Covering up sexual abuse

I wonder, if it came out that So-and-So public figure tortured and mutilated a number of people in his basement for a year and left them disfigured for life, would crowds rally behind him and say what he did wasn’t that bad, and hey, he’s sorry for it now, so let’s forget all about it, let’s sweep the victims under the rug—they weren’t hurt badly anyway…

I know the world is falling apart fast and all manner of evil is being called good now, but I would hope that even so, no one would support that person. I would hope that everyone would call for justice for those victims, standing outside his home, if necessary, with picket signs; calling the law enforcement officers and judges until the officials’ phones explode in flames.

It is unbelievable that people are defending this sicko—that they ever defend sickos.

Imagine that the father of this person, an even bigger public figure, knew all about it, all along, and covered up the crimes. If that doesn’t make you want to vomit…

Now imagine that this person is a Christian public figure. Oh, wait, that changes everything, right? You don’t feel like what he did was that bad anymore. He should be given grace, right? NO. A million times, NO.

But that’s what we keep hearing from so many Christians…

Because the victims MUST forgive him, and we MUST let him off Scot-free, because, you know, grace and all that.

The latest monster in the news didn’t keep his victims tied up in his basement, and he didn’t torture them with whips and chains, but he tortured them nonetheless, and he kept them prisoner just the same.

Force the victims to forgive him? Give him grace and let him off the hook? Hide his crimes? Those are good things? I assert that just the opposite is true. He should be held to a higher standard, NOT let off the hook because he claims to be a Christian.

He deserves the death penalty for torturing and psychically disfiguring those children. They will never be the same. They will be forced to live with a special kind of hell, forever. No amount of therapy or counseling or prayer will ever erase the damage. At best, sexual abuse victims learn to prevent it from ruining every aspect of their lives.

His father, who covered it up, deserves the death penalty for sacrificing his daughters and the others who were disfigured for life, for protecting his son until it was too late for anything to be done about the horrible crimes he committed.

I believe that sexual abuse of children should carry the death penalty. It is the worst thing anyone could ever do to another human being. Murdering the victim would be more merciful. If someone covers it up instead of helping to put the perpetrator in prison and doing what they can to help and assure the victims that they are valued and did no wrong whatsoever, then that person deserves the death penalty, too.

What comes to my mind when I hear about these sick and EVIL people is the verse about the millstone. I think there’s a special place in hell for child molesters and those who protect them.

As long as there are people sending the message that a woman exists to please a man, or that sex is taboo and forbidden fruit…

As long as boys aren’t taught how to handle their urges, or that they themselves are responsible for their lust—the females never, ever are…

As long as people aren’t taught to be puke-your-guts nauseous at the very thought of any sexual contact with a family member…

As long as baby-making is exalted above truly raising and paying attention to one’s children and keeping them safe…

As long as children are taught that they don’t have the right to have boundaries and that they have no control over their bodies and who gets to touch them where…

As long as sexual abuse victims are swept under the rug and criminals are protected…

As long as the damage is minimized and invalidated…

As long as there isn’t a severe, sure, and swift punishment for this horrible crime against a PRECIOUS human being…

We will have Christian leaders sexually abusing children, and others covering it up.

Cyberstalking by clergy

Cyberstalking is a nightmare, no matter who is doing it to you. It’s always bad, but I think it’s really “sick and twisted” when it’s done by people who are supposed to be religious leaders. You probably already know that some churches and groups are cults in disguise. Sometimes cult escapees find that the leaders don’t want to let go of them.

These leaders continue to harass them long after they’ve left the group. Sometimes it’s through phone calls, emails, text messages, facebook chat boxes. This is cyberstalking by clergy. Sometimes the harassment is done in person and the stalker shows up at or near the escapee’s place of work, new church, or home. I’ve become friends with some people who have left cults and cult-like churches, and we’ve had discussions about these kinds of experiences. I tip my hat to them. They are strong survivors, all.

Dislaimer: I am not a member of the legal profession. This is not legal advice. It is information which is publicly available. Please speak with a legal professional for legal advice.

What is cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is two or more instances of harassment through electronic communications. What is harassment? Contacting someone in a way that alarms, torments, or terrorizes that person. Electronic communication includes phone calls, text messages, emails, pagers, or any other electronic means.

Cyberstalking may include direct threats, but doesn’t always. Sometimes the person has reason to be fearful or shaken up even though a direct threat hasn’t been made. Sometimes just the experience one has had with the stalker is enough for them to be worried about harm.

Cyberstalking by clergy often includes threats that go beyond this life: telling you that you’re in spiritual danger if you don’t mend your ways (and by “mend your ways” they mean coming back to them). Some people are not bothered by threats of hell, but others are deeply disturbed by them.

No cyberstalking sign. Cyberstalking by clergy or anyone else is a felony in Illinois.

Cyberstalking by clergy or anyone else is a felony in Illinois. Image by Internetsinacoso.

IL cyberstalking law

If you’ve been harassed, you may be able to put a stop to it through legal channels—criminal, civil, or both. The National Conference of State Legislatures has links to the different states’ cyberstalking laws. In Illinois, for example, cyberstalking is a Class 4 Felony. The following paragraphs are from the Illinois General Assembly website. See the site for the rest of this section of this law.

Sec. 12-7.5. Cyberstalking.
(a) A person commits cyberstalking when he or she engages in a course of conduct using electronic communication directed at a specific person, and he or she knows or should know that would cause a reasonable person to:
(1) fear for his or her safety or the safety of a third person; or
(2) suffer other emotional distress.
(a-3) A person commits cyberstalking when he or she, knowingly and without lawful justification, on at least 2 separate occasions, harasses another person through the use of electronic communication and:
(1) at any time transmits a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint and the threat is directed towards that person or a family member of that person; or
(2) places that person or a family member of that person in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint; or
(3) at any time knowingly solicits the commission of
an act by any person which would be a violation of this Code directed towards that person or a family member of that person.
(a-5) A person commits cyberstalking when he or she, knowingly and without lawful justification, creates and maintains an Internet website or webpage which is accessible to one or more third parties for a period of at least 24 hours, and which contains statements harassing another person and:
(1) which communicates a threat of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint, where the threat is directed towards that person or a family member of that person, or
(2) which places that person or a family member of that person in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement, or restraint, or
(3) which knowingly solicits the commission of an act by any person which would be a violation of this Code directed towards that person or a family member of that person.
(b) Sentence. Cyberstalking is a Class 4 felony; a second or subsequent conviction is a Class 3 felony.

 

Cyberstalking by clergy is a crime

Here’s my interpretation of what the Illinois General Assembly says (again, consult an attorney for legal advice): Threatening or alarming someone just twice via facebook, email, or text messages, after that person has told you to leave him/her alone, is a felony. Sending someone else to do it for you is legally the exact same thing as doing it yourself.

To demonstrate this, let’s look at Tim and the Reverend. Tim had some really bad experiences with The Reverend and his followers. Traumatized, he left the group and asked them to stop contacting him. The Reverend persisted in trying to convince Tim that Tim had sinned by leaving the group, and that Tim must reconcile to the Reverend and the group regardless of what Reverend and his followers did. If he doesn’t, the Reverend said, Tim is in danger of hell. Tim told the Reverend that he’d press charges if the Reverend contacted him any more, in any way whatsoever.

The Reverend then succeeded in getting other people to contact Tim even though Tim made it clear that he didn’t (and still doesn’t) want to be contacted anymore, even though each mention of the Reverend’s name sends Tim into a tizzy.

The law seems to say that The Reverend is committing a felony, and so is every person he gets to contact Tim. The poor shmucks who are contacting Tim probably have no clue that they’re being used as pawns and could go to prison for helping the Reverend harass Tim. They probably believe that the Reverend truly is concerned about Tim, and just wants to be sure Tim is okay. They don’t know that the Reverend suffers from prelest and is a control freak who just can’t let go. They especially don’t know that they are committing a felony on behalf of the Reverend.

Legal protection from harassment

Even if the person harassing you is a pastor, deacon, or priest (a person who is supposed to be godly), it is still a crime—a major crime. You have the law on your side, and you have the right to prosecute stalkers, including the cyber kind. Please keep yourself and your loved ones safe, physically and emotionally.

You have the right to conduct yourself online, and to feel safe while doing it. Cyberstalking by clergy or anyone else doesn’t have to be part of your life.

To clergy and other leaders: If someone leaves your “fold,” you may choose to contact them one time. If they indicate that they don’t want you to contact them anymore, leave them alone. If you contact them again, you may be breaking the law. If someone wants to leave, let them go! Bless them and leave them in God’s hands. Then stop talking about them, because according to Illinois law, that counts, too.

Stalking on facebook

Facebook is just one of the avenues a stalker may use. Fortunately, the block feature exists for the purpose of preventing someone from further contacting you on there. It doesn’t prevent them from sending their friends to harass you, however. You’ll have to block each person as it occurs, and you also have the option of reporting them to facebook.

Yes, it may be upsetting each time it happens to you. You’re minding your own business, catching up with friends or managing your enterprise, and someone pops up out of the blue to remind you of that person or group of people, or to order you to “reconcile” with them. If you’ve been traumatized enough, it may be sufficient to trigger an anxiety attack or PTSD episode.

You don’t have to be shaken for long, though. That’s why block and report exist. Perhaps one day facebook will allow users to block all of the friends of a particular person at once, to save you the trouble of handling one at a time as they join in the harassment of you. Until then, it’s whack-a-mole. Please stay as safe as you can.

-This post is dedicated to all survivors of spiritual abuse and cyberstalking.

Stress responses with DDNOS and PTSD

Stress responses with DDNOS and PTSD are unpredictable

As a severe survivor who has had several letters after my name, such as DDNOS and PTSD, sometimes I’m triggered by things that wouldn’t bother most people. For example, someone accused me of causing a problem that was in fact her plumber’s fault. He didn’t install the required plumbing vents, so sewer sprays out of the downstairs sink when anyone flushes upstairs, and the sink goes glug-glug-glug all the time. He lied to her, saying it was all caused by our flushing a toilet downstairs while the water was turned off to that toilet. All that would do is drain the toilet’s tank (which it did), and there’d be no influx of water to fill it. No problems.

Anyone who knows the first thing about plumbing, water flow, or gravity would have known he was wrong. But she believed him and turned her anger on me.

The Orthodox response

The Orthodox thing to do would be to respond calmly and explain the truth, or perhaps to keep quiet. My response? I kept quiet, alright, but not because I’m Orthodox. I froze like a deer in the headlights, because I was triggered.

I couldn’t say anything. I couldn’t tell her what was actually going on: that her plumber ripped her off by not installing the necessary vent pipes when he installed the plumbing, and he was lying to cover his tail and convince her to put the blame on someone else. I have done some plumbing and have read quite a bit about it, so I know some things about it, and I can Google and ask a good plumber about anything I don’t know.

Mental health counselor

The irony here? The woman is a mental health counselor, and she didn’t even realize that she had triggered me and sent me into a state of frozen panic. The sad part: I really like her and I can’t even talk to her right now. I think she would care if she knew. At least, I hope she would! Also, it bothers me that her plumber took advantage of her like that.

If she would just look it up online or talk to another plumber, she’d find out the truth: sewer from upstairs spraying out of downstairs drains has nothing to do with flushing a toilet that had the water turned off to it. Nothing at all. It’s caused by improper/insufficient sewer venting, and it will never go away until that is fixed. Vents need to be installed in the building, and run all the way up to the roof. If I weren’t scared of heights, I’d offer to install them for her. Maybe she’d be less angry with me.

Triggering stress responses

So this has all been very stressful. Obviously, some people’s stress responses with DDNOS and PTSD are not triggered by things like this. Everyone has their own unique constitution.

Sometimes, I can handle a huge stressor like an assault and just shrug it off, or take charge in an emergency and go home when it’s done, unaffected. Some people who know me think I’m a paradox like that. I have to agree, and I feel bad for them that they are dealing with it, but I don’t know what to do to help them. It’s not like I can just say, “Okay, my stress responses will be more predictable from now on.”

I don’t think there’s any way to know for sure how a person with these conditions will react to a stressor, or even what things they will find to be stressful. I know with me, being accused of something—especially when I know I didn’t do it—will trigger me every time. So will someone being angry with me, unless I have years of experience with them that tells me I’m still safe. I’ll think of just the right thing to say, hours or days after the confrontation. But I probably won’t have the nerve to go say it to the person, so it will sit inside my head.

Now, I could choose to let this new relationship go and just let her stay angry at me forever because she was taken advantage of and bought a lie, or I could find the courage to speak, and try to repair it. She and I have quite a bit in common and I thought we could be friends. I’m going to try to repair it, even though I know it will be stressful. I like her. I think she’s worth it. I know she won’t physically assault me, so I’ll be safe that way. If she yells at me, I can just walk away and go get safe emotionally. Stress responses with DDNOS and PTSD are a royal pain, but they’re part of life.

Update: I sent her a card, explaining my response. She brought me a gift in return, and things seem to be better now. She also told me that her handyman also told her the plumber was not being honest with her.

Game of Thrones and rape culture

Rape culture says rape is okay because she actually wants it.

Excuse me while I PUKE. Thanks. I still feel queasy, but I think I can talk now.

I just read a blog post at Patheos about Game of Thrones and rape culture, and that’s what this is about: how I felt after reading that post. It’s about rape culture, rape myths, and how media is still perpetuating those myths. I’m not writing a review of the show. I haven’t read the books it comes from and I don’t watch the show—I don’t even own a TV, though I do watch a few things online—but I can totally relate to the reaction that blogger and a lot of other people have had to the episode where Jaime rapes Cersei. First of all,

game of thrones and rape culture

should be enough to make everyone sick. But, somehow, that part seems to have been glossed over. They are siblings (twins). Am I the only one who’s totally appalled at that? Maybe viewers are used to it by now. Some are saying what happens in that scene is “not really rape.” And, get this, it’s “complicated consensual sex.” I won’t even link to the guy who said that one.

Lies.

It’s a rape myth.

There are several rape myths. The one that this episode is showing: No Really Means Yes. Rape victims really want it, even when they say no, the myth says. You just have to convince them that they want it, and by “convince,” they mean coerce, guilt-trip, wear down their resistance, and/or force them. Then the resistant ones see the light, admit that they really do want sex with you, and they agree, or even beg for it.

Game of Thrones and rape culture—is this what passes for “entertainment” now? A rape myth being perpetuated by the media should not be surprising, though it still makes me want to vomit every time I see or hear about it happening.

Complicated consensual sex

Just what is that, anyway? It means that one person starts off saying “no” but is “convinced” to say “yes.” They don’t want anything to do with it at first, but part way through, and definitely by the time it’s over, they enjoy it, they want it. When a woman says “no,” it really means “maybe” or “yes.” It means, “Convince me, you big stud.” Our culture has taught this for a long time, maybe forever.

 LIES.

“Complicated consensual sex” is coerced sex, which is…rape.

Game of Thrones and rape culture

From what I understand, in the book it is consensual sex in that scene. As Slate says,

“Turning it into a rape [in the TV show] just turns Jaime into a monster, the kind that would rape a woman he claims to love in front of her dead son to punish her for being ‘hateful.'”

Ah, yes, forced sex (RAPE!) as punishment. Too many victims can relate to that one, too.

Getting triggered

I wonder just how many people put in an emergency call to their therapist, spiritual leader, or close friend after seeing rape scenes. It’s triggering. You might say, “Well, they could just change the channel.”

To that, I say this: it only takes a fraction of a second to trigger someone. Just one glimpse of an assault, one sound of the struggle. No one can grab the remote quickly enough  or plug their ears quickly enough to keep from hearing it. That’s why there is an entire website dedicated to listing movies and shows that might trigger sexual abuse survivors, so we can be prepared and/or avoid that movie/episode altogether. Game of Thrones and rape culture…I’d say this scene is reason enough for some to stay away from the books and TV series.

In order to stay away from any “blurred lines” of what is or is not coercion (which is rape) let’s say that anything other than an enthusiastic “Yes, I want you, too” is not consensual sex.

PS. Some of the responses on the facebook walls of the people who have shared this post so far are sickening, though I must say that many people’s comments show that they “get it.” Lord have mercy on us all until everyone does. +

Child abuse stories

Child abuse stories connect people

My friend Taylor Joy is blogging about her recovery from abuse at the hands of her parents and pastors. She is such a sweetheart, and my heart aches for her every time we talk (or I read) about the child abuse stories of the psychological abuse she went through, and soars at how far she’s come in her journey.

She and I have so much in common it’s insane. It’s like we’re telling parts of each other’s stories when we speak. We’re so much alike, with the big hearts and the creativity and the ADHD…and that’s probably a large part of why we love each other so much. When we met on a discussion board in 2003, it was instant friendship, like kindred souls recognizing each other. The types of abuse we suffered weren’t all the same, and her parents were wealthy and mine wasted every penny they had on their respective addictions, but so much of everything else is alike.

Telling our child abuse stories

Writing and speaking about child abuse survival stories is hard. I’m not speaking for Taylor Joy here (though this may be her experience, too), but for myself, and about survivors in general. Of course it’s hard in the ways that you might expect: it’s emotionally painful, it can be embarrassing, and we feel so vulnerable, putting it all “out there” like that, but it’s hard in a way that might not come to mind right away, too: it can put us in danger–psychological danger from our abusers, yes, but also real, physical danger. Telling the truth can get us killed.

Talking about it breaks the #1 rule of abusive families. They don’t like it, and abusive families always threaten retribution for those who talk. I don’t know about Taylor Joy’s family, but mine has threatened to sue me if I ever write that book (or, I suppose, blog about it). Someone in my family also threatened to murder me and leave my body in a ditch for the dogs to eat if I didn’t keep my mouth shut.

My friend Taylor Joy is Protestant, and I’m a convert to Orthodoxy who came to it through Mormonism then Protestantism. We’ve both experienced spiritual abuse at the hands of former pastors, in addition to abuse at the hands of our families. We’ve both had pastors who have encouraged us to put up with abuse, using spiritual epithets. We’ve both heard “Honor your parents” and I’ve also heard “Submit to your husband,” and “You can’t leave. God will take care of it,” and “I’m the spiritual authority over you; you will do what I say.”

Ending abuse

God gave us minds and mouths and He expects us to use them. Sometimes that means getting out of there (and I’ve done plenty of that). Sometimes it means leaving a parent’s home, or a spouse, or a church. Sometimes it means cutting off contact. It usually (dare I say “always?”) means speaking up and refusing to take it anymore, and taking measures to protect oneself. It might involve child protective services. It might involve law enforcement. I believe it should involve therapy of some kind. Some things definitely have to change.

One thing that might set me apart from others who talk about abuse is that I’m not going to say that your only option is to leave an abuser. I know that’s not popular, and will probably get me blasted by a lot of people, but for some people, staying and healing can go together. There are recovering abusers. It is possible for abuse to stop without breaking up a family, but that’s a post for another day.

If you want to be touched and uplifted, and maybe even get misty with other readers, check out Taylor Joy Recovers. You can share your stories there, and here. We both love to listen, and sometimes, you just need someone to hear you.