Bill Gothard, sex abuse, cults, lawsuit, Emily Jaeger, freedom, IBLP
A note of introduction from Julie Anne:
Emily Jaeger is one of the sexual abuse survivors and plaintiffs in the Bill Gothard/IBLP sex abuse lawsuit. Her official statement about the lawsuit was posted on Spiritual Sounding Board a few days ago.
Then someone close to Bill Gothard contacted me. He runs the Discovering Grace website, which is devoted to supporting and defending Bill Gothard and his teachings. We communicated at length, during which he asked me if I wanted to post Bill Gothard’s response to Emily Jaeger’s statement (per Bill’s suggestion). After I declined, it was then published at Discovering Grace website.
I initially said no, because I do not want my blog to be used as a platform for an abuser. However, then I saw Emily Jaeger’s new reply to Bill Gothard’s response statement, and it made sense to me to post both.
I may have more to say later — in fact, I am thinking of doing an SSB “learn to discern” post to analyze these statements in depth. But for now, I’ll say I think his statement is a perfect opportunity to see a spiritual abuser in action, violating boundaries, and hers shows what it looks like when someone leaves the influence of a high-control environment, thinks independently, and makes their own decisions. See what you think … Continue reading
Dr. Dan Allender, Trauma, Music, Spiritual Abuse Recovery, Personal Stories
Those who have been reading here for a while know how important I believe it is for survivors to tell their abuse stories. It took a while for us to believe the lies our church leader(s) told us about who we are and who God is. Eventually, through manipulation and deceit, we then told ourselves those lies. These “recordings” played over and over in our minds until they were perceived as normal. This is all part of thought reform, patterns of coercion, manipulation, and control, that cult leaders use to keep us emotionally and spiritually bound to them and their teachings.
When we are finally in a place where we can identify truth from lies, we still have to wrestle with the recordings that play in our minds that attempt to shift us back to the dangerous teachings we heard. I strongly believe that hearing ourselves speak the truth when we tell our stories will eventually override the old and damaging recordings in our mind.
I believe this is why many survivors have a need to tell our stories over and over again. It doesn’t mean we are living in the past. No. I believe it means we are validating our experience and further pushing that false and destructive narrative out of our minds.
Telling stories is empowering. It gives us strength to stand on our own two feet and use our critical thinking skills. We own our stories, even though they are negative. But now, as we tell our stories safe from our abuser, we are in control, not our abusive spiritual leaders. We speak not as one who remains stuck as a victim, but as a survivor who can incorporate the negative experience into the fabric of our bigger life story in a positive way. It shapes us, it softens and humbles us. It still hurts at times, but we can become more resilient and intentional with this trauma behind us.
May we never tire of listening to the stories of survivors. When we do listen, we validate them and help them to become whole. Also, if we are survivors, may we never tire of telling our stories without apologies. It may be just what a listener needs to hear.
Lately, I’ve been reading about our body’s response to trauma, and this 2-minute video is fascinating. In it, Dr. Dan Allender helps us to understand the power of music used as a healing agent in relation to trauma. Continue reading
Free Thinker, Atheist, Christian Blogger, Thought Reform, Patriarchy, Spiritual Abuse, Cults
Last Sunday, I had the privilege of speaking at a Free Thinkers group. Privilege, some might ask? You bet. I will take any opportunity afforded to share the truth, set the record straight, and especially let people know that I, as a Christian, am displeased by the state of the Body of Christ when it comes to abuse and our response to abuse.
I feel I have a connection with many atheists. You see, when my defamation lawsuit went viral, I received over 500 emails of support. Many of those emails were sent by people who were harmed in the church, and then became atheist. This was originally a surprise to me, and it saddened me. So many of these folks get spiritual abuse. They see the dysfunction and hypocrisy of celebrity pastors and leaders. Many of them are upset by what they see, and rightly so. If only those within the Body of Christ would get worked up about it!
It all started when I was in my Environmental Science class at school. Continue reading
Earlier, I posted about the reconciliation between Alex Grenier and his parents. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before — reported on a situation that has a positive outcome. The thought of restored relationships after years of harm makes me cry. This has been so amazing. When I first got involved with Alex’s story and then formed a group to work on the “Who Would Jesus Sue” campaign to bring media attention to this story nearly 5 years ago, I don’t think I ever expected to see such a positive outcome. My thoughts were that hopefully Alex would win the court case, but I don’t think I ever imagined that something this beautiful could have occurred.
Alex is my friend. We have many things in common, and I love him like a brother. After he lost the first couple of rounds in the court process, I saw him change. I saw him go downhill spiritually and emotionally. He was angry (and rightly so). The new Alex was more cynical. I saw close his circle of friends get tighter. He became serious and driven, and he had to do things his own way. There were several friends I know who remained steadfast in their support of him, even though Alex sometimes lashed out.
About 6 months ago, I noticed a change in Alex. He wanted to prioritize the important things in his life: his family, his business, and I think it was around this time that he also wrestled with his God. For me, it was difficult to observe this long process over the years. I was watching the fruit of what happens when someone is harmed. We all know it can happen, but when you have been closely connected to someone, the sadness is real. You know there’s nothing you can do except continue to extend love and grace. You just hope and pray that your “brother” will get it all figured out. Alex is one tough dude and I knew he’d have to get hit hard (because he and are so alike). The nearly five years of legal battles, and all of the emotional and spiritual strain in his life, left him spent. He was done. And apparently, it was in this place where Alex was humble, and was able to find truth, love, and healing. I love you, Alex. I think this is your life verse, literally:
I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7
Pedophile, Wife of Pedophile, Sex Abuse
Today I am posting a personal story from a woman named Cindy who left a comment yesterday on the 3-1/2-year-old article, Being Married to a Pedophile: A Wife Speaks Out and Offers Hope to Other Wives of Pedophiles, which has continued to reach women who are searching for support.
Her comment was posted at 4AM on the West Coast the day after Christmas. It got me wondering . . . maybe Cindy lives on the East Coast and was posting this in the quiet hours of 1AM after a pleasant Christmas day (the story ends on a positive note). What struck me was that she posted this around the time where families are gathered for the holidays. Perhaps she, too, was reminiscing of Christmases past, of what it was like when their family appeared to be whole and happy. But obviously she also thought about the pain and felt at liberty to share that with us the process of getting to acceptance and peace with herself and her family. The memories of living through the destruction that pedophilia brings to a family doesn’t ever entirely leave. And maybe that’s why Cindy shared her story – to personally acknowledge what she went through, to share it in a safe place where others who have walked in her shoes can also identify.
Although this story is not about abuse in church, this is about abuse that many families go through. How can the church connect with these hurting families and support them? I share these stories because pedophilia is yucky and disgusting. It’s easier to walk away and let someone else deal with it. The reality is that being the wife of a pedophile is a lonely place. Once the pedophile is discovered, their family will never be the same. They don’t need to walk this path alone. Continue reading
Spiritual abuse, children, mental health, high-controlling church, NAR, New Apostolic Reformation
Special note: I am in Chicago until 11/5 and would love to get together with survivors or those interested in helping survivors. If you would like to meet up, please contact me and let’s see if we can arrange a gathering. email@example.com ~Julie Anne
Today, we are going to read a brief personal story from Andrew. Andrew shares with us the harm his family faced and is still facing after being in a high-controlling, abusive church for 15 years.
There are a number of thoughts that struck me when reading his words.
- First, Andrew seems to have a good understanding of what he and his family endured, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes this process can take years.
- Secondly, he is not minimizing or trying to move past the current emotional and mental state of his family. It appears that he is appropriately addressing each conflict or bump in the road right now. Many times when people are in a spiritually abusive church, they want to move on so quickly (understandably), that they forget to take care of themselves and get their wounds healed.
- Thirdly, Andrew is aware that this healing process is a journey. He’s taking a realistic look at where he’s been, what is happening now, and the work ahead, and knows there is no quick fix.
I believe there is a recovery process to get to wholeness after spiritual abuse. Process is the key word. It doesn’t work well to close the door to spiritual abuse and act like it never existed. It did exist and it did have an impact on lives. If we are quick to put it behind us without doing the necessary recovery work, we are likely to fall into similar traps. When we go through recovery, we gain knowledge, understanding, have a new fresh perspective on who God is and how He relates with us, and we learn to forgive ourselves. ~ja Continue reading
So, yesterday I read a tweet that left me reeling. It made it difficult to concentrate on my school work, and got me thinking and emoting quite a bit. I’ve tried numerous times to put up a blog post today and yesterday and realize that I just need to let my emotions simmer a bit.
I guess this is a reality check for me (and my readers) about the effects of spiritual abuse. Most of the time it comes and goes and I can function normally. Sometimes, however, it hits hard, and I know I need to face it head on. I had several good cries yesterday and thought I’d be fine today, but apparently, I need to chill a bit more (except for one college test due by midnight).
I’ve learned the hard way that if I bury my emotions, they will resurface with a vengeance, so now, even though it’s inconvenient, I try to deal with myself honestly and ask the tough questions: why does this have so much significance for me? Why does it make me cry? What do the tears represent? This is the grieving part – coming to the truth of what happened and its effects on me.
Once I’m done with that part of the process, I can finally move on to acceptance. I accept that I am where God wants me to be, even if it was not what I expected, and that it’s okay to move forward now.
I’ll be fine. I hope to be able to type out what happened and why it affected me so much. I think there are many who will relate.
Thanks for your patience with me as I go through this bump in the road for these couple of days. I’ll be blogging this coming week.
I’ve also wanted to say thanks for your patience as blog posts aren’t as timely as they used to be now that I’m a full-time student. About 3 years ago, a friend and I were talking about college. He said, “Four years is going to come whether you like it or not, and you’ll have a degree or you won’t. Which do you want?” It took one year to get the courage to register for school. Those words have come back to me many times in this process. After Spring term, and after 2 years of school, I will have my Associates degree (half-way there). I’m truly thankful for all the support you’ve given me.
Update on an earlier story:
Pastor Mike Sperou of North Clackamas Bible Community Church found guilty on all 3 counts of sex abuse of minor under 12 and is sentenced to 20 years.
This is one of those cases that leaves you shaking your head, thinking that you couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. But this is good. I have a happy update to report. Earlier, I posted about the story of Pastor Mike Sperou who was arrested for sex abuse charges. The article is here: Pastor Mike Sperou Will Have His Day in Court: Seven Women Come forward with Sexual Abuse Allegations. To briefly recap, this story is closely connected with my friend (and friend of SSB), Pastor Ken Garret, who previously attended Sperou’s church, North Clackamas Bible Community, where two of his daughters were sexually abused. A total of seven women came forward and reported sex abuse to authorities.
Seven women had reported their sexual abuse to authorities; however, Oregon’s Statute of Limitations prevented Sperou from being tried for 6 of the cases. However, the one remaining case was within the Statute of Limitations. The court hearings occurred the last two weeks. Two days ago, Sperous was charged, tried, and convicted of all three counts of first-degree sexual penetration of a person under the age of 12. This earned him a sentence of 20 years.
The following is a screenshot showing the picture on the front page of TheOregonian/OregonLive. Reporters, Rick Bella (who covered most of the story) and Steve Duin, did a stellar job of capturing what it felt like to be sitting in the court room with cult leader defenders on one side of the room and supporters of the sex abuse victims, family, friends, and former members on the other side. Can you imagine the tension in that room?
This is a remarkable story in that the six women who were not allowed to take their cases to court, were allowed by the judge to testify (as well as other former members, including Ken). Their voices were heard. I am so proud of these women who chose to report their stories and go public.
This article, Steve Duin: Memory and moral suicide in Happy Valley, I found especially revealing in that it showed the insidious relational dynamics of the cult:
She usually wore Calvin Klein boxers and a t-shirt, she said. Her pastor and spiritual mentor came to bed in boxer shorts, and frequently hugged the long pillow – that he dubbed “Sally” – that separated them. Asked how long this bizarre sleeping arrangement continued, the 30-year-old Mitchell said, “Until now.”
In this same article, we read how parents refuse to believe their adult daughters who said they were sexually abused. The parents essentially disowned them as they continued to defend and protect their brazen and unapologetic “pastor” leader. Folks, this is what we see with narcissists. There is an inner group always looking out for the leader, defending him, building him up, denying reality, even to the expense of abandoning relationships with their children.
Christ does not do this. Cults do!
Later, we read from Ken Garrett as he is quoted:
“Moral suicide,” Garrett calls it. Thirty years ago, Sperou’s disciples “never dreamed that allowing and cherishing a lie would corrupt their entire character,” he said. “Where they would actually sit in a courtroom, look in the faces of the daughters who came to them and said they were molested, and call them liars. They never dreamed they would end up here. Now that they’re here, they’re numb.”
Congratulations to Ken and Sharon. Congratulations to these brave 7 women:
Emily Bertram, 33
Shannon Clark, 28
Bryn Garrett, 30
Jennifer Olajuyin, 32
Amy Robinson, 35
Rachel Schackart, 29
Jessica Watson, 33
You are heroes. Your voices have been heard and justice is now being served.
I’m so grateful to you for standing up against this tyrant. BRAVO!!!!
I encourage you to check out the other outstanding articles from OregonLive reporters, Rick Bella and Steve Duin:
- Happy Valley Pastor Mike Sperou convicted of child sex abuse, sentenced to 20 years in prison
- Steve Duin: Memory and moral suicide in Happy Valley
- Wife of Happy Valley pastor says she doesn’t believe her daughter’s claims of sexual abuse
- Parents discount daughters’ sexual abuse claims against Happy Valley pastor
- Pastor Mike Sperou denies sexually abusing children in his Happy Valley church
- Defense witnesses say church didn’t discuss sex-abuse allegations against Happy Valley pastor
- Meet the seven women who accused pastor Mike Sperou of child sex abuse
- Women wait 18 years to see Portland pastor face child sex-abuse prosecution.
Last year, I posted a personal story (A Young Woman’s Relationship with Her Boyfriend is Shattered by Christian Patriarchy) from “Bethany” who was struggling in a relationship with her boyfriend, whose family was involved in the Christian Patriarchy Movement influenced by the likes of Doug Phillips, Bill Gothard, etc.
Christian Domestic Discipline, “wife spanking,” Christian Patriarchy Movement, Spanking of Adult Children, Denominational Practices and teachings
Spiritual Sounding Board – This is our place to gather and share in an open format. Feel free to join in the discussion.
Spiritual Sounding Board – This is our place to gather and share in an open format. Feel free to join in the discussion.
Taking a closer look at two recent cases: The Christian Post and Leadership Journal (published by Christianity Today) made bad judgment calls in their articles, but later retracted and made amends because of powerful voices defending victims.
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What does freedom feel like for those who have left a high-controlling or spiritually abusive church?
Brave: A Song of Hope for Survivors of Abuse
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1 Peter 1:3-6
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Two years of blogging, two years of growth, hope for those hurt by church abuse
Who Will Take Care of Your Beloved Pets after the Rapture?
I’m sure this has been a great concern to my readers, so having you, my dear friends in mind, I am passing along this helpful information. ~ja
Here is a brief excerpt from After the Rapture Pet Care, the great folks who will look after your pets after you have gone on.
I agreed – it’s a real concern, and a legitimate concern. Our pets are given to us by God for us to care for. We are stewards of their lives. Should we simply forget them at the Rapture, allow them to starve or worse?
While planning our system, we thought about the stories of pet rescues in New Orleans after Katrina. Imagine how many more pets would have been saved if there had been a database of pets and volunteers activated immediately. This is something we could do for Christian owned pets.
Carol began recruiting other non-Christian animal lovers nationwide to volunteer to take care of left-behind pets if the Rapture occurs. As a Christian, my role has been to put together a program that is Biblically appropriate and provides true value to Christians. I believe we’ve come up with a plan that is affordable, unique, Biblical and practical.
For more information, click here.
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If you ever wanted to see love, empathy, compassion during a crisis, excellent listening skills, support, encouragement wrapped up in one package without ever having to take a class or read a book, I think I found it right here in this short video. This video encapsulates what so many books try to teach about listening. Save yourself the money and enjoy. It’s all right here in this short video. Continue reading