Home » Abuse » Did God Laugh While I Was Abused?

Did God Laugh While I Was Abused?

I have wrestled with my faith in the past.

Once again I am wrestling with my faith.

Cleo my abuser started me in Upper Bucks Christian School, an Independent Baptist church school when I was in Kindergarten. But even before that, the pastor of this church and school said Cleo showed up at his church with me in her car when I was three years old.  She claimed she had found me abandoned in one of her apartments or rental properties in Philadelphia.

Years later, when I was 17,  this pastor … this man and his wife … adopted me into their family.

I became a Christian as a 16 year-old teenager in this man’s home.  I embraced that faith. I took it so seriously by age 17  that I read the entire Bible from cover to cover because I wanted to understand – to fully understand – my Christian faith.

Fast-forward a few years later when I started having flashbacks. By that time in my life, I knew that facing a painful time would be easier with a faith than without it.  However, I had the same question that many other child abuse survivors have: “Where was God when I was being abused?” It took me a while to work through this question, with lots of prayer, Bible study, and other forms of reaching out to God for the answers.

Yet here I am decades later, back to wondering “Where was God?”

Recently I’ve been looking over some old documents and pictures from that time.  I may discuss the documents I’ve found at some point, but in this post I’m just going to stick with those old black and white photographs. These are pictures of Cow Pasture Rallies thatwere held on Cleo’s farm by the evangelist, Carl McIntire.

In one of these black and white photographs, the barn looms large in background.

The barn where she made me sleep many nights.  Hot summer nights or freezing cold winter nights; it was of no matter to her.  Once she and Lou  finished abusing me and selling my very young  body to men for money …

Men who stole  my innocence

Cleo would have no more use for me after the ‘customers’ left  late at night.

Lou was either  already drunk or well on the way there.

Cleo would  banish me either to the barn or throw me  into  the dark basement – barn or basement depended only on her whim.

Recently I was looking at these old black and white photographs. I thought out loud to myself with my adoptive father sitting across the

room, “Do you know how many nights I spent sleeping in the barn in this picture?”  farm barn

He laughed.

He laughed as if I had just told a funny joke at a party. I, of course, missed the humor as I see nothing funny about being made to sleep in the barn.

I asked, “Why is it you laugh when I say things like that after I’ve shown you these pictures?” His answer was, “I didn’t know.” [about me being made to sleep in the barn.]

I’m really confused.  He claims he didn’t know.  I’ve just told him I was made to sleep in the barn, and he laughs? Here is the man who adopted me as a teenager, laughing as I mused out loud about being made to sleep in a barn with farm animals when I was a little girl?

A pastor … a “man of God” … He preaches in the Word of God from his pulpit.  Many go to him for advice on spiritual but often for personal matters too.

Why did God allow Cleo to pierce hat pins all the way through the fleshy parts of my upper arms for no other reason than to torture me?  Where was God when she beat, cut and burned me because one of the men didn’t pay her the  money she wanted as he stole my soul along with my innocence? Where was God when Cleo and Lou sold my little body to men to use for their perverse pleasures?

….Some of the men she sold me to where “men of God”  too.

Did God laugh when he looked down and saw me suffering?

Did … God …  Laugh?

I think God did not laugh.  I think He was pretty angry as he heard someone who preaches in His name laugh about such a thing while the day before this same “man of God” opened the Word.  And God did not laugh when I was a child either.  In fact, I think God cried …and He still does when I remember all these things.

God's tear

Added Note I have chosen to share my story to get the truth out there and to encourage other survivors of abuse, not to create a debate. I will not be accepting negative or abusive comments to protect myself and other victims from additional trauma.

Thanks for understanding.

Cathy

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45 thoughts on “Did God Laugh While I Was Abused?

  1. if a person who loves you can cry over this then the God who gave me a heart, who is the heart of hearts and equated with love.,weeps for His beloved-you. how much more a perfect heart loves than a mere human.

  2. Could I please inquire….what has been done to bring your abusers to justice? Cleo “who”? Lou “who”? Names of men who abused you in the barn? The name(s) of anyone who was aware–or did absolutely nobody in the school or community have a clue? How did Cleo simply ‘find’ you and then the authorities did not investigate before the adoption? Do you know who your biological parents are and what happened to them? Were you a ‘missing child’ in Philadelphia so that the police should have tried to identify you?

    I pray the abusers can somehow be identified, and that your healing will continue.

  3. Oh dear Cathy…how I wish that I could have been with you in the barn. My heart just aches for what you went through. You must have felt so alone and afraid. I know that God was not laughing when you were abused…he was crying…like I am right now. I love you Cathy, heart and soul…

  4. With regard to the disclosure about being made to sleep in the barn being met with laughter by someone who CHOSE to be your father……well, I would have to say there are some serious deficits in his personality, not to mention his very SOUL. An adult who will laugh at someone when they speak of their abuse, abuse that said laugher has knowledge of, does not deserve to be in any position to advise or counsel anyone, much less be responsible for children, whether his own or anyone else’s.

    It’s hard to finally decide and deal with the fact that some people are nothing more than self-serving sociopaths. They do not understand nor feel empathy toward any other creature, human or not. They only know how to act empathetic when it serves their purpose.

    As far as an answer to the “where was God?” question…..I do not even feel worthy to answer such a question posed by someone who has endured lifetimes worth of horror and pain.

    You be angry, hurt, resentful, bitter………whatever you have to do to get through this. Anyone who would begrudge you that needs to just shut up. No one should begrudge another for being human.

    • To be sociopathic, aka psychopathic, a person has to be able to separate his or her actions from those consequences that harm other people.

      Several months ago I read The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton.

      Interestingly, Dutton lists members of the clergy as number 8 in the top 10 professions with the most psychopaths

  5. Cathy, I never heard your story straight from you. I know many people accuse victims of lying and making it all up; me included. Unfortunately, I have seen that side of things happen, too. Those who invent such stories for whatever reason rob real victims of their credibility. Maybe that is the whole point; maybe just accusing someone is the point; I don’t know.

    I believe you, now. I can see where fundamentalism is an abusive culture by its very nature. Some sheep are abuse physically and sexually, more so than anyone want to admit. But mental and spiritual abuse is rampant; I can see its fruit in my own life making me even now struggle with my own concept of God and who is really is. I struggle with the concept of Him loving me and desiring to fellowship with a person like me. It all seems to good to be true and you know what they always say about that. Yet I keep hoping that with God, it really might be true.

    I ask your forgiveness for my misunderstanding of your personal hurt.

    • I forgive you, Terry.

      Hang on tight, because this part of my story is just the tip of the iceberg.

      If someone is lying about such a thing, perhaps the question should be what happened to you that you would make up such a thing? Or, take the person to a doctor or psychiatrist quickly because something is truly wrong with someone who would make up a story of being sexually abused.
      It is too painful for someone to follow through on such allegations if they’re doing it for some ulterior motive.
      Often, the real problem is people don’t want to believe these things really do happen. It’s just easier to say the victim is lying.

      Boz Tchividjian wrote today on his G.R.A.C.E facebook status “False allegations of child abuse are rare. The easiest lie is “no, it didn’t happen” The most difficult lie is a detailed report of an event.”

      • Cathy, thanks–and I am coming to understand that. An incident that I referred to involved a teaching colleague of mine. He was a great teacher and really cared about students. His fault was that he was loud, intimidating (former military), and boisterous even when he was having fun. Some students were intimidated by him. Someone suddenly floated a rumor that he was molesting kids in his class. When the principal called him in to talk to him, this teacher was so crushed and hurt to be accused of such a thing that he quit on the spot. He washed his hands of teaching. The principal pleaded with him to allow the investigation to proceed so that the school and law enforcement could clear his name. Quitting made him look guilty. Fortunately the principal and pastor proceeded with the investigation, through local law enforcement, and found out who had floated the rumor and why.

        Long story short, the investigation revealed that the allegations were completely false. The students who were supposedly his victims, had no clue. It was the parents, who did not like the teacher, who invented the allegations in the hopes of getting him fired or motivating him to resign. (He resigned, which was what they wanted.) When they made their statement, they admitted the whole thing was their idea (not their kids) and since he resigned that is all they wanted so they were happy. They admitted that it was all a lie THEIR lie. They were quite open about it, too. The teacher was the victim and when law enforcement offered him the option of suing the parents for slander, he refused. His reputation had been sullied beyond repair and so he just quietly disappeared into retirement.

  6. Terry D. as a survivor of abuse, I am disgusted at your comment to Cathy. Prior to this, you have posted all over the web about not believing her story and then you have the audacity to come here and say that NOW you believe her. Do you have any idea how hurtful your comments all over the web have been? So now you post that you believe Cathy. She has the graciousness to forgive you but that isn’t good enough for me. If you truly are sorry for what you have said in the past to discredit Cathy then have the courage to go back to those sites and post a retraction. It is people like you who make it so difficult for us survivors to come forward. You say you know lots of people who have made up false accusations. Really? I am in ministry working with survivors and I have not met one person who made up false allegations of abuse.

    While I appreciate you asking for forgiveness for not believing Cathy, your actions of correcting the trail of hurtful comments you have left on the web would be much more meaningful. If you choose not to do this, then I will just consider you part of the fundamentalist culture of abuse that continues to hurt survivors everywhere we go.

    • I am sorry, Linda, that my posted apology here does not measure up to your expectations. I would be inclined to accept your challenge if it were not for the fact that I am either banned, blocked, or both from every last one of those websites to which you refer. I am sure you are happy about that, and agree with their actions. I could not post retractions or apologies at any of them no matter how much I wanted to. Here, was the only place I could post an apology.

      I am sorry you don’t find it acceptable, but I somehow think that there is little that I could do or say to merit your forgiveness; you seem to have your mind already made up. There is nothing I can do to change that.

      I did NOT say I knew “lots of people who have made up false accusations.” YOU said that, intentionally misquoting me. I described ONE incident in which a teacher was falsely accused, not by the students he supposedly molested, but by the parents, who admitted that they had deliberately lied to get him fired or make him resign because they did not like his teaching. You don’t believe it, that is your choice. You want the abused to be believed, but you discount and minimize what I said. Seems to me like the same thing you get so upset about others doing to you.

      I wish you no ill, but if I am not worthy of a hearing from you, then I will do without it.

      • Linda, since you have made it clear that I am not welcome even to come in peace with an apology here, I will leave. Think of me whatever you wish. If my journey to understand the perspective of abuse victims is insufficient and unworthy . . . I don’t know what to say, except that I am sorry.

      • I have chosen to share my story to get the truth out there and to encourage other survivors of abuse, not to create a place for debate.

        Linda is a survivor and apparently so are you. This story is difficult enough to write and read, I need this to be my (and any others who wish to read and comment here) safe place.

        Thanks for your understanding.

      • Terry D. You write up an apology and retraction of the nasty comments you have made towards Cathy and let me know which groups you posted them in and I will be more than happy to post them myself for you. I hope you have learned that you cannot undo the damage that your words have done and that you vow never to publicly question a survivor’s story again. Thank you!

  7. When I read Scripture, I believe that Jesus nearly always took the side of the victim. He believed them, or at the very least, treated them as though their story was indeed true. I don’t know why He did this, perhaps He knew that lying about events (like Cathy’s, for instance) is very difficult to pull off. It’s unpleasant to discuss or even admit to being a victim. Studies have shown that most of the time, a person claiming abuse was indeed actually abused.
    We as Christ-Followers, and lovers of people, should always take the high road and treat victims with care and love-not hurl accusations like Satan would have us. It is true that a small number of overall victims do lie about elements in their stories. But that is for God to judge. Not us. God will never condemn you for showing compassion to a victim…but if you beat down a brother or sister who is already struggling, He will make you answer for that.
    And as far as Cathy goes, she has actually documentation and physical scars to show that she indeed was a victim of many forms of heinous abuse.

  8. One thing I’ve come to realize, and seen first hand, is how those who are guilty (of perpetrating abuse or covering it up) are the ones who yell “liar” at the outset of an abuse diaclosure. And the reason they yell “liar” is because they are starting to feel cornered, as they well should. I can think of much more appropriate places for such people, rather than a corner. Like a prison cell. The more cornered they feel, the more desperate they become. And desperate people are prone to making some seriously mortal mistakes, or else they send out their clueless puppets to do their speaking for them. Those who speak the truth aren’t prone to making such mistakes. Because the TRUTH is on their side. Anybody who chooses to talk about what happens to them should keep that in mind. Usually, the first to jump up and try to discredit them prove more often than not to be a guilty party. So when someone surfaces out of the muck to question a victim’s version of events, then we all know WE’RE getting somewhere with this. Those who are guilty know their days are numbered. The message from the victim has been delivered. IMO, I think we should look at the doubtful (read: GUILTY) and the ugly things they say as a sign of progress, not regression.

  9. I must have clicked something in error because I see that my latest comment doesn’t appear. I said that we need to be cautious about ALWAYS believing the accuser. I am closely related to someone about whom horrible sexual abuse lies were told. Those who knew the truth and could have and should have done the proper investigation and come forth (i.e. parents, adult siblings, friends, pastor, even law enforcement officials who were members of that church) did NOT. Though not completely proven yet, it does appear that the lies were simply a cover-up for even more heinous things. At least a dozen or so people are still very much affected after 20 years. This second comment is a bit longer than the missing one–I’ll watch to see if it appears correctly this time.

  10. Cathy,

    I don’t have a better answer to that very profound question than you do.

    All I can say is that I believe God is speaking through your prophetic voice as you call for an accounting and an end to abuse.

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

    Jeffrey Hoffman
    Executive Director
    BJUnity
    the affirming alternative for LGBT+ alumni and students of Bob Jones University

    • Thank you Jeffrey.

      We’re both survivors, Jeffrey. We both are finally seeking justice. It’s a roller coaster of emotions isn’t it? Stand firm my friend.

      I don’t consider myself a prophet.

      I look back and remember I shouldn’t have made it off that farm alive. The abuse, the burns, the starvation and…..

      Someone from the investigative team we have both recently interviewed with told me when I said I didn’t know how I made it off that farm alive, “Cathy, maybe like Esther you were brought to the Kingdom for such a time as this.”

      I don’t know if I’ll see earthly justice even though for some of these crimes no SOL exist. It’s such a cold case, but as you know, I recently told the investigative team and will tell authorities and will eventually unfold it all on this little blog.

      Exposure will come.

      I don’t consider myself a prophet and am certainly not a beautiful Queen. I just consider myself one little woman who has been silenced far too long. One little woman who finally found documents that prove some serious crimes were committed and some living people belong in prison orange. The bitter card is already being thrown at me. To those I say, “I’m not necessarily bitter, I just know too much crap. But tell me, why is bitterness treated as a worse crime than accomplices to kidnapping, child trafficking, cover-up of abuse?….

      If the bitter card is the best they can do to defend those who did these things, they are a sad lot with a seared conscious.

      ♥,

      Cathy

      • Hi, Cathy (Again) The most valuable words I ever learned (from my therapist who journeyed with me while I fought spiritual abuse for 18 months). Restorative Justice—Restorative Justice says….This is what you did; this is how it made me feel. It matters not what the abuser thinks, says or does……..Restorative justice is for you to take your power back. As children we have our power stolen, and our boundaries violated. As adults we can take those back. Good for you! Keep on going….hugs and Love, Nicole

  11. You put into words my exact thought, Jeffrey.

    I can only wonder how different things would be if those still on this earth, who have direct knowledge, or even the logical sense to know what life Cathy has lived, and still choose to make light of it, for whatever self-serving reason, if Cleo and Lou could speak to these people from the depths of Hell.

    I do believe that Cleo and Lou would proclaim loudly what lies ahead in eternity for those who harm or cover up the harm of the innocent. I wonder if either of them would have opted to just been cast in the sea with the millstone hanging from their evil, spindly necks. I think they would.

  12. I am not an IFB survivor, but people near and dear to me are. I don’t doubt in the least, that what they have told me about their experiences is true. I want to stand at their side to support them and others who suffered abuse at the hands of people who purport to be followers of Christ. Don’t stop telling your story, don’t let anyone muzzle you. May the Lord bless and keep you.

  13. I’ve been in church ministry for several decades. I’ve seen all kinds of good and bad in people and all kinds of bizarre family situations. I have no problem believing Cathy. I can only feel for you and what you’ve been through. Jesus’ words are very clear: “Whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for me.” I pity the person who harms children. Jesus held the little children and told them to come to him.

  14. I can relate to your ‘laugh’ part myself. I know with some people in my life – they laugh out of being nervous, or being anxious about the thoughts that surfaced ..even if the thoughts are fleeting.

    I’m NOT saying that happened in this circumstance, because you know the person better than I do. I’m also not noting this type of thing as a justification of laughter. When it has happened to me? I got more than royally ticked off. I could rationalize it in my head, but still I wanted to murder someone! How is that for waffling back and forth!

    People can be strange at times. lol I know I can be! When I tell aspects of things that happened to me they mention to me I speak of it like I was giving a weather report. No emotion…just flat. I think at times people feel like if I should show the emotion they feel needs to be present…it can’t be that bad, or the tend to minimize the event if I’m not able. If I’m honest with myself? I realize my no emotion is because I have detached myself from it enough, and in some aspects? No doubt not a healthy response either. I have also been taught to stuff those aspects down, and now its more habit than anything.

    Laughs can be weird I have found. It can mean loads of things besides the ‘funny’ aspect. That’s what I found anyway…lol although it can still tick me off! BOY I sound rational don’t I? OH WELL!

  15. I have one major question that eats at me. Why does God allow babies and children to be abused (I read a story of a 9-month old baby being raped and dying); I cannot get that thought out of my head. No one has these answers, I guess. I am the moderator of an abuses survivors’ group and every day I hear these stories. I am exquisitely sensitive to this issue.

    • It’s the “eternal question” to which we’ll probably never get an answer. If you’ve read “The Shack” you see some perspective that might help, but even that will be incomplete most of the time.

      I’ve come to see it as this: In a world where God won’t force love, where he allows free will and choice at the core, people will choose evil and the effect will be far and wide. I choose to make it a reminder that this world is flawed and that Evil is very real and intent on doing me great harm. I also use it to look forward to redemption and knowing that God will paint a beautiful picture in partnership with me if I’m willing to trust him even when it looks like I shouldn’t.

      As I’ve said to our dear friend Cathy many times, I have no easy answers, but I do know God cries with and for us.

  16. Pingback: Me? Okay? Not At the Moment. | Once Lost Child

  17. Dear Cathy, how my heart breaks for you. I think I know who you are. You were a young adult at the time we attended church there. You are courageous! I hope that all who read your story will uphold you in prayer and give you strength for this journey. I hope every single one of these abusers end up in prison where they belong! In the 1970’s there was a lot of “easy believism”” just repeat this prayer and you’ll go to heaven” was pretty popular…and any man who could preach in a pulpit and then go rape a child, DOESN’T KNOW MY JESUS!

    After reading this, I don’t think I will ever again look at the children in our church the same way again. From now on, I will always be on guard, and searching, for those little ones like yourself who may be hiding a terrible secret of abuse. We tend to believe we live in perfect little worlds around us, totally oblivious to the evil that may be lurking so very near. “Stuff like that only happens on TV, right?” And for your adoptive father to laugh….well, my only thought on that is maybe he too, was in denial, that his “perfect little world” couldn’t possible contain that kind of evil.

    But your story may save another child. Be courageous, keep on, bring them all to justice. It’s also a miracle that you are ALIVE to even tell this story! And don’t give up looking for your birth parents, any mother would NEVER give up looking for her baby.

  18. Making accusations without providing the real names of your abusers is easy. Even if your claims are true, you never said anything. That is what allowed the problems persist for so long.

    The truth is, it’s been years. You need to get a life and put the shit that happened to you in the past. It does no one any good to dwell on past sins committed against you. .

    • It is obvious you have no understanding of what abuse does or is. Children rarely tell anyone beause they are shamed and blamed into silence. That is NEVER in the past to anyone who was abused. Yes, “it is people like you that make it so difficult for survivors to come forward.” Please educate yourself so you won’t further wound someone already abused. If you had been abused you would never have blamed and shamed the victim. yes, shame on you for your cruelty and ignorance.

    • Luke: are you another one of those worthless Fundies who condemns people for getting the right kind of help to deal with abuse and then condemns them for not just getting over it? If so, go back to the Hell from whence you came. As an ex-Fundamentalist, I have nothing but disgust for your false religion which is more Darwinian, more sex obsessed, more violent, and more morally perverted than anything acceptable to the rest of civilized culture.

      • See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled… Hebrews 12:15
        Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
        1 Thessalonians 5:15-18

      • Go back to the hell from whence you came, Luke. If those are the verses you use when confronted about the acceptability of violence and perversion in your chosen churches, your gospel is good news for nobody. Your god is behind your zipper, not in the Holy Scripture you hide behind and misuse as a weapon. How dare you blaspheme the true God?

    • Luke,

      What the hell? Cathy isn’t bitter. She poured out her soul. She wrote one of the most heart-rending blog posts I’ve ever read (and I know more of her story than nearly anyone else on the planet) but all you can think of is being critical. You accuse Cathy of bitterness? You call yourself a Christian? Your comments make me think you may work for the other guy.

  19. Luke, your response disgusts me! Could you possibly be more cruel, say nothing about being so ignorant about the effects of abuse on a child? You have single handedly slapped every abuse survivor in the face with your comments. The truth is regardless if the abuse happened yesterday or thirty years ago, the fear and pain are right under the surface ready to spill out at any moment. You tell Cathy to “get a life”. This pain is her life! You tell her to “put the shit that happened to you in the past”. Well that is what all of us survivors try to do but sadly when you have nightmares, flashbacks and night terrors, it makes it hard to do. Believe me, we would love to “put all the shit in the past” – we don’t want to remember. But PTSD episodes don’t ask for your permission, they just come over you like a flood. You say that “making accusations without providing the names of your abusers is easy”. Oh really? Have you ever had to tell someone you were abused? It is like falling off a cliff or falling out of an airplane without a parachute. Easy? No, it is not easy. What is easy is for jackasses like you to hide behind the name “Luke” and level these judgments against someone you don’t even know. You are a coward, creep and uncaring bully! It is people like you that make it so difficult for us survivors to come forward. Shame on you!

  20. Luke,

    How then do you explain your failure to obey the very scripture you’re so sanctimoniously quoting?

    See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled… Hebrews 12:15

    ——————–

    You most certainly have failed in seeing to it that the author of this blog obtains the grace of God, and taken steps to prevent a root of bitterness springing up…..that makes you responsible for the defilement. Yes, Luke. YOU! But no worries, the obtainment of grace has been taken care of by someone far more spiritually guided than you.

    ——————-

    Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you…….1 Thessalonians 5:15-18

    ——————-

    I see no rejoicing in you that this child of God has obtained grace, assistance, love and support, no thanks to you.

    Could it be that you feel left out, somehow?

  21. My heart breaks for you, Cathy. I am so very sorry for the things you experienced. Your story of abuse is horrific – and you are so very courageous to even open the door to such pain, let alone write about it in such a forum as this.

    I asked God where he was when I was abused, and He showed me. In my mind’s eye I saw the room, exactly as it was, with the people in it that were there. Up in the corner of the room, overlooking everything, was Jesus. He was weeping – because what was happening broke His heart. We live in a crappy fallen world, where people make choices every day that break God’s heart. But He is there, waiting for us to turn to Him and ask Him to take these things that have happened to us and to redeem them. To give us beauty for the ashes that we have. To heal the wounds, and to leave a scar – which is the testament of the healing.

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