I’m rolling out my new website after a few months of working on it. Let me tell ya, I had NO idea how difficult it would be to build a site by myself. I’m changing platforms and it isn’t ready made like this Spiritual Battles platform.
It is a work in progress but I wanted to have it up and running before the For Such a Time As This Rally in Birmingham next week. If you would like to see the rally you can watch it live on Facebook here…. I will be doing a live segment from the rally at 6 PM and offering the closing prayer at the end of the rally.
My new website will incorporate podcast Bible studies for people who have found their lives tipped upside-down from difficult or destructive relationships. I’ve heard you say one of the most difficult aspects of finding your new normal is not havinge time or energy to spend time with God. Well, I’m going to help you with that!
Next, I am starting a greeting card line, SOLE SISTERS, with two of my favorite people. We’re having a blast and look forward to offering you a sneak peek soon! These cards are for those who are relationally challenged with people who fall under the category of dysfunctional, toxic, energy zapping. Perhaps you need a card that says just the right thing for someone going through cancer treatments, suffering the loss of a child or a loss by suicide, or…suffering from a mental illness or a terminal illness. For those times when there aren’t any words…we found some.
I don’t trust easily these days. Life has been blinding,
littered with betrayal from the last place I would have ever suspected it, and has
been steeped in emotional trauma.
How does a parent trust this world where danger and sexual addictions abound? How do we safeguard our children?
As I stated in my 3 part series on Abusers; having the hair stand up on the back or our neck, or getting a vibe are not common occurrences and are not good indicators that we are in the presence of a molester or pedophile. These are more likely to happen though if we know signs of grooming. Abusers can groom children, and they can groom the adults they will have to deceive to gain opportunity/access to the children.
I had a couple of occasions the last few years where my, ‘Abuser Radar Alert,’ went off because I knew about grooming.
The first occasion: When a man I met for the first time asked if he could sit in my house and watch my daughter, whom he had never met, play the piano since he: 1) Heard me say she plays the piano and 2) He enjoys listening to piano music. Seriously…NO! The man may have been innocent in his asking but for this momma it came across as creepy and inappropriate.
Since my history includes once upon a time being married to a
pedophilic offender, pastor who used the
ministry to gain employment granting him immediate leadership access to
potential victims, my radar is at high alert over such propositions.
My boys thrilled at the prospect of swimming; what a fun
invitation to receive!
It never happened.
I’m all about having fun, in fact; one of the questions I always
have when my kids are through with an activity, or are finished visiting
with a friend, is if they had fun. Fun is important to me; always has
been. But fun doesn’t necessarily equate with safe or beneficial.
Here are a few questions I have learned to ask over the years.
I’ve been known to ask these questions after play dates, youth group, extra-curricular
outings, and even after church on Sundays. I don’t ask every question
after each encounter and I don’t question each activity. I ask these questions
so casually that I don’t know if my kids are aware of my motives. All activities
are randomly questioned: new people, places, and activities; as well as,
friends and regularly scheduled activities. This is where the greatest
vulnerability can enter; most molestation acts do not involve stranger danger,
they are the result of a close family member or friend who gained trust and
access to the child. Single moms’ children tend to be the biggest targets for
such predators; but not the only targets.
I do not ask my children questions in the presence of other people. This ensures my kids feel secure in speaking their heart and mind.
QUESTIONS FOR CONVERSATION:
What did you do at the event?
What was your favorite activity or part of your visit?
Was there anything you didn’t like or anything that made you
feel uncomfortable? (This is a good time to reinforce that children do not have
to obey everything an adult tells them to do.)
Did anyone insist on, or try to, tickle, hug, massage, wrestle
or touch you in unwanted ways or without your consent?
Did you feel safe? (I’ve been asking this questions since my
boys were wee little things.)
Tell me something you liked about the adult/s in charge? Was
there anything you disliked?
Is there anything interesting about a helper or kid that you can
Is there any reason you would not want to go back there again?
Did anyone ask you to keep a secret today?
Did anyone show you something on their cell phone or computer that was inappropriate, or pornogrpahy?
Do you have questions about anything that happened?
Did you understand everything that was said or that was asked of
Is there anything you want to tell me about your visit today?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The next 2 questions I reserve for stranger
danger and body/health educational teaching at home:
Has anyone ever touched you, or asked to touch you in your
private places (penis, testicles, or bottom/butt for boys), (breasts, vagina,
bottom/butt for girls)?
Has anyone ever shown you their private places (name them so
there is no confusion or exclusion) or asked you to show them your private
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When at a private residence or at public places with public
restrooms my kids know the rule: 1 person per bathroom/stall, and to never
hesitate screaming for help if someone makes them feel uncomfortable.
You never know who has an attraction to children or who has a sick
abusive desire on which they plan to act. It could be a trusted adult or it
could be a close friend. Sadly, we never know if a friend, cousin, or relative
has abused or taught a child something they should not know that could be
passed on to your child.
If your child has an answer that concerns you or startles you;
always believe the child! Children rarely lie about childhood victimization.
DO NOT approach or question the accused and keep your child out
of the accused’s presence. Call the child abuse hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD)
or call your local authorities. Professionals will know how to legally
investigate your child’s allegations. You would not want to jeopardize the case
being thrown out of court due to leading the witness with questions.
Seek medical attention from the child’s doctor or at the
emergency room to find out if he or she was physically harmed. Creating a paper
trail will be very important in seeking protection and justice.
Find a licensed counselor to guide your child through the
psychological trauma of abuse and victimization which will continue beyond the
physical trauma. Ongoing therapy for coping and healing is a must. (I highly
recommend E.M.D.R. therapy) Read about E.M.D.R. here…
There is wisdom in asking questions at the right time.
Pedophilia is a well-known disorder. It’s defined by the
American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-IV-TR.
To be diagnosed with pedophilia, a person must:
be sexually aroused by, have intense, recurring sexual fantasies
of, or be involved in sexual behavior with a prepubescent child or children
(generally 13 years or younger);
be aroused by, have sexual fantasies of, or be involved with a
child for at least six months.;
be at least 16 years old, and
be at least five years older than the child or children he or she
is attracted to.
Let’s say a man with sexual addictions toward children was caught multiple times over the last two decades; although investigators in different states who have investigated are certain the history goes back to early teenage years and most likely includes dozens, possibly hundreds, of victims. He likes very young children both boys and girls, with brown hair. Is he a pedophile or a molester?
Is there a difference between being a
pedophilic sex offender and being a molester?
The media tends to use these terms as synonyms (a word having
the same or nearly the same meaning as another) though they are not.
Although both pedophilic sex offenders and molesters abuse children;
statistically pedophilic offenders have a ‘look’ or ‘type’ of child they prey
upon plus they victimize more children over time.
Pedophiles and Child Molesters: The
Although virtually all pedophilic sex offenders are child
molesters, not all child molesters are pedophilic sex offenders. Pedophiles have a clear sexual attraction for
children. The focus of a pedophile is a child or children generally under the
age of 13. Pedophiles often report they are attracted to children in a
particular age range (DSM-IV), build, look, hair or eye color. Pedophilic sex offenders are those who act on their
attraction to children by violating a child. Child molesters are sexual offenders who have committed
either intra-familial sexual offense (incest) against a child victim or
extra-familial sexual offenses against a child victim or both.
Pedophilic Sex Offenders:
True offenders may abuse family members, but the majority
of their offenses is extra-familial and is directed toward vulnerable children
whom they court or groom for the purpose of victimization. Their relationships
with children are based on exploitation of the children for sexual
Offenders, who seek out children to victimize by placing
themselves in positions of trust, authority, and easy access to youngsters, can
have hundreds of victims over the course of their lifetimes. They are always on
the look out for opportunity.
Offenders, especially those who molest boys, or both boys
and girls, are the sex offenders who have the highest recidivism (relapse)
rates after incarceration and/or treatment.
Offenders frequently are uncomfortable with adult intimacy
and may spend their lives maneuvering to be near children. They may be
extremely charming and skilled at manipulating adults, and they may use adult
relationships to gain access to children.
The pedophilic sex offender may spend years working up to a
position of authority and trust within a church, school, or youth organization
in order to have access to children. Of course, unlike offenders, most
individuals in these types of authoritative positions have no sexual interest
The non-pedophilic molester is someone whose primary sexual
orientation includes adults, but who may molest children in a maladaptive
attempt to meet emotional needs.
Research has found that many men who molest their own children
or related female children have sexual interests that are indistinguishable
from those of non-offending males.
Data suggest incestuous offenders, regardless of the gender of
the victim, have lower numbers of victims and are less likely to be rearrested
for new sex crimes after they have been convicted.
A child molester may turn to a child for sex out of a perceived
inability to be close with an adult partner, out of poor self-esteem, or to
escape feelings of powerlessness and loneliness. This type of offender usually
has had appropriate (but often dysfunctional) relationships with peers and may
studies have demonstrated consistently low rates of recidivism (relapse) for
incestuous only offenders.
Retired FBI special agent, Nancy Fisher, says pedophiles and
molesters don’t change.
“I’ve never had a success with a child pornographer or
pedophile, never, not one, ever, ever, ever, ever. They never change,” said
There is no cure for pedophilia. A number of proposed treatment techniques for pedophilia have been developed, though the success rate of these therapies has been very low. Medications are used to lower sex drive in pedophiles by interfering with the activity of testosterone, such as with Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone acetate), Androcur (cyproterone acetate), and Lupron (leuprolide acetate).
The Mayo Clinic reports perpetrators who meet the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia offend more often than non-pedophile perpetrators, and with a greater number of victims. They state that approximately 95% of child sexual abuse incidents are committed by the 88% of child molestation offenders who meet the diagnostic criteria for pedophilia. A behavioral analysis report by the FBI states that a “high percentage of acquaintance child molesters are preferential sex offenders who have a true sexual preference for [prepubescent] children (i.e., true pedophiles)”.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Please pray this Psalms over innocent children who have been abused. May their day of justice be upon them.
1 Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2 Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. 4 I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. 6 I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
7 Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.
8 From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.
1 Save me, O God, by your name; vindicate me by your might. 2 Hear my prayer, O God; listen to the words of my mouth.
3 Arrogant foes are attacking me; ruthless people are trying to kill me— people without regard for God.
4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.
5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me; in your faithfulness destroy them.
3. Hall RC, Hall RC (2007). “A profile of pedophilia: definition, characteristics of offenders, recidivism, treatment outcomes, and forensic issues”. Mayo Clin. Proc.82 (4): 457–71. doi:10.4065/82.4.457. PMID17418075.
I write to bring child sexual abuse to the attention of anyone who will read, and to answer nagging questions of parents who are concerned about their children’s safety.
I especially write to the wife who is caught in an unspeakable circumstance. One where she suddenly finds out her husband is addicted to pornography, has a personality disorder, is mentally ill without medical or psychological intervention, or a combination of these issues; and the realization of who he is or what he is doing is unimaginable. You may see with your eyes, but are unable to process with your heart the evidence that your husband is crossing healthy emotional and sexual boundaries with you; or worse, with your children. (Sometimes it isn’t the husband but rather a sibling, cousin, friend, or neighbor).
If you suspect your child is being abused keep your eyes and ears open. Keep your heart set to ‘facts only’ with the possible perpetrator, and keep your heart, soul, mind and strength turned toward God. Pray scriptures out loud over the situation. *I have included scriptures at the end of this post. Immediately make an appointment for your child to see a child psychologist.
Spend time with your children. Study them. No one cares for their needs or loves them as much as their parents. If your spouse is the abuser then you may be the only parent who can advocate for and protect your child.
CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE SYMPTOMS
Changes in behavior or personality; sudden mood changes or aggressive behavior. You notice it or other adults notice it.
Changes in academic performance at school.
New sudden fears of usual occurrences. Examples: fear of the dark, fear of going to bed, fear of a person, fear of going home, fear of going to school, fear of a place, fear of separating from you. Abused children may show anxiety or express apprehension about going somewhere with the person who is abusing them. They may hide from the person who is abusing them when they see them.
Loss of acquired language or memory problems. New inappropriate language which you did not teach them.
Changes in what they eat, or gagging on foods they normally eat. Loss of appetite.
Withdraws from family and/or friends.
Changes in sleep. They may begin having nightmares, night terrors, difficulty falling asleep or attempting to place borders/protection around their bed. Insomnia.
May find areas of their life they can control and become obsessive about it. Clothing, food, habits, body hygiene.
May begin high-risk activities; drugs, alcohol, self-abuse, sex.
Inappropriate sexual behaviors or language for their age; if they say or do something to you that they should now know about.
Becomes unusually secretive.
Talk of a new, older friend and unexplained money or gifts.
Becomes depressed or suicidal.
Complaints of headaches, stomach-aches or chest pain that accompany any other signs.
Afraid of undressing, or wearing extra layers of clothing.
A new fear of going to the bathroom. This could be psychological or due to pain.
Difficulty making friends.
Arriving to school early and staying late; to avoid being in their home.
Unexplained injuries such as visible signs which your child has no explanation for or has an unconvincing explanation for.
Difference in their underwear; torn, stained or bloody.
Difficulty walking or sitting.
Redness, bleeding or rash in the external genital/bottom area.
Frequent, unexplained urinary tract infections or sore throats.
Sexually transmitted infections.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Trust your instincts. Suspected abuse is enough reason to make an appointment with a child psychologist. You can also call the victim coordinator at your local prosecuting attorney’s office and ask them where to go for help.
If you suspect abuse; do not ask your child questions. Allow a trained professional to interview them. Asking questions is considered leading the witness and the issue will most likely be thrown out in a court of law.
In the right margin of my blog I have listed several Christian resources to aid in the event of childhood victimization.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, II Corinthians 4:13
“Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” Nehemiah 4:14b
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Proverbs 28:13
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:6-7
No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord. Isaiah 54:17
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:28-29
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Isaiah 43:2-3
If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:6
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. Psalm 28:7
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. Psalm 103: 1-6
Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. Psalm 86:1-7
Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly. Psalm 102:2
Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, Lamentations 2:19
Myth: “If they are
normal looking, well-educated and/or a well-known leader they do not fit the
description of a predator.”
Truth: Predators love the general public’s assumptions. This makes their attack all the easier. Child abusers come from all classes, racial and religious backgrounds and may be homosexual or heterosexual.
Myth: “I can’t
believe he is a molester, after all, he has been alone with my children several
times and never touched them or made them uncomfortable.”
Truth: Predators are
very careful in their selection so as not to get caught. They do not molest all
children they come in contact with; contrary, they select few and the
victimization is usually a gradual process, or a moment of oppurtunity.
Here is an
admission from a convicted molester: “When a person like myself wants
to obtain access to a child, you don’t just go up and get the child and
sexually molest the child. There’s a process of obtaining the child’s
friendship and, in my case, also obtaining the family’s friendship and their
trust. When you get their trust, that’s when the child becomes vulnerable
and you can molest the child.” (Salter, 2003, p. 42)
Myth: “Once an
abuser is arrested everyone will know their guilt.”
Truth: People are
too quick to believe that the accused is innocent, even if there is plenty of
supporting evidence. According to Dr. Salter, “Normal, healthy people
distort reality to create a kinder, gentler world than actually exists” (p.
177). Salter, A. C. (2003). Predators: Pedophiles, rapists and other
sex offenders: Who they are, how they operate, and how we can protect ourselves
and our children. New York: Basic Books.
Myth: Molesters are
usually unmarried men in need of sexual release.
Truth: They are
often married; sometimes for the purpose of throwing people off their tracks.
Sexual gratification is not necessarily the primary motivation for victimizing
children. Power, control and anger are often the primary motivators.
Again, studies show that most predators are married or in consenting
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The signs that an adult is using their relationship with a child for sexual reasons may not be obvious. We may feel uncomfortable about the way they play with the child, or seem always to be favoring them and creating reasons for them to be alone. There may be cause for concern about the behavior of an adult or young person if they:
Refuse to allow a child sufficient privacy or to make their own decisions on personal matters.
Insist on physical affection such as kissing, hugging or wrestling even when the child clearly does not want it.
Are overly interested in the sexual development of a child or teenager.
Insist on time alone with a child with no interruptions.
Spend most of their spare time with children and have little interest in spending time with people their own age.
Regularly offer to babysit children for free or take children on overnight outings alone.
Buy children expensive gifts or give them money for no apparent reason.
Frequently walk in on children/teenagers in the bathroom.
Treat a particular child as a favorite, making them feel ‘special’ compared with others in the family.
Pick on a particular child.
Other warning signs:
They enjoy watching their children play naked.
They bathe with their children of the opposite sex past age two (This is open for debate as a matter of a difference in parenting. If you have a adult who is attracted to same sex children you have to be careful with all young children. Trust your instincts).
Play seemingly ‘innocent’ games involving bondage where the children become frightened and have to beg to be released.
Takes pictures of children who are not their own; at the park, at parties, in the neighborhood.
View child pornography. Child pornography viewing/possession is punishable by law. TURN THEM IN TO THE AUTHORITIES.
Be alert to people, especially men, who work with youth but do not themselves have youth in the activity. If they have a strong desire to be with youth and you notice they seek affection from the youth; there is great reason for concern.
Watch who your children hang out with in the neighborhood, park, church or youth club. Get to know the leaders. Offer to assist with the activities.
Internet safety is paramount. Consider a ‘No technology’ policy in your home when guests are visiting; or keeping all technology in the kitchen within everyone’s sight. Just like a coat rack, shoe rack or bench; you could have a tech bench where all guests’ electronics are placed.
Consider having an ‘Open door’ policy when your children’s friends are visiting. Bedroom, office, family room doors stay open for safety purposes. You should never assume you know what goes on in another person’s home. You never know what has been said or done by a family member, relative or neighbor that a child may unknowingly act out or repeat.
Pray for and with your children. Keep avenues of discussion open and let them know how much you love them. We cannot protect them from everything by micromanaging their lives, but we can watch, listen and be proactive.
If your child tells you of abuse inflicted on them…
Tell the child you believe them.
Show interest, care, and concern. (Don’t become hysterical. It could make the child feel responsible for your response causing them to take responsibility for their victimization).
Reassure and support the child.
Take action – it could save a child’s life. Report child abuse to your local or state child protective service agency AND to local law enforcement.
Seek professional help from a pediatrician and a licensed child psychologist.
This is not a complete list. I will continue to post more on child abuse and child safety during the month of April.
I need help making phone calls today (Phone #s at the bottom of list).
OFTEN, men ask for 50/50 custody in divorce court so they can get out of paying child and spousal support. The problem is, most of the dads don’t show up and take the children 50% of the time leaving the mom to foot the bill. Rarely do women have the money to modify the arrangement in court. Also, the women are glad to have the children; especially since many of them were trying to get their children away from a physically, sexually, or verbally abusive father. This bill does not take into account abusive fathers. It starts with the assumption all fathers are safe. Women will have to spend months or years proving abuse while the children continue spending time alone with their abuser; often times against the child’s wishes and safety.
HB229 is on the bullet train to the Senate Floor. It has been assigned to the Senate Committee for Seniors, Families and Children. The members of this committee need to hear opposition to this bill. It is likely there has been absolutely none up to this point. Often the elected in the capitol only consider the information that is put right in front of them and don’t look deeper.
This bill mandates that all custody arrangements begin with a 50/50 split between parents.
Missouri Statutes already give judges the ability to decide a 50/50 custody arrangement if the situation warrants. And judges already start at this point in deciding custody in most cases.
The reason judges have for so long started at this point in custody decisions is because they have been creating a scenario where they can reduce child support for women, giving the fathers a financial break. That is the catalyst behind this bill. It’s about money, not about custody or the best interests to children.
Mandating this arrangement in the statute is redundant and only furthers an agenda that is anti mother, anti traditional family values.
More than 25% of women/children across the country go on some type of welfare/government aid after divorce. Bills like this one and HB 194/SB 307 will further send divorced women on to government aid if these bills are passed.
Please contact the members of this senate committee and tell them to kill this bill. Share your stories. Ask them to focus on keeping judges interpreting existing statutes instead of creating more statutes.
Here is the quickest way to email all of them at once instead of filling out contact forms for each senator:
OR contact them individually with the below phone numbers/web addresses:
How do you identify a predator? (CAUTION: Graphic content)
You may live next door to one, car pool with one, work with one,
attend family get-togethers with one; or even live with one. They could be your
child’s teacher, doctor, coach, spiritual mentor, youth leader or club leader.
We live among them.
If you are to unknowingly observe a predator you may see: A
cheerful smile, a joyful attitude, compassionate care, a generous giver, a
dynamic speaker, an innocent joker, a spiritual giant, a prayerful parent, or a
concerned friend. Many predators have the ability to hide, blend or put on a
good act. A predator is capable of separating their sexual deviance from all
other aspects of their life. They can be all those good things most of the time
and a predator occasionally.
We live in a world which is full of evil but even evil can have a nice side; an attractive side.
We must remember the entire issue regarding childhood sexual abuse
is purely a spiritual battle and it isn’t entirely about sexual gratification;
it’s about control.
Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers,
against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the
spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
John 3:19(NIV) This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but
people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds
John 8:12(NIV) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the
light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.”
John 12:46(NIV) “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who
believes in me should stay in darkness.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
How can parents protect against child predators? The sad fact
remains; there is no full proof guarantee our children will never be abused no
matter the measures we take to keep them safe. Statistics say 1 in 3 girls and
1 in 5 boys will suffer sexual abuse before the age of 18. Even in the Christian
Since knowledge is power, and I know you as a parent want the
power to protect, I am going to pass on to you the knowledge I have gained
through life experience and prolonged study.
~ ~ ~ ~
There are clues to look for and safety guidelines to live by.
There is the power of prayer and there is the importance of talking openly with
your children. If you need help talking with your child about their God given
gift of sexuality; I have two links to Reviving Our Hearts with, Nancy Leigh
DeMoss, where she interviews Josh McDowell. I thank my friend, Debbie, for
bringing this broadcast series to my attention. I found the podcasts to be life
changing in how I talk with my two young boys about the culture around us.
Josh McDowell: “We
cannot raise our children the way our parents raised us—not in the light of the
“. . . develop a close relationship with them (your children).”
He recommends that we begin the conversations when our children are young.
Josh McDowell says when we do become aware of an issue, “Here’s the key, as a parent, not to become judgmental, not to
You may listen to the interview or quickly read the transcripts.
The links are at the end of this post.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Due to the length of today’s topic I am breaking it in to three segments. The first part for today is, “How Sexual Predators Choose Victims”, Part 2 “Protecting Children from Predators”, Part 3 “Symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse”
How a predator chooses their victim. (Not a
conclusive list and is somewhat dated. I believe with the rise of internet
pornography, many predators will be younger and quicker. They will just do it.)
Looks for a child lacking close family relationships. Often preys upon children from split homes; especially children of single moms who are working multiple jobs while providing for their children. Lack of parental supervision provides opportunity.
Offers to provide free babysitting or fun outings for your child; without you present because it provides opportunity for victimization.
Often times molesters know the children are vulnerable because they know the family, or a parent has confided in this trusted person about the child’s mental state. They are very calculatingly deliberate in gaining the child’s trust. This is the most important aspect to help them accomplish their sexually gratifying goal.
They target victims who are undervalued by their community; the church, the school, the neighborhood.
They target victims in settings where they have authority or leadership over their victim.
Once the process has begun a predator can strike anywhere. It can be as simple as being left alone with the child for a moment, a few minutes or an hour. Molestations have happened in doctors’ offices with the parent present. Children have been molested underneath the dining room table while sitting on an unknown predator’s lap. A predator in the mood and who has a moment of opportunity can victimize by touch, fondling, showing a pornographic image or exposing their genitals. It’s quick and it’s over before you return to the room from retrieving food to serve to them or taking a phone call in the next room.
In January 2010, Oprah Winfrey sat down with four admitted child molesters and their therapist, Dawn Horwitz-Person, for a frank discussion about the cycle of abuse. Read more here:…
These predators admitted:
It is a high percentage (90%) of molesters who know the
child/children they molest.
Molesters like to pick children of close friends or family
members; especially children who rely on them.
Molesters target vulnerable children.
Molesters will tell the child they love him/her. They also look
for children with a poor parental relationship and attempt to be the good
trusting adult in the victim’s life.
If the molester can manipulate the victim and make the act feel
good it confuses the child and makes them think it is their own fault.
According to these men, the “grooming” process starts early, and
at first, it is subtle.
Taken from: Child Sexual Abuse: 6 Stages of Grooming, By Dr.
One may add to the pedophile’s check-list, which does not necessarily mean a preference for girls or boys: A particular eye color, hair color, physical build/body shape, age range, or type of clothing a child might wear. (See Toxic Tuesday: Pedophile or Molester?)
Next time I will address: Protecting Children from Predators.
(Above: Handwriting analysis photo credit by Person Education, Inc.)
This is a continuation in a series of articles on the disappearance and death of Lynn Messer. I am sharing pictures of old notes I received from some of Lynn’s family members. These pictures include copies of notes allegedly written by Kerry Messer and Lynn Messer.
Lynn Messer, disappeared July 8, 2014. We now know that Lynn has been deceased the entire time and I have been told by law enforcement that Kerry Messer, her husband, has not been cleared in the investigation surrounding Lynn’s death. Kerry is a Missouri state lobbyist who represents family, homeschooling, right-to-life, gun safety, and Christian/Biblical values.
Detective White, of the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s office, told me a few months ago that he would no longer talk about or answer questions surrounding the case and he has stayed true to his word. This does not frustrate me but encourages me to think that law enforcement is protecting the integrity of their case. I’ve seen similar cases take years to prosecute, even when they knew from the start the truth and had evidence to secure an arrest. Although interviews and an arrest are important, in many cases law enforcement has an end in mind. For the investigation I was familiar with, the end goal was a conviction and a conviction is what they achieved.
A portion of letter (below) is reprinted with permission. Aarron and Abram Messer have cowritten public letters and posted them under notes on Aarron Messer’s Facebook page. Aarron and Abram Messer, Wednesday, November 30, 2016.
“Week before last during an interview my father seemingly opened his wallet and showed the world a note that my mother allegedly left when she disappeared on July 8th, 2014. That’s it right up there. Of course that’s not all of it. As Kerry said in that interview he couldn’t share the other half because it wasn’t addressed to him. My daughter commented to me the other day almost nonchalantly ‘grandma didn’t write that.’
‘What do you mean?’ I asked and she said what I have thought and wouldn’t couldn’t say out loud, ‘grandma didn’t call grandpa, Pa… she called him Pop. Grandpa would get so frustrated and correct her because he wanted to be called Pa, but she called him Pop.’
It’s true and it’s just one of many questions and problems with the truth about this note that my dad has now shared.”
I received the below notes from some of Lynn’s family members who in hind-sight, came to the question…was the reason Kerry kept the note a secret and wouldn’t show the entire note because he knew family would see the differences in the penmanship and refute all of the handwriting belonging to Lynn? (I have not independently verified the authenticity of the notes, but I did receive them directly from family members. I do have copies of the entire notes/letters which support the accuracy of ownership).
Some of Lynn Messer’s family members think the note Kerry turned over to law enforcement is not entirely written by Lynn. The note has different parts written in different inks at different times. It leads to the question, are parts of the note written by different people?
I’ve never taken a hand writing analysis class so obviously my opinions are mine alone. In the note that Kerry says Lynn left behind, the ‘a’s all look different from one another. The ‘o’s and ‘0’s look more round where the ‘o’s in Lynn’s notes look more oblong. The ‘m’ in the note looks more like the ‘M’ in Kerry’s signature than Lynn’s writing. The ‘p’ in the note does not look like Lynn’s ‘P’ on the calendar and is formed more like the ‘P’ Kerry signed at the end of the letter.
Questions surrounding the note and the authenticity of the handwriting may someday be answered since the FBI had been involved with different aspects of Lynn Messer’s case.
*Disclaimer: There have been no arrests made in the disappearance of Lynn Messer. Kerry Messer remains innocent of any charges. I am not claiming guilt; but simply pointing out concerns which are of my opinion. See disclaimer in the margin.
I keep writing about abusers because once you know one, live with one, survive one…you can see patterns of abusive personalities in society.
This is one of the reasons I took on the Lynn Messer case which you can read about here. I thought I was possibly seeing glaring red flags of Lynn being the victim, not survivor, of domestic abuse.
Understanding abuse is like understanding a football playbook. Abusers have a built in playbook and if you know the signs you understand the lurking danger.
Abusers can be found in different settings: domestic, clergy, spiritual leadership, athletics, educational, family court, or anywhere in society. They follow the same playbook/guidelines regardless of where you witness them.
R. Kelly’s reactions are typical among abusers, regardless of their background.
Play #1: It begins with denial, repeatedly reaffirms denial, and ends with…denial.
R. Kelly was explosive in his denial but denial can look different from abuser to abuser.
Here are some acts of denial I’ve seen:
Angry and hurt…becomes silent.
Angry and violent…hoping fear and wanting to maintain safety will stop the conversation/confrontation, or achieve agreement.
Calm and positive…they believe the victim has problems and they are willing to give said victim time to heal.
Befuddled….turns accusations against them into questions while placing the focus on victim/interviewer.
Reflectful and prayerful…toward the victim who is obviously emotionally unhealthy.
Angry but calm…spins the story.
Hang their head, shake their head, roll their eyes…because some people are just too stupid to understand the lies.
Condescending with a straight face…while explaining why they were justified to do what they did.
Sad and hurt…cries.
These are all forms of denial even though many do it with an air of believability.
Please understand that any emotion mixed with tears IS NOT because the abuser is sorry for what they did. It is from their frustration of their specialness being called into question; their sin or crime being brought into the light of truth. They believe they are above moral code and law and shouldn’t have to answer to anyone. (This is especially true of individuals with narcissistic personality disorder). The tears are not for the victim and not from remorse of doing wrong.
“When we do not understand an abuser’s capacity for deceit we make it is easy for the offender to continue in deception and sadly, often call it ‘grace’. If it lacks truth then it is not grace.” ~Diane Langberg
Here is a detailed list of denial from an abusers’ playbook:
Select, groom, and brainwash your perfect victim.
They (abusers) are the real victim.
The person speaking truth is made to be the liar.
The offender is the good, healthy, benevolent person.
The victim is retaliating for vengeance, money, or notoriety.
Believes the heart of their motive has been misunderstood.
Judgement has fallen on them for conduct that was ‘private’ and should never be made public.
They deny all private abuse or explain why it was necessary or beneficial.
There is one way to do anything and everything and it’s their way. To them this is perfectly normal and logical.
They hold power over the victim they claim is victimizing them.
How do we know if an abuser is rehabilitated? Conviction, repentance and change all have to take place. This is the only way you will know if your abuser is sincere.
Don Hennessey, relationship counselor and former director of the National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency, refers to abusers as psychephiles and lumps them in the same category as pedophiles when it comes to recovery. Statistics agree that abusers stand little to no chance of recovery because they don’t believe they have a problem, and “I’m sorry” isn’t in their vocabulary.
This is my response to the Abuse of Faith series published by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express News. They did an exceptional job investigating and reporting on a job the church should have done. Although bloggers have been investigating and reporting abusers to church leadership for years; while repeatedly ignored or slandered; I’m grateful for someone who had access to a corporate bank account, the time, intellect and leg work of multiple journalists , the determination to go after this and see it through to the end, and a large enough audience to capture the nations attention with one publication.
How do these serial offenders continue on in ministry?
They are master liars.
People don’t want to be inconvenienced with the burden of time it requires to pass on information, go to interviews with law enforcement, or keep track of records.
Not all victims tell of their abuse.
People who have heard the truth continue to be character or professional references for the abuser/criminal.
Their ordaining church refuses to revoke the abusers ordination certificate.
In many cases denominational leadership lies to cover for their own.
Christians are notorious for treating crime as sin. All crime is sin, but not all sin is criminal. Crimes must be reported to law enforcement.
Churches misapply, “When one of you has a dispute with another believer, how dare you file a lawsuit and ask a secular court to decide the matter instead of taking it to other believers!” I Corinthians 6:1 (NLT). This does not apply to domestic abuse and criminal actions.
Churches and colleges are afraid of being sued for slander/liability
When a new church calls an old ministry for employment verification the old ministry doesn’t tell about the allegations or charges; or references aren’t ever checked.
I get how some people find victimization hard to imagine. As time passes the human condition is to forget, minimize, or think we surely are remembering incorrectly.
If I had not journaled my history of abuse and journaled about my ex-husband, Steve’s, criminal issues I think I would believe I had over reacted. Much of this is due to what a fabulous job he did gas-lighting me; lying to me through the years. To this day, if you left me alone in a room with him for an hour I have no doubt that by the time he finished spinning his story of arrest, trial, conviction, and prison time; I would believe he is innocent and was set-up by an angry and vindictive individual or family from his church. Most likely, set-up over something as simple as they didn’t like the style of music he was using, they didn’t like that he had moved the communion table, they were mad that he didn’t take their side during a church business meeting, or they didn’t like his lesson on the plan of salvation.
Here is a response I received from a friend who was a willing accountability partner for my ex-husband when we were still married and I was trying to save my marriage. This man had flown to town to confront my husband about his mental state, sin issues, and need for professional help. He had asked to be kept updated on doctor appointments, progress and prayer needs but the pedophilia information I received from Steve’s psychiatrist proved to be, unbeknownst to me, the last straw. I kept him updated through email. Here is the reply I received via email:
I understand that life has been difficult for you. But please don’t make it more so by continually pleading your case in the court of public opinion. Whenever I hear from you it is a constant stream of bashing Steve. I’ve not said anything before, but now I must. Steve is my friend. I know he is not perfect, but then again neither are you or I. It’s almost as if you’ve been building a case against him ever since the first hint of problems last year. Your husband has always been different. Always. He was when we were in college. He was when you fell in love with him and married him. He is now. He could make us laugh like no one else. His nice guy looks and golden vocal cords along with his love for God and the church made him a joy to be around. All he ever wanted was to succeed for God. That dream appears to be a long shot now. But give him some dignity. Stop confessing his sins for him. You said in the email that you have been able to help some women whose husbands have left them, as if that is your situation. Carolyn…he didn’t leave you.
If you made a mistake marrying Steve, say, “I made a mistake. I left him because I couldn’t take him.” Don’t write husband bashing emails. What good is that doing??? Are people lining ups saying, “Poor Carolyn,” and that’s helping you? If so, then something’s wrong there.
In love (for all three of you), Tim
I’m including this as an example of how offenders slip through the cracks. This friend, Tim Liston, is a pastor at a mega-church in Pearland, Texas. (I considered him a friend, and his wife was one of my dearest friends, but after the above email we never contacted each other again). I was told after my ex-husband was arrested that Tim continued to be a reference on Steve’s resume. Other friends with whom Steve attended Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri, including David Rutherford another mega-church pastor in Fresno, California, were also references listed on Steve’s most recent resumes. I understand that Tim didn’t believe me, but he knew Steve was seeing a psychiatrist for serious mental health problems. Tim should have disclosed this to prospective churches or told them to ask for full medical disclosures before hiring him.
Steve’s ordaining church, mega-church, Johnson Country Christian Church, now known as Legacy Christian Church in Kansas never contacted me and never revoked Steve’s ordination certificate. Founding pastor Ronnie Epps and his wife Darlene were at the trial supporting Steve and were available as character witnesses should the defense need them. They also never attempted to contact me and ask why I left Steve or had his parental rights revoked.
Churches across the nation are failing to protect children.
Another friend from ministry who was also attempting to help Steve to recover his integrity and mental health, and to save our marriage called Ozark Christian College to disclose the psychiatric problems and the marital problems so they would keep Steve off of the listing of available pastors looking for jobs or weekend supply preaching opportunities. Again, Steve fell through the cracks and managed to find more weekend preaching jobs and two full time senior pastor staff positions through Ozark Christian College, both of which led to victimizations of young children.
Civil cases were recently won against Steve and Community Christian Church in Independence, Kansas, for the abuse that happened to 3 year old and 5 year old boys. Steve was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years, under the guidelines of Jessica’s Law. Law suits against Ozark Christian College are pending.
Here is a letter from White Fields Evangelistic organization who invited Steve to travel internationally as an evangelist working in orphanages. I knew Reggie Thomas and his wife Esther when I was in my early to mid-twenties and spent time with them at North American Christian Conventions. I was surprised they never looked into why Steve and I were divorced or why he never saw his own biological child. Here is a letter Reggie wrote to their supporters. I find it interesting that he didn’t disclose the type of charges for which Steve was arrested. He knew…but didn’t share…
In the case of the SBC; It will take years to know if there is sincerity. Their actions will tell; not words alone.
So, in the meantime, I appreciate the writings of men like SBC’s 62nd president J.D. Greear and Dr. Moore president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. I will remain hopeful yet it will take years to know if this is sincere. They are saying right things, but it doesn’t make up for the decades of cover-ups, lies, and inaction.
Will there be an apology to investigative blogger Dee from Wartburg Watch, or to Rachel Denhollander? The SBC assassinated their character when they brought up C.J. Mahaney and asked you to confront him and deal with the Sovereign Grace Ministries abuse cover-ups. It saddens me that it took the national media to force you to deal with all of this. Have you considered how your previous denial and inaction have retraumatized already victimized children and could contribute to them not coming to faith and keep them from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
I wish you well and I will pray for meaningful success for the SBC, which needs to include an international and inter-denominational sexual abuser and clergy discipline data base; as well as, mandatory training for all church, seminary, and parachurch organizations. I also pray for long-term healing for the survivors, which needs to include apologies and restitution from the church.
Offend, then repeat. (Part 2 of the Houston Chronicle report)
This is an age old story with new victims every day. I’ve seen it, lived it…as in been on the receiving end of it, and now I speak out against it and advocate for victims and survivors of it.
When I separated from my former husband, who was a senior pastor and had recently been fired from a ministry, he continued to supply preach on the weekends. I left him for multiple reasons; refusing help for his mental illness and personality disorder, sexually abusing me, crossing lines with our child, fearing for my life and the life of my child until the last night I spent with him. I knew if I spent one more night it was possible I wouldn’t live to tell about the next morning.
Enter his new ministry. On weekends he supply preached/filled empty pulpits, and one particular weekend it was for a small church in a rural community who didn’t have a pastor. They loved his dynamic preaching so after church the elders took him to lunch and discovered he was a nice guy…funny, personable and full of charisma. They saw earlier in the morning that he had a nice voice and could lead worship, and was a magnet to the young people…so they offered him the position of full time senior pastor…right then and there. He packed his belongings, said good-bye to professional psychological help as a means to reconcile his marriage and family, and never looked back.
Several months later he was run out of town from that ministry for grooming, touching, caressing, and making out with/kissing a five year old; actions that were not crimes, at the time, in the state in which we were living, but are crimes today. He was investigated and there are two reports for two different children filed with the county sheriff, but he was not brought up on charges. Here is where it became tricky for me: Our divorce judge didn’t believe my husband had problems other than a wife whom he saw as lying to the court about her husband. I wasn’t. The judge didn’t want to mandate supervised visitation because he didn’t like me. Yes, this is true. I knew two of the court stenographers who worked my divorce case proceedings; I went to church with them and they verified that the judge didn’t like me. However, the judge would have had to go against the in court testimony of a child psychologist, psychologist, neuro-psychologist, family doctor, and a psychiatrist to rule otherwise. Plus, the grooming and sexual appetite my husband was showing for children wasn’t against the law in that state so I couldn’t use that information in court. In the end, the judge told me in clear words with stipulated consequences that I was not to follow my soon to be ex-husband around the country, telling people what I knew about him or thought about him and ruin his means of employment. My goals were to keep my child safe and stay out of jail so I obeyed the judge’s ruling.
Afterward, but not before, a leader from the church had questions for me about why I had left my husband and why he was only allowed supervised visits with our child. This leader told me that when my then husband was offered the job he told the elders, with whom he ate lunch that first day after church, that he suffered from narcissistic personality disorder, schizophrenia, and had supervised visitation with his preschool age child.
So, here you had a man telling them about the demons he fought, and they totally missed the red flags.
The elder told me that they thought, “Wow, what an honest guy. So upfront with his problems. What a tough life he’s had. We want to help him. Maybe we can help him save his marriage. He’s so talented and his gift needs to be put to good use.”
On that first day they decided they wouldn’t tell the church about his problems. They saw no need to do so. The elder who was leading this became my ex’s closest friend at the church, or so the man thought, until my ex decided to groom and violate this man’s grandchild. He led the decision that ultimately brought harm to his beloved grandchild; whom he allowed to be alone for hours with the pastor. He lived to deeply mourn his choice. When the harm came to his grandchild some of the church members didn’t believe the allegations.
You see, during this time the leaders, the elderly, and other church members grew to adore him as he spent time calling on them in their homes and doing the work of the ministry. He was grooming them…finding out insider information about their families so he could decide whose children were the most vulnerable and the least likely to be believed should an allegation arise. He found prey; a young child whose single parent was busy working to bring in enough money to support herself and her three children. This child suffered from separation anxiety and didn’t have a father figure in their life.
Looking back through my years of being married to him I can now see that he used the same grooming techniques for young children, teens, and adults in every ministry we held.
My point is…oh, the lengths some rural churches will go to for acquiring a warm body to fill the pulpit on Sundays. Large churches and mega churches have done the same to obtain a dynamic speaker or worship leader, or to secure a youth leader who is known for packing the youth group with oodles of kids.
Through the years it grew to the point that when law enforcement would find me, I knew what it was about. I would say, “I’ve known this day would come again. What did he do this time? How old is the child?” The only thing that changed was during the last investigation when the known abuse changed to include boys and girls…preschool age.
The first ever sex crimes investigator to contact me, Eric Quillin with the Osage County Sheriff’s office, me told me they thought this man had over a hundred victims, but they were too young to remember, understand or tell, or they weren’t believed when the did tell.
This sickened me. I knew that he had spent most of his youth and adult life attending or leading at summer youth camps for churches. He slept in dorms with young boys, shared open showers with these boys, used the same restrooms, and spent one-on-one time sharing the gospel with them.
Criminal back ground checks aren’t enough. Most offenders are never caught so their name won’t be found on a registry of any sort. My ex-husband had two reports on him. He admitted to what he had done, but it wasn’t criminal at the time so these reports were not findable on a background check. Maintaining an international data base for ministry allegations, church discipline, divorce with a statement from the spouse if there is evidence to be filed, and a sex offender registry is essential to safe-guarding the church. My former husband had a history of being fired from multiple churches for being angry, controlling and deceitful to leadership, grooming and molesting very young children without charges ever being filed, allegations of unfaithfulness, and again being investigated for grooming and crimes against children; all while attending summer church camps where he slept next to young boys in the dorms and traveled as an international evangelist working in orphanages, yet he still landed another ministry before finally being arrested. A 30 year history and no one ever called before hiring him to ask me why I left him or why I had his parental rights revoked. I kept psychological and psychiatric test results, doctors’ notes on their official letterhead, and prescription receipts for anti-psychotic, psycho-tropic, anti-depressant, and anti-anxiety medications; all for serious and some dark psychiatric disorders; database worthy documents. Most people live a normal life with their mental illnesses; with pedophilia thrown in the mix; it was a recipe for crime. I would like to see a tracking system that keeps track of these types of documents. I would have gladly turned them over to a registry.
I was a team member and speaker for the ‘For Such a Time as This Rally’ outside the SBC national convention for the following reasons: The time has come for women to be respected and honored within the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention—as Scripture teaches. The time has come for a clergy sex offender database for the Southern Baptist Convention. The time has come for mandatory training of all pastors and SBC seminaries on the issues of domestic abuse and sexual assault. The time has come to raise awareness about the sexual abuse cover-ups within the SBC. (I am not a Southern Baptist and I would like to see these issues dealt with in all churches.) We were there to come alongside the church and help protect, respond to, and minister to adult and child abuse survivors in Christ honoring ways.
Allow me to tell you how we were received. We consisted of our team members, a few SBC women, survivors who drove hours to stand in solidarity against abuse, a pastor who had never attended an annual meeting but heard about the rally and decided to attend, and a man who worked with the SBC natural disaster team who happened to be walking by while I was speaking and kindly fixed the generator for us. We had lost power to the mics and recording equipment right as I was preparing to speak. I was relegated to yelling at the top of my voice to be heard outside over the city noise. No one in leadership came near the rally. The attendees who walked by on their lunch break had a variety of reactions. With a smile I asked, “Would you like a resource page to keep on file for ministering to victims of abuse?” A handful said thank you for the free resource page. Many wouldn’t look at me, I saw many thumbs down gestures, some rolled their eyes at me, one person told me there’s no such thing, I was asked why I was trying to create problems, many men and women walked to the other side of the sidewalk or road when I offered them a resource page. One woman threw her arms in the air, jumped back as if I were dirty or trying to hurt her, and stridently made a sound of disgust. Others replied a no thank you, not interested, or I don’t want one.
As some of them walked away, I thought to myself, “I hope they don’t have a child who is ever abused or a daughter who ends up in an abusive, destructive marriage.” In their attempt to act in a way they thought was Christian, many didn’t show Christ-likeness.
The SBC has a long and difficult road ahead of them.
I’m grateful for the statements we’re currently reading coming out of the SBC at this time. Intentions look to be good. Only time will tell.
With my background of domestic abuse I’ve learned never to take an abuser at their word when they have a history of denial, justification, minimization, blame shifting and spiritualization of their behavior. It’s sad to have to type this, but the SBC has acted as a secondary abuser to victims. Like abusers, they need serious, professional, long-term help if they are going to change…and even then, I’ll believe it when I see it, but I’m hopeful.
Churches must take into account that the ministry attracts people with narcissistic personality disorder, and molesters and pedophilic offenders. I was told by law enforcement that they are seeing increasingly higher numbers of these types of offenders who specifically go to school to gain access to prey through the fields of ministry, coaching, and teaching. More alarming, is the fact that law enforcement says they are beginning to see some women entering these professions for the same reason.
I understand creating and keeping a database will not be easy and could invite lawsuits not only on the local church, but also on the SBC. It still must to be done. I have my hopes set on an interdenominational /international data base since many offenders change affiliation to keep from being caught.
1.Please don’t look away in disgust that I wrote this article pointing out some failings of the SBC.
2.I have lost friends and had others mad at me for writing about the SBC. Please don’t allow the article to make you uncomfortable.
3.If you think perhaps the Houston Chronicle overstated its case and made up facts; I assure you that what they reported isn’t even close to accounting for all the cases of abuse within the SBC, or other churches for that matter.
4.I want to be clear; it is not just the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) that has problems with predators. Child predators, teen predators, and adult predators plague every denomination, non-denominational, non-profit, and para-church organization.
5.This article mentions
220 abusers with more than 700 victims. These are the 700 known victims.
Statistically, if you add in abuse by pedophilic offenders who held places of
authority over children you will find a victim rate of over 100 children per
abuser. Most victims never report their abuse. (Stat: according to Osage County, Oklahoma, sex crimes investigator, Montgomery County Sheriff, Kansas, and the Kansas State Attorney Generals’ Office when they interviewed me for the investigations against my former husband).
6.Lest you think that the below mentioned abusers worked at one church, were caught, and then subsequently removed from ministry; that is not the case. More often than not, they leave one church and move around the country. Some of these men are still in positions of leadership within the SBC while some have switched affiliation to stay under the radar. Also, this is no small problem in mainly rural locations by pastors from small churches. This issue spans all ages, geographical locations and sizes of churches.
7.Educating the church about such predators is a passion of mine because my first husband was one of these people. He was affiliated with the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and is now in prison for the rest of his life.
The best experts on the subject are those who have lived through abuse and those who specialize in counseling the abuse survivors. There are numerous well-known and strong voices in this field; some of whom are published. Why were they not asked? With the world at the tip of their fingers why didn’t the publisher check out the internet for those already in the trenches who know the subject, are passionate about the survivors, and could sit town and turn out such a book within weeks?
Here is a checklist to help us determine if we might be in an emotionally abusive relationship. This is by no means a complete list, but merely questions I ask based on what I’ve survived, observed and studied.
easy to brush problems aside, believe we’re over reacting or are especially
sensitive, or wondering if we are the problem. We can deny the abuse just as much
as the abuser denies their abusive behavior.
These are some of the less obvious signs of emotional abuse that no one outside our home will likely see. A few of the below items done with love, concern, and gentleness for the sake of understanding and being understood do not constitute abuse.
If we read this checklist and feel an ache in our heart because a few, several, or all of these negatively apply then we have elements of a toxic, destructive relationship. Please know there is help and we can find healing.
this list applies to you, please find help so you can take good care of
yourself. Learn ways to interact with and
set healthy boundaries with your angry and controlling person.
times when someone else names the problem or writes a list of symptoms, it’s
easier to see reality.
Disclaimer: These questions can apply to men or women. I minister to abused women so I frame my questions from this basis. There are men who are abused by women. Not all men are abusers. There are many wonderful men in this world, but again, I minister to women who are being, or have been, abused.
Is there a climate of fear of disappointing him?
Do you, or the children, dread when you know he’s coming home?
Does he make it clear what behavior is unacceptable, and the list is getting longer and longer?
Does he make it clear how he wants the house, food, and laundry cleaned and organized?
Is he consistently condescending in his tone of voice when he disagrees with you or doesn’t like something about you?
Is there a sense that you have to check with him to make sure you are doing the right thing and in the right way?
Do you constantly feel like an outsider in your own home?
Do you feel a sense of shame around him for being different than him?
Does he justify, minimize, spiritualize, or deny hurtful words or behaviors when you attempt to talk to him about them?
When you try to speak logically does he treat you as if you’re unbalanced?
Do you sense that he delights in (feeds off) disagreements?
Does he turn love ‘off’ when he disagrees with you, is disappointed with you, or gets mad at you?
Have you noticed that he never apologizes for angry outbursts or hurtful words?
When you try to explain your feelings or needs does he habitually stare blankly at you, or walk away?
Does he consider the house, the money, and belongings his and/or take your pay checks/earnings from you?
Do you find that he has no interest in you as a person other than needing you as a wife/mother to take care of the house?
Have you realized that he has no interest in your work, hobbies, talents, or outside activities?
Does he want to make all the decisions for you regardless of your needs?
Are your experiences, thoughts, or feelings automatically discounted and considered wrong?
Do you find that you keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself because you know they won’t be considered, or that he will mock you?
Does he control the family money by keeping you on a restrictive budget while he spends as much as he wants to spend?
Do you find when he wants his way about something that he will keep bringing the subject up in hopes of getting you to change your mind?
Does he treat you more like a child than like an adult who is equal with him?
Do you feel like you’ve lost your personality, drive, talents, likes, and joy being married to him?
Is your health deteriorating due to the stress in your marriage?
Does he often give you the silent treatment when he’s in a bad mood or when he disagrees with you?
Does he withhold words of affirmation, affection, and/or sex when he’s mad at you or disagrees with you?
Does he come across as charming to people outside of your house; especially at church?
Do you find extended family consistently express concern about his treatment of you?
Does it seem he has unspoken rules that you’re supposed to know and obey?
If this leaves you feeling overwhelmed or sad, please find help in the margin of my website. I assure you that you can make healthy changes to protect yourself and your children while in an emotionally destructive /abusive relationship.
Leaders to Recognize Abusive Behaviors
I know that I don’t bring a lot to the table
Just little pieces of a broken heart
There’s days I wonder if You’ll still be faithful
Hold me together when I fall apart?
Would You remind me now of who You are?
That Your love will never change, that there’s healing in your name That You can take broken things, and make them beautiful You took my shame And You walked out of the grave So Your love can take broken things and make them beautiful
I’m better off when I begin to remember How You have met me in my deepest pain So give me glimpses now of how You have covered All of my heart ache, oh with all Your grace Remind me now that You can make a way
You say that You’ll turn my weeping into dancing
Remove my sadness & cover me with joy
You say your scars are the evidence of healing
That You can make the broken beautiful
You make us beautiful, oh oh
You make us beautiful
I know many women who have walked a long and lonely road in a difficult, unhealthy, unfaithful, abusive, destructive and/or dangerous relationship. Some of you decided to leave and have been re-traumatized by your church who insisted you forgive, forget, pray for, and stay with your abuser while you wait on God to change his heart. This happens due to misapplication of scriptures and because of deceptive tactics used by abusers. See: Do You Have Biblical Permission to Leave a Toxic Spouse?(Please remember: God does not make anyone change if they do not want to change. Rarely will an abuser want to change). I applaud you for your courage to stand strong, shining a light on the evil around you; for darkness cannot overcome the light.
made it through another year! As Samuel did in the Old Testament, raise your
Ebenezer stone and repeat, “The Lord has helped us this far.” (I Samuel 7) You
can do this! You’re learning how to care for yourself, set boundaries, and
protect your children. You may be limping into the New Year with a tear stained
face, Bible pages wet from those tears, barely breath to speak at certain
moments, but you have your sanity and are actively exercising your faith. God
knows! He sees, He hears, and He has counted every tear (Psalm 56:8). God’s
grace will again be sufficient this new year.
“Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we
go.” We all know the song but have we
ever stopped to think about the implications attached to family gatherings?
It’s rare I hear of a healthy functioning family so if you are from one…congrats and may it ever be so! Most families have a lineage of dysfunction somewhere in their background or in current relationships.
For people looking to offend; holiday gatherings provide a bountiful, unsuspecting selection.
Please don’t ever think you know a person well enough to know they
would NEVER harm a child. I lived with a man who was a senior pastor/evangelist
and I had NO idea he was a pedophilic offender.
If you think: “My son…My husband… My brother… or…My friend would
never do that.” You don’t know it!
Not unless you live inside their mind or are with them every second of their
entire life. (For the record there are female offenders, but the majority are
During this season we are busy with shopping, food preparations, and packing. Once the family gatherings commence we enjoy spending time catching up with loved ones while the kids play. Are we remembering that the children still need us to look out for them and protect them? I’m including children from infant to 18 years old because we have no way of knowing what age or sex a molester or a pedophilic offender prefers.
Child molester –an individual who sexually molests children.
Pedophile – has a sexual preference for children and fantasizes about having sex with them, but if he does not act on that preference or those fantasies with a child, he is not a child molester.
Pedophilic offender – has a sexual preference for children and acts on his preferences and fantasies by victimizing children.
I don’t mean to be negative. I mean to be helpful. I want you and
your children to have a safe and happy holiday celebration. My background and
studying reminds me that children are targets for molesters and pedophilic
offenders. I’ve taken the approach, when in a crowd; regardless of size, that
there is likely an abuser in our midst and unfortunately, statistics our on my
side. Depending on which stats were looking at; 1 out of 4 girls are sexually
abused and 1 out of 6 boys are sexually abused. These stats are from reported
abuse. Most abuse doesn’t get reported which likely makes the rates higher. With
the rise of internet pornography I believe we are only beginning to see the tip
of the sexual abuse iceberg.
With over 90% of abuse being perpetrated by someone the child knows, it is often a family member or close family friend. And surprisingly as much as 40% of abuse is perpetrated by juveniles – yes, often siblings and cousins. A family gathering can and does create opportunity for abuse – while we’re thinking of what’s in the oven or keeping heated family debates to a simmer, we’re often not thinking of what our children are up to. A house full of family and friends should be the safest place for our children, but in reality that is not always the case. ~The Mama Bear Effect
Are you aware that children can be ‘groomed’ or molested right in front of your eyes without you being wise to it?
Abusers can be touching a young child’s genitalia while the child sits on their lap at the dining table (you can’t see what’s taking place under the table-top), or while snuggling under a blanket next to them on the sofa.
I knew a man who, every time he picked up a 4 or 5 year old, would hold the child in his arms with his hand under/on the child’s crotch. What preschooler needs to be held that way? I later learned, he was doing it to clearly show what he was doing to the child when the parent wasn’t around.
Bathroom stalls are a favorite place for abusers to target children in public; including in church restrooms.
Relatives who insist all the kids bathe together (boys & girls), or dress in front of all the relatives. This can be seen as different perspectives in parenting, but I’ve spoken to Focus on the Family about this and they encourage these practices to stop around age 2 to 3.
Playing tag or other games. Parents have to be vigilant to see this take place. Often kids don’t know what took place and it can take them years, into adulthood, to realize what happened. Touching that takes place on the genitals, butt, or breasts is exhilarating to a sexual abuser who enjoys a sick and twisted thrill of touching kids and not getting caught by anyone.
The Larry Nassar case has been in the news for months. He was molesting hundreds of gymnasts, including Olympic gold medalists. He abused children in the confines of a small room in front of the parents and the parents didn’t know. The couple of parents who wondered if he was doing something inappropriate thought there was no way this nice guy could be doing what they thought perhaps they saw. It was what they saw…and more.
Is there anything we can do to prepare our kids to stand against
Have conversations before the gathering takes place. Several short
conversations will help cement the safety precautions in their mind.
They can respect and be kind to everyone without compromising their boundaries.
Don’t force them to be affectionate with extended family members if they aren’t comfortable with it. Allow kids to set their own body boundaries.
No closed doors while playing; not even if an adult is in the room with them. Any adult should know better than to do this with children who are not their own. If an adult discreetly wonders off while everyone else is talking, playing a game, or watching T.V. and closes the door to hang out with the children; kindly open the door and explain your no closed door policy. (This can be a textbook clue of a child predator).
You cannot make any one respect your open door policy. If they won’t respect it, you can politely remove yourself and your children from the gathering. You are not being rude. You are being thoughtful and protective while teaching your kids how to set boundaries.
Explain to your kids no touching or showing body parts, or showing pictures of people’s nakedness. Name the parts. They are a fact of life and we need not be embarrassed about it. The more comfortable we are talking to them about sex and anatomy, the easier it will be for our kids to approach us with concerns and questions. It’s our responsibility and privilege to teach our children and answer their questions.
If cell phones become a problem at a family gathering you can request that children use technology at the kitchen table (not during the meal) while an adult is present. Cell phones with internet access, apps, and/ or stored photographs/videos are almost guaranteed to have inappropriate content on them. You don’t want children having opportunities to act out what they’ve inadvertently seen on the internet.
After the day, or weekend, is over ask open ended questions to give your kids an opportunity to process their answers. Examples: Did you have fun? Did anything make you uncomfortable? Did anyone try to do anything inappropriate to you or to someone else? Is there anything else you want me to know about?
Many child molesters use tactics like those above to break down the defenses of their victims. After all, when they invade a child’s personal space to touch, tickle, or wrestle in front of the parents, they are showing the victim that the parents know they are touching their child. This works to the abusers advantage when they have the child behind closed doors. This conveys to the kids that the parents already know the adult oversteps boundaries by annoyingly touching their body. This can cause the child to believe there is nothing wrong with the annoying sexual touching taking place behind closed doors.
How to respond if
something bad did happen:
Don’t get upset, cry, or ask you child
questions about why they allowed that to happen to them. This causes the child
(regardless of age) to feel responsible for what happened to them and for your
Sit down and write out what you child told you
after you finish the conversation with them.
DO NOT CALL OR TALK TO THE PERSON. They WILL
explain their way out of it and you WILL believe them.
Do not call the host home, church, or event location
where it happened and do not call other parents to compare accounts or to ask
questions. This can cause major problems for law enforcement’s investigation.
CALL LAW ENFORCMENT. (Even if it’s your
relative or spouse). Allow the authorities to investigate. Do not worry about
someone’s reputation. If they are innocent the investigators will come to that
conclusion. It’s extremely difficult to prove allegations, but worth the time to
pursue it. You may save your child or another child from future victimization.
And…for the relative who says, “How can you call yourself a Christian?” when you dare to set a difficult boundary. Don’t buy into it. It’s nothing more than emotional manipulation. The Bible is full of examples of boundary setting. We can speak gently, firmly, and kindly while being protective and proactive. Even Jesus set boundaries while on earth.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6