Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.


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They Know

The following post was written and spoken by a fellow survivor. Her name is Lori Anne Thompson and we are honored that she shared her post so we could share it with you.

I wrote a few years ago that High Church days like Christmas and Easter can be especially difficult for those who’ve been violated by a member of the clergy. While I tried to verbalize my thoughts and feelings that particular Easter, Lori Anne does so with more insight, and lays bare the pain of this Friday.

We know, and He knows, and I pray after reading this You will know too…

—–

Dear Abuse Survivor/Supporter,

I have prepared this spoken word as a special gift for you. In it may you recognize the ruin in Friday and await the Son Rise on Sunday.

Peace, LA

 

Survivors know just about all there is to know about that Friday.
They know even if they know Him not.

They know about the lies lashed around their wrists and feet.
They know.

They know what it is to be bound and betrayed by a beloved.
They know what kisses were for.
They know.

They know about the salacious set up,
The friends who ran away,
The dark night when they prayed,
And absolutely nothing changed.
They know.

They know the cowardly cower of those who peddle in popularity,
They know the brief plead with the angry mob,
They know the freshly washed hands that claimed immunity.
God help me, they know.

They know what it means to be handed over,
To be stripped;
To be assaulted;
To be beaten,
To be broken;
To have to carry a crushing weight in their weakened estate;
They heard their own knees buckle.
Damn right they know.

They know what it is to be innocent;
To have entrusted their vulnerability to another;
To be laughed at;
To be mocked.
It rings in their ears still.
They KNOW.

They know what it means to have their reputation,
Their sanity,
Their station,
Their family,
Their friends,
Their integrity…
Stripped, ripped, ruined, robbed, and hung in half naked rags in public humiliation.
This, they know too well.

They know what is feels like to be forsaken,
To have all affirmation turn away.
To be utterly destroyed and alone.
I hang my head and I weep from somewhere deep.
Don’t you know, they know?

They know what it is to descend to the depths of darkness and death,
To watch as parts of themselves are crucified.
Oh yes… curious onlooker, religious scholar, high priest, and peddler…
They know.

 

Please visit Lori Anne’s site to read more:

https://loriannethompson.com/2019/04/18/they-know/

 

 

Copyright © 2019 Together We Heal


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Addressing Sexual Abuse Within Faith Communities

With April being Child Abuse Prevention Month, I wanted to start it off with an interview I had the privilege of doing with Rachel Grant and her amazing resource for survivors, “Beyond Surviving”.

Do yourself a favor, check out her website. Rachel continues to teach me so much that helps in my own healing journey.

This particular podcast we cover subject matter that’s had an immeasurable impact on and in my life. Both as someone who was victimized by a minister and now as someone who is working to make faith communities safer for children.

In this Beyond Surviving Podcast, (Look for S6 E3 – David Pittman) we’ll discuss why I partnered with GRACE, and how that work is transforming faith communities so they can better protect children, better identify predatory behavior, and properly respond to those who’ve been harmed.

Today, we’ll answer these questions and I’ll have some questions for you to determine if your faith community is properly prepared.

Is Your Faith Community prepared to properly respond to sexual abuse?

How would they respond to the perpetrator and how would they respond to the victim?

Why would it matter to me if I’m not religious?

Where can we find resources to educate our church?

Link to the podcast:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/beyond-surviving-with-rachel-grant/id876092316?mt=2

On YouTube:

https://youtu.be/J5vowK2dn2E

Resources:

http://www.netgrace.org

http://www.jewishsacredspaces.org

http://www.together-we-heal.org

http://www.togetherweheal.wordpress.com

Contact me directly:

dpittman@together-we-heal.org

(754) 234-7975


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Will the Southern Baptist Church Finally Live What It Preaches?

This week Together We Heal, as an organization, and myself, David Pittman as an individual, have joined forces with Justice For Anne, For A Time Such As This & several fellow advocates. Together we have issued a statement that was most perfectly articulated by fellow advocate Ryan Ashton:

—-

“If you please, read the joint statement myself and fellow abuse survivors and advocates delivered to the president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) yesterday regarding their announcement of a sexual abuse study group:

“We all have a decision—to become more polarized and distrustful of one another, hide, build barriers, and perpetuate numerous injustices. Or we can face this evil together, choosing to create a culture where healing and safety are the norm, where love and compassion dwell, where children and families flourish, and the hope of the gospel maintains its integrity. We sign with that hope, committed to a future where no one in the Church has to say “Me Too” ever again.”

—-

Everything we do at Together We Heal and GRACE is because of the past and current failures of those within the church to better protect children and properly respond to those who’ve been harmed. It is our hope that the SBC will begin to live up to the call of Christ they espouse and not be just another one of those “cast to the bottom of the sea with a millstone around their neck”.

If not now, then when? If not us, then who?

The time is long overdue. The ball is in your court SBC leaders and church members. Do you truly believe the scripture you preach and teach? Then BE THE VOICE OF THE VOICELESS and quit giving lip service and protecting sexual predators.

The world, and Christ, is watching…

You can read the full statement here:

https://www.forsuchatimeasthisrally.com/inthenews/a-joint-statement-regarding-the-sbc-sexual-abuse-presidential-study-group


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Hope Is a 4-Letter Word

This week, we continue our series exploring the impact that ongoing abuse within the church has on one’s capacity to remain hopeful.

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2018/06/hope-is-4-letter-word.html


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A Woman of Conviction, Courage & Comfort – Barbara Blaine

 

As I once read somewhere,

A religious upbringing can bring comfort.
It can also turn a child’s life into a living hell.

Barbara Blaine understood this as much as any of us who experienced sexual abuse at the hands of the church while we were children.

I learned of the passing of Barbara Blaine, as I am sure many of you did, with the message from her family. But it has taken me a few days to be able to talk about her and the impact she had. I believe I can best express my gratitude for Barbara by using an example of one of our normal interactions.

A typical phone call from Barbara would go something like this, “Dave, can you meet me in Tampa Saturday for a press conference in front of the Diocese there? We just learned of a priest who had…”

This call would of course, come on Friday, the day before the request. And I could rarely say anything other than, “what time do you need me there?”

You see, Barbara had a way of being persuasive that no one could deny! And that’s part of why we loved her!

One of the other reasons we loved her, and maybe the most important, is because she had not only lived our same pain, but was one of the first we could tell. Before I could tell my family, what had happened to me, there was only one group of people I trusted with that information. Barbara Blaine, David Clohessy and Barb Dorris with SNAP.

You see, SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) was founded by Barbara Blaine. And when you’ve been betrayed by the church, any church, and your faith has been shaken or even lost, you find it difficult to trust people. Barbara was one of the very first people I felt like I could trust again, and I wasn’t the only one.

Thankfully, Barbara helped quite literally, MILLIONS of survivors of sexual abuse understand that they weren’t alone. I can remember the day I first called SNAP, and it was the first time I heard someone tell me these words…“you’re not alone David, we are here for you and with you.”

Thank you, Barbara, for being there for me. Thank you for allowing me that first opportunity to help fellow survivors through and with SNAP.

Thank you for being the original “voice for the voiceless” when it comes to clergy who have stolen the innocence of childhood. Thank you for never wavering when it came to exposing the cover-up of this abuse within the church. And thank you for showing us all how to tenaciously demand their accountability, while at the same time, providing comfort for those they harmed.

Decades before Together We Heal, or GRACE or any of the other organizations who do so much to help now, there was Barbara and SNAP.

We are all now working on what you began Barbara…and I hope we will continue to make you proud.

 

Below is the letter from her family.

Family-Statement-About-Barbara-Blaine-9.25.17


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What is the Real Cost of Child Safety?

“This world is dangerous not because of those who do harm, but because of those who look at it without doing anything.”

Albert Einstein

Mr. Einstein was of course talking about people, both within Germany and around the world, who knew of the atrocities being committed by the Nazi’s, but were saying and doing nothing.

Tragically, this can too easily be applied to childhood sexual abuse within the Church.

Of all the places children SHOULD feel most protected, we would think a place of worship and faith would be one. Instead, children can be just as likely to find sexual predators with a culture that protects the offenders and blames the victims.

CSA survivor awareness month

 

With that in mind, let me ask some questions:

How much money would you spend to keep your children safe?

How much time is enough to learn what is necessary about abuse and those who would harm children?

How much effort/energy would you exert to save a child’s life?

The answers that come to all “normal”, rational people’s minds are easy, right? Any amount of money it takes! Whatever amount of time is needed! I would give anything and everything to save a child’s life!

But would you? Really??

 

I once met with a group of people, all who were people of faith, who seemingly spent more time asking me questions about how to get around protecting children. They asked what is “really” needed to protect children? What were the basics rather than all the details? They thought the statistics were exaggerated to get people to react. Thought that many on predator databases were made out to be worse than the crimes actually were.

Think your community is different? Think your church is different? Think you are?

Let me ask you this…what is your “price”?

 

We all have our price. You know, that imaginary line we cross when what is “costs” becomes greater than what we are willing to give…of dollars, time or energy. To say different is to be lying to yourself, or not very self-aware. We all have our price. I have mine.

Until I was about to drop dead from drug addiction, I was unwilling to say a word about the sexual abuse that I and others endured. Finally, I decided I wasn’t willing to pay that price for my silence any longer.

When I did come forward about the sexual abuse that occurred within the church, what I needed to hear was…we believe you, what can we do to keep this from happening again?

What I got was, “shut up, get over it, go away” and a perpetrator that wasn’t just allowed to assault more little boys, he was practically encouraged and definitely emboldened to do so by the church’s lack of action and silence.

 

With sexual abuse now coming to the forefront of society’s attention, I am scared…no I’m terrified, that churches run the risk of going off the tracks. Either by bunkering down in a CYA “we did all we could” mode with watered-down, so-called Christian checklists, that supposedly make a “ministry safe” for children. That churches will say, “Look, for a couple hundred dollars, we can make our church free of sexual predators by taking an online course.”

Or that they become numb and calloused from information overload, or misinformation by clerical surrogates. These things can happen without us even realizing it. Let me give you an example. Do you remember how you felt the day after terrorists attacked on 9-11? Do you remember how terrified you were?

What about now? Still just as terrified? Most would say no. That’s what happens. Its human nature.

Today, because there are so many cases of sexual abuse being made public, and just as many people trying to nullify their impact, we can forget WHY we need to learn more and do more…because there are children who have been harmed beyond what most can imagine.

 

Sometimes I post information of an event or resource I think is helpful. Sometimes I post about something I’ve learned and want to share.

Sometimes it’s simply something that’s on my heart…this is one of those times.

Please don’t assume your faith community has done all it needs to protect the children under its care. Ask questions, demand they do more. Lead by example and be willing to do more, give more and pay ANY price to protect your children and help those who’ve been harmed.


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Liberty University Has Sold Its Soul for Football

Monday, November 28th 2016. That date will go down in Baptist history as the beginning of the end. Not of the end of baptists; but something more tragic, and much more sinister. It’s the end of women being safe on Liberty University’s campus.

It was on Monday that Liberty University gave the middle finger to all victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault and told “whoever has ears to hear” that THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT THE SAFETY OF WOMEN ON CAMPUS.

On Monday, Liberty University and Jerry Falwell, Jr., joyfully welcomed Ian McCaw as its new Athletic Director.

Falwell, Jr. said of McCaw, “He’s a Godly man of excellent character and I could not be more excited about this announcement!”

Just in case you don’t know Mr. McCaw, let me catch you up to speed.

He was up until recently the Athletic Director for Baylor University. Yes, the Baylor that bears the same Baptist support as Liberty. And yes, it’s the same Baylor who fired its President, Ken Starr; Head Football Coach, Art Briles, and depending on which media outlet you believe, the aforementioned Athletic Director, Ian McCaw.

So why did this “Godly man of excellent character” leave Baylor?

GREAT QUESTION!!

Here are the football totals.

While McCaw was AD, Baylor football went from averaging 3 wins a season, to 9 wins a year. This is what Liberty wants everyone to focus.

But these are the human totals of a McCaw administration.

Reporter Jake New of Inside Higher Ed reported on Tuesday:

“McCaw resigned as athletics director at Baylor in May. His resignation came days after Baylor’s Board of Regents fired the university’s head football coach and forced out its president following allegations that the world’s largest Baptist university mishandled — and sought to suppress public discourse about — reports of sexual assaults committed by its football players and other students.

Baylor officials said earlier this month that, in total, 17 women reported 19 sexual or physical assaults involving football players since 2011, and that four of the reports involved gang rapes.”

Tragically it gets worse…

New’s report went on to say, and folks this is the crux of the issue…

“Baylor said McCaw was told about at least one of those gang rapes, which involved five football players, but he did not report the allegations to the university’s judicial affairs office or anyone else outside the athletic department, as required by federal law.”

So now you know the truth about Ian McCaw. Well, at least as much as we know for now. Pending litigation and the unknown number of silenced victims will probably prevent us from ever knowing the TRUE number of victims. But this is how they operate.

This is the organizational strategy of the Baptist Convention, its Churches and now we can see, it’s Colleges and Universities. They manipulate, they silence and they cover-up anything having to do with sexual abuse and sexual assaults within its walls or by those in power.

I know this to be true because they tried to silence my voice also.

Mark my words, starting on Monday, you will begin to see an increase of sexual abuses and assaults and the ensuing organizational coverup of them that Baptist have become so adept. Or so they believe. Lives will be ruined if not worse. And certainly souls will be tarnished, if not lost.

Monday, November 28th 2016. The day where mothers and fathers can no longer send a daughter to Liberty University with the belief she will be safe.

Welcome to the pursuit of FBS football Liberty. How pathetic that you traded your soul for it.

As a dear friend said to me recently…

“Sadly, None of this resembles Jesus.”

 

 

Copyright © 2016 Together We Heal