“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure no one listens.” ― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery link
The blessed shepherd who loves His children
In the March issue of Christianity Today. Mary De Muth, a child sex abuse survivor, interviewed Dan Allender about his new book Healing the Wounded Heart: The Heartache of Sexual Abuse and the Hope of Transformation. I thought of Shauna and Billy and Lakeside Bible Church.
(Mary DeMuth's question) As a survivor, I’ve endured insensitive advice like “Quit rehashing the past” or “God makes all things new.” How can your book help someone walk alongside a victim with kindness?
We all need companions. Why? Because abuse is often done in private, under the cover of silence. Abuse has to be addressed in the light, in community. As I mentioned earlier, the memories are often fragmented. They will become more coherent only as you begin filling in the gaps by telling your story.
For the victim, telling the story begins to heal a portion of your heart. Telling it again opens a door to healing another portion. Some people tell their story once, and it doesn’t seem to help, so they stop. But you are meant to continue bearing the scars of this story just as Jesus bears the scars of his crucifixion through all eternity. His glorification didn’t take away the marks of the Cross.
Here are the main points of this section.
- Victims need to tell their stories, often over and over again.
- Abuse takes place in silence.
- Sometimes, it takes telling the story over and over again to fill in the gaps of what happened.
- Abuse must be addressed in the light of the community.
- Victims need companions who are willing to bear the scars of their story just as Jesus will always bear the scars of His crucifixion for us.
However, It does not appear that Shauna and Billy were afforded these opportunities from Lakeside Bible Church, Ken Ramey, the Elders (capital E) and counselors™. I have spoken with Shauna many times. I can sense the relief in her voice as I do not rush her, I do not say she is repeating herself, and I cry along with her. Her story never changes. In fact, in our discussions, I have seen her able to add fragments to the story that give me an even clearer picture of what happened.
I believe that Shauna is telling the truth. The reason for this post is the reason for all of the other TWW posts. If we do not tell the specific stories of how churches deal with pain and suffering, we cannot help the church to change its tactics in caring for those wounded by sexual abuse, domestic violence, etc.
When I went to business school, we studied the stories of victory and demise of companies via the case study method. These case studies were specific. They revealed stories of inept and mean managers, stupid financial decisions, abuse of workers, etc. They named names. They shared corporate communications, etc. Churches will not do this, hiding their failures under the guise of confidentiality. Then the church presents a picture of apparent health and happiness. But pain lingers just under the surface. TWW is not in the business of destroying churches. We're hoping to prevent abuse by highlighting what works and does not work.
We believe that Nouthetic counseling and church discipline as practiced in the last decade have been fraught with failures leading to the abuse of church members. These folks joined churches hoping to experience love and, instead, got kicked in the teeth. These stories are their perspectives and churches would do well to listen to them.
Billy and Shauna were in rough shape when this all began.
Shauna blamed herself for not checking on Billy and Joe sooner. This is a common concern of many parents whose children are assaulted. She also grieved his loss of innocence and was shaken to the core by the extent of bodily injury and the treatment necessary to keep him physically free from potential disease.
Billy suffered beyond the physical trauma of the rape. He wanted to change his name so he could pretend that this hadn't happened to him. He was having frequent nightmares and exhibited the symptoms of post traumatic stress syndrome.
Shauna was in pain and experienced post traumatic stress as well. She wanted to talk about it and needed the support and encouragement of her church. What she got caused her much pain.
Keeping this in mind…
Ken Ramey wanted her to pursue reconciliation immediately
Right after the rape, Ramey told Shauna that only the church could adequately counsel Billy and the perpetrator. He reportedly went to court to ask the judge to allow the church to do the counseling for the two families.The judge said he could not counsel both families.
Shauna made a wise decision after the rape of Billy. The church wanted to counsel both Billy and her. However, she had Billy participate in Safe Harbor where he received great guidance. Not only did they do the forensic interview for the police investigation, they continue to offer Billy support.
Welcome to Children's Safe Harbor
Combined, Montgomery, San Jacinto, and Walker counties receive more than 3000 reports per year of children who have been harmed by sexual and/or physical abuse. In the past, victims seeking help faced multiple contacts with different community professionals, which created a maze of confusion and distress for the child and the family.
Children's Safe Harbor has changed all of that.
Children's Safe Harbors' mission is to protect and enhance the life of every child who has the courage to battle sexual and physical abuse.
With a team of community and professional agencies united, we are committed to counsel the mind and heal the body of brave children and prosecute the offenders of the youngest and most vulnerable victims of our society.
The goal of Children's Safe Harbor is to reduce the trauma of child victims and their non-offending caregivers by facilitating a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary team approach to intervention, investigation, prosecution and treatment of child sexual and severe physical abuse.
Shauna is one smart woman by involving outsiders in her son's care immediately. It is my belief that they have done a great job in helping Billy deal with the issues of his rape. However, someone was not happy about this.
Ken Ramey tried to talk Shauna out of allowing Billy to counsel with Safe Harbor.
He reportedly said Billy would not be safe with those types of counselors. He claimed that Billy should never be left alone with those counselors and that the counselors could "ruin" Billy. This is in keeping with the MacArthurite belief that only Biblical™ counseling is appropriate.
As an aside, I am always leery when someone says they have the biblical™ view on counseling , gender roles, creationism, etc. When I look around at all of the self declared celebrity leaders and see how they differ on many aspects of Scripture, I wonder if some leaders are misusing the Bible in order to promote their preferred view of secondary issues.
Nouthetic/Biblical counseling via John MacArthur
This church is devoted to Nouthetic counseling as advocated by John MacArthur's ministry. Wikipedia defines the issue succinctly. Note the part I highlighted.
Nouthetic counseling (Greek: noutheteo, to admonish) is a form of Evangelical Protestant pastoral counseling based solely upon the Bible and focused on Christ. It repudiates mainstream psychology and psychiatry as humanistic, radically secular and fundamentally opposed to Christianity. Its viewpoint was originally articulated by Jay E. Adams, in Competent to Counsel (1970) and further books, and has led to the formation of a number of organizations and seminary courses promoting it. The viewpoint is opposed to those seeking to synthesize Christianity with secular psychological thought, but has failed to win them over to a purely Biblical approach. Since 1993, the movement has renamed itself Biblical counseling to emphasize its central emphasis on the Bible. The Baker Encyclopedia of Psychology and Counseling states that "The aim of Nouthetic Counseling is to effect change in the counselee by encouraging greater conformity to the principles of Scripture."
…Nouthetic counseling has been criticized as narrowly conceived, with a confrontational focus upon sin and behavior, which fails to deal adequately with emotion, grief, and suffering, and which lacks understanding of complex human motivations.
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia describing MacArthur's view of psychology. Note the sections I highlighted and the confidant assertions with little proof.
He is also an advocate of Nouthetic Counseling, which stresses the Bible as a sufficient tool for counseling people with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. MacArthur does not reject all forms of psychological theories and techniques, though he considers some psychology and psychiatry as contrary to the Bible.
MacArthur has argued that "True psychology (i.e. "the study of the soul") can be done only by Christians, since only Christians have the resources for understanding and transforming the soul. The secular discipline of psychology is based on godless assumptions and evolutionary foundations and is capable of dealing with people only superficially and only on the temporal level… Psychology is no more a science than the atheistic evolutionary theory upon which it is based. Like theistic evolution, Christian psychology is an attempt to harmonize two inherently contradictory systems of thought. Modern psychology and the Bible cannot be blended without serious compromise to or utter abandonment of the principle of Scripture's sufficiency.... "
According to Shauna, the people involved in the LBC counseling ministry are not professionally trained counselors. She says that they have received training form seminars and audios put out by MacArthur's ministry. Apparently the head of counseling for LBC is a businessman by day and a *counselor* in his off time-kind of like a weekend golfer pretending to be a Master.
Let me make something clear. Counseling those affected by child/teen sex abuse is a highly complex situation. The act of a rape can last a few minutes but the effects of the rape can last a lifetime. I believe it is both arrogant as well as dangerous to sic an untrained volunteer upon any family that has just experienced such a traumatic event. As you will see, it didn't work out too well for Shauna.
It is important to understand that the following events lasted only a few months after the rape. By October, Shauna was so upset, she decided to leave the church.
Shauna called Masters Seminary and John MacArthur's Grace Community Church asking for help.
She was asking advice about how to deal with this situation. After weeks of no response, she received an email telling her to reconcile with Joe's family. That's it. Case closed.
Ken Ramey refused to use *rape* to describe what happened to Billy.
Shauna believes that Ramey was implying the Billy was responsible for allowing the assault to happen even though Joe threatened Billy with harm. Soon after, Shauna began to hear from church people who claim they were told that this was consensual behavior between the two boys and that Billy was a homosexual.
Shauna was repeatedly told by Ken Ramey and other leaders to shut up and not to talk about the rape.
Shauna was told to speak only to the leaders or her counselor about Billy's assault. Please refer to the book that was discussed at the beginning of this post. Telling her to go silent would have been the absolute worst piece of advice . Victims and their families need to speak about their pain and they need to have the freedom in whom to confide. Shauna was told by the DA that she could talk about what happened since she was witness to the event. Yet Ken reportedly told her that it would be slander to do so.
Here is a very important question to ask in this circumstance. Why was she told to be silent about the rape? Why were rumors beginning that this was a consensual relationship and why did members believe that Billy was a *homosexual?* Why, when Ken learned of these rumors, did he not address them strongly? Why did Shauna need to be quiet while the chatty church members were allowed to continue with such rumors? Why didn't Ken and the leaders tell these other members they were slandering Shauna and Billy?
Instead, Shauna said that Ken met with her on several occasions to counsel her on say she was being disobedient by talking about what happened. he reportedly told he to repent and ask God for forgiveness for not submitting to authority. Another leader confronted her for talking about this to a newly hired youth leader. He said
"We don't know what to do with you. You continue to disobey the elders. You need to ask God for forgiveness and ask the Elders for forgiveness. We just don't know what to do with you.
Shauna interpreted this as a veiled threat that she would be kicked out of the church. So, Billy was forced to be silent during the rape and now he and his mom were being forced to continue their silence except with *approved* individuals. Remember, Billy's injuries were documented at an Emergency Room and Joe would plead guilty. Safe Harbor also confirmed that Billy was raped.
During this time, people began to ignore her and she found her cleaning jobs beginning to dry up. Why was that?
The counselor wanted her to *fuhgeddaboudit* and be happy
Fuhgeddaboudit is defined in the Urban Dictionary thusly
Forget about it – the issue is not worth the time, energy, mental effort, or emotional resources.
Shauna was assigned a biblical™ counselor, whom I shall call Pam, by the church. Shauna knew her and thought she might be helpful. Things began well enough. Pam told her that she believed that this was not Joe's first assault. Uh oh. Is this why silence was enforced by the pastors?Over time, however, things changed.
Pam told Shauna to *fuhgeedaboudit* by recounting what happened with her own child.
This encounter is quite concerning. Pam reportedly said that when her own child was about 3-4 years old and in day care, the child came home with noticeable redness and inflammation in her vaginal area. The child showed it to her mother. Pam said she didn't say anything about it. She just changed day care and moved on with life. She said everything was fine and she never dealt with it beyond those actions. Uh oh…
She used this to encourage Shauna to quickly move on from the incident just like she supposedly did.
Pam told Shauna that she needed to find joy in the situation or she would be in sin.
Pam told her that Shauna was not exhibiting enough joy. Pam stated that she should be praising God in the situation and that God had allowed this to happen to her child for a good reason. She said she was in sin for *not finding joy in the situation.* As Shauna started to cry, Pam told her to stop it and start praising God. She told her to *get into the Word* more. She assigned to her read transcripts from John MacArthur's sermon. Pam never told Shauna that it was alright to grieve.
One church leader, during this time, reportedly told her that God may have allowed this to happen to Billy to bring him *to Christ.* This is just plain nonsense that is often spouted by those who believe that God causes everything to occur, even evil.
Pam said Shauna would need to be disciplined for her anger unless she repented.
Shauna shared a personal story about a private incident that involved Billy being treated unfairly. It had just happened and it would take her a few days to settle down. Pam asked her if she still felt angry. When Shauna said "Yes," Pam told her that she was blatantly sinning against God. Therefore, Pam would need to report her sin of anger for discipline. This would begin the process of Matthew 18. According to Shauna, Ken believes that discipline needs to be going on at all times for all sorts of things.
Shauna, fearful of getting in trouble again, decided to call Pam and tell her that she *repented.* Pam said she was glad and she would cancel the scheduled discipline meeting!
Shauna leaves LBC about 5 months after Billy's rape
Soon after this, Shauna left the church. She was broken down, discouraged, and feeling quite alone. Before she left, she tried to get Ken Ramey to read Lindsey and Justin Holcomb's book Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault. But Ken didn't have enough time. Perhaps that says it all.
I think this statement from Shauna to me says it all.
They didn't show they cared about us. They cared more about Joe and his family.
Today, Shauna met with a female leader from the church. Once again, Shauna was asked if she thinks Billy is a homosexual came up. I find this line of questioning very disconcerting since it appears that people involved with the church are repeating a narrative that this was a consensual act between two boys and that Billy may be a homosexual.
Take a look at this note from Shauna's *counselor.* (I had to copy the screenshot because it mentioned Billy's true name.)
When we talk about these homosexuality thoughts that come to your mind, you related that to the fact that people questioned whether *Billy* was a willing participant in the assault when everything first happened. And you said that made you angry. How did you relate your thoughts to that? What was the cause of your anger?
Is anyone seeing a trend here?
Calling all lawyers
I have a question or two regarding this situation and I was wondering if I could ask you off line. Please let me know.
For Billy and Shauna
Please remember the GoFundMe.
Here is a song by Matt Redmond for *Billy." Matt was abused as a boy and has found healing in Jesus and in his music. Please know we love you both and we believe you.