Does God Love Even ME?

This past weekend was Easter Sunday. I didn’t make it to church.  I wanted so badly to be able to go to church and not be filled with anxiety and literally break out in hives.  To have a “normal” church experience where I don’t need to find a seat on the end of the row and a direct escape route with nothing between myself and my exit.

As a child, my basic needs were not met.  Food was scarce, and what there was, was seldom prepared or served to me. The private Christian school did not offer breakfast and lunch, so I learned I needed to steal or horde food to quell the familiar hunger pangs.  As mentioned before there  was a pizza shop near the farm.  The stop owner had pity on me, and would  “treat” me to a pizza and soda. His gentle smile and kind words are one of the few positive memories from that time.

Clothes were old and worn. In anticipation of the regular spring and fall shopping sprees someone would give me black trash bags with second-hand clothes. The were a few times when I actually found an outfit I thought pretty enough to feel pleased about but my hopes were ruined by the glances of the girls in school who stared knowingly at my cast-off dresses. The humiliation caused a flush to spread on my cheeks..

My body was sold to child molesters. When I was very young one of them used to tell me that God had created me to be his concubine. The way he presented this  I believed this man was talking about a princess.  When I was old enough to learn what a concubine was,  my response was to feel deeply ashamed.

Both the Christian school and church were harsh places too.  Punishment was quick, sure and harsh

As a result I began developing an anxiety disorder. I became paranoid of breaking even the smallest rule.  I worked harder and harder to be good enough, but never could seem to meet it, no matter how hard I tried.

Although in some ways I grew up very quickly, understanding early on that I had to fend for myself, a part of me remained frightened even when I couldn’t show it.  This has extended into my adult life too. 

Success was because I am too darn stubborn for my own good.  I wasn’t going to quit and be the miserable failure some people had informed me I was destined to become.  I’d show them!


After an assault in my early 20’s, I pressed charges and saw a successful prosecution for the crime committed against me.  Shortly after all of it was over my life began to unravel.  I couldn’t keep it together like I had once been able to do.  All of the pain came to the surface. I mentioned before I was hemorrhaging emotional pain from years of abuse, just as if I would have hemorrhaged literal blood if I had severed my femoral artery.  I was a suffering mess.   The abysmal Christian counseling I received made my suffering worse.  Fortunately, I began seeing an exceptional licensed therapist and we began unpacking all the pain in a safe environment.  I still remember staring at her business card the first time I anxiously dialed her number.

The compassionate voice on the other end answered and within a few days I was sitting in her office where  the dam broke of my emotions, and I sobbed out my story to her. The next few months are a blur, as I treated with professionalism and compassion.  She has never broken my confidence.

After a several months had gone by my therapist recommended that I attend a support group for survivors of human trafficking. Sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings in a group setting was something I did not believe I would ever be able to do. However, after listening to the members tell their stories, I realized that my deepest secrets had been experienced by others. Though some of the details were different, the underlying issues were amazingly similar. The looks of understanding that passed between us gave us all strength to move forward as we were restructuring our lives.

 My coping skills were weak, but as usual, my stubborn streak was a mile long. I devoured the information from the human trafficking support group and completed my writing assignments assigned by my therapist with zeal — much to my therapists delight.

But, my therapist continued to point out that the little girl inside of myself also needed tender loving care.

Gradually I learned how I could stop being a doormat. Slowly, I began to make decisions which reflected my own strengths and desires instead of worrying so much about what others thought of me.    I stopped worrying so much about the future. I took it one day at a time.

I am still a care-taker.  Often still tend to second and third guess myself.  I remain somewhat of a people-pleaser at heart but I now realize that the difficulties which I endured have enabled me to see past the mundane chores of daily life, and to appreciate the need to also care for myself.

The thing I lack and desire with all my heart is to feel secure in the knowledge that God really does love me even as a result of my many physical and also emotional scars. Since God is perfect, I was left with believing that I am not worthy of being loved and protected by Him.  I want to rest and be able to truly believe He’s not disappointed nor mad at me.  That I can come to Him just as I am with all of my shameful scars.  With the pain I still hold in my heart….

Maybe someday…

 

Psalm 56-8

Victim Blaming in So “Cool!”

A person or persons has created many (at present count around a dozen) facebook pages with variations of “BJU Truth.”  The person or persons responsible takes down one page and then just as quickly opens up another.

Last night, this person(s) took aim in an apparent attempt to libel old me into silence by posting the following on this facebook page.
They say a picture paints a thousand words.  How about four screencaps?

 

 

BJUTruth-1

 

BJUTruth-2

 

BJUTruth-3

 

BJUTruth-4

Bob Jones University is this the kind of behavior to which your sycophants resort in an attempt to discredit a witness who’s involved in an open investigation?  Where did they learn this behavior?  Are you okay with this type of behavior?

Is this idea of Christ-likeness by ridiculing a child rape survivor okay with you?

Decided to publicly expose this behavior:

victim blaming

 

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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.).

Can You Hear Me Now?

Coming to terms with the abuse is one of the most horrific and confusing things I’ve ever done.  For many years I worked hard to avoid thinking about it because of intense emotions – shame, guilt, sadness, anger, isolation, and complete and utter despair.

Why did I remain silent for so many years?

First of all, I was never completely silent. There were times I had attempted to tell what happened.  Every time I opened up–even a little–I was blamed.  I tried to tell one of my elementary school teachers.  She told me she was going to take me to the pastor.  I knew I would be in trouble for telling those secrets, so I tried to take back what I said, and then was severely punished for lying. As a young teen I tried to open up to a male Christian Counselor to whom I was taken. I had just gotten out I was ‘touched’ when he asked if I’d ever taken part in the sin of masturbation.

So, I shut down.  

Silence became the only “solution,” the only “safe-place”- even though there is nothing further from the truth. The silence turned into the worst tormentor and filled me with pain of the utmost intensity.  But mostly I hated myself.  I believed I was unworthy of love as a result I became a magnet for abusive relationships.  Abuse was what I deserved.

I shut down to up to the point my body and mind could no longer contain the secrets they were holding.

In my twenties something triggered it all and the fact I was molested and sexually abused as a child, not once, but several times, by several different people came pouring out like I was hemorrhaging emotional pain much like if I were to hemorrhage literal blood from a severed artery. I was a suffering mess. I begged for help. One of the things the Christian Counselor did was ask me if I’d enjoyed any part of the sexual abuse that I needed to ask God to forgive me for those feelings.

I was quite young when I was first molested and was completely horrified, shocked and confused.  I was left with guilt on top of guilt– I was responsible for what happened.  

One of the most shocking aspects of my abuse are the identities of the abusers, because they were all those people believe “could never” abuse. They were well-respected married, fathers, and the two farm hands. These were not only people I should have been able to trust, these were the ones who, due to their positions as Christian leaders, had others trust.  As a result when I divulged most of their names, speaking of it would damage the cause of Christ was flung in my face.   I was labeled and rejected and it was incredibly painful for me. I was treated as the cause of the problem.  I was the one destroying their blissful reality that these things just didn’t happen in this corner of Christianity.  The abusers walked away unscathed and scot-free, their sick behavior was defended – while the child I was who had been so brutally violated was accused and left to suffer.  I am the one, even today, many Christians attempt to shut me up by screaming that I’m “just”….bitter, angry, an unbeliever and a laundry list of other labels because I am at last telling of these unholy acts.

It matters not if you dislike my ‘tone’; nor how I respond to your accusations of anger and bitterness.  It matters not if you think I’m doing this because I ‘hate’ the Church or Christianity.  Although those accusations are false there isn’t much I can do or say to change your opinion.  If you truly believe these things, isn’t it best you grant that same love, forgiveness, grace and mercy toward me that you are so keen on granting abusers and those who covered for my abusers?

The facts are; there are no excuses for defending the abusers. Yes, maybe they are ‘nice’ guys, kind fathers, or the all-too-familiar attempt Christians use as justification “he is a man of God” – but this is not an answer and in no way changed the situation. The facts remain that they were my abusers. They are accountable for their actions. The little girl I once was and whom they chose to abuse could not and should not – in any way – be held guilty.

Psalm 56-8

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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.).

Some of Her Secrets

There are times when she returns to the farm in her dreams.  She is once again locked in the basement listening for the sound of people walking about her knowing if she hears that sound she only has a few moments before someone is coming down to retrieve her….to do other things.

Although she looks like a very capable and stubborn 40-something now, but she keeps a secret. She experiences nightmares so terrifying that she awakens with a start, sweating, shaking and disoriented in the middle of the night.

~~~~~~~~~~

There are times when she re-lives being given the special treats she loved by a man….but then there was more he did.   There is confusion. The seven-year-old submits because she is unable say no.

Although she looks like a very capable and stubborn 40-something now, she keeps a secret.  She is still terrified of trusting, because it so often meant getting tricked and assaulted.

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There are times when she re-lives being an eleven-year-old, and Felix is still holding her down and doing whatever he chooses. She is still hearing his voice, and feeling his hot breath on her face and his cruel hands hurting her as he held roughly….but there was more he did.

She may seem to be a capable and stubborn 40-something now, but she keeps a secret. There are far too many times she still feels herself being violated.

~~~~~~~~~~

I was just a child when the abuse took place, but I never forgot. Never.

I knew no comfort. My survival depended on being as quiet and invisible as possible. My worth was non-existent, except for…..

Then there were voices that that told me what happened was my fault.  I’m still aching inside wanting desperately to shed the sign that I was once sure was branded on my forehead: “Damaged Goods.”

~~~~~~~~~~
I try to imagine what life could have been like for me. I even get a glimpse from time to time of the person locked inside. I’ll tell you a little secret about her. She has this delightful way with animals and sick children. They gravitate to her as if she is one of them. I think she longs for the innocence of childhood that was stolen so long ago. And adults, well lets just say she can make their blood pressure rise– but when they look, really look, they can see her if they will take a chance to get past her think wall she’s built to protect herself.

~~~~~~~~~~

To say that trauma has affected me mentally, physically and spiritually would be an understatement.  It is extremely hard to recover from its effects. Recent advancements in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), however, have demonstrated the neuroplasticity of even the lower brain, proving physiologically—that healing, though clearly challenging, is possible.

But how can you help?

You don’t need an advanced degree in medicine or psychology to be there for someone who is suffering. The awareness alone of how survivors are haunted by flashbacks and are trying to avoid certain triggers can help you respond with sincerity and compassion.

Here are some examples of things that are usually helpful (if done with sincerity):

● “I’m sorry.”

● “If you ever feel like talking, I am here to listen.”

● “I care about you.”

● “How can I be of help?”

● Don’t betray confidence.

Most importantly.  Don’t feel like you have to know the answers. Don’t be afraid to just be there and say:

● “I don’t know what to say.”

Psalm 56-8

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.).

“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.

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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

 

Note:

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,

Cathy

 

 

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