Together We Heal

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.


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You Have Worth and Are Worthy.

I recently read an article from childabusesurvivor.net and in it they referenced a story from the Jewish Survivors of Sexual Abuse blog. It’s a story I had heard years before in a training seminar but as the author of the blog stated, “Sometimes we just need to be reminded!”

In the room filled with more then 200 people, a well-known speaker started off a seminar by holding up a $20.00 bill, asking, “Who would like this $20 bill?”
Hands started going up.
The speaker said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill.
He then asked, “Who still wants it?”
Still the hands were up in the air.
Well, he replied, “What if I do this?”
And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty and asked, “Now, who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air.
The speaker stated: My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.
Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.
We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.
Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who LOVE you.

In the post, the author stated that, “The $20 bill is still worth $20, but once the speaker got done with it, it was different than when it started. Abuse does affect us, it does change us. It leaves scars, or dirt and creases to stay with the metaphor, but even with those effects, the value of the bill stays the same. It just takes some effort to smooth out the wrinkles.”

And I believe this is an excellent point that needs repeating. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), we often feel like that crumpled up bill. Like we’ve been run through the wringer and left out on our own. Which brings me to the point I really want to emphasize.

Alone…

It’s a horrible word and feeling for survivors of CSA. We talked about it in our monthly support group meeting this past week. We went around and talked about how each of us, in our own unique but similar ways, experience the feeling of being “alone”. Not loneliness, but truly “alone”.

As we went around I heard words and phrases like “rejection”, “not believed”, “discarded”, “isolation” and one that really stuck with me, “I felt like my core was stolen”. It was that last one that I could entirely relate. As I laid in that bed, time and time again, as the abuse continued, more and more of me felt like it was disappearing, like the core of who I was, was no more. So as the years went on I tried to fill that void with things, substances and people.

The things being objects of desire, whether it be a simple knick-knack I called a collectible or a new car. The substances were narcotics that numbed me from the feeling of being alone and pain that permeated every pore of my body. And the people were a series of failed attempts to feel loved and wanted. But no matter what I tried, nothing and no one could fill that void, that feeling of being alone.

It wasn’t until I finally came to terms with what had happened, the crime perpetrated against me that I could even begin to have some sense of who I really was, what my core was made of. And I believe most survivors struggle with this. So what do we do? How do we move forward if you, like myself and others, feel that “core” is not what it should be?

The first thing you MUST know is that you are NOT alone. Right now in the USA, there are between 55 and 75 million survivors of CSA. And that’s just the ones we can count based on statistics of those who’ve come forward. So know you have many people that have been through what you have. In addition, there are now many groups established to provide the help, support and guidance that once did not exist. Whether its Together We Heal, NAASCA, RAINN or the many others out there, you have a place to go, so please reach out, and find one that will help you.

And finally, what I found that helped me begin to move forward was getting some professional help. Therapy, in it’s many forms, is available to you. For some, you might have the funds to pay for it, or if you have insurance, utilize it. And for those that have neither, there are now groups that will help you at no cost. So whether you have the funds or not, there’s no reason to not find a therapist or group that can help guide you on a healing path. A path that will help you find your core, a path to no longer feeling alone. So take a little lesson from that $20 dollar bill…reach out and find your worth. You are worthy and deserving of it.

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal


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Grooming – How Do Sexual Predators Get Into Our Lives?

After posting my story of childhood sexual abuse, I was asked an important question by a concerned parent. How did this monster get into your life?

The answer is both simple and complex. The easy part is that they don’t have the appearance of a monster. They don’t look like some James Bond or Cartoon character villain, with beady eyes, horns coming out of their heads, or a big neon sign saying, “STAY AWAY, PEDOPHILE HERE!” Sadly, they almost always look like everyone one else. The gentle minister, the encouraging coach, the neighbor always willing to lend a hand or the family member who seems to be there just when you need them.

And this is where the complexity comes in. How do you distinguish genuine care from pure evil? While there are no set in stone answers, there are some clues to look for and ways to evaluate what is going on. And though nothing is fool-proof, I hope it’s at least a start for you to help figure out friend from foe.

One of the most frightening things about pedophiles/sexual predators is that they seem so “normal”. They are notoriously friendly, nice, kind, engaging and like-able. And they target their victims, often insinuating themselves into that child’s life through their family, school, house of worship, sports, and hobbies. But don’t ever forget, pedophiles are professional con-artists and are experts at getting children and families to trust them. They will smile at you, look you right in the eye and make you believe they are trustworthy.

So let’s first define exactly what grooming is and then we will go into the steps involved.

Erika Lyn Smith, of the “Missing And Exploited Children Site”, gives a thorough explanation of what we are talking about.

The act of grooming a child involves spending time, energy, and money to make a child and even the parent or parents feel comfortable with the relationship. Only after a trusting relationship is established will the child predator start to become more intrusive and to test the boundaries of the relationship by pushing limits. These violations may include hugging, kissing, tickling, wrestling, and invading a child’s privacy while showering, dressing or toileting.

Initially a pedophile will begin to violate the physical boundaries, by accidentally touching the child through his or her clothes to see what kind of reaction he or she receives. If a child or parent questions the action the predator will likely back off and regain the trust of the child or parents before proceeding.

By befriending the parent or parents, the pedophile gains the trust of everyone in the family. Children are less likely to tell when the relationship turns sexual if the adult is someone he or she knows personally or is a friend of mom or dads. In addition, mom and dad may be less likely to listen to a child when it involves a good friend of the family.

Single parents, especially mother’s will be looking for a positive male role model if there is no father involved. Single mothers are more likely to accept offers from a child’s coach or school for help when offered. All parents needs to be vigilant when it comes to allowing someone access to his or her child, and question friendships or relationships that take up a lot of a child’s free time.

Signs that a pedophile may be grooming your child include:
• Telling a child, he or she is a “special” friend
• Bringing a child special mementos or gifts
• Talking to a child about adult issues like sex or marriage problems
• Giving a child alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
• Inviting a child to spend the night or go camping

A former F.B.I. agent named Kenneth V. Landing wrote about 5 steps he identified as the general process most sexual predators use in grooming children to be their ext victims. Below you will find this listed.

Stage 1: Identifying a Possible Victim
Although pedophiles differ in their “type” regarding age, appearance and gender, all pedophiles will look for a victim who seems in some way vulnerable.

Stage 2: Collecting Information
The next step is for the pedophile to collect as much information on the targeted victim as possible. This is most commonly done through casual conversations with both the child and the parents or caretaker.

Stage 3: Filling a Need
Once the individual has the information he needs, he then becomes part of the child’s life by filling a need. If the victim is poor, for example, the pedophile will provide him/her with expensive toys. If the victim is lonely, the pedophile will act as a friend.

Stage 4: Lowering Inhibitions
The pedophile will then start to lower the child’s inhibitions concerning sexual matters. He may come up with games or activities that involve getting undressed, make sexual comments or show the child pornographic images or pictures.

Stage 5: Initiating the Abuse
At this final stage, the pedophile begins to sexually abuse the child.

Another technique used by these predators is called the 4 “F’s”.

Friendship, Fantasy, Fear and Force.

“Friendship” is built through nurturing a relationship through bonding. The adult will usually give the child gifts, take them on special outings and show them a lot of attention.

Once a child trusts an adult, the adult can influence the child’s attitude regarding sexual behavior. Grooming may include introducing sexual content to the child as an example of what the perpetrator desires and to give the impression that the depicted acts are acceptable. If the child thinks that sex between children and adults is ok, it’s easier for the pedophile to victimize the child.

Then they will introduce “Fantasy”. They will manipulate the child with a false sense of security. They will pay a lot of attention to the child’s problems and personal matters and offer advice and counseling. They will tell the child how much they love them and that they want to have a long term, loving relationship with them.

Once the child has opened up to the pedophile, they will begin to instill “Fear” by threatening to share the child’s secrets with their classmates or their parents. Sometimes they will even threaten the life or safety of the child or of their family and friends It’s all a manipulation tactic to get the child to do what the pedophile wants them to do.

Ultimately, the pedophile uses “Force” to sexually exploit the child.

While these are by no means the only ways sexual predators work their way into ours and our children’s lives, they are at least a beginning place for parents to be on the lookout. The more information you have and the better educated you become, the more you will be able to best protect your kids.

Knowledge truly is power and we cannot give over our power to these heinous criminals. They will use every trick in the book so you have to know what they’re doing. Even more frightening, pedophiles and sexual predators work together to help each other figure out ways to gain access to our kids. Don’t believe it, read this article about a 170 page, “How To” publication put together by and for adults who prey on innocent children. They are making a concerted effort to help each other so we have to be more vigilant, more active and tireless in our work to combat these predators.

http://www.wbtv.com/story/18124513/underage-grooming-guide

I hope this is a good start on helping you to protect your children. God knows I wish my family had been told this when I was a child. Maybe they would have been able to stop my abuse before it began. So please take a page from our family history book, educate yourselves and talk with your kids.

—–

References:

Kenneth V. Lanning, Special Agent, F.B.I.

Erika Lyn Smith

America’s Most Wanted

WBTV

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal


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Qualified Therapists/Counselors/Coaches Needed! **Updated 11/5/2014**

Our needs are increasing for more therapists/counselors. Please read and contact us ASAP!!

My name is David Pittman and I am the Executive Director for “Together We Heal”. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides cost-free counseling/therapy for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Additionally we give presentations, workshops and seminars on how parents can better protect their children from sexual predators.

We already work with dozens of licensed therapists, counselors and life-coaches, who donate their time and talent in order to help survivors begin the healing process and work through the multiple mental health challenges they face. But that number still isn’t enough.

With ever-increasing healthcare costs combined with the limitations placed on mental healthcare providers, as well as the rising number of survivors coming forward, we find ourselves in greater need of more therapists/counselors willing to work with us to help survivors of abuse.

It is with these factors in mind that I come to you now asking for your generosity. We need more volunteers who are qualified in working with victims who suffer from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. Below is a brief list of the variety of challenges these survivors face and we need for you to have experience in these areas.

Abandonment Issues
Addiction & Recovery
Anger Issues
Attachment and Abuse Issues
Depression and Anxiety
Panic Disorder and Phobias
Personality Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD)

I know this is an unorthodox approach of reaching out to professionals, but we are in desperate times, and these survivors need us to take drastic measures. We are following the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital model, that no one be turned away because they can’t afford it.

We do not ask for or require any minimum time from any of our volunteers. Whatever time you are able to give, we are grateful for and appreciate. Even if you can help just one or two survivors, that would be a tremendous gift! And the need is not just in the U.S., we need therapists/counselors from all over the world as people reaching out to us come from all continents.

I know what I am asking is not easy, but I also know there are enough good-hearted people in this world who are willing to help these survivors. I know because I am a survivor of CSA and its because I had the good fortune of having such a therapist come into my life and help me that I am where I am today. It is to you I am speaking directly.

Please contact me at (754) 234-7975 or email me at dpittman@together-we-heal.org – Contact me anytime and I will respond ASAP.

When emailing, please send your CV, resume, list of certifications/degrees, or the life experience you’ve had that qualifies you to help others, so we can go through the proper vetting process.

One last point. We aren’t looking for cookie-cutter therapists and counselors. The needs of survivors vary tremendously and because of that, we have people from many types of backgrounds that work together with us. Being a survivor of abuse or having life experience can be just as important as a degree on the wall. What we need are folks that genuinely care for and want to help others. Please keep this in mind and allow your heart to guide you when considering becoming a part of this amazing team.

Respectfully,

David Pittman
Executive Director, Together We Heal


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Please Stop This!

I’m re-blogging a post I just read that has an important message and perspective on human trafficking…please take a moment to read…

http://freedom3-14-13.blogspot.com/2013/06/please-stop-this.html


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Its All About Perspective, So Whats Yours?

As recovering addicts and/or survivors of childhood sexual abuse, we often compare what we went through to that of others. It’s human nature. We think to ourselves, well what they went through was so much worse than myself, what gives me the right to complain. Or conversely, we look at another and say, oh come on, that’s all? We constantly do this.

I remember sitting in my first few NA rooms, listening to story after story and thinking, I’m not like these folks at all. I’m no crackhead, walking the streets, selling my body for a $10 high. Or I would rationalize, I’ve NEVER shot junk in MY veins or shared a needle with a disease-riddled body. Then one day I heard a story not so different from mine. It’s what therapists and sponsors call “your moment of clarity”. It’s when you finally come to terms with your own addiction and figure out, an addict is an addict is an addict. It doesn’t matter what the drug is, or the background your come from or even what you’ve done to get high. It’s when you acknowledge that you have no control over the drugs that control you.

And being a survivor of CSA is no different. It doesn’t matter who abused you, how often it happened, what they did to you or they made you do to them. A survivor is a survivor is a survivor. One case is not “worse” or “lesser” than another. To illustrate let me share a story a trusted friend told me many years back. He asked me to answer what appeared to be a simple question.

Three scenarios:

First, a teen about to go on their very first prom date when, BAM! A huge zit appears at the very end of their nose. With no way to conceal and no time to heal, panic and anxiety set in.

Second, a young man has just been told by the Dean, his academics did not pass this semester and will be on probationary suspension for 1 term. How does he begin to explain this one to mom and dad? And did I mention, he’s on scholarship because they have no money to send him to college.

Third, a couple just received a $30,000.00 bill from the IRS. Evidently their CPA was didn’t file properly and no matter what, they are now liable for all monies, plus penalties. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it, they MUST pay and they don’t have enough savings to cover it. And oh yeah, their daughter just came home pregnant from college. Another two mouths to feed and bodies to keep warm and safe inside their home.

So the query is…which one is “worse”?

Being the bright young man I was at the time, I told him, oh this is easy! I’ve already had a “zit moment” that totally embarrassed me in high school. He or she will eventually forget all about that nonsense! As for the young man in school, I could relate. Got into some trouble in college and had to “sit out” a semester myself. No biggie! I went to Florida for that term, worked for my dad and when I’d “done my time and penance”, I reenrolled, finished up and graduated from the University! So the answer was clear, the couple with the 30k debt to the IRS. What a horrible position to be in. With no foreseeable way to pay, with a child and a grandchild returning “home” in need of mom and dads support, both emotionally and financially. This was a no-brainer.

Turns out, I was the only one with no brain! You see, we each “see” the prism of crisis through our own life experience. If we have already been through an event, we understand what lies on the other side. What potential outcomes there may be. Even what variety of options are available to us. But to each and every one of those folks, the situation before them was the “worst” they had ever faced at that point in their lives. With NO idea of how they were going to get through it. It’s truly relative when it comes to situational crisis. There is no such thing as a “bigger or lesser” problem. To whomever is going through what they are going through, at that moment, it’s the biggest challenge they’ve had to face.

So keep this in mind when working with others or when addressing your own struggles. Remember to be compassionate to those around you. And don’t forget to give yourself a break too. We all need some sympathy and empathy in our times of trials and tribulation.

One hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. –Anonymous

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal


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Do You Want A Future?

Truth is truth, right? And if it is so, then whether we agree with it or not, it’s still the truth. You may not agree with the concept of gravity, especially if you’re like me when you step on a scale. But if you step off a second floor balcony with no net to catch your fall, you will discover a hard, cement-tasting truth.

Copernicus, Galileo, Bruno and multiple other thinkers were at one time called heretics. In the end, what they found to be the truth went against ALL popular “scientific” notions of the day, religious beliefs or merely values held at the time.

I say this to bring to light the following truth I’ve discovered in my own life –

“You must enter your past to fix your present. If you don’t, you will have no future.”

I know, I know, sounds like a psychobabble cliche, but just as we call something a “generalization”, there’s a reason, that’s because they are “generally” true. So this time, with a non-judgmental or preconceived notion, let me repeat and have you read it once more…

…”you must enter your past to fix your present. If you don’t, you will have no future.”

I admit it sounds a bit ominous. And while it may be hard to hear, I’m merely trying to make a point, emphasizing the truth I discovered in my own life. It wasn’t until I went back to my past; the acknowledgment of the childhood sexual abuse that I endured from ages 12-15, that enabled me to begin to work through the issues of the present of that time. Once acknowledged and beginning to heal, I finally, for the first time in almost 10 years, began to see the potential of a future that lay ahead.

Once upon a time, I was heavily addicted to multiple narcotics to numb myself from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. This led to three arrests, jail time, fines, no drivers license for a year, loss of tens of thousands of dollars in wages from a career I was genuinely passionate about. And in varying degrees, it cost me a relationship of five years, another of four and even an earlier one of six years. This “past” was destroying my “present” and if something didn’t give, my “future” was going to be even more limited than it already was!

But my story is not an isolated one. It’s not even unique and definitely not as harsh, from my perspective, as some others have been through. But that’s just from my life view. We all have a different one.

So how do we do accomplish this task? How do we get from point A to point B? That is to say, how do we look into our past, into that abyss, without falling back in? Then how do we take that information, apply it to our present so that we have the opportunity to move on into a more positive future? A lot of questions with multiple choice answers, I know.

Even if you’re not an addict or alcoholic, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “admitting you have a problem is the first step.” And with survivors of CSA, this saying has some weight as well, just with a different angle. It’s not that we have to admit we have a problem, we have to admit that a horrible event and crime was perpetrated against us. And this is not an easy or small task. In fact, in my case, I made numerous trips to the place where I knew I had to address my abuser. I drove past it, I stopped at the driveway, heck one time I even got out of the car, was walking up the door of the church, when I turned around and drove back home. In total, it took me 6 trips to finally be able to speak out against my abuser. To tell the people in authority above him exactly what he was, what he was capable of, and the danger he posed to the very children he was charged with protecting.

And that last thing i just mentioned was the real motivation behind what i had to do. More than just my own self-serving, self-healing desires behind the action I knew I had to take, more important than shedding the light on the past…even more at stake was the future of the lives of his potential victims.

I know now I wasn’t his first victim, nor was I his last. And how I wished, prayed and pleaded that someone had come forward before he got to me. So now it was up to me. Now I had the strength to face the cold, hard truth. I knew if the young boys he had access to were to have any chance of a future free from the emotional, physical and spiritual torture I experienced, I was going to have to step up and tell the truth of what this monster is.

If I was to have any potential peace with my own future I had to make sure, to the best of my ability, that no other little boy in his life would be molested, abused or raped. And so I did just that. I acknowledged my past, I took action in the present, and I know now I have done all I could within my power to help those boys have a decent future. And in doing so, my future too is one of peace and healing.

So do whatever you need to enter your past in a healthy way. Whether through one-on-one counseling, group therapy or any other professional help you require. Seek it out so you can begin to “fix” your present. And by that I simply mean whatever will help you begin to heal, I know from personal experience nothing gets “fixed” to what it was before. But in doing this, by beginning to heal, you will have a chance to take back what was stolen from you and to have a future and peace you deserve.


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Is Forgiveness Necessary?

Forgiveness. What an amazing word. What an honorable act. What an indescribable sensation when once we receive it and too, when we dispense it.

I’ve struggled a long time with these words. The reason is simple but tragic. When the very organization that is supposed to teach you the meanings behind these words refuses to protect you. When they even go so far as to take aim and target you as being the person at fault. When in truth, you are not only NOT to blame, but you are the victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a minister.

When this is the reality, it becomes increasingly difficult to find any forgiveness for those who allow it to happen, for those who cover it up, for those who choose to protect the predator rather than an innocent child. When they make this choice repeatedly, they victimize and re-victimize those who are most vulnerable. For them, forgiveness seems not only fruitless, but counterproductive in the protection of children.

I give lectures and presentations to civic and religious groups, even to small groups of couples wanting to know how to better protect their children from sexual predators. And you want to know the question I am most often asked? I don’t mean it’s asked occasionally, I’m telling you I get this question more than all other questions combined. They ask, “have you forgiven your abuser?”

At first, I have to admit, I didn’t really know how to respond. I was taken aback. Shocked actually. Of all the questions I expected, this was not one of them. Initially I deflected. Because in truth, I had not even given it consideration. I was so focused on keeping my abuser away from more children, so intent on preventing more children from going through what I did, and so preoccupied with helping support fellow survivors that it never entered my thought process.

Until now.

Now I was forced to face a daunting challenge. You see, my dilemma is this. My spiritual background is Protestant. Specifically, I was raised Southern Baptist. And within that faith was a teaching that we were to forgive as we are forgiven. So it says right in The Lord’s Prayer. On the flip side was my heart. Having been torn apart by a man who has molested, raped and sexually abused an untold number of little boys. How do I forgive that?

So I did something it took me a long time to do after having felt betrayed by the very God that my abuser claimed to represent. I spent a lot of time in prayer and study. I went to the doctrines of every faith and religious text I could find having to do with forgiveness. Time and time again I saw, forgive as you are forgiven. Jesus, Gandhi, no matter the reference, if you don’t forgive, how can you expect to be forgiven? Were these folks right? Was I supposed to forgive this most heinous of crimes perpetrated against myself and all those other little boys?

In all the passages from people of faith, when they spoke of forgiveness they did so when addressing those who had faith. People who held in their hearts a belief in repentance for transgressions. Even those that had done them wrong. It was while having a bible study with my wife Linda that we came across the scripture that opened my eyes. My spiritual eyes, and my heart.

In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus talks about forgiveness. And most of this chapter has to do with Him explaining to his followers how to do certain things. How to pray, fast, etc. As Linda and I read, we began to understand. Jesus was talking about Christians forgiving other Christians, not about forgiving the unrepentant.

This led me to a question.

Is it within my ability to forgive someone who does not have faith or who has no regret or repentance? This led me to an even deeper question from a trusted friend and man who has spent his entire adult life in study and prayer. He posed the following query, “Is a person without faith or repentance even capable of receiving my forgiveness?”

I was blown away.

Rather than paraphrasing, I will simply let him explain in his own words.

“Until someone has first been forgiven by God unto salvation through Christ, we do not have the ability to forgive them. I will take it a step further.. Until a person has become forgiven by God unto salvation they are incapable of receiving human forgiveness. Only God can forgive a non-Christian. That is not to say that we should not pray for their forgiveness. By praying that the non-Christian be forgiven by God, it can help us with the wrong done to us. I hope this brings to light what was meant. Most of us who identify as Christians and have been abused, have this text misapplied and/or misinterpreted for the purposes of keeping us silent. Certainly, you may offer forgiveness to a non-Christian, but until that person is forgiven by God for his original sin, forgiveness can’t be received by the non-Christian.”

This led me to another insight. To those who demanded of me, “you must forgive to be forgiven”, if that were the case, it would mean there are stipulations to my faith. A work or act I must do. And any Protestant who knows their faith, knows we do not come to our faith through works or acts. It is by faith alone.

So not only am I not responsible for forgiving my abuser; until he is repentant, he is incapable of receiving human forgiveness for any transgressions.

I can’t even begin to describe the weight that was lifted from my spiritual heart.

That doesn’t mean we, or rather I, am recused from praying for the faith of this person. But at least now I have the understanding that it’s not my job to forgive him. That’s between God and him. And frankly, I don’t believe someone capable of such things wants redemption. Not when he’s looked me in the eye, cried crocodile tears saying he “didn’t do that anymore”, only to find out he was molesting at least two boys when he told me that. What that tells me is he is not someone seeking redemption, but rather, he’s a pathological liar, pedophile and God only knows what else.

Ultimately, I believe that forgiveness, with regard to the abused, is the most individual of decisions. I believe there is more than one way to skin the “forgiveness” cat. For some, they find it helpful. For me, it’s not necessary. I have no need of it for my healing. And that’s what it’s all about. No matter which way a survivor goes, if they find healing and not vengeance or bitterness in it, it’s a positive.

The bottom line is this: My focus is on my own recovery, healing and that of others that have been through a similar trauma. I know now my calling is to do all I can to educate parents on how to better protect their children and help survivors heal.

And I don’t need a burning bush or talking mule to figure that out.

 

P.S. August 21st 2019:

Since I first wrote this article I have had the good fortune to work with some amazing people at GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). People like Boz Tchividjian and Mike Sloan who have taught me much. I will be sharing much of what I have learned from them both in the words that follow. Please take time to consider these words and the people whose lives have been decimated by sexual abuse…

 

Forgiveness seems to be the “third rail” of sexual abuse and The Church…but it
shouldn’t be.

Forcing a victim to forgive can/and most usually will have more adverse effects on them.

Beware of anyone who tells you that God requires you to “reconcile” with your abuser. What they are typically trying to do is manipulate, shame and silence you.

We should never push forgiveness, nor forbid anger. There are reasons for this.

Healing from sexual abuse is a slow process and should only progress at a rate that benefits the victim, NOT the offender, NOT the church as an institution.

 

Imagine there’s a serious car wreck that takes years to recover.

Imagine they’ve lost a limb and are still trying to heal and learn to move again and someone comes along and tells them…

“Get over it already! Jesus says we must serve, and you are just sitting there!”

“You are just holding on to a victim mentality.” “You aren’t trusting God.”

You aren’t forgiving as God says we are to be.”

 

Do we really believe this is the right approach?

 

When we jump to forgiveness without seeking justice, we are mocking God and minimizing the devastation and the impact of the abuse.

 

Then there are predators and those that enable them, who use forgiveness as a tactic.

I said this before, but it bears repeating, We’re called to care about Justice
not only forgiveness.

“Forgiveness” and “Grace” are too often used to manipulate others in the church to avoid consequences and accountability.

 

Most often used is Matthew 18.

It still breaks my heart that so many church leaders will use this text in this way.

It tells us to go in private, and then if he/she won’t repent take a couple of brothers in Christ. (Your standard, In-House, In-Church investigation).

This scripture was never intended to be about a sheep and a wolf. It’s about
2 fellow Christians.

This is not, as some would have you to believe, the proper, scriptural way to handle cases of sexual abuse.

This, this is how people with bad motives use scripture to silence victims, period.

 

What makes forcing a victim to forgive before they are able or ready, is that churches and their leaders often justify this under the guise of “protecting the name of Christ.” Jesus doesn’t need our protection.

Jesus can handle himself just fine. But our children? They are the ones Jesus commanded us to protect.

This type of justification is nothing but a pious attempt at self-protection by an individual predator or their enablers.

 

Also, Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation or no accountability.

Where is the accountability or consequence for actions there?

I’ve said this before, saying “I’m sorry” is not a get out of jail free card. At least it sure shouldn’t be!

So what do we need to see from abusers?

  • Take Full Responsibility
  • No Excuses, minimization or rationalizations
  • No blaming the victims
  • Care more for the victims than their selves
  • Know that change will be difficult
  • Accept consequences and accountability
  • Actions NOT words
  • Time – true repentance does not occur overnight

When an abuser is caught and cries, that is not repentance.

Words are not repentance. They can be the beginning of repentance…at best.

But for an abuser who has deceived so many for years and years, these things are not going to be easy.

If things appear to be going smoothly, easily, or quickly; that is an almost sure sign of deception, manipulation and control on the part of the abuser/offender.


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What’s Your Reason To Fly?

I witnessed something this morning that at first made me immensely sad. Initially I thought someone had thrown something at my sliding glass door. When I rose to see who had done it, instead I discovered a tiny blue bird lying on the ground at my feet. Its’ fragile body was twisted sideways and I could see its’ heart pounding from beneath its tattered feathers. As I got closer, it lowered its’ head, its’ heart began to beat slower and I almost started to tear up as I thought I was witnessing the end of this little creature’s life.

My dog was inside going nuts wanting to get to the bird, so I led her away, and truthfully, I really didn’t want to see it die. Strange thing, death. I did my internship at the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s office in the summer of 1996. I witnessed all manner of death that year. Every conceivable way a person could naturally or horrifically come to their end. The extreme ways in which one or more persons would look into the face of the evil inside to take another’s life. And yet, with the exception of the children’s deaths I saw, I accepted it as the natural occurrence of events, handled myself in a professional manner, and gained knowledge, insight and compassion in what turned out to be a transformative time of my life.

But for some odd reason, I don’t do well with the death of an animal. Especially if it’s been a pet of mine. Knowing this about me, understand why I just couldn’t watch this bird die. So I went back to the couch knowing it wouldn’t be long. I settled my dog down, gave it a few minutes and returned to what I knew was going to be a sad moment.

What I saw before me was remarkable. This brittle-boned fowl had managed to somehow shake the cobwebs out of its little bird-brain, straightened out its feathers, and was teetering back and forth like a heavyweight boxer would had just been given an almost knockout blow! Oh he was wavering back and forth, but he wasn’t down for the count just yet!

I sat down in awe as he fought with every instinct in his body and spirit to regain his composure and his life! As the minutes went on, the rocking back and forth stopped, his heart rate normalized, and eventually he even started to look around as if to say, “What the heck just happened to me?!”

At this point I opened the door, used my cane to scoop him up and onto the shrubs outside my patio so he would be free from ground predators like snakes, rats, etc. You know we have a few of those down here in south Florida.

As I placed him on the shrub, he even started to get his wings flapping. He wasn’t ready to take off yet, but you could tell it was only a matter of time and he was going to be just fine! I was so relieved! I lay back on the couch, watched him for the next 20 minutes and then, BAM, off like a rocket he shot! Flew away as if nothing happened!

This got me reflecting on the “sliding glass doors” that I’ve flown into! After all I have been through; after having been sexually abused as a child, addicted to narcotics in an attempt to numb my emotional pain, arrested, imprisoned, divorced, fired, kicked out, knocked down, and as we say in the south…”felt like I’d been rode hard and put up wet!” How on earth did I manage to do like that little bird? How did I shake off those cobwebs, dust myself off and get back on my feet again? One word – RESILIENT. The human spirit is amazing that way. Like those little birds’ instincts, so ours is to survive at all costs, no matter what’s happened to us.

For that little bird, he was born to fly and that’s what he knew he had to do again. I had to figure out my reason to “fly again”. All of our drive and reasons to push on, to fly again, have as many variables and possibilities as we are individuals. For me, mine is to keep other children from going through what I did and to help my fellow survivors begin to heal. I gain a little more altitude each time a person comes to me and says, “What can I do to better protect my child?” Or when a survivor says, “Thank you for telling your story. When I heard what you said, I knew I could move forward too.” Let me tell you something folks, I’ve done a lot of drugs, I’ve been as high as any addict out there. But for me now, there is no better “high”, no greater lift, then when you know you have helped someone struggling with what you’ve also been through.

So let’s all learn a little lesson from that tiny blue bird. Figure out your reason to fight like hell to survive, and no matter what happens…

…find your reason to fly.


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Southern Baptists, like Catholic Church are protecting Pedophiles.

For sometime now I have felt like a “voice in the wilderness” when it comes to exposing the childhood sexual abuse occurring within the confines of the Southern Baptist Church. Since my abuse happened at the hands of a youth minister at a prominent SBC church in suburban Atlanta, I have received nothing but contempt and distain from those in power within the SBC. This man, who admitted to a pastor and deacon that he sexually abused me just keeps getting moved from church to church…sound familiar? And I am not is only victim. 6 others have come forward telling their own story of abuse. These are just the boys I KNOW about, ages ranging from 9 to 15 at the time the abuse occurred. Only God and Frankie know how many little boys he’s actually molested, abused and raped.

His name is Frankie Wiley and currently acts as the “Praise Leader” at Trinity Baptist Church in Ashburn, GA. All I get from the SBC, is that they “will pray for me”, but no one seems to be willing to act on KNOWN pedophiles using their facilities as a hunting ground for new victims. Even the pastor of Trinity, Rodney Brown, knows the truth and refuses to do anything about it. He actually called me and told me “I was a bad person for causing a split in HIS church.” To which I replied, he is the one giving a known pedophile access to children. And the last time I checked, it’s not HIS church, the church is the body of believers, not the man standing in the pulpit. After which, he has given no reply.

The constant rhetoric I am told is that, “each church is autonomous”. The problem with this fallacy is that if each so-called autonomous church doesn’t pay the SBC a certain amount of money, they are not allowed to send “Messengers” (or delegates if you think of it in political terms) to the national convention to vote on issues and help create the platform with which the SBC uses to have guidelines that “rule” over each church. Sound “autonomous” to you?

It has been clear to me for sometime now, and it looks like others are recognizing that the SBC is no better than the Catholic Church when it comes to covering up the pedophiles hiding under the cloak of ministry. Below you will find an article that shows exactly what I’ve been saying for years.

As we have seen in recent news, no religious organization is immune. Childhood sexual abuse occurs in churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, Boy Scouts, etc. We have got to stand up for these children who aren’t able to speak up for themselves. Help us help these children. Demand the immediate removal of known child molesters like Frankie Wiley.

http://www.abpnews.com/culture/social-issues/item/8413-blog-shines-light-on-abuse-in-sbc#.UXHzHGt5mK2


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Another Child Commits Suicide After Sexual Assault and Online Humiliation.

Since I know the people reading this blog are folks that care about children, care about survivors of CSA, and want to do something about it. I feel the need to let you know about ANOTHER child who has committed suicide after being sexually assaulted and humiliated online. Read, and do what y’all do best…take action based on what you know is the right thing to do since law enforcement doesn’t have the balls, courage and moral fortitude to do something about it!

It’s up to US; survivors of CSA, loved ones of survivors and others who actually give a damn about children losing their lives. We can no longer depend on the so-called justice system getting justice for these children. Bless you all for doing the right thing!

http://www.examiner.com/article/rehtaeh-parsons-17-kills-herself-after-being-raped-and-bullied