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.


1 Comment

Third Time’s The Charm?

“Third time’s the charm”, that’s what we’re told, right? On their third attempt to honor the wishes of Messengers, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee voted 44 to 31 to waive attorney-client privilege (albeit in a VERY limited manner) and agree to the contract with Guidepost to begin the investigation on sexual abuse.

But let’s be honest, this is not an investigation on all cases of sexual abuse within the SBC. It’s only about the last 20 years and only within the SBC EC. Is there already a documented case of libel regarding a case of sexual abuse? Yes. And will there be more cases of cover-ups/abuse/etc.? Most certainly. But now, only because of waving ACP is there the remotest of chances to get to the truth.

And it almost didn’t happen.

I watched the entire session. Well, the ones that weren’t behind closed doors. And it was clear there was a division within the ranks. Both sides offered passionate arguments that they BOTH genuinely believe. And that’s the hard part to take as a survivor of sexual abuse perpetrated by an SBC minister.

Phyllis Inghram all but said when she quoted Matthew 10:16, that we the victims of sexual abuse, had created a “hostile environment” and called US the wolves in sheep’s clothing. She said “they” needed to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

REALLY?

Were they all being harmless when Jen Lyell was slandered by the SBC EC and many of the SBC members?

Were they being harmless when they called Christa Brown evil?

Were they being harmless when they told me, “Sorry, nothing we can do for you or to stop a known sexual predator, but we’ll pray for you.”?

Yes, I know Ms. Inghram has resigned from the EC, but does it matter now? Her words cut like a knife to my soul, and I wasn’t the only one she impaled.

Even now, because of the SBC’s and Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s failures, a KNOWN, ADMITTED sexual predator is back at a church and trying to sell books about how to be better at worship. Going so far as to ask for media interviews to promote said books and asking if one would make a good movie.

This would be a ridiculously absurd joke if it wasn’t a cold, disgusting fact.

Joe Knott, attorney, and EC member said these things:

He went into great detail about law and order. Explained to us how God created the United States and its laws for our protection. Explained to us how law and order was from God. As if we needed his explanation on law on order.

Was he insinuating that a vote to waive ACP is a vote against God? Sure sounded like it.

He went on to say, “Laws are to restrain evil. Laws come from God.”

So what are we as survivors of sexual abuse? Are we the evil in need of restraint in this narrative of his? And what about the laws broken when we were molested and raped? Do those not count in his perspective?

He continued, “What we are about to do is create chaos.”

So now WE are the ones creating chaos? What about the chaos of 3 decades of my life because none cared to hear my story or stop a predator? And I am not the only one. Now there is an admission from my abuser and from several other victims who’ve come forward to say it happened to them also.

Said Knott, “There may not be a Convention to face”.

Again, a convention before a soul? One single soul? It’s ridiculous.

As Dr. Diane Langberg said at the SBC Caring Well event, “Jesus was not crucified for our systems.”

And over the last 3 weeks we’ve heard these things ad nauseum, “This will void our insurance” & “All advice we received is against waiving privilege”.

The attorneys hired by the SBC EC were only presenting one side. They were only giving one argument. There were no attorneys asked to give the alternative argument. Even though Rachael Denhollander was posting publicly in every place she could WHY they could and should waive privilege.

I also kept hearing the arguments against waiving privilege being about “loss”. Loss of insurance. Loss of fiduciary responsibility. Loss of money. Loss of a Convention.

You know what I didn’t hear? Not one single time?

The concern for what victims of sexual abuse have lost.

Victims of sexual abuse have lost their way, their identity, lost our minds. We’ve lost jobs, families and in far too many cases, our lives. Suicide, overdoses, premature deaths from trauma.

And what about the souls lost because of sexual abuse? Isn’t that what the SBC is supposed to care the most about? And yet predators and their enablers have made it so there’s no way many victims would ever again be receptive to God. What about THAT loss?

When they broke from their last private Executive session, in which I am sure every single attorney gave their hardest (possibly intimidating), attempt to persuade against waiving privilege, there is an immediate motion made to replace the Wellman motion.

At the last minute there was a clear intent, by using Roberts Rules of Order (parliamentary rules), to confuse and frustrate members in order to defeat the motion put forward by Jared Wellman.

But thankfully, pastor Rolland Slade took a moment, gathered good information and was able to get the EC back on track. The final vote being 44 to waive and 31 against.

It’s a win but not a big win. And certainly not anywhere near getting the SBC and all its churches and members to a place where sexual abuse is actively worked against, victims are properly helped with trauma-informed care and predators are named, exposed, and forever prohibited from serving in any SBC church or any conceivable entity with ties to the SBC.

A former SBC VP said just one day after the vote, that the efforts made by survivors to persuade EC members to waive ACP were “online attacks against good men and women…Carnal, ungodly & evil…the ends never justify the means.”

Really Mr. former 2nd VP? We are carnal, ungodly, and evil? This folks, is the battle we face in ridding the SBC from sexual predators and their enablers.

There’s a long way to go.

#SBCtoo

Copyright © 2021 Together We Heal, Inc.


Leave a comment

Why the SBC Executive Committee Didn’t Do the Right Thing

This is Part 2 of a 3-Part Series following the actions of the SBC Executive Committee’s regarding the Sexual Abuse Investigation.

We have partnered with an amazing organization, The Lamplighter Movement, to host the second article. Click here to read:


2 Comments

Stop Calling It “Child Porn”

(Ways Language Minimize Victimization)

 

*Trigger Warning*

 

Earlier this week I had a conversation with a man I’ve gotten to know over the last year by reading his posts and watching his videos. Listening to him, it’s clear he has a heart for the vulnerable. His name is Kyle J. Howard and we soon realized a mutual frustration with the way certain words are used.

 

Our conversation centered on the misuse of the term, “child porn”. It got me thinking that some clarity is needed.

 

The arrangement of these words disgusts me on so many of levels, but I will begin with this… “child porn” is not pornography, it is the RAPE of a child!

 

To label video/images as “porn”, implies that there is a consensual and transactional interaction. Such as an adult man or woman receiving payment to permit their bodies be recorded and viewed by other adults in consensual sexual activities.

 

If you ask most any adult in the US, “what is pornography?” you’d probably get this type of response; “when 2 or more consenting adults agree to be paid for having sex on camera.”

 

And because most Americans view pornography as a mutual, consensual transaction; maintaining the word “porn” in front of the word “child” leaves the message to our brains, subconscious or otherwise, that it is not “that bad.”

Or many take the view, well I’m not doing it, I’m just watching it.

 

To do this, is an attempt to use language to lessen or soften the actual effects of this crime. And that is what the sexual exploitation of children is…a CRIME!

 

To record a child being molested and/or raped is not consensual!

 

To view a child being molested and/or raped is not a victimless crime!

 

To view this crime, YOU YOURSELF might as well be the one raping the child. Because that is what you are doing. You are re-victimizing that child OVER AND OVER AGAIN!

 

So let me say this as plain as I can. To record or view the video or images of children being sexually molested and/or raped is not just watching “porn”…you are another one of this child’s rapist!

 

And as Kyle Howard points out, “Pornography is largely made up of sex trafficked women. Porn itself makes one an enabler of sexual assault, sex slavery, and the like…we need to redefine how we see/understand porn entirely.”

 

He goes on to say, “I can’t think of a time where I haven’t referred to child porn as “child rape”. In discussion & teaching, I always refer to child porn as “child rape” in some way.”

 

So PLEASE stop calling it “child porn”. Its child sexually exploitive videos/images.

 

Language is the greatest tool we have for connecting with people. Therefore, precision with language is essential. Inaccurate words not only sow misunderstanding but also dehumanize.

 

Language matters and the way we use words is important.

 

Language shapes our responses to sexual violence.

 

In a recent article addressing how language matters in our responses to sexual violence, discusses how words that are used to describe sexual assault can “linguistically blur rape with healthy consensual sex”(p. 11).

 

For example, Attorney Claudia Bayliff observes that stating that the child “performed oral sex” sounds like a voluntary act, one of mutuality, as opposed to the man “forced his penis in her mouth.” Those two constructions create dramatically different word pictures.

 

In addition, euphemisms such as “child pornography” or “kiddie porn” minimize the violence inherent in such acts. 1

 

All of us need to be incredibly careful not to use the language of consensual sex when we are describing a sexual assault.

 

Don’t believe me? Do you believe we are exaggerating? Why then have we stopped using certain words?

 

Why do we use the term “little person”, rather than the word “midget”? Ask any African-American in the USA what they think of the “N” word. A word so offensive that it won’t be completed in respectful society.

 

Why do we use one of the LGBTQIA designations, rather than the word “faggot”? Or ask a person with a developmental disability what they think of the word “retarded”. Are you beginning to see the point?

 

It’s because those words harm.

 

That is the point of this article. When you use the word “porn”, you diminish the effects of a crime against a child. It’s harmful and hateful.

 

So what is the answer? How do we correct this? Claudia Bayliff gives us some concrete, simple directions:

 

  • Avoid using the language of consensual sex to describe assaultive acts.
  • Use accountable language that places responsibility on the person committing the criminal acts.
  • Help educate others about the importance of using accountable, accurate language when talking about sexual violence.

 

And please, stop calling it child porn!

 

Copyright © 2020 Together We Heal, Inc.

 

 

 

1)   Journal of Forensic Nursing, “Patient, Victim, or
Survivor: Does Language Matter? A Conversation
with Claudia Bayliff

April/June 2015, Volume :11 Number 2, page 63 – 65

2)   Cooper C. L. How language reflects our response
to sexual violence
. Perspectives, 23 (3), 10-11. (2015)

3) Janet Bavelas & Linda Coates, Is it Sex or Assault? Erotic
Versus Violent Language in Sexual Assault Trial
Judgments
, 10 J. Soc. Distress & Homeless 29 (2001).

4) James C. McKinley, Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town,
N.Y. Times, Mar. 8, 2011, at A13.

5) Jackson Katz, DSK’s Alleged Victim Should Not Be Called His “Accuser,” Huffington Post (Aug. 20, 2011), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jackson-katz/dsks-alleged-victim-shoul_b_930996.html

 


Leave a comment

The Truth About Sexual Abuse within the Southern Baptist Church

At last the truth is made known in the national media. At last predators like the one who murdered the innocence of my childhood and derailed my life for decades can no longer hide behind a church wall and pastor’s robe. And as you will read, our stories are not the exception, they are the rule. To abuse, deny, cover-up, victim shame and silence has been the “MO” for decades. Mine and countless others. I know most of you have probably read Part 1 of this story, but we are posting all 3 parts here so you can grasp the totality of the reach of sexual abuse within the SBC.

Please read, share, and then call your Pastor and DEMAND that change, REAL change be made. No more lip service. No more platitudes. This is not a Catholic problem. This is a HUMAN PROBLEM that exists in every denomination. Sexual predators use the church because people of faith are more trusting and forgiving and this is turned against them and used in evil, manipulating ways.

We must strike while the iron is hot and before it gets buried in the next news cycle. Please don’t let anymore time pass. Don’t assume someone else will speak to your church leadership. This is up to you now…

Part 1:

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/Southern-Baptist-sexual-abuse-spreads-as-leaders-13588038.php

Part 2:

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/Southern-Baptist-churches-hired-ministers-accused-13588233.php

Part 3:

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/All-too-often-Southern-Baptist-youth-pastors-13588292.php


Leave a comment

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


1 Comment

Failure to Report Sexual Abuse – Who Cares?

This is the final installment of our 4-week guest blog appearance at Rachel Grant Coaching.

I want to thank Rachel for the opportunity to share my thoughts and concerns on these specific issues surrounding childhood sexual abuse.

Today we will talk about the abhorrent laws (or lack thereof) that let mandatory reports off the hook for failing to report sexual abuse.

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2018/06/failure-to-report-sexual-abuse-who-cares.html


1 Comment

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


1 Comment

Can You Recognize Predatory Behavior?

This week’s article is the second part of, and provides a response to the question we posed last week…Is your faith community safe from sexual predators?

This week’s question: Can you recognize predatory behavior?

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2018/06/can-you-recognize-predatory-behavior.html

 

If you didn’t catch last weeks article, you can read it here:

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2018/06/is-your-faith-community-safe-from.html


1 Comment

Is Your Faith Community Safe From Predators?

This month I am honored to be the guest blogger for my friend and colleagues’ website. Her name is Rachel Grant and she is doing amazing work helping fellow survivors of sexual abuse. So, for the next 4 weeks I will be posting from here with the link to her page.

 

This week’s post is actually a 2-part post, so stay tuned for next week’s section!

 

Please be sure to explore all of the excellent information she makes available!

 

http://rachelgrantcoaching.blogspot.com/2018/06/is-your-faith-community-safe-from.html


1 Comment

Does a Sexual Predator Have the Keys to Your Front Door…

…and do you even know?

What if I told you that the people who own the property where you live knowingly hired a convicted sexual predator and they don’t have to tell you?

What if I told you a convicted sex offender has the keys to your front door and you were powerless to know or stop them from having access?

Unbelievably, I may have just described your home if you rent in Florida, and many other homes across the USA.

Even though in Florida, as in most states, sex offenders are prohibited from living within a certain distance from schools, playgrounds and other places where children gather; what they CAN do, is work where your children play and live, without your knowledge. And that’s not the worst of it.

Under Florida law, owners of rental apartments and homes are NOT required to warn you or your family that an employee at the property is a pedophile or sex offender. Children in Florida have been raped by sex offenders who were literally provided the keys to rental units, where the owner knew that the employee was a convicted sex offender. You and your family have the right to make an informed choice of whether to live in housing that employs convicted
sex offenders.

It is because of the irrational and dangerous law as written, that Linda and I ask for your support of “The Florida Sex Offender Rental Notification Act.”

Below you will find a link. Help us to set Florida Law requiring tenants be notified when property owners employ sex offenders.

http://www.saferenting.org/

I would further expound if I felt necessary, but this is pretty darn self-explanatory to myself and Linda. We hope you feel the same.

No matter where you live, PLEASE SIGN and pass along to EVERYONE you know! Then find out what the law says where you live.

http://www.saferenting.org/

Copyright © 2016 Together We Heal, Inc.