Should survivors of sexual abuse or domestic to go to church leaders to report and/or seek support?

Survivors of SEXUAL ABUSE and DOMESTIC VIOLENCE in ANABAPTIST COMMUNITY:

Should professionals advise survivors of sexual abuse or domestic to go to church leaders to report and/or seek support? Would you advise them to go to leaders, based on your experience? Why, or why not?

In the past I’ve said (and probably will again in the future) that it is not fair to put it on leaders to counsel victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. They have no training for it. They are not counsellors or psychologists. Not usually, anyway. And how do they effectively support 1 in 3 to 4 women and 1 in 5 to 6 who have been sexually abused, and the domestic violence cases besides? Is it reasonable to expect this? Is it even wise?

Some say it is their duty. Others say it does more harm than good to have those with limited (or no) training and knowledge on these topics be the ‘go to’.  I have my thoughts and opinions, formulated through ten years of working with sexual abuse and occasionally domestic violence victims.

I would love to hear your thoughts, either for or against. To take the survey visit: Conservative Anabaptist Leaders’ Response to Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence. The survey is completely anonymous.

As always…
Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Supporting Survivors & Offenders… And Former offender shares his story

Tomorrow and Friday, November 28-29, we are doing a training here in Elmira, Ontario. Thursday’s focus is on supporting survivors of abuse well, and Friday is supporting offenders responsibly.

This will be the third time we’ve had a former offender coming for an interview to share parts of his story in an interview on the second day. Both previous times the feedback was very positive, with attendees saying it is helpful to hear from someone who offended who takes full ownership, especially sex abuse victims.

Even so, please be aware that for some survivors this can be triggering. We do not recommend you register if that is your situation. 

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While survivors of sexual abuse are welcome, we do not advertise this training as being for survivors. It can be hard for survivors to hear behavioural symptoms of abuse talked about in a more clinical matter of fact way. By this I mean that conferences are designed to support the abused, and acknowledge their suffering, and we speak gently to the victims. Training, on the other hand, addresses some of the pitfalls and risks associated with helping victims, and negative behaviours victims exhibit. One example is the manipulation that many victims adopt to survive, and how this can become a dysfunctional part of the mentor/mentee relationship. We discuss how to manage those well when supporting survivors, and in such a way that it does not damage both parties.

Though the gentleman makes no excuses for his choices — he owns those — it can still be triggering for survivors to hear someone who has offended share their backstory.  In the interview I ask him about his childhood, and how it shaped him, because early life experience inevitably influences us, our identity (or perception of ourselves — not our true identity), and the trajectory of our life. As part of his sharing, we will talk about extreme sexual addictions and his journey to facing those addictions and taking ownership.

The more we understand this, the more we can work toward both prevention and healing. Is there a place for those who have offended in the Kingdom of God? How do help them responsibly? What can we do to help those who have offended without compromising the wellbeing of victims and the vulnerable? We will talk about offenders’ needs — accountability, consequences (different from ‘punishment’, though church and legal consequences can be part of that), and community of support. 

Training days are typically attended by a small group — 15 to 20 individuals is common — which is great for discussion and interaction. If you prefer smaller groups with vibrant Q&A discussions, and opportunity to contribute, this is a great event to attend.

To ensure there are no surprises for survivors who consider attending, the former offender plans to serve lunch both days.  However, he will only be in sessions on Thursday. 

To register: Generations Unleashed Events

Hope to see you there!

As always…

Love,
~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2019

Interview with Boz Tchividjian, Founder of Grace

The horrors of child abuse not only extinguishes the innocence of childhood, but so often defines survivors who spend a lifetime struggling to process such devastating childhood trauma. When abuse is perpetrated in faith communities and is rationalized with scripture and distorted theology, most victims come to understand God as the ultimate abuser. All too often, these precious souls get weary of processing what seems to be a forever dark journey and simply give up hope.

Last year, I was privileged to come into contact with an amazing individual who is walking that journey and has given up hope more than once. The life of Trudy Metzger is one that is both deeply tragic and remarkably hopeful. She was the one beaten and left to die on the side of the road in the parable of the Good Samaritan. She is also the one pursued, embraced, and loved by the ultimate Good Samaritan. Trudy’s journey is not unlike the painful journey of so many others who are weary and who have or are giving up hope.   Her life is a declaration that there is hope.  

In order to share this hope with others, Trudy recently wrote a book about her journey entitled,Between 2 Gods.   This amazingly honest memoir doesn’t hide the truth about the deep physical, emotional, and spiritual pains caused by childhood trauma. It also doesn’t hide the truth about a loving God who crosses the road and gets down into the dirt with the hurting and brutalized.

I hope that we can all find some comfort in Trudy’s words that have been formed out of a life that for all intensive purposes should have ended long ago. I’m so grateful God had other plan. – Boz

Boz: Can you tell us a little bit about your family background?
Trudy: I was the 12th living child, of what would eventually be 16, born into an Old Colony Russian Mennonite home. With a history of unaddressed abuse and violence in my father’s family, and murder and unacknowledged sexual abuse in my mother’s family, we didn’t stand much of a chance at escaping abuse. Intertwined with this were deeply rooted religious beliefs that presented God as volatile and harsh, rather than a kind ‘Abba Father’—or ‘Papa’—who loves us and understands our humanity.

Boz: What was it about the culture you grew up in that you believe contributed to an abusive environment?
Trudy: This topic would produce at least a chapter, but more likely a book, if covered with any kind of thoroughness. Certainly male dominance was a problem—and I say that as someone who believes all are created equal, with something of value to contribute in every situation—and this robbed women and children of any voice. Contributing to this was the ‘elders are to be respected view’ that required younger children to submit to older siblings, giving older siblings almost the same authority as parents. While these older siblings were not necessarily the abusers, the mentality very much affirmed ‘voicelessness’ and demanded submission and surrender to the wishes of anyone older. This is a set up for abuse throughout life.

I want to add that our communities in Mexico were infested with sexual abuse on every level, and it was not only the girls who were victimized by fathers, brothers and men in general. Male to male violations were a tragic reality, leaving young boys devastated by the impact of rape, often from older boys or fathers. Teen boys raped teen girls and older girls seduced younger boys, and mothers molested their children. I wouldn’t have known all of this in childhood, and didn’t address its brutality in my book but it goes without saying that such depravity is the result of multiple issues, not only male dominance.

Another piece was little teaching about sex, and what was communicated was presented more in strict warnings to ‘not sin’, and warnings to protect against ‘evil boys’. This made sex an altogether horrid thing, feeding the unhealthy lifestyles and resulting in much sexual promiscuity on besides abuse.

Continue reading interview here: Rhymes with Religions

Love

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger

Between 2 Gods Facebook Page

To Donate: Generations Unleashed (Help Victims of Sexual Abuse Churches

(Tax Receipts will automatically be issued for all donations over $20)