First #MeToo, Now #ChurchToo: Sexual Abuse, Harassment, and Mishandling in the Church

#MeToo, #ChurchToo, Sexual Abuse, Harassment, Church

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The hashtag #MeToo has been trending for quite some time on Twitter. Women who have been sexually harassed or abused have been identifying themselves as survivors of sexual harm, indicating it with the hashtag, #MeToo. But now, there is a new trending hashtag, #ChurchToo. The stories that you can read in one little tweet are heartbreaking.

I wanted to share some here, and also invite those who have been on Twitter to feel free to share more here if they like.

If you are new to Spiritual Sounding Board, this is a blog that deals with abuse in church or church groups. We have dealt with all kinds of sexual abuse: sex abuse of children, sexual abuse in marriage, sexual abuse by clergy, wives of pedophiles, church leaders who have failed to report sexual crimes, church leaders who have blamed victims for sexual crimes, and also spiritual abuse which often occurs when a church leaders are involved in any capacity (perpetrator, counselor, spiritual advisor).

If you have been harmed sexually, this is a safe place. If you would like to share your story in more detail, you can in the comments, or to me privately: spiritualsb@gmail.com. Please feel free to comment using a pseudonym. This is your place to use your voice where it will be heard.

~Julie Anne


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This young woman shared her abuse story in several tweets. I will share just a few, and a positive response that came from her using her voice on Twitter.

There are so many!!!!!  The church has failed these precious people! We must do better!

 

 

 

photo credit: Jangra Works Broken Love and Trust via photopin (license)

20 comments on “First #MeToo, Now #ChurchToo: Sexual Abuse, Harassment, and Mishandling in the Church

  1. Humbling and heartbreaking to pause and take in each word. I am very proud of each women who has/continues to speak their truth. Profoundly courageous.

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  2. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. If you are a leader and misrepresent Him in such a perverted way–and cause harm to the sheep for whom Christ died–you’re going to the hot place. Or, as Jesus said, It would have been better for a millstone to be put around your neck.

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  3. I wish I had no idea this stuff could happen in a church. I finally broke the silence on my marital rape and emotional, verbal and physical abuse of my children and myself along with the lying that accompanies chronic porn use and fraudulent tax returns. When I filed for divorce the pastor, who is well aware of what is stated above began to call people to warn them not to associate with me. When my adult children met with him to explain the abuse they had experienced he told them I had planted those ideas in their heads and that I had no biblical grounds for divorce.

    The abuser is still welcomed warmly without ever being questioned when I let leadership know a part of what I had experienced. I received a letter of reprimand from the elders although they have never initiated contact with me but have taken the pastor and abuser’s word as gospel over the last 2 years. Life long friends turned away and consider me a liar. They know my ex and that he is a godly man who could never do anything I say he has done. I have offered recordings, emails, written letters, counseling notes, etc. They refuse to see the truth. A young couple met with the pastor about his grounds for warning people not to associate with me. They have 86 minutes of recording of this pastor slandering me, breaking pastoral confidentiality, lying and speaking wickedly claiming that “she is out to destroy my fricking church.” (Which I have not attended since April 2015.) I have sent emails to the board and the pastor calling out the exact lies and providing the truth. The board chair told the young couple that the church’s issues would be over if they would leave the church and I would quit asking to meet with the board. I received no response to any of my 13 emails addressing specific lies spoken in this recording.

    Why are people so unwilling to know the truth?!? I have no motivation for lying but the ex and pastor sure do to maintain their false images. I was listening recently to Phil Munroe and Diane Langberg talk about abusive churches. This church is following the script perfectly. So much evidence.

    I just want the truth heard but I get literally no response from leadership. Irony alert: This church that considers me a “spiritually dangerous woman on the road to destruction” (who has not looked me in the eye or spoken to me despite my repeated attempt to alert them to the pastor’s actions) recently gave me $500 for a missions trip. How is that possible? Only in crazyland. The father of the young man in the couple asked to leave for daring to question the pastor has listened and believed the truth. He said to the church he thought they should support me on this trip. When he called the board chair to ask if he could present it, the chair said the man needed to call me first to make sure I wasn’t thinking they were trying to “buy me off.” Pretty sure my character is still worth more than $500. A church whose elders have rebuked me formally in a letter, refused to even discuss my concerns or evidence, and consider me “absolutely crazy” and “completely irrational” and “out of her mind” as recorded, supported me financially knowing full well I am a “spiritually dangerous woman”. Cognitive dissonance much?! (Weirdest missionary support conversation ever I am thinking. I truly laughed out loud.)

    I wish this could be compiled into a case study of domestic abusers and spiritually abusive pastors and leadership. (We can even ignore the illegal breaking of confidentiality and slander clearly recorded.) Most of the people who have believed the truth have ended up leaving having written to the board about specific concerns. Just like me, they receive absolutely no response. One is my 78 year old mother who came to that rural church as a bride of 18. I was raised on a ranch a mile away and have considered that my church home always. There seems to be no recourse when evidence and truth are not valued. These people pride themselves on right doctrine, standing for truth and loving well. It has been an unbelievable layer of pain on top of the pain of a broken marriage and an imploding family. Lord, have mercy please! Why will people not listen? The young couple and I went to the board chair, explained specific concerns of sinful behavior, told about the recording and offered to pay for a mediator to come in. The mediator is a former pastor and has his doctorate in conflict resolution. The offer was refused and the chairman said he did not want to listen to the recording as the Lord was using the pastor to bring so much growth.

    Diane Langberg’s youtube videos have been a lifeline as well as the “Crying Out For Justice” blog and books by them. Leslie Vernick’s “5 Traits of an Evil Heart” also helps clarify. I am willing to name names and do anything I can but no one listens. So thanks for reading this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m doing some research for an Australian journalist.
    I would like to hear from any Australian who is following or has contributed to the #ChurchToo hashtag.

    I don’t need to know your real name.
    Please just reply to my comment here if you are an Australian who has posted anywhere on social media and given the #ChurchToo tag. Or if you are an Australian who has been following #ChurchToo on Twitter or Facebook or other social media platforms.

    Thanks!

    Like

  5. Pingback: First #MeToo, Now #ChurchToo: Sexual Abuse, Harassment, and Mishandling in the Church | Speakingtruthinlove's Blog

  6. My Baptist youth group leader would offer me a lift home after youth night. He would drive me to a carpark near my home before he dropped me off. He would snog me ( UK term for tongue kissing). I was 15.

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  7. Abby Perry
    @abbyjperry
    If I can ask anything of Christian Twitter today, it’s that the #ChurchToo tweets be received rather than reacted to. Do not concern yourselves with the intent of those sharing their stories, but with the steps you can take to ensure the horrors done to them are not repeated.

    That is exactly what our response to this must be, and we must acknowledge that there has probably been times when we should have done more. Once I called the police on a church incest case that was being ” dealt with by the elders “. The detectives went to the kid’s school and they were seized by child protective services that same day, held for a few months in foster care.

    The father received 20 years after a guilty plea and idiots from the church telling the judge what a great lay leader and man of faith he was. The elders were livid that I called as were many people in the church and some of my family. I changed churches and moved on. The church is now about 80% smaller and people still blame me . I’m ok with that as the two daughters are now married with normal lives free of that hell hole of a church. Oddly enough their mother renewed her vows with the rapist / molester and they still attend that church. Neither daughter has anything to do with them or their church.

    Having experienced that, I know I’m guilty since then of being slow to speak out and challenge / advocate in situations where I’m not 1000% sure. That’s a bad idea, call the police and let them investigate . Unfortunately most of the time it’s far worse and NOT better.

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  8. Sickening how churches and even mothers can throw victims under the bus. Mommy was probably scared she would never find anyone else and might die alone with no child molester to sit by her deathbed. Ugh!

    My mom’s molester was never formally accused, but I think there was some winking and denial going on. The church loved him dearly because he was wealthy and tithed.

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  9. I so appreciate people who are speaking up about the abuse they experienced within the church setting. I wish that they were heard when the #metoo stories were being presented. I hope the church comes out of its stupor of denial and admits that abuse is perpetrated by “godly” people!

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  10. The Low Sparrow, that must have been shocking and confusing for you. I’m very sorry to hear of this abuse by a youth group leader who used his position of trust to violate you! Thank you for sharing. 😦

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  11. You know, when the Me too threads were flooding my timeline a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but notice that I didn’t see any from my very conservative Christian friends and I wondered why that was. With as many people who have been victims of sexual assault, I’m guessing it’s not because it hasn’t happened to anyone but rather that in the church, sexual assault is an even bigger dirty little secret than it is outside the church and people are shamed even more into not saying anything. It’s very sad that the one place that should be the most supportive, is the place where the most guilt and shame and blame is handed out.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I was date raped by a “brother in Christ” and endured seeing him sitting in the pews during church services. And this is the least complementary theology
    cost me. #churchtoo.

    Like

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