What is a professional victim?

“Do you believe there are professional victims?” a journalist once asked me.

“Yes.” I said, although I had not really given the matter much thought. It’s been close to a year since that interview and the question has been lodged in the back of my mind.

What is a professional victim? It sounds like someone making money off their story about being victimized, or possibly making money off the stories of other victims. Now, I do not believe it’s wrong for someone, after devoting weeks, months, and possibly years, of writing their story into a book to profit from the fruit of their efforts.

If it helps bring closure for themselves and others, that is for the good. Everyone is entitled to tell their story and draw whatever life lessons they can from it. What happens after the book? Will we be reading any story about how they have overcome adversity and have now embarked on a brand new enterprise? Preferably, one that has nothing to do with being a victim?

What did they pursue before their victimization? Have they discovered what was lost before the terrible events affected their lives?

What if they weren’t pursuing anything? What if they were victimized from the moment they popped out of the womb? If you’re born in America, or anywhere else in the world, chances are you were abused at least once in life. As Bill Maher pointed out, you’re slapped on the ass when you’re born!

What kind of welcome is that? Maybe we all start out abused with the first slap coming from the doctor? If you have nothing to talk about except abuse upon abuse, and that’s your only stock in trade, does that make you a professional victim?

I have met a couple of victims who immediately talk about forming nonprofit organizations. Since nonprofits can be quite profitable, does that make them ‘professional victims’? Do we really need another nonprofit organization?

Normally, I advise against starting organizations. If every victim starts nonprofit organizations, who will be left to join these organizations? We don’t need more organizations. We need more cooperation between existing organizations! That’s difficult since most nonprofits operate like small kingdoms receiving tributes from thankful subjects.

I have attempted to persuade existing child abuse groups to address the subject of clergy or religious abuse. That went over like a lead balloon back in 2006! Most of these organizations, in my view, did not want to look like they were criticizing religions. Other groups, like SNAP, began cropping up to address Catholic abuse and began creating ‘chapters’ like SNAP-BAPTIST to cover other denominations. In time, their influence began to wane as other victims, not feeling like they were being heard, began forming their own groups.

The zenith, for me, was at a convention where I witnessed a SNAP representative pleading that victims not forget those who came before them. Another blogger, not at the convention, complained she was becoming obsolete in the wake of other Facebook groups.

Today, it’s a dog eat dog world if you’re a professional victim. And yet, I’m still not sure what a professional victim is except it’s something you don’t want to become.

So what are the marks of a professional victim?

Is it a person who attempts to make a living out of their victimhood or victimhood of others?

Someone who has absolutely no other sense of self-worth except reveling in victimhood?

Someone so fearful and threatened by other groups or other people addressing the same subject that they invoke territoriality? This manifests itself in blocking those with different viewpoints and opinions on Facebook and webpages.

I’m changing tactics at Christian School Confidential. While others want to focus on the first abusers, I think it’s more valuable to contemplate the question: how do victims become the victimizers? Every abuser starts out as abused before something clicks and they carry out their abuse on others.

A few might be critical of this new path saying I should concentrate on the first abusers. However, as I see more and more ‘advocates’ utilizing the same techniques as those who cover up the deeds of the first abusers, it’s only a matter of time before a major scandal hits and reveals that so-called survivors are just as guilty of covering up the dirt as those fundamentalists they have accused.

If and when that happens, survivor culture might be given a black eye for their own hypocrisy. I say ‘might’ since transparency helps safeguard against such assaults. Thankfully, each new scandal brings a fresh crop of people who can learn from the mistakes of the past. For that reason, in the weeks to come, I will begin a series exploring the history of those who escaped religious abuse and analyze their methods of confronting such abuse. What worked? What did not?

In the meantime, what is a professional victim?

I’ve given my thoughts on the subject.

Anyone else care to comment?

Survivor Wars II: The need for Devil’s Advocacy

Do Right, Hyles-Anderson is alive and well!

I clicked on the link. It appeared to have vanished. Do Right Hyles Anderson appeared again so I rejoined the group but, once again, the group disappeared! It wasn’t until I logged into another Facebook account when I learned it had not vanished. The administrators simply blocked me.

Jocelyn Zichterman seems to be one of the administrators of the Do Right Hyles Anderson board. Jocelyn is the one who called investigators and gave them Tina Anderson’s number. A risky move since, when a similar incident happened during the Bob Gray case, the victim just told the police, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” In the case of Tina Anderson, it worked and a victory was won against Ernie Willis, the man who raped Tina Anderson.

During the Tina Anderson case, I was practically coming unglued that the media seemed to be ignoring the fact that Tina could easily have been sent to an IFB home. That’s how some victims of IFB abuse have been silenced! When I finally reached the journalist who covered most of the Tina Anderson saga, I was surprised to hear she wanted to do a story on IFB homes. Her editors killed the idea because not enough victims had come forward.

What? No victims wanting to come forward? Seriously? Had this reporter not been to Facebook? Multiply? Or even Heal-Online? Immediately, I put the word out and she was swamped with testimonies. ABC News Online finally gave that subject its due. Biblical Reform School Discipline: Tough Love or Abuse was the first national article to mention the Survivors of Institutional Abuse and their convention which was held this year in Long Beach, CA. That article proved instrumental in bringing solidarity amongst victims and survivors.

It was during this time when I found out a number of survivors trusted Jocelyn to tell their story to ABC only to find out that never happened. An ugly thread war started on Facebook.

Today, the folks at Do Right, Hyles Anderson are propagating the idea that the FBI wants survivors to give their stories to certain advocates within that circle (Jocelyn?) and then they will evaluate the stories and decide which to report to authorities. This has resulted in a number of Facebook posts where people claimed to have contacted the FBI only to learn the FBI does not use third party advocacy.

Victims who might be involved with the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana scandal are being urged to call the Merrillville, Indiana office at (219)769-3719 and speak with Agent Chikantek. All calls are confidential.

Cathy Harris of FB revealed that a person at the FBI told her, “3rd parties to gather reports and round up victims for the FBI is not how the FBI goes about an investigation.” The testimony can be tainted if the story passes through too many hands. The defense lawyers would love this!

This is not the first time I have been blocked from a Facebook page. I was blocked by Jeri Massi, for reasons that possibly lurk between my negative review of Schizophrenic Christianity and editing the protest against Calvary Bible Church in Lima, Ohio. That church supported Hephzibah House, which is a cause she apparently feels quite proprietary about.

Why write about this issue? To get people to steer clear of certain advocates? To argue they may be ‘moles’ working as false advocates? Not at all!

The purpose is deal with the wider issue of ‘Survivor Wars’. Angela Smith, founder of HEAL-Online, helped me edit an article about survivor conflicts that is currently posted at California Heal. It’s about the need for Devil’s Advocacy within Advocacy. Angela is no stranger to Survivor Wars having been the target of other ‘advocacy groups’ during the lifespan of her network of advocates.

HEAL has been quite successful. Not only have they persuaded some parents from sending their children to teen containment camps, but they have the distinction of shutting down a number of abusive homes. A growing amount of survivors from IFB homes are joining the cause and victims are gaining the knowledge that turns them into survivors.

There are always detractors when you have success.

If you step away from HEAL or even the two J’s I referenced, you’ll find numerous ‘minor’ survivor wars occurring on Facebook and possibly other message boards. ‘Minor’ in the sense few know about them. If you keep your ear on the virtual grounds, they’re kind of difficult to miss.

So what’s the solution? Plead that we all stand united since we all have a common enemy? That might be myopic.

We’re probably confused as to who or what the enemy is. We might say it’s the abusers and those who cover it up, but what about the philosophical beliefs used by the abusers to control?

Is it possible to stand against abuse and still endorse the concept of a patriarchy?

Can one stand against the abusive teen containment centers and maintain conservative Republican values if the party, as a whole, defends them?

Can one truly counsel a victim of incest that the abuse wasn’t her fault and, at the same time, champion the biblical figure of Lot as a just man? After all, his daughters got him drunk and forced themselves on him! Try to argue that in court.

We are all different and it might be impossible for all of us to agree. The damaging psychology of IFB group think can easily be carried over into the world of survivordom. How to stop it?

The solution isn’t to feverishly warn people about the abuses of so called advocates, but to wise up and ‘kill’ that part of us that is addicted to the ‘messiah/hero complex’. It’s that part of us still looking for a ‘hero’ or ‘messiah’ to come in and single handedly win the battle against the IFB, the Catholic Church, Hollywood, Washington DC, and the abusive father next door.

That’s our job.

It’s a tough job and seemingly impossible. The good news is each new scandal brings a fresh crop of people ready to take no prisoners in their pursuit of accountability and justice. Perhaps they can learn from the mistakes of those who came before them? However, you can’t do that if you’re devoted to never critiquing the methods of fellow survivors. It’s part of growing up.

Facebook groups are, in reality, the visions of only a few people. It’s time to recognize that and to stand as individuals. Without groups. Like a true movement. Making strong and logical arguments. And whenever we see flame wars and survivor wars, just accept that ‘such is life’. Do what we can to mend fences and, if that not be possible, just move on to the next battlefield.

Did Jack Schaap commit a crime?

What an interesting week! I did not go to Hyles Anderson, although I did visit First Baptist in Hammond, Indiana back around 1999 and got to see then pastor Jack Hyles give a Mother’s Day sermon. He preached against women wearing pants and I was very surprised to see the majority of men dressed like the Blues Brothers. That certainly wasn’t the case with my former fundamentalist church, Trinity Baptist in Jacksonville, Florida. Florida, of course, is more casual and a little hotter than the Chicago/Hammond area, so our suits were a little bluer when they weren’t earth tones.

Jack Schaap, the pastor recently fired from his job after inappropriate relations with a 16 year old girl, married into the Hyles family and, after Jack’s death, became the pastor of First Baptist. Rumors were flying, and a blogger recently insinuated, that Jeff Owens was being considered as the new pastor. I bought it, posted it only to find out that wasn’t the case. So, I removed the reference and, unlike a lot of bloggers, not only admitted it (in the comment section) but even allowed negative comments to be posted.

Most bloggers on this issue aren’t doing that under the guise of protecting victims. Always a good excuse to evade issues! Victims need to be strengthened not kept in a state of weakness. If you feel other blogs aren’t allowing your viewpoint to be aired, feel free to comment on this blog. Other than SPAM or obviously threatening comments (like posting people’s home addresses, etc), most posts will be approved.

The goal is not to be Moses coming down from the Mountain with a new Ten Commandments for Survivors. The goal of anything should be to create dialogue. Not to posture as an advocate (please don’t call me the ‘a’ word!), activist,researcher, or concerned citizen or anything like that. Simply to fulfill the vital need for communicating about issues that are not being discussed that need to be addressed.

One of my favorite comments on the previous article described it as shoddy journalism. It’s my favorite because I certainly don’t consider myself a journalist. I’m an armchair quarterback having earned my stripes during the Bob Gray saga, which carried on to being invited to help form the Survivors of Institutional Abuse (because of my role in the closing of Victory Christian Academy, Ramona, CA), and currently working with HEAL as California coordinator.

That last one usually involves taking phone calls from parents or survivors of abusive treatment centers. I’m usually trying to talk parents out of sending their kids to these centers or I’m helping those who just got out of such places to find the help they need. The last part is no picnic, but that’s another story that others may tell.

I’ve gone full circle in this ‘accidental activism’. While I’m still California co-ordinator for HEAL, my passion and thoughts are devoted to creating a film adaptation of Christian School Confidential, my novel inspired by a variety of scandals regarding pastors abusing children in their flock. It took two years to write that book and, to my surprise, gave me a huge sense of closure after I finished writing it. Hopefully, it will do the same for survivors who realize that the justice system and religious institutions are not working for their common interest.

True closure involves talking about the abuse, not just once, but sometimes even two, three, or more times until the survivor realizes s/he has also gone full circle. If the person you’re speaking with is not receptive, you have to go elsewhere. Advocacy can help but it can also be a two edged sword as there are predators in advocacy just like everywhere else. My concern is some advocates are keeping people in a cycle of eternal victim hood by keeping them fearful and silent, albeit for different reasons. In the end, there are no good guys or bad guys, just horribly flawed human beings trying to protect their turf.

There is a need for ‘devil’s advocacy’, if you want to win. You have to be able to critique your methods and discuss the reality of the situation before egg gets on your face. So, while my current focus is networking to get my film projects off the ground, from time to time I’ll come on here to discuss matters that I’m not seeing discussed anywhere else. If you want to join in or suggest a topic, feel free to use the comment section or email me at dw@dwayne-walker.com.

Let’s start out with something politically incorrect, shall we?

Jack Schaap allegedly drives a teenage girl (16/17?) across state lines where it is legal to have sex with a girl of 17. Has he broken the law? True, it could be argued he drove the girl with the intention of having sex with a minor (as considered in his state). Trafficking requires there to be a crime committed, though. If it’s legal in that state could it also be argued he was not, in fact, doing anything illegal as long as the sexual activity took place in that state? Does the girl’s right to not be violated at 17 change when she enters a state where it’s perfectly legal for her to engage in such activity?

In that sense, did Jack Schaap commit a crime? For that matter, is it a crime for a citizen of a state where gambling is illegal to gamble in Nevada? Or any state where it’s legal? You can ask the same question about wet/dry counties, or any situation where something is legal in one place but illegal in another. I’m sure David Gibbs, Schaap’s lawyer, will have some interesting points to make on this very topic when/if this goes to trial. All ears are open!

My view is the age of consent should be a Federal Standard. What’s legal in one state should be legal in all. This flies in the face of State’s Rights purists, but it would sure make things less confusing.

First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana retakes the lead in the game of fundamental scandals!

The local news source for Hammond, Indiana reports that Jack Schaap, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, was removed from his post because of
“a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right to be our pastor.”

Hammond Baptist dismisses pastor for ‘sin’.

No details from the mainstream media about the ‘sin’. Not to worry! As always, Facebook goes where the MSM fears to tread. A Facebook group, DoRightHylesAnderson has just been formed: https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/210248275769396/

Someone from the church allegedly found a cell phone with a picture of Pastor Jack in a compromising position with a minor. Hence, the police involvement spoken of in this article:

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/07/31/hammond-pastor-dismissed-for-improper-relationship-with-young-woman/

First Baptist of Hammond, Indiana once had the reputation as the World’s Largest Baptist Church. This would eventually be eclipsed by Willow Creek and a number of other megachurches across the country.

Jack Hyles was a pioneer in fundamentalist sin and salvation, having built the ‘world’s largest church’ and creating the strategy for fundamentalist cover ups. Hyles story has been recounted in books ranging from The Wizard of God by Victor Nischick and Fundamental Seduction by Voyle Glover.

Dave Hyles, his son, developed a reputation for seducing girls in his Christian school and was fingered for the death of infant, Brent Stevens. Jack was accused of having an improper relationship with his secretary. The fundamentalist world didn’t seem to have a problem throwing Dave under the proverbial bus, as it were.

Bob Gray, the late pastor of my former church, Trinity Baptist of Jacksonville, Florida, was a good friend of Hyles. A number of Trinity members I spoke with didn’t hesitate to condemn Dave Hyles. Possibly to show they didn’t have their heads in the sand. (“I don’t know about the accusations against Brother Hyles, but David definitely did it!”)

Many of those who defended Bob Gray after Gray’s arrest for child molestation didn’t bat an eye when it came to trashing Dave. However, once the accusations moved up the fundamental food chain to Hyles and Gray, they started to get nervous.

Schaap took over after the death of Hyles. He became known for preaching wild sermons that sounded like Al Bundy had traded in his booze for a bible. He preached women were sinning by ‘letting themselves go’ and basically preached against abuse victims seeking accountability. Now, we know why!

David Gibbs, official lawyer for scandal ridden fundamentalist churches, is flying in for damage control.

“You call that a knife? This is a knife!” Crocodile Dundee

What wimps these mortals be!  I’m having a flashback courtesy of Daisy Deadhead, an internet radio host that I have yet to listen to, not because of protest but because I just haven’t had the time.  She posted a comment in reaction to Greg Easton’s blog, The Hidalgo Grain Company, that has been construed as a physical threat.  If you want to explore this for yourself, here is the link:  http://www.stufffundieslike.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=4822

While I can possibly see how it ‘could’ be construed as a threat, in reality it’s all projection.  She’s in one area of the country bragging about biker friends in Pensacola who could pay him a visit and he could ‘witness’ to them.  Since fundamentalism, like medical marijuana, inspires paranoia, the gates were opened. Now legal advisers are allegedly being contacted.

Who is really the target of it all?  Not Daisy Deadhead but Jeffrey Hoffman, the founder of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered Alumni of BJU: http://lgbt-bju.org/

Does this not sound like the beginning of classic scapegoating?  The thrust of Easton’s complaint is that Dr. Camille Lewis, the former BJU professor known for documenting the early history of the Bob Jones family, founded DoRightBJU and Christopher Peterman, who was expelled allegedly for watching GLEE, was a patsy whom DoRightBJU selfishly allowed to take the fall for their nefarious and bitter agenda. What made them so bitter?  Anger about how sexual abuse victims were being treated by counselors at BJU.

It’s funny reading Hidalgo’s take on Peterman because it almost sounds like they’re on his side.  In fact, another so-called advocate criticized DoRightBJU because she felt they were having a poor student take the fall for them.  However, once Christopher Peterman began speaking out for himself through YouTube videos, the sympathy disappeared and now, I guess, he is considered ‘brainwashed’.

Fundamentalists that they are, I’m sure they’ll leap and say, “We never said he was brainwashed!”  And I will  have to say, “I never said you said he was brainwashed!  That’s my interpretation of your strange two-step when it comes to survivors and defenders of those who have been abused.  As long as they play by your rules, they are lambs needing to be protected.  The moment they become lions, they are suddenly undisciplined thugs.”

Daisy’s point, if you care to read the thread linked above, is that he’s a wealthy guy living off his wife in a beachfront house.  A personal attack, to be sure, but not what I would consider a physical threat.

You want to talk about physical threats?  When I began blogging about the Bob Gray case, I had emails saying I should be lucky I was living in California.  If I were living in Jacksonville, Florida, I’d have to watch my back.  Another posted, quite publically, that if he could put his hands through my computer monitor he would choke me to death.

It really began to get hairy when I went to Jacksonville and hosted a public awareness meeting at Fuel’s Coffeehouse on the subject of clergy abuse.  A few nights before the event, I received an email filled with bible versus about how those who oppose the righteous would be put to death.  I didn’t take this too well, I’m ashamed to admit.  Instead of contacting the FBI, I just posted a rambling blog that has since been deleted.  However, if you look at the news report below, you’ll notice they actually showcase a bit of this rambling blog for a few seconds.

Even if I had contacted the authorities in Jacksonville, you have to wonder if they would have taken biblical threats seriously.  Perhaps this person truly believed invisible angels were about to thrust their divine swords into my chest before I even made it to Fuels?  Maybe one of the deranged followers of fundamentalism might show up to ‘put wheels’ to his prayers’?  In the end, that didn’t happen and the ‘rally’, as I called it on YouTube, became the lead story the next night on the 11:00 news.

There was an FFF poster named PappaBear who took it upon himself to dig up the most embarrassing information about me.  Poppy Dixon, the satirist who brought us Betty Bowers, called me a ‘Christian pornographer’ and, combined with my interview with Hyapatia Lee and my ‘garage cinema’ flick, ‘Catholic School Catfight’, nearly sealed my reputation.  Yes, one of my actresses actually did go on to a brief career in adult videos and I was accused of ‘trolling’ Hollywood looking for innocent runaways to bring them into a life of porn.

I interviewed this woman to set the record straight, but when have fundamentalist ever showed a desire to make sure their facts were straight?

Now. . .let’s look at a few things from the fundamentalist perspective.  One of the so-called ‘advocates’ was responsible for getting a guy fired by calling his employer and revealing he was using the internet on company time.  She had some convoluted reason why she felt it necessary, but then she attempted it with another person.

I’m not mentioning names for the same reason Fred Goldman doesn’t say ‘OJ’ when discussing ‘Simpson’.  Even their names are repugnant to me.  I reached out to the second person she tried to harass which was significant considering that person was a supporter of Hephzibah House.  Survivor Wars make strange bedfellows!  I considered her actions so below the bar that I would rather deal with the devil I know than the devil who pretends to be on my side.

So what do I make of this controversy?  They’re trying to somehow pin it on Jeffrey even though it was not his post.  Sounds to me like subtle gay baiting.  When I received that ‘threatening’ message before my event, I could have interpreted that as a threat from Trinity but I knew better.  It could have come from anywhere and I will not fabricate an enemy from shadows.

That’s what’s happening here.  No one can seriously condemn alumni who have valid questions about how BJU treats sex abuse victims.  So, they have to create their enemies from the shadows.  Somehow they’re going to rope all the activists into one big monolithic package.  It reminds me of how the Civil War was discussed at my fundamentalist high school: it was all about states rights and not at all about slavery. They’re going to make those who demand accountability look like thugs when, in reality, they are the ones engaging in imprecatory prayers for the deaths of presidents, ambassadors, and even to silence the critics on the blogosphere.

Notice (feeli) on following the title: Saturday’s event is still on. It actually says ‘feeling better’. This blog used by WTLV-12 was actually written in reaction to an email that was nothing but ominous biblical threats. I was ticked off that I was receiving these threats and very little support from survivors.

Survivor Wars

How was your Memorial Day?  I decided to spend my memorial day recording an episode of ‘Christian School Confidential’ on the subject of ‘Survivor Wars’.  However, since I was in the middle of a cold I realized this might not be the opportune time to videotape.  Nevertheless, the subject matter is of such importance I will now return to the written word.

What is a ‘Survivor War’?  First, it has nothing to do with the television show, Survivor.  When I write ‘Survivor War’, I am speaking about the skirmishes that happen between adult survivors of child abuse within fundamentalist churches or IFB children’s homes which manifest themselves through internet flame wars, banning someone from a message board either because of bad behavior or the poster mentions something that flies in the face of the current orthodoxy of the board.  If we’re talking about Facebook, then we’re dealing with ‘unfriending’ or ‘blocking’ because of either rudeness or the moderator does not want the competition.

Survivor Wars can be started by many things, but here are three issues I have encountered that leads to  messy disagreements:

1) Atheism vs Christianity

Back in the late 90’s, I volunteered for Steven Spielburg’s SHOAH FOUNDATION and assisted videographers who interviewed Holocaust survivors.  I actually got to witness what I had only previously read about when it comes to believers/non believers in WW2 Concentration Camps.  I actually heard a Holocaust survivor say she did not believe in God because she survived the Holocaust and saw no evidence of any goodness in people or the universe.  A few weeks earlier, I got to see a Holocaust survivor say she most definitely believed in God because she got to see goodness manifest itself in spite of the evil which surrounded her. These two individuals, in order to cope, looked upon the same situtations and came out with different conclusions. 

I think it would be wrong, perhaps even rude (dare I say ‘evil’?) to actually challenge what, for them, was the only rational way of coming to terms with their lives and the contradictions of the world. It’s not quite the same with those who survived IFB abuse.  You don’t see survivors of the Holocaust coming out and nitpicking over things like, “Well, it was bad but Hitler did invent the autobahn!”  Nope. 

You do find survivors of IFB abuse ostracising non believers.  I have certainly experienced that.  IFB preachers have been known to accuse victims of turning against them simply because they want to ‘reject God and live like the world!’, so you’ll find most IFB survivors going out of their way to prove this isn’t the case. 

This leads to interesting contradictions like Facebook profiles criticizing abuses in IFB homes while, at the same time, praising conservative politicians like Sarah Palin as role models.  Hmmm, what are the odds Sarah Palin is going to be on the side of accountability regarding IFB homes? Did I miss where she endorsed HR911, the bill that would have demanded accountability in  teen gulags?

You would hardly see a survivor of Hitler’s concentration camps still trying to prove they are ‘good Nazis who oppose abuse’.  Yet, you will see Ex-Fundamentalists still fighting the battle against abuse by using the logic and weapons of their abusers.

I have always had a problem recommending the bible to victims of sexual abuse.  How can you encourage someone who was abused by their father or preacher and send them to a book which treats Lot, a man who got his daughters drunk and raped them, as a good guy?  Okay, I know the bible says that it was his daughters who got him drunk, but would you believe that story if it were actually argued in a court of law? Lot is blaming the victim and the bible is on his side! 

How can any victim find so called empowerment in such a story? Of course, there are groups and individuals who insist they are not religious and respect differing opinions, but in my experience it’s usually been like this: someone steps up and says ‘Praise God!  I don’t know how I would have got through this without Jesus!’, and everybody smiles and applauds.  Let just one person mention how liberating it feels not to be bound by dogma, and suddenly those same people will say, “We don’t get into religion.”

Notice how they never ‘get into religion’  until someone criticizes it?  You never hear that when somebody is ‘praising God’.  You can see how the religion conflict can provide many opportunities for disagreements and flame wars amongst survivors.

2) I was there first!

This is reserved for those who have been addressing issues of abuse within conservative religious groups since the 90s and even back during the 70s.  Their scope of influence was limited since there was not an internet in those days.  Activists had to pay hefty phone bills and buy postage stamps and use fax machines and really needed to leave the house to get anything done.  Such footwork is not necessary today.  Consequently, you can see why there might be some jealousy.  

I have actually witnessed representatives of ‘old school groups’ plead with the new group of internet activists to learn from the past and not forget about them.

3) ‘Get Over It’ vs ‘Let’s Talk About It’.

This is when one group of victims have already come to terms with their abuse and have decided to take the politically incorrect path of just ignoring it and letting the past stay buried.  Perhaps they have much to lose if the truth comes out?  Maybe they have acted out their abuse on others and don’t want to talk about it? 

Maybe they’re like C.S. Lewis who, as a casual reading of Surprised by Joy demonstrates, did not think abuse was worth discussing?  He writes about abuse at the boys school his father sent him to and, showcasing ignorance about sexual matters, talks about how he has nothing but pity for the true homosexual.  Considering that Lewis lived in the dark ages of sexual knowledge when pedophilia and homosexuality were considered one and the same, he most definitely fits into the ‘get over it camp’.

We know that it’s impossible to ‘get over it’ unless you have unloaded all the psychological baggage that comes with abuse.  It is necessary to talk about it.  The solution is to find the right people with whom to talk about it.  Support groups, therapists, and select friends and relatives might be good candidates.  However, on Facebook, you have a mixture between the ‘get over its’ and the ‘let’s talk about it’ occasionally clashing.  Now that more FB groups understand privacy options, that’s becoming less of a problem since anyone who goes on a survivor board and says ‘get over it’ will most likely get kicked off.

These are three examples of issues that can turn survivors against each other.  They are very real issues and should be treated with respect and not taken lightly.  There are other issues, and probably some new issues brewing, that should be dealt with but I wanted to bring some of these  invisible elephants into the open.

The reason abuse flourishes in conservative religious groups is because discussion is usually silenced.  No one wants to talk about their pastor abusing children because of how it might reflect upon their church.  Consequently, survivor groups don’t want to talk about conflicts within themselves because of how it might reflect on them.  No matter what the motivation, serious issues are still being covered up and just waiting to rear their ugly heads.

The solution? Well, let’s learn from our predecessors.  Before Facebook, the bloggers, the glitzy celebrity groups, Oprah and Donahue, there were rock stars. 

That’s right!  Before it was in vogue to discuss abuse, Pete Townshend not only wrote TOMMY, a powerful rock opera that wound up highlighting the effects of child abuse on society, but practically became a prophet by illustrating the first ‘Survivor War’.

Tommy is sexually abused by his Uncle Ernie.  Violently bullied by his Cousin Kevin.  Witnesses his stepfather killing his father.  His mother then joins the stepfather in telling him to ‘Never tell a soul what you know is the truth.”  And then he retreats into his world of silence.  His family exploits  his abilities and becomes rich.  His abusive mother throws him into a mirror and that’s when he wakes up and realizes who he is.

Less than a year later, he becomes a self styled ‘advocate’, if you will,  and works with other broken people.  Nevertheless, his followers realize he has been, consciously or unconciously, ripping them off and never had their best interests in mind.

His followers rebel and Tommy is broken again.  However, the rock opera ends with hope as he is forced to reckon with his demons.  In other words, it was necessary for his followers to engage in a ‘survivor war’ in order for them to see enlightenment and for their so-called leader to see enlightenment.

I could give explicit examples of various ‘Tommys’ in our midst, but really the problem is with us.  Whenever we see survivor wars, especially groups versus groups, we must keep in mind that behind these groups are just one or two people.  Everyone else is just a Facebook friend. 

If you keep that in perspective, you realize it’s just individuals.  Imperfect individuals and our desire to see them as anything but imperfect individuals sets us up for betrayal.  Now, chill out and start learning from those who came before you!

Click below to watch ‘The first survivor war’, since this clip forbids embedding.

TOMMY – THE FIRST ‘SURVIVOR WAR’

Or, just chill to the music:

CSC#2: “Is the IFB a cult?”

Is the IFB movement a cult?  ABC and CNN have broadcasted reports of the scandal plagued ‘Independent Fundamental Baptist’.  What is a cult?  Is it any group that engages in cover-ups and lies?  What about the more ‘mainstream’ organizations like Bob Jones University who are now coming under scrutiny for mishandling sex abuse cases.  Dwayne Walker also interviews Priscilla Coates, cult researcher, who discusses the various types of organizations that use mind control to manipulate their followers.

Chris Peterman reads account of molestation at BJU by dorm counsellor.

She signed a statement she would never speak of this.  That’s the BJU way!

Christian School Confidential – episode one ‘Should he have stopped with Chuck?”

Christian School Confidential, a webseries dedicated to being a watchdog on the IFB Christian School industry, begins with the question, “Should Chris Peterman have given up DORIGHTBJU after Chuck Phelps resigned?”

It is also a call to protest and an invitation for survivors to send videos of testimonies, protests, and memorial services for possible webcasts on the activist site, HEAL-Online.org.

If you are not familiar with the Chris Peterman story, please watch ‘A Salute to Chris Peterman’:

The Calvary Bible Church Protest

Three women who, as girls, were forced into fundamentalist girls home, showed solidarity with a survivor of Hephzibah House, a girls home accused of abusive tactics. They protested at Calvary Bible Church (Lima, Ohio) over its financial support of Hephzibah House. Ron Williams, founder of Hephzibah House, was speaking that day.

It was the church’s 52nd anniversary.

Join the Protest!

heal-online.org

NOTE OF CORRECTION: The video states the three women were former students of HH. Only one of them was, the other two were survivors. One was a parent of a child sent to the facilities. She entered the church and placed flyers in the hymnals to show church members what was going on at HH.