Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Failed to Protect Me

As of this evening, I feel no need to protect the denomination of which my perpetrator was a part. I have received a well written and seeminly caring response from the regional minister but I am discouraged with his answers.

It began when they certified a predator to be my pastor when I was 17 and he abused me.

Then they did not follow procedure when I reported him 7 years ago.

Once I realized that fact this past August and asked to be given the answers to several questions, the regional minister put me off for 5 months and then finally tonight told me he could not answer my questions. I am grateful to finally hear something but angry that it took 5 months.

Finally, last August I requested to speak to the ministry commission to be told "No, but a task force was being appointed and my request to speak would be presented to them as soon as they met." There was much positive to hope for in that statement, though it would ultimately be the decision of the task force. I felt with the support of the regional minister they would choose to hear me. Now I hear a much watered down statement as to my being able to speak. The regional minister cannot offer me any assurity that this will happen.

I am angry and wrestle to hold on to the truth that this is not a statement about my value. I am sad that the denomination of the church I have been attending is no more concerned for a sheep than this shows. I am also determined to not be silenced.

How do we force the church to take its head out of the sand? Do we have to suck the sand away so they have nothing in which to bury it? Will God send a wave to wash the sand from around their heads? Am I part of that wave?

I so wanted to find a voice in a setting that would cause no damage to anyone but could make an impression that could bring a positive change for the future. Once again the church disappoints me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Yesterday afternoon I attended my second SNAP meeting (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests). My presence will be more frequent now since they have changed their meetings to Saturdays.

I met 3 new survivors. One fellow was experiencing the presence of other survivors for the first time. It is a radical experience to know you are no longer the only one out there.

We each shared something that had helped us heal. We talked of therapy and relating to ourselves. We talked of shame and the exorbitant about of time it takes to heal from the shame. We talked about triggers that set us off in the present. We compared notes on depression and panic attacks. We shared tears and pieces of our stories. We listened and we nodded and we loved. We discussed God and all the questions that have besieged us about His existence and His goodness.

Sameness. That is what stood out to me. Everyone knew. Everyone understood. Everyone had shared in the same emotions, the same turmoil, the same pain.

I was moved in a unique way.

I kept thinking - if only church government could hear what I am hearing. If only they could hear the cries of pain. If only they saw the struggles over faith. Would they still turn their heads away and treat this sin lightly?

We shook hands and hugged and left.

The meeting ended. The day ended. But, the richness of the sharing will travel with me.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Confused and Ashamed

I haven't written in a month because I have been emotionally smothered under thick layers of shame. I felt ashamed of having to write that the same old issues were defeating me. When I unearthed my relationship with the second pastor, and began dealing with it in therapy, the shame from that relationship broke over me like a tsunami and overwhelmed me. Finally this last week the ultimate question arose in therapy.

"Why is this taking me so long, Dan?" I asked it, voice cracking and heart begging for him to tell me that I was not a failure. I realized from the panicked tone of my voice that shame was at the bottom.

What Dan offered was comforting. For those of you seeking your healing from pastoral sexual abuse, listen clearly.

"Not many choose to confront this. Most leave it stuffed down and undealt with. Not many go this deep. Most get caught in the pursuit of false love and never break free of the "plastic" relationships. They go to their grave having fallen victim over and over because they can't face it all. Plastic lilies sit on their graves. You are facing it. This is no small thing you are doing. You are taking the road less traveled and it takes time to traverse it."

For all of you out there who also face the shame and sometimes find it overwhelming , who shudder at the pain, who wonder how much longer, may Dan's words to me give you comfort.