Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. We provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal. We work to expose sexual predators and their methods of getting into our lives.
On the May 2nd edition of Tom Ascol’s show “The Sword and The Trowel”, he chose to platform and promote the career of Pastor Mike Stone. Stone is running for President of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Mike Stone attempted to use the case of Trinity Baptist church in Ashburn Georgia as the prime example of why his approach, to the sexual abuse crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention, is the best.
Join us for the first GRACE Live Conversation of 2022 and the first in their six-part series on Trauma-Informed Practices in Faith Communities.
Monday, Jan. 24th at 1 PM EST.
David Pittman (A GRACE Safeguarding Specialist and Director of Together We Heal) and Robert Peters (Senior Attorney at Zero Abuse Project) will be discussing Safety, the first key principle of trauma-informed care, from the perspective of abuse prevention and response within faith communities.
Impotent Georgia Act Protects Sexual Predators, Baptist & Catholic Churches and the Insurance companies that underwrite their policies.
Usually when my wife and I travel to Atlanta it’s for visiting friends and family. Atlanta is where we grew up, were high-school sweethearts and eventually where we wed. (Even if it did take me over 25 years to muster the courage to ask her to marry me!)
But this week my wife and I will be in Atlanta with an additional purpose. Actually it will be a two-fold mission.
As with almost every Together We Heal event/conference/etc., we will be teaching parents, guardians, and adults of various leadership and authority positions over children, on how to talk with kids about childhood sexual abuse and better identify the grooming methods of sexual predators.
In addition to this, we’re going to have the opportunity to lobby local representatives and their constituents about making a change that would have permanent, positive benefits for all of the children of our home state. We want to help them see how imperative it is that they pass a law eliminating the statute of limitations on all sex crimes against children.
I know, sounds like a no-brainer, right? Tragically, you’d be wrong. When myself and my wife were sexually abused as children, not one single state had such a law on the books. And it’s only been in last few years that states started passing said laws. Sadly, the pressure from “higher powers” had a greater hold on state assemblies than did the courage to do the right thing.
Based on Together We Heal’s non-profit designation, Federal law limits the amount of time we are able to spend lobbying for laws to protect children and assist victims in attaining any measure of justice. Therefore, we quite literally must make the MOST of every second of time we put forth on this type of effort.
So this week, we will be making one such effort at a DeKalb Women’s Meeting with 2 legislators in attendance. It’s our hope, that since we will be speaking to people who live where our abuse occurred, it will resonate with them on a more personal level.
That being said, here is the reason why Georgia needs to eliminate statute of limitation laws regarding sex crimes against children. And by the way, my personal example is just one in millions that have happened. I’m telling you my story so you can know that this happens all too often.
When I FINALLY gathered enough strength to come forward, name the man who sexually abused me as a child; I did what I was told to do, I went to the police because everyone said that’s what you do and certainly they would help me.
I went to DeKalb County Police Headquarters, the original one on Memorial Drive, and spoke with a detective in the Major Felony division (now called Special Victims Unit). After over 2 hours of excruciatingly painful memories being drawn out, vile detail by vile detail, it finally came to an end.
And that’s when she asked me the question she should’ve started off by asking, ”when did this crime take place?”
I told her from 1981-1984. That’s when she said the words that ripped my heart and stomach COMPLETELY out of my body and threw them in the sewer.
Her reply, “Sorry, but we can’t help you. You waited too long to report this crime.”
WHAT!? I WAITED TOO LONG?! How could I have done anything WRONG here?!?!
She said, “it’s not that you did anything wrong, you just didn’t know. There’s a law called statute of limitations. And in Georgia, since you didn’t come forward by the age of 18, the time limit is up and he can no longer be criminally prosecuted for the offense. No matter what he did to you. No matter how many times or for how many years. You’re just too late.”
Tragically the police, even when they genuinely want to help, have no way of doing so because of the laws OUR legislators keep on the books.
Ask yourself this simple question and let logic dictate the answer.
Why would OUR representatives allow such laws to protect the perpetrator and further victimize the abused???
Recently a piece of legislation was passed in Georgia called the Hidden Predator Act (HPA). It was spoken of as some amazing Act, enabling any and all previous victims to come forward and get the justice they were for so long denied.
Turns out it was smoke and mirrors to make one Georgia representative appear good, but the bill is toothless and practically worthless. Although literally a couple of survivors have been able to utilize this bill, in a state of over 10 million, the VAST MAJORITY of Georgia victims will receive no such justice. Meanwhile, their perpetrators, and the ones protecting them, will remain happy all the live long day.
Why? Because the Southern Baptist Convention, Georgia Baptist Convention, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Roman Catholic Church and the Georgia Lobby for Insurance made it so. They “persuaded” YOUR representatives to remove all language that would give victims the ability to go after the churches, institutions, schools or companies that had any role in enabling, hiding or protecting the predators. By doing this it eliminated the possibility for almost any survivor to get representation. And with no attorney, no justice. Just all of the predators free and clear, to continue abusing, molesting, raping children and murdering their innocence and souls.
Most victims don’t have the strength to come forward, if they ever do, until their 30’s or 40’s, and by then it’s “too late” with the existing laws.
Sexual predators, Baptist & Catholic leaders, the Chamber and Insurance companies know this statistic, so their bean counters and leaders “convinced” legislators to orchestrate the law to read as it does. With the current language, it protects THEIR INTEREST.
And what, might you ask is their interest.
M-O-N-E-Y, NOT Y-O-U.
If these leaders actually cared about their constituents, parishioners, etc., this would not be the case. So to these “so-called” groups of faith and elected officials I say this…
“For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”
If we work together to do what’s right, protect potential future victims and enable justice for past ones, then we must pass a LAW, not a temporary bill like the one that expires in a little over a year, that does what should’ve been done already.
That’s right, the current HPA expires July 1st 2017, and at that time Georgia goes back to being one of the WORST states in the union for protecting child victims of sexual abuse.
So pass a law that ELIMINATES the statute of limitations on ALL sex crimes against children. And include language that allows for another 2-year window, only this time enable the revival against organizations & institutions and cap the claims at victims aged 53 (18 + 35). Georgia’s current bill allows victims to pursue litigation against the perpetrator only, not the people or organizations that covered it up or assisted them in any way. This is the only way to truly begin to stop this epidemic of abuse, to punish their enablers. If these predators had no protection, they most likely would’ve been caught.
Some very smart folks, who could explain the math about capping the age at 53 much better than I, have set that age for the reasons of how long it takes for most victims to be able to come forward and the age at which the perpetrators would be at that time. This gives the best chance for as many victims as possible to get the Justice that’s been denied them.
And maybe just as important, to expose the predators so that they can’t harm another child. Litigation shines the light and truth on them and that’s what they fear the most. And contrary to what certain church leaders and media members would have you believe, Pedophiles do not “age out” of abusing children. Fr. John Geoghan in Boston was abusing children in his 80s. The only 2 things that stop them are incarceration and death.
And to the people who inaccurately claim that enabling this 2-year window would inundate the court system with copious amounts of claims. I refer you to Marci A. Hamilton’s website for the facts – If you look at the “Relative Success” document and especially at the chart at the bottom, http://sol-reform.com/data/
you can see (1) the civil revival windows that have been opened against individuals AND institutions have not resulted in an avalanche of claims; (2) there are no false claims that have made it through the system; and (3) Georgia’s window has been relatively ineffective so far because it is only capable of being brought against individual perpetrators and aiders and abettors.
Want to know how many victims in Georgia have been able to file litigation against their abusers?
That’s 9 in a state of 10 million with AT LEAST 2 million victims. So far the Baptist & Catholic churches, Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Insurance lobby is winning. And Georgians are losing.
Going back to the question I had you ask yourself, what is the logic in these representative not already passing a law like this. What do THEY have to hide or be afraid of? If nothing, then it should pass unanimously, if not, then please give SERIOUS consideration to replacing your current legislator. Unfortunately, that’s the only language most lawmakers understand. Only when told they won’t be reelected will they actually listen to THEIR constituents.
I wish I could expose my abuser through the courts, but it’s too late for me. And because of this, he has gone on to molest, abuse and rape AT LEAST 7 others. Those are just the ones I know of. God and Frankie Wiley are the only 2 who know how many little boys’ childhood’s he’s murdered.
It’s too late for me, but there are approximately 2 million of your fellow Georgians who need your help. The only way this will happen is if YOU, make a stand, demand your representative pass this law or you vote in someone who will. It’s up to you. What will you do? Please don’t wait until it’s happened to one of your children or grandchildren. I beg of you.
Because I promise you, if you don’t, it WILL happen. The facts are the facts. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys WILL BE sexually abused by the age of 18. The only way this changes is with the ability to prosecute predators. The only way that happens is for the laws to be changed. And the only way that happens is when it matters to you. Will it be before or after it happens to someone you know; someone you love.
Don’t let this be another example of putting up a traffic light AFTER a tragedy has happened. You have the ability to do something now. Will you?
One of my favorite quotes is by Frederick Douglass who said,
“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Please keep these two things in mind when you begin to think, “it’s just too hard to talk with my kids about sexual abuse”.
Here in the USA, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be victims of childhood sexual abuse before they turn 18…don’t let your child be another statistic, don’t let them become another David, or Linda, or or or…
They need your strength and guidance…you CAN talk with them and they will be grateful you did!!
If you’re finding it challenging to talk with your kids, please read this post for some guidance:
This month we partnered with Rachel Grant to do a 2-part blog series and a tele-seminar, all for male survivors. The seminar can be heard here –
Below is part 1 of our combined blog series
Feeling the Weight of the World…Alone
Over the last 3 years I have had the good fortune of working with an amazing advocate for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and someone who has become more than just a colleague, but also a valued friend: Ms. Rachel Grant. So when she asked if I would write two articles and do a tele-seminar together, as we have in the past, it was my honor to say “yes”.
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, it has been an arduous path of pain and healing. For over 35 years it has felt as though there have been many more “downs” than “ups”.
While I could spend an entire article just listing the challenges associated with the trauma of childhood sexual abuse; for me there were two major issues that caused the most tribulation and confusion.
The first was feeling as if I were completely alone. I thought for so long I was the only person this crime was perpetrated against and therefore it was on me alone to “deal with it”.
The second was the confusion a young boy feels when sexually abused by a man.
Today we’ll start with the first…
…feeling totally alone.
Although feeling alone is not unique to male survivors, it is only from this perspective that I can speak. So I promise to talk openly and honestly about my own journey.
But before I begin discussing the challenges associated with abuse I want to first let all know who are reading this, that there is light at the end of the tunnel…and it’s not an oncoming train.
Hope and joy can be attained. It won’t always be easy, but if you work with the right folks, and believe that those who have gone before you mean what they say, healing awaits.
So let’s talk about that most awful of feelings, being alone. And I don’t mean loneliness. While in and of itself, loneliness can feel horrible, it’s not quite the same as “feeling alone”. It incorporates so much more. It’s a feeling of betrayal and dismissal. It’s as if the whole world is moving along, happy and well. And you have been left behind, utterly abandoned.
Additionally, you feel isolated and different from everyone else around you. You see others around you leading “regular”, happy lives but you feel different and separate from everyone due to the abuse.
As I wrote once before about this topic, “Feeling Alone, it’s a familiar feeling. It’s altogether too familiar. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I struggled for decades with it. I had it twisted around me like a straight-jacket of discomfort. The result was a never-ending quest for love and acceptance in all the wrong places with none of the right people.”
Here at “Together We Heal”, we work to provide support groups and counseling to fellow survivors. And whenever we get a call or email, or are contacted in any way, the VERY FIRST thing we say is…you are NOT alone. We are here for you, with you and will be as long as you will allow us. The reason for this is because of what I mentioned earlier, my own feelings of being alone. Once I finally came forward, I learned a couple of important factors.
The first thing I learned was that I wasn’t the only little boy to be sexually abused by the same man. This person was my minister, and was therefore trusted by myself, my family and all who knew him. In 1981 when the abuse began, there were no talk shows about it, no news stories reporting it, no support groups that I could open up to. Hell, I didn’t even know what to call what was happening to me because I had never heard the words “childhood sexual abuse”.
And the second was that others, both men and women, told me they had the same feelings. Once I was told the truth about childhood sexual abuse; that I wasn’t alone, it was then I felt as though a weight the size of the world on Atlas’ shoulders was finally lifted from my own.
And that was the turning point for my own healing. Once I learned I didn’t have to carry this burden alone, and that others would help me, it was then I finally understood the meaning of the word “hope”.
More than anything it is my “hope” that everyone who reads these posts or listens to when Rachel and I talk on her show, is that you can KNOW that hope and healing are a reality, and if she and I can have and live it, you can too!
Please…reach out, tell someone…we will be here for you.
Next week we’ll discuss a topic that so many male survivors struggle with but don’t feel the ability or freedom to talk about, the sexual confusion caused when abused by a man.
Sometimes, not always, I get so tired of fighting a battle with those who are supposed to be the one doing the protecting…
Sometimes, not always, I get so tired of losing said battles to churches, fundamentalist “Christians” and other so-called “people of faith” who seem only to care about the money in their church coffers and potential lawsuits against their precious denominations. Tragically and simultaneously these same folks don’t appear to give a rat’s ass about the innocence, lives and souls of children…
It feels like everyday we turn on the news and hear of another case. This week was no different with Josh Duggar from the TLC show, “19 Kids and Counting” and the news he admitted to sexually abusing at least 5 girls in his family.
It’s 6:24 am and I’m tired. No that doesn’t accurately describe how I’m feeling. In truth, I’m exhausted. Exhausted because I’ve been awake since around 4 a.m., due to screaming myself awake from ANOTHER nightmare of seeing Frankie Wiley’s face over mine and feeling him holding my childhood frame down while he sexually abused me over and over, just as he did for almost 3 years.
I have no doubt this was triggered from the reports of the Duggar family doing more to protect the offender than the victims. Much the same way I feel how the Southern and Georgia Baptist Convention treats myself and countless others who’ve fallen prey to predators they continue to protect.
The only solace I had this morning was my beloved wife, Linda. Because of her, I was once again gently awakened with her loving touch and soothing voice before the nightmare became too much for me to handle.
She asked if I wanted to talk about but at that moment it was simply too much. So I’m doing now what I’ve always done since I began therapy for the sexual abuse I endured, I write. It’s one of my few true releases from the torture, torment and pain.
And in some small way I hope it reveals to other victims/survivors who’ve been through a similar trauma that they are not alone, that we are not alone…that I am not alone…
With every post or article I publish, I try to extend some measure of hope and potential for healing for what we’ve been through. And this one will be no different. It’s just that in the moment I’m too tired to feel like much of an encouragement. Instead, this time I sure would like to hear from you. To hear you say, I know what you mean David.
Over the next 2 weeks I’ll be standing in front of countless numbers of parents, guardians and other adults, looking to me for answers. And I will provide guidance, solutions and direction. I will do so with confidence, conviction and courage. But right now, at this very moment I’m just tired, hurting and scared.
Thank you to all of my friends, family and fellow survivors and advocates. It’s because of y’all I can manage to move forward on my own healing path. And for this same reason you can too.
Thank you for “listening” to me today. This is another example of why it’s so VERY important that we all be there for one another. We all need each other because as we say here…
Not alone, but…together we heal…
Thank you to our TWH family. You mean so very much to me. You’ve helped me through and to overcome so much. This is the 8th year since I first came forward about having been sexually abused as a child and in October I will celebrate 10 years of being clean from narcotics. None of this would’ve been possible without your love and support and I genuinely love and appreciate you all from the core of my being and bottom of my heart.
I felt my wrists being held down. And then my ankles. I was trying with all of my might to get away, but I couldn’t. Then I saw his face hovering over mine and realized he was going to do this again. I screamed and screamed hoping someone would hear me but no matter how hard I kicked and fought and cried out I couldn’t escape and no one came to help me. I began yelling louder and trying to rip away from his grip around my hands and feet. But he was bigger than me so I couldn’t move. I continued screaming, “NO! NO!”…
…and then in an instant I was awake, still screaming, “NO!”
Thankfully my wife Linda was there to calm me and let me know it was ok. She spoke in the sweetest voice, “you’re awake now and I’m here, it’s ok my love.”
I was awake, but I felt far from ok at that moment. It’s times like those that make it seem like I’ll never really be “ok”. Even though I believe I am better now than I have been in previous years, its how I feel at times, still. I know that I am on healing path because of the love of my family and friends. But damn it to hell, how I wish the one that caused this could feel the terror he’s caused. Just for a while, I wish Frankie Wiley would feel the terror he caused to that little boy…and to the untold number of other little boys he sodomized and raped.
My faith teaches me there’s a life after this one, and for those like Frankie, what awaits them is what they deserve. But for me, for most of us, it’s simply not bad enough…
As I told a fellow survivor tonight, the reason I write about what I’m experiencing is with the hope that someone else who is feeling the same way will see they are not alone.
As I once heard stated and finally found attributed…
When I first came forward about being sexually abused by a youth minister at Rehoboth Baptist Church, the church where I grew up, I wrote an article called, “Pedophiles Are Like Serial Killers“.
I titled it that because of what an investigator at the GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) told me. She said, “David, I believe pedophiles are like serial killers that leave their victims alive.”
I believed it that day and I do more so with each survivor I meet and with every story I hear.
Georgia Representative, Jason Spencer, has sponsored House Bill 17. It’s called “The Hidden Predator Act” and he said this of it in a recent post:
“Child sexual abuse is a secret crime that murders a child’s soul, and child sexual predators will always live among us. One in four girls will become victims, while one in six boys will suffer the same fate. Child sexual predators are often individuals who are close to the child victim, whereby those close relationships make a predator’s identity difficult to expose in the communities where they live.
Predators could be a close family friend, a pastor, a priest, a coach, a teacher, a doctor or even a parent. Many times, the child who is victimized never reports the crime for fear of not being believed by adults. Other times, child victims are so young that they are unaware of what acts are being done to them and lack the verbal capacity to describe the act, leading many victims to act out harshly or engage in other destructive behaviors as they age.
Typically, it is not until well into adulthood that the survivor of the ordeal has the ability to confront their perpetrators. However, in the state of Georgia, by the time survivors of child sexual abuse are ready to seek justice, they are locked out of the court rooms because of our law’s short civil statute of limitations (SOL).”
What Rep. Spencer described is EXACTLY what happened to me and it continues to happen to countless other victims of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). It took me 26 years to admit the shame, guilt and self-blame I felt about what Frankie Wiley did to me, and I have since learned, there are many others he abused, molested and raped. In 2006, I went to the DeKalb County Police Department to file a report and have charges brought against Frankie. I spent an hour pouring out my soul and crying like a child, to which the detective said…
…”Sorry, it’s too late. You waited too long.”
I waited too long?
What on earth does that mean? How does that make sense? How can a child be held to some legal standards for the crimes of an adult who commits atrocities against them. I felt as if I were being raped all over again.
But it’s a tragic fact in Georgia and MOST EVERY STATE in the USA. They are called Statute of Limitation Laws and instead of protecting the victims, in cases of child sex crimes, they serve only to protect predators.
So right now, in a rare moment in time, YOU have the ability to MAKE HISTORY. And not just in Georgia. If you help this bill get passed into law, it will pave the way for all of the other states to do the same thing, to finally bring justice for victims of the most heinous crime that can be committed against a child.
For those of you who might be reading this blog for the first time I want to assure you of something that regular readers already know – I do NOT deal in hyperbole, so please hear me when I say this cannot be overstated – this bill could be the MOST IMPORTANT BILL EVER in the lives of EVERY Georgian 53 or younger who has suffered from the trauma’s associated with Childhood Sexual Abuse or has a loved one who has.
Rep. Spencer went on to say, “Both criminal prosecution and civil actions are significant ways which validate the survivor and expose the truth to the public. With the recent 2012 criminal justice reform proposals removing the criminal SOL on child sexual abuse cases, coupled with the civil reforms in the Georgia “Hidden Predator Act,” child sexual predators will have a difficult time hiding in Georgia.
As a result, the priority will be to extend real justice to victims instead of enabling monsters to continue to prey on societies most vulnerable. Georgia’s children and families need and deserve the Hidden Predator Act. This reform is a stern warning to child sexual predators: don’t tread on Georgia’s children.”
For more than 30 years Frankie has been allowed to go from church to church, city to city, unencumbered by anything that would prevent him from molesting and raping more little boys. All because of an archaic law championed only by those who seek to hide the monsters in their midst for fear of litigation like the Roman Catholic Church is currently undergoing for protecting pedophiles for decades, even centuries.
Please become OUR champion. Become OUR hero and help us catch those who have killed our childhood, our souls and in too many cases, our lives.
Please help bring these monsters to justice and send a message to predators everywhere by getting the “Hidden Predator Act” passed. Send the message that we will NOT allow them to hide behind outdated laws. Let them know they WILL pay for their crimes.
If you are a resident of Georgia or you know someone who is, go here to find their or your Representative.
By simply taking a few minutes to click on a link and send an email or make a call, you CAN make a difference. Not only in our lives, but untold numbers of those who will be protected in the future by your actions today.
Help us to stop the enabling of monsters who continue to prey on societies most vulnerable. As Rep. Spencer said, “Georgia’s children and families need and deserve the Hidden Predator Act.”
The following article was written by Rachel Stockman and posted on the WSB-TV website.
“More than a dozen victims came out in support of a new Georgia bill which would extend the statute of limitations in civil court for child sexual abuse victims to 35 years.
This would allow victims to file claims against their attackers until they are 53 years old. Current law bars claims that are filed after a victim is 23 years old.
“We are here under this dome- seeking justice in House Bill 17 to extend the statute of limitations on civil statute so the courtroom doors can be open for the survivors of child sexual abuse,” said Angela Williams, a rape victim, and founder of Voice Today, an advocacy group. Williams says it often takes years — even decades, for victims to come forward.
The “Hidden Predator Act” would also open more investigative records, and would add a two-year window for revival of claims for victims.
“These folks are locked out of the courts and justice is absolutely denied,” said Rep. Jason Spencer (R – Woodbine). Spencer is sponsoring HB 17.
“Georgia is one of the five worst states in country: if you are over the age of 23 you are out of luck,” said Marci Hamilton, a professor of the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York City.”
Please, PLEASE, PLEASE, do something most of us never do…Call or Email your local representative and let them know they MUST VOTE YES for House Bill 17. And if necessary, let them know in the language only a few understand, tell them if they don’t vote yes, you’ll elect someone who will.
Think of it this way, if your child, or the child of someone who is close to you were the victim of murder and that child’s perpetrator were allowed to walk free for 20-30 years, then one day the government said to you, “If you want, we can finally bring your child’s murderer to justice.”
What would you do?
This is where we are at. You have the ability to make history and save lives. Please don’t turn a blind eye today, not now when we are so close. Do you want to protect children or continue allowing pedophiles to get away with murder? The future is in our hands.
Below are the names of the state representatives who have this bill in their Committee. Please call them and request that they MOVE IT OUT OF COMMITTEE and BRING IT TO THE FLOOR FOR A VOTE OF YES IN ITS ORIGINAL LANGUAGE.