HAITI: 4 New Charges Filed Against Jeriah Mast & CAM, and an Analysis of CAM Statements & Timelines….Was it Perjury?

Christian News released an article stating that four more young men have come forward, pressing charges against Jeriah Mast and CAM in Cabaret, Haiti. The article, More Young Men Come Forward as Being Sexually Abused as Boys by Amish-Mennonite Aid Worker also mentions the possibility of a fifth young man filing charges.

A fifth charge may additionally be filed, but the young man is no longer living in Haiti as the societal mistreatment from the scourge of being abused forced him to have to make a life for himself elsewhere.

A source who has been in contact with a sheriff’s office in Ohio told Christian News Network that he believes federal officials are pursuing criminal charges against Mast in the states to hold him accountable for his crimes in Haiti.

Read the full article HERE.

The information regarding this case was sent to me July 29, however, I was not able to gain access to documents to confirm, so I declined reporting. If I have learned one thing, given the intense scrutiny by Anabaptist readers, it is the need to be thorough and ensure I have evidence to support every little thing I write. To the best of my ability, I do this.

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Prior to this news coming in, I had already written a brief analysis and overview of CAM statements and timelines. There are some rather glaring questions hounding the analytical folk in this whole CAM and Jeriah Mast case. I am not alone. The following outlines just a few of those questions.

The first item is a very short clip in which Harold Herr states that in 2013, soon after 3 victims came forward to Steve Simmons (Gospel for Haiti), he told Jeriah “If you’d be in the states, you’d be in jail now.” (The detail of “three victims” is important to remember. These three were in Port au Prince).

While claims continue by CAM that it was believed to be homosexuality, it is clearly documented that in fact it was known to be a crime, as evidenced in Mr. Herr’s statement to Mr. Mast in 2013. No one in USA gets put in jail for homosexuality! To state now that Mr. Mast was told in USA he would be in jail, and at the same time claim it was believed to be homosexuality is contradictory. By the time a missionary is told “If you’d be in USA you’d be in jail“, there must be admission that, “in fact, we knew a crime was committed and still did nothing”.

Listen to the following audio clip, just over a minute long, and hear it for yourself:

After the three victims came forward in PaP with allegations against Jeriah, Harold Herr of LIFE Literature had a meeting with Eli Weaver of CAM and Lamar Nolt also of Life Literature.  This was not thought to be homosexuality by Steve Simmons of Gospel for Haiti or Harold Herr of LIFE Literature; it was known to be a crime. The following are quotes taken directly from Harold Herr’s comments on a recording posted on the second blog regarding this case, “In Harold Herr’s own Voice… CAM/Life knew; Jeriah tells the Law & Repentance Pizza Party”:

“.… so (the one victim) reported these things to Steve Simmons […] he told some of the things that were happening in the past by Jeriah, at… some… various locations. […] When this came out, Steve was distressed about this…

If there was no crime, why distressed? But there’s more…

This needs to go to CAM […] this is serious!”

I told Jeriah very plainly, this is very serious. If you’re really repenting, you need to go back to these boys’ fathers and confess and ask forgiveness. And I went along with him to do that.”

EVIDENCE STILL IN TACT, JUNE 7, 2018:
As of the day I sat and talked with him, Harold Herr still had a copy of the communication. (Hopefully still does. Otherwise that would be tampering with evidence). “To the best of my ability I’ve shared what transpired. And I read [the report written by Steve Simmons and passed on to CAM] on purpose [before you came tonight] so that I could answer … the best I can.” 

CAM’S PUBLIC STATEMENT – Haiti Investigation

(My comments are underlined and not in italics.)

June 11, 2019

As a supporter and member of our larger community we know that you have questions. This information is provided for your benefit and to help understand our efforts to date:

In response to serious allegations that a former CAM staff member sexually abused minors while serving in Haiti, CAM has initiated an investigation into this conduct. We recognize that any form of abuse of a child is both a horrific sin and a serious crime. We are actively working to investigate and address this situation and to care for those who have been harmed. At CAM, leadership and staff join the larger community in Haiti in their sorrow and concern about what has happened and the human lives impacted.

CAM has and is gathering information about these allegations. CAM can report the following:

  • Without CAM’s authorization or prior knowledge, the individual left Haiti and returned to the United States.
  • The individual was promptly discharged from CAM. (“Promptly discharged is misleading. Two key leaders, Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver had known of concerns for at least 6 years – Harold Herr states late 2012 to 2013 in his recording, they say 2013 – and had not taken allegations seriously enough to report or discharge Mr. Mast. It wasn’t until rumours reached CAM that victims were coming forward to press charges that Mr. Mast was ‘promptly discharged’. Mr. Lebady acted immediately upon Mr. Mast’s admission on May 3, 2019. It is inconsistent for CAM to take credit for a “prompt dismissal” and not take responsibility for at least 6 years of top leaders in Haiti knowing and doing nothing to protect victims.)
  • We understand that the individual made a confession to leaders in his local church in the U.S. and has reported himself to Ohio state legal authorities. (This, again, is misleading. Mr. Mast had no intentions of turning himself in for his Haiti crimes. And, in fact, he did not. He was confronted about those crimes upon turning himself in for Ohio crimes, when an FBI Liaison was present, to his surprise. To leave the public believing this was repentance and willing confession of Haiti crimes is not accurate and serves to sway the public in seeing Mr. Mast as far more forthcoming than he was in reality.)
  • CAM’s representatives are still investigating what took place and who was affected. (This is all well and good. But it’s never wise to have a fraudster audit his own books. An independent third party — and dare I say one who has no Mennonite or Anabaptist affiliations in this case — is necessary. There is far too much cover-up and collusion to preserve image for anything less to be trustworthy.)
  • CAM’s representatives have already communicated to one U.S. federal government agency about the situation and have been in communication with another federal agency with greater authority to investigate the situation. (Because the individual’s conduct took place in another country, state governmental authorities have limited ability to investigate and respond.)
  • CAM has been working inside Haiti to make contact with those who have been affected by the individual’s actions and actively pursuing ways to help them. (At the time of this statement, all 12 victims with whom I was in contact informed me that they had not heard from CAM. This remained the case until my most recent contact with them a few weeks ago).

As you consider this situation, first, please pray fervently for all those who may have been harmed or otherwise affected by this conduct. Please also pray for CAM and our Haiti staff to walk through this very difficult situation with godly humility and integrity.  (Godly humility would include asking victims what their needs are rather than imposing prescribed ‘help’ that may not meet their needs. Numerous victims have stated that they have no interest in having Anabaptist men ‘counsel’ them when it was an Anabaptist missionary who violated them. To insist on such a thing is extremely disrespectful. One of the greatest evils following the sexual violation of an individual is to impose on them the prescribed ‘help’ that potentially further victimizes them. Integrity would include allowing a third party of the victims’ choice, or at least with whom they are comfortable, do the investigation). The exploitation of anyone, especially children, is devastating to the trust in and impact of any ministry or NGO. Moreover, such abuse by one individual damages the reputation and ministry impact of all those who have worked selflessly over many years to help care for the Haitian people and who have not been part of any harmful conduct. (Frankly, it is not ‘one individual’ who does this level of damage when, in fact, at least five grown men in ministry were aware of the crimes, three of whom were CAM high level staff).

Going forward, CAM will work to keep our community appropriately informed about progress in this case. (Last I heard, CAM had not yet notified their donor base by mail, and merely responded to the public online outcry enough to hopefully appease them). Because the situation involves ongoing responses by the U.S. federal, state, and Haitian courts and government agencies, CAM is limited in what it can say and do. However, since being made aware of these allegations several weeks ago, CAM has fully cooperated with governmental authorities and has taken appropriate steps to report the matter to federal government agencies, to cooperate with the legal process, and to pursue care for those affected by the individual’s wrongful conduct. (CAM has cooperated with US officials, not Haiti, which is further disrespectful. While CAM formally announced placing Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver on leave, at least one of the men continued some duties for CAM after being placed on ‘leave’. Lest CAM would say what Weaver and Weaver do is not on them, as representatives of CAM they, in fact, were not cooperating with Haitian government. Being on leave – particularly with ongoing duties – is not the same as being fired. These technicalities do not speak to integrity.)


Christian Aid Ministries (CAM)

ISSUED:   Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 12:25 pm

 

*****

 

An Open Letter from the Board of Directors of Christian Aid Ministries Regarding the Case of Jeriah Mast

Thank you to the many believers who are praying and waiting patiently for our team to find its way. This case has strained our human ability to process and comprehend why anyone would harm children and abuse trust. We humbly ask for your continued fervent intercession as we respond.

In light of the magnitude of this case, we are in communication with government officials in law enforcement in the United States to ensure that we do not unintentionally impact any ongoing investigation. We continue to piece together the details of what took place.

It is already well known that our former employee, Jeriah Mast, has confessed to molesting boys while working for our organization in Haiti. It is also well known that he has fled the country of Haiti and is residing in the United States. It is understood that he is wanted in Haiti for his crimes.

The question that many have asked is this: What, if anything, did the board of directors and executive management know about Jeriah prior to his deplorable sexual abuse exposed in May 2019?

1. Is it true that CAM management allowed Jeriah Mast to continue working with CAM after they knew that he had sexually abused minors?

CAM’s Board of Directors was not aware of any sexual conduct between Jeriah and minors until 2019. (The public has not yet heard from Director David Troyer, clearly stating whether he knew or not. The public and donors deserve a forthright statement from Mr. Troyer addressing this concern. Anything less lacks transparency and integrity). Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver are two men who have faithfully served the Lord and our ministry for many years in management roles. (Management roles, in this case, is the executive board that includes the Director, David Troyer and others). Unfortunately, they allowed Jeriah to continue to work in the field even after his confession in 2013 of sexual activity with young men that had taken place several years prior. Both men recognize that their failure to properly investigate and inquire into Jeriah’s conduct was a serious failure in judgment and should have severe consequences.

2. Is it true CAM is trying to cover up this case by providing settlements?

The board of directors has not authorized any settlement payments and has no interest in covering this up. (Yet it is CAM lawyers approaching victims to this effect. Since the lawyers are NOT footing the bill from their own pockets, but rather CAM’s coffers. it is the responsibility of CAM to know what is happening under their noses. To ‘not know’ is not the same as being ‘not responsible’, as we see in the Jeriah Mast case. Pilate washing his hands did not make him innocent). 

3. In light of the circumstances, what is CAM going to do with respect to Jeriah?

Although CAM no longer has any control over Jeriah, the board believes it would be the right thing for him to appear in Haitian court to answer for his confessed crimes. However, this needs to go through the proper judicial and extradition processes of the United States and Haiti.

4. Will CAM take any personnel action in this case?

CAM is placing Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver on administrative leave pending a full investigation of their role in this matter. (As noted earlier, being placed on leave did not prevent at least one of the men from continuing in some role with CAM). The Board and leadership of CAM understand the gravity of the situation and have mutually come to realize it would be difficult to work through this case with their involvement.

5. What is CAM doing to care for the victims?

We are deeply committed to the long-term goal of ensuring the boys Jeriah molested will receive the help and support they need. CAM is still attempting to understand the scope of the tragedy. We realize there are no easy solutions and any steps we take will require extensive preparation. We will be seeking counsel and support from those in Haiti and the larger Anabaptist community.

These are just the first steps in our journey to find God’s direction for this situation.

We close by repeating our request for your prayers, most of all for the victims, and also for us as we agonize over the tough decisions to be made in the coming days.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors

Christian Aid Ministries (CAM)
ISSUED: Monday, June 17, 2019 at 10:45 p.m.

 

*****

The following is a statement released by Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver the same day as the previous statement by CAM was released to the public, with this one addressed to Missionaries in Haiti, not the general public.

June 17, 2019

Fellow Missionaries of Haiti,

As leaders of CAM Haiti management, we are deeply sorry for our part in the decision in 2013 to allow Jeriah Mast to continue to serve with CAM in Haiti.

We have asked God for forgiveness, we ask the victims for forgiveness, and we ask you fellow missionaries for forgiveness.

Following is information about what took place in 2013. We are not saying this to excuse ourselves but to clarify our knowledge of this situation until May 2, 2019.

In 2013 Jeriah confessed that he had homosexual involvement with four youth in Haiti several years prior. (This statement flies in the face of Harold Herr’s statement that Jeriah Mast was told he would be in jail if he was caught in USA doing what he did in Haiti. USA does not imprison people for homosexual relations. Therefore, we must conclude that they knew it was criminal activity *if* Harold Herr relayed the extent of his concerns to Eli Weaver, as he says he did. Furthermore, in 2013 Jeriah was 30 years old and the young men were in their late teens, and as stated here the “homosexual involvement” was several years prior. The most basic of math here is evidence that crimes were committed, and it was not homosexual relationships). After his confession and restitution, we met with him to verify his repentance, brokenness, and present walk. (How does a child molester make restitution on the mission field for sexually assaulting boys, and then continue on the field and victims being forced to encounter him, to their **expressed distress** with victims’ expressed needs being completely disregarded? It is documented that such distress was expressed to leadership, and dismissed based on ‘it being taken care of’ by Jeriah. And how do leaders ‘verify repentance, brokenness and present walk’ with a man who has deceived them for years?) We then allowed him to return to Haiti, believing that everything had been resolved. Looking back, we realize we should have asked more questions, gotten more details of what took place, and reported the matter to legal authorities. (I reiterate, was the distress expressed by Mr. Simmons and Mr. Herr not enough? Hindsight is 20/20, but the honourable thing to do – if indeed Mr. Herr relayed the extent of his concern, as he claims to have done –  would be to to go beyond stating “we should have done more investigating” to admitting “we knew more than we wish we knew and we failed to take it seriously. For this we are deeply sorry.“)

No information surfaced between 2013 and 2019 that was brought to our attention. (A discrepancy comes into play here. There were three young men in Port au Prince,  and there were four young men in Petit Goave, who approached Pastor Brucely and for which Jeriah was excommunicated and sent home). 

As we consider the loss of purity in the young boys who were victimized by Jeriah, their shame, their reproach, their fear of being found out, their concept of Christianity and missions overall, and we again consider that we were a part of the decision to allow Jeriah to continue working for CAM, we feel deep remorse. (These young men did not lose their purity. They were robbed brutally of their innocence. Their purity remains in tact, based only on being violated. To impose ‘impurity’ on the abused is further abuse, albeit out of ignorance. On this front we are all learning, and do well to take note of the difference).

In closing, we ask for your forgiveness and prayer for the victims and for CAM. We need your prayers.

Eli Weaver

Paul Weaver

NOTE: This communication from Paul Weaver and Eli Weaver was sent June 17, 2019. These men were placed on leave at that time, and several days later I learned that James Mullet – who formerly served in Haiti and at that time served on the Board of Directors – was to take over in Haiti. If this communication was not sent to the Board of Directors, it was either irresponsible or intentional failure to communicate. If it was sent out, then Mr. Mullet perjured himself in court, because this letter clearly states Paul and Eli knew of the four boys – which were the four in Petit Goave, which were not the same victims as the three boys in Port au Prince. It is inexcusable to not do proper homework before going to court to testify, and adds to the disrespect of the Haitian authorities. Critical thinking and analysis is necessary. Blind trust is one of the things that has allowed abuse to flourish in our culture. Criticizing those who take time to analyze and apply critical thinking is part and parcel with that spreading of an epidemic). 

 

***

Prayer needs for Haiti situation

Jul 9, 2019

Thank you for your prayers, words of advice and correction, and notes of encouragement. We need your prayers! Here are some specific ways you can pray:

• Victims and their families. Sexual abuse leaves victims in a wake of trauma and difficulty. Pray for their healing and restoration.

• CAM Haitian and American staff and other mission staff in Haiti. Both CAM staff and those from other Anabaptist missions face many pressures in relation to this situation. Pray that God will give them strength and grace for today and the days ahead.

• Board of Directors and CAM management: We have been meeting frequently to work through this situation. Pray for us as we make decisions and take action to care for those who have been affected. Much discernment is needed as we review policies and practices, work to heighten staff awareness of abuse, and create better ways for staff members to communicate questions and concerns. We want to continually improve mechanisms to protect children and other vulnerable people.

• Victim care groups: Pray for all those who are seeking to respond to the needs of victims. Independent Anabaptist groups who have experience in dealing with sexual abuse victims are organizing themselves to help victims in Haiti. CAM also needs wisdom in fulfilling its responsibility toward victims.

Thank you for praying.

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors

Christian Aid Ministries (CAM)
ISSUED: Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 7:00 A.M

 

****

Unrelated to these statements by CAM, one of my biggest concerns is the number of men involved in leadership in various ways, who have themselves sexually offended in the past. On staff with CAM in key leadership are at least three men with such history – granted, with one of the three coming forward on his own to apologize but with all three never having faced legal consequences. A second apologized when he was confronted. The third I do not know if he apologized or not. Besides this, there are allegations against another leader that I continue to investigate and document.

Why is this information important? (Especially when they have apologized!) Two reasons:

  1. Jeriah Mast also apologized but continued to molest youth and abuse power with the information being kept secret. To keep this information hidden is to risk the abuse continuing. If these men are truly repentant and forgiven, being forthcoming and transparent about this gross past failure should be expected, in particular in relation to working with the vulnerable. In particular, in this case, those who are delegated to be part of the Haiti Crisis Operations team should not have any such history, anywhere in the past. At least one individual who was proposed for consideration to help with Haiti’s crisis has such history. My question is, how can a man who has molested children in the past justly be part of a team to meet the needs of victims?How is this not being screened? Is no one sitting face to face with these men and boldly asking “Did you ever sexually assault anyone, molest a child or engage in sexual misconduct that victimized another human? Did you ever touch a child or minor in the breast, groin, or anus area? Did you ever expose yourself sexually without mutual consent to anyone, or to a child or minor (in which case consent is irrelevant)? Did you ever force a child, minor or unwilling adult participant to touch you sexually? Did you ever undress a child/minor or unwilling adult participant and look at his/her genitals?” Those who have done such things should be disqualified from providing care for victims. That is simply common sense.
  2. The second reason is because those who have done these things in the past and not faced legal justice or exposed their own crimes – having never turned themselves in to the law – will not likely insist on such legal justice in cases such as Jeriah Mast. If they think they can hide it from the law, many have proven they will try. They may be willing to cooperate and even accompany an offender with turning himself in once the offender is caught and his hand is forced but it is likely that they will attempt to keep it quiet and ‘in house’. After all, their crimes were never exposed, and the programming to “let him who is without sin cast the first stone” runs deep. That is problematic when dealing with sex crimes against children within a culture that avoids going to the law. It allows crimes to slip under the proverbial rug, and continue in the guise of repentance.
  3. The third reason is to encourage analytical thinking, since a lack of it has opened the door to all manner of evil among us.

So why am I not naming these men publicly? Because their victims have not given me permission to do so. And it is for that same reason that I am not offering any identifying information beyond saying that three of the men are in leadership in CAM. That is also problematic.

When it comes to missions and going to vulnerable countries, those delegated to go should be of all men most honourable, presently and historically. As it stands, given the number who have been exposed in leadership in relation to this case, we are forced to contemplate the following:

  1. Either we have such an epidemic among us that we should expect a percent of leaders on a board are past offenders…or …
  2. We must admit that offenders are drawn to missions….or ….
  3. Both….or ….
  4. It’s a fluke.

And that last one isn’t believable. There’s too many other situations with similarities to this to be a fluke.

In any case, no matter what conclusion we draw, we must admit we have a problem. And that problem needs to be appropriately addressed. To date it has not been. Proper screening is not yet happening, not even within CAM. Men ‘investigating’ either are not being screened to ensure they never victimized minors, or they are getting the ‘go ahead’ to do so in spite of such history. How can men who have molested minors be appropriate candidates to send to investigate sex crimes against minors?

Surely we have enough men among us who never in the past, not in their youth and not in adulthood, molested children, and who are willing and able to take on roles in missions leadership! Surely there are enough without such history to lead in roles that gives them authority over the vulnerable! Surely we can do better, and start properly screening who gets sent, and where they get sent.

Totally unrelated to all of this, I recently learned that another missionary heading overseas sexually assaulted a teenager. … And I find myself in an ethical dilemma… To hold the confidence of the person who told me, or expose publicly what I was told, or report to the mission board (with little confidence they will hear me), or report to the law, or all of the aforementioned? Holding crime confidentially is not the right thing to do. Nor do I offer any such promise. I never have. I never will.

(On which note I will state: If you send me information that is ‘confidential’, if it involves crime, I will report. It’s that simple. I am frequently sent information with no opportunity to offer my preamble of “If you tell me of a crime, I will report it to the law. If you tell me of a minor who is abused or neglected, I will report. I offer no confidentiality by virtue of moral and legal obligation to report to the law.”)

In an effort to notify the mission board – for whom I have no contact information – I made a call to Stanley Fox. More accurately, I should say I attempted to make a call to Stanley Fox, because I was told explicitly the mission is affiliated with Mid Atlantic which is the “same church as Stanley Fox”. I figured if Stanley sincerely is as repentant and sorry as he stated, he is one man I should be able to trust to do the right thing. His wife answered when I called, and after telling Stanley who it is, said, very politely, that Stanley declines to speak with me if I can accept that. Certainly, I told her, I can accept that. Truth is, I wouldn’t want to talk to me either if I was in his shoes and exposed for not responding to an apparent sexual trauma and crime. I shared the information with another professional, reading the statement of what the man had done as sent to me by the person he admitted it to, and alerted the law. I do not know the victim, and therefore cannot do more without her knowledge or consent.

It is the responsibility of every adult to protect children. Hiding the crimes of anyone, especially those who hold this kind of power, will not serve us well, and it surely will not serve the vulnerable well.

It is my hope — even if ‘hope against hope’ — that people will learn from this and ask blunt, blunt questions. Very blunt questions. “Did you ever touch a minor sexually? Did you ever sexually assault anyone?” Sure, they can lie. And they might. But that’s no excuse to not do due diligence. And with any discernment at all, the Holy Spirit will speak and the interviewer, if indeed led by the Spirit, will have a niggling of unrest.

That niggling should never be disregarded. The safety and wellbeing of the children of the world depends on it.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

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.

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.

***

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. In light of having Generations Unleashed’s vehicle totalled in a crash on August 1, 2019, and insurance not covering the full replacement, your contributions are especially needed and appreciated.

Sexual Assault, Death Threats & Terror: One Young Woman’s Redemption Story

INTRODUCTION
Tonight’s blog is the story of a teenager caught in a nightmare of sexual assault, death threats and terror in the Anabaptist community. It is also a story of hope, redemption and healing. I do not know this young women well. We’ve only met on Facebook. (I hope that changes one day). But I did engage at length with her and am blessed by her courage, compassion, transparency and resilience.

She made it very clear that her story is her own; it is not a pattern for everyone. God redeemed in ways that are not always possible because it is so rare for offenders to be allowed to get to the end of themselves. Too often people – church, family, friends – stand in the way of offenders coming to that end, and facing honestly their own crimes and evil.

I love a good redemption story. To see healing, that is what our hearts long for, above all. Sadly, in sexual abuse cases, the redemption stories are often used to beat other survivors over the head, or guilt-trip them for not choosing a similar path. This should not be. We need to give space for redemption to play out differently in different stories. We are not all the same, and God has not given us a ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula. He leads us gently, and remembers that we are human, and has compassion on us.

I am working on writing the redemption story of my life. How I went from being a teenager who prayed my father would get killed (because murder wasn’t an option), to sitting by his bed in the hospital, holding his hand as we talked, and giving him hugs. It is a story that needs to be told, when the time is right. As do many redemption stories. But with those stories there must always, always be space for other survivors to choose walk their own redemption story without any guilt or shame imposed on them if they cannot cope with relationship. There is only One Way to redemption, but the practical ways in which we walk that path varies.

Remember that as you read this story, and any other story.

***

SURVIVOR REDEMPTION STORY
My story has much in common with many of victims: Grooming, abuse, death threats, depression and PTSD, forgiveness (eventually!), and a remaining deep concern for other sex abuse victims.

Prose leaves more questions than straight-up story-telling. Nonetheless, I felt too ashamed and horrified to document in journal form the abuses and death threats as a teen; I wrote it in prose instead, after I had recovered enough to see it for the evil it was.

That prose was destroyed by an adult who knew and had allowed my abuser more opportunities. “I thought it would be too traumatic for you in the future.” Too traumatic for me to read my own writing?! I rewrote, saving the key phrases that most clearly stuck in memory, and adding pieces to reflect the story of reconciliation.

I do not believe that reconciliation should be the first goal in an abuse story. Nor do I believe that every story should end in reconciliation. Most will not. And that is OK! Reconciliation [in those situations where it is part of the story] hinges, not on the victim’s forgiveness (although that’s a piece of it) but on the abuser’s change of heart; this should be common sense!

My story ends well enough: I am at peace even in the presence of the abuser. But that is NOT due to HOW the reconciliation took place! Instead, it is due to the fact that he came to the end of his rope, and got desperate enough to go to extreme measures to address key factors that drove him towards abuse. I’ve watched him in a crowd since we reconciled; his eyes do not follow beautiful women. His speech is not fueled with hatred. His demeanor, once powerful and aggressive, has mellowed. It is on THIS change of character that reconciliation can be considered—and such a change is rare. Even then, it must be the victim’s choice.

How did the reconciling take place?

When I was an ordinary church member, I had a sad story and I needed to learn how to cope well and move forward. That was all. But when a desirable church position opened up, I was strongly urged to pursue reconciliation.

If reconciliation is not important enough to help an everyday member pursue, it is not important enough to help a candidate for a Sunday School class, youth ministry, regular ministry, or single mom’s ministry, or ANY other position, to pursue. This idea that ministry somehow makes a person eligible for the pursuit of God’s goodnesses such as reconciliation, is nothing more than arrogance; the most ordinary, every-day, unseen person should be the focus of equal care. Yes, ministry requires knowledge of reconciliation and conflict resolution. So does marriage, so does holding a job. People in ministry aren’t special.

I am keeping this anonymous, as the people behind this reconciliation are people I care for, people I have learned from, and, most importantly, people who get most of the things right when dealing with sex abuse. I have no desire to ‘call out’ anyone who is on the side of victims, and can extend grace to cover blunders. These are people who believe in being honest and cooperative with the courts; if they were humble enough to sit down and listen to my hindsight view of what happened, I would welcome that, because I think they would sincerely use it to do what’s right by the victim next time.

I was very uneasy about meeting the abuser due to previous death threats; these fears kept me up at night prior to the meeting.

My concerns were downplayed.

Just because he was penitent, and it did work out in my case, doesn’t make it healthy.

If “Avoid the presence of someone who threatened my life” is a boundary the victim wants, by all means, honor it. Find some way to pursue reconciliation without breaking that boundary. Helpers of victims—be it family, friends, a counselor, or a pastor—need to realize that while some threats are bluffs, some are real, and it adds to a victim’s sense of powerlessness to override those threat concerns. And even where the threats are a bluff, because the victim has already been assaulted sexually, they will be real to them.

My story is one of God providing tremendous grace in the face of great hardship; tremendous kindness towards a prodigal; wisdom for the helpers; grace to cover the helpers’ blunders; and the daily graces to walk well with others as I pursue ongoing healing.

While I believe that I have largely healed from the sexual abuse, due to an accurate understanding of sexuality and an ability to participate in healthy relationships, I have NOT yet healed from the verbal abuse. If I am given a rebuke in a manner that seems powerful and condescending, it stirs up the darkest memories (kind rebukes don’t do this) and I will cut the powerful and condescending person out of my life in an attempt to maintain sanity. In addition, I still find myself irrationally paranoid of guns. So, like many of you, my story is an ongoing story of “Wow, look how far I’ve healed!” and “Wow, so much more to go!”

Without further ado, the prose—the only written remnant I have for the singular most life-changing story I’ve experienced to date.

The dungeon was musty, damp

With straw and rats

One small window in the wall opposite the door

Too small, and out of my reach,

No hope of escape

A passerby’s foot could shut out near all light–

And there were passersby,

Just none that ever saw the window

Or even seemed aware that they walked so near a prison

despite the immensity of the building itself.

They had potatoes to chop

I dreamed of being seen by one—just one—passerby

Someone who would go speak to someone

who would let me out

before hunger and loneliness and insanity and torture began.

I was too young.

I heard human footsteps.

Not from the ground above where the passersby hurried to and from market

Potatoes to chop, parsley to sell;

But from within the prison itself

Past the other dungeons,

 slowing down,

 and,

 could it be,

stopping at mine.

Keys jingled, hushed

I could not clearly see who this was

or why the form seemed to wish itself disguised,

as though we were not already in a dungeon

musty and damp,

precious little light,

with straw and rats.

But the voice was human!

I relaxed.

Perhaps I would not be tortured

But yet, I might.

A hand reached out, friendly

Wary, I shrunk further

Even the rats seemed unsure

Then I saw his eyes

Seeing me, not as a fully clothed girl,

 Just the body beneath.

The hand twisted

And I saw at the last moment, this was no human hand!!

Fingers fashioned as if, no, these are,

The hot red prongs of the Devil’s pitchfork.

Eyes now saw

Not my clothes

Not my body

My very soul.

His intentions were for the very core of my being.

With a gentle swipe,

The Devil Prong Fingers ripped me open and I

Fell off my bench

Into the pile of

Straw and rats.

The ripping continued.

I would not survive this.

The Monster left.

I lay dying in my own blood

Gargling screams for help.

I could not arise.

Time passed and barely conscious,

I became aware of light

Not from the window.

But how?

The purest, the kindest light

I had ever imagined.

Angels.

My very own angels

To take me out.

As if nobody had ever locked my dungeon

As if nobody guarded the prison

With hushed voices and gentle touch,

These angels caused me to stand and I saw

Jesus.

Not distant

Not angry

His presence invited truth, so

I asked Him where He was when

Devil Prongs touched my body,

Ripped my soul

He cried.

He’d been crying the whole time

When all I was aware of was my dungeon

Musty, damp,

With straw and rats,

And my near-lifeless form flooding blood.

He held me, and cried, and promised to be a

Counselor to me.

I healed.

I, too, became a passerby of the prison

The Devil runs.

I had potatoes to chop when

I was sent back in

But Jesus went with me.

There was a prisoner I must speak to—

The Monster Human with Devil Pronged Fingers

I shrank back

He told me to forgive and

In a moment borne of soul honesty,

Not rebellion,

I told Jesus I don’t forgive monsters.

“He saw you not as human, but as an object of his darkness;

You see him not as human but as an object to be despised.

I died for no mere object, but for humanity.

When you see him as human, you will find it in your heart to forgive.”

See him, no longer a monster?

Jesus, You’ll have to help me with that.

The earth shook

My heart’s guards fell over as

Morning broke

And the tremendous stone

Got pushed aside.

From deep inside, Jesus Himself rose up,

Extended forgiveness

And peace fell.

But I have not forgotten

The Devil’s Prong-Fingers

Jesus,

Compassionate when I wondered where He’d been

The passersby

Too high, too distant

Blocking the light

What with those potatoes to chop

The blood gargling from my throat as I screamed

A muffled,

Dying

Scream

 for help.

The prison still stands.

The Devil still runs it.

The young are still tortured.

~ anonymous ~

***

 

 

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

NOTE OF UPDATE RE: RAPE VICTIM
The survivor of rape at the hands of three men is now focusing on counseling. I will meet with her before long for the first time, God willing, and look at what are the right ‘next steps’. Based on preliminary conversations, is likely that she will need a lawyer to help navigate the process. When and if that time comes, will do an update and give you opportunity to contribute to those costs. For now we have funds to pay for about 20 sessions of counseling. If more funds are needed on this front, I will post a request. Until then, thank you all! God bless you for entering into her story of healing!

***

ONLY 1 MORE DAY 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 GATHERINGRegistration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

EARLY CONCERT REGISTRATION FOR ALL SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE:
If you are a sex abuse survivor – Anabaptist or not – and are not a sex offender, who wishes to attend the ‘concert only’ portion of The Gathering, we will allow for early registration before tickets are released to the public, August 1, 2019. For link to register for the concert only, email AslanHasHeard@gmail.com. Subject line: “Concert link for survivors”.

***

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

Teachers, Preachers & Other Abusers: Grooming and Sexual Assault (Anabaptist Survivor Story)

TRIGGER WARNING: content may be triggering to survivors of abuse. The author speaks forthrightly about the assaults committed against her by a man who would later become her teacher and youth leader (overlapping with the assaults), and yet later became a preacher. Both individuals were conservative Anabaptists at the time the sexual assaults were committed against the author.

***

The following story is difficult to read, but another necessary ‘telling’ of the things that are done in the name of God. It was sent to me, in the author’s own words. I offer this disclaimer as there have been questions surrounding stories shared here recently, asking whether I wrote them. The answer is, No; I did not write any of the other recent stories. Frankly, as much as I love writing, do write another person’s story is difficult and time-consuming. I do not have such time on my hands right now.

The following is a story of raw suffering, and a story of healing and redemption. The author has chosen to tell it for the sake of other victims, to give them the courage to speak.

From my perspective, as someone who has worked with sexual violence for years, this story displays classic grooming. The tactics used on a child to first draw her (or him) in, followed by letting or making them feel somehow they are partially responsible. No child, ever, anywhere, is responsible for the behaviours of an abuser. There are laws of the land and region that govern these things.

****

It all started with, strange as it may sound, getting saved, accepting Jesus into my heart.

I was a 12-year-old and was invited to attend a revival service in Seymour, MO at a Mennonite church about a two and a half or three-hour drive from where we lived. That evening, Mr. D. Hostetler was taking a load of people from Linn, and I was invited to go along.

Abner Kauffman preached a powerful and convicting sermon that evening.

We returned home late that night, and one by one people were dropped off at their homes. Strangely, Mr. Hostetler took his own family home before he took me home. We were neighbors living only about a mile apart.

About halfway to my home he stopped the van and began to talk to me about my life. He was very convincing and soon I was praying and asking God to save me, confessing my sins and accepting Jesus as my personal Savior.

Mr. Hostetler hugged and congratulated me, and then took me on home. I got up the next morning, overjoyed with the new peace I had. I noticed the sunshine seemed more brilliant and all the colors in my world were much brighter, and everything just seemed so much more beautiful. I was a transformed person, born of God, the Holy Spirit. I loved all of it and felt passionate about living for God. I began to read the Bible with a new zeal and desire to serve God.

Slowly, as time went on, this fresh new feeling began to wear off as human voices were used to bring discouragement and sorrows to a young believer in Christ.

On one particular day I became very angry at Mr. Hostetler. He worked in a shop on our property. I was so embarrassed but I went to him with head hanging low to apologize to him. I had a dreadful anger problem. As soon as I apologized, he put his arms around me and hugged me close. It felt so good to be hugged. It wasn’t something practiced in our home during our childhood. I went back to the house rejoicing that day.

This was the beginning of a relationship that led to much sorrow for me. One day Mr. Hostetler  spoke to me about a verse in the Bible, where Paul speaks about how a man shouldn’t touch a woman. He explained that this wasn’t what he meant, that hugs and such really are good from brotherly love. There was more said that I cannot remember about that verse, but I believed him and regarded him as a very excellent and honorable man. I highly respected him.

As time passed, hugs and touches became more frequent. He began to take me on outings with him, holding my hand for hours, such as lovers do; stroking my hand. Then it went to taking drives in his car; he began to hold me on his lap, stroking and caressing my body.

Next, he began to invite me to meet him after dark, 11:00, 12:00 at night under a large tree where he would do more of the same.

Although I willingly received these attentions, I do not recall ever pursuing him or suggesting any of these meetings. I wasn’t smart enough, or brave enough to think that I could even do that. I respected him too much. You must understand he was the most respected man in my life at that time.

(NOTE: This was all prior to and up to age 14).

At the age of 14, he became my school teacher. One day while getting a drink at the water fountain he came up behind me and ran his hands over my body, telling me how beautiful my developing body was. This felt good to me, an insecure 14-year-old. I was flattered.

Things escalated through the years of 12-17. The older I got, the bolder he became. There were long sessions of kissing, French kissing, his tongue in my mouth, and his hands touching me, along with pressing my body tightly against the front of him. Lying on the couch, his body draped over mine, kissing me, doing all the normal foreplay things. He never actually penetrated me sexually, or touched my vaginal area, though his hands were all over my hips and legs. This took place in Mr. Hostetler’s own house and on his couch. I cannot recall why I was there, or where Mrs. Hostetler and the boys were, but they weren’t at home.

I had absolutely no clue as to what was going on.

All this while he spoke of his brotherly love for me. He would talk of my beauty. He’d also share with me how beautiful [another girl in our community] was. Later I found out that he was even more heavily involved with [this girl] and others at the same time he was doing these things to me.

Mr. Hostetler’s would also talk about God and all the things that were important to him, just as lovers would do.

At the age of 16, I began to be very restless; crying at night for hours, not understanding at all what was happening. I felt dirty and depressed. Church life became unbearable as I was targeted again and again for overstepping church rules. I was hurting; I wondered why no one cared about my heart. Why were silly rules of such importance? Why were too many ruffles, too small a covering so important when my heart was falling apart?

I came to the point where I disliked the kissing episodes and felt condemned by them.

One day I mustered up the courage to talk to him about how I was feeling. I found him out in his shop, working. I began to express my regret over these actions and ended up saying, “I’m sorry for my part in these actions. I feel dirty and sinful, and I don’t want to do this anymore.”

I expected to hear the same from him, but he didn’t say anything along those lines. Instead, he told me how he had never thought any impure thoughts about me. He told me he forgave me and was glad I made things right.

For four years I walked in shame, feeling like it was all my fault, and even though I couldn’t fully understand that, I accepted it.

When I was around the age of 15, Pastor Hershberger lived in Linn; I felt so attracted to the spirit he carried with him, his kindness, compassion, and his faith that seemed so real. I scheduled a meeting with him one evening and was going to tell him everything. I tried so hard, but I just couldn’t. I just sat and cried, and cried, and he ended up just praying for me that evening. I never did tell him what I was struggling with.

I got married to a wonderful man when I was 21 years old. In the first years of our marriage, I told him the whole story. He was shocked. For the first time, someone explained to me that it wasn’t entirely my fault. I began to see that it wasn’t, so I decided I would once again apologize to him and get things taken care of on both sides. He responded by sending back a letter, but it didn’t sound apologetic or repentant at all.

29 years later I received a very repentant text from Mr. Hostetler. This was a wonderful and meaningful surprise to me. Although I had already fully forgiven him and felt completely restored in my soul before he ever apologized, this message brought me great joy and delight. There is so much power and redemption when those who have caused harm humbly express deep remorse and sorrow for the pain and loss caused in someone’s life.

Signed,
~ The author

***

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:

Dear Reader,

It is my express wish to inform you of what grooming looks like and the responsibility you have as parents, leaders, teachers, friends, and co-laborers in the kingdom of God to watch out for your little brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. Know where they are and be attentive to what they say. Many things could have been avoided had the adults been diligent to know what the children were doing and where they were and with whom.

It isn’t wise to let our children be alone with another adult, even if you trust them. And it is of utmost importance that you speak as parents to your children and inform them of these kinds of traps. Have a healthy, open communication about sexual things with your children even at a young age. Answer their questions before they have a chance to hear it from their friends. Let them know you are a safe place for them to speak about such things. And tell them it’s never okay to discuss these things with anyone else. Teach them to stay away from those who lead them into things that make them uncomfortable in any way. Teach, teach, teach! We must stop our silence towards such things in a world that shouts corrupt sexuality from the rooftops. It is up to us as parents to teach them that God’s way is best.

Signed,
~ The author of the above story ~

***

CLOSING THOUGHTS:
Having interacted with the author, my heart is encouraged. She is gracious and forgiving. There is no hatred, no animosity. No desire for revenge. In contrast, there is grace intertwined with a solemn resolve to do the right thing and not be silent. She remembers the other girls who were victimized.

In spite of the apology via text, which she accepted as sincere, she has concerns over Mr. Hostetler’s moral fidelity in his marriage. Mr. Hostetler’s name is not new to me. Others have reached out with concerns over his interactions with young women in the past few years in the form of emotional affairs, with the most recent (inappropriate texting) being *after* his apology to the author. Mr. Hostetler was in church leadership for a time, during which time he communicated in ways with women (not his wife) that are not becoming a believer or leader (in this context).

EDIT, August 7, 2019: The following communication was posted publicly this morning. Someone sent me a screenshot and I also read it personally. It is this kind of protection that enables ongoing abuse.

img_0609

EDIT: The following are screenshots of the texts sent by Mr. Hostetler, as the pastor of the young woman he is texting. The texts that the author of the above comments states he sees no lustful thoughts in. That may be up for debate. It should be noted that I do not say there are lustful thoughts. I refer to emotional affairs and communicating in a way that is not becoming a believer or a leader in such a relationship.

EDIT (Other comments): In the event that Mr. Shirk referred to my referencing Mr. Hostetler as a leader – since I’ve heard that is all lies too – I will address on what grounds I call him that. For one, that’s how people still see him so he’s doing something that makes them believe he is a leader/preacher. As evidence, his brother Daryl and his wife had a 25 year anniversary in June of this year and had their vow renewals with a Sunday afternoon service and Danny preached. That tends to lead people to believe he is a pastor or some spiritual leader. Besides that recent event, I am told he still preached back when he sent these texts. If you preach, you better consider yourself a leader. If you don’t, that’s already a problem. Preachers have incredible influence. .

In this survivor’s story, she was clearly a child when the sexual assaults started, and a youth when they ended. She was not the only victim. The more recent case of which I am aware (and was sent evidence of his communication), was not with a minor. From what we know, he seems to have learned to pick them past the statutory rape and childhood sexual assault stages.

Mr. Hostetler was a minister for a time, including over the time the texts were sent to someone not his wife, and currently leads a small church-type-group, as of the most recent information sent to me.

These patterns by men (or women) in religious (or other) power, who apologize and then continue to abuse their power, whether molesting minors as he did initially, or emotional and/or sexual affairs, dreadfully misrepresent God. It is time the church of Jesus Christ rises up and takes a firm and bold stand against such corruption. The Corinthian church bragged that they had so much grace that mothers could have sex with their own sons. Paul condemned this.

Well… I dare say we’re back to the same thing, where we have so much grace that it’s more less a ‘sex with kids and minors’ free for all. All that is required is an apology, and a pat on the shoulder as you walk out to start over, it seems. Especially leaders. We should not be proud of this ‘grace’. There’s a reason Paul took issue with that kind of grace. And I’m with him.

Yes, God forgives. That’s not a matter of question. But placing them back in that role of leadership over the vulnerable is foolishness.

And lest there is a rush to use King David as an example, I will offer this: King David announced to the whole country what he had done and had the truth of his story written in a book. He did not blame the woman he used. He did not tell everyone to shut up and forgive. He humbled himself, as king, and sat in sackcloth and ashes.

Start there.

And then, after appropriate time sitting in sackcloth and ashes with the world knowing what crimes were committed… then let’s talk about appropriate next steps and appropriate career and ministry paths.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

 

***  See below: early ‘concert only’ registration for abuse survivors Nov. 2, 2019. ***

The young woman who was assaulted at age 7… Five donations have come in so far with enough funds to cover . (We are still waiting to confirm the fee, so not sure just how many). Thank you for contributing. Every bit helps, as this is will require ongoing support. If you wish to contribute, you may do so through the following link: Support for Rape Survivor.

The victim expresses appreciation to all who have contributed. We have raised enough for approximately 17 sessions of counseling.

It has been encouraging to see ‘the church’ enter into her story and care for her well-being in word, prayer, and helping with her counseling costs. Thank you! God bless you all!

***

ONLY 1 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 GATHERINGRegistration and for non-attendees at THE GATHERING Information.)

EARLY CONCERT REGISTRATION FOR ALL SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ABUSE:
If you are a sex abuse survivor – Anabaptist or not – and are not a sex offender, who wishes to attend the ‘concert only’ portion of The Gathering, we will allow for early registration before tickets are released to the public, August 1, 2019. For link to register for the concert only, email AslanHasHeard@gmail.com. Subject line: “Concert link for survivors”.

***

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

 

PSA: Jeriah Mast, charged with molesting 5 young Ohio boys, out on Bail (No charges yet for Haiti Crimes)

JERIAH MAST OUT ON BAIL
Numerous individuals contacted me earlier this morning to say that someone posted bail and Jeriah Mast is out. This comes as no surprise to me, as I anticipated it. The only thing that is surprising is that they waited this long.

For Jeriah’s church and family, this is an answer to much praying and pleading with God. To victims of abuse, this is a nightmare.

Bail was posted by Judy Skelley of Sly Bail Bonds. UPDATE: (It is confirmed that Mast is required to wear a GPS monitor, he must report weekly, turn in his passport (if he had not already), and have no contact with victims. The prosecutor is also filing a motion that he have no unsupervised contact with any juveniles). That they used a bondsman (or woman) was also expected. It is unlikely the same amount of funds have been invested in helping the victims, and knowing who posted bond would not look good.

***

Also, just a reminder, that the present arrest and bond are specific to the five known victims in Ohio. There are, as of yet, no charges filed for the Haiti crimes, and the alleged 30 plus boys Jeriah Mast sexually assaulted while serving as a missionary through Christian Aid Ministries. That investigation, I understand, is ongoing.

To date Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) has not mailed out any notification of the Jeriah Mast’s crimes, to donors who are on mailing lists only. I applaud those individuals are taking it upon themselves to print off news articles and blog posts to distribute among those who do not have internet. Donors have the right to be informed.

***

OPPORTUNITY TO HELP HAITI VICTIMS WITH LEGAL COUNSEL AND MEDICAL AID
In the meantime a first responder, Rick Ashley, is in Haiti meeting with victims and helping them with legal aid. Rich adopted a young nameless boy of unknown age (approximately 8-10 years old), after the child sought treatment following the earthquake almost 10 years ago. Rick has provided for this young man ever since. The boy was found near the CAM site in Titanyen, chained up and and sold for sex by a woman who, they say, was obviously mentally unwell. She beat him with a machete, leaving him physically scarred for life, and the sexual assaults left him mentally scarred.

To learn more, and help with funding their legal counsel, here is the link to the GoFundMe Account: Sexually Abused Haitian Boys, Urgent Need.

Remember the victims.

***

NOTE: The follow up blog post, to yesterday’s powerful word from a husband, will come out this evening.

As always…

With love,
~ T ~

***

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

Response from Emanuel Lapp, a non-victim Anabaptist Male to CAM & Jeriah Mast Crimes

A deeply moving email landed in my inbox addressing the CAM and Jeriah Mast abuse case. Tears flowed as I read his message. As someone who had no experience with abuse – neither as victim nor as offender, and whose idyllic childhood left him with no understanding of it, he put into words something I, as a female, had never thought of or heard from anyone. He put to words the shame that he as a man feels after hearing of Jeriah’s crimes.

I don’t know if that response is common, but it made me realize again how victimizing children violates so many, even beyond those who are sexually abused. Certainly not int the same way, and the assault victims are and always should be prioritized, but the ripple effect creates trauma and suffering that extends far beyond the initial crime. I’ve been told that for this reason the crimes should not be publicized. I would propose that it is the reason we must speak out and make the crimes known so that accepting as ‘moral failure’ and a ‘slip during a weak moment’ is no longer acceptable. (And the Old Testament, which documents slaughterings of humans and sexual assaults, would give testimony to the need to speak out).

Thank you to Emanuel Lapp, the author of the following letter. And special thanks for permission to post the letter. I do not know him, or what group he is affiliated with, but appreciate the care and compassion shown in the letter.

***

Dear Trudy,

I suppose i’m sending this to an open forum, so if I am, then hello to all of you. I don’t know much about blogs, or whatever this is, not because it looks hard to learn, but because I’ve had so little time to invest in one more thing to take up more off the extra time that I don’t have. But I do at times use the computer at the local library, which is where I stopped in to get a news update on the Mast/Haiti/CAM situation.

I was aware that I had unanswered questions about homosexuality in the back of my m ind, but first, a disclaimer and then a little background about myself. In the following paragraphs, I use the umbrella term of “Anabaptists” loosely and do not wish to imply that “Anabaptists” of today would be accepted by original Anabaptists. They were recognized for their exemplary lives and for their firm stands against sin in the church. Now for my background in short form:

I was born at home, in a farmhouse on a peaceful dairy and crop farm in Lancaster County PA. Being Amish, I, as well as my ten siblings, were taught good work ethics and high morals from little up. Growing up, I knew nothing of immorality among our people, and would have been devastated had I found out. Mine was indeed an idyllic life and a protected childhood. I was never abused as a child, neither sexually nor otherwise, and have never been a perpetrator.

However, I was exposed to sexual sin at the young age of 10 or 11 when I overheard a 13 year old boy being a self-appointed teacher on human sexuality to a small group of his peers in a corner of the school playground, explaining it all, including masturbation, in graphic detail, only without exposing himself.

About a year later, as I was working a field in preparation for planting, I came upon a pornographic magazine lying in the roadside ditch. For years afterward I vacillated, never quite sure masturbation was wrong, but feeling dirty afterward.

As a teenager, I loved music. Gospel music. Then Country and Bluegrass. Then Rock & Roll. Then heavy metal Rock & Roll, and by that time, give over to the Rock & Roll rebellion of the 70’s, I indulged in drinking, dancing, and pot.

But perhaps because of the strict training of my Mom, or the warnings from Dad, coupled with their prayers, my first experience of having sex was at age 21 with my 19 years old bride. Now my wife of 37 years, going on 38, she is the only one I’ve ever had in that way. Which is a wonder that I ascribe to God and to praying parents, for during my “wild years” I had various girlfriends and many dates.

That is a little briefing on my background, now for the unanswered questions in the back of my mind.

One; How can men have sex with men?
Two; Or little boys?!?! Impossible! my mind screamed.
How could I not know? It’s 2019. I’ll be 59 years old this month.

The answer is that I have studiously avoided finding out. I’ve known sin.
I know natural temptation. And I knew how defiling sin can be to the mind. So I avoided perversion life the plague that it is. When the Scripture tells us “there hath no temptation taken you but that which is common to man,” it is referring to natural sin, not the perversions of Romans Chapter One. Those are in a class by themselves.

So then, the first reader response that I read to your blog was the one from Jay Voder. It was disturbing. Thank you for your level-headed response.

The next letter was the one from […] the experience of a victimized 12 year old boy. And I read….oral sex….anal sex…the pain of sitting in school the next day….I cried. And then I was filled with shame. “Anabaptist” shame, for though I’m no longer Amish, I’m still “Anabaptist” at heart and part of a church so identified. Masculine shame, almost ashamed to be a man. I don’t know that the above incident was “Anabaptist” nor do I know how far Jeriah fell, that is now up to the courts to discover, but to think that men can, and do, fall that low brings shame upon my gender. And no matter how far Jeriah fell or didn’t fall, we do know that little boys were defiled.

I had known of the Catholic scandal about their priests, knew it involved little boys, found the thought disgusting and shoved it aside. But now….it hits close to home and cannot be shoved aside.

Nor should it.

Then I got angry.

And discouraged.

And then sorry. For little boys. Especially in comparison to my idyllic childhood. Unprotected little boys. Exploited little boys. Defiled little boys.

And then I searched the news.
Sex abuse perpetrated here by a school teacher.
There by a coach.
Over here by a Pastor.
Over there by a Priest.
I read back over your response Jay.
And got mad.
Again.

And got over it. Maybe you’re just naive. I hope so. I hope Jeriah didn’t go as far as some do, but even if he didn’t, where is God in this unfortunate way of allowing a young man with a history of perverse sexual attraction to children, to have children in his care? Even at night. I understand the need for forgiveness and trusting God to change the hearts and lives of evil men, but even trustworthy men can fail by trusting people, including themselves, too far.

So now, as we pick up the pieces, let us also pick up those neglected pieces under the rug. So we can finish the puzzle and have the big picture, seeing where we must change. The puzzle pieces under the rug so often are the victims, or so I am told.

And so it seems.
They need a voice.
We need to allow them a voice.
We need to be a voice for them.
And as we hear them, may we say, as the Nations said of the Holocaust after WWII:
Never Again.

Because these young victims have their own personal Holocaust to live through. And as our Never Agains upset failed methods, may our faith be ignited with personal Pentecostal fire.

May the perpetrator, his family, and victims alike, find the grace of God to face life as it is now and be made whole, again or for the first time, through the power and love of Jesus.

Thank you Trudy, for being a “voice crying in the wilderness.” A voice for the victims of sex abuse.

And to my fellow “Anabaptists,” how can we ever trust again? Must we eye each other from here on with suspicion? Or may we call for a deeper level of transparency? Indeed, I believe I hear the Word of the Lord, through the Voice of Exposure and through His Word calling us to a deeper level of transparency.

To a deeper love and kinder help for abuse victims.
To tougher love for perpetrators.
No matter how close the emotional or relative ties.
God is calling us back to the Bible.
May we, together, heed the call.

The call to finding Exposure Redemptive.

Because Jesus Lives,
Emanuel Lapp

 

***

I am so grateful for men and women who are rising up to stand with victims. To see such a broad positive response, and encouraging the community to see exposure as redemptive, this is an answer to prayer. And to hear men – even those who have not been victimized or victimizers – rise up and call for the victims to be remembered and heard… this is healing for many!

Remember the victims! Remember Haiti!

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

 

***

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 ~

 

 

 

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

Rape ‘Victim’ Recants Allegations…

Recently a local rape case was reported to police. While the individual was never my client, I did hear the story directly from that individual, and heard updates from both the victim and those closely involved, over a period of weeks. And given the number of people who have talked with me about it since, the story has spread far and wide.

Early on in sharing with me, she told me people were telling her it was only a dream, or maybe a demonic attack, but in any case what she claimed had happened, was not reality, and she was urged to not speak of it. Still, she stood by her story. And never in her sharing of it–which she did more than once with me and several others–did the details collide. There was no reason to believe she was fabricating a story.

When she developed tender breasts and fever, she was taken to hospital, where (according to her) she was told she had Mastitis. In the home where she stayed, the woman sent me a text one day saying  something was very wrong; the girl had bled all over the bed.

Earlier in sharing her account with me, the girl had mentioned several times she was pregnant and had miscarried. This ‘evidence’ seemed to corroborate her story. Still she was not believed by key people in her life. And still she stood by her story. (I personally asked her in my last conversation with her–in front of one of her key church leaders and two witnesses–if she had told us the truth. And even then she said, “yes.”)

However, by the time the trials began, and after the victim had been removed from the ‘safe home’ she had asked to be placed in, things changed. She recanted her testimony and the case was dismissed on November 9, 2015.

And many thanked God for this ‘answer to prayer’…

…because sometimes–in approximately 5% of cases–victims are believed to lie and make up false charges out of some perverse need for attention…

****

Today I read an article that was devastating, disturbing and familiar…  It is long, and it is powerful; worth the time investment to read. (And not hard to read, as the story is very engaging, in a tragic way.) This is one of the few times An Unbelievable Story of Rape is told, where the “victim” recants the story, admitting it was nothing more than a lie, and the ensuing events that eventually confirm what is, in fact, the truth.

I tend to work from the perspective of believing a victim, and if they are lying, hopefully they will get the help they need and admit to those lies. It is never mine to judge, and I am not in a position to investigate, so I try to help the best I can, while praying for truth and healing, in either case.

Where there is the rare case of deception, my heart goes out to the accused. This article is loaded with learning, just in the telling of the story, and would be good for every law enforcement officer, pastor, teacher, parent–and anyone working with youth or potentially victimized or troubled individuals. It was hard for me to read, causing moments of unusual anxiety as I followed this victim’s (changing) story and the police department’s handling of it.

If you know anyone who has made rape/abuse claims or allegations, or fall in the people group most likely to come across victims or those claiming victimization, I urge you to read An Unbelievable Story of Rape.

I will share a quote from the article that jumped off the page at me. In my position of working with victims and alleged victims, I have no choice but to believe, unless there are glaring discrepancies: A lot of times people say, ‘Believe your victim, believe your victim,’” Galbraith said. “But I don’t think that that’s the right standpoint. I think it’s listen to your victim. And then corroborate or refute based on how things go.”

There are many unknowns in working with victims of sexual violence, but the one thing I am certain of, is that sometimes the most diligent and well-meaning people have it wrong. (And to get a concept of just what I mean by that, I again highly recommend the link included here.)

Story of RApe

And now, since I am not accustomed to an article or a story impacting me this intensely, I need to go de-stress.

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

 

 

A Million Fingers Pointing at Me: The Power of Shame

On Wednesday, July 25, I posted a blog called, What Is Sexual Abuse? I opened that post with an email I had received from one of my readers, expressing a strong dislike for the word ‘perpetrator’, and asking what qualifies as sexual abuse.

The reader sent me a follow-up email, wanting to clear any misunderstanding, lest it sounded as though the word ‘perpetrator’ is not appropriate. I asked for permission to post the second email, and was given the go ahead to do so.

“I was just reading comments on your blog and I am much too “shy” to add my own comment. But I wanted to be sure at least you understood. When I said I hate the word “perpetrator” it had absolutely nothing to do with thinking the word shouldn’t be used, or it’s too harsh a word or doesn’t apply or anything like that. You’re right, when talking bout a perpetrator that’s the word to use. The *only* reason I hated it was because every single time I read the word “perpetrator” my heart got stabbed and I felt an incredible amount of guilt and it felt as tho a million fingers were pointing at me. ….”

This is the guilt and shame I repeatedly encounter, whether in email, via phone, or sitting across the table from those with similar stories. What is most saddening to me is that most of these individuals, living with this deep guilt and shame, are typically children at the time of the offence. The older ones were maybe thirteen or fourteen, with no education, no understanding of the depth of the damage until years later.

As the reality settles in, the now-adult often struggles with fear, anxiety, anger and  shame. Commonly their fear is, “what if the victim doesn’t even remember, and I traumatize them again by speaking up to apologize?” There is worry over what consequences the victim has lived with, because of their actions, among other fears and concerns.

And then there is the horror and shame at realizing what it is they did. When that innocence of not understanding sexuality is gone, these individuals who ‘perpetrated’ in childhood–here I cringe to use that word–would give anything to undo the past, but they cannot.

It is not possible to generalize and speak effectively into every situation with one broad sweep. Every situation is unique with dynamics that must be considered and emotions that need to be worked through. On a practical level, to ‘make things right’ with victims, it needs to be done with deep sensitivity to the victim’s needs.

However, for personal freedom a few things will help move all perpetrators toward freedom. The first step is taking ownership and acknowledging that what we did was wrong, in spite of the innocence and lack of understanding at the time of the offence.

Making peace with God over it is another step. On the heels of acknowledging our wrong, and our ownership of the abuse, we need to give it to God. We are not created to carry the weight of these things. Our minds are not made for it. We need to give it to God and accept His forgiveness.

Another part of freedom is forgiving our parents and leaders for not teaching us. When silence has first victimized us, and then played a role in causing us to victimize other children, we need to forgive our parents for not teaching us. (Adult perpetrators also need to forgive for the lack of teaching, however, no responsibility can be placed on parents of an adult, in spite of that lack of teaching. Each adult must take personal ownership.)

Did they do the best they could, given their experience? Probably. But their best left us vulnerable, hurting and broken. And that broken-ness set us up to pass on the abuse that we did not understand in childhood. Healing from that loss requires forgiveness, where those in leadership failed.

Choosing well, going, forward is critical. Learning the truth about sexuality, and God’s amazing plan, inviting Him into our struggle, and giving Him our past, releases us from that shame.

We were not created for this guilt, shame and sin. We were created for the Garden of Eden, for perfect relationship with God, with no separation from Him, and sin separates us from him. As we repent and get to know Him again, intimately, and understand what it is we were created for, that freedom returns. We find the weight of sin and shame lift from us, and we are again made whole. In Him we are accepted. Complete. Regardless of the past.

That’s who Jesus is, and what He came to do, restoring all things and reconciling us to Himself.

© Trudy Metzger

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series