Sacrificial Thanksgiving Lamb

At one point I was living in the pastors home for awhile after I was released from the hospital following being burned.

On Thanksgiving Day Cleo and Felix were also invited to eat Thanksgiving Dinner at their home.  They knew of the allegations.  It was particularly known concerning the allegations against Felix because he had also been accused of attempting to molest another little girl from the Christian school.

I was scared.  Why had Cleo and Felix been invited?

Not only was I afraid of Cleo,  but I knew Cleo would most likely be on her best behavior in front of Mrs. Pastor’s wife.

I was terrified of what Felix would do if he had any opportunity at all.

I was not only scared for myself, I was scared for the pastor and the pastors wife two daughters who were minors at the time.  I knew Felix would try to do something to myself and to those girls.

Felix is the ultimate predator.

I followed the two teenage pastors daughters around as if I were glued to their backs.  Being teenage girls they were more than a little annoyed that they couldn’t shake their tale.

During the middle of dinner Felix excused himself to the restroom.  A few moments later Felix calls out that there wasn’t any toilet paper.

I knew what he was planning.  He was planning to “accidentally” expose himself and worse to which ever unfortunate girl was chosen to fetch a roll of toilet paper.  

I volunteered.  I thought I would have a better chance at avoiding Felix since I had become accustomed to his tricks.

I retrieved a roll of toilet paper from the hall closet.  And I attempted to quickly toss the roll inside the bathroom door.

Felix was too quick for me.  He grabbed my wrist and pulled me into the bathroom with him.  He told me to perform oral sex and threatened me….if I said a word, the pastor would kick me out of his home right away.

Within about a week or so, I was back on the farm with Cleo and Felix. At the time, I thought the pastor had somehow found out, but that wasn’t the case.  It turns out the reason  Cleo and Felix were invited for Thanksgiving was so Cleo could “restore” her relationship with me as it was the plan all along I was to return to the farm.

The two daughters didn’t know until many years later that little Fifth-Grade me was hell-bent on protecting them.  Although they remember Cleo and Felix being invited for that Thanksgiving dinner, When I told them as an adult, their eyes glazed-over as I recounted what happened.  I tend to think they still do not believe or comprehend what happened that Thanksgiving Day 1976.

To be honest, considering what I know the pastor knew, it is a baffling mystery why Felix allowed to be within ten miles of the pastors own young daughters.

Psalm 56-8


We are nearing the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

We currently have only a little over 2000 signatures.      

We can do better.  

Please sign and share the following petition asking all professing Christians to better address and deal appropriately with the subject of sexual abuse in faith communities.

A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.).




Melted Soap and Pleas to Jesus for Escape

I mentioned here when Lou became ill the responsibility for his care fell upon me.   As Lou declined as a result of his disease process, he needed more and more assistance until it came to the point Lou needed assistance getting in and out of the bathtub.  In reality I don’t know for sure how tall Lou was. but to me as a young girl he seemed like a giant.  I was underweight and shorter than everyone my age.  My clumsy attempts to transfer Lou left both of us frustrated and exhausted.


One particular afternoon, the moment I walked in the house from school Cleo hit me, bloodied my nose, knocking me to the floor in the process.  Cleo was standing over me cursing at me—I was irresponsible and wasteful. She was yelling at me to “admit it.” I was wracking my brain as to what it was Cleo wanted me to admit.  Finally, she grabbed a hunk of my hair and pulled me upstairs to the bathroom where Cleo pointed to the bar of Lou’s Irish Spring—which by that time was not much of a bar.  It had dissolved in bottom of the tub. I had dropped and forgotten it as I hurried to help Lou with his bath that morning before running down the farms long chipped-rock driveway. Then further down the road to the spot near the train station where I needed to catch the big yellow school bus at 7:15am.

After Cleo finished physically and verbally abusing me for being irresponsible and wasteful, she hissed, smoothing her dress, “clean up.  The pastor is coming.” I sat down on the side of the tub and cried. And, I prayed.  I plead with Jesus to take me away.  I plead for the rapture.  I plead for my death. I looked over at the sink where I saw Lou’s straight razor and longed for death.  I had heard people who did that went to hell. What did that matter? I was already in hell.  As I sat on the side of the tub, I heard car tires on the chipped-rock drive, I peaked out of the window and noticed the pastors faded blue Ford parked in front of the house.  Although I couldn’t make out what was being said, I could hear the voices of the pastor, Cleo and Felix speaking with each other.

Time to get myself together.  As I passed the bathroom sink I was once again tempted to pick up and escape by way Lou’s sharp straight-edge —It was going to be yet another long night.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Would you please be so kind and sign the following petition asking all professing Christians to better address the subject of sexual abuse?

A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.).

Psalm 56-8

“It’s All Her Fault!”

It wasn’t too long after I was discharged from the hospital that Lou was accused of molesting another little girl.  It was a daughter of someone who used to help out on the farm.

Lou was out on bail.

Lou had also been diagnosed with a lung cancer.  Lou smoked both cigarettes and cigars.  When he wasn’t smoking Lou was chewing tobacco.  Lou had a definite addiction to nicotine.

I remember Lou had to wear Oxygen.

Cleo had little time.  Cleo screeched about how much of a burden Lou was and how he was now worthless.  According to Cleo, Lou was unable to “earn his keep.”

I tried to care for Lou as best a sixth-grade little girl could.  In addition to my other “responsibilities” Cleo also expected me to keep up Lou’s chores around the farm.  Milking and feeding the cows.  Feeding the horses.  Feeding the other animals.  Mucking the stalls.

Cleo savagely beat and punished me for my inability to keep up with the responsibilities of running a working farm and caring for a near-invalid.

I had missed most of the latter winter and all the spring quarter of school in fifth grade because of being burned.   Somehow I was promoted to grade 6 without knowing what a fraction was….

As the beginning of my 6th grade year rolled around, Cleo made it clear I was to finish all of my farm chores before school and begin the afternoon/evening chores at once upon my returning from school.

Cleo was back and forth as she was running her real estate office in Philadelphia.  At least that was her story.  In reality she was running a prostitution business.  Cleo was arrested by Philly PD more than once for promoting prostitution out of a home she owned in Philadelphia.   Cleo’s second hand man for her business in Philadelphia was a young thug named Felix.

I was attending the same Christian school of which I had been long enrolled. I missed more days of school than I attended that, but no one appeared to care.

At one point, Cleo brought Felix out to the farm to ‘help’.  I used to call him, “Felix the Cat” because he possessed the talent of sneaking up, and pouncing seemingly out of nowhere.

Felix assaulted me at his pleasure.

It was a cold bright sunny day in February and I had attended school on that day.  I returned home from school.  Cleo and Felix weren’t at the farm.

I walked in the front door of the farmhouse.  Lou was quiet and still. Something was wrong.  Why was wrong with his head?

I tried to call for help but couldn’t tell the operator where the farm was located.  This was before 9-11 was implemented in the rural area where the farm was located.

I was hysterical.

I don’t know how long it was before I remembered the nurse who had helped me when I was burned.  She used to buy hay from Cleo.  When the nurse found out I was back in Cleo’s care, the nurse had given me her phone number instructed me to call her if I ever needed help.

I had written the nurses number on the tag inside my little red boots.  I wore my red boots almost constantly.  I tore off my boot and dialed her number.

I don’t remember what I said.  Within minutes the police arrived, followed by the nurse a few minutes later.

I was on the porch, pacing back and forth.  A Pennsylvania state trooper was doing his best attempting to comfort a sobbing, terrified, hysterical child, but I wouldn’t allow him near me.

The nurse sat down on the front porch steps and held me as I sobbed.  She sat there rocking and attempting to comfort me as police cleared the scene and the coroners office crew removed Lou’s body.  I remember the nurse telling the crew removing Lou’s remains that they needed to take Lou’s body out of the back door instead of past me.

The crew removing Lou’s body obediently did as instructed.

At some point Cleo drove up.  I don’t remember if someone had called Cleo.  However the State Trooper who had attempted to calm me met Cleo as she was getting out of her car.

He gave Cleo the news.  Lou was dead.

Cleo pointed at me and screamed, “She killed him! She was supposed to take care of him! It’s all her fault!”

Both the state trooper and the nurse were shocked at Cleo’s outburst and said I was in no way responsible for Lou’s death.

Lou’s death was ruled a suicide.

For many years–even well into adulthood, deep down inside I believed I was somehow responsible for Lou’s death.

The scene I came home to that cold, sunny afternoon haunts me until this day.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Would you please be so kind and sign the following petition asking all professing Christians to better address the subject of sexual abuse?

A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.)

Psalm 56-8

He Didn’t Pay! Burn Her!

Apologies if this doesn’t flow together very well.  Even after all these years, I have difficulty writing about it.

I was in fifth grade.  It was wintertime. Snow had fallen that day and I was off from school.  Cathy 5th Grade Pic

As I mentioned in the last post one of my child abusers was a well-known Fundamentalist leader of his day. Let’s call him *Luke.   *Luke paid Cleo to abuse me.

However there were many of times *Luke brought others with him.   Especially during conferences.

This particular time was at the farm.  The only two were *Luke   and another fundamentalist Christian leader named “John.  I had never seen *John before.

*Luke had a particular ritual.  *Luke tell me God made me special.  When I was little *Luke told me God had made me special and told me I was made to be *Luke’s concubine.  I didn’t know what a concubine was.  I thought it was another word for princess.  *Luke used to give me treats such as chocolate or ice cream.

*Luke would then rape me.

After *Luke was finished, if others were present, it was their turn.  On this particular occasion *John watched and pleasures himself while *Luke raped me.  *John never touched me that I can recall.

However afterward a mammoth argument took place between *John and Cleo because *John refused to pay Cleo for time with me. It mattered not to Cleo whether *John abused me, he still owed the fee. I remember being terrified and wanting to hide but there wasn’t anyway to get away.

I cannot recall if *John paid the fee or he didn’t, but Cleo was extremely angry with me for ‘not pleasing’ *John.  She and Lou threw me in the basement.  I had become used to sleeping down there when Cleo became enraged.  I had fallen asleep on the floor of the basement.  I was awakened in immense pain. I was wet.  Cleo was standing over me holding a large empty pot.  I remember looking down at my right arm and legs, confused about why my skin was melting.

I was screaming and Lou came running.  Now Cleo and Lou were arguing.  Lou picked me up and took me upstairs to the tub.  He took off my clothes and tried to put my in a tub of cold water.  At that point, I’m told I lost consciousness because of the pain.

Next I remember lying on the green couch in the sitting room.  I looked down at my body the first thing I saw was a blister covering the entire inner part of my left thigh from my groin to my knee.  The front of my right thigh was one open wound.  As was my right forearm, most of my chest and abdomen.  I even had the same open and seeping wounds on both of my feet.


Cleo was sitting there ripping bed sheets into strips.


After Cleo had the number of strips she needed she coated the strips with Bag Balm and applied her “bandages” to my wounds.  When Cleo determined the “bandages” needed to be changed she would tear them off quickly.  Causing intense pain which she appeared to enjoy.

Bag Balm

There was a lot of fighting between Lou and Cleo.  Lou said repeatedly he didn’t sign up for murder.

After a few rounds of Cleo’s “bandage” changes things my memory is very fuzzy.  All I remember was this woman who was a nurse who was always kind to me leaning over me, asking if I could hear her, telling me to open my eyes.  I remember the nurse saying I was going to the hospital.  All I remember was hearing the siren, that seemed to be a long way in the distance and feeling extremely cold.  Then a bright light surrounded by a level of peace I’ve never experienced before or since that time.   I remember regaining consciousness in the Hospital.  I think it was the Emergency Room.  I could hear Cleo and what I thought was a doctor arguing with Cleo about what happened to me.  Cleo told the doctor I had tripped over a cat and scalded myself.  She blamed her “bandages” as advice from the nurse who had called the ambulance.

The next thing I remember was being in an isolation room as a pediatric burn patient.  At first, Cleo was allowed in to see me.  She told me that I had better tell everyone I had tripped over a cat and burned myself or she would kill me.  It wasn’t too long after this, Cleo nor Lou weren’t allowed to visit me.

I know at some point the pastor and his wife from the Christian School came to the burn unit.  I had sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 61% of my body.  I was nude on a special bed for burn patients with a bed cradle that kept the linens off of my wounds.  I was in and out of consciousness but I remember the pastor pulling back the sheet.  I remember being embarrassed because I didn’t have any clothes on.  I don’t know if I said it out loud or if I was too weak to actually verbalize it, but I remember thinking “oh please don’t uncover me.”

I went through months of painful burn treatments which included several surgical debridements, hydrotherapy. skin grafts, dressing changes, etc.

After I was released from the hospital I was taken to live at the pastors home who had visited me in the hospital.  A few days later I was back at the farm with Cleo.

I kept telling the story for many years that I had burned myself by tripping over a cat.  I was terrified at the time and believed Cleo would indeed murder me unless I said what she told me.  I’ve told people over the years the truth.

One thing you can be sure of, I never forgot what *John looked like.  A few years later I lost it when I found out he too was another well-known fundamentalist leader.

I’m now stating it publicly, Cleo threw boiling water on me in my sleep because she blamed me, a fifth grade child, because a ‘customer’ didn’t pay her fee.


Would you please be so kind and sign the following petition asking all professing Christians to better address the subject of sexual abuse?

A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.)


Psalm 56-8

*Not their real names

“Let Her Scream. No One Will Hear Her”

My abusers were married, charismatic, ‘nice’ upstanding, members of society.  All were fundamental Christians.  Most were pastors and some were well-known leaders of the fundamentalist movement.

One of these men was known for being a fire-brand of his time.  He founded a seminary.  Had a radio program.  Led many protests defending freedom and faith. Was the founder and president one of the original and most militant Fundamental pastor counsels.

He was then, and still is well-known, even revered, by fundamentalists.

Yet, he paid Cleo to sexually assault me.  One of my earliest and most vivid memories was of this man is I was screaming and crying in agony as he abused my little body.  I think this took place before I was old enough to begin Kindergarten.

I remember I was crying and screaming for him to stop.  I was in agony and even Cleo said something about how I sounded as if he were murdering me.

His reply was “Let her scream.  No one will hear her.”

He continued to abuse me for many years.  Most of time the abuse took place at the farm.  However, there were many other occasions when I was taken to his church in a neighboring state, and to conferences he led in places including Washington, DC and all the way down to Cape Canaveral and Palm Beach Florida.

Recently a friend mentioned this man was honored as a man in the history of a well-established American Denomination.  In and of itself that is confusing because he railed against this denomination, but never-the-less there he is.

Even after I named this man and turned over documents about him and other abusers as part of an investigation…..

“Let her scream.  No One will hear her.”  Perhaps he was right.


Would you please be so kind and sign the following petition asking all professing Christians to better address the subject of sexual abuse?

A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.)


Psalm 56-8



My life has been greatly affected by the abuse.

First of all, I have very good reasons for not naming my abusers.  No doubt this is my prerogative if and when I choose to publish their names publicly.  I have given names to investigators.  Which investigators is also confidential at this time.

It has taken me more than half of my life to tell my story and it is extremely hurtful when people accuse me of lying. I can assure you that my story is real and that I lived through this hell. If you choose not to believe me, that is your prerogative. However, this is my blog and I will not give you the space to hurl your accusations of false allegations at me. If you don’t believe my story, there are many other blogs you can read. If you choose to attack my credibility and integrity by attempting to post comments calling me a liar, bitter, vindictive, etc, I will not publish your comments.

Please Add Your Name to the G.R.A.C.E. Petition

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month…
I realize the topic of this blog is an uncomfortable subject for most.  I sincerely believe that each voice can  raise awareness and make a difference whether it be by survivors telling our accounts and/or those willing to advocate for survivors and educate the faith-based community about this atrocity that devastates lives and sadly is often perpetrated in my Saviors name. 

One way you can help is free, takes little effort, and will only take a few moments. Would you please be so kind and sign the following petition asking all professing Christians to better address the subject of sexual abuse?

A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ by Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.)

Your signature will be such a great encouragement,




Psalm 56-8


“Okay With It.”

Yesterday was a bright sunny afternoon.  I had an appointment and decided I would arrive a little early and sit in a nearby park sipping a cup of hot tea and drink the peace of this rural park for a few minutes.  I sat there enjoying the sunshine and the cool breeze listening to the birds after a seemingly endless winter welcoming in this long-awaited spring..


A few minutes later, I noticed a woman, modestly dressed, walking in my direction.  The closer and closer she came my heart palpitated, my anxiety increased, my throat constricted.  The brown eyes that stared at me…. I suddenly realized that the woman was headed toward my bench, and I moved over to make room for her.  

She said, “Do you remember me?  *Esther?”


She started speaking, and she related to me how her life had changed a few years earlier when she gave over her anger and wish for justice to God. She stated matter-of-factly that she believed it was due to all the prayers being said for her in her faith community. She was calm and serene. Her faith intact. I silently wondered how she did it, and I didn’t have to wait long to find out. She was more than happy to share—and she had, in me, a captive audience.  


Esther related that, although she wouldn’t want to be confronted with this experience ever again, she was “okay with it.” She explained that this challenge had taken her on paths she would never have crossed. She described an recognition of God’s presence that she had never felt before, and a more profound understanding of her own weaknesses.


I sat quietly.


Soon it was time for my appointment.  I walked the few hundred feet to the office where my appointment was scheduled.  Later in the evening, I couldn’t get this experience out of my mind, the three words that stuck in my mind were “okay with it.”


Through, suppertime, I was distracted.  As bedtime rolled around, I attempted to sort out my conflicted feelings. I thought about my own life, my own past,. Should I be “okay with it”? As I searched deep within myself, I realized that although logically I was okay with my current life, my heart was in turmoil. There is a part of me that was angry, sad and anguished. My mind believed, but, my faith is faltering. My heart is aching.


That ache had its roots in a childhood where love didn’t exist. I was neglected and abused physically, sexually, spiritually and emotionally. Although I look back at this time and know it was a time of suffering, it is clear to me that there were certain incidents in my life that pulled me through. These incidents were clearly the hand of God holding me in my darkest moments.


When I was seven or eight years old, I remember Cleo sending me to school without breakfast and without a lunch.  This was not an unusual occurrence. There was a pizza shop nearby where I had to catch the bus for school. That October afternoon, as I got off of the big yellow school bus,  the scent of heavenly pizza tickled my nostrils and made my hungry stomach growl.  I went into the pizza shop.


There I was, a tiny, skinny girl with matted brown hair and large brown eyes, dressed in rags, staring hungrily at the pizza. After a few minutes the owner asked me if I wanted something. I said yes. Pizza!  He handed me a slice on a red plastic tray, and I devoured it. But I was still hungry. So again I stood at the counter, and the scene repeated itself—this time with French fries, then Coke, then more Pizza. I was never so full in my life.

Before I left the owner told me that I was welcome anytime. And that is one of the ways I was nourished over the years. Everyday after school I would walk into his pizza shop where he’d have a hot slice waiting. Whenever I recall about this incident, it reminds me of the milk and honey that God fed the Jewish babies…. He took care of them.  He used that pizza shop owner to care of me as well.

I struggle every day to see the good in my life and to feel positive. I find that it takes extraordinary effort to believe God loves me..

Am I “okay with it?” All of the “it” was abuse.

No. I’m not okay with that.

At this time, all I can do is notice things like a good parking space, a peaceful dinner, a discovery of a long-wanted item on a clearance rack. Sunny afternoons in the park away from the stress of what I’m currently facing. Petting my cat.  Reading.  Watching comedies on Netflix.  Being grateful for, and leaning on my supportive family and friends when needed.  You know what? Today, I’m going to eat some pizza. I believe God is in these moments too.

And… “I’m okay with it.”

*not her real name

Psalm 56-8