By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved
Do you think I exaggerate about the seriousness of abuse in the church? Is it of holocaust proportions?
Read the first-hand story of a 16-year old girl who loved God and wanted nothing more than to please and serve Him. She was innocent, clean, and pure – until her youth pastor noticed her…
Warning: this post is triggering! If you have experienced abuse, you will need to be prepared for triggers.
(Christa begins this part of her story from her adult perspective as her childhood memories plague her, the way it does for many abuse victims…)
…I went for a run, hoping it would get the pain…out of my system… Then from out of nowhere, I felt his breath on the back of my neck and heard his voice in my ear. “Don’t worry, you’ll still be a virgin.”
I hurled into the tall grass and wiped the last trail of vomit on my shirt. I stayed bent over, hands on my knees, trying desperately to breathe. My chest was clenched shut. I began to shake.
Memory fragments filled my head. They were all fragments that I had glimpsed before…this time, I decided to try to line them up – “one, two, three” – the way the music minister had done…
One: I’m at the church parsonage in the same bedroom where my two sisters and I slept when my mom stayed at the hospital after my dad’s back surgery.
Two: I go in the kitchen with Dunagan, and he takes a couple beers from the refrigerator. “But it’s against our religion,” I say. He just laughs. He says that’s another one of those rules for lesser, weaker believers, and not for people like us.
Three: He puts the can in my hand and insists I drink. I don’t want to, but he keeps pushing the can up to my mouth. Finally, I take a sip. It tastes awful. He keeps drinking from his can, and then starts on another…
Five: I’m naked on my stomach on the bed. He is on top of me. I am saying “no” and squirming. I hear my own crying. His voice is in my left ear, shushing me. “Don’t worry. You’ll still be a virgin.”
Six: I hear his laugh…
At this point, I smell his breath, as real as if he is with me on the running trail. I stop and vomit into the bushes again…
I keep hearing him. It’s an endless loop in my head. His voice is there with me on the trail. His laugh goes on and on…
Nine: As we’re going into the garage, his voice softens and he tells me how special I am. “God loves you, Christa.”
Ten: It hurts to walk.
Now I’m doubled over on the trail yet again…
(From earlier in the book)
“We’re already married in God’s eyes,” he proclaimed. “It’s pre-ordained.”
“But you’re already married to Patsy.”
“Christa, God has predetermined that we are to be together. It’s already written in His plan, and He will make a way for it to happen. Your task is to live by faith and to stop fighting it. His ways aren’t our ways, and it’s not for us to try to understand.”
He told me about how men in the Bible often had more than one wife and even had concubines. I knew this was true, but I still didn’t understand.
“I’ve prayed long and hard about this, Christa. God wants you to be a helpmeet for me. He wouldn’t make me feel this way if He didn’t intend for you to be with me.”
Then he said the three words I could never argue against.
“It’s God’s will…”
“We know that all thing work together for good to them that love God and who are called according to His purpose…”
“Christa, you should know this by now. You’re called of God, and this is your predetermined purpose. You need to start trusting that God will take care of it and will make all things work together. You have to live by faith. You have to trust that it’s all part of His plan…”
God was testing me, he said, and God wanted to see whether I would continue to insist on my own way, or whether I would be willing to trust in Him and “live by faith…”
I tried to be a good helpmate, but somehow, I was never good enough…
After the beer-drinking episode, Eddie went back to telling me about how I was harboring Satan… He said I had seduced him and that I was a terrible temptress.
One day he called me into his office and made me kneel. I cried and cried there on my knees while he stood over me. He prayed long and loud, beseeching God to cast Satan from me and to cleanse my soul.
I went home and did my own praying… I prayed without ceasing. I begged God to keep me safe from Satan. I begged for forgiveness.
I didn’t know how I had let Satan inside me. I didn’t mean to.
When did it happen? How did it happen? I didn’t understand.
I prayed and prayed and prayed, but it didn’t do any good. I was utterly and completely alone and empty. No longer was there any Spirit beside me or within me.
Before all this, God had been my constant companion, a presence as real as any physical being. But now, God had turned away from me.
Everything went dark inside me. The darkness was like another living creature. It breathed with me and through me. It was always there – every hour, every minute, and every second. I didn’t have a clue how to make the darkness leave me…
I was terrified…
“God loves you.” Lots of people seem to want to tell me that, and I hate it when they do. It’s a visceral response. Those words ring in my ears like a vile curse. I’d rather hear someone say “Go to hell” than “God loves you.”
Perhaps God does indeed love me, but I will never sense it in the sound of those words. For me, those words feel like words of hate.
People seem to also want to tell me that God will heal me if only I will put my faith in Him. I try to be polite… but to me, those are also hurtful words. Faith is what got me into this. Faith is where the path turned terribly wrong.
For most people of faith, their faith is a source of solace… But for me, faith is neurologically networked with a nightmare. Sexual trauma and faith are inextricably seared together in my brain.
This is what it means to be subjected to the force of faith unleashed by a clergy predator. It is not only physically, psychologically, and emotionally devastating, but it is also spiritual annihilating. It is soul-murder. It is why many experts talk about the unique nature of clergy abuse trauma and the devastation of its impact.
When faith has been used as a weapon, it becomes almost impossible to use it as a resource for healing…
These excerpts are from This Little Light, by Christa Brown and powerfully reveals just how insidious and devastating this problem is in the church. I’ll be excerpting and commenting on more from her book in subsequent posts.
Filed under: abuse and the church, Abusive Leaders, child abuse, child sexual abuse, rape, sex abuse, Speaking Out, The State of the Church | Tagged: abuse and the church, child abuse, child sex abuse, Christa Brown, clergy sex abuse, molestation, rape, sexual abuse, This Little Light |