The Unexpected Cruel Struggle between Victim and Family

BY TERI AGAIN JANUARY 15, 2019

light house my janus y on unsplash

I put the car in park, turned off the engine and stared straight ahead. I was dreading tonight and debating if I wanted to stay or just go home. As the wind swayed the car, I peered to my right into the pitch black. My eyes followed a poorly lit path that leads to the bright lights of our meeting room. They were shining like a beacon. I wasn’t sure if the beacon was a warning to stay away like that of a lighthouse or an invitation to join like that of a church. Usually, I looked forward to the meetings, well maybe not looked forward to them, but I didn’t dread them. “None of my family live around me, why am I here?” I asked myself. The assignment this week involved our families. Normally families weren’t allowed because it hinders open participation.  Tonight, however, if we had family that wanted to come they were welcome. As the car temperature dropped, I knew I’d rather suffer an uncomfortable evening than go home to an anxiety-filled house. Wrapping my coat as tight as possible I opened the door and started down the path. When I reached the double doors, I pulled on one side as the wind pushed it closed. Once it was open, the wind pushed against it not allowing me to close it.  An older man came over and helped me pull the door close. Turning to thank him, I noticed his dark eyes that sparkled, a touch of gray in his black hair and a grin that said “Hi! I’m a charmer.”

It was a chore finding a seat in the meeting room which overflowed with parents, children, and siblings. Finally, I discovered one across from a mom by the name of Thelma. After introducing ourselves, we made small talk. A few minutes later Karen entered with two women dressed in fun costumes; she announced that the playroom would be down the hallway. Excited children followed the women with smiles and curiosity. Karen welcomed the guests and talked about the struggles of reuniting a family and a victim of either physical or mental abuse. Stopping about 20 minutes later she opened the floor up for discussion. There was no response, so she approached it by asking questions at first everyone sat around looking at each other. Gradually a conversation began and the atmosphere of the room shifted from reserved to agitated. The separation of the victim and family caused a wide range of emotions, either at the changes in their daughter’s personality or by the secrecy created by what is perceived to be her protecting him. Two families from that evening stuck with me Mr. Charmer’s and Thelma’s.

At one point Karen asked, “Do any of you feel your daughter’s abuser is still present?” This question seemed to spark something in Mr. Charmer who spoke up, “Like a ghost standing in the corner!” The sparkle had left his eyes, “He might as well be around. Corey makes choices based on what would make him happy and second guesses everything. Why is deciding so hard? She is intelligent and capable of making smart decisions. Doing something new scares her.” The eyes now seemed to plead for answers, “When she was a little girl she was independent and adventurous no one told her what to do. She never needed someone’s approval for anything. Now something as insignificant at picking out clothes or deciding what to have for supper can paralyze her.”

As Karen offered encouragement to Cory and Mr. Charmer I became distracted by Thelma’s fidgeting; wringing her hands laying them in her lap and then repeating the process all the while tapping one foot on the floor.  When our eyes met, I smiled, her eyes would dart away. The conversation stalled, and the room became deafening quiet when Thelma practically shrieked, “She protects him,” then in a quieter voice “he can’t do anything right and Tina just makes excuses for him. One job, two jobs, a dozen jobs and later no jobs. He throws a tantrum and the next thing you knew they’re on their way out the door. When the pouting starts, she will move heaven and earth to make him happy which only happens when he gets his way. It doesn’t matter what we are doing she will always put him first. If she wouldn’t always bend to his will, then he wouldn’t be such a baby.“ I stared at the lady across from me examining her face. “If Tina was just tougher with him, he would’ve straightened up.”

As the group talked about women protecting their abuser, my brain pounded, “She’s not protecting him!” Glancing around the room I shrugged my shoulders, “She’s not, she’s protecting herself! Hellfire could down on him if it didn’t always land in her lap. I want to scream every time I hear someone says ‘she keeps protecting him’. She is struggling to exist with as little fallout as possible.” Looking straight at Thelma I continue, “Tantrum! It’s not an outburst it’s planned to get her to respond in a way that benefits him. He will raise the stakes. His actions will become sneakier, meaner, more manipulative until he gets what he wants and then there will be consequences for making him wait. What you truly don’t understand is that he will not lose. To him there is no line that cannot be crossed; there is nothing he won’t do. He will destroy her, the children and anything else that gets in his way. There is one goal: self-satisfaction. I am sorry but there is nothing she can do to make him do the right thing.”

That was my sole contribution; the rest of the night I watched and listened.

After cookies and coffee, everyone ventured back into the dark windy night. Looking out the window while my car warmed I notice Cory and her father walking down the path. Cory’s children climbing all over Mr. Charmer whose sparkle had returned to his eyes. Tina and her mother also strolled down the path. I couldn’t help notice a gap between them with no noticeable conversation being made. Snuggling into my coat and grabbing my purse I made my way toward the door. Karen and I walked to our cars together she asked how I was doing. I lied and said “OK”. Truth be told I envy the ladies that have family around: cups of coffee, dinners, game nights, movies, and most of all no lonely holidays. As I left the meeting, my thoughts focused on Cory and Tina and the friction in the family. It seems to me that when a man abuses a woman, it cracks the closeness of a family. I observed in amazement and bewilderment at the divide between parents and their daughter caused by the abuser – an outsider.

My thoughts focused on the “ghost”. My ex is my ghost and the control he still possesses over me frustrates me. Without thinking, I will act in a way I am sure will not irritate him or cause him to pout. With the help of my children, I am starting to catch myself. People assume I protect him, but in all reality, it is me protecting me. There are still days when I feel there is something wrong with me. Daily I fight the emotions that surface caused by the mental abuse. I don’t trust my emotions and am a much weaker version of myself. In the past, I was much stronger and more confident.  For a fleeting moment, I wondered if I was the lucky one. How disappointing it must be to have family around and not be able to confide in them, lean on them. How hard to realize they don’t understand.

Cory’s story: She spent the last twenty-five years with a man that slowly and methodically destroyed her autonomy and sense of adventure. He determined where they lived, chose their way of eating, picked out her clothes. He moved her right up the social ladder. Gradually she came to accept that her thoughts really don’t have any worth. She surrendered her individual sense of being; becoming a reflection of his perception of a proper wife. Everything about her reflected him:  His status, place in society, and his idea of the perfect marriage. The persona they built crumbled when she stepped out the door. It didn’t take her long to realize there was nothing of her. Now every decision is about trying to rebuild her life and it overwhelms her. The spontaneous teenager with a sense of adventure is no more. In her place stands a 48-year-old woman who cannot afford to make foolish mistakes about her future. I expect eventually Cory will be okay; she has it better than most. She is well-educated, earns a six-figure income and has the support of family.

Tina’s story: Tina married about 20 years ago. She expected everything would be similar to her parents and grandparents. The physical abuse was recognizable but the mental abuse was a foreign entity.  Using subtle lies, confusing accusations, and character insults he confused her until she questioned her memories and her sanity. There was something about him that was off but she couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong. Frequently she found herself second-guessing her abilities and judgment which is why given a choice she chooses to believe the judgment of others. If he gets upset she feels threatened and on-edge and learned quickly life was simpler for her when everything was easier for him. What others couldn’t see is that she didn’t understand that the stuff he was doing was wrong because she didn’t understand what he was doing. One day her stepmother, Mary, sat her down and explained in Mary’s words: “he’s crazy” and “only thinks about himself”. The more they talked, the more the confusion lifted. Today Tina is overly sensitive to how people respond to her. She worries about talking too much or saying something dumb. Without reason, Tina apologizes for her feelings, thoughts, and actions; the feeling that something is terribly wrong is ever present. Amazingly she is dumbfounded when someone wants to be her friend. Slowly, she is finding she can interact with others and have healthy relationships. I have no idea if Tina will make it; every day is a struggle. Financially she is strapped most months don’t end well. There are no hobbies, movies, or eating out; she can’t even go to the doctor when needed. The world moves around her and she watches. Tina is alone and lonesome; she doesn’t feel support from her family. She is the perfect candidate to return.

The Unexpected Cruel Struggle between Victim and Family

Advertisements

Epstein, Abuse, & the Log in Our Own Eye: It’s Not Just Out There

Jeffrey Epstein’s case is disturbing—and in some ways it mirrors the abuse crisis in the church.
July 15, 2019 by ED STETZER

Epstein, Abuse, & the Log in Our Own Eye: It's Not Just Out There

ust last week, news surfaced of the arrest of financier Jeffrey Epstein for running a child trafficking enterprise that allowed him to sexually abuse girls as young as 14. When federal agents searched his New York City mansion, they confiscated a “vast trove” of pictures of young girls­­.

After seeing some media reports, I tweeted this:

So, “underaged women” is not a thing. They are called children. And anyone who had sex with “underaged women” as an adult is a criminal. And, anyone who covered it up, regardless of their influence then and now, is a criminal.

As the weekend began, Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta announced his resignationamid continuing questions as to how he handled the sex crimes case against Epstein when Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida.

Every day we learn more.

The writer of Ecclesiastes says there is nothing new under the sun. For millennia, children have been victims of horrific crime. Today, children continue to be treated as objects of desire and power rather than what they are—invaluable creations of the Lord God. “What you did to the least of these, you did to me…”

It’s an admonition spoken to God’s people, but it is true for all.

When one is harmed, all suffer.

A Reminder, Again and Again

In 2012, I wrote about child abuse in a church context. In 2014 I wrote again. And in 2015 I wrote again. And we published many articles since then, many around our GC2 Summit on Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Violence at the Billy Graham Center last November.

But, we could write on this every single day. (I sometimes get complaints that I write too much on the subject, but I think that abuse in the church is one of the defining issues of our day— and, even if it were not, every child matters.)

This systemic problem of men (and sometimes women) viewing our children as objects seems to be no nearer to an end. Perhaps this is true, but the latest indictment of Epstein reminds us that there are people fighting tirelessly on behalf of the most vulnerable and voiceless among us. They are reminding us that criminals won’t go free forever and that justice will be enacted at some point.

According to The United States Department of Justice, “Child sex trafficking refers to the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a minor for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” For reminder: a minor is anyone younger than 18 years old.

A minor is a child.

It’s easy to look at someone like Epstein, identify that he used power and influence to hide the abuse of dozens of girls, and then look for the enabler—especially when it might be someone you already have disdain for. If you hate the Clintons, you might be sure they were in on this. If you hate the Trumps, you might be sure they were in on this. All of these ideas are out there.

And, this approach makes abusers into “others out there,” when they are really in here.

First of all, if either the Clintons or the Trumps participated in or enabled Epstein’s crimes, they should face the full consequences of the law.

But, it is worth noting that the church’s impulse is to shout outrage at the American systems of wealth, politics, and justice without looking at our own issues. The sad reality is that church, too, can be a place where predators work and where the system covers up for them.

Yes, it is good to post our horror on social media. But is better to be sure our churches know how to prepare for the inevitable predator who seeks access.

It is better to be sure our churches know how to respond when accusations come forward.

It is better to know that churches stand with the victims.

After (and in addition to) this, we must fight for the justice and healing of so many who have been sexually exploited among us. We must fight against the powers and systems that have created spaces for our children to become objects for the use of others rather than persons of honor and dignity.

What More?

It is interesting that even the Confessing Church, which arose in opposition to government-sponsored efforts to unify Protestant churches into a single pro-Nazi church, later admitted their complicity in the Nazi regime:

We did fight for long years in the name of Jesus Christ against the mentality that found its awful expression in the National Sociality regime of violence; but we accuse ourselves for not standing for our beliefs more courageously, for not praying more faithfully, for not believing more joyously, and for not loving more ardently.

They did this only after a fierce admonition from Deaconness Marga Meusel and pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer condemned the failure of the Confessing Church to care for the suffering Jews. Meusel’s words to the Confessing Church ring in our ears even today:

Why does the church do nothing? Why does it allow unspeakable injustice to occur? … What shall we one day answer to the question, where is thy brother Abel? The only answer that will be left to us, as well as to the Confessing Church, is the answer of Cain.

Lessons can be learned from this as well as from the Book of Esther, where we are confronted with the challenging and tireless question:

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?

What more can we do, church, when it comes to fighting for the vulnerable among us?

Four things come to mind:

First, pray without ceasing.

We must follow our King, who “always lives to make intercession for us.” Pray for those who have been victimized at the hands of others. Pray for those whose view of themselves and the world has been forever changed by the horrific acts of those they trusted. Pray for justice to be made evident, redemption to come, and for healing to overwhelm like a river of gladness.

Second, fight fearlessly.

We are called to speak on behalf of those with no voice (Prov. 31:8). Imagine a world where no wrongs are ever sought to be righted; now imagine a world where every wrong is fought to be righted. This is our purpose in life—to love God and others to the extent that we step into suffering sacrificially for the sake of another. Use your voice and your life to fight for those who have been abused.

How many of Epstein’s targets went home to tell a parent or authority figure, only to not be believed. Or, even the reporter who first wrote the story, but was not heard.

Fight for those who have been abused so they know the church is the safe place when, as in Epstein’s case, the legal system is not.

Third, prepare wisely.

Epstein targeted vulnerable children. That’s what predators do.

They target children in vulnerability. Given that churches are places of vulnerability, it is common sense that predators are targeting your church. Prepare yourself by training your church. Yes, background checks help and are a start, but we need much more. We need to educate ourselves on how to spot grooming patterns, how to set up systems where children are safe at all times, and much more.

Prepare your church as if Epstein was targeting your church’s kids—because predators are.

Fourth, love endlessly.

The great abolitionist William Wilberforce once said, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” Friends, it’s too late to turn the other way if we are to truly follow Christ into the hard places.

My own denomination faced some of these realities this summer, though there is more to do.

We are the hands and feet he uses to love and care for the marginalized, the bruised, the beaten. We are the ears he uses to listen to the stories and lament for the wrongs. We are the voices he uses to speak words of hope and expectation where little dwells.

Child abuse has, once again, made the news. In a sense, it has been placed at our feet. The natural inclination is to shout our anger at Epstein and to be sure to name the people we don’t like who we hope are complicit.

Yet, it is more than Epstein and his enablers. It is also about abuse in the church and its enablers as well.

The enormity of this problem, which continues to confront us, calls for a better response—one that begins on the knees in prayer and continues until justice streams down like a river and all our girls (and boys) are safe, and those who have been hurt see justice and experience healing.

Ed Stetzerholds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2019/july/epstein-and-log-in-our-own-eye.html

VIDEO Clergy Sex Abuse Rising, Changing: Newest Ruth Institute Report Charges

By Don Feder – June 7, 2019

Press Conference on Latest Report from Fr. Paul Sullins: “Child Sex Abuse and Homosexual Priests Since 2000”  

June 4, 2019 For Immediate Release

For More Information, Contact: Betsy Kerekes bkerekes@ruthinstitute.org  

On June 6, The Ruth Institute will hold an exclusive online press conference to release a new report by Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D. The new report, Receding Waves: Child Sex Abuse and Homosexual Priests since 2000, finds that male victimization and homosexual priests rose together through the 1980s, they have also fallen together more recently. The report also shows that the proportion of female victims has risen.

However, overall, Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. warns:

“There has been a disturbing rise of the sexual abuse of children by priests, after reaching an all-time low just after 2002.”

Morse continued:

“The good news is that since 2000, only a small fraction of overall cases of abuse (11%), has been perpetrated by newly ordained priests (those that have been priests less than 10 years), while 52% has been perpetrated by priests ordained 30 years ago or longer.”

Among its recommendations, the report urgedL

“Catholics must remain vigilant in protecting all minors against clerical sexual abuse.”

Further:

“The Church or interested lay organizations should increase educational programs on authentic Church teachings on human sexuality.”

An Executive Summary of the Report can be found here.

The press conference will take place on June 6, at noon EST. More information, including log-in instructions can be found here.

Fr. Paul Sullins, Ph.D., is a retired Professor of Sociology at the Catholic University of America, who is currently a Senior Research Associate at the Ruth Institute.

For more information on Fr. Sullins’ earlier report on clergy sex abuse, please visit: http://www.ruthinstitute.org/csa-background

Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is the author of “The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along,” and has spent decades working with survivors of the Sexual Revolution

The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family in the public arena. On April 26-27, the Institute held a Summit for Survivors of Sexual Revolution in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The Summit included discussions of the long-term impact of childhood sexual abuse.

For more information on the Ruth Institute  http://www.ruthinstitute.org/

EDITOR’S NOTE: We hope to have a followup to this post in the near future. 

 

Original here


Read the first Globe Spotlight article that helped expose the Catholic Church scandal in 2002

The report shook Boston to its roots and won the Spotlight Team a Pulitzer Prize. Now, that story is portrayed in a film that’s gathering Oscar buzz.

 

By Ashli Molina November 3, 2015

The film Spotlight wasreleased November 6, 2015. Here, we bring you the first story about the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal that was published by The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team in 2002.

For three decades, the Catholic Church was negligent of former priest John J. Geoghan’s compulsive sexual abuse of children, The Boston Globe reported.

More than 130 of Geoghan’s victims had come forward with vivid accounts about how they had been groped or abused (up until the date the report was published).

Since the 1980s, the archdiocese’s top officials had enough evidence of Geoghan’s predatory behavior. But the Church still shifted Geoghan from parish to parish. Geoghan continued working with altar boys and youth groups at each reassignment—one of his victims was as young as 4 years old.

Evidence over the years, which the Globe Spotlight team gathered, included a letter from the aunt of seven boys who had been raped by Geoghan, several suspicions from within the parishes, a record of abuse that dates back to the 1960s, and a letter from Bishop John M. D’Arcy directly to Cardinal Bernard F. Law expressing D’Arcy’s concern about Geoghan. Geoghan even admitted to molesting four boys in 1995.

Read the full story here.

 

Original here


The Boston Globe Spotlight Team


Spotlight TRAILER 1 (2015) – Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton Movie HD


Spotlight (2015) – Six Percent Of All Priests Scene (4/10) | Movieclips


Dancing with Devils

By Timothy Buchanan – May 31, 2019

Baseless criticisms foisted upon the Church are cyclic. They repeatedly appear, are confronted and debunked by one generation, only to reappear in a future generation. Some of these, like the wholesale condemnation of the Crusades, recur primarily as the result of historical ignorance by Christ-hating heretics and skeptics. Others, like the lie that “religion is responsible for more wars than any other cause,” are kept alive in part, by professors of the Christian faith who attempt to appease corrupt hearts and minds.

In our age of anti-truth, facts are ineffective in contending with the lies parroted by those whose view of reality is merely subjective. Nothing short of a personal encounter with the Divine will affect them. It’s a frightening situation that portends escalating violence and unfathomable wickedness for all involved.

Human history is replete with demonstrable proof that when man becomes the arbiter of morality, unspeakable carnage and suffering are the certain outcome. The hundreds of millions of murders and torturous deaths perpetrated by communist and socialist regimes in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America profoundly illustrate the consequence of human arrogance.

Statisticians can debate the body counts racked up by monstrous butchers: Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and American abortionists, but the numbers are so enormous that any comparison between them and the thousands of tragic deaths caused by the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch trials, are silly and absurd. The God-rejecting man is supremely dangerous and miserable.

Now, the resurgent charge that “the Church is full of hypocrites” is being revived. Short-sighted pastors and teachers frequently attempt to befriend the lawless through self-flagellation. It always fails terribly. One of the best responses to the ludicrous accusation of hypocrisy in the Church, comes from Dr. Michael Youssef, who simply says, “Yes, and we have room for one more.”

The fact is that hypocrisy is most rampant—not in the Church but in our godless evil culture. After all, one who sets a high goal for himself or herself and occasionally fails to reach it, is no hypocrite. He is a hypocrite who claims to be sufficiently noble to judge the righteous, while rejecting defined moral principles. She is a hypocrite who aborts her child, and then screams about human rights. They are hypocrites who celebrate every form of sexual degradation while professing to care about children’s futures.

No righteous authority can exist apart from the absolute and unchanging standard of morality supplied by the Creator. As respect for the standard declines, the godless will always supplant timeless moral law with a personal subjective counterfeit that appeals to his or her capricious feelings.

The human eye cannot detect darkness unless there be a contrasting light. In like manner, people who keep large numbers of dogs are oblivious to barking noise and those who live with many cats disregard the odor of litter boxes. But their visitors are repulsed. Thus, worldlings cannot see their own hypocrisy because they have become accustomed to the moral sewer in which they dwell.

The truth is that the unbelieving secular culture is infinitely wicked and hypocritical. The Christian Church has civilized a barbaric world without resorting to the tyranny often employed in other cultures. Christian values provided the freedoms that Americans enjoy, abuse, and routinely take for granted.

Pastors and teachers who forfeit moral ground for the sake of a friendship, or, in a misguided effort to demonstrate love for the lost, are dancing with devils. And the dance always ends the same way, in stumbling confusion, loss, and a little bit of death.

Are sins, unfaithfulness, and heresies commonplace in churches today? Of course they are. But churches are purified by straining out the polluting influences of sin, by regular washing with truth, and by the disinfecting power of God’s Holy Spirit. These are tasks that many, it seems, would prefer to avoid.

It would be unthinkable to close a hospital simply because a few patients could not be saved. How much more absurd to condemn the Church—which holds the keys to eternal life—in order to garner the acclaim of the dead and dying? Perhaps it’s worth considering whether denying the Bride of Christ is not tantamount to denying Christ Himself.

 

Original here

What Do Rape Victims Say About Their Pregnancies?

Women who faced the unspeakable horror of rape, with a resulting pregnancy, speak out on what that experience was like and why they chose life.

What Do Rape Victims Say About Their Pregnancies?

Ma 21, 2019

This article contains vivid descriptions of physical abuse of women and miscarriage.

“Abortion is needed in cases where women are pregnant from rape.”  Of all the justifications I have heard for abortion, that, by far, is the most common. It’s resurfaced again in the conversation in light of Alabama’s recent decision to ban abortions without this common exception.

Remembering my review of the book “A More Beautiful Question,” I’d like to address this claim with a series of questions. What is this support for abortion based on?  Is it based on rape victims who have gotten pregnant and parented their children?  Or is it based on rape victims who have either never gotten pregnant or who have had abortions? Is it possible to be pregnant from a much-hated sexual assault yet be grateful for the resulting child?

Listen to Real Stories, Not Conjecture

Consider the stories of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. These women were kidnapped (at the ages of 16, 14, and 21, respectively) and subjected to daily rapes and other horrifying torture by Ariel Castro. They survived more a decade of inhuman abuse in his home in Cleveland, Ohio. Amanda became pregnant by Castro three years into her captivity. What was her reaction?

In the spring of 2006, Amanda learned from the news that her mother had died from a massive heart attack. Soon after, she discovered she was pregnant and wrote in her autobiography, “I think my mom sent this baby.  It’s her way of giving me an angel.  Someone to help pull me through, give me a reason to fight.”

Indeed, in the book “Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland” that she penned with fellow survivor DeJesus, they wrote about Amanda’s child conceived in rape: “We are inspired every day by Jocelyn Berry, who was born on a Christmas morning in the house on Seymour Avenue. She made a dark place brighter, and in many ways helped save us.”

Amanda also wrote of her daughter Jocelyn:

I used to worry that if I had the baby it would remind me of him [Castro] for the rest of my life. But I don’t anymore. This is my baby. I’m so close now. I am still pretty small, maybe a hundred and fifteen pounds, less than when I arrived here, but my stomach looks huge to me. I already feel more like ‘we’ than ‘I.’ Whenever I’m sadder or more depressed than usual, or when he does something especially mean and my hope starts slipping away, I rub my belly and talk to my baby.

After giving birth in the torture chamber, she wrote:

I crawl into bed with my new baby. As he fastens the chain around my ankle, I think about my daughter being born into this prison, and who her father is. But I try to focus on happier thoughts: She seems healthy and she’s beautiful. I am going to protect her, and the rest we will figure out as we go.

Does the Jury’s Decision Shed Light on Issues of Life?

The experience of fellow survivor Knight was very different. She became pregnant five times by Castro and he beat her each time, successfully killing her pre-born children. In fact, Castro was charged with four counts of aggravated murder for this.

The jury’s decision on these charges leads to important questions: Is killing wrong based on who does the killing or based on who is killed? If it was wrong for Castro to kill the children conceived in rape, wouldn’t it be wrong for anyone to kill the children conceived in rape? Is the human right to life grounded in being human, or grounded in the circumstances under which a human was conceived?

In her autobiography “Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed,” Michelle writes that when Castro attacked her with a barbell because she was pregnant, she screamed, “Stop it!  Please don’t kill my baby!”

On another occasion, after he kicked her in the stomach to kill another child she had conceived by him, she wrote: “I stood up and stared into the toilet. I reached down and scooped my baby out of the water. I stood there and sobbed … Death would have felt better than seeing my own child destroyed. I looked down at the fetus in my hands. ‘I’m so sorry this happened to you,’ I wailed. ‘I am so sorry.  You deserved better than this!’”

Or consider the story of Jaycee Dugard. She was kidnapped in California at 11 years old and held for 18 years by Phillip and Nancy Garrido. Also subjected to rapes and other unspeakable torture, she gave birth to her first child at 14 and a second at 17. In the book “A Stolen Life: A Memoir,” she writes of her daughters conceived in rape: “I had my girls to give me strength,” and “I am thankful for my daughters.” Of her first pregnancy, she said, “The connection I feel for this baby inside of me every time I feel it move is an incredible feeling.”

Jaycee also wrote, “How do you get through things you don’t want to do? You just do. I did it because that was the only thing I could do. I would do it all again. The most precious thing in the world came out of it … my daughters.”

Are Children Sources of Hope or Cruel Reminders?

Some might point out that because these women were still held captive while enduring rapes and pregnancies, that new life was a comfort and light in an environment of darkness and suffering, but for rape victims who are no longer enduring victimization, a child is an unnecessary reminder.

In response, consider my friend Lianna. She was kidnapped and raped at age 12 and found out she was pregnant after being released from the torture. When a doctor offered her an abortion, she asked whether it would help her forget the rape and ease her pain and suffering. She explains her thought process when he replied no: “If abortion wasn’t going to heal anything, I didn’t see the point.”

She carried through with the pregnancy and chose to parent her daughter, for whom she is so grateful. In fact, Lianna was so traumatized by the sexual assault that she considered suicide but didn’t kill herself because she didn’t want to kill her child. In effect, then, the child conceived in rape became her motivation to continue living, and she credits her daughter for saving her life.

There is no denying that not everyone will react the same way. Consider the Rwandan genocide where mass rapes occurred—one estimate being over 200,000 women raped and approximately 20,000 pregnancies as a result. One survivor, Jacqueline, was gang-raped and became pregnant with her daughter Angel as a result. Although she was initially so traumatized by the assault (as well as the murder of her husband and children) that she tried to poison herself and Angel when her daughter was a baby, she eventually entered counseling and “started to love her” and now feels Angel came from God.

The Horror of Hurting Innocents

With the right support and help, it is possible to distinguish the innocence of a child from the guilt of a father. After all, what does the test of time show us about the presence of children conceived in rape?

Another question to consider is this: Will abortion un-rape a rape victim? The answer to this is obvious. When I once remarked that whether a victim of rape gets pregnant or not, that the assault itself is a trauma that an abortion won’t take away, a child-molestation victim said in response, “Yeah, 10 years and counting.”

What is more difficult to come to terms with: Being an innocent who is hurt, or hurting an innocent?

My friend Nicole Cooley got pregnant from rape and had an abortion. Nicole said, “For me, having an abortion was like being raped again, only worse—because this time I had consented to the assault.”

Or consider Penny Ann Beernsten: In 1985 she was raped while running along Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, she incorrectly identified an innocent man, Steven Avery, as her attacker. He was imprisoned for 18 years until the actual rapist, Gregory Allen, was identified using DNA-testing technology. Penny wrote:

The day I learned of the exoneration was worse than the day I was assaulted. I really fought back when my attacker grabbed me. I scratched him, I kicked him. I did not go gently. After the DNA results came back, I just felt powerless. I can’t un-ring this bell. I can’t give Steve back the years that he’s lost.

While both these women went through horrifying traumas no human should ever have to endure, they acknowledged a worse pain when they realized their decisions hurt other people. Of course, there is no denying the impact their traumas had on their judgment, and the failure of those around them, who were more emotionally removed from the situations, to better guide them, but the point still stands that it is often more difficult to come to terms with hurting an innocent than in being an innocent who is hurt.

Since the child conceived from rape will ultimately need to come out of the rape victim’s body one way or another, which is better, to remove the child dead or alive?

In a survey done of 192 women who got pregnant from sexual assault, almost 80 percent of the women who had abortions reported that abortion had been the wrong solution, and of the women who gave birth to their children, none of them expressed regret and none said they wish they had aborted.

The documentary “Allowed to Live: A Look at the Hard Cases” shares powerful stories of people who regret abortions after rape, people who are grateful they carried their children to term, and people who are thankful their moms protected their lives.

This brings to mind my friend Ryan Bomberger. Ryan’s birth mom was raped and he was conceived. As it says in his biography: “He was adopted at 6 weeks of age and grew up in a loving, multi-racial Christian family of 15. With siblings of varying ethnicities, he grew up with a great appreciation for diversity. Ten of the thirteen children were adopted in this remarkable family. His life defies the myth of the ‘unwanted’ child as he was adopted, loved and has flourished.”

This article has been reprinted with permission. It was originally posted here.

Stephanie Gray is an author, international presenter, and president of Love Unleashes Life, based in Vancouver, Canada. In 2017, when she spoke on abortion at Google Headquarters for “Talks at Google,” the YouTube presentation went viral. To learn more about Stephanie, and for her in-depth moral analysis of IVF, go here.

1 in 10 Young Protestants Have Left a Church Over Abuse

As the generation most likely to report experiencing misconduct and least likely to tolerate it, Christians under 35 stand to shape how congregations respond.

KATE SHELLNUTT MAY 21, 2019

1 in 10 Young Protestants Have Left a Church Over Abuse

Surrounded by revelations of #MeToo and #ChurchToo, younger Christians are more keen to recognize sexual abuse—and less likely to put up with it.

According to a new study sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources, 10 percent of Protestant churchgoers under 35 have previously left a church because they felt sexual misconduct was not taken seriously. That’s twice as many as the 5 percent of all churchgoers who have done the same.

Among the younger demographic, 9 percent said they have stopped attending a former congregation because they personally did not feel safe from misconduct.

Churchgoers ages 18 to 34 are more likely than older generations to report experiencing sexual harassment—ranging from sexual comments and prolonged glances—at church and to know others at their church who are victims (23%).

“It is not surprising that young adults who have only known this frank ‘call it what it is’ sexual culture to be more likely to identify instances of misconduct than older adults,” Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research which conducted the survey, told CT.

Another factor: Younger churchgoers are also closest to the ages when most sexual assault takes place. The highest risk spans ages 12 to 34, peaking between 16 and 19, according to Justin Holcomb, an expert on sexual abuse in the church and a board member of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment).

While 14 percent of those ages 18 to 34 say that sexual advances from people at church have led them to attend less frequently, just 1 percent of those over 65 said the same. The youngest generation is two to three times more likely than the oldest generation to say they have experienced sexual harassment in the form of sexualized compliments and jokes, sexting, or prolonged glances.

These gaps between the youngest and oldest churchgoers around sexual misconduct are significant—and signal a growing demand for better ministry resources and procedures for victims.

“I believe the gaps are generational in that the younger generation has had it with fakery, and they are bent toward telling it like it is, whereas older generations grew up with the ‘don’t tell secrets’ unwritten mandate. To be sure, both ages have experienced sexual abuse, but younger believers are more apt to share them,” said Mary DeMuth, a survivor of child sexual abuse and an advocate.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have told my story, only to have people whisper their story to me for the first time. These are people who have never told and are 60, 70 years old.”

Most Christians have seen improvements in their own congregations, particularly with policies for ensuring children’s safety in Sunday school and ministry programs. A total of 69 percent believe their church is more prepared to protect children than it was a decade ago (46% say “much more” prepared; 23% say “somewhat more” prepared).

Evangelical congregations tend to report the greatest change, with more than half of Pentecostals, nondenominational Christians, and Baptists saying their church was “much more prepared,” compared to 35 percent of Lutherans and 38 percent of Presbyterians.

Again, younger generations may be the driving force spurring change in these evangelical congregations, since they tend to have more young families and “therefore are more attentive to issues of preparing to prevent and address abuse,” said Holcomb. “Also, the leadership of evangelical churches are also younger than mainline leaders and are more likely to not just have young families in their churches but also to have young families themselves.”

Despite some concerns that the abuse crisis in Protestant churches will continue to unfold—just under a third of respondents believed that there are “many more” abusive pastors than the public has heard about—most respondents showed a high degree of confidence in their own churches.

More than 90 percent said their churches were safe places for children, teens, and adults, and more than 80 percent believed their leaders would not cover up misconduct and would bear the cost of addressing incidents correctly, LifeWay found.

“These findings reveal that congregations assume the best about themselves and assume the best about their leadership. Unfortunately, these churchgoers’ optimistic views do not match up with the reality of a majority of churches,” said Holcomb, an Episcopal priest and co-author of three Christian books addressing sexual abuse.

Joshua Pease, a former pastor and abuse survivor, describes a “cognitive dissonance” when sexual abuse takes place in a context that churchgoers see as safe and healthy.

“Church members can’t reconcile their identity—my church is a good place with good people—with reality,” he said. “Far too often this leads to minimization (‘What happened wasn’t THAT big a deal’), victim blaming (‘Well, if you had done _____, maybe it wouldn’t have happened’), and denial (‘I know that person; they would never do that’).”

In the past year alone, major investigations have uncovered hundreds of victims among Southern Baptists and independent Baptists, while allegations of abuse among missionary kids and within other evangelical organizations continue to come out.

“I suppose the encouragement for me is that we’re simply talking about it at all,” Pease told CT. “I think the next 5 to 10 years will be pivotal. There’s a rush to say, ‘Okay we’ve learned our lesson, and we’ll be better now.’ But until we create space to grieve and mourn and repent for the systemic sin of abuse in the evangelical church, we are in danger of letting it stay.”

Holcomb recommends nine steps for pastors who want to practically reflect Jesus’ heart for those who report abuse:

  • Stand with the vulnerable and powerless. God calls his people to resist those who use their power to oppress and harm others (Jer. 22:3). Institutions defend themselves at the expense of victims, but that is not God’s way.

  • Listen. Don’t judge or blame the victim for the assault. Research has proven that victims tend to have an easier adjustment after abuse or an assault when they are believed and listened to by others.

  • Believe survivors; don’t blame them. Assume they are telling you the truth unless you have evidence against them. Anyone disclosing abuse gets the benefit of the doubt. Blaming victims for post-traumatic symptoms is not only erroneous but also contributes to the vicious cycle of traumatization because victims who experience negative social reactions have poorer adjustment. Research has proven that being believed and being listened to by others are crucial to victims’ healing. Because of the shame involved with being abused, sexual assault and domestic abuse are the least falsely reported crimes.

  • Clearly communicate the hope and healing for victims that is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the message victims hear most often is self-heal, self-love, and self-help. The church’s message is not self-help but the grace of God. Grace does not command “Heal thyself!” but declares “You will be healed!” God’s one-way love replaces self-love and is the true path to healing.

  • Assess your church culture first and make needed changes: Do your current members experience safety and freedom in sharing their own stories of suffering? Do you have a qualified counseling staff who know how to approach assault or exploitation survivors with care and competency? If a survivor comes into your church, will they hear stories of redemption from other survivors?

  • Do not ask probing questions about the assault. Probing questions can cause revictimization. Follow the victim’s lead and listen.

  • Say, “I believe you” and “It was not your fault.” The power you have as a pastor is enormous.

  • Empower the victim. Refrain from telling him or her what should be done and from making decisions on the victim’s behalf. Present the victim with options and help him or her think through them.

  • Encourage the victim to talk about the assault(s) with an advocate, pastor, mental health professional, law enforcement officer, another victim, or a trusted friend.

Comment

  • Let the properly trained  independent third party professionals, such as  law enforcement, determine the credibility of the parties.
  • Keeping the accused and accuser apart is a helpful beginning.
  • Have a written policy in place as to how to handle abuse claims, the abused, the abuser and those affected by abuse.

There are helpful sources  on our Links and Resources page

Original here