Sexual Abuse: To Confront… or Not to Confront the Abuser?

Trudy Metzger
For the Independent

This less than popular topic is worthy of space in the black and white world of the printed word, even if it is less than popular in the real world. In working with people, I never push it. It’s not my call to make. About 10% of clients, or less, opt for talking to the perpetrator. Most are too afraid.

When victims choose to confront, they sometimes ask me to be present as a mediator or witness, or make initial contact with the alleged perpetrator. Only once did I make the mistake of going alone. For too many reasons to list, not the least of which is the lies and rumours that resulted, I won’t make that mistake twice.

In most cases, when victims approach perpetrators, the person confronted is quick to confess and ask for forgiveness. In one recent case, the victim did not feel stable enough to go, so her husband, my husband, and I went on her behalf. Immediately he said he knows why we have come. Now a middle-aged man, he broke down sobbing, took ownership, and apologized for what he did as a young man. This is the best case scenario, that they remember and own it.

When the memory doesn’t return quickly, with the victim’s permission, I establish the event and the environment in which it happened. And in every case but one, the memory has returned very quickly… before I get to the part describing graphically what the perpetrator did. Most don’t seem to want me to say that part out loud.

It’s not hard to read people. Are they sincere? Are they squirming and shifty, like they know what you’re talking about but don’t want to acknowledge? Are they pale… in shock… with signs that there are memories playing at the fringes of their memories, but they are too terrified of consequences? Or are they confident that they cannot recall the event, but want the alleged victim to find peace?

When I confronted someone who molested me in his mid-teens, he looked horrified. I gave him the day of the week, the time of day it happened, the location, the vehicle. Nothing connected. (Continue reading column here, at the Elmira Independent)

© Trudy Metzger

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What the Enemy Meant For Evil….

….God has redeemed in my life for good.

It occurred to me in the last few days that I have written very little about the ministry we do, through Faith Girls Unleashed. I have referred to it, and written a bit about it, but I have not shared about upcoming conferences, or what they are about. So, today I will share a bit of the ‘how we got here’, as well as posters and brochures for an upcoming event.

About ten years before we launched Faith Girls Unleashed, the ministry took shape in my heart, in a way that I could define it for Tim. Tim immediately blessed the vision, but said the time is not right. For the next ten years I waited, prayed, fought a little–with God and with Tim–and waited some more. During the waiting time, not too many days went by, that I didn’t think about it. Even less weeks. And very few months, if any. Not a year went by that the dream did not pursue my heart, and my heart the dream.

In March of 2010, I attended a Beth Moore Conference. Her theme was God doing a new thing, and that Friday and Saturday God did a new thing. He did numerous new things in me. But they had nothing (obvious) to do with my ministry dream.

The following morning I woke up early, with a sense of expectation, hope and purpose. Almost immediately I knew what it was. I propped myself up on Tim’s chest and asked, “Are you ready for me to do this thing?”

“Yes,” he said. No questions. No, “the time isn’t right” or “not yet”. Just a simple yes. I was sure he had no idea what my question meant. It was early, and I had just awakened him. (I learned something that morning about asking your husband for things. Way early in the morning, before their eyes can handle the light, that’s the best time to ask.)

“Do you even know what I’m talking about?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“So it’s okay if I talk to our church leaders?”

“Yes.”

I went into momentary shock. I had spent ten years waiting, praying, fighting and waiting. And during that time God had said, “Wait. When Tim says ‘yes’, that is the time to move. I will bless you.” I had told Tim that… and eventually regretted it because it meant I couldn’t push too hard. I had to wait. But in that moment when Tim said ‘yes’ three times, I knew it was right.

God reminded me then of His promise to bless what we do, if I would wait for Hist time, and He has, He does, and He will. There are times we would have lost serious money on an event, and last-minute a donor wrote a cheque for $1000 or more, covering the costs.

We are a ‘young’ ministry, and it takes a lot of faith from day-to-day, event to event, but I always go back to God’s promise that in His time He will bless what we do. This gives me confidence to follow Him, and do what He calls me to do, even when my humanity screams, ‘it’s not possible’.

I thank God for redeeming, in my life and our ministry, the things the enemy meant for destruction, those many years ago. It is an honour to serve Him!

If you are in the Canton area the weekend of October 12 & 13, we would love to have you join us for the Set Free To Dance Conference, with our Faith Girls Unleashed Ministry team. For topic and conference details see the poster and brochures below, or visit http://www.faithgirlsunleashed.com/events_3.html. The early bird deadline ended September 22, however, I have left it active so that, if any of my readers are available and interested in attending, you may register at the early bird rate until this weekend, September 30, 2012.

For better view, click on Images to Enlarge:

Mother’s Day Blessings to the Happy, the Sad and Everything Between

Like any other Holiday, Mother’s Day stirs a range of emotions. I love Mother’s Day! It isn’t the same as Christmas, with near-tingling excitement for the joy of the occasion and the thrill of watching our children open presents. Or even to open mine—especially since I’m not really a gifts person. (Except for flowers–they are the exception.) If someone gives me a gift, I appreciate it, and definitely value the thought behind it, but it’s not my main love language or ‘need’. So Mother’s Day isn’t about the gifts.

My 10-year old son, Kordan, anxiously awaited the dawn of ‘the day’ to give me the gift he made at school. I get excited just watching him. He returned from school Friday with a neatly wrapped package, all done in my favourite colour—purple. “When do I give this to you, today or Sunday?” he asked.

“Definitely on Mother’s Day,” I said. It didn’t matter that much to me, but I am quite certain that Sunday morning he will wish he had saved it. So we waited. First thing Saturday morning he announced that ‘it’s only one more day!’ Seeing his excitement, made me look forward to the moment he hands me his gift. It is obviously filled with a ton of love!

Even though it’s not about the gifts for me, the little tokens of love are always delightful. Whether it’s a dandelion bouquet, a homemade card or any other little ‘something’, it always communicates love and appreciation. So I look forward  to Mother’s Day.

I will have a (relatively) quiet day at home with my husband and five children, followed by a visit from Grandma and Grandpa for dinner in the evening. I will try to call my mom at some point, as well as a few ‘mom figures’ in my life, to bless them in their roles. The feelings, all around, are positive and peaceful.

For many of you the feelings are very different.

Some of you, who are mothers, find today filled with sadness and grief. You may have lost an only child recently, or in the past, and the vacancy cannot be filled. There is no child to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day today, whether as an infant who giggles and gurgles and coos, or as an adult who appreciates you. Your heart today is lonely, empty and you feel abandoned. Today I think of you.

Maybe you lost a son or daughter, recently or in the past, and even though you have other children, there is still a vacancy. You find yourself filled with conflicting emotions as your heart thrills at the children you have, and breaks for the one you have lost. You feel guilty for the grief, worry your other children feel they are not enough, and wonder if you will ever embrace this day again. Today I think of you.

Maybe your son or daughter has abandoned you, emotionally, and spoken unkindly of you or to you. They are alive, but your relationship is broken. Gone.  You wonder if you will ever see him or her again. You wonder if they even think of you, or only think of you long enough to entertain a hateful thought or dark curse. The grief and the ache in your heart are more than you can bear. You feel regret. Fear. Loneliness. Anger. Shame. Sadness. Loss. Deep, deep loss. Today, I think of you.

Maybe you are a mother who has lost sight of the value of your role. You feel disdain for it. You are angry. You fail your children, or have failed them terribly in the past, and you can’t find it in yourself to care or say, “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”. Your children are wounded, lost, abandoned. They wonder if you will ever ‘come home’ again. Will they ever know you, be loved by you—accepted? They wait, almost hopelessly, for you to be there for them, to talk, listen, and do life with them. And so they wonder as you wander, far from their hearts. Today I think of you.

Or, it could also be that you are the abandoned son or daughter. Maybe your mother gave you up for adoption, withdrew emotionally, or perhaps she died and was taken against her will. All you feel is a deep, empty, lonely ache…. and anger. You long for even one person to look at you on Mother’s Day and say, “I’m sorry she isn’t here for you today. Can I give you a hug?” Today I think of you.

Finally, maybe you are the son or daughter who has abandoned your mother. Your hurt and anger may be justified. Even so, she is still your mother and you need her as much as she needs you. It may be that you are the one who will have to take that first step. She may be so consumed with guilt and regret that she fears you will never forgive her. She may feel she doesn’t deserve you anymore. Or, the tragic truth may be that she is not willing to restore the relationship.  You may reach out, year after year, and always arrive at the same rejection. Today I think of you.

Today I would like to offer you hope. For many years I seldom communicated with my mom. I had completely withdrawn from her emotionally, because of our very traumatic home life. I wasn’t able to handle the pain. Ultimately, I was not able to forgive.

About seven years ago I called my mom, not on Mother’s Day but on a random day. We started to talk at a depth we had probably never spoken before. Eventually, in the course of conversation, I shared my hopes, my dreams and my plans with her. I talked about how I wanted to do ministry to help others work through pain and trauma. I told her that I wanted to teach people about healthy sexuality, so they would not suffer what I went through. I told her that I dream of ending abuse and violence or, at the very least, breaking the silence and shame surrounding the topic.

When I finished talking, there was a pause and then my mother spoke these words, her voice filled with grief and regret, “Ah… I wish someone had taught me all of those things.”

That heaviness in her voice told me more than words could have. She longed to go back, to do things differently, but she cannot. She praised me in the path I have chosen, blessed the things I shared and for the first time in many years, if not the first time ever, I felt connected to my mom. There is always hope.

I don’t know your story, but I do know this, there is healing and restoration available if your relationships are broken. Today, if you are struggling, my prayer is that you will invite Jesus and friends into your grief and struggle. My prayer is that you will find the courage to extend forgiveness and accept it, if you need it, and that this Mother’s Day will be the beginning of a new relationship for you.

Be blessed this Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day: The Power of the Father’s Affirmation

Zephaniah 3:16-17
“[…] Do not fear […], let not your hands be weak. 17 The Lord your God […] will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

On Wednesday evening I attended Sozo, a ministry training video series that teaches what it means to be saved, healed and delivered. This week they taught about ‘The Father Ladder’ and how our perception of God is shaped, to a large degree, by our relationship with our family.

God, Our Daddy-Father, Provider and Protector Who Delights in Us

Our perception of God whether distant and harsh or near and loving, comes largely from our earthly fathers. When our fathers provide, protect and affirm our identity, we tend to see God that way. If Daddy adores me and is proud of me, I am more likely to believe that God adores me and is proud of me.

When our fathers fail in these areas it is in forgiving them that we are freed from that misconception about God, and rediscover Him.

They talked about how many wounded women choose partners that have the same negative and abusive behaviours of their dads had. I thought about past boyfriends. I almost made that mistake. I remembered Howard, a man who stepped into the ‘Dad role’ in my life before I met Tim. I have never known a man more like Tim than Howard is. I thanked God, again, for the example Howard was in my life.

I thought back over the years to childhood… the pain, the disappointment and the deep wounds that are now healed. And then a new revelation hit me: I have never dealt with abandonment. I have always known that I felt abandoned. Awake at night, as a little girl, terrified by the shadows in the doorway, I had to do it alone. I could not cry out for my Daddy to come and protect me. In fact, I feared the shadow was his, and he was coming to hurt me. At six…seven… eight… nine… and until 15 when I left home, I could not call out to him. I was alone.

I had forgiven him for hurting me, for terrorizing me, but I had never forgiven him for abandoning me and not being my protector. No wonder I struggle to believe that God will protect me when I am in a bad situation. No wonder, when I face a difficult situation, whether spiritually or practically, I struggle to believe that He will come through for me and protect me. In that moment of revelation, I chose to forgive my Dad….. again.

The timing couldn’t have been more significant. I needed to know that right now, to believe that God has not and will not abandon me.

Jesus, Our Brother and Friend

Next we learned how Jesus, our Friend and Brother, can seem distant and hard to connect with depending on our childhood wounds from siblings and friends.

In a family with sixteen children, each in survival mode due to violence and dysfunction, wounding is inevitable. Sure, we forgive, let go, move on and understand what we all lived out of, but the scars remain for a time. Healing comes, one layer at a time.

I thought back to my wounds. I’ve forgiven my siblings and moved on. I abandoned my family the month before I turned sixteen and in the next two years they only saw me about a handful of times, if that. Then I suddenly reappeared. For almost two years I lived close to home but spent very little time there. And then I disappeared again, keeping limited contact.

I’m sure I have done my share of wounding my siblings. It was survival of the fittest, and my survival was in taking care of myself, to remove myself from the reach of my family so that I would not continue being wounded.

Now, all these years later, I love my siblings, I care about them. Still, the reality is that an element of bonding never happened under the circumstances of our home life. Again, the woman said, forgiveness is key in freeing us in our relationship with Jesus.

Finally, we learned how the nurturing, comforting and teaching mother represents the Holy Spirit and, when misrepresented, there is confusion. I heard this part of the teaching, but stayed stuck on number one and two. Not because there are not things to look and work through in my relationship with my mom. Not because there are no wounds. There are. But the first two were all I could handle in one evening. My mind was tired, and my spirit needed time to process it all.

The Father’s Affirmation

Thursday morning I intended to get several items  from the grocery store first thing. I should have slipped out at 8:30 in the morning. I was out of detergent and laundry piles were waiting. And I was almost out of cream for my coffee. But I stalled.  An hour passed. And another. Still I stalled. For no particular reason. Another fifteen minutes.  Finally, at about 10:45 I slipped out, regretting slightly my late start, but only  until I discovered that God had His own agenda taking shape.

I grabbed my items, and headed for the check out. Slipping my card in the chip reader, I saw a gentleman across the store. Howard? I squinted. (Should have worn my glasses!) I wrapped up paying for my purchases, squinted again and was confident it was Howard.

When I was twenty-one, Howard and his wife Alice stepped into my life and helped me unravel the pain and trauma of those early years. Together they showed me love, acceptance, grace and offered me hope for healing.

I walked across the store, abandoning my big box of groceries. The thought occurred to me that they were paid for. Someone could walk away with them. That was a risk I was willing to take.

Howard saw me and his eyes lit up. With pride beaming from his eyes, he told me how proud he is of me. He had recently spoken with someone whose wife had attended a women’s retreat where I spoke. He encouraged me and blessed me. A second time he said, “Trudy, I am so proud of you! And I love you very much!”

I felt like a little kid again, but this time I was soaking up the blessing. There was no fear, no pain, no abandonment.

A great big Howard-kind-of-bear-hug later, I walked out the door, more empowered than a kid after eating a bag of candy and a Red Bull to wash it down!

It wasn’t until I walked away that I felt God saying, “I’m proud of you too. I sent Howard today, just to remind you that I am here. I know what you’re going through. I see your struggle. Your fears have not escaped my attention. I am here. You are loved. I bless you.”

That alone could have taken me a long way. But God wasn’t done.

At home I unpacked my groceries and had just tossed the empty box in the hall, to be taken to the garage for recycling, when the doorbell rang. There, peaking through the side panel, stood my ‘little’ brother, grinning from ear to ear. He’s thirty-five now and taller than me, but he will always be my little brother.  Some things never change.

We spent several hours together on Thursday, talking, laughing and sharing heart to heart. He’s a wonderful young man and I’m so proud of him. Proud to be his sister. Proud to be his friend. Proud of how honest he is, how authentic, how transparent. Proud of his heart , his kindness.

He told me I am easy to talk to. He shared some cool ideas he has and wondered if I wanted to be part of making them happen. Of course I do!  And then he left.

As he drove away, the previous night’s Sozo lesson returned. Jesus, my Brother… my Friend. He is as willing to interact with me, to be part of my life. I love Jesus. He lived transparently. He stood for Truth. He lived authentically. His heart is kind.

In one day two unplanned meetings, both relating to the previous night’s teaching and my struggle, had affirmed a deeper truth about God in my life.  And in that affirmation, my heart was strengthened for the battle we call life.

As I thought about this post, and it being Mother’s Day weekend and all, I wasn’t sure how appropriate it was to share right now. On further thought, I realized how much fathers hold the power to influence their daughters—the mothers of tomorrow.

This weekend, while Howard is not my Dad by birth, he did give me an amazing gift by showing me the gift of being valued. I observed how he did this with his birth daughters years ago, when I first moved into their home. He told them how beautiful they were, how proud he was of them. I had never heard a dad talk that way before but that example changed my life and shaped my expectation. I saw that I have value and should be treated with respect.

My brother gave me that same gift of respect and value. While he was here on Thursday, he told my fourteen-year-old son how fortunate he is that we can discuss sex. Understandably my son mumbled something about it not being cool, to which my brother replied that it’s very cool. He told my son that he is fortunate. While he may not have thought of it, he blessed me in my role as a mother.

I love being a mom to my kids! I thank Howard, my brother and all those who influenced and empowered me on this amazing journey!  Especially the godly men in my life who bear the image of God and represent the Father’s heart.  Through you I am reminded that God is my #1 cheerleader—that He delights in me.

Welcome 2012!

Reflecting back on the year, 2011, I feel, in some ways, as though I’m peeking in on someone else’s world. So much has happened in one short year—so much that I was not even capable of dreaming one year ago tonight. And that has opened up a whole new world, allowing me to dream bigger dreams for 2012, and the years to come.

What thrills me most is that my dreams are bigger than me. I suppose one could say that’s criteria for a ‘dream’, however, some dreams can be achieved single-handedly. But the thing that meaningful dreams are made of is partnership, team and the effort of many people. And that is the dream that I embrace for 2012!

I have been blessed in the past year and six months to do ministry with Faith Girls Unleashed, and God-willing it will continue, however, when we started this ministry we discovered quickly that we had dreamed too small. As people—men in particular—approached us sharing suggestions and ideas for a bigger vision, we knew we needed to make some changes.

I’ll be honest, when I first heard things like, “maybe you’re not supposed to just do conferences” and “maybe God has a bigger plan” and other such comments, I resisted. Almost rebelliously. For fifteen years I had dreamed of these conferences and they were coming to life just as i dreamed them, except better, more fulfilling. How could God ask me to change direction or add a ‘twist’ to this ministry?

But then something happened and in a moment when I felt as though the dream required more than I had to give, God showed me a need, and in that need He birthed in me a new passion and the will to fight for something greater. This led to redefining the next level of the former dream, and making some adjustments. The result is that, early 2012 we will officially establish a charitable organization that offers conferences and training specifically to address the epidemic of abuse and violence. Where Faith Girls Unleashed specifically targeted women, the charity will address the needs of men, women and families in general. Faith Girls will function as a program within the new charity, rather than as a separate entity.

Within the new charity we have designed programs targeting various oppressed and vulnerable people groups. We will partner with individuals within these cultures to work together for maximum impact and to best meet their needs. One of the programs, for example, will translate books into Low German, using High German phonetics, to develop material for an oppressed Low German culture where abuse is prevalent but the women and children have nowhere to go for help, due to the fact that many know only their mother tongue–which was, until recently, an unwritten language–and are otherwise illiterate. These doors have begun to open in the last few months, as God miraculously connected us to some key contacts there.

With other programs we will target both the Christian culture and secular culture, including colleges and universities, where doors are already starting to open. One of our goals is to do presentations in churches to share the vision and work together to offer hope both internally and in the community, by setting up support systems, such as weekly group teaching sessions, as well as offering subsidized counselling for those needing assistance.

The initial response of business men we contacted for sponsorship, has been supportive and encouraging—for this we thank God and thank them.

We believe that 2012 will be a year of dynamic impact, both on a personal level and on a ministry level. We embrace this challenge with wonder, humility, passion and as a gift from God. We look forward to experiencing the dreams He brings to life throughout this year.

Thank you for your prayers, your support, and ongoing encouragement. May your year be filled with God-sized dreams, that only He can help you fulfill! God bless you all in the New Year!