Repressed Memories of Sexual Abuse

By | October 6, 2015

I can’t even come up with the proper words to use to describe what I’ve recently learned. It’s not just people I know of who have been affected. It’s girls who are close to my heart. Is it me, too? That’s a question I’ve been grappling with, as much as any other.

Repressed memories happen when something so traumatic happens that you block it out. Your body is unprepared to deal with it, so it locks the memory away, in the deep recesses of your brain, to be accessed at another time—or never. Is it possible to go through life with a repressed memory that never resurfaces? How does that affect everything you do? Everything you are? Does it manifest as something unresolved, un-figured out? Or is it inevitable that you will know that something is wrong, and someday, somehow, you will remember and learn to deal with it?

So many questions

So many questions. But this is only the beginning.

The Actual Story

I can’t say who, as I’ve agreed to privacy. But let’s say a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, a stranger, a woman who I’ve talked to—in truth, it’s multiple women at this point—have shared a sad story with me about the time when she was young and was sexually molested by an adult man. She repressed the memory for years. Her mom noticed at some point growing up that she was acting strangely, and she tried to figure out what the problem was, to no avail.

Her mom knew of sexual abuse happening in the church community, by men who were dads, uncles, brothers, cousins, husbands. Everybody knew, it seemed. But they knew without doing anything about it.

Especially damning, no one talked about it. Or if they did, it was in hushed whispers.

Her mom kind of broached the subject with the young girl, saying things like, “If you see this man at church, don’t go near him.” Or, “If you see your brothers or sisters near this man, go get them.” But the girl didn’t really know who that strange man was that her mother was referring to. She only knew her uncle, her older cousin, the family friend who had engaged in an inappropriate tickle torture with her on the living room floor. She didn’t realize that there were others like her, others like him.

It was only after years of feeling shame and guilt, years of covering up her feelings, years of wondering why certain triggers made her feel like curling up into a fetal position and crying like a little girl, that one day the memory resurfaced.

She paused, playing a sad song on the guitar, chopping carrots as she prepared dinner for her family, reading a book at the airport, and realized the tears were streaming down her face.

The memory was clear as day—she was there, at her relative’s house, home with a babysitter, outside playing in the yard; she remembered the clearest details of the patterns on the carpet, the potted plants lined up on the windowsill, the smell of cigar smoke, the way the chilly wind made goosebumps rise up on her bare legs.

And the incident. The inappropriate touching. The cautions to keep this a little secret “between us,” the assurances that this was okay, the cajoling to stop crying, and “Let’s play a game!”

She had come a long way already in learning to be her own unique, authentic self. She was an adult. She was figuring out how to navigate the waters of responsibility that comes with adulthood. She had been proud of herself and her progress in personal growth.

And now she was shattered again. Now she had to come to terms with this part of her history.

She chose to tell a few trusted people in her life.

Some of her friends shared their own experiences. There were way more sad stories than she could have imagined. One other was too much. But two? Three? Four? More than that? She was not alone.

Yet, she felt so alone.

After different types of therapy, removing trapped emotions, trying alternative medicine, talking, journaling, she finally moved on. She felt stronger, more capable. Her life was going to be okay. She even forgave her perpetrator, and put the incident in the past.

But it’s not over.

Too many little girls are being affected.

Too many little girls are being affected.

Now What?

My worry—which I know I share with all of these girls, and their moms, and the dads, and the young boys, and the elders—is that this is still going on in the church, the tribe, the close-knit community in which I grew up.

No, it didn’t happen to me. But I can’t use that as an excuse to not bring it up.

I can’t pretend to know everything about what has happened in the church. But I can’t pretend not to know anything anymore.

I know that the vast majority of my readership comes from the midwest, where there is a high concentration of people from the church. You all are reading. You all are listening.

Maybe now, we all can start talking.

What has been done to stop the problem? What has been done to punish the perpetrators? What is being done to help them become healed members of society? What is being done to help the victims?

Maybe our hands feel tied. What can we do? With kids, or nieces, or cousins of our own, we can warn them, “It’s not okay to be touched in this way by anyone.” I know that some people are already talking, and for that I’m grateful.

But it’s not enough. A lot of little girls are not being told. They say that one in three girls have been sexually molested in their lives. That’s a scary number.

Little boys aren’t being told, either. But they are being affected, too.

And little boys and girls grow up to be hurting adults who need to deal with the sexual abuse they experienced when they were young.

Let’s stop this from happening.

Let's start the conversation.

Let’s start the conversation.

Let’s open up a dialogue. Now is your chance to be heard. Talk to someone about this. Talk to each other.

If you have a story you would like to share, please send me a private message. In coming weeks, I will help foster the conversation. Additionally, I can guide you to some trusted sources for help if that’s what you’re looking for.

Let’s stop being silent about this. Let’s bring it out in the open so we can do something about it.

You can also leave a regular blog comment down below, or post to my Facebook wall. The important thing is, if you have something to say, please say it.


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77 thoughts on “Repressed Memories of Sexual Abuse

  1. Greta

    Great post Ev! My husband and I recently had a talk about how we are going to discuss things like sexual abuse with our children. I guess I grew up in this rose colored glasses world where this just wasn’t something we talked about. I want my children to be informed and know whats really right and wrong and let them know what to do if they are ever abused. The only mention of it that I ever heard was in third grade when we watched a stranger danger video. Well, some strangers are bad but I believe that most sexual abuse is committed by someone the survivor knows. I believe that is also the problem. One might find out about abuse and think about reporting it but they might be stopped by thinking about all the people’s lives they will be affecting. Especially if they are personally connected to all those people. It will undoubtedly rip families apart so it might be easy for one to naively kid themselves by thinking it won’t happen to someone else so they will just deal with it privately. Time to think about protecting the next victim. If you can prevent it, why wouldnt you? I think the key is to not think about protecting everyone around the abused and to protect the abused first. There are obviously many complexities to the situation no matter how it is dealt with and their will be negative consequences no matter what but it’s important for the abused to know that it’s because of the abuser, not them! Hiding behind the forgiveness of sins doesn’t fly with this one. Just because you forgive, doesn’t mean it’s OK and I think that abusers need to be held responsible by the court system. We need to get rid of this hush hush culture because it’s not helping anyone. I could go on and on but I will stop for now.

    1. Ruth laho

      The Bible says we live by the law of the land. It is preached from the pulpit I’m the church I was raised in. So if what they preach is true then, if someone breaks the law they need to answer for that with the law, and they can get forgiveness elsewhere.

  2. heather

    Thanks for posting this Ev! So many of us have been affected by this! But not on my watch will we continue sweeping it under the rug… Never a solid plan to deal with important issues! It is only when we bring darkness out into the light, that there is a chance for true redemption. This is for the safety of our children and for them to know they have a safe environment and supporting adults whom they can be honest with about anything! Not just sexual abuse! If we feel we have to protect our parents from any akward conversation It is highly unlikely that we will be able to have those uncomfortable conversations on something huge such as this. Being directly affected by this it means now as a parent myself… equally or even more important than straight up protection, is being able to be vulnerable myself with my children, and deepen relationship and trust with them. So no, it’s not just a couple times a year convo that needs to be had, rather an understanding that my children will only communicate to me, to the extent that I am with them.

  3. Michelle Massie

    I am not tech savy, so if you are reading this for a second time- good its that important.

    Evelyn,

    I write this with tears streaming down my eyes. You are an honest and raw warrior. Thankyou, for writing about the hard stuff, the stuff that needs to be heard.

    I too, lost my preciousness as a child. I too, had boundaries violated by an older powerful church going man. I too, felt so damn alone. I too, was a peacemaker and didn’t want to cause any hurt to the people I loved by telling them how I felt.

    And, I too- have heard of way too many sexual abuse stories, and no healing. No honesty, just more secrets.

    I too, spent years wondering what my story was. I too, knew of many that had suffered with me. I too, searched for…well for me.

    The thing that is hard, the elephant in the room is this. People say when you have been sexually boundarified (this is what I call, that works for me) and you lose your faith, that your heart is hard. That you forgot forgiveness. But, the truth for me is, In order for me to find forgiveness I had to leave.

    I could look at the old man, or the puberty ridden boy- and could feel sorry for them, and forgive them for what they did or didn’t do, but the biggest test of forgiveness was to be able to look at the mirror at myself, and know that I let it happen. I didn’t protect me. And, I kept secrets. To, cover things up- throw a rug over them, so life could still be surface peaceful.

    To look at me, to forgive myself.

    This has been some of my biggest work. I now can say I am grateful for the day I started seeing. Because with my eyes open, well I am finding truly who I am.

    Thanks again, Evelyn.
    xoxo MIchelle

    If there is anything I can do, to any who are suffering. My heart is open. Big prayers to all.

    1. Jodi

      Thank you for talking about this topic. It didn’t happen to me, but some of my friends were victims. I’m so sorry, Michelle and others, that this was your experience. And thank you for your so selflessly offering to use your experiences and healing processes to help other victims.

  4. Lori Frantti

    This is a very powerful, beautiful, heartbreaking and much needed piece to be written. I have never been abused but know some that have and how it changed their life. I believe in forgiveness but there also needs the perpetrator to be brought to justice in a court setting. I know of one type of abuse where my friends brothers had molested her growing up. Only when she went to nursing school did she realize that this was not normal behavior. No parent explained to their kids anything concerning sex. Educating your children is giving them power over their own life. I know some parents feel if you talk about sex it will put ideals in their mind but I so disagree. I am seeing a change, a wonderful change where this generation is changing some of the old ways that are harmful yet keeping the goodness alive. I feel so blessed to have read your words from the heart. Thank you

  5. Beth Jukuri

    Thanks for daring to voice out loud…that abuse IS still rampant within the church….and that we all need to do something. It brought tears to me, to feel another voice has spoken out loud what I have been saying for over 10 years. I don’t have to speak as loud, if others are speaking with me. We can join our voices and become a force to be reckoned with.

    We can support those who have stood against abuse. For often it is the one who has set the boundaries who have been shunned. The one who names the abusers and their supporters. The one who will not be silent no more….are turned away from in order to remain blind to the sickening amounts of horrific abuse.

    Many within the church will proclaim their precious faith. Their belief. And, yet they fail to see the truths littering their family and destroying the innocent lives of children.

    The long term affects are completely devastating in their breath and depth…on how it changes who the child would have been.

    The insidiousness of abuse destroys, the victims and those who keep it a secret.

    If I could only lend courage to those who are wondering what to do.

    Are you willing to go against family and friends for the sake of stopping this cycle?
    Are you willing to lose more than you can bear to lose?
    Are you willing to gain a strong sense of self by doing what is right and not what is proper or what has been the rule?
    Are you safe in doing so?
    Are you willing to unfriend and disassociate with those whose names you have heard?

    Standing agains abuse ISN’T standing against a stranger but ending relationships with family and friends.
    For, as someone stated, abuse happens with someone you know 90% of the time, and 50% of that is with family.

    What I know, is that, those of us who have been used to being different in the community, have stood out to be in the church have been schooled to be strong and outstanding for what WE believe.

    If you believe in the safety and innocence of children, I hope you can find a voice.

    Tom Rosemurgy is the detective of Hougton County and has offered to meet with folks who don’t know what to do.
    He and other law enforcement folks know that the church has big big issues. But until there are families willing to turn in family and press charges, there is nothing they can do.

    This of course is a topic near and dear to my soul. I am here and am willing to meet with anyone.
    Abuse will not leave due to our silence, only our raised voices will end it.

    Thank you Eve. I hope your voice is heard!
    Beth Jukuri

    1. Jessica

      If it’s not a failing, what is it? Not a failing? She said they need to face the consequences. I personally am of the church and I nor nobody I know would ever think it was ok to hide an abuser. That is a grave insult to me, and hundreds of mothers and fathers who live to love and protect their children. This would have been an excellent blog post if it would have stuck with the issue and not falsely insinuated that the church as a whole is accepting of this behavior.

      1. heather

        Really, why be insulted?

        But actually I feel I can partly relate to how you feel, I felt similar just a few months ago. Interesting though, I’ve had a memory resurface of abuse from an elder from when I was 3YO. The crazy thing is that I knew nothing of there being a history in the extended family, even though this isn’t the first time it’s came up. obviously, I am devastated, as are my Parents! The reason we should care so deeply and seek a community solution around this is because our families are so close and intertwined within the community. I for one think it would be amazing if some leaders stepped forward, letting it be known who exactly can be called and counseled in trust, even anonymously if desired. It should also be well known that they recommend getting the law involved, though that is still up to the individual. That alone may cause some perpetrators to think twice.

        Face it, not all parents are open with their kids about sexuality, what is normal and what is not. And we are taught to respect our elders, but that respect needs to be earned. Otherwise, we send mixed messages to our kids if they find themselves in a precarious situation. This is why it would be so so huge to have a hot line # or a known trusted person for those kids and adults who may not have open communication line with family or friends. Maybe not the churches fault but who cares? Let’s just be adults and do something about it! I think it will take a few brave men in our church in leadership to step forward and demand this kind of protection and support!

        People really really need our support as a community! Not just oh, that’s your issue.. good luck. I know people may be well intentioned but one hurt abused person has the potential to pass another form of abuse unto many others, when they do not receive healing on a cellular level.

        If we sit around feeling offended it is hard to take action and be a potential support person for someone who has been abused. I for one am excited and optimistic!! Who cares what it’s called or if everything is politically correct as long as ONE MORE innocent child is robbed of all innocence and self worth. Comes Down to right and wrong nothing else.

  6. Sara

    Even an abuser can have that sin forgiven.

    That said, I have not heard in preached in “the church” that a sinner can avoid the consequences of his/her actions through forgiveness. Instead, it has been clear that a law breaker still faces the legal consequences.

    Beth said “But until there are families willing to turn in family and press charges, there is nothing they can do.” So it has to be up to the families. And hopefully anyone who knows of abuse reports it. I know that is an unrealistic hope, but to blame the church for the failings of individuals, both the abusers and those who don’t report abuse, makes no sense.

    1. Beth Jukuri

      I know that many will not want the church to be tainted by the ‘failings’ of individuals. But the individuals make up the church. Child abuse is a criminal act, not a failing. And, to believe that the church members, board members and mission members are unaware….they are not. My brother and I have personally spoke to a few and it lands on deaf ears. Saying it is not the business of the church.

      When the families use the church for its foundation, we cannot have this discussion without questioning the church….for you can’t separate the church from the individuals.

      The second blow that I encountered after finding out my father was a pedophile, was that the church (members) knew, Peter Torola knew and yet nothing was done. The members and the church are indeed part of the problem. They are not doing the mandatory reporting. And, in doing so, they are silent as the abuse continues. And, in fact, many adults warned their children to stay away from our home. Just as Eve stated.

      As long as you defend the church, the real conversation is stalled there.

      Is it possible to have the church open up to being questioned?

      This sentiment, is why children don’t tell, when there is no room for discussion for another view of someone.

  7. Anna

    I want to preface this by saying I, in no way, shape, or form, advocate protecting a perpetrator of sexual abuse in any way. I agree with 99% of what you say. Sexual abuse is a problem. Protecting the abuser is a problem. Children not fully understanding what is “right” and what is “wrong” in terms of their bodies at a young age (and all through life) is a problem.

    But in no way is this a problem of the church/tribe/whatever you may call it. It is a problem happening EVERYWHERE, and a problem that mus be solved wherever it is happening. Never have I heard teaching/been pressured/etc. (at church, or otherwise) to protect someone who is being a sexually abused. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen. But it has everything to do with the parent, the perpetrator, whomever is telling the child to keep it a secret. Not the church as a whole.

    Thank you for speaking out and raising awareness for sexual abuse.

    1. Sara

      Thank you, Anna and Shanna. You both said what I meant to, just in a much better and clearer way.

  8. Shanna

    It’s a sick world out there. Abuse happens everywhere. We can go to any neighborhood on earth and find someone who’s connected to it in some way, whether openly or privately. It’s not only happening among members of our specific religion. BUT the difference is that some are confusing forgiveness, which is meant for all, with allowing a crime to be forgotten and swept away. We are all sinners, but when a sin becomes a crime, it needs to be paid for by the person responsible. We can’t be protecting people in our society/family who are causing kids to have a lifetime of hurt and betrayal and self esteem issues. I thankfully haven’t gone through this myself, and I was lucky to have been raised in a family who has been open to talking about topics like this. But for the kids who were taught to believe that they should protect a relative, friend etc. and keep their mouths shut, there is absolutely no reason you should have to suffer alone. Not discussing serious issues may have been how our parents or grandparents were raised, but I strongly feel we need to protect the kids first, not the one doing the abuse. As hard as it might be to come forward and convict a family member etc., think of the kids whose lives you’d be protecting by stopping the cycle of abuse. It’s healthy to talk about these things and I hope that bringing this subject to light will help the ones who are silently suffering.

  9. J

    Individuals own behavior does not constitute that of the entire church and “the church” as you call it is not the only place sexual abuse happens in this world. It is not right to be covered up and those who are abused need strength to bring it forward. It isn’t fair to accuse the church of supporting such behavior when these are individual family issues not those of the church.

    1. C

      C
      Sounds a little too defensive to me. If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything. Church included!

  10. heather

    This has nothing to do with a group as a whole unless that group refuses to openly talk about it, and acknowledge it’s a problem or its existence. Also the group needs to offer support ( a known specific person or phone #) which includes getting the law involved if they want to be morally responsible and not perpetrating the problem across families, and down generations. Any group which is willing to openly talk about sexuality, what is normal and what is not, and who to call or talk to should the parents be in-accesible is doing their job!!

    It’s always the job as parents to do the best we can. yes we need to continue giving our problems to God, but that does NOT need to involve passing the problems down to our children!!!

    I am so grateful to live in a time where it is more accepted to be open about our history and emotions! I can’t imagine what people in past generations had to endure culturally to fit in! This will be a very healing time for all who decide to participate!

    Love to all!!!
    Heather

  11. Michelle

    Thank you so much for your bravery in bringing this topic up on your public platform, Evelyn! I was so saddened this evening when I was listening to a speaker at the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home 35th Anniversary Benefit Dinner tonight talk about her job working downstate for the state of Michigan and the prevention of physical and sexual abuse. In Detroit, out of the 11,000 rape kits discovered in an abandoned building- that have now finally been tested after collecting dust for over 10 years, over 188 serial rapists have been identified. These are rapists who went on continually raping people even after victim after victim went through the unimaginable bravery of going to a hospital, reporting the crime… and nothing was done about it. The speaker personally audited over 400 of these cases and many of the kits involving young victims ranging from 14 years old and up had notes in there from the police officers, or other personnel handling the case saying the girl was a slut, they didn’t believe her, she wanted it…etc… http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2015/04/11000_untested_rape_kits_detro.html

    The so, so sad reality of the world we’ve been living in, is that we as human beings haven’t made our communities safe havens for our women, children, and sometimes even men. What I mean is, look at what happened to THOUSANDS of women who tore their lives apart and gave up the ‘superficial peace,’ reported the crime, and the victim blaming went not only from the perpetrator, families, neighbors, but police officers, officials who were supposed to be in a position to help! Now after all these years and the kits are being tested, these people have to deal with their repressed memories, and face auto-immune diseases, cancer, they carry it- and whether they deal with it or not, one way or another it eats away at the core of their existence.
    Now is such an amazing time for us all to be the change you wish to see in the world, and I am so proud of you all who have spoken. We all have a vision for a safer future. I can not imagine the difficulties each person faced in the time before now with wrestling with reporting these crimes, knowing exactly what to do, when the world they were living in all stuck their heads in the sand. I am grateful for the trail blazers, and those of us on this new frontier of figuring this all out. I pray each and every one of us can find peace within our own hearts with events that led us all to where we are now, that this discussion doesn’t end here- is an ongoing/ daily lifestyle awareness woven into our conciousness as parents and as a society- and we can take away from this all the knowledge in understanding just how important it is that we fully understand where our elected officials stand on these topics- like our sheriffs, mayors, judges, people who we elect to decide how these situations need to be handled…individual and societal change where we say “No More.”

    1. Elton

      Seeing as how Beth believes it is only the apostolic church that molests children and keeps quiet then were all these 188+ serial rapists from the lower Michigan apastolic congregation? Or is this just false information because it doesn’t have to do with the apastolic church? I don’t understand how a worldwide problem can be blamed on one church just because it happens there too. The only real group of people to blame is mankind.

  12. Aleena Torola

    Thank you, Evelyn, for the courage to post this. Awareness is a big part of stopping the cycle of abuse, and so many people will not acknowledge that there is an issue.

    1. heather

      I so agree!! Anyone who is being defensive about this, I ask, “why?” Is it not true that collectively we can always raise the bar on how we handle these things? Is it not true that it has been swept under the rug many times in the past? No, of course it wasn’t openly stated as so. This is not about pointing fingers. This is about raising the bar in safety and awareness for the sake of innocent children and inside every abuser is simply a small child, abused themselves, and longing to be set free of their own addiction and trauma.

      What I would really like to see happen, is for a few strong and courageous men to step forward and say, “not on my watch! Not to my innocent women, girls, and boys” Stating clearly how this type of situation is handled within the law, and everyone knows who exactly this trusted person is who they can call, or visit. Anonymously if preferred, at any time. Because the truth is, not all parents will take this seriously and their children deserve the same protection.

      It’s not so much about what has been done in the past (or in this case, not done). But rather, what can be done moving forward? It will be interesting to see if any brave men, take the cause up and do what is needed here.

      1. Lorene

        The way this post was written says to those from the outside that our church is full of pedophiles and those who cover for them. Since this is simply not true I am happy that others have stood up for the church and its members by speaking out.

      2. heather

        I respect you feel that way. I can understand why those who haven’t had a personal experience could feel that. There are so many amazing people in our congregation, and that is why I feel optimistic. There are a lot of good constructive ideas and passionate people who are excited to make a difference. I am so proud of my brother Jason who commented d! That’s what it will take is a few maverick’s to ask.. what happened in the past? How can we learn from it? What can we do different moving forward? Love ya Lorene!

  13. r

    I feel bad for those who are affected by sexual abuse and hope they can find the healing they need…but if we can blame a church as a whole for the sins of individuals who make up the church or attend the gatherings then perhaps with that ideology we can blame Jesus for the sinfulness of those who gathered and followed his teachings in hopes of salvation…I’m not sure exactly how that even makes sense? I myself would not have the heart to report an abuser as perhaps as easy as someone else would, but does that make the church I go to the blame?? Does that make me a heartless person?? I myself would find it especially hard if it was a family member..I also know others who have been on the other side of the eight ball who have experienced false accusations of sexual abuse..not sure I’d want to report someone and find out it’s not true but a rumor..imagine a truly innocent person being accused..even if they found no proof look at the damage it does…there’s no easy answer to any of this but maybe if we blame the ministers of this church for not doing what was in favor of our interests we might gain something…not sure how that makes sense either…shedding light and talking amongst eachother and educating our children is on thing but continuously trying to pin an issue to one church only simply does not sell to me as raising” awareness”.

  14. Deb Kastamo

    Thank you for posting this. It gives so much hope to see another generation standing up to this difficult issue, being willing to say, we need this brought out in the open, instead of allowing the silence to continue, which fosters further abuse.
    Your courage is amazing, dear Ev, and all the others who are posting on here.
    For many, we come to a point where silence is no longer an option.
    Unfortunately, in so many close knit communities, such as churches, the perpetrator is protected rather than the children. It’s astonishing, but one of the public defenders for children who are victims of sexual abuse in churches has said that in all the years in court, he has only seen church members show up in support of the perpetrators, never once for support of the victim.
    This is a tough issues, and I want to thank you again for addressing it here.

  15. Ruth laho

    Ev you brought this topic out in a very positive way. I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I repressed my memories ( which is common) and I spent years of hard work becoming the woman I am today.

    I grew up in a era where they still paddled kids in school and used physical force to restrain and discipline them. So sexual abuse was not something that was handled well inside the church community or society. How far things have come !!! However we still have not come far enough.

    I call it the E’s. Education. How much do we know on this subject to protect the people we love. How much have we taught the youth. How well are we prepared to handle both victims and abusers in out community. Knowledge empowers us. I encourage everyone to learn as much as you can, so perhaps you can see the danger before it strikes.

    Expose. The threat should be exposed, so that we can protect ourselves. If your neighbor was coming home drunk at 3pm every day and was endangering the children , would you do something? Perhaps you wouldn’t . however as much as we would not put our children on a busy highway to play, nor should we knowingly give a perpetrator access to them. This is my opinion.

    Eliminate. Eliminate the threat by getting abusers help along with holding them responsible. There are statistics on how many abused will then abuse. This is why it is so important to break the cycle . when I grew up in my small congregation there was at least 3 pedefilles. So how many victims??? And from these branches how many more.

    Embrace. As a community or congregation we need to embrace this topic. We need to help the victim!s heal, we need to validate the pain that people have endured, and give our children a voice. Our voice that says I will protect you!!! How each individual embraces this topic is up to them, I pray that not one more child has to be hurt. I know this is not going to happen. Ask yourself am I part of the problem……. Or part of the solution.

    Lastly to Mary, I also had to walk away to love myself. Shame on whoever said we loose something, ……we gain by healing. I found that I lived my life in guilt. Not that the church made me feel that way however I did not want to forgive the people who hurt me, etc. And hearing this over and over made me feel worthless and not good enough. For I could not just forget. Today I am proud to say I am happy !!! I only feel guilty for my sins ..not anyone else’s. I also have come to realize that in order to forgive someone that person needs to repent, walk In the water , and come out a different person. I couldn’t forgive them because they were still evil. I pray for us all, as the world gets darker and darker. May God gives us all ears to here each others point of views . thanks ev and all who share

  16. Rosie

    This is so so so important!! Thank you for starting this conversation!

  17. Nora Anderson

    Dear Ev,
    I am so proud of you for having the strength and courage to post this! You are such a gift to the world 🙂

    I too was violated as a very small child, and it has only very recently surfaced for me. I repressed it for so many years….

    I am so thankful that you wrote this, and I truly hope that more people will start having more open discussions about this. I myself don’t want to devote my time and energy blaming anyone, because I’d much rather devote time to healing myself, so that hopefully someday I can help others as well. Do I feel that this issue happens in that tribe? Yes. Do I also feel it happens outside of the tribe as well? Yes. I just want the proper action being taken, regardless of where anybody comes from. We all deserve love, and respect… the perpetrators, and the victims. Most perpetrators were harmed before by somebody else… that child inside of them, still deserves love and proper healing. My heart is saddened to think of all the people that have been abused, and haven’t received the help and support to heal properly. Every single person deserves a chance, a chance to live a fulfilling, happy, present filled life!

    I feel as a parent, that at the end of the day I want to know that I’m doing my absolute best to protect my children from any harm, including this. Working on healing myself, has allowed me to see that I do not want my children in an environment where there is even 1 case of this, and it’s not being reported. 1 life is TOO MANY!
    Are there cases outside of the tribe that aren’t being reported as well, yes. So I see it as my duty to protect myself, and my children at all times, from members in or out of the tribe.

    I am interested in being around others that are aware, and fully ready to talk about any of this. I feel so hopeful for a change for all the children, and adults of this world. I believe that the more people are willing to talk about the raw, honest truth about all of this, the more quickly the world can see change.

    Ev, you are a strong, powerful woman! Thanks for having the courage to write what so desperately needs to be talked about! You are an inspiration to me 🙂

  18. Beth Jukuri

    I do like the thought, that some strong men will step forth and lend their voice to this issue. There is a movement where Men are challenging other men who are known perpetrators or even ones who talk down to or demean women. Letting the men know, this is not acceptable.

    It is preposterous that victims are the ones to lead the charge.

    Where are the men’s voices and more importantly their actions.

    I can rest my voice in regards to the church….and let the truth find its way. If it is an organization of high morals and values, IT will take up this cause and lead the way.

    What we need most is to accept that abuse is here and it is not slowing down. We cannot change, what we do not acknowledge.

    We don’t want to be the generation that knew and did nothing.
    I have nothing to say, to the elders in my childhood….for what excuse would ever be good enough.
    I don’t want to be that person.

    I will use my voice, my blog to break the silence about abuse.
    I will encourage victims to take their power back by speaking up.

    It is hard to find a space for victims to speak….to be respected and Believed.
    Since the percentage of abuse that is falsely brought forth less than between 2 and 8%…..the number of UN-reported is 63%. So, that skews the percentage, when more than half, (and I believe it is much higher) go unreported.

    We can agree something needs to change….for insanity is doing the same thing generation upon generation; expecting a different result.

    It isn’t about sex education. Sexual abuse isn’t about sex, but power.
    It is about empowering children to have a voice and to own their bodies.
    We try and teach children, ‘good touch bad touch’ but we don’t teach them by our actions
    who is evil and who is not. We don’t teach them how to set up boundaries, if we ourselves don’t have any.

    Let the discussion and interest continue….as well as constructive actions that will impact the lives of the future victims.

  19. Kaitlin

    This blog post is extremely offensive in implying that “the church” is accepting of this behavior. Being from the church and having discussed this with other members who all would never turn a blind eye to this kind of behavior your accusations are not only false but very uncalled for. You are accusing hundreds of people based off the actions of few.

    1. Beth Jukuri

      My abuse happened while I was a child, 50 plus years ago. In the neighborhood, where we lived, there were three other families from church. Of the three homes, my father abused many of the girls. The girls did tell their parents. The parents, at the time, chose to do the barest minimum….told them either they didn’t believe them or to stay away. The preacher forgave him, the neighbors forgave him, abuse continued on, into late 2004.

      I have been outspoke about my abuse. I have talked to others who have been abused. Our stories are very similar in
      what wasn’t done and how abuse is/was treated.

      I am not implying….I am telling you how it is.

      Whether you want to hear this or not, is your preference.
      Is my family an anomaly? Were my neighbors typical christian families?
      What does accepting mean?
      When I imply acceptance, I mean they knew and they didn’t press charges. They didn’t go to family protective services. They kept it within the circle of their ‘faith’ community….adult church members.

      Whether you want to believe this or not; my journey of sexual abuse as a child is my truth.
      I have documents from the detective at the time showing how many knew from church and did nothing.
      He, the detective, had never had such a case of so many who knew. And knew for 40 plus years….and no one reported him to the law of the land. And, this is just one pedophile’s story.

      Your non-belief that this is going on within the families of the members of the church….won’t make it not true.
      Sorry.

      1. Elton

        It is interesting how all of your posts are more about bashing the Christian church than trying to fix the actual problem which is child abuse. If you have a problem with the church, then don’t go. I agree that there are people in the congregation that hide it but there are people everywhere that hide it. There are moms that have murdered there children. Does that mean that all moms, or should I say everyone from their faith is messed up? No, a normal person wouldn’t. I know an apparent child molester that is walking free right now. There are people all over that know he is and don’t say anything and no they aren’t from the so called “tribe”. Alot of the people who know about someone being a molester heard it through rumors and have no idea how true the rumor even is. I believe the parties that are involved in the crime or directly related to it, are the ones that need to be speaking up. You are discriminating against an entire faith because of your own issues with your childhood. I am more then happy to speak up if I need to, but you can’t call people out on rumors that don’t hold water. I hear rumors about 50 different people a day in which only a couple end up being true. I love how your dad is the sick twisted pervert and had buddies that kept his secret and they just happened to be from the same church (which isn’t uncommon for most of your friends to be from the same church) so it is fair to through the whole church through the ringers because of it. Some apostolics drink. Does that mean all do? Some apostolics steal. Does that mean they all do? Maybe you should seek therapy for your problems and stop bashing a church because of your separate agenda.

      2. Joh

        Just out of curiosity Beth, “Do you see any good in this church?” All over the internet and blogs as well as your own I’ve come to realize that you truly don’t have a positive thing to say about this church. I understand you were a victim but how long do you remain a victim? Would you feel better if the church collapsed as a congregation and you could sit back and say ” I told you so”? Nobody wants to hide sexual abuse but realize nobody wants families torn apart and living in anger towards eachother either. I’ve seen these situations and I’ve seen people who have been through things of the same nature and I’ve noticed sometimes they want to see everyone else have to experience the pain they’ve felt. Do you honestly think everything about this subject is in your hands…Maybe it’s time for Beth to let go.

      3. Sara

        Unless I recall incorrectly, your father did not face justice until a father from my church reported him to the authorities once he was aware of the abuse.

  20. ruth laho

    How you feel Kaitlin is real, and I respect you feelings. However I disagree with you. I just re read the comments of everyone and I see alot of different points of view. I can not speak for anyone besides myself and I personally lived in an era where they did not handle the issue of sexual abuse. One of the men that was molesting was caught, more then once, the congregation was told forgiveness was what was needed. However this lead to more victims. It is not the buildings fault, nor the scripture, however the price was paid by the innocent children of the congregation. I could blame them however that bears me no good fruit. They acted according to the way society treated this issue. Times have changed and we need to change with it. ABusers need to be exposed and children protected. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Kaitlin

      I must have been unaware of that situation. In the one situation I had knowledge of the victim was protected and supported by the members of the church and the offender was sentenced in court. Yes forgiveness can be sought from certain individuals but first I the offender needs to exposed, I agree with you on that. The part I do not agree with is stating that the congregation is ok with criminal behavior because in my experience the congregation acted exactly opposite of that.

    2. Sara

      Thank you, Ruth, for realizing, even though you yourself were a victim, that society as a whole did not handle this correctly in the past.

  21. Melissa

    Thank you for your bravery in posting such a hot-button issue with your readership. Life isn’t always roses & rainbows, and it’s good to acknowledge our societal shortcomings and demand actions as well as answers. You are a strong, courageous person – don’t let the pendulum of viewpoints here in the comments section keep you from blogging about what’s in your heart, whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. Keep up the great work!

  22. D

    Ev
    Great post! One of the factors that should be considered among those of you apposed to this sexual abusive lifestyle that is popular here on earth in and out of tribes is this:
    Husbands, wives, sons & daughters that are accepting this behavior will stand up to defend and protect their pedophiles and abusers.
    In the comments here on this beautiful post are some of these people who will do anything in there power including gaslighting to take your eyes away from them. They have been trained from a young age!
    Believe what you want but you will not stop sexual abuse but you can walk away! Beth said it best, with walking away from family or people you can solve the problem.
    If a person defends said person or said church they have no credibility. Sexual abuse is rampant because it’s accepted by so many.
    I personally have witnessed families handing their own children to pedophile offenders. It happens! Sad but true.
    Will it stop? If you move out and move on it will. Will that take more strength than you have ever mustered up? I think so!
    No grammar comments necessary as that wasn’t my point.

    1. Elton

      That is very interesting. I thought the whole point of this article is to stand up and put a stop to this. Now I am very confused that you say to get up and walk away from the problem and that will solve it. You said the problem will stop if you move out and move on. That is a very selfish way to think and that way of thinking is the exact reason why these pedophiles are walking around under the radar today. It only solves the problem for YOU, if you walk away from it. What about the next victim, or the one after that? Maybe it is just me but the way you phrased your post is making it sound like you should just brush it under the rug and move out and boom – problem solved.

    2. Joh

      Lol.. so accepted. I think the issue is rather a little more complex then that people accept it. Anyone can sit and read a psychology book and come after people with psychology terms related to abuse. I can see the manipulation in your comments. I’ve seen in many places people try to use psychology as a tool to assault with rather then in a helpful manner. And what I’ve seen is the person who does use it in the manner you have can almost never see there own dysfunction but yet so clearly see it in others. What’s even better how you challenge in a manipulative way others to see perhaps if they can “muster the strength” to walk away. Not everyone who has been abused needs to walk away. Some have forgiven there abuser and still attend the church. They don’t hold the resentments that others do. The abuse has stopped in those situations. So tell me again why walking away should be the only way????

  23. Jason Johnson

    First, I want to say that my heart goes out to any and all victims of abuse. Thank you to all the victims (VICTORS!) who have the COURAGE, PERSEVERANCE, and STRENGTH to step forward in the midst of a dark and trying time. You are all ADMIRABLE. When I got the call from my mom about what had happened to some of my family members a shiver ran though my spine, with my hair standing on edge, I was numb. Other emotional things happened that “tough” guys don’t talk about, like crying in my bedroom with a closed door. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how shattered victims of abuse must feel in comparison to how I felt not even being a victim…

    This is an excellent dialogue, and a much needed one. Speaking from personal experience this has been a hush, hush topic, my proof: I am 26 year’s old and for the FIRST time in my life I am hearing about sexual abuse that has happened within MY church (and yes those that want to argue the other point, I’ll concede a head of time there are also many in different walks of life experiencing hush, hush. That isn’t the point) this is a Macro issue and a Micro issue. Those of you arguing on the Macro level make very valid points, ZERO disagreement there with this being a world problem by mankind. However, let me ask you this question, how much of an impact do you have on the Catholic Church? How much of an influence do you have on communities in Africa? All issues at the Macro level, it’s harder to leverage your circle of influence there. However where we do have a greater voice is in our own community, within our own circles is a GREAT place to start. One of our own circles VERY much consists of the apostolic church (A great church in my opinion, that works for me), along with our families. On a micro level I ask why the church can’t use its platform on this subject. Any good objections? Looking for a positive step forward towards a solution. Evelyn isn’t asking the church to do something about it, she’s asking us to do something about it. Well, I am asking if we, our families, and the church can do something about it moving forward. Am I naïve for thinking that the church COULD also help be a PART of the solution in the future? My knowledge on sermons, sins vs law, forgiveness, exposing tends to be very limited…

    Those of you offended by other things, I understand your point of view. For eg: It did feel kind of weird to have the church referred to as a tribe. Not quite sure what the actual context/meaning was there.

    Also wanted to mention that by talking about it WE are working on it. I’ve been on the phone with multiple friends and family in the last couple of days (conversations about how to raise kids awareness, sexual education, prosecuting abusers, etc), and this post has been doing what it intended, driving conversation.

  24. Beth Jukuri

    Will it ever be possible to move on abuse, without ‘bashing’ the church? When the individual represents the church….the church will feel bashed, when we speak ill of them. I can’t find a way to go around that.

    Will victims ever be heard, and not challenged? Can we change your minds….and is it our job?

    My experience, of telling folks outside of the church about the abuse I experienced, is completely different.

    A debate doesn’t ensue. My words, my feelings and experiences are held with respect. I am believed.

    This sort of dialogue only happens when I bring my abuse issues to the congregation. Why?

    The very opposing forces that we are exhibiting here, IS the same force field a child feels.

    And sadly, a child from the church doesn’t have access to folks outside of the church….as friends, for that is forbidden within the religion. Who will hear a child, when you can’t hear me as an adult?

    I don’t have answers. I am only trying to shed light upon a very serious issue and tell you my experience.

    My experience won’t hold a candle to yours…..

    Nor, will a child’s.

    For you know the church, its people and how they will act.
    I can’t convince you differently.

    My experience will not change your mind.
    So, who can?

    1. S

      See, Beth the problem you meet when you talk to people from the church is your own defenses. Since WHEN are friends outside of the church forbidden?! When you throw out comments like this it’s ridiculous. I go to the church you so freely bash and never have I ever prohibited my kids from having friends outside the church. Nor did my own mother prohibit me from having friends outside the church. When you make sweeping statements, at least know what you’re talking about. But your defenses are set so high you won’t hear anything anyone says anyways. This comment has nothing to do with what you dealt with, it is why people get defensive when you start talking. Because you simply throw out false accusations like how we prohibit friends outside the church. Or “for you know the church, it’s people, and how THEY will act.” You insult us by thinking we all would react the same way. Your false statements about the church I go to are uncalled for.

      1. Beth Jukuri

        We all speak ‘as a rule’ and perhaps you are the exception. My apologies.

        What I know is what I was taught. How I was made to feel about the folks outside of the church; and how wrong it was to be friends with them. Unless and until you have been on the outside; you can’t know shunning. And, if there is shunning; it is a rule to keep your circle christian.

        And, certainly there are exceptions to each rule.

        Again, while you point out the error of my speaking; you miss the whole point.
        Abuse within the families of the church…

        My experiences are with being abused and how the churches people responded. Period.

        I was a member of the church at the time of my abuse and up and until my father was arrested.
        It was then, that someone pointed out, “No sin is too great to forgive”. To keep sweet and not let ‘this sin color my relationship with my father’. The only person who directly responded to me…wanted me to forgive and move on. I can’t change my experiences.

        If you have been abused and received different treatment, please share.
        If you haven’t been abuse; how can you know?

  25. heather

    The Bible teaches us to love even those we do not like. Ouch, I know I for one struggle with that. And because there are many different religions which read the same bible, I know I’m not alone in my struggle with this.

    But maybe it’s time we ask ourselves, what IS unconditional love? Is love enabling hurt people to continue hurting others through their sad addictions and unresolved trauma? Or is love forgiving those who have harmed and, in turn, allowing it to continue? Unconditional love is about doing the very difficult things which are in the best interest of everyone involved. And that is always, every single time, to bring truth into the light so true healing of multiple generations can begin.

    Maybe you do not have a personal experience with this so you do not understand why Beth feels the way she does. To each of you, I would like you to imagine for a moment, her child hood, her neighborhood, her family. These are the people she grew up with, it was her world at that time. All her confidantes were from church, yet nothing was done. Imagine how trapped as a child you would feel? A child does not have adult capacity. They probably will not call CPS or 911, when their own family, neighbors, church friends, don’t believe them or does nothing.

    My fear is that real people, people you and I know and love, are reading this. These people know that something has happened to them in the past, or someone in their family, or one of their friends. These people have the power right now to bring this truth they’ve been carrying into the light. They are wondering how safe it is for them to step forward. They do not want to find themselves ostracized or feeling like they have to defend themselves. They most likely want to stay in the church but don’t know who to talk to. They are learning through these comments—both the positive and negative ones—how safe it is to speak their truth. And I am guessing they are also seeing who it is that will judge them, question them, and disrespect them. If that is you, you need to know that there are many others of us here would would welcome and guide them to healing with open arms regardless of their beliefs or past history.

    These people have the opportunity to heal themselves, to reconcile their childhood, to experience freedom from this heavy weight. Intense trauma like this does not dissolve within a victim after simply forgiving or being forgiven one time. It is an actual physical energy which has been placed into them, which is so very damaging to that child’s self worth, normal healthy sexuality, and so much more. It steals a piece of their soul and it feels very confusing to a child to feel that something is missing, or wrong. Left unresolved and undealt with it can cause so much farther heart ache and pain beyond just the experience itself.

    Praise God we live in a new time! A time which recognizes how HUGE this is, and that there is absolutely nothing to be a shamed of. I pray God will open each and everyone of your hearts to the possibility you have within your hands to help even one other person.

    I also pray this page will bless many and all who are lucky enough to have read. I pray great favor and blessing over all who have courage to speak truth to those around them!

    Love to all,
    Heather

  26. M

    If a child cries for help, we as adults need to stand up for that child. It’s going to be hard, but it’s our responsibility as human beings. Period. You have to understand, the people who cried for help, and were ignored, have every right to be angry. Whether it’s at the church or the person they told. It’s okay if they feel like the church failed them. The only way to make it better is to take a stand and fix what is broken. Not being angry and defensive. Previous generations have failed, let’s not fail any more. Let’s break the cycle!

    For the record, this happens in all walks of life. I don’t think that anyone believes it is exclusive to one group.

    Thank you, Ev. Starting the conversation isn’t easy.

  27. K

    Michigan Child Protection Law requires certain professionals to report their suspicions of child abuse or neglect to Children’s Protective Services (CPS) at the Department of Human Services (DHS). These people are mandated reporters and have established relationships with children based on their profession.
    Among other, CLERGY are mandated reporters. So all of you who complain about “church bashing” — if as in Beth’s case, a member of the CLERGY of said group knew and didn’t report, that person was also BREAKING THE LAW. It doesn’t get much more straight forward than that. So in essence, for years, the CHURCH had a person who broke the law as their spiritual counsel. If I had a pastor at my church that defied the law, why in the world would I continue to attend or support that church???? Beth is speaking from her experience. Heather is speaking from her experience. And that these happen to be issues with elders in the CHURCH…hmm, why wouldn’t they speak against the people that they were taught to respect and hold in high esteem????? A child is the victim Think if a child speaks the truth, and is told that isn’t the truth by people who they trust and respect, how in the world will they ever know what their feelings are????
    Churches are a community. And this church community is a HUGE part of people’s lives who belong. This is where the guidance comes from — I ask, how are women treated in the church community? How are children treated? Are women’s voices heard? Are issues brought up? Are those outside the faith accepted??? I mean, really accepted?
    I am not a part of this church community. However, I am a part of the community where this church community is a dominant part of the community. We are all created by the same God, that means, ALL OF US. I will respect what you believe when you also give me that same respect.
    But what I will not respect is sexual abuse of anyone. And for the people who sweep it under the rug and say “don’t tell” — you are just as guilty as the pedophiles.
    This is always a good topic to bring to the forefront, because we need to remember. Thank you to those people, Michelle, Beth, Heather, and the writer of the blog to talk about these issues. For in speaking about these issues, you will undoubtedly help someone. Know your work is not done in vain.

    1. S

      Karyn, to answer your questions…
      “How are women treated in the church community?” They are treated well.
      “How are children treated?” They are treated well.
      “Are women’s voices heard?” Yes.
      “Are issues brought up?” Yes.
      “Are those outside the faith accepted??? I mean, really accepted?” Yes.
      Now if you were to have asked
      “How are ALL the women treated?” Maybe there are some that don’t feel the love and support they need. I certainly couldn’t speak for everyone. But I would hope that they feel that way.
      “How are ALL the children treated?” I would hope that all children feel safe, loved and supported. But that’s not possible to know.

      And I agree, We are all created by the same God.
      Are you saying I sweep it under the rug? I do not.
      Most kids I know have trusted people who will act upon their “truth.”
      Unfortunately Beth seemed to have a bad experience and blames it on the church. Is Heather’s issue with the elders in the church? There are others from the same church who have had much more support than Beth has.
      What kind of respect are you looking for?
      I respect you. Many of us in this world have different beliefs. I’m okay with that.

  28. Ruth laho

    Beth like me was abused in a different era. Her and others that were abused by her father suffered greatly. They were alone. Please for one minute do not think of this as beth instead think that this just happened to a child in your life right now. Your upset with the adult beth who is making it her responsibility to protect today’s children. I am proud of her for that. She sounds angry and I understand her right to feel that way. Imagine her childhood. Now let’s stop making this be about the church . God has big shoulders he can handle his job. He is a loving God.

    I would like to say this for Pete torola, he did wrong by beth. However may I also say as a personal friend of his daughter Leah. He also did right at the end of his life trying to take on the fight of abuse in the church. I just want to be fair to him on this blog as he can not defend himself.

    Let us please not use this blog to bash either side on this. The congregation s of all the churches is complex, some will help , some will not. Help us to reach out to those who may need help or will help. The church has been accused before of many things and it is still standing. Let’s please try to have a open mind so that we can make a safer place for the children that God so blesses us with. Beth I am so sorry for everything, I cannot change it, however I am so sorry that this happened to you, your family and others.

    1. Beth Jukuri

      I agree Ruth, that when it came to his daughter, he was a changed man about abuse in the church.

      I do feel that I have the voice of the abused child; that I can speak when so many others cannot. I also speak as I had wished someone had for me.

      What I would like you all to know, is that the day I found out about my abuse, was the most brilliant tragic day of my life. I made sense. The things that seemed odd to me, about me, all made sense, when I understood my childhood. When, I understood that I wasn’t mental or abnormal, cold and unfeeling or unjustified by my lack of childhood memories….all of what seemed off…now seemed perfectly perfect for being abused.

      I think the greater tragedy for the children is for so many to treat abusive people as if they have done nothing wrong.
      When, we as adults, see the monsters they experience; their worlds will right themselves. They will know they are not crazy; but the someone in their world is not right.

      I know it is scary and incredibly hard to bring in such truths; but like they say, “the truth shall set you free”. It literally does. Yes, you may lose what you thought you had, the future dreams and expectations; but you gain a whole new world of integrity.

      I believe, we can go a very long way in helping the child heal if and when we speak in the truths of what happens.

      The anger that comes forth from me is the incredulousness of how difficult it is to speak with folks from church.

      My voice is loud and strong…I speak because I can. I speak in hopes that even part of what I say…is heard.

      Thanks Ruth for your wisdom; I know it has come with a cost.

  29. wally

    What puzzles me is how a mother does nothing when her spouse abuses her children. Help me see this.

  30. tribe member

    Beth thanks for speaking up. I’m sorry for what you’ve experienced and can only imagine the emotions you’ve experienced over the years. Reading your blogs though despite your past tradgedy it seems you’ve come a long way. It seems you’ve reached new plateaus so to speak. My language may not be exact but it seems you’ve found peace outside of religion. You used to believe this magical belief of forgiveness where sins or evil were washed away in a sea of Grace. You are free of such false beliefs.*Your learning to find the new self or true self. Your living or seeing reality not a made up world in your head. Honestly would you rather be part of a dysfunctional church? Tribe? Cult? You even said yourself your awakened. Not the sleeping self you were. I understand the anger related to the difficulty trying to speak with the church but can we really blame them for that too? After all they are the dysfunctional ones who believe in a magical forgiveness as you put it. There’s no way communication could be on the same level as you. Perhaps if you do try to communicate with them maybe try to leave out things on your blog about there belief system being pretty much a fairly tale. Maybe try not relating to them as a cult or a tribe . I mean the minute you begin to insult you pretty much helped put any walls up. if you insult or hurt someone it’s not up to you to decide if you didn’t. Just some thoughts from a dysfunctional tribe member.

  31. k

    Let us not dwell in the shortcomings of the past generation. Let us instead, use our voices, education, and experiences to stop the cycle now and going forth!!

  32. Ruth laho

    I wish I knew that answer Wally. I am sure there are those who have the answer however I can tell you a story. A womans husband was abusing his daughters friends on different occasions and she would walk into the bedroom and take something off the dresser and not help them or say anything. He was arrested and she was sued by the girls.
    It is criminal to me.

    This is why we cannot count on the families to necessarily do something. I also would like to share this that for me the statue of limitations had run out. I struggled with knowing a pedifille from my youth was still out there. I did call the authorities in the area he lived. They did not go arrest him on my call however they told me the information I gave them could help someone else. Another time I reported something and again they checked things out and told me they keep a file on theáe calls and incidents . if there are multiple calls they take action. I hope this helps someone who may wonder what happens if I call. All we can do is out part.

    1. D

      Many of you are delusional as to how this child sexual abuse goes on without a person paying for their criminal behavior!
      Based in the age of your child whose been molested and if you as a parent are still willing to put your child in the hands of that abuser can make a difference whether or not the pedophile is confronted by authorities. Social services and local law enforcement in certain cases will do nothing unless there is at least 10 calls in certain locations.
      You can stay in a place that preaches about so called problems of drinking, drug abuse, smoking, or swearing and act as though that is man’s sinful qualities OR maybe this perfect golden small narrow gateway to heaven is blocked off because the blind is leading the blind?
      I for one am not sure, but if issues are to be addressed at least address the #1 leading issue of the Fallen man.
      Child Sexual abuse is destroying and toxic for all to be around. It continues as some are slaves as children and grow up in this “normal” messed up environment.
      Then for those that congregate with those who are involved also get molested in some way shape or form???
      Do we start killing people and say no biggie because all will be forgiven?
      Pretty sure when the truth of what is being served and protected by many is witnessed THEY move on! Why because you can’t fight against sin!
      Go preach to anyone about their sinful behavior. Stand UP, see if they have a change of heart??? Associate with them, Good IDEA!
      Sorry, But No Thanks

      1. D

        Also the last I checked the laws in this country child sexual abuse is a criminal offense!
        For any church to cover it up and not report it is Accessory to that crime.
        Not one person leading the church would do the same if it was another offense.
        If it was stealing, killing, etc they would make a move!

    2. wally

      Would it help to name the persons or person so we can know who to keep our kids away from them? I don’t see anything wrong with doing this. The topic of these posts often suggest stopping the cycle and healing. Are victims concerned about repercussions?

      1. S

        Wally, I was going to ask something similar. Who are these people that know things are going on? And how can we find this out? Beth mentions that members of the church know and do nothing. Who is it that knows???

      2. victim

        yes, we as victims are terrified of what might happen if we choose to speak up. I was abused at the age of 7 by an older brother. Now I am in my 20s and he is married with children. I believe that what he did was a sin of the devil and that he is a good man. I know he felt many years of guilt and shame. We talked about the event one time, forgave each other and “moved on.” But I have not been able to move on. I don’t want to tell people who did this to me because I don’t want to ruin his life. I don’t want people to look down on him, I don’t want his wife and children to look at him differently, I don’t want him to feel pain. But I also don’t want to see him. I am afraid for the people around him even though I truly believe he will never repeat his actions. When the day comes that I have my own children I know I will never leave them alone with him. I know a lot of these feelings collide but they are all part of the truth I feel right now.

  33. Beth Jukuri

    I had to look up the word “Insult”….for it appears that is what I am doing; unbeknownst to me.

    “Insult” – speak to or treat with disrespect or scornful abuse.

    I honestly feel that my sharing my experiences…was never intended to insult. Truly.

    However, that being said, can I really share ill behaviors and not be seen as being insulting?
    Can I really shine the light on negative behaviors and not ‘insult’ someone?
    Is telling my experience disrespectful to those who don’t share it?
    Is the truth felt like scornful abuse?

    To lessen my words as to not ‘insult’ is then insulting to my experience. It is to disrespect my childhood truths.
    I, perhaps am not the victim who has the gentle kind manner in which to deliver things that are difficult to hear.

    I bow out.

    1. S

      Beth, I can respect that and I can understand why your tone is what it is when you speak of this. I also believe your story is important for others to hear. And I applaud Ev as well for bringing this topic out. What I referred to as insulting was not with hearing about your experience. It had to do with the sweeping statements that we’re all one and the same. But I won’t go back into that. What happened to you was awful. It was handled in the worst way possible. I hear you. Just realize I would be able to hear your story more clearly, however, if you didn’t throw in things that just don’t ring true for those I know. I am quite certain we can all be parts of different community groups and not be exactly like everyone else. Church is no exception to this. I don’t care what church it is. I would never look at another group in my community and expect them all to be little blind followers.

      All of this, of course has gotten away from the topic at hand. And I did appreciate Ev’s response to this topic as well. If you want this message to be heard, don’t cloud it with other jabs.

      I hope all the differences aside for the same thing you hope: that someone’s voice can be heard if it needs to be.

  34. D

    Beth
    I hear your pain and feel for all the suffering you have gone through. It is sad that the very same organizations that look or point at “the world” as the enemy who is persecuting christians do so in an attempt to cover up the fact that it is within their very own walls that is doing all of the persecution.
    Growing in a safe and secure environment is what God has in store for those who can see the light, the truth, and the way!
    For any child that is bound a slave being persecuted (molested) by those abusers or accessory abusers: I pray that someday you will be born again into a safe and secure environment. The One that is talked about but so not believed by the abused children.
    I pray for any that has been abused or is still being abused that they can find that safe and precious place to heal their brokenness.

  35. j

    Perhaps you could enlighten us delusional people what the truth, the light,and the way is.

    1. D

      J
      That sounds a little snarky! I wasn’t born to enlighten you! No need for defensive comments on your part. If a person is fortunate to live the one way of life that is without the other (sexual abuse lifestyle) then at that moment that is a blessing! That would be the light the truth and the way!
      The one without the other!!!

  36. Deb Kastamo

    Good to see so many responses on here.

    Jason, you ask if the church could possibly be part of the solution? Yes! Absolutely!
    ( and thanks for what you posted, your compassion is evident; I bet others have been encouraged by what you’ve written).

    A few years ago in MN a few of us , including church members , got together at our house to talk about sexual abuse of children……..it was difficult at times, but it was also good because people were there because they saw a need to discuss this. There were just a handful of us, maybe 8 or so, but it was a start.

    Some of us met with or talked with authorities,professionals, etc. to become more educated, and to see what we can do to help.
    The roadblocks have been disheartening, and at times exhausting, and I’m ashamed to say I’ve stepped back for awhile in this fight for these precious, innocent children.

    The privacy for these children (some who are adults now) is so important; they’ve been victimized by the abuser, and don’t need to risk being victimized again by making their trauma and suffering public, if they choose to remain private.

    Along with that, suggesting a list of suspected pedophiles names in a public forum such as this is not a good idea.
    This is NOT said to protect an abuser….if a person has been convicted of , or has confessed to, this crime, then this is, and should be, public knowledge.

    Wally, yes…many victims are afraid of repercussions from abusers …terrified.
    Even if abusers’ names were to be posted anonymously, there would be the fear that the abuser would somehow know that it was them that posted it.

    Deb Kastamo

  37. Heidi

    Thank you Evelyn for starting the conversation the best way to let go of shame is to talk about it. There I another issue I would like to talk about. Kids abusing kids. When I was very young I was exposed to porn. How and where is not important. As children often do I began to process this by “playing”. By playing I mean acting out what I saw with my friends. Most of my friends where my age but a few where a couple years younger than I was. At school they have a program called good touch bad touch that is intended to bring awareness to sexual abuse ect. I colored in the places I gad been touched and had touched others and NO ONE ever talked to me about it. Even though the whole point of the class was to protect innocence, the adults in charge didn’t have the courage to speak up. As an adult I have been learning to forgive my parents (they found out and never talked to me about it) the people from school that said it was safe to talk about this issue and than failed horribly and hardest of all to forgive is myself for what I did to myself and others before I knew what I was doing. What I want to achieve by sharing my story is let everyone know how very important it is to let every child know that they are precious, every persons body is sacred, and to know that there are acceptable boundaries that need to be kept. As a parent it is hard to know what your child will be exposed to. By starting the conversation in a peacefull and loving way maybe your child will come to you and share what is truly happening in their life. With love and Gods peace. -Heidi

  38. Judy Kangas Anderson

    Evelyn, thank you for starting this blog and conversation. I don’t remember knowing about children being sexually abused by adults when I was young nor do I remember being warned ever to stay away from different people. But in saying this I also have less childhood memories than most people. It wasn’t until after I was married that I learned that several close people had been molested. I don’t even like the word molested. It isn’t strong enough. The word is assaulted or raped because those words in my opinion give a clearer image of what happened. No sense in sugar coating an adult assaulting a child and changing their life forever. They now have the rest of their life to heal and to deal with it in their relationships with themselves and with other people. Thank you Beth for being an advocate and spokesperson for the sexually abused child. We all need education and most of us really don’t know what needs to be done. Do you call the police on a rumor? A minister confronting the pedophile with the word of the victim in the cases I knew about didn’t do anything as they denied it. What is proof for someone to be prosecuted? A photograph? An admission? My heart goes out to all of the children and adult children and their family members living with this and I send you healing if you will receive it. Love, Judy. Side note: Evelyn, where did the years go? From the sweet blonde girl at Lac La Belle laughing and flitting by from here to there who is my first cousin once removed on my Torola side and my second cousin once removed on my Kangas side (if I have that right) to World Traveler, Peace Corps Worker, Creative Writer, and all around Person Extraordinaire, I salute you and wish you much joy.

  39. Anna Asiala

    ***First, let me start off by saying THANK YOU EVELYN for having the courage to write this, and for bringing up a topic that is (unfortunately) controversial. And THANK YOU to all of the victims (or friends/family members of victims) that have had the courage to speak out and tell their stories. I admire your BRAVERY and your STRENGTH!

    I must say that I can see how so many might be offended by Evelyn’s words, as they might have seemed like an attack on the Church. And you all have a right to defend your church, your faith, your close-knit group of friends and family. However, it is clear (to me anyways) that Evelyn’s intent was not to bash the church. She is only trying to bring up a REAL issue that exists everywhere on this Earth, and drew on her experience and others’ experiences within the church because she was and still is closely tied to the church. When you are raised within such a tight-knit community, whether you like it or not, the community is a part of your history and the very definition of yourself. No matter where any of us end up in life, we carry our past and our personal experiences with us.

    I have personally never been a victim of sexual abuse, but as a woman and a mother of two young daughters, I will always be supportive of open discussion of all abuse. Every victim that has had the courage to share their story here and elsewhere should not be treated so unkindly. The victims have a right to be angry, bitter, sad, confused, etc. Attacking any of the brave souls who have opened up and shared their painful experiences with all of us is only further delaying the conversation that NEEDS to be happening. People (not just members of the church, ALL people) love to talk/chat/gossip about the things that don’t actually matter. Look at your Facebook newsfeed and tell me how much of the content you see has any real meaning. Share a video of kittens, or guys jumping off of things they shouldn’t be jumping off of (and maybe a meme or two) and you are guaranteed to get several likes. Share a post about poverty, sexual abuse, modern-day slavery, and you MIGHT get one like. Of course, we shouldn’t be posting things just so we can say, “Wow! I got 20 likes on that video!” but it is evident that most people would rather gloss over the real issues on this Earth and fill their days with more meaningless stuff. And we LOVE to talk about what everyone else is doing wrong, unless of course they are REALLY doing something wrong. For example, people have no problem saying “Did you see what [insert name] did with her hair?” or “Look at the way she is dressed!”, but when there’s word that there might be a pedophile within the church the dialogue becomes, “That’s none of our business.” I have heard those words and I have witnessed the “hush-hush” that others have witnessed SEVERAL times. And just as it might anger you that I would tie the church to the behavior, it angers me that such behavior is widely accepted and rarely challenged (amongst adults no less).

    THE REAL ISSUE HERE IS THAT A CONVERSATION ABOUT SEXUAL ABUSE (WHICH IS A UNIVERSAL PROBLEM) HAS NOW BEEN OVERSHADOWED BY A FEW PEOPLE’S HURT FEELINGS OVER EVELYN’S CHOICE TO INCLUDE THE CHURCH IN HER DIALOGUE. HOW ABOUT THE VICTIMS’ HURT FEELINGS? Let’s get back to that conversation. Let’s be compassionate towards Evelyn and to all of the victims that had the guts to share their stories. Jesus Christ would not have disregarded such an important discussion, simply because someone said something in a way he did not like. You want to defend your church? Please do. But please don’t do it by attacking victims of such horrendous crimes. It only invalidates your argument, and adds to their pain and suffering.

    1. Anna Asiala

      ***And before anyone gets offended by the last sentence of my third paragraph, please know that by “behavior” I am not referring to the occurrence of sexual abuse within the church. I am referring to the widely accepted “hush-hush” behavior. I am in no way insinuating that the Church is full of pedophiles and sex offenders, nor am I insinuating that it is full of people that don’t want to talk about sexual abuse. It is evident from several of the comments here that there are many good, honest people that are members of the church (and will stand by the victims and openly discuss the issue). However, in my personal experience, I have seen topics like sexual abuse pushed aside to make way for discussion of people’s lifestyle choices time and time again. We all have our differences and individual opinions. I only ask that everyone please be respectful and compassionate towards the victims that have told their stories here. Remind yourself that “the victim” could be your sister, brother, mother, father, husband, wife, or friend. Would you be so unkind to them if you knew they had suffered something so horrible? I would hope not. Now imagine yourself as the victim, and try to understand the depths of pain and sadness you might reach. Would you want others to be cruel to you? To pick apart every word you say as you try to vent your anger, frustration and sadness? Or would you hope and pray for their unconditional love and understanding? To be a follower of Christ is to be forgiving, as so many of you have mentioned. But Jesus Christ was so much more than just forgiving: he was wise, compassionate, understanding, and THE EMBODIMENT OF PURE, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. Whether a person classifies themselves as Christian or not, that is something we should all strive for, or we cannot overcome the evil and depravity of this world.

  40. Z

    “Tribe” or “The Church” are terms that are lumping, shaming and wrong. The term you’re looking for is “My Abuser.” One person (usually).

    I grew up in a large family, was talked to and educated about my sexuality, and grew up in this faith, taught about God, all mostly from my parents.

    I was never abused by any family members, as a child or as an adult.

    I was abused by a man not from my church and then I was abused by my husband.

    After years of living at his cruelty, I left to save my life and my children’s.
    I reported everything to the police. I reported to my minister. I reported to CPS. I reported to everyone in authority to the abuse at my husbands hands.
    I did everything I was supposed to do.

    If you have been abused, go to the police, your doctor, CPS, a good lawyer, your minister, and for goodness sake, go to a Therapist, as I’ll only recommend a Psychologist. It WILL be taken care of. The truth always wins. That sentence is a testament to my faith; God is truth, God always wins.

    It doesn’t take “a few good courageous men” in a church to make a change. YOU, as a woman, have a voice, use it. Use it at the annual meeting, use it with the ministers, use it, not only on Facebook. Use it where change can take place. If you don’t like a minister, go to the meetings and VOTE for someone else!

    Every single case is different.

    Every single victim is different.

    Assumptions or lumping everyone in, is wrong. Bashing is ignorant. Using a voice that’s just plain loud to influence vulnerable people is wrong and also controlling. Especially when, as I’m understanding it, 2 victims of abuse have recently remembered events.

    Can you imagine, your controlling words make a victim who is healing, make a decision that she (or he) will later regret…all because of your loud voice? Or what about these regressed memories? What would you do if you, contributed to something that actually didn’t happen the way it really did? If your actions or words made a difference in the way a victim remembers? It’s another reason why it should be left to the professionals and all others, back off.

    Victims need trained Doctors (not just counselors, or support people. You’ve gone through a traumatic, horrific event, get the help you need.) to help them, to protect them through their grief, anger and pain.
    I say this because a victim is vulnerable and someone who isn’t trained, could potentially ruin a victims life by influencing them to say or do what that person, who may have an agenda, wants them too. Even another victim. This I’m saying to people who have recently discovered, remembered, choose to deal with, I’m cautioning you, as only another victim can.

    I understand this process, as I’ve been through it. Every single step. Do I wish there was more support? Yes. Do I wish there was more change? Yes. Guess what though? I needed changed, so I did the work and changed my circumstance. Me. I put the blame on my abusers, got shit done and walked away. None of this other drama junk.

    What I wish mostly, is for the victims of abuse to get help, to find peace and move forward with their life; if faith is important to them, to have a relationship with God so that it doesn’t matter what anyone says, does, doesn’t do, that you know God will take care of you and to not be afraid. Take the saying, “You pray to God and row to shore.”

    This life is too long to carry around that heavy burden with you. In keeping that anger with you, you’re letting the abuser win. In releasing the pain, guilt, shame…you’re freeing yourself. In having forgiveness in your heart, it doesn’t mean you go back to the person who abused you, it doesn’t mean you’re letting the abuser “wash away his sins and never speak of them again”…it doesn’t mean that. It means that the forgiveness is between you and God. God has a perfect plan for you- let him carry the weight of the abusers sin, not you.

    If you’ve been abused, go to the police.

    I have the solution to this problem.

    To stop abuse,

    Quit abusing.

    1. S

      What a great response! I’m sorry for what you’ve gone through, but I admire your strength and faith to move forward!

      1. Sara

        I agree, great response! Lots of good points and food for thought.

    2. S

      Excellent response. Thank you for posting this. I am sorry for what you’ve been through. Thank you for sharing your words and wisdom.

  41. Ruth laho

    Anna, I loves your post. It was awesome to hear all you said

    Judy. By me there are agencies that have information on sexual abuse. There are also hotlines, for both victims or concerned people to call. Reporting a suspicion ithst may or may not be true is less harmful then it being true and not calling. Let the professionals decide. For anyone who is reading this and is being abused now, if you trust a teacher , or someone else. Talk to them.
    There is help, it takes work on your part, however I felt the sun on my skin, the wind I’m my hair, the rain as it fell, like it was the first time after healing. I wish that for all of you suffering too. PS. There are books out there, don’t ever ever give up !!!!

  42. Loretta Ellenson

    There are so many thoughtful and heartbreaking comments on here and after reading through them all, I feel like I have something to say. Learning about loved ones that have been abused breaks my heart and makes me think about this issue in a completely different light (in fact, really thinking about it for the FIRST time), especially as a mom of two daughters. I was in the dark, as it seems, were many of the commenters above, excluding the victims. THANK YOU for telling your story, so now we all can know that abuse is a problem. It isn’t as rare as we previously thought, but all of this conversation helps us see that it’s up to us moving forward.

    There isn’t anything we can do about the past. Unfortunately. But once our blinders are off, they can never be put back on. This is of course a great responsibility and one that none of us seem to take lightly. These comments are full of passion and rightly so. The victims deserve our passion and compassion.

    I can’t say that I have any answers. I can’t do something when I’m unaware of an issue. I’m not unaware anymore (at least not of sexual abuse prevalence). All I know is I’ll do my best to right an injustice I know of. I’ll fight to help a victim get back the power their abuser stole from them. And I’ll do everything in my power to break the cycle with my daughters. Isn’t that what we all want? It seems that part of the abusers power was in people naively thinking/hoping these were isolated incidents. I think we can all realize after reading these comments that “just once” is never allowable, and will never stop without our involvement.

    I pray that you all find peace and gain more strength from God than you ever thought possible.

    Thank you Evelyn for this series. It was needed more than we thought.

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