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

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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

What is Sexual Abuse?

“Perpetrator. How I hate that word. I’ve still been reading your blog regularly, tho not quite as enthusiastically as awhile ago. I have read the word “perpetrator” more times than I would have cared to. I am wondering, how exactly do you define “perpetrator”? And how do you define sexual abuse? How “minor” does it have to be before you would define it as abuse? Some explanations would be appreciated…”

I received the above note from one of my blog readers today and wrote back with a brief explanation and a promise to write more about it here.

The individual went on to, somewhat apologetically, acknowledge that the message may sound harsh. Harsh? Not to me. It’s truth. It’s honest. It’s refreshing. I appreciate that. And I recognize that not all my writing is for everyone all the time. Having said that, I’ve had the highest consistent visits on my blog in the last several weeks. Where it’s not working, or where readers have concerns or questions, I appreciate hearing from you.

The word perpetrator is a broad term commonly used for anyone who commits a wrongdoing, especially in sexually inappropriate offences. It covers everything from the person who exposes himself or herself, violating others visually, to the people who rape, molest or otherwise abuse others sexually.

I use it in story telling because it allows me to write about the offender without giving away name, gender or the details of the violation. (To share those details, by calling the offender a rapist, is something I rarely do. In The Travelling Missionary… Rapist I did this, because I am hoping people will recognize him and get help if they or a loved one were one of the many who were violated by him.)

I’m not a big fan of changing names, though I do it on occasion, and rather refer to the person as a perpetrator. For better or worse, I’ll probably keep using it.

Defining Sexual Abuse is also not without challenge. There are various types and ‘degrees’ of  violation, but any sexual exploitation, regardless how minor, or whether it involves touching, or not, is Sexual Abuse. Within that there are various definitions for different forms of abuse.

Molestation, for example, is typically used to describe unsolicited sexual contact with a woman, if it does not progress to rape, and also refers to all sexual contact with children. If children ‘consent’ they are still considered victims of molestation.

Sexual assault is a broad term used to define ‘knowingly causing another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act, by threat or by force.’ Sexual Assault, in legal terms, has for the most part replaced ‘rape’ and ‘sexual abuse’ or any form of sexual violation.

(In searching for answers as to when and why rape was redefined as sexual assault, I found Bill C-127, in 1983. The purpose was to include male and female victims, and make the law stricter and clearer by defining levels of assault. StatCan)

The person who exposes him/herself sexually in any way, is referred to as a perpetrator, and can be charged. (This is referred to as exhibitionism) The person to whom they exposed themselves is the victim.

Any sexual interaction with a minor is abuse, and is usually referred to as molestation or sexual assault. If it is two minors, it can be innocent exploring, or, more likely, the result of a victimized child introducing another child to what they have experienced, or are experiencing. These children are not perpetrators, though it can still have damaging or negative impact on one or both children. In a legal sense, adolescents and adults can be perpetrators of sexual abuse and adolescents are typically referred to as those between 11, or 12, and 19.

There are varying degrees of impact, and what some refer to as ‘minor’ abuse can have major psychological impact on the victim’s life. In any case, abuse is abuse, and victims need to be helped, while the offender needs to be held accountable and helped.

I’m not a big fan of assigning levels and degrees of abuse. If it happened, and it traumatized you, you need healing. If it impacted your behaviour, caused you to get involved in any unhealthy sexual behaviours, even in childhood, and left you feeling guilty or ashamed, then you need healing.

I’ve had women share things, reluctantly, worrying that they are being petty about something that happened in early childhood. It isn’t petty. If it felt wrong, and if it felt like it violated your right to be respected and protected, then deal with it on the level of abuse, regardless of the other person’s intent. To excuse it leaves you in bondage.

The best example I can think of is a young girl completely naked, or partially undressed, in her room, and someone marches in without knocking, to get something, to spank her, to yell at her or some other intrusive behaviour that has nothing to do with sexual intent. Even if the young girl is not touched, or even ‘looked at’ with sexual intent, she will likely feel violated. The sexual intent is not always there, for the violation to  happen.

The scenarios I mention have happened and have left women struggling.  I presume a boy could feel the same way, though I have not heard testimony to that fact, so I cannot speak to it.

These are some of the definitions of sexual abuse. If you have perpetrated in these crimes, there is hope, forgiveness and healing. You do not need to be defined by, or stay in bondage to what you have done, however, you do need to find help.

As always, whether you are a victim or perpetrator, if you need help finding someone to talk to in your area, email info ‘at’ faithgirlsunleashed ‘dot’ com. We will do our best to help, anywhere in Canada and USA.

© Trudy Metzger

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Sexual Abuse & Violence: The Travelling Missionary… Rapist

Life at home had remained sporadically abusive and dysfunctional, with seasons of peace.

During the peaceful times I loved life. We spent a lot of time playing games, especially outdoor activities like shadow tag, prisoner’s base, baseball and soccer. Besides denial, humour was our survival mechanism during hard times, so that carried over to times when life was good. Practical jokes done by older siblings, like hanging a bucket of water over a door for the next unsuspecting victim, and other pranks, impressed and entertained us.  Sometimes life was wonderful. But then it would take a sudden twist.

Three years after we moved to Canada, our family met the ‘white bonnet’ Mennonites, as we referred to them. Our parents were quickly drawn into their culture and beliefs, convinced that if we embraced their lifestyle, things would be good. Dad’s desperate pursuit of God and His acceptance, would finally be fulfilled, and we would be safe.

High hopes in humanity seldom end well. People, regardless of culture, religion, or any other belief system, are simply human beings. They looked so peaceful, presented so well… with such purity, that it was hard to envision anything lurking beneath that exterior.

It could have happened anywhere, but it happened in the Conservative Mennonite churches of Ontario, where we least expected it, when I was a young preteen….

A single man, a ‘missionary’ with many reels of film, maps, atlases, and picture albums, whom we will call Harold, travelled from Mennonite community to Mennonite community, all across Canada. ‘Harold’ visited many churches out West, and also frequented our little community, near Bayfield Ontario.

What was unique about this man, is that he dressed conservative, even though he was not Mennonite. Not quite like our culture, but close enough to be accepted, though more conservative.

Harold told stories, an engaging speaker, and had a way with children. I loved when he visited our community and especially loved when he spent time in our home. As children we crowded around him to get the best view of the photo albums that brought his stories to life.

I couldn’t understand why some of my siblings were not so engaged, why they withdrew–especially my older sisters. They couldn’t tolerate him. I had hopes that maybe he would marry one of my sisters and become my brother-in-law. But I was only a child then, of about age eleven.

At church I eventually overheard rumblings of negative opinion, criticizing Harold, but that was normal for ‘outsiders’. We never had a visitor that someone could not find fault with, whether it was their cowboy boots, the sideburns, long hair or some other detail that wasn’t within our church constitution. There was simply no one else quite as good as we were. We had a cutting edge on practical Christianity.

Gradually he came around less frequently, until he all but vanished and I all but forgot he existed.

Years later I learned that Harold left a trail of victims in his wake, having seduced young men, raped boys, and made attempts on others unsuccessfully.

What remains troubling to me is that the church leaders knew who Harold was, and that he victimized multiple people, and they did nothing. They could not help what he was, and what he did, but to remain silent and not report him is inexcusable. I do not know or understand their reasoning, and it wasn’t that their lives remained untouched. At least one leader’s family was directly impacted,, triggering a chain effect of abuse, as his victims became perpetrators and their victims became perpetrators. Still the church remained silent.

While I got by with no extreme violations, through the chain effect, others close to me were not so fortunate. In recent years some have shared their stories with me.

Why tell this now? Why not leave the past in the past and only look ahead? On a personal life experience level I have left it in the past. But in breaking the silence it needs to be addressed.

If I was convinced it was in the past, I would leave it there. But I am not and there are a few good reasons to speak up. First of all, people need to be aware that this kind of thing happens, and their children need to be protected. Only a few years ago I learned that his man still travels across Canada, from community to community.

Secondly, if you or your child was victimized by Harold, or anyone else, there is help available. If you don’t know where to turn for help, and don’t know how to access resources available, I will gladly assist you. (info ‘at’ faithgirlsunleashed ‘dot’ com)

Thirdly, it is an appeal to the church to begin speaking up and taking a stand. We are called to protect innocent victims under our care as much as possible. They need us. Jesus said that whoever offends one of these little ones, it would be better to have a mill stone hung around their neck and be thrown into the sea. God does not take lightly the abuse of children.

As the body of Christ we cannot always help what enters our churches. But when innocent children are at risk, and crimes are committed, we have a moral and legal obligation to report crime to authorities and let the law deal with them.

We do not need to stand helplessly by. Together we can make a difference. Together we can stop the ‘Harold’s’ of this world and create accountability.

© Trudy Metzger

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Sexual Abuse & Violence: Unexpected Hope in the Old Order Amish

Not long after the seminar on sexual abuse in closed cultures, I received a phone call. An Old Order woman, whom I had met at that end of the seminar, wondered if I had time to talk. She wanted to share her story with me.

I called Lydia yesterday to tell her that I am writing about Sexual Abuse on my blog, and to ask permission to write about her story. Her only request was to not disclose her real name and location, so to protect her identity, I have called her Lydia.

Lydia was not the typical childhood sexual abuse victim that we tend to hear about in Mennonite cultures. To my knowledge, adult sexual abuse is much less common, with this being one of very few cases I am aware of, unlike childhood sexual abuse, which is rampant.

Lydia worked as a school teacher at a parochial school, run by the Old Order church. A man from her church, whom we will call Elam, and the father of some of her students, sexually assaulted Lydia. Not knowing what to do, she internalized it and became depressed. People noticed that something was wrong, so the school board sent one of the church leaders in to check on her and find out what was going on.

Rather than giving Lydia a safe place to share, the church leader paid her a visit at the end of a school day, when she was all alone. With no witnesses, he further victimized Lydia.

In hopes of leaving it all behind, Lydia started teaching at one of their other schools. A new start. A new world. A new life. But, thanks to prayer requests and other gossip lines, some ill-intending man in the new church paid her a visit. Again Lydia was sexually assaulted by one of her own.

This time Lydia decided she had enough, so she approached her leaders to expose the abuse she faced at every turn. But, rather than receiving help or support, the church found her guilty of ‘sowing discord in the brotherhood’, lying and falsely accusing brothers in the church.  Consequently, Lydia was placed on church discipline.

It was over that time that Lydia and I connected most frequently. Her resilience and determination remain an inspiration to me, to this day. While Lydia grieved the treatment she received, she did not surrender or feel sorry for herself.

“Trudy, I could leave the church. But if I do that, who would fight for the others? I believe God wants me to stay and keep fighting for the truth,” Lydia said.

I have never been more proud of a woman in my life. Lydia did her best to hold her head up, attending church Sunday after Sunday, with the ‘mark’ of church discipline on her. When her time came to be restored, there was some debate whether they could accept her into fellowship but she challenged them. What sin had she committed? What in her life was not in line with God’s Word and the church’s rules? They had nothing on her, so they accepted her back into fellowship.

I can’t recall if that was the end of it, or if she went through a second round of discipline, but laying aside those details, she stayed the course, determined to make it safe for victims to ask for help.

This determination led her to persist, gently, with her Bishop and his wife, asking them to hear her heart and help her. At first it was a battle. The treatment she received was not very kind. Still she continued to interact, to ask for meetings, to share her heart.

Eventually she won their trust and received an apology from them for the way they had treated her. Some things she had to choose to ‘forgive and release’, like the church discipline, knowing it would never truly be ‘made right’ by the church.

As Lydia continued to share her story, discreetly and for the purpose of redemption, doors began to open for her to help other victims. That fiasco was a lot of years ago. Lydia and I still stay in touch, from time to time, and she still mentors other victims in the church. God is opening doors, and Lydia remains a voice of hope and healing, breaking the silence of sexual abuse.

If we look for it, there is always a thread of grace in our stories. It is out of Lydia’s tragic story of abuse that she is now able to break that silence. Nothing is lost with God, if we allow Him to redeem our experiences.

© Trudy Metzger 2012

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