Tuesday, July 31, 2007

An Advocate for Tougher Policies

The advocate today was me. For the first time I filled the dual role of advocate and victim. Though I would be more politically correct to call myself a survivor, there are times like today that the victim status gets in my face and seems appropriate. At two points in the meeting, Reg, apologized and talked of my pain and during those two periods tears filled my eyes and pain clinched my throat. I felt the victim. I felt vulnerable.

Sandwiched in the middle of those times, I stood my ground and argued my case and there were periods during which I was very determined in my argument. I was glad to see I had the ability to stand firmly for my beliefs. The advocate came out loud and clear.

One of those arguments (as in a lawyer arguing her case) is my belief that mandatory psychological testing should be required of any pastor accused of misconduct. Reg, wondered aloud if the testing should be a part of the investigation process or if it would be better to reserve it for a later period. The concept of mandatory testing seemed to make him uncomfortable. I insisted it was necessary as part of the investigation. Frequently, during the hour and a half, I had an opportunity to point out this fact. I argued my case well.

Reg seemed willing to agree with me that there seemed little to be accomplished by keeping findings, discipline, or future monitoring methods from the victim. They were kept from me and resulted in a lack of closure. I read this paragraph to Reg:

"It is recognized that justice, as referred to on pg. 3, as a desired goal of implementation of the policy, can only be served to the victim(s) as they are allowed open access to the results of their report. In reporting abuse, a victim seeks to achieve justice, regain power and control, and to prevent further abuse. Control has been taken from the victim in the form of the sexual exploitation or abuse. The (leadership of the) Church should take all steps possible to return control to the victim and honor their purposes in coming forward. This includes open disclosure of the investigation’s findings, disciplinary measures enacted, and any future monitoring of the accused. Without open disclosure the victim cannot be assured that the accused will not abuse
again and a sense of closure cannot be obtained."

I like that paragraph. It sounds strong and powerful.

The third primary issue is my desire to always allow the victim the opportunity to plead his/her case at the Disciplinary Hearing. Ray admits the policy describing a disciplinary hearing is lacking - it does not exist, so one could not have occured in my case.

The positives of the meeting are:

  • I was heard.

  • Reg agreed to review all I had written.

  • Reg will get back with me as to what he agrees with or disagrees with.

  • Reg agreed to consider my requests.

  • Reg will look into my folder and tell me the answers he feels he can offer me. If he cannot give me an answer for a reason he is unaware of in the present, he will tell me why he cannot give me the answer.

  • Reg promised that the region would address some changes to the policy.

  • Reg seemed disturbed that I never obtained a sense of closure due to the way the original report was handled.

  • Reg winced noticeably at my statement that Bob was read my full statement but I was not allowed to know his statement, and this led me to a further sense of victimization.

  • Reg apologized and tears filled his eyes over my pain on two occasions. In this he showed far more remorse than Bob.

The negatives of the meeting are:

  • Reg seemed to have a hard time embracing the thought of mandatory psychological testing of all misconduct perpetrators.

  • Reg seemed to have a difficult time believing my assessment of Bob and on several occasions verbalized his attempts to mentally come to grips with the concept of Bob being a true sociopath.

Tomorrow and the following days, I will try to give some further details of my own thoughts and feelings as well as details of the meeting. Overall, I would rate it a 7 on a scale of 10. My hope is that my rating will fall low in reality of what comes from the meeting.

I feel a hodge-podge of emotion. Relief. Gratitude. Anger. Frustration. Pain. Sadness. Hope.

Hope is the scariest of all because "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." That is somewhere in Proverbs and I am too tired to look it up.

Thanks for your prayers.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mirror Mirror on the Wall Who is the Best Pastor of them All

Well, a few of you pastors out there that read my posts may disagree, but today Tom gets my vote.

I must be the most insecure parishoner that exists. I always expect the worst.

I called yesterday just to touch base before he went out of town again and he offered to meet with me today even when I didn't ask. He just came back from out of town and is leaving again and he made time to spend with me - gave me an hour of his time. And then he offered to make a spot for me to come by on the 1st. Seems he wants to hear all about my time with Reg. I'm not just a number, he cares.

Without my asking Tom immediately voiced his support of my endeavor with Reg and helped me organize my agenda into 4 or 5 points to discuss with him on the 31st. He gave me a good idea of what Reg is like and what to expect. I could go ahead with my meeting without it but I wanted Tom's support and I have it 100%, as well as his opinions, thoughts, words, and smile.

So what is the point of this rambling about what a great guy Tom is? Power. Power is the point. Tom has a role in life as my pastor. With that role comes power he does not ask for, and I, honestly, would rather not give away. Yet, the power differential exists simply because the relationship exists, and as long as the relationship remains, so will the power differential.


Power to heal. Power to build up. Power to encourage.

Power, neither good nor bad, is what we choose to make it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Sexual Misconduct Policy

Well, I stopped crying by bedtime and have been fine since. I have been doing well and preparing for my time with Reg. My pastor, Tom, has returned from the realm of the yearly youth mission trip - God bless his soul. His response to an email caused me to pull out the Clergy Sexual Misconduct Policy I had received at the time I reported Bob. As I reread it, some red flags went up.

The regional minister is supposed to fill the role of Misconduct Policy Coordinator. A response team is supposed to already exist and be divided into two further teams: an investigation team and an intervention team. At the time of my reporting Bob, I agreed to allow the regional minister and his wife to fill all the roles. Egads! Red flags are soaring! I think I made a mistake but I think the regional minister made a bigger one. Someone under the duress I was experiencing should have never been asked something like that on the spot.

With this problem comes another. The intervention team is supposed to meet separately with the victim in order to offer guidance and to direct them to sources of support and assistance. The most I received was a question as to my getting counseling which I was at the time. The investigation team's job was to help minimize suffering, bring the truth to light all in order for healing, justice, and reconciliation (I don't think so.). I think I was gipped.

Once the state ministerial board meets they are to convene a disciplinary hearing according to the policy and procedures followed by the regional denomination. I emailed Reg today and asked for the disciplinary policy and procedures. He was honest and earned my respect when he told me it doesn't exist. So there wasn't one. And thus I was not asked to "testify", something I wanted to do.

If there is insufficient evidence to bring about disciplinary action, which I assume was the decision on my case, the Intervention team is to meet individually with all parties and "develop a mutually acceptable plan for monitoring the situation." Instead, I was told that they could not tell me the specifics of any monitoring that would occur.

Because the policy was not followed as written, I spent 6 years without closure and missed the opportunity to "testify". I chose to confront Bob to discover some of the answers. Some I still do not know.

I wrote Reg another email this afternoon, pointing out the holes in how I was handled. I feel a great deal of determination to see some changes made. I also feel angry that I did not experience the full extent of the policy.
I am hopeful that Reg will hear me and work with me to make sure this never happens again. For me that could be a very fruitful closure.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Contacting the Regional Minister about Clergy Sexual Misconduct Procedures

The ball is rolling and so are my tears.

In this denomination, of which I linger on the edge, there is no Bishop but a body of ministers from within the region who hire a minister to oversee the region's activities and procedures. The body of ministers is elected each year at the regional assembly and they in turn hire the regional minister and associate regional ministers. Together they all form what is known as the Comminssion on Ministry.

Last week I emailed this region's Regional Minister. He received my email on Monday and took a few days to reply. I am meeting with him on July 31st to share about my meeting with Bob and the ideas about sexual misconduct procedures that have come from the meetings.

So why the tears? I am not sure. It feels very tender inside doing this. I feel more vulnerable now than I did facing Bob. The same way Tom has more power in my life, I guess. I had pretty much stripped Bob of all power prior to meeting with him.

I wonder why I do this to myself. John wanted me to wait and take some time off but I had already emailed AND my days of vacation are numbered. Once work starts back, I can't hop in the car and drive 100 miles to meet with someone. It would have been easier to just quit where I am but I can't. Is it that I am not yet finished? Or is it that this is the beginning of a new chapter that lies ahead of me.

In the same way I felt that talking with Bob was a prerequisite to my sharing with other ministers and professionals, I feel that talking with those in this denomination, that I almost call my own, must happen before I can turn and look across the fields at other lands. If I can't face those I have a connection with then it somehow seems irresponsible to head off to other lands. These people have a reason to listen to me. It was their minister who abused me. It is their ordained minister who has walked beside me for 9 months now supporting my healing.

However, in the same way that family has access to deep places in our hearts and power that we sometimes are reticent to give them, so does this regional minister seem to have power of position in my life.

I shared briefly what I wanted to talk with Reg about. I also shared that this is not easy for me but I feel I must do it. I am encouraged by his reply to me.

Di, Be calm and know that I am sympathetic to you and to what you have
been through. I’d like to talk with you and hear what you have to
I’ve got time set aside on the 31st at 1:30 in the afternoon.
I’ll look
forward to meeting with you then. Blessings.

I keep reading the "be calm" part! I am convinced this step is necessary and part of God's hand on my life. As usual I expect God to accomplish many things in this meeting. One of them will hopefully be more of my own healing. Far more important though, is the need to protect further victims from falling prey to pastoral predators. Now that is an oxymoron - pastoral predators!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Church's Responsibility in Sexual Misconduct Issues

Is this pitcher plant to the left being greedy, gobbling up insects when it can make its own food through photosynthesis?

I am almost out of insurance paid therapy visits to my individual counselor for 2007. I get 25 a year and normally go in every two weeks. With contacting my perpetrator, I increased this number and used up about 5 extra visits. This puts me almost out.

I have a decision to make. Do I ask the church (state level) to pick up my bill for the next 4 months? There are several paragraphs in their procdure manual for sexual misconduct that talks of taking care of the emotional needs of the victim without specifically stating the option of counseling. The minister I reported Bob to asked me several times about counseling. I felt like the state church might have paid for it if I had needed it. However I was deeply involved in therapy at the university I was attending and it was free.

I have mixed feelings about asking.

  • I feel like I need to ask in order to stand up for the child within me that still needs the therapy.

  • I feel it is fair and a reasonable request. I am talking about $1200. That is a lot less than a law suit would cost them. Of course the statute of limitations is over.

  • I feel afraid of hearing their "no." If they say "no" then can I still consider joining the church I am attending?

  • I hesitate to ask, because I worry that my request will color their ability to hear my other requests about policy changes.

I am not sure what to do.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Two Faces of a Predator

I continue to process the meaning of my meeting with the perpetrator of my abuse. Today I am thinking of the two faces I have seen.

In the early 1970's Bob was a cocky sort of guy, in more than one way, now that I think about it. Sorry for the pun. It just hit me the two meanings of that word. Like the rooster he strutted about the world in his cowboy boots and jeans with a jaunty bounce in his step. His speech was flavored with what I term psycho-ease. You know, the way shrinks talk, reflecting your words back to you and baiting you into revealing more about yourself than you have previously. I clearly remember his, "You seem uneasy and embarrassed about that," comment that first opened my hidden places to his slick handling. And he talked easily of forbidden subjects never hesitating or acting ill at ease. It was as easy for him to talk about a man's penis and acts of sex as it was to talk about fishing or hunting.

He was also quite cruel and manipulative. "Once you have crossed that line, you can't go back. You can't have one without the other" he stated in response to my complaining about his distance after I asked out of the sexual part of our relationship. I recall his "say uncle" or "Say you'll quit" when he repeatedly pushed my face into the dirt every time I angrily charged at him, while camping, after he verbally humiliated me. And there was his talk of tying me to the bed and almost bringing me to an orgasm but never quite letting me get there - I never went for that. His loading the shot gun with buck shot while we shot skeet and laughing when it kicked and left me bruised is just one more of what I can specifically remember.

All of this, sharply contrasts with the Bob of last Tuesday. His once moustached face, that led to my awe at that first kiss, is now more fully hidden by a beard. It is as if he was hiding from the truth that reverberated within the room . The Bob of 2007 was stilted and silent for much of our time. His face was blank and his look dead pan. He sat rigidly and admitted the knot in his stomach. He smiled briefly at my forgiveness, but sat glaring at my offer to come clean with the truth.

None of the verbal acuity remained, not in that setting at least. He was the one that appeared tied down, afraid to move, waiting for the kick of the gun that he must have known at some level was bound to bruise him. On Tuesday it was no longer Bob who had the strength to hold me down, but me who spiritually wielded the power of truth to hold him stiff in that chair.

The tables had turned.

The power was mine.

The power is mine. Only the power I carried on Tuesday is a power not to destroy but to redeem, a power he rejected.

Remember when Jesus sent the 72 out to the cities and towns to prepare the way for Him. He told them that those that listened to them, heard Him, and those that refused the truth they brought, refused Him and He who sent Him.

On Tuesday, I refused to be the victim any longer. Bob refused God.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Driven to Talk

The baby tern on the right in this picture would not shut up. If either parent moved a inch to the left, he moved and continued to squawk.
I thought I would be through talking after conversing with Bob but like the tern, matters press me on. I certainly enjoy talking and writing. Communication is my profession and now I wish to take my profession of teaching to a new audience. The best teaching often comes from raising questions and pointing out problems that need to be solved.

I have written an email to two of the church's regional ministers in my state. I have asked for an opportunity to sit and talk with them. One of those ministers is Michael, Bob's son-in-law, the other is Michael's boss. My agenda with Michael is more personal, as I want to continue our conversation without Bob's presence. I have a few more memories I think he should be aware of that seemed pointless to share with Bob when he was not going to acknowledge them. I would also like him to know about the conversation I first had with Bob. I think it might be hard but good for him to hear John's take on Bob's psychological condition, as well. And, because Michael was so caring, I want to let him know first of my plans and desire to share with the ministerial leadership committee in the state.

With both Michael and Ray, I hope to share multiple thoughts, questions and suggestions as to procedures the church follows when a report of pastoral sexual misconduct occurs. I will list my thoughts below:

  1. Psychological evaluations are needed and should be required in all reported cases. A third party that is completely objective is needed.

  2. An increase in the number of people with access to files that remain open - meaning the incident was not settled, there is disagreement or lack of enough evidence to defrock the minister but enough evidence to cause concern as to his past behavior and present condition. Presently only one person has access to the those files.

  3. A different set of thoughts and procedures for predatory behavior or child molestation is needed. These procedures might include:

  • mandatory reporting of criminal activity that is in policy and well known by all ministers in the denominational region.

  • contact of whole congregations when a predator has pastored in that congregation regardless of the passage of time.

  • mandatory therapy for the length of ministry if a file is left open but the pastor remains in ministry.

  • an understanding that victims may take many many years to come forward and this should not decrease the validity of the report in the eyes of the ministerial committee reviewing the report or affect the outcome.

  • open disclosure to the victim of the perpetrators statement and of any consequences that the ministerial committee enacts.

  • contact of victim if and when the ministers relocates.

I am interested in some feedback, especially if you are a minister. I want to go into the meeting with an understanding of all parties and the needs of the church, victim, and perpetrator in consideration. What do you see that sounds important and what might seem impossible?

And friends, if you don't mind, could you leave your thoughts here on the blog instead of emailing.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Eyes Have It! A Post in Honor of Integrity

"The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is good your whole body
will be full of light. But if your eye is bad your whole body will be full
of darkness. If therefore the light that in you is darkness, how great is
that darkness!" Matthew 6:22-23.

I have two pictures in my head from my time with Bob and both are a set of eyes.

Bob's (my perpetrator) darkness that appeared to be stabbing out at me from his one seeing eye seemed confused and fearful and evil . And Tom's (my present pastor) eyes that met mine each time I hit a hard spot and had to look away from Bob's darkness and lies. Tom's eyes were gentle and caring and full of light and encouragement. The difference in these two men's eyes was phenomenal.

Bob's eyes were frightening, frightened, angry, deceptive, and evil looking. Tom's eyes said, "I believe you. I believe in you. I am walking with you."

Of everything in the meeting those two pictures stand out. Two pastor's eyes. One pastor, so full of evil, that it has devoured his life and who knows how many other's, and the other full of light - light that he gave to me - but light that did not originate with him.

Bob's darkness invaded my life in November of 1972, and on Tues. July 3, 2007 I shook off the remaining darkness and cast it aside and stepped into the complete light - in the presence of Bob but I stepped alone, without him. All was exposed and laid out in the light of truth.

Truth was declared to the one who has lived in the darkness of lies. The truth was offered to Bob, through me, but not only by me. I honestly believe God offered him the chance to walk into the light with me, but Bob chose not to take it.

I feel sad that Bob chose to keep the darkness in his soul. I feel gratitude that Tom shared the light of God with me that day, and to him I offer this public thank you.

Thank you my pastor and my friend. It is hard to believe I have only
known you for 9 months, the journey has been so intense. I could only do
this because you are part of it. Without you, I could have never found
this place of freedom. I would not have shaken off that darkness.

Tonight, I thank you, to remind myself and all those that come to this
blog, that even though one chose evil, you Tom, chose integrity and light!
Your integrity gave me hope, strength, and allowed me to find my God again.
You chose to take the power of your position and use it to heal. You chose
to give rather than take.

Your choice is one of true power, of agape love, and of our God. May your choice bring others the hope that men can be honorable. That Christ can express himself through the church. That some do choose what is right and good. And for that, I honor you.

As you have given to one of the least of these......may our God give back to you.


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Feelings About Facing my Abuser

Yesterday I faced him. Last night I dreamed about it and woke up tense. Today I thought about it.

During the night I woke and felt horror as I couldn't get that dark, dark angry eye out of my mind. The way he looked at me after I challenged him on the Barbara issue was quite threatening or was it pleading or perhaps both.

I feel sad that Bob could not come clean and be honest or even move one tiny step in that direction. I truly want nothing worse than repentance for him.

Relief and a smile floods over my face every now and then when I realize it is finished. "It is finished." The cycle is complete.

Tenderness floods my heart as I think of the support of my sweet husband.

As I remember the comfort and encouragement in his eyes yesterday, I am filled with gratitude for my present pastor and for his integrity.

I feel safe with Tom and part of that safety is in his solid relationship with his wife. I haven't mentioned her much but she is there strong and supportive of his ministry and she offered her prayers for us yesterday as we met.

I am thrilled that yesterday I spoke truth and did not let anyone's acceptance of me hinder what I needed to say.

I am awed by Michael's support of me and invitation to contact him. I am anxious to hear a reply to my email I sent him.

I am in wonder as I think of Bob's comment that he was glad Tom was the kind of pastor he was. It sounded as if he was suggesting that Tom was different than he had been and he was glad. That seemed sincere and gave me hope that inside perhaps he has changed but maybe the past is so full of crap that he just can't pull his thumb out of the dike lest it all wash him away.

I am curious as to what must have happened when Bob and Michael arrived home to their wives. I prayed for them yesterday evening and will keep them on my prayer list.

I am hopeful that maybe I can work through enough to actually join this church I have been attending.

I feel courageous and ready to take up my lance and charge the enemy - wherever they are.

I am very proud of myself and rather full of admiration for what I did.

I feel strong now that I have taken back my voice and sounded it to 3 ministers in the same room. I have faced the enemy and found 2 to be my friends.

I trust myself to know my needs and to seek the road that life has given me.

I am eager to have the opportunity to talk to Cheryl once she gets back in town. I believe a hug would feel real good next week if she can find time for one. And a high five. And a YES! And a big smile and maybe we should dance a while too.

I am grieved that the wives have to hurt through this. It seems the women are the ones that are hurting and I hate that. I want to tell them to hold their heads up high and trust God enough to face the truth and love him any way.
I feel tired of all the intensity of feelings! So much to process emotionally.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Facing My Abuser

Today began with a cool morning and an attempt to keep my mind off the afternoon. I tried to work on the house some but found I did not have much of a heart to do so. I piddled around with sanding and priming but finally gave up and showered and dressed. Hubby and I had talked last night about what I was going to wear and while he wanted me to dress professionally in order to express more power, I chose something nice but more casual. Nice capri pants, blue short sleeve sweater, and a nice shirt over it. I dressed to represent who I am.

Once I was dressed and had my make-up on, I told mom I was off to meet some teachers for lunch and stuff. As ministers they all three have taught. I left and got a hamburger which I surprised myself with being able to eat. Then I headed over to the church 45 minutes early. I couldn't do anything else so I decided I would occupy myself in the sanctuary for a while.

Father God and I had a good talk. I kneeled at the front and acknowledged His work in my life, committed the afternoon to his hand, and turned Bob over to Him. Then I took a song book out and flipped through it singing as I went. I must have sung about 20 songs by the time I heard Tom looking for me and calling me from the hallway. In that time, I had connected with the Holy Spirit in a wonderfully peaceful way. I was ready.

Tom and I sat in the front secretary's office and talked for a couple of minutes when we were joined by my husband who gave me a big kiss and plopped down beside me. I left briefly to take a trip to the restroom and detoured by the room we were going to meet in and arranged the chairs just like I wanted them. Tom teased me about having them just right. Interestingly when we went in later, everyone ended up right where I needed everyone to sit.

Before they arrived, Tom, Robin and I prayed together with me teasing Tom that pastors always ask, "Should WE pray," but then do all the praying themselves. So he let us go first and when he finished I told him next time I wanted to go last for the same reason. Pastors always have to say the "Amen". We all laughed. It was a good tension breaker.

Bob and Michael arrived right at two o'clock and excused themselves to the men's room. We then guided them to the parlor and sat down. Bob had aged since I saw him 9 years ago. He had gained about 50 pounds and turned gray. I felt less intimidated seeing him look his age of 67. He was obviously nervous. His face was blank and gray and later Tom described his affect as flat.

We sat and Tom suggested we open with prayer. I opened my eyes to all the men all looking at me and laughingly said, "You are all looking at me." Bob replied and smiled, "You asked for the meeting." I smiled and began by telling them why I wanted this meeting. I told them that at first I could not put the reason into words but I knew it was God. Gradually I came to realize that I needed two things. One, to sit in the same room with Bob, who had abused me, and to have my safe boundaries, and care for myself, be the adult and to care for the child inside, not looking for Bob's approval or attention. Second, I needed to share my voice, that I could not or did not have as a 17 year old.

I continued on by saying I wanted to first share the effects that the abuse had on my life. Rather than going into all I said, I suggest you read my post on The Legacy of Pastoral Sexual Abuse. Though I did not use all the same words, the message was the same. As Tom later stated, I was direct but kind. Throughout the time, my emotions were there but they seemed legitimate and appropriate for the setting and could not have been viewed as manipulative. I teared up a couple of times, stopped to get some eye contact from Tom on three occasions, which he did a great job of giving, and moved on. Twice I teared up with comments Michael made and my lip and chin trembled until I bit it. It was important to me to be honest with my feelings and not stifled, but neither did I want to give Bob the power that would come from me regressing into the child. I think I managed an almost perfect balance.

As I shared the effects of the abuse, I told of my beginning to attend the church. I shared how all the crap came flying out of me and I had to decide if I wanted to stop coming or face it squarely with Tom. I chose the latter. I talked about the greatest anger I had felt through the years being during that time of emotional turmoil as I realized the abuse was still eating my cake 34 years later. As I worked through it, I shared, I came to the day when I knew I had forgiven Bob. Up on the trail behind the church I marked that milestone with stones I have piled up. I went on to explain that forgiveness is not just something we give others but something we have become. It was a miraculous step for me to reach a place of forgiveness.

At this point I told Bob that I could continue on or I could give him a chance to respond to what I had said. He chose to respond. He began with saying he had really been on edge over this happening and that he felt as if he had a basketball down in his gut as they left this morning to drive over. (I wanted to yell, YES!!! Finally, I have the power. But, I didn't even let on that it felt so good to know this.) Bob told me that he was there because he wanted to help me finish my healing and that he cared about me. His voice was level but lighter as he expressed his gratitude for the forgiveness. He went on to explain himself by saying that during the time of our relationship, he did not see himself as my pastor. At this point, I looked at Michael out the corner of my eye, he hung his head and shook it as if he could not believe Bob was saying this. I began to expect that Michael was going to be a major asset in the meeting and that is what he proved to be.

As Bob continued to talk about all the things we did together he shared that his memory was of the sex growing out of the tremendous friendship we shared. This was a perfect jumping off place for me to share my version of the start of the abuse. I knew Bob had heard it. Tom had heard it. I knew it, but Michael was not privy to the information before today. I wanted Michael to hear the degree of predation his father-in-law had functioned in.

I told of the kiss on the second day, of oral sex on the 4th day, and of intercourse by week 3. Bob held on to his views and denied the truth of mine throughout the meeting. I encouraged him to hold this out before God, because I truly believed that truth could bring only healing and wholeness to his life. While he denied that there was any reason to believe one versus the other version, I pointed out that my version was much more predatory than his. I questioned his level of denial and he seemed shocked that I would use his name and the word denial in the same sentence.

I pointed out to Bob that his appearing at my brother's funeral and inviting me to visit him spoke of a rather large amount of denial. Bob explained that there were so many other things we shared and that I was essentially a part of his family during that year's time (that kind of makes me sick feeling) and that was what he was focussing on when he invited me to his home. He stated that at the time, he did not realize the impact this had on my life.

However, I went on to challenge him with the fact that as a pastor, he had to have attended those seminars where they talk about the damage done by this type of relationship. It seemed to me that it was only through denial that he could not have connected the two.

Whenever I challenged him this way, he just looked at me and did not answer. I had forgotten that Bob only had sight in one eye and the other looks slightly to the right so I looked back into his good eye with what I hoped was truth but peace from my heart.

I asked Bob what he remembered about the sex and he replied that it began after a youth lock-in we had at the church. We had all danced that night and I had danced extra close to him during one dance. (Duh! I had been sleeping with him for 4 or 5 months by then.) He took me home the next morning but had to return to his office to get something and it was then that he kissed me. He remembered the oral sex and that it occured in the living room, as many did but the first time was actually in the den on their sofa. He also remembered the intercourse but the time I lowered myself onto him, in his memory was the time he ejaculated in me.

I had asked him earlier if he remembered one time when I thought I might be pregnant. His answer was no. I asked him if he remembered how we avoided the issue of my becoming pregnant and he replied that he only ejaculated in me one time and that was 3 days after my period. Wow, now that is specific. I had to wonder how he remembered that detail while having forgotten all the other.

I shared my memory of his setting me up with Charlie and that was the one time he became defensive. He recognized what that would be saying about himself and he denied it fully. However, Charlie seemed to think it was arranged for sex and I left it there. It is odd that he recognizes and defends himself on that issue while not on the others.

I talked of sex in the woods on the way to some friends house, of sex in his tent with another man in the tent (I used my hand to bring him to an orgasm), of sex in the state office. None of those sparked a response. He acted surprised but did not verbally deny them.

I asked Bob what the commision on ministry had done in response to my report. Bob said that he had met 2 or 3 times with the regional minister at the time and his wife but that he was not aware of any follow up. He said that he finished out his ministry and retired as soon as he reached retirement age but denied that he had been pressured to do so. Bob told me that every region he had ministered in was contacted but no one else came forward with a negative report.

Twice during the conversation, Michael, who besides being Bob's son-in-law is also works on the state level, spoke his own input. His voice was clear and kind and gentle and his acknowledgement of my pain seemed very real. His apology and concern for me were far more legitimate sounding than Bob's. Tom had spoken highly of Michael and I found my heart opening to him. Michael acknowledged that God was obviously with me and he was grateful to have been invited to participate in this part of my healing. He explained to me what it meant for a pastor's file to be left open. It is forever and always in the regional ministers personal file cabinet and will be passed on and reviewed by each subsequent minister.

Then, Michael went on to say that he was sorry that there truly was no justice in this situation. That was when I cried. Can you believe that. I believe he really meant it. He aknowledged to me that there was no justice and then he said he was sorry. I just realized how powerful that was for me to hear. Michael continued to offer to be of any assistance that he could be to me and for me to call him if he could help me further. That is an option I may very well explore.

I asked Bob and Michael how their wives were handling this. Bob replied first that his was anxious and wanted closure so she could quit dreaming about it. That is evidently why the time table was moved up. Michael said that his was angry, not at me but at the situation, that she is 7 months pregnant and very emotional. She won't talk with Michael about this in the same way they talk about everything else. That has concerned Michael. As I listened to that, I had a thought. It might not be true at all but I gave my input anyway. I asked him to tell her, for me, that it isn't something we do logically, but sometimes we pick up the shame from something like this and for her to please not do that. The lightbulb seemed to come on for Michael. Maybe it will help.

Bob, in response to my question as to what his wife might need from me to relieve the anxiety, replied "an assurance that the phone wouldn't ring again and they wouldn't have to deal with this one more time." In his statement I once again heard him blaming me for his wife and daughter's discomfort. I did not hear, "I am sorry I caused them this pain." I replied to Bob that as far as I knew, I didn't think there was anything else he could offer me. That I could not imagine any purpose in another phone call, but I had to take care of myself first and I couldn't promise that and put a stamp and seal on it.

By this point, I had eliminated everything on my note cards but one item. One bomb. I told them I hate to go here but I needed to. I looked at Bob and asked him if he had ever told his wife that he had slept with anyone else besides me. He replied firmly, "No." I looked him in the eye and asked what about Barbara? Very animatedly he replied to the negative again. I continued to look him in the eye and I said, "Bob, I think you and I know that is not true." He said nothing else but continued to look at me with the dark, dark eye. Then he asked, what makes you so sure of that statement. I offered, "You told me you slept with her." "I said to you that I slept with her?" he asked with disbelief. "Yes, and you spent every afternoon at her house and a man at the church caught the two of you embracing intimately and he told Tom Neal about it." Quiet and an intense stare met me. I continued, "Bob, it really doesn't matter as far as I am concerned, your wife certainly does not need to know or be hurt by this, but I wanted to give you a chance to come clean".

Quietness filled the room as neither one of us replied. I simply looked to Tom for a little comfort and eye contact. I told Tom, that was all I had, that I had emptied my heart. Michael looked at Bob and asked him if he was finished. Bob replied in the positive, he was obviously shaken however after my confrontation over Barbara. Michael then asked to talk with Bob for a moment before we finished.

We left briefly and I talked with my husband and told him what he could see, I was doing well inside. His support of me through this has been awesome. I told Tom that I thought Michael was believing me and seeing some things he had not before. Tom agreed. We were quickly invited back. I was pretty sure that Michael had nudged Bob to say he was sorry, as he had not done so, and that is what occured.

Bob told me he was sorry, sorry it had happened, sorry I had spent my life dealing with it. Then he almost said what I really wanted to hear. He said "It was wrong." One step further would have been, "I was wrong," but the other 3 words were probably the biggest step he was capable of taking. Bob went on to say that he was glad I had a husband who supported me and a pastor who cared and was the type of pastor he was. He seemed to be saying that he was glad Tom had the integrity that he, Bob, had lacked.

We ended in prayer, all of us holding hands. I have no idea what Tom prayed but when he finished, I reached across the circle and offered my hand to Bob. He took it and shook it and looked me in the eye. That may seem an odd ending for me, but I needed to touch the hands that had abused me. I needed to touch them and still maintain my boundaries and stand for truth. My prayer is that hand shake will shake his heart until truth reigns there as well.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

My Agenda with My Perpetrator

I have 4 basic items on my agenda to work through with Bob.

1. Internal Work:

  • To give myself a few moments to think and recognize that he is sitting across from me and HE is the perpetrator and not everyone else I transfer onto. Then, I intend to recognize my own ability to keep myself safe and healthy. I can focus on the fact that I now have boundaries. My sitting with him in this meeting is saying "NO! No, you will not hurt me again. No, I do not need your approval. No, I do not need your acceptance. No, I do not want to sleep with you. No, I do not love you. No, I do not want your attention."

2. External Work:
  • To say some of the above, especially the "No!" part. I can frame it with the fact that I could not say no to him when I was 17. I can say "No!" now and I am going to take the opportunity to do so.

  • To tell him how his abuse affected my life. I want to include the shame, self-hatred that especially focussed on the part of myself that was needy, loss of esteem, anxiety disorder, life course change, perfectionism, emotional turmoil, issues with authority, etc.

  • To tell him some of the memories that hurt me the most.

This external work is my way of finding my voice, the voice I did not have at 17 - the voice that was silenced by Bob's power and cunning.

I am nervous as I wait the remaining hours. I will see him tomorrow. I feel such ambivalence. The child is evident as I work to stay the adult. I can feel some of the old attention and approval issues inside of me. Part of me wants to sweep it all under the carpet and just talk and catch up. Such odd things to be feeling the night before I confront my abuser. I will be sitting in the room with the man who lifted my chin and kissed me, the man who used his own penis to teach me what felt good, the man who said, "It is sterile and people just swallow it.", the man who tried to get me to sleep with his best friend, the man who rubbed my face in the dirt over and over, the man who used his hands to bring me to an orgasm, the man who took my virginity, the man who told me I could not have his affection without the sex since we had already crossed that line, the man who accused me of being in love with a penis because I tried to entice a friend of his into bed with me, the man whose arms I flew into and thought I was becoming a woman, the man who as my youth pastor, who at the age of 32 had sex with me as a 17 year old.

I will see him tomorrow and I hope the adult shows up.