Voices of the Victims

I am such a horrible, terrible person! I am bowing my head in absolute shame.

Yesterday afternoon I went out to the coop to gather eggs. The ducks met me, quacking loudly in complaint. That’s when I noticed that I had forgotten to feed them that morning. Horrified, I filled their food dish and they greedily filled their bellies. Then I noticed that I had forgotten to open the chickens’ little door. They had been stuck in their coop all day. I opened their door and they were able to enjoy a few hours of outdoor time.

This morning I opened the coop door and found that the ducks had put their food dish right in the middle of the doorway so I couldn’t miss it. They usually rush outside when I open the door, but this time they waited and quacked loudly until they saw me fill their bowl. I told them, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”

Not to excuse or justify myself, but I’m quite sure that the reason I forgot to fill the ducks’ bowl and open the chickens’ door was because I was intensely struggling with a story that has gone viral.

A couple of days ago, an abuse advocate/blogger shared the story of a woman who had been drugged and raped 11 years ago when she was a student at a Christian college. The victim described the experience:

“I am drifting in and out of consciousness [after unknowingly being given a soda with a date rape drug in it]. I do not know where I am. The stranger is on top of me but I can’t move. I am telling him to stop and get off of me. I hear him grinding and mixing some concoction. He is forcing me to swallow more alcohol. It tastes like it has sand in it. He insists I drink more. I wake up choking and coughing. Everything goes dark.”  Excerpt from Do You See Me?

 One website (of many) that shared her story summarized it this way:

Jane (not her real name) was a 21-year-old student at the Master’s College studying to become a Biblical Counselor. In her courses, she learned all about how to deal with situations of rape, including the importance of reporting it to the police. On a school break, she went to a restaurant with some friends who were students at the Master’s Seminary. (The restaurant was an approved location according to the strict guidelines for student behavior.) Also at the restaurant was a friend of her friends (also a Master’s Seminary student) who offered to buy her a drink. She said yes, and he brought her a Coke. But the coke was drugged. After she blacked out, the stranger carried her to his room where he raped her, drugged her again, and put her in a dress that was against the school dress code. He also repeatedly offered her alcohol to drink.

When Jane finally was conscious enough to realized that she had been drugged and raped, she confidently went to the police, knowing the importance of reporting such matters. She then spoke with her Residence Director, who was shocked–not at her rape, but at her use of alcohol and drugs. She was assigned a Biblical Counselor as well, who assured her that the only way to make this better would be to marry her rapist. She was also made to go see Rick Holland, the college pastor at Grace Community Church. He asked for all the details she could remember about her rape, much to her discomfort. (This is sexual harassment, by the way.) Rick consulted with Pastor John MacArthur and together they told her that she would be kicked out of school for violating school standards against alcohol and drugs. They were also angry that she had reported the situation to the police.

Jane was shocked at how people were responding to her, which was not at all in line with how she had been taught in her counseling classes to respond to allegations of rape. She was later contacted saying that she could finish her final year at the Master’s College under a few conditions. She found out that her rapist had confessed to raping her, specifically noting that their sex was not consensual. However, she was required to apologize to her rapist for her part in the matter. The second condition was she must consent to regular counseling sessions with her rapist. She refused, and was subsequently barred from campus. Up to that point she had received all A’s for her classes, but when she was expelled, the school changed all her grades to F’s. When she sought to further her education elsewhere, the appearance of her flunking out of college made that extremely difficult. After she left the Master’s College, she continued to receive messages from people associated with the Master’s College and Grace Community Church calling her to repent for fornication and drinking alcohol. The story was circulated that she was expelled for sleeping around and using drugs/alcohol.

Religious organizations do not have a good track record when it comes to helping abuse victims. This treatment is VERY common, especially in the denomination the college is affiliated with. The abuse advocate/blogger Rebecca Davis wrote:

I had no trouble believing that Jane could have been invited into a room and seated next to “the stranger” who raped her in order to immediately forgive him, not only because I’ve heard so many similar accounts before, some from people I know very well, but also because this is taught by the nouthetic counselors themselves.

If even now Jane, having been raped ten or so years ago by “the stranger” associated with The Master’s Seminary students, were to come to a nouthetic counselor such as this, she would find that the focus is off the wickedness that was perpetrated on her and the concommitant trauma and betrayal, and is instead on to her own sin. That is, no matter what had happened, no matter how bad it was, if Jane had been used in pornography and sex trafficking, still the focus would be on Jane’s sin.

Eleven years later, “Jane” is telling her story.

A few months ago, I was asked to become an Internet team member of a new ministry that seeks to educate churches on how to protect themselves from sexual predators. After much thought, I declined because I’m more comfortable speaking unofficially if and when I have something to say. I’m glad I declined because one of the co-founders (whom I will refer to as CF for Co-Founder) is insisting that the ONLY way that “Jane” will be empowered and healed is if she reveals her true identity, the identity of her witnesses, and the name of her rapist. He declares that she has a “moral obligation” to identify herself to protect other women. He is implying that she is lying and accusing her of trying to “tar and feather” a good man and a good university. He has, by the way, stated that he thinks very highly of John MacArthur and his teachings.

I was aware that many victims who read CF’s comments at Facebook were being triggered and feeling battered. Some of them privately told me they felt so battered and betrayed that they were unable to speak. They told me that they were glad that I was speaking out. I believe firmly in doing what Proverbs 31:8-9 says: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”  My voice wasn’t the only voice or even the most eloquent voice, but I did add it to the voices of the other abuse advocates and victims who challenged CF’s position at Facebook.

Here are some points to consider that were brought up by advocates/victims at Facebook:

  • Advocates who talked personally with Jane vetted her story and believe her. Victims who have read her story (including me) are very familiar with the abusive tactics used against her, so we believe her as well.
  • The statutes of limitations has passed so Jane cannot legally seek justice. Her stated purpose in telling her story is merely to encourage the college (now a university) to change how they deal with sexual assault victims.  Working for change does not require that her identity be known.
  • CF thinks Jane has a moral obligation to protect other women by revealing her identity, her rapists’ name, and her witnesses. He says nothing of the moral obligation of the college to look into how they treat sexual assault victims.
  • CFs criticism was focused ONLY on Jane. He fully supports MacArthur and the college.
  • Several people, including a lawyer, have stated that since the rapist was never charged, Jane could possibly face a lawsuit if she identified him. (CF said she should anyway.)
  • A victim pays a high price when she speaks out, including experiencing accusation, condemnation, blame/shaming, shunning, loss of reputation. If Jane spoke out, besides suffering additional emotional trauma, she could suffer legal liability and, if she cannot afford legal costs, financial difficulties. I think it’s very easy for CF to urge Jane to pay a price that he doesn’t have to pay.
  • Jane has already identified her rapist: 11 years ago she named him in the police report and to the college. The college knows who she is and who the rapist is. It seems to me that Jane has done everything she could, and that the college is the one who is “morally obligated” to protect the women attending their school. I don’t believe Jane is obligated to tell the world her name. Nor do I believe it is safe for her to do so.
  • I’m a bit suspicious of this strong push for Jane to reveal her identity. I wonder if the college would be legally liable if they revealed Jane’s name without her permission, but if they could pressure Jane (either directly or indirectly) to reveal her identity herself, they could shred her to pieces. They don’t have to do it themselves. It is typical that Christians will rush to defend, protect, and support abusers, especially if the abuser is well-known and popular.
  • CF often cites his counseling education/experience but all the credentials in the world are rubbish if a person is not actually listening to the people he claims to be helping.
  • The role of an advocate is to listen to a victim’s story and support her as she makes her own decisions in her own time about the actions she wants to take. THAT empowers her. It will only re-traumatize her to bully her to into doing anything against her will.

I have really hoped and prayed that CF would listen to the advocates and victims who are speaking to him so he could become a true voice for the abused. However, as I worked on this post, I read his additional comments, which were so arrogant that I felt very sick in my spirit. A person can’t claim to speak on behalf of victims if he dismisses and disrespects everything they say. Since CF believes–and insists–that victims need to publicly name their abuser, I will name him: I very strongly believe that Jon Uhler, the co-founder of Church Protect, is no true advocate for the abused. I believe that he is harming, not helping, victims. I strongly suggest that victims do not go to him for help. If you want a true advocate, I suggest A Cry for Justice. (You can also find a link to this and other sites I’ve found helpful at the right of this page.)

I am heartbroken for the suffering of victims. I am angry–and justly–that those who claim to help them only tear them apart instead.

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6 Comments on “Voices of the Victims

  1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is disturbed and disgusted by Mr. Uhler’s condemnation of “Jane” and her (very wise) decision to remain anonymous. I’ve had a brief interaction with him on Church Protect’s FB page a while back, and was entirely unimpressed with his total dismissal of my concerns with the material posted and promoted by his organization. Thanks for being willing to stand up and point out yet another wolf in sheep’s clothing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. thank you so much for speaking up. I too was disgusted and appalled at john uhler’s behavior and obvious comtempt and disdain for women. I am thankful at least that he is revealing his true narcissism because hopefully it will help those who are actually supportive of victims, know to direct them anywhere BUT to john uhler. He truly has revealed himself as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    Like

    • Thank you for commenting alientatedmomof3. I thought when I first encountered Jon that he cared about victims, but his arrogance toward Jane and her supporters have proved otherwise.

      Like

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