I am concerned it will do great damage to society acknowledging the trauma of victims and giving them a voice.

This week staying somewhat up to date with the case meant squeezing in time for Ford’s testimony and abandoning the last segment (because missing class and sacrificing marks seemed excessive). By the time I returned home, people had sent links to the the testimony and I watched the rest. I read some reasonable pieces about the case, and some with glaring biases. I tried to pick out the ‘information bits’ in them. In the process I’ve formed some strong opinions, most of which I will lay aside because opinion or assumption is all they are.

Speaking of assumptions and speculation… Any argument based on that for which there is neither evidence nor witness, does not sway me. And I’m amazed by how many people put full stock in speculation to the point that it becomes their truth. (Keep in mind that a victim’s trauma and experience are evidence, albeit less and less verifiable with the passing of time.) That in mind there are a few things that I really don’t put much weight on until evidence surfaces:

1. The two phantom men who allegedly came forward claiming to have been the ones to assault Dr. Ford. While a possibility, I have zero reason to believe such men actually did come forward.  The media producing such a story, with no names and nothing to show that such men exist, looks glaringly like the clean up crew getting called in. At first, I admit, it made sense of the story for me, based on things I had already observed, but when no names or identities were forthcoming, that all flushed down the pipe real fast. I’ll believe it when these alleged men have the cajones to make themselves known publicly, and their stories check out under intense investigation. Until then, they are a phantom in my mind. (If you were to ask me whether it is possible that two men, not including Judge Kavanaugh are guilty of the assault, the answer would be a resounding, Yes. It’s very possible. In fact, given other observations, that makes the most sense to me. But that teeters on the edge of speculation, so I leave it only as a possibility, nothing more.)

2. The claims that Dr. Ford was paid by the Democratfor launching allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. I would expect politicians to be far more self-serving than to leave an obvious trail, though it is again one of the possibilities, and if it surfaces, I won’t be shocked. I do know there’s a ton of fundraising happening – though I didn’t know that until recently – but I’ve seen nothing to corroborate claims of any association with the Democrats and money.  I would welcome such evidence being produced. (Again, knowing how crooked political games are, do I think it’s possible? Yes. Absolutely. But, at this point it is pure speculation based on what I have seen or heard. Stating as fact what has no evidence is not only troublesome, but it amounts to saying “We can make unfounded allegations, but you can’t.”

I don’t like them in any case, and when I recently used unverifiable information – which I discovered to be unverifiable after the party denied it, an outcome I did not anticipate – I took ownership. After the party declared his innocence, combined with realizing that the person who told me in good faith could not produce evidence, I publicly apologized. I hold the same position in this case. If it cannot be proven, don’t hold to it as truth. If you present it as fact and there is no evidence, apologize.

3. People are saying if you’re innocent of charges, you don’t respond in anger, thereby assigning guilt to Judge Kavanaugh. That is bogus. And that is one of the things I will reference a bit later, based on my experience with confronting alleged abusers. Especially religious ones. (Keep in mind, this is based on my experience; it is not scientific evidence. It has not been proven or stated by anyone else, that I am aware of.)

The part I am interested in commenting on, is based on observation in this particular case (drawn completely from watching the testimonies and producing my own screenshots) as well as what I have observed in eight years of working with victims and offenders.

Was Dr. Ford assaulted?
Watching Dr. Ford’s testimony, I have no doubt that the woman experienced the traumatic event she describes. I believe she was assaulted, at least close to the manner in which she describes. And I say ‘close’, not to minimize her experience, but to account for things that may have altered her memory. So I believe she was sexually assaulted, but am not sold on the facts she presents, but I do believe she genuinely believes them to be fact. Furthermore, she spoke with various people over a period of years as she processed that trauma, indicating that trauma was not conjured out of thin air for political agenda… which is not to say such agenda was absent in her timing. It’s glaringly obvious, in fact, that it was present. (Keep in mind that no names were ever formally documented, so there is no evidence that she previously named Kavanaugh. Also no evidence that she didn’t.)

What about the booze?
Dr. Ford says she had one beer. Maybe that is true. Maybe it is not. I promise you, when I partied in my teens, if there was booze available, I did not stop at one and I couldn’t tell you after the fact how many I had. If she had more, then her memory would be altered based on that. And, without searching, I expect there’s scientific evidence saying that booze alters mind function and memory recall. But with or without scientific study, just hang out at such a party and watch them walk and talk, or talk to the victim of drunk driving and we will all agree that booze alters memory and reality. However, it does not eliminate the ability to recall some information with shocking detail.

I was drunk out of my mind in this excerpt from my memoir, yet I recall vividly the kindness of the taxi driver and the grace he spoke into my life that night. Ironically, I do not recall the actual scenes to which I awakened, other than being completely horrified.

image1

image2

Time will tell… But will it tell the truth?
We have to account for the passing of time. I am a trauma survivor, and I have one heck of a longterm memory. I’ve had people from Mexico corroborate things that I wrote in my memoir; things that even some family members questioned. I was writing from a place of memory that, at times, felt too surreal to be real. But it was real. When I visited Mexico in 2017, I returned to a childhood home where several traumatic events took place. I was five when we left. Yet, forty-three years later, I was able to tell my driver which direction to turn out our lane to drive past Hildebrandt’s home, to the first road left, and to a field on the left, just a short distance down that road, past a creek. My driver called his father to confirm that it was, indeed, my father’s field. It was.

Memories with significance, for me, are deeply rooted. I know them to be true, even while they have that sense of surreal-ness about them. Even so, I know my memories are not perfect. I approached a woman who, as a girl, I recall molesting me. She was shocked when I described an event that happened to her too! She named the girl – some years older than her – who molested her. And from that moment on my certainty about which of the two molested me was forever questioned. I do not, to this day, propose to recall the accurate identity. They had similar features, were both older than me and had access, and at about five there is no way to be 100% certain which of them molested me. But, regardless of any uncertainty, I do know without question that I was molested that day.

If we, who work closely with sexual violence, cannot acknowledge this reality, we will contribute to grave injustices to both the victims and the falsely accused. Because false allegations – whether intentionally or through faulty memory – do happen.

EDIT: A reader brought to my attention a failure to acknowledge what I already acknowledged numerous times on social media, and what I intended to address here but overlooked:

Just as it is possible that Dr. Ford’s memory is not perfect, it is also possible – always possible – that Judge Kavanaugh does not remember that night even if he was there. If he was there, and if he was inebriated, then we must also conclude that what applies to Dr. Ford in the way of faulty memory, also applies to Judge Kavanaugh.

What about Judge Kavanaugh’s anger; does it suggest guilt?
Soon after Judge Kavanaugh gave his testimony, I started to see comments like, “If he was innocent he wouldn’t be so angry”. Wherever that evolves from, it makes no sense. I have confronted many religious sex abusers who were either proven to be guilty, or who at some point admitted guilt. The one response I have never seen from a guilty party is anger. Never. It has always been some form of quiet and calculated defence, some form of deflection, some form of religious justification or denial, or – if absolutely, inescapably caught – then a rush to repent and make things right. (The latter, while maybe not always the case, is a strong clue that there are other victims they don’t want to come forward or be discovered by the allegations going public, therefore the rush). And it has always involved some form of manipulation. At times they start preaching to the victim; “where would you have spent eternity if you had died, knowing all these years I had sinned and you did nothing to help me?” (At which point I interrupt and stop the abuse.) Or, “How can I make this right?”… “I had no idea that is how it felt to them… I thought it was mutual consent…” (Ummm… no… 8-year-olds can’t consent to 4o-year-olds wanting to have sex.) Or, regardless of age, “I didn’t abuse them; they wanted me to do it”… 

The list of deceptions, manipulations is endless. But anger is the one thing that has never manifested in my experience. (And a short study into the workings of a sex offender would quickly explain why that is, but I won’t get into that here.)

I would argue that many of the expressions displayed by Judge Kavanaugh are not only anger, if anger at all. Studying them, there are a few that appear to be anger and an array of conflicted emotions besides, but many show incredible grief. Not the kind of grief that Larry Nassar showed, or that I have seen repeatedly when speaking with both men and women guilty of abusing. There is deep, genuine pain in both of these individuals. What lacks in Judge Kavanaugh’s eyes that is very present in Dr. Ford, is terror. Her eyes seem constantly to dance between terror and numbness or disassociation from reality. Neither hold contempt in the above, though there are several that suggest contempt in Judge Kavanaugh’s expression. (However, as you will see in my further comparison, this is not reliable). Both seem to be pleading for truth to be acknowledge; for their story to be understood.

(Note: Photos such as this are being circulated as evidence that Kavanaugh is angry. So I watched the testimony again, looking for similar expressions, since the likelihood of finding the exact ones is quite unlikely. The next three photos are screenshots I took at between 9.58 minutes and about 10:40 minutes into this Youtube of his testimony: Click here)

(In this photo Judge Kavanaugh is in the middle of saying “Allegations of sexual assault must always be taken seriously. Always”. Yet he looks ‘angry’. Or does he?)
Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 7.58.46 PM.png
(In this photo Kavanaugh has just made the statement, at almost exactly 9.59 minutes into the clip, that victims and the accused should both be heard.)
Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 8.10.58 PM(Here Judge Kavanaugh has just said, of his parents, “they’re here today”. He looks yet angrier.)
Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 8.12.55 PM(Here Judge Kavanaugh has just said how hard his mom worked when he was 10).
Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 8.13.35 PM(And here he is addressing the sexual harassment his mom had to overcome and “that so many women faced in the time, and still face today.”)
(H
Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 8.19.05 PM.png(Here Judge Kavanaugh has just said “not even a hint” and just before “a wiff, of an allegation like this” at 11.40 minutes).
Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 8.18.37 PM(And this final screenshot is at the moment immediately following his statement that there has not even been “whiff, of an allegation like this” at 11.46-47 minutes).

So, I would propose that reading expression without context is not particularly effective. Where he should be angry, he shows less emotion. Where he looks angry in the pictures I screenshots of, he was speaking with emotion and passion that held no anger or reason for anger. There is certainly much emotion, but that should be understandable. And fighting to gain or hold composure has seldom made anyone particularly photogenic and chipper-looking. Let alone emotions under these circumstances, assuming he is innocent.

As for the notion that Judge Kavanaugh is guilty because he got angry, or seemed angry? Utter nonsense. Nothing of that speaks to his guilt. While I would not go so far as to say it speaks to his absolute innocence, I would argue quite emphatically that it certainly does not speak to his guilt. If it speaks to one or the other, I know which I would vote for, but that would be as inappropriate as being certain that Dr. Ford is intentionally deceiving the nation. I may not trust her motives for choosing this moment in time, but would put a generous burden of responsibility for how this played out on whoever leaked the story, if she genuinely played no role in that and had no knowledge of it. On that front, and with the assumption of that being true, and assuming Judge Kavanaugh is indeed innocent, she and Judge Kavanaugh were both victims and both wronged.

Again, assuming her trauma is as real as I believe it is and she sincerely believes the Judge is the offender, and also assuming his innocence (for the sake of argument), that political move did more damage to victims of sexual abuse being heard – especially in historical cases – than any other impact. Judge Kavanaugh, if innocent, will thrive. This will empower the Republicans and all who support them. Dr. Ford, even if telling the truth about the trauma, as I believe she is, will bear the consequences quite personally if at some point it is proven she had the wrong man, or men. In this, assuming the previous sentence is reality, the Democrats deeply wronged both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. Dr. Ford’s vulnerability was exploited for political gains, and Judge Kavanaugh falsely accused. While lawsuits are not my recommended usual ‘go to’, assuming this paragraph is accurate, I hope both sue the pants off of whoever got this ball rolling in the way that it rolled.

Those who care for victims will also be cautious about not launching unfounded allegations, or even questionable allegations, for selfish gain. All allegations brought forward in good faith, or believed to be presented in good faith, should be taken seriously, And they should be investigated. If there is failure on the part of those who should investigate to do so, in my opinion (and I recognize it is not a broadly held view), there is a time to expose and go public. In this case there was no attempt at such an investigation, and that is one of the biggest strikes against the credibility of this whole case against Judge Kavanaugh. Any attempt to have it investigated or addressed before going public would have given it much more credibility.

Closing thoughts
I cannot and am not interested in determining innocence or guilt, but those observations are some of the things I cannot ignore. There is strong indication that Dr. Ford was assaulted, and strong indication that Judge Kavanaugh is not the person responsible for that assault. Surmising all manner of things on the sidelines by either side – (ie; the claim that Dr. Ford was paid off, or that Judge Kavanaugh is guilty… well, just because he is and he didn’t even bother to get a lawyer) – those things weaken the arguments of their respective sides and distract from the real issues.

My status on Facebook, after people asked what I think or if I’m following the case, is where I still stand:

If Kavanaugh did what he is accused of – or anything close to it, I think he should own up and apologize to Dr. Ford. If Dr. Ford made up the accusations for political gain/agenda, she should apologize to Kavanaugh and the rest of the world, especially victims of abuse. If the allegations are true and she is using them for political gain, she should apologize to every victim who will not be heard because of this. Because this case will, without question, impact the credibility of the voices of victims, no matter what the outcome.

The problem is, none of us can prove what actually went down, or didn’t – as the case may be, and none of us can prove the heart intent of Dr. Ford.

For those who have asked what I think, that’s what I think.

I see no need to pretend we know as fact the parts that cannot be proven as fact. I see both sides – the conservatives and liberals – making claims that make, while logical, are not grounded in anything provable… at least not yet. I was not there, and you were not there (unless you are one of the few who were), and we are not God. Therefore we do not know with 100% certainty what actually happened.

I shudder to see an innocent man (or woman) accused of sexual assault. And I cringe at a victim not being believed. Both things are wrong. I pray that truth will be revealed. I pray that the corruption behind what is playing out – including any money trails, and political manipulations – will be exposed. I pray that Dr. Ford finds healing; there is no doubt she suffered trauma. And I pray that Judge Kavanaugh, if innocent as he appears, is exonerated from all allegations and goes on to serve well.

My personal position is with truth. That’s all.

Love,
~ T ~

 

 

 

Emasculated men, strong men, and God’s grace…

Of accusations from strangers:
Recently, while talking with someone who allegedly sexually violated a woman (I have seen the evidence), the individual was surprised when I encouraged autonomy and said “don’t allow people to emasculate you… Not women, and not men” and encouraged him to grow in confidence. He told me he was surprised by this, and he looked genuinely surprised, and then made an interesting statement. “One of your people told me you only have relationships with men you can control”.
I smiled. Of all statements, that one doesn’t threaten me because it has never come from someone who actually knows me and my male relationships. And this individual and I have exactly one friend in common who knows me well, and the rest are social media connections. Because of the nature of that one friendship, I know it didn’t come from her. So I didn’t give it any attention. Today, however, I want to write about it to share my thoughts on emasculated men, and ending sexual abuse.
Of being emasculated and attempting to reclaim power: 
First of all, I want to say that I didn’t feel he used that line to manipulate me. The first thought I would have if I read this, not knowing the details, is that it was manipulative, in an attempt to deflect. But he genuinely looked stunned by my advice. (If I am wrong and it was intended to manipulate, that’s not my problem to deal with. I take it at face value.) And I stand by the advice I gave: Don’t let anyone emasculate you. Truth is, a huge source of our problem with sexual abuse lies in men and women having had their God-given power taken away. Sexual abuse is about power, not about sex. About trying to reclaim what was lost, but in the very act they continue to further emasculate and strip themselves by virtue of the crime they commit; to take a vulnerable and powerless human and overpower them. That’s low.
A real man – a man who is not emasculated – picks a man as strong or stronger to fight with. He wants to prove his strength, because he knows he is strong and has a certain pride in that strength. A man who is emasculated and disempowered chooses the victim who is easiest to overpower and walks away feeling half the man he was before. He doesn’t realize that the very act of trying to reclaim power, is the act further emasculating him. Take this man, empower him, help him face his crimes and sins along with the consequences, and he can become a real man of strength and courage. (Because of his crimes against children and the vulnerable, accountability becomes a necessary part of life. No exceptions.) Having been empowered, he will be confident and not need to dominate the women in his life, but rather lead with courage and sacrifice.
If a male who has sexually offended becomes dominated by another male, he will get worse, not better, because, again he is being further emasculated. (And, I’ll throw in the mix here a wee rabbit trail to say that church systems that control are guilty of emasculating men and stripping women, thus contributing to the problem of sexual abuse and domestic violence. But that’s another blog for another day.) But, back to the male sex offender being dominated by another male, you will likely see him losing confidence, becoming more controlling, more secretive, further trapped in addictions and all around more volatile. (Alternatively, he may slip into deeper silence and addictions).  You may even see him move into sexual relationships with that dominant male, or attempt dominating other males sexually in an effort to reclaim power. I have theories about the direction this takes them and why, but at this point, beyond what I’ve already said here, much of that remains theories that I will leave to simmer and explore further.
Of empires and friends
Secondly, whoever the individual who told this man such a thing is not ‘my people’, because ‘my people’ come to me with grace and walk with me, and ‘my people’ are first committed to help me grow, not to: a) talk behind my back or, b) overlook my faults. And since not one person close to me has come to me with grace (which doesn’t take into consideration a private attack a few weeks ago by someone who doesn’t know me or my male relationships at all) I am confident that not one of ‘my people’ spoke with this man. Someone did, but not someone who cares for me, because if it were true and truly those in my ‘inner circle’ they would first help me.
On emasculated men:
Thirdly, and most importantly, men who are emasculated are far more likely to molest children and abuse their wives, than those men are empowered. Emasculated men seek control over their wives, over other women, and even other men in their lives, and some commit sex crimes. Emasculated men don’t respect themselves, and they most certainly don’t respect women. (I am respected by the men in my life.) Alternatively, emasculated men retreat in silence, or immerse themselves in addictions, or all of the above. I am not interested in dominating males in any case, but especially with knowing that it escalates abuse. When I sit with sex offenders, I try to get to the truth of the crimes they have committed, because truth is their only shot at freedom, and I treat them with respect and speak life and purpose over them. Because when they are truly empowered, they will drop the need to dominate, control and abuse their wives, children and friends. *This reduces recidivism rates.
Those who are stripped and emasculated have no right to use that as an excuse for the sins and crimes committed. None whatsoever. If anyone walks away with that as their ‘take away’, you’re not hearing me. The truth is women who lack confidence are domineering and abusive too, and the cycle between such partners is rather vicious. Those women, like the men they emasculate, need to be empowered and their confidence needs to be built up. If they are abusive, their own suffering is not an excuse for what they have done or are doing. Neither one can blame the other for their own issues.
emasculated men 2
On empowering, breaking cycles and helping offenders:
But some keys to helping offenders end abusive behaviour is making certain they surrounded by people who dare to confront the crimes, help them move to a place of acknowledging those crimes and facing the consequences, and speaking life and purpose over them, and never dominating them. Pursuing truth, refusing to give in to lies and manipulation, and holding to boundaries is not dominating them; that’s a necessary part of working with manipulators – which most, if not all, sex offenders are. But in spite of that, I choose to believe in their ability to overcome, to believe they have a future that is not about sexual abuse, and believe that with support and accountability **most can change if they are willing to do the hard work. In this way I choose to empower them.
If we do this while taking no chances, and giving them no opportunity or access to potential victims, we offer them a rare gift. And if we work with those closest to them, to  heal and build confidence, so all are empowered to help the others, we stand a chance at making a difference.
These are some necessary steps for breaking the cycles of abuse. It is possible.
Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

*Restorative Justice, in relating to offenders, seeks to humanize them, deal with truth, and offer empowering accountability. Similar approaches  are used by CoSa (Circles of support and accountability) and in both instances, rates of recidivism drop significantly. That said, Restorative Justice is not ‘offender-focused’, but rather seeks to give all parties a voice, with the voice and wishes of the victim being honoured, first and foremost. They are never forced or manipulated into engaging the offender(s).
**Most offenders would have the potential to change if they are willing to face every crime they have committed, without excuse, and seek help. So when I speak life, I speak it from the deepest place within me. I really believe this is possible. That said,  no offender should ever be left alone with potential victims. And those who truly are sociopaths with nearly a 100% likelihood of reoffending need a whole different kind of treatment plan.