Beliefs Culture Institutions Opinion

Heroes in our midst: Finding hope between 2 Gods

The horrors of child abuse not only extinguishes the innocence of childhood, but so often defines survivors who spend a lifetime struggling to process such devastating childhood trauma. When abuse is perpetrated in faith communities and is rationalized with scripture and distorted theology, most victims come to understand God as the ultimate abuser. All too often, these precious souls get weary of processing what seems to be a forever dark journey and simply give up hope.

Last year, I was privileged to come into contact with an amazing individual who is walking that journey and has given up hope more than once. The life of Trudy Metzger is one that is both deeply tragic and remarkably hopeful. She was the one beaten and left to die on the side of the road in the parable of the Good Samaritan. She is also the one pursued, embraced, and loved by the ultimate Good Samaritan. Trudy’s journey is not unlike the painful journey of so many others who are weary and who have or are giving up hope.   Her life is a declaration that there is hope.  

In order to share this hope with others, Trudy recently wrote a book about her journey entitled, Between 2 Gods.   This amazingly honest memoir doesn’t hide the truth about the deep physical, emotional, and spiritual pains caused by childhood trauma. It also doesn’t hide the truth about a loving God who crosses the road and gets down into the dirt with the hurting and brutalized.

I hope that we can all find some comfort in Trudy’s words that have been formed out of a life that for all intensive purposes should have ended long ago. I’m so grateful God had other plan. – Boz

Boz: Can you tell us a little bit about your family background?
Trudy: I was the 12th living child, of what would eventually be 16, born into an Old Colony Russian Mennonite home. With a history of unaddressed abuse and violence in my father’s family, and murder and unacknowledged sexual abuse in my mother’s family, we didn’t stand much of a chance at escaping abuse. Intertwined with this were deeply rooted religious beliefs that presented God as volatile and harsh, rather than a kind ‘Abba Father’—or ‘Papa’—who loves us and understands our humanity.

Boz: What was it about the culture you grew up in that you believe contributed to an abusive environment?
Trudy: This topic would produce at least a chapter, but more likely a book, if covered with any kind of thoroughness. Certainly male dominance was a problem—and I say that as someone who believes all are created equal, with something of value to contribute in every situation—and this robbed women and children of any voice. Contributing to this was the ‘elders are to be respected view’ that required younger children to submit to older siblings, giving older siblings almost the same authority as parents. While these older siblings were not necessarily the abusers, the mentality very much affirmed ‘voicelessness’ and demanded submission and surrender to the wishes of anyone older. This is a set up for abuse throughout life.

I want to add that our communities in Mexico were infested with sexual abuse on every level, and it was not only the girls who were victimized by fathers, brothers and men in general. Male to male violations were a tragic reality, leaving young boys devastated by the impact of rape, often from older boys or fathers. Teen boys raped teen girls and older girls seduced younger boys, and mothers molested their children. I wouldn’t have known all of this in childhood, and didn’t address its brutality in my book but it goes without saying that such depravity is the result of multiple issues, not only male dominance.

Another piece was little teaching about sex, and what was communicated was presented more in strict warnings to ‘not sin’, and warnings to protect against ‘evil boys’. This made sex an altogether horrid thing, feeding the unhealthy lifestyles and resulting in much sexual promiscuity on besides abuse.

Trudy Metzger - courtesy of Trudy Metzger

Trudy Metzger – courtesy of Trudy Metzger

Boz: What type of abuse did you experience while living at home?
Trudy: The main abuses I suffered at home were psychological, physical, spiritual and sexual. The physical and psychological abuse intertwined powerfully. My father’s violence and death threats messed with my mind, and the violence I witnessed gave those threats a visual context, bringing them to life in my imagination and causing deep and constant torment.

I touched on the spiritual abuse briefly already, but will add that using the ‘…you’ll go to hell if you…” teaching is cruel to the mind of a child. It wasn’t the awareness of an existing hell that tormented me—I was okay with knowing of such a place, and knowing Jesus died to save me from it; that was a relief. Using hell as a manipulation to induce fear to get people to comply is not only abusing that person, it is a dreadful violation of the heart of God, in my opinion. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the ‘Good News’ of the Gospel we have been called to share with the world. Being saved through Jesus, is the good news, but being condemned if you don’t align with church rules is the bad news of the enemy, to put it bluntly. And it’s all around inappropriate to throw at little children.

Sexual abuse was prevalent in our home and community, and though I experienced more than enough of it, I ‘flew under the radar’ in many ways, and suffered far less than some of my siblings. Watching a group of older teens sexually victimizing a group of my siblings —something I mention in my book—was very damaging as I struggled with whether my siblings would ever be okay. I could feel the impact, and the scene replayed in traumatic and graphic detail in my mind. Though I was also sexually abused by older children in our community and some siblings, what tormented me the most was the abuse I witnessed. There was also much ‘child to child’ sexual interaction in our home and community. Contrary to those who downplay the impact, this is very damaging for many, disrupting healthy sexual function later in life. I write openly about these things, but tried to honor the privacy and not cross lines to sharing the stories of siblings who suffered far more than me.

Boz: At what point did you decide that you needed to get away? Did you have any support in making that decision?
Trudy: I ‘dreamed and schemed’ of leaving long before I developed a plan to present to my father, the month before my 16th birthday, so the ‘deciding’ happened long before the execution. By age 11, if not sooner, I contemplated my options and wished for a way out, but being in a sheltered environment, and in a time and place when society had not recognized abuse as it does today, I had no awareness of options, so I waited. At 15 I actively planned and, knowing my father’s violence, running away was not an option. Instead, understanding our family’s financial needs, I presented a plan to help out financially, and in that way walked out of my father’s house with his blessing, and him not knowing my true motives.

It is important to note, to tell the story accurately, that my mother was also an abusive parent. All through childhood my interactions were more with my father, and his influence in my struggle with God—both good and bad—drew him into this memoir in a unique way. The ‘mom story’ may or may not ever make it into a book form, but I certainly couldn’t talk with her about these things at that time.

Boz: Did leaving home solve your problems?
Trudy: I wish I could say yes. My intent, when leaving, was not to become this dreadful rebel child who packed 20 years’ worth of sin into 2 years of living. I wanted to know God. Desperately! Being excommunicated from church, and abandoned with not one soul to talk to, at a heart level, with all those memories bubbling inside of me, pushed me over the edge. In my desperate desire for a place to belong, a place to be loved, I soon learned that I would have to give up my body to get that. If men want sex, and I want a place to belong, then it becomes a fair trade. But, instead of giving me that place to belong, it threw me into suicidal tendencies, into feelings of being used and worthless, and left me feeling empty and robbed. Instead of taking me away from the abuses I had seen and suffered at home, it threw me into the same thing in a new environment.

Boz: Did the abuse you suffered from as a child impact the decisions you made after leaving home?
Trudy: Definitely! The biggest thing was not having the ability to say ‘no’, combined with always wanting to make people happy… I had made a decision that I wanted to remain a virgin—though I only learned the meaning of that word at 16—but with the level of sexual confusion and that need to be loved and accepted, I was ‘destined and doomed’ for sexual promiscuity, so to speak. And with no one to talk to, and being ‘conditioned’ for silence, I didn’t stand a chance.

Boz: What kept you going amidst the continued suffering after leaving home?
Trudy: Other than one flashback, when I was raped at 17, I pretty much blocked out memories of home, family and childhood. I went weeks, if not months, without even thinking of that ‘other reality’, and I partied hard, drowning out any connection to the pain. In this way I closed God out, without even knowing it. Ironically, it was this ability to ‘live in another world’ and close out the past that made me function reasonably well in the day to day. It prevented me from putting down any roots, but it kept me alive.

Boz: Where was God during those dark and lonely moments of your life?
Trudy: If you had asked me then, I would have said, ‘What God?’; I didn’t really believe in Him. And, yet, in the loneliest moments, usually on summer nights, looking up at a star-filled sky, I would feel Him. My heart would get all warm, and I would look up and ask Him big questions, and weep. Those moments I knew He was real, I knew He loved me, and I knew He was not aligned with the harshness of my experience.

Boz: It must have been incredibly difficult to go back and write about some of darkest moments of your life? How did you do that?
Trudy: Truthfully, I went in a bit naively. The writing process took me back, immersing me in it at the deepest possible level. I had to enter in emotionally, to tell it accurately, and recall conversation bits. I had no idea it would throw me into a dark pit, where I would wake up, day after day, with one simple prayer, “I feel hopeless and empty, but I know You love me, and that’s going to be enough for today”. Besides praying for friends’ needs, and praying for wisdom, this was my life for a few months. Would I do it again? Absolutely! The feedback of how it is healing hearts is worth every tear, every gut-wrenching cry, and I would do it all again… because that healing is why I did it in the first place.

Boz: Can you explain the meaning behind the title of your book, Between 2 Gods?
Trudy: In early childhood I fell in love with nature, and throughout life it has been a place God speaks to me. I saw Him in it then, and I still see Him there today. (The heavens declare the glory of God…) I also saw Him in the kindness of and the God I saw in those times collided powerfully with the god represented by abuse and violence in a religious environment. The former drew my heart to Him, the latter scared the life out of me and I really wasn’t sure which one was real. Coincidentally, I didn’t write the title. Eric Stanford (my amazing editor!) read the book and said, “this is what I see” and suggested it and my publisher, agent and I all had this immediate sense about it being right.

Boz: How did your understanding of God’s character impact your daily life?
Trudy: When I was afraid of God, I lived out of that fear in a toxic way. Striving to measure up, but always falling short, left me defeated and hopeless and eventually I said, “Well, I’m going to go to hell anyway, so I might as well party here.” Discovering a God of love and grace has allowed me to focus my energy on living confidently with the knowledge that I am His, and His love and grace spill out around me. Suddenly sin has little grip on me, and I am free. When I do sin, I repent quickly because I already know He loves me. It’s not ‘earning’ love, it’s celebrating it.

Between 2 GodsBoz: How would you define spiritual abuse?
Trudy: Spiritual abuse, as I understand it, is using spirituality in any form to manipulate or control the mind or behaviors of any individual. It robs individuals of their God-given freewill, and turns them to serving humans, rather than knowing God. That says it all, right there.

Boz: Do you think there is a nexus between spiritual abuse and other types of abuse such as physical or sexual abuse? Is that something you ever experienced?
Trudy: Religion/spirituality hold power, by their very nature. So any time you use spiritual power to control, rather than to empower, you invite in other darkness and controls. And since spirituality was intended to serve as a connection with our Creator, and a conduit for relationship, to turn it into a human force is perverse, and leads inevitably to the abuse of power in general. In my own life, as a young mom, I was abusive in the discipline I administered—especially in the life of our oldest daughter—and in emotional ways. Some of this was the anger I had bottled up about my own life, some of it was feeling helpless and inadequate, and some of it was trying to make my family ‘fit the mold’ of religion. But all of it was sin. And I’ve repented of it. When we abandoned deeply religious controls, and grasped God’s grace, my parenting became grace-filled, gentle and redemptive, and continues more and more in that vein. Our home, as a result, is a safe place for us, and all who enter it.

Boz: Based upon your life experience, how do you think the Church is doing when it comes to addressing all forms of abuse within the home?
Trudy: I’ve been quite disheartened in the past, however, I am seeing a radical shift in the past few months. A church hired me to work with victims among them, paying for all expenses. Another church brought me in to share my story and do a Q&A session, so they can offer healthy support to victims, and there was no end to questions. More than that, the pastor sat on the floor and taught the children about protecting themselves, and in the service shared his own story of an attempt made on him. Other churches in our community and surrounding area have started assisting victims in their churches and communities financially with the process of getting help. This tells me that there is a shift, and God is restoring. I pray it continues.

Boz: What advice can you give to those who may be wondering if they are living in an abusive environment?
This is very complex. I wish I could say ‘talk to your pastor’, with the confidence that the church would do the right thing. And in some cases I can, but often that is not the case. Even if pastors cannot be ‘the mentor’ or counselor, they should have a list of community and mental health supports where they send their congregation. Unfortunately, if there is denial of it being a problem, the risk for damage done by the ‘get over it’ or ‘it’s because you don’t submit’ or, ‘if you’d have sex with him more often willingly’ mentality is as vile as the abuse. Instead, what I recommend is reaching out to medical professionals, local community service, women’s shelter or a safe online group, or someone who will guide you to getting good and redemptive help, without the risk of further abuse and condemnation.

Boz: What can you tell those reading this interview who have simply given up hope?
First of all, I’m so sorry for what you have suffered, or are suffering. It is not easy in that dark place, feeling hopeless. Pat answers, easy comfort, quick Bible verses and a ‘God is good’ hardly cuts it. What you need is someone who will sit with you, eye to eye, heart to heart, and hear your story without judgment. Someone who will affirm your value, and counteract the lies you believe about yourself and your worth, because of what abuse has done to you. You are worth so much more! Never give up! Press on and reach for help until you find that one good fit, that someone who will walk with you and be ‘Jesus with a skin on’.

Boz: In his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen writes, People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it.  They claim that the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness.  They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God.

As you look back on your life, what are some of the flashes of light that revealed the presence of God?  Trudy: Ah… this brings tears to my eyes, Boz. It is so true. The flashes of light came from the little, ordinary and unexpected moments of grace: a girl in her twenties, with Downs Syndrome, who played dolls with me in Mexico when I was four…. my brother who was my best friend, and with whom I am still very close… from the pastor who smiled and nodded when I sang at the top of my lungs at song service when I was about 8… from the little girl who hugged and kissed me every time we met in childhood… from the little girl in the Mennonite church who snuck me a tic tac in Sunday school and who remains my friend to this day… from the Grandma in the Mennonite church who delighted in me and gave me kisses… from the pastor who looked beyond my sin and saw my broken heart… from the man who was going to use me but felt my tears and said, “I’m sorry” instead of following through… from the Grandma who prayed with me when I called a prayer line on 100 Huntley Street as a hurting 16-year-old wanting someone to pray, to care… and ultimately, the redeeming Light that I saw when Jesus knelt before me, to write in the sand, then looked on me with compassion and said, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”.

Learn more about Trudy Metzger and read her writings at her blog.   





About the author

Boz Tchividjian

“Boz” Tchividjian is a former child abuse chief prosecutor and is the founder and executive director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). Boz is also a Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law, and is a published author who speaks and writes extensively on issues related to abuse within the faith community. Boz is the 3rd-eldest grandchild of the Rev. Billy Graham.

He is a graduate of Stetson University and Cumberland School of Law (Samford University).


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  • I’m not sure how to read this… In the opening, Trudy writes, “Other memories are lost in my subconscious… Dad had struck my hand so violently that I had no strength left in my wrist to hold it up. I have no conscious memory of this event but during physiotherapy in my late twenties, when I developed chronic wrist pain and weakness, the therapist concluded I had most likely suffered trauma to my wrist early in life. The body remembers what the mind cannot recall.” (p xiii) There is way too much going on in this book in the way of questionable memory therapy not to open the door to serious skepticism. This is a tragic story…if it’s true. I’m not saying it isn’t, but the “triggers” are there wanting clarity. Need answers.

  • Thank you, courageous Trudy. You are not alone. There are many who understand your suffering and your discoveries. May hope and healing come to all.

  • Hi Tom,

    Thank you for your thoughts and questions. They are fair, to be sure. I will ‘take it apart’ in brackets, having copied and pasted your comment:

    “Other memories are lost in my subconscious… (There is much about life that I don’t remember, even though many memories are very graphic. Some are vivid, some are lost. That is true in everyone’s life.) Dad had struck my hand so violently that I had no strength left in my wrist to hold it up. (My mother told me about this, as well as a few siblings who saw it, that is how I know it to be true. I thought I stated that in the book. If I inadvertently deleted that, it is a gap. But I’m sure my mother wouldn’t have lied to me.) I have no conscious memory of this event but during physiotherapy in my late twenties, when I developed chronic wrist pain and weakness, the therapist concluded I had most likely suffered trauma to my wrist early in life. (I have ongoing weakness in my right wrist for which I had therapy in my twenties, and the therapist presumed it was from an injury. I already knew about the incident long before that.) The body remembers what the mind cannot recall..” (p xiii) There is way too much going on in this book in the way of questionable memory therapy not to open the door to serious skepticism. (I have never gone for therapy. The only way I know the memories to be true, is because of calling my mother and describing rooms and scenes to her about my surroundings, of things no one told me. The crib scene is one such scene and when I told my mother of the room’s layout, having discussed it with no one else, she gasped, saying ‘it’s impossible’ that I would remember, yet validating it.) This is a tragic story…if it’s true. I’m not saying it isn’t, but the “triggers” are there wanting clarity. Need answers. (My story is mild compared to my siblings. All fifteen siblings would validate the violence, the sexual abuse and everything else I write about. I understand that it is shocking, and thankfully I am healed enough that your question has no negative impact on me, nor do I feel compelled to convince you. I am very comfortable with the truth and have witnesses to almost every scene in those childhood years. I chose in some scenes to withhold information to protect my siblings who are not as outspoken about what they suffered. And their truth would be yet more unbelievable.)

    I’ve taken time to answer you because you seem to be sincere and your questions are polite and genuine. Attacks I don’t bother about, as it’s a waste of time. And if you have further questions, feel free to ask. The best way to contact me is via my website, on the ‘contact’ page. And I have siblings who are very open to answering questions as well, if you have some for them. And if ever our paths should meet, I would enjoy having coffee and talking face to face. I wish you God’s blessings.

    Ps. The things that happened are truly tragic. What is more tragic is that they continue, and in my work I sit daily with other victims suffering similar abuses. My story, however, is not tragic.

  • I missed a word in one comment: “I had never gone for (memory) therapy…” Obviously I went for physiotherapy, as I stated a few sentences earlier. Also, I never went for counseling sessions to work through my childhood–a detail I seldom share, as I am actually in favour of counseling, if handled appropriately, and have gone for marriage/parenting struggles, as well as ‘young adult’ struggles. Just not for childhood and memories. I handled that with me and God, and a family I lived with.

  • Thank you Raz! I appreciate your kind words. It would be better if fewer people understood, but I thank God that I can offer hope to those lost in their pain. Many blessings to you!

  • I’m looking forward to reading your book, Trudy. As much as I’ve worked with survivors, I’m always amazed at how much evil there is in the world—the enemy has no end of ways to do harm.

    There were only four sexual abusers in my childhood (dad and three others). I also witnessed sexual abuse. The emotional and physical abuse were all in the home. One counselor called it emotional terrorism. I am amazed at how you have been able to find God again. But then, people tell me the same thing. Thank you for telling this horrible/beautiful story.

    The thing that brought me to tears the quickest was the man who started to but refrained when he saw your tears. That grabbed my heart like nothing else. So many of us longed/long for somebody to notice.

  • Trudy, thanks for your kind response. It isn’t my intention to offend. And I assume there’s some reality to the abuse you mention given that others experienced it too. I am sorry for you and your siblings.

    But questions remain. The crib incident happened when you were 1 or 2. It is not physiologically credible that you would remember events at that age, even if you feel strongly that the memory is authentic. So I’m curious what else was going on when you did remember. May I ask how you came to have narrative awareness of that particular memory? Also, in one of your blogs you tell a friend that you were abused and are asked what happened? You answer that you don’t remember? Can I ask, respectfully, if you have any continuous memories at all of your father’s abuse? Or were all these memories that you connected with later in life?

    It is interesting that you never were in therapy, but you seem aware of abuse-related literature. You have dedicated a great deal of effort searching for answers and meaning in your life, so you must read. You state, “The body remembers…” Do you know where that came from? Is is a quote or is it your own thought? It speaks to an otherwise unstated perspective on memory and abuse, so I must ask. I don’t assume you are naive about these things. (and I do appreciate your interaction)

  • Hi Trudy,
    Thank you for sharing a bit of your story here. The suffering you and your siblings endured is tragic. I very much hope that each of your siblings finds the same healing that you have found and continue to find.
    Am curious as to how you made the transition to see God as good. Perhaps this is described in your book?
    I am fighting to forget the god of my own religious past and learn about the God who loves and is kind. I just can’t yet seem to shake off the terror of that first god.
    Am encouraged to hear that in your journey, you have been able to get to that place. I long for the same – for me and for the many others who are still seeking!

  • Hi again Tom!

    I’ll copy your questions–and other points to comment on–and, again, respond in brackets. (For other readers, I will add a warning: THIS RESPONSE INCLUDES TRIGGERS FOR SOME)

    “The crib incident happened when you were 1 or 2. It is not physiologically credible that you would remember events at that age, even if you feel strongly that the memory is authentic.”
    (MY RESPONSE; Chapter 2, page11, paragrapoh 1: you will see we moved to this house in 1971. I was born in 1969, so I turned 2 several months after we moved. We left in 1974–chapter 4 pg 27–so it was somewhere between moving there and age 4’ish. It intrigues me that you don’t recall my memories about the suicide and the details surrounding that event. When that memory returned after years of blocking them, I called my mother and asked if my memories are accurate, and she affirmed those details as well. Same is true for the little girls that died. You have to remember I left home the month before 16 and it’s not like these things were conversations we had as a family. They are memories.)

    “So I’m curious what else was going on when you did remember.”
    (MY RESPONSE; It has been quite a number of years ago when I remembered it, and I can’t say for certain what was going on at the time of remembering. What I can say is that, to this day, I’ve not wasted any time trying to remember. I ask God to only bring back that which I need for healing, not everything I experienced. If I cannot validate it, by speaking with witnesses, or if I am not 100% certain of the memory, I don’t tell it. I tell it in that scene, exactly as it returned to me. I could say more, but because of other details surrounding this event, I cannot publicly go there. It is not important to me that you believe this. I *know* it to be true. and maybe revisiting the math regarding my age will clear it up because preschoolers do remember things.)

    “Also, in one of your blogs you tell a friend that you were abused and are asked what happened? You answer that you don’t remember?”
    (MY RESPONSE; I presume you refer to the friend who raped me? My friend, if being raped reminds you of your father, and you transfer the trauma to the past, there better be serious alarm bells! I need no education or other knowledge to piece that together. Nor do you. But let’s continue, I’ll give you something more concrete…)

    “Can I ask, respectfully, if you have any continuous memories at all of your father’s abuse? Or were all these memories that you connected with later in life?”
    (MY RESPONSE; Exactly when the memories returned is irrelevant, so far as validating them, but as I said before, I confirmed my memories by making phone calls and visiting people. I have several more books on the go, in which I will explain–in story form–more of that journey. But, most importantly, my father told me himself that he became a child molester, a year or two after my memories resurfaced. He also admitted it to others, including my mother. Soon after I first faced the reality of what had happened, I visited a cousin who I learned was victimized by my father. She acknowledged it and told me he had come to her father to confess and apologize, after she told her sister and her sister told her father. She was eight at the time of the event. My siblings’ stories are not mine to tell, but I saw one sister huddled, holding her crotch and crying ‘owie, owie’… and later learned she had been raped by my father. This stuff is so brutally traumatizing, Tom… I cannot tell you the tears I have wept to write even the parts I did tell, and the countless times my husband has held me as I felt my very soul was being ripped from me. Trust me, when I say I kept it ‘manageable’ and told only the truth, but certainly not all of it. It’s too much for me, if it isn’t for you. Unfortunately I also know brutal details of what he did to my mother, which I should not know and certainly won’t repeat at this time. I want the book to offer healing, not rape the minds of readers and cause unnecessary triggers for others.)

    “It is interesting that you never were in therapy, but you seem aware of abuse-related literature. You have dedicated a great deal of effort searching for answers and meaning in your life, so you must read. You state, “The body remembers…” Do you know where that came from? Is is a quote or is it your own thought?”
    (MY RESPONSE: The line ‘the body remembers’ came to me as I wrote it out and saw in black and white the connection–a bit of a play on words, or word picture. If I ever have read anything like it, it is stored in my subconscious because I have no recollection of reading it. I certainly didn’t borrow a quote intentionally. It doesn’t seem terribly profound to me that a severely damaged wrist–that my family witnessed being damaged–was a ‘scar’ of the past that did actual damage. A broken bone would be the same ‘memory’, in the context of my quote. It’s common sense. And that the psychological damage of molestation, abuse, rape, beatings etc would leave a ‘scar’ on the mind also makes sense.)

    “It speaks to an otherwise unstated perspective on memory and abuse, so I must ask. I don’t assume you are naive about these things.”
    (MY RESPONSE; I have not read any books on this topic and spend little time reading about it, but sine having healed (mostly) from my own journey, I have read up in Medical journals a few times and some of the debates out there. But it’s been precious little reading, unfortunately, as I suffered a massive heart attack in 2006 and lost my ability to focus. I had done most of my healing before that, but didn’t start working with abuse victims until 2010 and went full time in 2012. I have learned most of what I know through my experience and by sitting every day with sexual abuse victims, hearing their stories, and helping them heal, and even confront their abusers if they so choose. In this I serve as a mediator. I started this in 2010–roughly twenty years after I started my healing journey–and have learned more than any text book will ever teach me. It’s pretty simple. They tell me their stories, I love them and listen with compassion. I help them approach their perpetrator(s)–or alleged perpetrators–and we confront the abuses, while offering forgiveness. Forgiveness, not permission. I can’t tell you how many times a victim has gone from zero memories, to remember an event through a flashback, and when confronting the perpetrator has acknowledged the event. Have you never remembered something and realized it was real, even though you never remembered it before? This should not be such a shocking thing.)

    OTHER COMMENTS: As for being naive… maybe I am. I tell my journey, as I recall it, and expect people to accept it at face value, but because it’s the only life I’ve ever known, I can hardly even grasp why someone would question it. The glimpse I have into your questioning is my own questioning that happened when I discovered just how abnormal my world was, and experienced the love and care of a ‘normal’ family, who took me in when I was 20/21’ish and loved me through the trauma of facing my own story. Your problem is a better one to have, I think. 🙂

  • Tedd, I’m so sorry for your suffering. My heart still breaks quickly, and stirs deep emotion for others…. (it’s only been the last few readings/edits of my own manuscript that I’ve gotten through it without weeping!) And four abusers is way too many. Even one is too many! I don’t know where you are in your healing journey, but I pray you find deep inner healing, if you have not yet. The scars remain. I still have scars.

    I understand why that ‘man who didn’t use me’ brought tears. Recently, watching Law & Order, I started weeping (silently) at a scene with ‘small mercies’. I thought I hid my tears well, but my teenage son looked at me closely and asked, “Are you crying because of your memories, or because of the people you work with?” My answer: “a bit of both”. That is a scene I still choke up at as well, and thank God for.

    Heal well, my friend. You are valued. You are loved. You have purpose. And God has not forgotten you, or your suffering. I hope you know this.

  • It breaks my heart to read this because I remember so well that ‘wanting to forget’ the God of my religious past. I had to come to seeing that the ‘bad’ god doesn’t even exist. That is not God at all. The God who slipped into a human shell, accepted human struggles, walked on earth in the body of Jesus is not like that. The God who is Jesus, loved, healed, rebuked abuse, and ultimately died… for me. For me. Because He loved me. He loved me enough to die, so that I would feel understood. Something about the moment of that revelations transformed my life. I discovered the God who fights for me, loves me, believes in me and has given me a little ‘reflection’ of Himself, to offer light and hope to the world around. But, maybe most importantly, He loved me long before I ever ‘got it’. Because I am His. Accepted. Beloved. And that’s what the enemy was trying to rob me of all along…

    Some of it was letting the Spirit of God speak–even inviting Him to speak–but much of it was seeing Him alive in people who were different than the harshness of my childhood. That was huge! My encouragement is, find them and ‘experience’ Jesus. These are not arrogant religious people; they are real, broken and sometimes mess up. When they hurt you, they apologize. And they love you for who you are, not for who they think they can make you into.

    The other good news bit that really helped me was discovering the true God could handle my struggles and questioning. (Read Job and Psalms… couple of whining, crying,angry saints there!) And He still accepts my struggles now that they are less about my faith, and more about other things. Coming through all that, my faith is now deeply personal and doesn’t fit a lot of religious settings, but it’s full of love, grace and truth.

  • Ps. Thank you for the questions, Tom; I welcome them. One of the beautiful things about working with the truth is there is nothing to fear, in the way of being questioned. True that I still have to pause and close my eyes to return to some of those memories, because I don’t ‘live’ in them all the time–I have a beautiful ‘present’ to experience–and it is emotionally draining to relive it, but it is worth it if it helps someone understand victims. Thank you also for being gentle and respectful. Harsh attacks are yet more draining than reliving this way.

  • my first response, second sentence should read:
    “It intrigues me that you don’t *question* my memories about the suicide and the details surrounding that event.”

  • I suppose I should have said something about my healing journey. It has been a great gift. And I can even say that I am grateful for the life God has given me—all of it.

    I have long been involved in helping other survivors in different ways. I co-lead groups for survivors. I do training at the local sexual assault agency for new volunteers (crisis lines and hospital advocates who go to meet rape victims as the arrive at the hospital).

    My story is on the Bristlecone Project and ListenConspiracy sites. The Bristlecone Project uses the stories to make displays around the country and in other places around the world (Australia and Cambodia most recently).

    I am pleased to see what the enemy intended for destruction being used for healing. It is a gift to have the background/childhood to bring that to others.

    Funny you should mention Law and Order. I was watching an episode while I was on travel one time recently. There was a point where they went back to the crime scene to see if they could figure out anything more about the rape-murder. Somehow that grabbed me—crime scene.

    Then a week or so later, I was at a training for the groups I lead and tried to calculate how many offenses had been committed against me. In telling our story in this training, we used an outline of our actual body and wrote the story in words and pictures in and around that outline.

    It suddenly occurred to me that my very body was a crime scene, hundreds and hundreds of crimes. It was a shock. But God used that to break into/through my minimization tendency.

    I’m reading your book, now, and am looking forward to getting to know you a little more.

  • Ah… now that excites me! That ‘overcomer’ story/spirit is all it takes to break the heaviness in my heart in regards to your story. Redemption! And, more than just redeeming our stories, God uses it to redeem others! Isn’t that profound and humbling, all at once? Gives me goosebumps! I love what is happening with your story, and will check those links out! I’m so glad we met here! It was very shocking to me when I first discovered the prevalence and magnitude of male victimization, and saw its impact. I’ve partnered once with a male survivor, for a conference, and he was only 15 but preaching truth powerfully! (I had asked a few older victims, but was declined.) I discovered in that search just how much abuse robs men, in some ways differently than women, and some ways the same, but horrific all around. And then redemption comes…

    A very startling thought to recognize our bodies as a crime scene! It took me years to recognize what was done by adults and teens, was criminal. The child-to-child ‘overpowering’ is also very damaging, but has a unique element to it in the level of innocence while the damage is being done. So heartbreaking!

    I look forward to learning more about you, and connecting. If you do social media, it might be easier to interact on FB?

  • Yes, I’m sure you can find me on FB easily. There aren’t too many Tedd Cadds out there. I’m the small boy in the snow suit.

  • “I am fighting to forget the god of my own religious past and learn about the God who loves and is kind. I just can’t yet seem to shake off the terror of that first god”.

    I’m in the same boat on this one. For me it was a journey to becoming a Sympathetic Agnostic and walking away from the craziness, deception and lies that was my abusive family situation.
    It’s not a path I’d advocate for most, but for me it is a path that stops me banging my head against a wall, trying to figure out how it all went so wrong and reconciling it with a “God of Love”.
    For me, maybe God exists, may be He doesn’t, but so much of my younger life was wasted being forced to endure a father who had become his own god, that it is easier to break away from it all and finally live free.

  • Oscar, I totally understand that feeling, and would be the last one to judge you harshly. It is very difficult to learn to trust God after going through abuse like that. I spent my teens there. And, as will become obvious in future book, accepting Jesus didn’t magically cure all struggles with the gentle/loving God. I had far too many scars. Much like trying to trust a good husband/lover after being in an abusive relationship, I imagine, a lot of darkness had to spill out of my soul first. Fortunately He isn’t put off by our struggle or humanity, and doesn’t wait for us to ‘get it’, before He loves us.

    I am glad you have been able to break free from the blackness and pain of all you suffered at the hands of your father. The mental torment is a ‘hell unto itself’, as far as I’m concerned. I pray you continue to heal and grow in freedom, and if knowing the God of love could bring you any deeper healing, peace and freedom, I pray you feel and accept that love. Blessings to you, my friend.

  • Trudy, again, your candor is refreshing. Thx. I’ll stop pursuing your memories for now. But let me explain my involvement a bit more.

    Unfortunately, claims of abuse (and I agree it is real and pervasive) are sometimes complicated by false accusations -with a lot of hazy stuff in the middle. My interests revolve around false accusations, particularly the issue of traumatic memory and memory retrieval. It’s tricky because many false accusations are made with utter sincerity. The accuser does not believe they are lying. There are many causes of inaccurate memories, but one big culprit is what I will call “recovered memory therapy,” recently labeled “The most dangerous idea in mental health.” Here are some stories about RM and false accusations: Lost Daughters by Reinder van Til; My Lie by Meredith Maran, Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton. Like other stories of abuse, these will break your heart.

    My concerns above are why your blog caught my attention. In the RM world, you would be a known demographic – educated, white, evangelical, female, 20-40 yrs old, who began her healing journey in the early 90’s at the zenith of the recovered memory movement. Canadian Mennonites (mostly women) have been leaders in addressing sexual abuse since the 80’s (good), but they were also active in the RM movement (not so good). Like many successful writers, creativity is your forte. Great writing, btw. But, when addressing abuse and memory, your use of creative metaphors make it difficult to assess the boundary between dream, imagination, and factual content. And you write using RM terminology and ideas (the body remembers… (see Bessel van der Kolk, 1994/2014; B Rothschild, 2004), survivors, triggers, blocking, flashback, etc.). So, it’s hard to believe (I’m trying) you are not aware of RM issues. I will assume you are as naïve about this as you say you are, but if that is true, and if you are providing training and counseling, it would be wise to do some catch-up research. Zeal without knowledge is a dangerous thing. Please don’t dismiss education. That will only help your cause.
    I would suggest starting with an article by Richard J McNally, “Debunking Myths about Trauma and Memory.” That’s short and pointed. I’ll leave it at that. I doubt you will list me as a cheer leader, but I trust you can accept that I am not your enemy and I wish you well.