I distinctly remember the summer of 1994 because it was the summer that I finally packed away all of my beloved Barbies. I knew it was time to put away childish things and grow up to be a big girl. Little did I know how fast I would have to grow up…..
When the school year started, Bill Wininger would call me into his office just to make sure I was doing okay. He portrayed himself as a father figure and let me know he was there for me if I ever needed anything. It was strange how random these meetings were–sometimes in the middle of history class and sometimes right before gym class–but he always said that we were buddies and that this should be our little secret. It felt weird when he hugged me, but after all, he was portraying a father figure, and fathers hug their children; and he was the “man of God,” so he wouldn’t do anything wrong. When the hugs turned into a little something more, I knew something wasn’t quite right, but when you were in his office it was as if you were under some sort of spell. You would just freeze, almost as if you weren’t really there but watching yourself in a dream. Even though we were taught by church and school to respect and obey authority without question, my parents always explained their rules and let us question and talk about them. I thank God that my parents instilled this self respect in me. Although I could never say or do anything while I was in his office, outside of his office I was able to tell him that I didn’t feel that it was right and that we shouldn’t do this anymore. Thankfully, he never did call me back into his office after that, and shortly thereafter, he left the church.
I thought he had repented of what he had done and made a fresh start down in Georgia. In my young, innocent, and forgiving heart I truly believed this was true.
If only I had known how untrue this was……
I am telling my story not to benefit myself, because personally I would rather just take it to God and forget the whole thing happened.
I am sharing this to stand with my dear friends who suffered along with me, Janeane, Robin, and now, I know Bethany did as well.
I also pray that anyone who is afraid to come forward will get courage from God to stand up for what is right.