Over seventeen years ago, I started having flashbacks from the years of abuse I suffered as a child. Flashbacks came on as a tsunami. I could no more control these flashbacks than those in the path of the 2004 Tsunami could pile enough sandbags to hold back the Indian Ocean.
Flashbacks of all the smells, ghastly images, and disgusting physical sensations came unbidden during my waking hours. Bloodcurdling nightmares from agonizing years of abuse invaded my unconscious during sleeping hours.
I was sure I was losing my mind. Terrified and panic-stricken that I had become psychotic or worse was developing schizophrenia. I told a family member who was a physician what was occurring. This family member was familiar with some of my history. He allayed my fears. He assured me I wasn’t becoming psychotic nor was I developing schizophrenia. He explained I was not losing my mind. I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He suggested I get some counseling.
I was attending Bob Jones University as a 20 something town student. The Dean of Students, Mr. Jim Berg, and I both attended the same church. Everyone from church and the University highly recommended I go to Jim Berg for counseling. Although, I couldn’t explain the reason why, Mr. Berg gave me the willies since the first time I shook his hand at church. I had spoken to him very superficially, briefly and hastily at church, but to me he seemed like a scoundrel. It appeared to me the only true smile I witnessed was when he spoke of punishing Bob Jones University Students or his own children. At those times his ever present grin appeared to be more of a smirk.
Everyone told me how wise and wonderful he was in counseling those of us who had abuse in our past. I decided my creep detector must be broken as all of these people thought him to be the bee’s knees. Mr. Berg was the recommended “go-to man” known for counseling 100’s of victims of sexual abuse both at the church I attended at the time and at Bob Jones University.
I soon found out that Berg didn’t believe in PTSD or depression. PTSD and depression were both sins. And, according to him, flashbacks are a result of the person *wanting* to relive their past. Flashbacks were a result of of pride and bitterness.
I wish I were making this up, but I’m not.
He even tried to convince me to place my forefinger in what he demonstrated was a set rat-trap as his idea of a “trust exercise.” When I refused he upbraided me. He told me if I couldn’t trust him on a horizontal plane then I couldn’t trust God on a vertical plane.
I knew there was a God in Heaven, but didn’t think god’s last name was Berg.
He said and did other terrible things too including telling me I had sinned while I was raped. After counseling me for about 6 months by Mr. Jim Berg (who calls himself a Christian Counselor), he became irate with me because I wasn’t getting better. He told me, “I can’t help you. No one can help you. Not even God can help you. You’re too damaged.”
So, I gave up. I was too damaged, I thought, As a result of believing I was too damaged, I went home and attempted suicide by overdose.
I forgot to call into work and my supervisor became concerned. In the few years I worked there, I had rarely missed work at all was certainly was never was a “no call, no show” before this.
Then the Berg decides attempting suicide is a sin. He expels me from the University.
Way to kick a girl when she’s down.
Doesn’t sound to me how Jesus would act toward someone who was hurting. What do you think?
At the time I was a member of the same church as Jim Berg and after this, I decided to try another church in the same town affiliated with the University.
This pastor is also a well-respected Bible Professor at the University. I went to his church that morning, didn’t say a word about my abuse history, or what had transpired. I was full of shame and guilt. At this time in my life, I apologized for everything. After the morning service as I was leaving the pastor calls my name asks me to come into his study for a moment.
Now it’s important to remember I was a first time visitor at this church. He started referring to me being sexually abused and a child and told me in no uncertain terms if I was going to attend his church I could NEVER speak to anyone in “my church concerning the immorality you took part in as a child.”
He stammered on about about pure children and defiled children for a few minutes.
I knew he had a daughter who at the time, was around the same age I was when my abuse first started. I asked him, “What if you found out ____ was being molested?”
He told me, “pure children don’t attract such men, only IMPURE children attract such men.“
I must have looked as shocked I felt at his remarks as then he and his wife walked with me to the door of his church. He opened the door and as I walked out his parting remark to me was, “We don’t want your ‘kind” ’round here.“
He closed the door of the church.
I walked away, tearfully, that day realizing I was kicked out of the Christian University and out of visiting a church all within 1 month. I was speaking out– shyly at the time–about my abuse.
I was so full of guilt and shame.
I never stopped believing in God, but I did question everything I was ever taught. It took years before I put my pinky toe back inside a church–any church. I don’t think I would have walked completely away from church for years if that pastor hadn’t said what he did.
By the way, I was three-years-old when the abuse began.