Friday, December 9, 2011

Why wear red if Chuck Phelps resigned from the board?

I'm going to try to explain why the Do Right BJU movement is a good idea from another prospective because the negativity surrounding it has continued to bother me. If this were just about "getting rid of Chuck Phelps", the group would have served it's purpose. But the idea was never to "get rid" of Chuck Phelps. It was to see a genuine heart change out of Chuck Phelps as well as an attitude change around the campus of BJU towards abuse.

As backwards as this seems, for a few minutes just forget about Ernie Willis, Tina Anderson and Chuck Phelps.

Think about the crisis that rape is. Think about having all control taken from you. Imagine if what you thought or wanted didn't matter at all. Imagine not being able to stop it...not with your words and not with your physical strength. Imagine feeling like you are completely worthless and thinking that there must be something horribly wrong with you to attract such evil. Imagine feeling like your mind has been completely taken over and violated....all of your interests and hobbies don't matter to you anymore, in fact you feel stupid and foolish for ever being able to enjoy such simple things. Most of your friendships and relationships have been drastically changed because they were built on the basis of knowing your friends and being known by them and now those same friends don't even understand how you work anymore. In fact, you don't even understand how you work. Sometimes things upset you and you can't even consciously figure out why. A smell, a texture, a song, a small thing can be all it takes to make you incredibly anxious or irrationally angry. You just feel utterly broken and it feels like no matter where you look, you can't find comfort.

But these are just common feelings for any rape situation. What if it gets a little more specific? What if you knew your rapist and trusted them? After all, approximately two thirds of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. How messed up in the head do you think you'd be then? You feel naive and stupid just for trusting the person. I mean, what does it say about you as a person if you were capable of letting your guard down around a rapist? Or you could take the thought train in a different direction and ask yourself what you'd done to make the rapist think you wanted that? I mean, they seemed like such a nice and trustworthy person. Surely it can't be that they were just so cruel. You must have done something to encourage them. In fact, you didn't even do enough to stop them while they were raping you! You should have been more clear about the fact that you didn't want it. You should have fought harder. Wow. Now you need to re-evaluate yourself entirely as a person. Obviously there's a lot wrong with you. I mean, you were stupid enough to give the rapist information that they later used to hurt you, you put your trust in them as a friend/mentor, you enjoyed your time with them up until the rape, and you let yourself be put into a situation where you were alone with them so that the rape could happen in the first place! These are just some of the *tame* thought patterns someone who has been raped goes through.

But let's take this just even a little bit further. Let's bring God into it. Whether you're a Christian or not, you still tend to struggle with why God would let this happen to you. Did He just passively allow it to happen? Well then why did He choose to let it happen to *you*? Maybe it wasn't so passive...maybe He didn't just "allow" it...maybe He *made* it happen. Maybe He was punishing you. What have you done that would make God so put out with you that He'd let someone rape you, anyways? Why didn't He stop it from happening? How could He just so callously sit up in heaven and watch that happen? God isn't so heartless, right? Well then that just further proves the problem is with you. After all, if God is a just God then you must have done something to deserve this. What kind of thoughts will go through your head when you read verses like Deuteronomy 22: 23-24 (23"If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, 24then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.) or Deuteronomy 22:28-29 ( 28 "If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.). So if you're raped and you freeze up out of shock or you comply because you're afraid for your life you'll be stoned? Or worse, forced to marry your rapist? How could God be so heartless and cruel? If you follow this thought train, then you're left to either believe that God is cruel and He hates you, or He's a just God but you're just so worthless that it's nothing to Him to let something like this happen to you because it was your fault in the first place.

These are just some of the torturous thoughts that go through the head of someone who's been raped. In fact, most of what I wrote down is very tame. Obviously, that's bad. It shouldn't be that way. But what happens if you get stuck at that place in your head? How far will you get when your friends and family don't understand you? Or if they dismiss your pain and your questions? You need help, not judgement. You already think poorly enough of yourself, you don't need their judgement. How much worse is it when your family/friends start echoing some of the questions in your own head? What if they doubt you did your best to stop the rape? What if they think you were stupid to ever be around the rapist in the first place and thus they think that you put yourself in a compromising situation? What if they think you must have secretly wanted it/enjoyed? What if they don't even believe you were raped at all? What if they shy away from your questions/concerns about God? What if they condemn you for questioning instead of helping you work through your fears/hang ups? Or what if they ignore you altogether? What if they just dismiss the entire situation?

Sadly, it's not that uncommon for people to respond to rape victims in some of the ways I listed above. It really is a huge problem in society to blame the victim. There is a preconceived notion about rape victims. People seem to think they just instinctively know how a rape victim would/should respond and they judge them off of that basis. This is a huge problem. As I've said before, it's even sadder when this kind of judgement/treatment comes from those who are Christians. They claim to represent Christ. When they treat rape victims this way, it just further confirms that God thinks so poorly of you as well.

People need to educate themselves about rape and the ripple effect it has on lives. Instead, many people would rather ignore the epidemic that is rape altogether. I can only hope that they just don't understand how that feels.

When you've been abused, you begin to see everything through the filter of your abuse. You feel like your abuse has become part of you. After all, it significantly changes you as a person. It colors all of your thoughts and perceptions. You certainly feel damaged by it. When people dismiss what has happened to you because they'd rather not think about it or talk about it, it feels like they are dismissing you as a person. When you've been abused/raped, you equate yourself with your abuse/rape. You cannot simply just dismiss abuse and still have a relationship with someone who has been abused. Think about this, please. When someone is raped, all control is taken from them. They have no voice. How they feel is worthless to the rapist. So what happens when they need help and those around them won't let them talk about it, won't support them, won't listen? Their voice is taken again. By definition, when you ignore someone who has been raped, you tell them that how they feel is not important. You tell them that you don't care what they are going through or how it has affected them. You tell them that they are not important enough to be listened to. That it would be a waste of time to try and help them. You essentially tell them that they are a lost cause. This is not okay. And yet, it happens far far too often.

Okay, now you can go back to remembering that Ernie Willis, Tina Anderson and Chuck Phelps exist. I don't care whether or not you think Chuck Phelps did everything he could. If you think calling the police was all he needed to do, you dismissed the rape victim a long time ago. Having Chuck Phelps on the board was just one more of those things that comes across as a slap in the face to anyone who has been raped. Chuck Phelps, as a pastor, made the mistake of mistreating a victim. He has continued to mistreat her with his words. By having him on the board, BJU sends out a message that it's not a big deal to them that a rape victim was mistreated. But you know what? I'm really really not here to argue specifically about Chuck Phelps and if you disagree with me because you're caught up in the idea of defending him as a person, fine, maybe one day you'll understand. For now, just move on to the next paragraph and try to keep an open mind.

As I've said time and time again, there is a huge lack of knowledge about the way rape destroys lives. There is a lack of communication and understanding between people who have been raped and people who have not been raped. This is a huge problem in Christian circles because Christians especially need to be showing the love of Christ to rape victims if they want to help them work past their problems. The biggest problem seems to be dismissing the abuse. Ignoring it. Pretending it doesn't exist or that it's not a big deal. The Do Right BJU movement is the first large group of people I've seen speaking out against a lack of knowledge about abuse/rape in Christian circles and the mistreatment that victims receive. It's a group of people saying "This happens and it's not okay and you can't continue to ignore this". I've said it before and I'll say it again....there has been genuine immaturity, judgement and bitterness in that group. You cannot let those people drown out the bigger cause. Even if you don't want to get caught up in the situation between Tina Anderson and Chuck Phelps in particular, please understand this. Understand this is about spreading awareness and demanding that abuse victims be treated right.

And understand that when you criticize the Do Right movement and dismiss it, it just feels like a further slap in the face to those who have been raped. I understand that some of you are just upset to see the immaturity that goes on, but most of us in the group are thinking about it from the prospective of the fact that the group is about defending abuse victims. So when you say the group is stupid, it comes across like you are suggesting that the idea of spreading awareness about the mistreatment of victims as stupid. That might not be what you mean, but please understand that that's how it comes across. If you're going to criticize immaturity, criticize both sides because there have been an equal amount of BJU "defenders" who have viciously attacked the members of the group.

Please, if there are things you don't understand or questions you have, just ask them. Maybe you hesitate because you don't want to sound like you're blaming the victim, but it's better to ask your questions and work through them than to just harbor the judging thoughts. Do some research independently on how rape victims respond and try to apply it to the personal situations you have questions about. If that doesn't get rid of the questions, ask them. I've had person after person come to me privately via messages asking me questions about how rape victims respond and expressing a lack of understanding. I appreciate those people more than I can say and I've been able to help them work through their questions. ***THAT*** is how I think the body of Christ should work, for those of you who express concerns about whether or not this movement is Christlike. People who don't understand the effects of rape can get answers to their questions and once they can be more understanding and loving, they can help rape victims get the help, support and answers they need.

This is why it's important to wear red on Monday. It is irrelevant that Chuck Phelps isn't on the board. This is about demanding proper treatment of victims. It's not so much of an "attack" against the school, but a support to those who have been mistreated. Whether or not you plan to wear red, I hope you can at least understand this and respect it. And if you have questions, please ask them.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"This doesn't affect me...I'm not directly involved"

So I'm sitting here on this rainy Tuesday morning still trying to figure out some of the responses people have to abuse situations. I really am trying to understand. It seems like a lot of times there is just this apathetic dismissal. "It doesn't affect me. I'm not directly involved." If someone who has been torn apart and victimized "doesn't affect you" as a Christian, then I must have just completely misunderstood the Bible. What, are the people living in third world countries and gutters the only ones who need to be ministered to? Or maybe it's just that people living in third world countries and gutters have physical needs so you can feel good about donating a can of soup and a blanket without getting your pure mind dirty with the stories of pain and hurt. Maybe that's a little harsh but I'm really not sure if it is or not anymore. And this argument leads into the "I'm not directly involved" argument. Okay, fine. It sounds clean enough when used in reference to the Tina Anderson case, but what about in the circles you run in? What about the people at your workplace or in your neighborhood? Look at the statistics...seems to me there's a pretty good chance that you *do* know someone directly who's been abused. But that's just it...that's the point of the whole "I'm not directly involved" argument. You won't *get* involved. Because you'd rather sit on your high horse and spout off comments about "not having all the details" or "I wasn't there so I don't know what really happened so really it's just between you and God". I guess that last one really comes from a self righteous perception that you've got the Bible all figured or that you've arrived. Personally, I think a lot of the Bible is pretty hard to comprehend between the laws in the Old Testament and passages like Romans 9 or how Jesus and God can seem so very different sometimes. But I guess when I think about it, most of the Christians I've talked to about those passages have been pretty dismissive of those complicated passages, too. I've openly asked a lot of my questions just to see what others are thinking and see if there's something I can learn and instead most of the time I get responses like "Well, let's just be glad that Jesus came and we aren't under the Old Testament law anymore" or "God's character doesn't contradict itself". Okay, that may be true but that really doesn't make that phrase or those passages any harder to understand. That's a bit of a tangent, though.

I'm just becoming increasingly disturbed by the defenses I hear surrounding why people don't want to "get involved" with the Tina Anderson case. That's just it. It's really not about the Tina Anderson case. In fact, that's the entire reason Tina was willing to go through with this case. Because she realized this was a common issue and she hoped her case would bring these situations to light and at least stimulate a healthy desire to learn what to do WHEN you're faced with the issue of abuse. When, not if. Because you will be in one way or another. It may eventually happen to some of you. It may eventually happen to your brother or sister or son or daughter. And then what will you do when people start handing you the same generic excuses not to care that you handed out about this current scandal?

And that's just it. Most of the people involved with the Do Right BJU movement have either been abused or known someone close to them who was abused. This isn't about hating Bob Jones and being "bitter" towards them. This is a group of people who have heard all these same excuses in their personal life and they saw an opportunity in this case to speak out against the wrong responses to abuse. It's disturbing, the number of people so quick to come to the defense of BJU. Why can't you use the same level of passion to defend those who have been broken down and fed lies about their worth? Sure, you "don't really want to get involved" and you think it's pointless to throw "flaming attacks on the internet", but if the topic comes up in person you're really quick to jump to the defense of BJU. But I guess that doesn't really matter because when pressed as to whether you've actually looked into any of the information surrounding the case OTHER than the "Christian hating 20/20 episode" (which you really only watched so you could be filled with righteous indignation....) you start talking about not having time or an annoyance that someone would even ask you to use your valuable time to look into this more thoroughly. You don't have time to look into the Tina Anderson case? Fine. Don't. At least do yourself a favor and look into some of this:

Rape Myths:

And in case you're too lazy to copy and paste a link, I'll save you some time with some highlights:

  • 1 out of 4 women is sexually assaulted at some point in her life.
  • 1 out of 6 men is sexually assaulted at some point in his life.
  • Every 15 seconds a woman is beaten by her husband or boyfriend. (FBI Uniform Crime Report, 1991)
  • 2-4 million women are abused every year. (American Medical Association)
  • Approximately 25% of all women in the U.S. will be abused by current or former partners some time during their lives. (American Medical Association)
  • 82.8% of sexual assaults occur before the victim reaches the age of 25.
  • 78% of sexual assault victims were assaulted by someone they knew.
  • Over 66% of sexual assault victims reported NO visible physical injuries.
  • Fewer than 20% of crimes of sexual violence are reported to the police.
  • Only 2% of reported sexual assaults have been determined to be false reports.
  • .1 in 8 college women is the victim of rape during her college years. 1 in 4 is the victim of attempted rape
  • 95% of these rape victims did not report the rape to officials.
  • 25% percent of women were raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, partner or date during their lifetime.
  • 84% of the women knew the men who raped them; 57% were on dates.

So looking at those statistics, chances are pretty good you currently know someone who's been abused. If you're making flippant dismissive judging comments about this case, do you think they're going to talk to you? I'd also like to point out that of all the crimes, sexual assault has the SMALLEST PERCENTAGE of false reports. 1 in 8 women are the victims of rape just in college years alone. But I guess it's easy to ignore that statistic and look the other way when you live in the bubble, isn't it?

Why Women Stay In/Return to Abusive Relationships:

Sometimes, as a result of abuse, a woman’s self-esteem is so damaged that she lacks the confidence to maintain independence from her abuser. Often, women who leave abusive relationships have trouble earning an adequate income or finding safe and affordable housing. Women may feel compelled to return to abusive relationships because they lack resources and support.
Sometimes, an abused woman's own family members and friends place the blame on her, perhaps because they assume that she somehow caused the abuse. In some cases, the woman's family and friends may act as if the abuse is bearable or deny its existence altogether. If the abused woman is married, friends and family may try to talk her out of divorce, often citing religious reasons.
According to statistics, the average abused woman leaves her abuser seven to eight times before she leaves permanently. Victims of abuse often live in a state of fear, confusion, and overwhelming sadness. 

Blaming the victim:

Rape is the only crime in which the victim must prove his or her own innocence. Victim blaming is holding the victim responsible for what has happened to her/him. One way in which victim blaming is perpetuated is through rape myths. Rape myths allow us to blame the victim and are often common false beliefs.


Personalities forged in an environment of early abuse: Children who are abused by people they are close to learn to equate love with violence and sexual exploitation. They have not learned to create safe and appropriate boundaries with people, and they grow up unable to see themselves as having any right to choice. Their self-image is so damaged that they may see nothing wrong with even extremely abusive treatment of them by others. It is seen as unavoidable and the ultimate cost of love. Some women sexually abused as children may believe that their sexuality is all they have of any  worth.

The effect of trauma: It is true that some people may have a series of violent partners, or encounters with rapists. I had a friend who was subjected to rape three times in two years . A family member - echoing typical victim-blame - sneeringly asked me "why she kept leaving herself open to it. - wouldn't you think that if she went through it once, she should have known how to steer clear of creeps?" This reflects a lack of knowledge about the workings of trauma: While some survivors may be overly cautious about everybody, other traumatized people actually have a harder time forming accurate assessments of danger (8). The above question also absolves the perpetrator who falsely seeks to engage the trust of a trauma survivor in order to abuse them.

Traumatic Bonding: Judith Herman writes about the tendency of abused children to cling tenaciously to the very parents who hurt them (9) Perpetrators of sexual abuse may capitalize on this tendency by giving their victim the only sense of specialness, or being loved, that they have ever had. Bessel van der Kolk tells us that people subjected to trauma and neglect are vulnerable to developing the tendency to traumatically bond with those who harm them. Traumatic bonding is often behind the excuses of battered women for the violence of their partners, and for the repeated returning to a batterer (10).


PTSD changes the body's response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters).
1. "Reliving" the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity
  • Flashback episodes, where the event seems to be happening again and again
  • Repeated upsetting memories of the event
  • Repeated nightmares of the event
  • Strong, uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event
2. Avoidance
  • Emotional "numbing," or feeling as though you don't care about anything
  • Feeling detached
  • Being unable to remember important aspects of the trauma
  • Having a lack of interest in normal activities
  • Showing less of your moods
  • Avoiding places, people, or thoughts that remind you of the event
  • Feeling like you have no future
3. Arousal
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Startling easily
  • Having an exaggerated response to things that startle you
  • Feeling more aware (hypervigilance)
  • Feeling irritable or having outbursts of anger
  • Having trouble falling or staying asleep

    I apologize if I've been a little more biting in this post.  I just don't think people understand how bad these arguments sound and how worthless they make people who have been abused feel. They've already been told they have no self worth by their abuse and then it seems that most people are happy to confirm that belief by casually dismissing the idea of educating themselves at least about the basics surrounding abuse. People won't take the time to educate themselves on the effects of abuse, but they DO have time to spout off a thoughtless comment or question like "She always seemed okay" or "Why is this just coming forward now?" or "Why did she open the door for him the second time?" Please understand that most of the biting tone in this blog is just sarcasm because it really is laughably pathetic when people won't even take the time to educate themselves about the basics surrounding an epidemic like abuse/rape/domestic violence.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The perspective of an abuse victim.

I originally posted it on facebook, but I'm going to go ahead and post it here so I can spread it further to people who aren't my friends on facebook.


I know I’m clogging up everyone’s newsfeed with my comments every day, so I decided it would probably be best if I at least explained why I agree with the Do Right movement...especially since I know already being judged for it.

First of all, I’m not just believing the “Christian hating media”. For me, Chuck Phelps’ own words are more condemning than anything else. On his own website, he called the rape a “consensual dating relationship”. That really should say enough about how he thinks right there but I realize it’s not for most people. I realize most people won’t be satisfied until the official court transcripts come out and that really is fine. Personally, I believe what was written in the court notes. There were about two dozens supporters there. I highly doubt all 24 of them collaborated together in a huge lie. But more than anything, I don’t think Tina would let them lie because she really has been very gentle and honest in this situation.

In the meantime until the court transcripts come out, there are some things that can be discussed now because they are agreed upon by all three parties.

Ernie Willis, Tina Anderson and Chuck Phelps all agree that Tina was raped. They all agree that she got pregnant. They all agree that there was a service in which she was brought before the church. They all agree that the rape was portrayed as two separate events. They all agree that they never portrayed the situation as rape to the congregation. They all agree that Ernie was allowed to stay in the church. They all agree that parents were never even made aware of the risk of Ernie. They all agree that Tina was sent away.

That in and of itself really should be enough to go off of, so based off of those agreed upon facts alone, I’ll explain how I feel about the most popular defenses I hear. If you have anything else to say in his defense, I'd be more than happy to discuss it in the comments.

“He did the best he could” - This really is a ridiculous argument. Calling the police and letting the matter be dismissed (whether you argue that the police didn’t return his call or not) was not his best. Letting Tina go without justice was not his best. Letting Ernie Willis stay in the church was not his best. Failing to inform church goers what Ernie had done was not his best. Misleading the congregation to believe that Tina’s situation and Ernie’s situation were two different scenarios was not his best. It really doesn’t matter if you think the police are the ones that dropped the ball. That doesn’t excuse him from letting their (supposed) mistake stop justice from occurring and it certainly doesn’t excuse letting Ernie be in the church for years and years.

“He’s really really sorry now” - Expressing regret that his name has been dragged through the mud and being remorseful about how his character has been portrayed in the media is not repentance. Actually, he’s maintained that he has nothing to apologize to Tina for. His attitude has consistently been angry and defensive. Would it really be that hard to just pick up a pen and write her a letter saying “I’m so sorry that you didn’t get the justice you deserved” or even “I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through and any way that I’ve failed you, I’d like to hear what you have to say”. When students are expelled from BJU, they have to write a letter apologizing and explaining why their conduct will be different if they’re allowed to come back on campus. It should be no different for a member of the board.

“No one is perfect, you need to show grace” - No one asked him to be perfect, but he certainly isn’t above reproach like the Bible says a pastor should be. It’s scary when there is more grace and mercy extended towards a grown man in a position of leadership who should have been Tina’s protector and helped her heal than what’s being shown to a teenage girl who was scared and confused.

“You have no right to judge/let he who is without sin cast the first stone” - The students at BJU have every right to expect moral decency and accountability from the members of the board. It’s an institution, not a church. The students are paying customers who have made an investment. They also realize that if they graduate from Bob Jones, people may associate them with the viewpoints BJU holds. The Bible says it would be better for a person to have a millstone tied around their neck and be thrown into the ocean than to hurt a child. The verse about casting the first stone is no excuse to get out of consequences for your actions. Try that one the next time you get caught breaking a rule at BJU or when an officer pulls you over for speeding. The way it sounds in the context it's been used in Phelps' defense almost feels like "I am rubber, you are glue....."

“We need to forgive and forget/Jesus forgave you” - It is genuinely terrifying that people throw the “and forget” on the end there. How are we going to learn from this if we forget? God doesn’t extend forgiveness to the entire world automatically without them even having to ask. I’m not saying Chuck Phelps shouldn’t be forgiven, but he really should repent of the things he’s done wrong and again, forgiveness doesn’t mean you go without consequences. If you use the "God forgave you" argument, then you really can't stop with Phelps. You need to extend it to every murderer, terrorist, rapist, and thief on the planet. It's not an excuse to get out of being held accountable for your actions. God forgives us but we still pay the consequences for sin.
If Phelps would just apologize to Tina and stop worrying so much about defending his own name at the expense of hers, I really think the majority of people would be thrilled and drop this.

Last but not least.

This is stupid. It’s a waste of time. You’re hurting the cause of Christ. What will unbelievers think if they see this. What good can come of this.


Do you want to know what hurts the cause of Christ? Sweeping scandal after scandal like this under the rug. A lack of compassion and outreach to victims. Silencing the victim. Blaming the victim. Supporting a man on the board who majorly botched a rape case and never did repent of it. How much of a chance at reaching out to rape victims do you think BJU has after the way they’ve handled this situation? I’m not saying it’s a lost cause but the majority of them aren’t going to feel very comfortable. Shame on all of you who make this argument.

This really is the heart of the matter here for me.

The Do Right BJU page has been the first hopeful thing I've seen about Christianity for years. I know there are a LOT of immature and unnecessary/irrelevant posts on there but that does not take away from the other people in the group or the idea behind it. I'm sure some people *are* bitter, (and really, I don't know how you get off entirely dismissing every word they say or them as a person just because they're bitter) but that doesn't change the idea behind the group or the truth that's spoken there. Frankly, if there are 5 or 6 good people in that group who love God and refuse to let this issue be swept under the rug, then that's more hope than I've seen in a long time and that's all the more shame on all of you who condemn the group. If you think it's done wrong, then start your own page/in person meetings/movement to do something about this because it really is an issue. You have no right to criticize this movement if you won't put effort into making a change yourself.

I'm going to be very honest here so if you want to judge me for it, go right ahead. I've been struggling with Christianity for years upon years now and the main reason is because of situations exactly like this. How can you just ignore such a huge thing in someone's life? When you keep expressing your feelings and looking for help and you're repeatedly judged and rejected, you start to get a little discouraged. Especially when the people doing the judging and rejecting are Christians. Because they represent Christ, right? I mean, they make a huge deal of saying they do and after person after person is quicker to judge you than show compassion and concern, you start to feel like maybe it IS a reflection of how God feels about you. And the ironic part is, the same people who are so quick to dismiss your feelings and your concerns are the same ones who are so quick to judge you for the problems that develop in your life as a result of the abuse. I'm not claiming that abuse excuses me from responsibility. Most of you have plenty of information you can judge me with and the funny part is, you don't know the half of all the issues I have. Big things. Not just little things. Let me be the first to announce that I am more screwed up then any of you realize so judge away if that's what you're here to do. But if you can't deal with the root of the problem then how do you ever heal? How well would it go for you if you went to a doctor very sick and he wouldn't acknowledge your symptoms?

I've been asking questions and looking for help for years now and what I've found only discourages me more. Why don't more churches speak up for victims? Why don't they have classes on the ways an abused person tends to think and the hang ups they get? Why not show some compassion and get some facts about how they typically react instead of just judging? Why not have a class about the manipulation tactics abusers use and how they effect a victim? If your church has something like this, by all means, please let me know. But I will admit upfront that I'm very jaded and somewhat skeptical. Every church has someone equivalent to a counselor. That doesn't make them good and it doesn't make them informed. I've heard reason after reason why they can't help me. Everything from "We can't move forward unless we at least agree that God is loving and not angry and cruel" to "You have to be a member" (like I'm going to join a church before I'm confident I'll actually receive the help I need) to "You can't have this problem or that problem" to "You have to attend religiously". I could go on with that list. Some of it may sound very reasonable to you, but to someone from my prospective it's very daunting. I am far from stable right now. Attending anything regularly seems impossible. If I was stable, I guess maybe I wouldn't need help so desperately. It seems a common tactic for a pastor/counselor to get really excited that you're coming to them, but within two sessions they want to just tear you down for everything you aren't doing right instead of answering my questions about God and other things that have happened. I understand that my issues need to be dealt with, believe me, but that's not where you start. You have to build a foundation first. Besides, as I said before, I am well aware of all the problems in my life. Those problems are why I seek out help. I realize better than anyone that I'm not okay. And it's the same pattern everywhere. Phrases like "You're just bitter" or "Let's deal with your sin first" or "You need to stop living in the past and focus on God". Those phrases are all very dismissive. Maybe they need to be said eventually but it's just not where you start. And bitterness does not equal anger or lack of trust.

Following along the lines of the lack of acknowledgement, I don't know how many times I've very openly asked a question about God or expressed a struggle just to have it ignored. I don't know if it makes people uncomfortable because they don't like to think about difficult things or what, but when you refuse to acknowledge the bleeding wound I have, you aren't going to get very far. Anyone who is angry about what I'm saying but won't tell me as much, just please do us both a favor and cut me out of your life. I'm not being dramatic...I'm just sick of games. I figured this was an easy painless way to do it. If everything I say disgusts you and makes you roll your eyes then just take me out of your life. I really just can't handle the silent judgement/two faced situation anymore. It's not healthy and I'll never get anywhere. For those of you who are angry or disagree, please at least have the courage to say as much. Otherwise, you fall into the first category of people. Just please don't let this be one more thing you ignore. Take a stand one way or another.

Don't just read this, judge me and mark me off as foolish. If it's that unimportant to you, you really don't need to be in my life. I'm not saying that angrily or sarcastically, I'm just taking a stand myself and I don't care for people who are lukewarm.

This is the first time I've ever publicly actively spoken about the fact that I've been abused and the way it's effected me, particularly in the context of how it's affected me mentally/emotionally/spiritually. I know for a fact from the private messages and chats some of you have sent me that you can't stand when I even hint at this type of thing. You think I shouldn't put it on facebook or I should just "let it go" or I'm bitter. I've listened to that out of pure shame for a really long time just hoping maybe I could win approval if I took measures not to step on toes but there's absolutely no reason why I shouldn't be able to talk about my struggles. That's the whole point of spreading awareness. I think half of the arguments that pop up about the Wills/Anderson trial come from ignorance. Some of you say it does no good but I've seen people begin to be able to understand things better after I've explained from my perspective and the more people understand the better things can be. It can work both ways. I can help people understand so they can have more compassion and understand how to minister better, and perhaps one of these days I'll find a solid group of people who are willing to work with me through ups and downs and help me work through the things I need to work through.

The reason for the timing behind my decision is really simply that I can't even believe people don't understand how this is an opportunity to reach out. I can't believe people think that taking a stand against Chuck Phelps would hurt the cause of Christ. I can't believe people think this should be swept under a rug and dismissed. They say forgive and forgetand learn from it all in the same sentence. I know these kinds of things are ugly to talk about but if you really want to reach out as badly as you say you do, this is a wonderful opportunity. It's not often that a chance to use an experience to promote awareness and speak out against the common ways these situations are mishandled falls right into your lap. That being said, don't judge people who fall into homosexuality and alcoholism and drugs and prostitution and cutting and eating disorders and anything else bad you can think of if you aren't willing to reach out. If Christians won't look at the ugliness and love it anyways and support the process of healing, then people will find other methods of survival. Get mad at me all you want. I'm being honest about how this looks to someone who's been through these types of situations and trying to explain in the politest way possible why people associate the words "prideful, self righteous, judgmental and hypocritical" with Christianity so often. You can take it or leave it.

This is a really hard thing for me to post. It's awkward, it's embarrassing, I'm not relishing the idea of some of the questions I'll get and I'm dreading the negative reaction I know I'll receive. To be honest, I don't really even want to post this but everything else I've said has been dismissed so maybe I should be a little more direct. I also would like to be clearly understood as to why I am so obsessively commenting on things concerning the Tina Anderson case. I realize this is a very public thing, but this is easier than speaking to each person individually. There's also the chance that one of my friends that I don't know quite as well might see this and turn into a really good really helpful friend. You never know who can help you and who you'll be able to relate to if you don't speak up. Frankly, I also prefer the public so that the people I know who do support me will be able to defend me and I won't have to do this all alone because I really really can't and if you hadn't gotten that message earlier in this note, get it now. I'm sure most of you who have negative things to say will bypass that and send me a message anyways, though. For those of you who do know details of my circumstances, please refrain from discussing them here. Believe it or not, I really don't want this to be about the who, the what, the where the when. What's important is how it effects me now. That is something I'm not ready to discuss publicly and I'm not entirely sure I ever will be. It's not really relevant because this note isn't about them, it's about why I'm speaking out and why I have some of the hang ups I do.