Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Danger of "Forgive and Forget"



Watch this powerful series to see what happens when "forgive and forget" victimizes the victims, and allows a culture of abuse to thrive in the dark.

In Brazil, the rapist of a 9-year old girl who became pregnant with twins remains a member of the Catholic Church while the girl's mother (and the doctors who preformed a life-saving abortion), were excommunicated. The girl escaped excommunication only because she is still a child in the eyes of Church authorities. 

In Portland, Oregon, a woman is suing the Apostolic Faith Church for abuse she suffered as a child, saying she wants to hold the church accountable for looking the other way and ignoring her pleas for help.

"I realized that one way to help a lot of the friends that I knew in this church that were also victims was to come forward and let them see my face and show them that I’m not scared to let people know what was done to me," she said. 

18 comments:

  1. I'm not all the way through the series yet, Free, but I'm getting a little heated! And that poor little 9-year-old. Appalling. I can feel my blood pressure going up. It's amazing how much damage gets done to people in the name of religion. Very sad.

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  2. When you say it is being done in the dark, it isn't true. Look how many adults knew and suggested ways for her to handle this. It isn't in the dark. The dark would be better. As a child, you listen and take advice from the adults, for you are a child.

    A child who is raised in a church where God, Men come first. A girl is way down on the totem pole.

    I too am not all the way through with the series....for my computer connection is iffy at best.
    But, what I saw is not shocking....it is sadly more the norm than not in ultra conservative churches.

    What does give me hope is that by stepping up and out, others will follow...and that the church can be held accountable for their actions. Knowing Adults do have a responsibility to the children in their worlds.

    Beth Jukuri

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  3. Beth, by dark I meant "not public." The adults in these stories neglected their mandatory reporting obligations. In the first case, the congregation was not told that a member's "infidelity" was connected to the child's pregnancy. Those that made the connection on their own did not follow up on their suspicions, and while they feel bad about it now, shouldn't they have felt some obligation legally then?

    Adults -- all adults -- must take responsibility for protecting children and are obligated, if not legally then ethically, to report abuse. No more "minding one's own business" when it comes to the safety of the vulnerable. These are norms that must be reset in our society, not only in conservative churches but everywhere.

    Adults should be taught that children are not "property," but individuals with rights to safety, health, education, and self-determination. There should be zero tolerance for pretending not to know, either to save a reputation or a marriage or job.

    Corporal punishment is a form of abuse that should be illegal. All prospective parents should be offered training in positive parenting, and refresher classes.

    I know of a Laestadian mother, who when about a child who was sexually molested, shook her head and said "I had the same thing happen to me when I was a girl. I survived and so will she."

    That attitude is tragic. The defeatism is a a form of self-hatred, encouraged by a culture that utterly devalues women.

    It must begin with parents having high expectations of our their sons, and teaching them that coercion and force is not okay. NEVER. Not even in a tickling match.

    Of course this must be taught by deed as well as word, so corporal punishment is out.

    Boys and men must be taught that girls and women are people. Not playthings. Not types. Not whores or virgins. People, as complex and various as males.

    Women must be nurtured to be secure enough to choose good mates, to flee abusive ones, and to protect their children from those who become abusive.

    They must be given real protection (not toothless restraining orders) when they leave abusive mates.

    Mental health services for abusers of all ages should be compulsory.

    Children must be taught autonomy over their own bodies from an early age, and encouraged to report any abuse to a trusted adult, who may not be a parent or pastor. Naturally, the home is the best place to learn this, but the state has an obligation to teach what some families will not.

    Sex education in Seattle Schools teaches kids how to recognize and report abuse, starting in 5th grade. As uncomfortable as I was when my 11 year old daughter began asking about it, I knew it would be negligent of me to keep her from knowing what could protect her.

    It's up to us to change the norms. Keep the conversation going, expose the dangerous attitudes for what they are, and it will happen.

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    1. and a boy / man needs to know that No means NO and not to try and coerce a girl. If a girl says no and the guy coerces her, talks her into it, that is too close to rape.

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  4. Thank you for clearing up what you meant by "in the dark"....and for the rest of your comments.

    I believe it is our generation that is beginning a new pattern, but it will be the generation beneath us that will actually do more than we appear to be doing. Our fears and our long trained ideals will keep us from stepping out and speaking up. However, we are raising our daughters to be less submissive and more independent, for the women, at least in some churches, we are working outside of the home which gives us a sense of empowerment.

    Teaching children is by us living differently. The old saying, "they do what you do, not what you say..." is true. The more we become involved, and the more we create boundaries, the more we will empower them to do the same.

    There is no need to worry about what our children are doing, AS much as it is to see What are you doing? We are the role models. What are you modeling? What do you do when you are faced with continuing relationships with those who abuse or who are supportive of the abusers? No need to try and change the world, just change you. That will be the best education for your children.

    What I have always been fairly attuned to, was that my children's eyes were watching me. And I knew, that I was the one setting up the bar of standards. And I greatly failed them by staying with my family against my feelings.

    I had resentment towards my mother but never gave myself the freedom to walk away or to voice or to challenge. I had fear of my father that I never explored or questioned. In not being truthful to me, I shown my children how to please others first.

    I have the great privilege to have my grown daughters close by and we are recalibrating the bar...setting a higher standard by what I do. They get to have a new pattern for their lives. My greatest sorrow is how my lack of being aware and truthful with my feelings allowed my daughters to be compromised by my father.

    So, do you well. Don't look elsewhere for changes. Look at you. Begin to do what is honorable to you.

    Beth Jukuri.

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  5. Religion really is the root of a lot of evil in this world. Think about how many people have been killed by muslim extremists, and people who have been hurt and controlled, and had criminal acts being covered up by fundamentalist religions like laestadianism. Sad.

    -EXFALC

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  6. We are all making a positive difference in the world through this blog, sharing our stories about what the laestadian religion had done to us. If even one judgemental person in any of those groups is awakened, it is worth it.
    -EXFALC

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  7. EXFALC. I'll nitpick here a little. Saying that religion is the root of a lot of evil is a pretty popular mantra amongst people soured on religion, and very popular amongst atheists. However, I believe that if you follow the causal chain just a bit further, it would be more accurate to say that evil is caused by people, who use religion as a smokescreen to hide behind. Religion -- the belief in God -- is not a root cause. Even in times such as the crusades (or in today's world -- the root is man's interpretation and bending of the belief in God into evil design. Muslim, Jew, and Christian faiths all follow the God of Abraham -- and then man twisted that belief through human selfishness, pride, and misunderstanding. All of these faiths profess peace, but extremists take selected bits of the revealed law out of context, and influence followers with lies. It seems it's always been this way. Remember Moses coming down the mountain with the law of God in hand, only to find his kinfolk worshiping a golden calf.

    God has never wavered, but mankind has certainly botched things up, over and over.

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    1. cvow, I’ve enjoyed your comments over the years and find them very insightful. But I have to disagree with you here. EXFALC didn’t say religion was the root of all evil, just a lot of it. That seems undeniable, and saying that the problem is “man’s interpretation of God” doesn’t help, because that’s precisely what religion is! Certainly, many people say they have the true religion where God is worshiped in spirit and in truth, but you know all too well from your Laestadian background what a fragile claim that is to make.

      Having carefully read the entire Bible not that long ago, I think the problem goes all the way back to its blood-stained pages. We all remember that story about Moses coming down the mountain, yes, but what happened next? Moses had the sons of Levi go back and forth in the camp and kill their brothers, friends, and neighbors (Exod. 32:25-28). This wanton massacre of about 3,000 randomly picked members of God’s chosen people got no comment from God when Moses next spoke to him, but he then “smote the people” in some unspecified additional way (32:30-35). That part of the story didn’t get taught in Sunday school.

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    2. Yes, I said most of the evil, because occasionally there is a mentally ill psychopath that kills people. That would be the exception, not the norm. If you look at the majority of the terrorist organizations, they were formed by leaders of fundamentalist religions. All of this fighting and killing over claims that nobody can prove. I actually still do consider myself a christian. But only to the extent that I think Jesus set a good example of helping those in need. I do not feel the need to study the bible and attend church. My church service is the christian music I listen on my way to work and way home each day. It's inspirational and uplifting to me, and I'm not hurting anyone in the process.

      -EXFALC

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    3. anonymous, interesting. I have not read many of your comments on this blog. do you follow Christ? I am referring to your comment that you do not feel the need to study the bible or go to church. or do you feel you can live as you please as long as you don't hurt anyone in the process? what makes you feel that way?
      I have been an ALC all my life, love our Christianity. It is so scriptural. Of course we are all a bunch of sinners and by God's grace saints at the same time. I pray I will never turn bitter and decide to leave our precious Christianity. I will pray for you. pray for me too.
      Thanks
      Norma

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  8. I have heard that there are two kinds of abuse that are extremely hard to undo and heal from...one is sexual abuse and the other is religious abuse. In this blog post, we are talking about both.

    You almost have to separate the two and see how they are used.

    Children of the church I was a member of (FALC) were taught to be choice less. We were told what to do, what to wear, how to speak, what to listen to, what not to listen to etc. Being raised getting used to no choices, is the prelude to being abused....no choice there either.

    We are used to being subjected to our choices being made for us. It would be much harder to abuse a child who was raised with choice making abilities, whose voice had been heard and respected....who are allowed to question without fear...allowed to challenge adults and older people.

    Religion, it seems to me, just gives an excuse or reason to lead submissive lives.

    And the term, "To love and Fear God"....creates a 'normal' sentiment...to try and love your abusers.

    Again, the two emotions are opposites...and don't exist in loving relationships.

    Beth

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  9. This is just a blog of completely bitter people, who need to cheer eachother on cause there so full of sin. Misery loves company! Who ever started this blog is so brain washed, its sad. I pitty you. Why can't you believe how ever you want and keep going about your business, rather than make a scene.

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    1. Anonymous said, "This is just a blog of completely bitter people, who need to cheer each other on cause there so full of sin." The truth is very, very different than you imply. When I was a member I recall that those who left were called amongst other things being, "...full of sin". Your grammarical structure leads me to believe you are a relatively young male member of a Laestadian group and hence the choices in life are easy for you as it basically entails just following the group's religious dogma and living with their cultural life norms at this point in your life. The bitterness which you allude to is perhaps true with some as many ex-members slowly came to realize they had essentially WASTED 10 to 30 years of their lives believing in an indoctrinated religion w/no Biblical foundation and thus correspondingly forfeited many years of personal choice & development as well as having forfeited real Christian service. I read about this 'KMO Associates' Ponzi scheme within the Apostolic Lutheran Church in New Ipswich, NH & across the country & how people were tricked out of tens of millions by a self-proclaimed expert. Maybe, just maybe people within the group might 'slowly' begin to also question if they have also been religiously 'tricked' out of real Chrisianity as well as having been conned out of the contents of their wallets. So then who has really been 'brainwashed?'...those who saw the truth for what it was and took action to right steer their lives, often suffering great interpersonal sacrifices for having done so or those who remain and keep repeating Laestadian mantras? As far as us '...keep going about (our) business, rather than make a scene", oh no, those of us who now know the truth prefer to have an open forum where we can gab with ex-members as well as provide an online format for those who remain psychologically & socially trapped as members. Here they can get assurance that they are not alone in their doubts about the foundation and structure of their respective Apostolic Lutheran group. My guess is that since you have taken the time to read this blog you also have some internal doubts which will probably begin to fester as you get older & when you realize how many of your life aspirations you personally gave up in order to have remained a member in good standing. Old AP

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    2. Wow. You definitely have a point. We are certainly making a scene, I would say, considering that you are visiting this site by CHOICE. I highly doubt the blog just so happened to appear in your side bar or that someone came marching into church with a slideshow of the blog. If you are completely happy with your personal beliefs why does it bother you that people who once held those beliefs but found them lacking intellectually and spiritually, have a platform to discuss them? And why are you looking for these types of places? I hope one day you find true peace, joy and freedom. You pray for us and we will pray for you. With love, -m.d.

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    3. I found an article about the ponzi scheme and it mentions the following churches: Christian Outreach Church in Rindge, and the Hope Fellowship Church in New Ipswich. Are these churches some sort of break-off from the AL church out east, as I've never heard of them before.

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  10. Are you truly curious why, or are you just throwing stones? I started this blog, and I would be happy to talk with you via email or on the phone.

    It sounds like you have something to work out.

    Perhaps you are drawn here because you do not, in fact, see bitterness or misery or brainwashing? That those are projections of your own experiences within the church?

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  11. thanks for share.

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