Tag Archives: rape

Uncovering the Darkness

By Cynthia McClaskey

I am sure many of you may be wondering about this topic that I will be writing about. You may be wondering what exactly IS the DARKNESS?  I realize that this subject matter will be delicate and, will evoke a lot of emotion in people. But, I also understand that many of you may not realize that the subject I will be covering even exists; and if you know it does exist, you may even believe that it could not be possibly happening in your church.  Countless multitudes do not even realize that what I am about to talk about has been going on for centuries and is alive and ongoing today in religious institutions across the globe. As a matter of fact, it has been taking place since the third or fourth century; that’s how long this DARKNESS has been growing.

Before I get started, I would like to tell you about two organizations that are trying to make a difference in the lives of those affected by the DARKNESSG.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) and Together We Heal.

Together We Heal works to provide victims of sexual abuse, rape and incest – aka, the DARKNESS with the free professional counseling services they so desperately need in order to begin the healing process. But, they cannot help victims without your donations. A victim’s help is only as available as the funds are to hire these licensed, professional counselors for them. Right now, the link on my blog is set up to fund an account that will help to pay for victims needs and to aid them in recovery and healing. Your tax deductible donations go directly to this fund which goes directly to help victims of this type of abuse. As fast as we get money in, it goes out, because the need is so great and so few people give. Right now, we have ZERO religious organizations donating to help victims of this abuse. Why is that? Answer: Because churches don’t really care about these victims. The love of God must stop short when it comes to victims of abuse, rape, incest and sexual assault (the DARKNESS) in the church.  Not one church has had the genuine Christian character to step out and do the right thing regarding these victims and support Together We Heal’s fund for victims through my blog. They give to missionaries, but not the abused, victimized, raped, tortured, broken and poor that they are responsible for creating.

Religion’s Cell is also a supporter of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE). This organization is a legal and professional team whose sole purpose is to defend these victims of sexual abuse and, to educate church congregations on the signs of abuse and how to respond to it in a religious environment. If you can afford to support GRACE through the link on my blog, I can assure you they NEED the funds too. Legal and professional help is not free.

Now, let’ talk about this DARKNESS. It is also known as Religious Abuse. I would like to explain what it is, what it encompasses and how it has affected societies and cultures around the globe. When I am done, you should be able to understand and see the scope and magnitude of the true DARKNESS that lies hidden underneath religion’s mantle.

But, before I get into the subject matter, I would like to give you some excerpts from a few recent news stories and then afterwards, ask everyone a few questions. I am warning you up front that these stories will evoke an emotional response in many of you. But I ask that you be patient with me as I cover these because some of these stories are difficult even for me, to read or listen to. All of these stories are recent, by the way. They are cited on my blog HERE, HERE, HERE AND HERE.

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BIRMINGHAM, AL. Pastor, Richard Shahan, of First Baptist Church arrested for the murder of his wife. A minister nabbed by police on new year’s day moments before trying to get out of the country.

Reena Ninan has the details. Reporter: Richard Shan was an Alabama-based Baptist preacher with a devout following. This morning, he’s accused of murdering his wife.

Arrested New Year’s day trying to board a plane to Germany. I think he was totally shocked when they — pulled him out of line. And detained him.

Reporter: He was nabbed after a customs official recognized his passport. But the pastor’s lawyers said he was traveling to Germany and then Russia to work for a children’s ministry. Once he got to Russia the chances of extraditing him were nil. (abcnews.go.com 1/6/14)

Alabama Pastor Allegedly Killed His Wife

State says murder suspect planned to wed boyfriend

Pastor Arrested and Charged With His Wife’s Murder Just Before He Boarded a Plane Out of the U.S. Video TheBlaze

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MUSCLE SHOALS, AL. Authorities say children’s minister Jeff Eddie told them he had so many sexual experiences with children at his church he could not recall all the times he had done it.

A felony complaint police filed against Eddie, 41, said the Highland Park Baptist Church children’s minister admitted to performing oral sex and masturbating children when Muscle Shoals investigators questioned him Sunday.

Eddie, who was arrested Sunday, is charged with 31 counts of sodomy, 2 counts of possession of child pornography, and 2 counts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12.

In the sodomy complaint filed against Eddie, police said the abuse came to light after a church member walked in on Eddie with his hands up a minor’s shirt. One of the victims says Eddie engaged in sex acts with him downstairs in the church’s electrical room at least once a month going back to 2011, when the child was 11 years old. The incidents happened until July of last year, the child said, and then happened twice after that. (waaytv.com, Posted: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 11:24 am | Updated: 9:13 pm, Wed Feb 5, 2014)

New details in minister child sex arrest – Huntsville News WAAYTV

New Details Children’s Minister Facing Sex Abuse Charges, Multiple Victims Confirmed WHNT

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SEDRO-WOOLLEY, WA. On the night of May 11, 2011, sometime around midnight, 13-year-old Hana Williams fell face-forward in her parents’ backyard. Adopted from Ethiopia three years before, Hana was naked and severely underweight. Her head had recently been shaved, and her body bore the scars of repeated beatings with a plastic plumbing hose. Inside the house, her adoptive mother, 42-year-old Carri Williams, and a number of Hana’s eight siblings had been peering out the window for the past few hours, watching as Hana staggered and thrashed around, removed her clothing in what is known as hypothermic paradoxical undressing and fell repeatedly, hitting her head. According to Hana’s brother Immanuel, a deaf 10-year-old also adopted from Ethiopia, the family appeared to be laughing at her.

When one of Carri’s biological daughters reported that Hana was lying facedown, Carri came outside. Upset by Hana’s immodest nakedness, Carri fetched a bedsheet and covered her before asking two teenage sons to carry her in. She called her husband, Larry, who was on his way home from a late shift at Boeing, then finally dialed 911, telling the operator, “I think my daughter just killed herself. … She’s really rebellious.”

Hana was pronounced dead at the hospital, the cause hypothermia compounded by malnutrition and gastritis. The following day, when Child Protective Services tried to check on the other children, Larry Williams refused to let them in. When police followed up, a deputy noted that the family acted as though Hana’s death was “an everyday occurrence.” Twelve days later, detectives and CPS conducted interviews with the children, but their answers seemed rote and rehearsed, all repeating that Hana was rebellious and refused to mind Carri; one child said he thought Hana was possessed by demons. According to investigators, Immanuel said that “people like [Hana] got spankings for lying and go into the fires of hell,” just before Larry abruptly ended the interview.

When Hana died, she became one of at least dozens of adoptees alleged to have been killed at their adoptive parents’ hands in the past 20 years, and part of a far larger group of children who become estranged from their adoptive families—frequently, as it turns out, large families with fundamentalist beliefs about child rearing. Just within the Seattle area, and just among Ethiopian adoptees who came from the same orphanage and adoption agency as Hana, there has been an unreported crisis of “forever families” that fail. These are adoptions that, in an absence of any real oversight and in environments of harsh discipline, began with good intentions but went profoundly wrong….click here to read more.

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Esther Comb’s Story of Rape and Torture

Courtesy Of ABC News.

Joe and Evangeline Combs were Independent Fundamental Baptist. They perpetrated the most heinous crimes against a child. They are now serving 179 years in prison for their crimes against Esther.

Here’s Esther Combs story of abuse as told by ABC News – Part ONE.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYeChMKElCU&w=420&h=315]

Part Two:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3a6zwleqBI&w=420&h=315]

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Now, I have some questions I would like to ask everyone:

  1. What do all of these stories have in common? They are all abuse related to religion and/or its teachings/belief systems.
  2. Who are the victims? Women and children
  3. Was justice served in every instance? Yes, when it’s murder or, multiple victims come forward, or,  the major media gets involved.

Now, let’s look at sexual assault, rape and incest where the victims were silenced and the abuses hidden and ask the same questions.

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Stephanie Davies Story of Rape, Suicide and Child Abuse

Ten Thousand Days in Hell – Sherri’s Story

HollyJane Belle’s Story of Rape and Incest

Louise’s Story of Spousal Rape

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  1. What do all of these stories have in common? They are all abuses related to religion and/or its teachings/belief systems.
  2. Who are the victims? Women and children
  3. Was justice served in every instance? No. None of these victim’s perpetrators is behind bars.

Why is the punishment not meted out for these horrible abuses? Because it took decades to pass for these victims to find the courage to speak out. For child abuse, there is no law that allows for prosecution after the fact when such time has elapsed. For sexual assaults and rape of children, the Statute of Limitations has expired in many states. Also, keep in mind that as long as the victims FEAR speaking out, the perpetrators remain free to abuse others. Such is the majority of cases.

What many do not realize is that religious abuse is a broader scope than we think it is. Believe it or not, but the average person has never heard of such a thing.  And yet, religious abuse encompasses the following:

Rape Incest Torture
Sexual Abuse Sex Trafficking Child Rape
Child Marriage Prostitution Child Pornography
Physical Abuse Emotional Abuse and Trauma Spiritual Abuse
Domestic Abuse Honor Killings Polygamy
Victim Grooming  Sexual Mutilation Abusive Control – information, time, behavior

 To learn more about the scope of this abuse and what it encompasses more specifically, click here: Religious Abuse – What Exactly Is it?

Throughout history, every single one of these items mentioned in my list has been going on. Does anyone have any idea who the victims are of every single one of these that I have stated?  Women and children.  What we need to realize is that these abuses against women and children are going on underneath the church’s mantle. Many people I come in contact with refuse to believe that it is, and yet the reality has been all over the internet in the last several years. If you have an opportunity to peruse my Religions Cell blog, please do.  My blog contains an alphabetized list by state and city of news stories of convicted and/or charged clergy for sexual crimes, murder and abuse. This is in no way a comprehensive list. There are thousands of more articles to add. To enter this archive, click here: Clergy Abuse Archive.  My blog also has numerous personal accounts of religious abuse survivors and what they endured. I have to warn you that the victim testimonies will make you angry – and here’s why – because most of the perpetrators of these crimes are still free and serving in churches across America. Most of them never served jail time.  They are STILL in contact with YOUR children!  The number one reason for this?  The church leadership covered up the crime and silenced the victims through public humiliation, threats and fear tactics. As a result, the Statute of Limitations ran out on these victims.

Can I ask another question? Why do you think a victim of rape or incest in the church setting would decline to come forward immediately? The answer: FEAR. Victims are threatened by family members, church members and church leadership. Victims are harassed by the same. Victims are humiliated and shamed. Victims are sometimes tortured. Victims are psychologically conditioned by this fear to keep their mouths shut. This is why it can take decades for a victim of childhood sexual assault and abuse to come forward.

As a result, the statistics on these crimes are vastly skewed. The numbers are much greater than what is reported.

Many of these victims of abuse are being blamed by the churches that hid their abuses. This is done to discredit their testimony. Many of these victims are being called liars. This is done to discredit their testimony and protect the abuser. The fact is this: Religious indoctrination has a lot to do with this secondary abuse to survivors of sexual assault and abuse within these institutions. Here’s why:

  • Religious people may be programmed into believing only what church leadership tells them is true. If leadership says a victim is lying to “hurt the cause of Christ,” then they become militant against that victim.
  • Religious people may be programmed into supporting religious leadership even if evidence PROVES the crime! Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN., is a prime example of this. He is serving a 12 year jail sentence for sex trafficking a minor and STILL has a huge following, even in jail.
  • Religious people may be programmed into doing what leadership tells them to do against victims. Remember that I stated that they can become militant when they are told someone is “hurting the cause of Christ.”
  • Many religious people even believe they are doing a God a favor by harming these hurting and broken people who are just trying to seek justice for the crimes committed against them.

These are so-called CHRISTIANS that perpetrate the secondary crimes of harassment, slander, public humiliation, stalking and attempted murder! Why? Answer: To SILENCE their voice of truth and protect their religious leaders from prosecution. Why? Because they are “clones” of the religious system they serve through indoctrination. What these victims are doing is speaking out about lies in teaching and/or crimes committed against them. If you are a clone of the system, your mind cannot accept these things as true and it rejects them. That’s the power of indoctrination. It keeps people blind, obedient and willing to do what you tell them to. This is why religious fundamentalism can be very dangerous to any society.

Let’s look at more examples of abuse. The following victims, to date, still have not received justice regarding the crimes perpetrated against them. By the way, there are many more than these from this girls home.  Even though many of them reported to police in Arcadia, La., the man responsible for raping and torturing them and allowing others on his staff to do the same, is still a free man.

Kimberly Ann Howard’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

Kim Holt’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

Simone’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

Donna Trout’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia, La.

New Bethany Book – MORE Girls Testimonies of Abuse

Those complicit in the crimes are still free as well. How can this be?  Answer: I don’t know. But I am sure you have some ideas floating around in your head at this point. Read the New Bethany Book (link above) and then try and figure out how this could possibly be so.  Could it be a huge cover-up? I have heard some victims say it is. Honestly, I don’t know.  These were children!  Needless to say, three decades later, they are STILL trying to get justice served and have Mack Ford arrested. The police have done nothing, to date, on this issue.

Religious abuse carries with it psychological trauma. Many of these victims, as a result of their trauma, suffer with flashbacks of the abuses, PTSD, panic attacks, physical illnesses, cancers, alcohol and drug addictions and mental illnesses. The list of maladies is large and those that are the ones that were to look out for these victims, failed them, shunned them, shamed them and silenced them. Many of these victims need professional help, but cannot afford it. The institutions that allowed these crimes against them to happen, have deserted them, leaving them without hope of help and healing.  It is time for religious institutions to be held accountable for the crimes they have hidden (the DARKNESS) and, for protecting the perpetrators from prosecution. It is also time for them to bear the financial load of helping them recover.

This DARKNESS has affected societies AROUND THE GLOBE with the implementation of civil laws in some countries that restrict and oppress women and children, protect rapists and pedophiles, and punish victims that dare to escape or speak out about the abuses. In some countries, it is perfectly legal to burn, torture, maim and kill women and children without recourse. Forcing victims of rape to marry their rapists, is another civil law some of these countries have. And some of these abusive laws can be seen spilling over into America’s laws. For instance, did you know that many states give visitation rights to a rapist if their victim gives birth to a child as a result of the rape?  This is no different than marrying the rapist! The psychological trauma and abuse is the same.  As a result, more abuse and torture for these poor women and girls.  How’s that for the influence of religion on civil law?

As a result of religious indoctrination, victim-blaming has reached pandemic proportions across the world where victims are concerned. Why?  Because men and women are not being held accountable for their physical and sexual crimes and murder if it is done in the name of “honor,” “religion,” and “God.” Protecting the religious mindset and keeping laws that propagate this kind of power and authority over defenseless human beings is ludicrous!! The perpetrators of the crimes you are about to see are RELIGIOUS people. They are people that LOVE GOD. They are SERVING God. They THINK they are doing GOD a favor.  Yet, they are committing atrocities in his name against women and children. Something just isn’t right with this picture!

Let’s look at some examples of this religious influence across the world:

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GRAPHIC PICTURES        GRAPHIC PICTURES          GRAPHIC PICTURES

muslim killing1muslim killing2muslim killing3muslim killing5muslim killing11muslim killing14muslim killing15muslim killing18 muslim killing19

 muslim killing20

But these abuses are a result of Islam, not Christianity, you may be saying to yourself. Have you already forgotten your history? Remember the Dark Ages, the Reformation, the Inquisition. It was CHRISTIANS that tortured and mutiliated and murdered over 90 million men, women and children.  Look around you and see the abusive religious influences and MINDSETS that are seeping into America. How long will it be before RELIGION influences our civil laws? If you don’t think it has, you are mistaken.  Women and children need MORE protection from these crimes against them in the religious setting. Religious Institutions that hide these crimes and harbor rapists and pedophiles need to be dealt with harshly. Tax-exempt status needs to be pulled and arrests should be made in order to deter the crimes and protect our precious women and children.

Religion CAN be good. It can help people. When it is good, it is very good. But religion CAN be bad. When it is bad, it is an EVIL of the worst kind toward women and children.

Thus, the reason for this blog. Educating the public on this hidden DARKNESS is vital. People must understand that it is real and that they may even be suffering from it. Victim’s voices must be heard. This platform is for victims to tell their experiences. They will not be harassed here and their voices will not be silenced. Next, victims need a place to go where they can deprogram. The articles written here are to help them with that deprogramming so they can better respond to life around them as well as overcoming the fear that religion has instilled in them through false doctrine and twisted theologies. Next, victims need resources to help escape the abuse and, in their healing process. This blog provides resources. Victims also need help financially so they can get the professional help and/or medicines necessary to keep them healthy. That’s why this blog has teamed up with Together We Heal to provide a special fund that will provide these victims with the help they need. But, as stated earlier, we cannot help them without your tax deductible donations! Their help is only as available as the funds we have to give. You have no idea how many victims we have had to turn down due to lack of funds! Not one church has stepped up to the plate to financially support a large and growing populous of abused and hurting people. They give to missionaries, but not the broken, bruised, victimized and poor that they are responsible for creating.

To learn more about this serious subject matter, please peruse my blog and read the articles that I have written on this subject. Become knowledgeable and become a supporter of this sect of society – women and children – that have been suffering silently for many countless decades. Also, become a financial supporter. It is only through the donations to Together We Heal and G.R.A.C.E., through my blog, that these victims can be helped and start the healing process.  They need help and they need support. It is time for their voices to be heard and laws to change to protect others from the abuses they have endured.

Tiffany Moon’s Story of Abuse, Kidnapping and Rape

image027My kidnapping was part of years of violent abuse, deception about my identity, a custody dispute, 10-day captivity, and escape across state lines.  When unable to stop it, the Catholic Diocese of San Diego and the School of the Madeleine chose to hide it.

My birth certificate was falsely marked with the name of the older husband of my 18-year-old mother.  My natural father had refused custody, and finally to pay child support when unable to control her.  I didn’t know his identity until I was an adult, but I did learn the word, “bastard” in conjunction with violence when I was a child.  Throughout my childhood, until I was nine, I was severely abused.  I lived in violent, drug-using homes in California and Oregon, where I was sexually abused by the man I was told was my father, given drugs and alcohol, threatened with guns, photographed, trafficked to men who came to our home, tied with rope, experienced my animals being tortured (hung, strangled, cooked alive), and watched my mother raped and beaten.  Sexual deviance was a hallmark of abuse in our home, with forced urination in my mother’s mouth being among the things I witnessed.  I was first raped by a young neighbor when I was seven, after he had stolen my cat.  But it was this boy’s knowledge of the use of captivity and animal abuse, and early knowledge of intimate secretions, that suggested his own abuse by the man who dominated my home:

Captivity was a common practice by my stepfather, who often separated, restrained, and confined me and my mother, while privacy in the bathroom was not permitted.  The most significant events of violence and captivity leading to my kidnapping occurred in August of 1980, when I was nine, in our Oregon home:  When divorce was imminent, and during a violent argument about custody of me, my mother escaped with me into my parents’ bedroom and locked the door.  My stepfather kicked the door in, punching the doorknob into the wall behind it, missing my face by inches, and then held and beat my mother in the bathroom.  My mother escaped our home after this, leaving me and my 2-year-old half-brother behind.  During the 10 days of her absence, I was held in the house, starved, kept awake, and forcefully raped in my room by a boarder who lived in our home and took LSD with my stepfather at night. On the night my mother returned, when my stepfather became violent and she attempted to walk out through the attached garage, he attempted to kill her.  With a drop latch at the kitchen doorway, he dropped the garage door on her head, and when she had fallen on her back, sat on her abdomen and applied pressure to her chest and neck with his hands to suffocate her.  I was watching from the kitchen, sick and starved, with my rapist standing next to me.  A neighbor called police on that night, but police came and went, regarding my mother as the problem, and leaving us to be abused again.

My mother did finally escape with me and my half-brother that August, returning to California and divorcing my stepfather, and then abandoning me with my grandmother in San Diego.  I was still starved, unable to eat, and had pneumonia when I arrived.  In my grandmother’s home, where I was left to care for my grandfather, a cigarette addict dying of lung cancer, I lived another nine years of severe emotional, physical and mental abuse and neglect, often by my visiting aunt, alcoholic mother, and her many boyfriends.  My grandmother was an employee of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego, and that September, she placed me in the School of the Madeleine, where I was bullied by students and abused by teachers.  School officials had been informed that my mother had custody of me, that my grandmother was my guardian, and that my stepfather was a violent man who did not have permission to see me. During my first month of school, on picture day, I was physically abused and threatened by my 4th-grade teacher, who took me alone into a hallway, pinned me into a corner with her arm to my chest, and told me what she would do if I ever lied to her. Shortly after this, in October, my stepfather, who had driven from Oregon to San Diego, entered the school campus through open gates, without notice.  He first went to the school office and asked permission to take me out of school.  When denied permission, he ran throughout the school, from room to room, yelling my name, with the school principal, a small nun, running behind him.  He forcibly removed me from a classroom, pushing the principal, who had stood in the doorway to block it, out of the way, knocking her into a bench and onto the ground, and dragged me, screaming my fear of falling, down the steep hill away from the school.  He first drove me to an unpopulated restaurant for a drink, then to a secluded canyon, where he raped me, and from a nearby parking lot, returned me to school in a taxi.  Approximately two hours passed from the time I was taken until I was returned.  When I arrived back at the school, there were no police; no one had called them.  The campus was quiet.  I walked back through open school gates, guessed where I should be, and returned to the classroom of the teacher who had threatened me about lying. She had been talking to the class; her words to them when I entered the room were, “It happens every day.”  She called my name as I entered, hugged me, while I stood still and unresponsive, and then took me to the school office.  I was sent home with my grandmother, who had been called away from her job at the Diocese.

Nothing was done, however.  No police report was taken.  No paramedics were called.  No counselors, nor Child Protective Services, were contacted.  I displayed obvious symptoms of abuse on the day of my kidnapping and for my remaining years at the school.  I had regular infections for which I carried cranberry juice to school, information I shared with students and teachers. I described pain to my gym teacher to be excused from class, something for which I was bullied by students.  I described feelings of depression to my choir teacher, who then frequently offered to drive me and other girls home alone after private lessons.  I also disclosed information to the Parish Monsignor in confession two years later, when I was mutilating myself, genitally and compulsively (a result of sexual trauma), who then gave me penance for my sin, but no action was taken.  For my remaining four years at the school, when I was hiding in closets during class, jumping every time a chair moved, sitting alone, dissociated and comatose, during lunches, and finally leaving visible suicide notes, seen by students, in classrooms, no action was taken.  In fact, the school gates remained open every day, despite the kidnapping, and the teacher who had threatened me about lying said to another teacher in reference to my behavior, “I think she just wants attention.”  The same teacher, during a sixth-grade sex-education discussion, told our class, “if a child is sexually abused, she will become schizophrenic.”  The crime was ignored, I was ignored, and I was shamed into silence.  An experienced felon walked free, and my wellbeing continued to decline.  I was still a child, still abused, and still incapable of reporting the crime myself.  I was afraid of my family; I was bullied, ignored, and abused at my school.  Had police been notified by the school or the Diocese when I was kidnapped, I might have been found before I was assaulted.  Had police and paramedics been present when I returned, I would have disclosed what had happened to me, there would have been evidence, and my stepfather could have been convicted.  Had CPS been contacted at any time, I would have explained the kidnapping and abuse, and perhaps been removed from my family and the school.  I might have received help, treatment.  My life today might have been much different if the school and the Diocese had not deliberately chosen not to act.

The years of these events were threateningly normalized by the abusive adults around me while I was living them, and I adapted into the shell of a person I had to be in order to survive.  I have only recently begun to understand exactly how these events created the traumatized, debilitated adult I am, the adult who continued to attract and tolerate abusers, and who has required a severely and increasingly restricted work, home and social life.  But today, despite the fact that my stepfather has confessed to the kidnapping on an audio recording, very little legal action is possible without the support of law enforcement. And while I live with severe disabilities, including chronic C-PTSD and a major depressive disorder, psychological injuries caused by the trauma, something that prevents me from functioning normally, in a way that meets my intellectual potential and potential for sufficient income and community giving, the school and the Diocese have refused to accept responsibility for the tremendous, lifelong damage they caused, also making treatment impossible without compensation.  Today, there is little recourse for these events, and no help available for me.

ABDUCTION madeleine descanso officer finney allowing blocking of my protest statement and me 25 april 2013 turned

Officer Finney allowing blocking of my protest statement and me on 25 April 2013.

SB 131 madeleine descanso front

Protest Statement

In San Diego, CA, my own recent attempts at seeking legal justice and help for the trauma-related symptoms I finally understood, resulted in a death threat, stalking, the questionable suicide of my mother, abuse by police and sheriffs, abuse and denial of service by my local FBI, neglect and abuse by my local DA, callousness and abuse by attorneys, a medical misdiagnosis, permanently damaging medical maltreatment, illegal denial of county health-care services, illegal denial of aid by Social Security, the CalFresh program, and all other social services, denial of service by support organizations, denial of disability by my private insurance carrier, the loss of my small business, the loss of my suburban home, and the depletion of my resources, finally resulting in seven months of homelessness, damaging separation from my physical and psychiatric service animals (one of whom died), and over a year of chronic stress. Ultimately, my attempts at seeking support for the results of the crime that had been ignored in the past were not only ignored in the present, but resulted in ultimate loss, worsening my disability and financial state with abusive and criminal responses. Today, I won’t survive without help.

Today, I’m trying to rebuild, and I’m pursuing legal justice, compensation, and treatment.  After learning that the way I have been treated is very common, and being forced to compile resources alone, I’m also applying my knowledge and skills to support groups filled with amazing abduction and kidnapping survivors, from whom I learn more every day.  And I am sharing my story, because what my teacher said that day is true:  Abduction does happen every day.  The problem is that abduction incidents sound so outlandish to those who are unaware of or simply afraid to hear them, that survivors are left feeling alone, betrayed, and frustrated, with a profound and unique trauma.  Many of us do not survive, not because we did not live through the crime, but because we were denied help after it.  Far from receiving the support and treatment we so desperately need, most abduction and kidnapping survivors are just as profoundly mistreated after the crime.  Today, I’m seeking help, and I hope that, by sharing my story and providing services for other survivors of abduction and kidnapping, while seeking help for myself, I can also promote public awareness about a painful but common crime, and provide the support that I didn’t receive, the support that would have made all the difference.

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ACTION ALERT!  ABDUCTION SB 131 Poster Governor Choose Sign 2

On 12 October, 2013, CA Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 131, the Child Victims Act, the bill that would have allowed me to sue the Catholic Diocese of San Diego for my kidnapping and assault, and to receive justice, compensation, and treatment for the crimes committed against me by the School of the Madeleine. With his veto, Brown chose to protect the school, the Diocese, and my rapist, rather than to protect me, their victim.  He chose to protect powerful institutions that harbor rapists, rather than to protect today’s children and compensate yesterday’s victims.  Please read my statement, and demand Governor Brown’s resignation:

www.facebook.com/notes/tiffany-moon-foundation-for-abduction-recovery/ca-governor-brown-vetos-sb-131-the-child-victims-act/535316056545103

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From the Author: Tiffany currently operates The Tiffany Moon Foundation for Abduction Recovery. This foundation helps in fighting for justice for her kidnapping and abuse at a religious school (and religious abuse in the family) and, offers support to all kidnapping survivors. For more information on her foundation, or to help support the foundation through donations, please visit her website at http://tiffanymoonfoundation.org/index.htm.

New Tribes Mission (NTM) Abuse and Fanda

While most of us at Fanda were abused in some form, what we find especially damaging is the abuse of leadership who chose not to protect us at the time in spite of documented evidence and, who have still not reported the crimes to authorities nor sought justice for us today, 20 years later. – Victim of Abuse

This statement by a victim of abuse at a religious boarding school, reveals a glaring reality about victims of childhood sexual assault. Some victims of abuse are still no closer to finding vindication and restitution for the crimes perpetrated against them, even after years of effort to do so. As a result, healing from the psychosexual abuse is not taking place and victims are struggling under the emotional load.

This statement is a typical one heard by sexual assault victims everywhere that have been fighting to get their respective religious institutions to prosecute their abusers; many of which they KNEW about. The glaring reality, once again, is that because of the stall tactics and/or inaction on the part of the religious institutions in turning in abusers to authorities, many victims may consider giving up the fight. That’s right. They might consider giving up!  But why would they do this?  Many of them may be tired of the battle of trying to be heard and, the fight to get their abusers prosecuted.  While religious institutions may opt to offer therapy and some compensation to victims of abuse that make it into the public eye through media news, many other victims of abuse within the same organization will be ignored and receive no aid or help; nor will they see their abusers turned in to authorities for prosecution.  Monetary compensation and aid is just one aspect of the kind of help victims of Religious Abuse and sexual exploitation and assault need in order to recover and heal; and, many religious institutions are ignoring this fact.  Many boarding schools are guilty of crimes against women and children. Many churches are guilty of crimes against women and children. Many religiously run camps and behavior modification facilities are guilty of crimes against women and children.  While some religious organizations have paid for therapy and settled with some of the victims of abuse, this “compensation and help” is small in comparison to the number of victims affected.  Paying for therapy for awhile does not help the victims long term. It does not cover long term medical treatment and medications needed by victims to control mental illnesses and physical problems that many of these victims may suffer from as a result of the abuse and trauma they suffered. When I talk about restitution and vindication for victims of abuse, here is what I mean:

  • The rapists and pedophiles MUST be turned in to authorities for prosecution by the religious organization that allowed the crimes to occur and/or hid them. THIS IS MANDATORY.
  • Those that were complicit in the crimes through knowledge of them and did nothing to stop them, nor turned in the abusers, need turned in to the authorities for prosecution.
  • Monetary compensation should be for as long as the victim needs medical assistance and medications of any kind in their recovery. Lump sum compensation should be given to EVERY SINGLE VICTIM TO HELP THEM TO LIVE. MANY of them can’t hold jobs due to the trauma and after affects of what they suffered! Many suffer from PTSD.
  • Public admission of the crimes against victims needs to be made in EVERY INSTANCE along with publishing the names of those who committed the crimes.
  • Religious Institutions and their followers need to rally their support around the victims and not the abusers instead of shaming, blaming and shunning them! PERIOD.

These are the types of things that religious institutions are NOT doing. They are using a “band-aid” approach with victims, only helping those that get media involved or file class action law-suits. Most religious organizations do not want their dirty laundry aired to the public, so they will settle with some victims instead. But what about those that have been silenced, blamed, shunned, shamed and ignored?  They are struggling in frustration and ready to give up the fight. These are the ones that I am referring to that are ready to quit!

What many victims of abuse may not realize is that Religious Institutions have mastered the tactic of “stalling” and “manipulating” victims. They KNOW what they are doing. Every step of the way they ignore victims, give them lip service, frustrate, malign and antagonize victims in order to get them to back off. The longer the church/organization can draw the process out, the easier it becomes for victims to call it quits. The harder and more humiliating the organization can make it for victims, the easier it becomes for victims to call it quits. The church or religious institution wins and, continues to abuse and manipulate others the same way.  The church/religious organization knows these tactics work because they have been using them for centuries to silence and frustrate victims of abuse. So, many are weary and ready to move on with their lives.  They are considering removing their voices from the foray. Many are considering allowing the victory to go to the abusive organization.

What does this mean for those victims that decide to call it quits?  What this means is that they will be helping these abusers to move on to new victims. Through their silence and complacency, they now are complicit in the future crimes of these rapists, pedophiles and emotional and spiritual abusers!  Silence always leads to more abuse when it comes to any abuse. Giving up can never be an option for these victims of Religious Abuse. There is just too much at stake to ever consider calling it quits.

Sexual exploitation of women and children in abusive religious institutions is a very difficult subject matter to deal with. Exposing it is an even harder task. Churches and other religious institutions have mastered the art of silencing, bullying, building loyalty, stalling and, walking away from victims without ever helping them and providing restitution and vindication for the crimes perpetrated against them.

One of the main reasons for this lack of prosecution of rapists is Statute of Limitations (SOL) laws here in the U.S. that prevent victims of sexual assault from prosecuting their rapists after a certain number of years has passed. It can take decades for a victim to muster up the courage to speak out! Another reason is that many of the crimes are perpetrated in foreign countries where our laws do not apply. Many rapists come back from the mission field to live free lives here in the U.S., never spending one single day in jail for their crimes. Prosecution must be sought in the country where the crime occurs in order for victims to stop their abusers from hurting others. Mission organizations are not reporting the crimes and predators are going free. The following video is one of the perpetrators admitting to his abuses and living freely here in the U.S.

Video: Leslie Emory admits to molesting girls in the Philipines

Another issue is that some of the rapists are still over seas and cannot be prosecuted because of this. Despite these frustrations, victims of sexual assault must forge ahead, paving the way for changes in law that will protect women and children in religiously run institutions. Is this an easy endeavor? NO, it is NOT! It takes years to affect change. It takes years to get all the cogs out of the wheels of religiously run institutions that are in place to specifically protect the institution from accountability to victims! Can it be done? Absolutely Yes…if victims will be persistent and join their voices together will all the thousands out there that have suffered the same fate as them. There truly is POWER in numbers.

WHY DOES IT TAKE DECADES TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT SEXUAL ABUSE?

What the general populous has a difficult time understanding is why victims of childhood sexual assault wait for decades before speaking out. They do not understand that sexual assault brings with it psychological and emotional trauma, guilt, fear, shame and a host of other emotional issues that each victim has to battle on a daily basis. Nor does the populous understand that for those victims within religious institutions, Spiritual Abuse goes hand in hand with the Sexual Abuse and is one of the reasons for their long-term silence. So, What Exactly is Spiritual Abuse? It is only ONE facet of Religious Abuse. Before you move forward, it is vital to understand what this is. This article I wrote – Religious Abuse – What Exactly Is It? – will help readers to understand all facets of this type of abuse. All cases of sexual exploitation of women and children in the religious setting involve Spiritual Abuse.

One FACET of RELIGIOUS ABUSE is Spiritual Abuse

SPIRITUAL ABUSE: This type of abuse, like emotional abuse, leaves no physical marks. However, its trauma is profound in the life of the one being victimized by it. In this type of abuse, God’s Name is used to JUSTIFY all abuse inflicted. Scripture (the Bible) is also used as a tool to force victims into submission to the dogmas, beliefs and rules of the religious sect. God’s Name and Scripture (Bible) are the two main “weapons of choice” employed by abusive religious leaders to extract money, prestige, power, personal gain, and, to sexually exploit women and children within their congregations; thus gaining control in all aspects of their followers lives. All messages taught and preached have one agenda in mind – to control each individual within the congregation. Using deceptively packaged sermons laced with “underlying meanings,” religious leaders attempt to stifle creative thought, independent thinking and, instill new thought patterns and behaviors into their flock (Behavior Modification). These new thought patterns and attitudes become the norm by which everyone is judged. Those who adopt the same thought patterns and beliefs as the Leadership, are “right with God.” Those that do not, “are not right with God” and, are in jeopardy of being attacked, shunned and character assassinated.

Using Scripture to modify behavior is paramount in controlling an individual and, instilling a fear of further punishment from God if they tell anyone about the abuse they have endured or witnessed.

Spiritual Abuse can be inflicted without the knowledge of the victim. When it does occur, it leaves its victims in shock, hurting, confused and, yes, traumatized. They know that they have been hurt, but justify the abuse because they don’t know that it IS abuse. They think within themselves that the “preacher” is really trying to look out for their best interests and accept the abuse as “God sent” in order to bring them back to the “right path.” They may not even realize that it is, in fact, abuse. For example: The sect I came out of used the pulpit as a whipping post to attack congregants publicly who did not conform to the rules and standards of the church and its leaders (public humiliation). They used the pulpit to attack publicly, those that questioned the pastor’s authority, disagreed with the pastor, or exposed abuses in the church. They used God and Scripture to support inflicting this emotional attack. Therefore the trauma is two-fold – emotional and spiritual. The twisting of scripture to suit leadership’s agendas and long-term goals is professionally done in order to reap personal gain. Those that do not question what is being taught, follow blindly whatever leadership wants done, even if it means inflicting more emotional trauma to the same victim (secondary abuse).

Spiritual Abuse is the most deadly of all abuses because those subjected to it, are left seeing God as an abusive entity that lacks love, compassion and acceptance. He is ever ready at any moment to hurt and destroy anyone that does not conform to the religious dogmas and standards of the “church system” they are a part of. He is seen as someone that is angry all the time and ready to destroy at the slightest infraction. Because of this, many followers will adopt that very attitude in dealing with those that fall short of perfection in keeping all the religious rules and precepts. Some will adopt that very attitude with their children, leading to the emotional and physical abuse of the child.

As a result of Spiritual Abuse, many victims fear speaking out because they have been taught that GOD will punish them further, or their children, or their families, if they dare to speak out against “God’s Man.” It can take many years of therapy for a victim of this kind of abuse to overcome their fears and speak out!

Spiritual Abuse is also the number one reason that multitudes of people are turning their backs on God, the Bible, the Church and religion. Religion and Scripture to the Spiritually Abused, is TOXIC. For many, it creates anxiety, fears, mental illnesses and physical illnesses in those subjected to it. Just as the other abuses traumatize and have ill affects long term, so does this type of abuse.” – Cynthia McClaskey, Author and Religious Abuse Survivor.

These emotional issues are traumatizing. They are debilitating. They are huge hurdles that each victim either crumbles under the weight of, or, finds a way to conquer and overcome. The old adage, “Time heals all wounds” is partly true. While it does not heal all wounds, it is necessary for time to pass  in order for wounded and broken people to find the strength and courage to overcome their fears and to speak out. Those that break under the weight of the trauma use alcohol and drugs to help numb the pain, while others, commit suicide. But, those who manage to jump the hurdles and find the courage to speak out need to have their voices heard AND, need to be protected from as much secondary abuse as possible while they speak out.

Here’s why: Once a victim of sexual assault does find their voice, then the even bigger battles begin. Those who do step forward publicly become the targets of religious leaders and their religious followers. They are character assassinated, publicly humiliated and further victimized psychologically and emotionally through secondary abuse. Telling one’s story also triggers and sets in motion a “re-living” of the events that initially caused the trauma. All the hurt, shame, imposed guilt, fear and turmoil come flooding back to the surface. No one can truly understand how difficult it is for just one single victim to tell or write their story of abuse! This is why it is so very important to protect victims emotionally that do step out and tell about their abuse. This is why it is important to rally around victims of this type of religious abuse and succor them and encourage them. That is why it is vital for survivors of Religious Abuse to stick together for the support they need!  For many, all they are looking for is, “I believe you. Let’s see what we can do to help you.” They have been called liars by the churches they were a part of, liars by their families, liars by their closest friends; all of which, supported the abuser instead of them. This is what makes Religious Abuse hidden underneath the mantle of religious institutions the worst crimes against humanity – the victims are ignored, shoved aside, blamed and emotionally assassinated. It is time for all of this to change.

Today, I would like to talk about a group of Religious Abuse victims that are fighting this battle of exposing the abuses that were perpetrated by those whom they were supposed to be able to trust. Abuses that encompass all facets of RELIGIOUS ABUSE. Once again, I highly recommend that everyone read my article entitled, “RELIGIOUS ABUSE- What Exactly is it?” before moving forward in this article. Until you understand what it is, you will never understand a victim’s emotional trauma.

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NEW TRIBES MISSION (NTM), FANDA, and OTHER NTM BOARDING SCHOOLS

Who is New Tribes Mission? New Tribes Mission was founded in 1942. Today, New Tribes Mission (NTM) is an international, theologically evangelical Christian mission organization based in Sanford, Florida, United States. NTM has approximately 3,300 missionaries in more than 20 nations.

The organization sends missionaries from local churches around the world to Latin America, West Africa, Southeast Asia and the Arctic. Countries include Brazil, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Colombia, Greenland, Guinea, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, Thailand and formerly Venezuela [Wikipedia].

NTM also has boarding schools for missionary kids in these various places. Fanda is one of the boarding schools of NTM where child sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, emotional and spiritual abuse took place. In 2010, G.R.A.C.E.(Godly Response To Abuse In The Christian Environment), an organization dedicated to helping Christian organizations deal with abuse, documented reports of sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual abuse at the Fanda boarding school operated by NTM for the children of NTM workers in the country of Senegal during the 1980s and 1990s. You may read and download this report HERE.

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Recently, I was contacted by one of the victims of abuse from this mission and asked if I would be willing to share their story about NTM and Fanda on my blog. I agreed because they are not the only religiously run boarding school that is guilty of crimes against children. Please read the articles on my blog regarding New Bethany Home for Girls in Arcadia, La. Countless numbers of boys and girls were sexually assaulted, physically, emotionally and spiritually abused; many were tortured in the New Bethany Homes for boys and girls.

Donna Trout’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

Kimberly Ann Howard’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

New Bethany Home for Girls – Kim Holt’s Story

Simone’s Story – New Bethany Homes For Girls, Arcadia LA

These victims of New Bethany have been fighting for years to get the abuses recognized and the perpetrators arrested. They have hit roadblocks at every turn. Today, however, they have broken through some of the strongholds and are finally making some strides! They NEVER gave up the fight and it is beginning to pay off for them.

First of all, I want to mention the tremendous efforts of these victims of Fanda in organizing their evidence for the world to see. Just as the New Bethany victims have also been laboring long and hard for years to bring prosecution to those involved in their abuses, so have these victims of Fanda.  As a result of their efforts, an investigation has already been conducted by G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response To Abuse In The Christian Environment) that has vindicated them and supported their abuse claims.

Stunning 68 page report on crimes at overseas mission school is released
SNAP Network, David Clohessy, Barbara Dorris, Martha Jean Lorenzo
[Press release]

Grace report brings tears to many
Orlando Sentinel, Amy L. Edwards
[article]

What is missing from all of this is NTM’s willingness to provide restitution to victims who were abused in their other boarding schools and to turn in the perpetrators to the authorities where the crimes occurred, for prosecution. While there have been some arrests due to victim efforts, these victims have not been dealt with properly nor, received proper restitution (as mentioned above) from the mission for the damages done to them. Many of the rapists and pedophiles are still free today because the mission let them go. It is time for these victims of abuse from NTM to receive the restitution and vindication they deserve (as listed above) and, the populous needs to be warned about the abuses that lurk underneath this institution’s religious mantle. Secondly, I want to give links to the “proof documentation” and the news articles regarding the abuses. Take some time to read through these as they will probably make you mad enough to want to jump in and help these victims. They NEED the SUPPORT!

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For PROOF Documentation click here: PROOF
Fanda Eagles Website containing media links below: MEDIA
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Thank you for organizing all this material and bringing it up to date. Including some correspondence that happened as this blog was launched. It is a very sad commentary on how NTM handled and still handles situations. In 4 years, we have not seen evidence of anything “new” on their part. The cover-up goes deeper. For instance, today as the news of the arrest of Scott Kennell came out, the NTM spokesperson states that his life does NOT have to measure up to his message. His personal life can be looked at separately from his “work’ for NTM. Unbelievable! I am controlling my response, as I am VERY disgusted and VERY angry!” – Angry Victim, June 5, 2013.

Victims of abuse within the religious system are not being handled properly by the very institutions that allowed the abuses to occur. They are receiving “lip service,” but no definitive action!  The abusers are being upheld and supported by the religious institutions! These religious institutions that covered up the abuses and hide the perpetrators and/or moved them to other places, are directly responsible for all future abuses, secondary traumas inflicted to victims and, future victims of these rapists and pedophiles. There is absolutely no EXCUSE for the way these victims have been handled. This institution needs to be held ACCOUNTABLE by state and local governments and law enforcement for the crimes they have allowed to be perpetrated against women and children while on their watch.

Because sexual exploitation of women and children is rampant within the religious systems of the world, it is imperative that victims everywhere speak out. All the numbers reported by religious institutions regarding abuse are inaccurate because religious institutions have been working very hard at hiding the abuses and perpetrators for not just decades, but centuries! The reality is that sexual exploitation of women and children is a global problem and, silencing victims of these abuses only allows for the abuses to continue. Victims everywhere need to find there courage to tell their stories. It is through the telling of their stories that they will realize that they do have the power to affect change — changes in law that affect the way religious institutions operate, changes in law that will prevent abuses from being hidden, changes in law that will protect women and children from the abuses.

The time is now to start affecting this change. The time is now to tell your story. The platform for doing so is now available for Religious Abuse Survivors of all denominations and nationalities. If you are interested in entering the foray with your voice, contact me through my blog: www.religionscell.wordpress.com. You can make a difference!

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STORIES OF ABUSE:

Colin’s Story of Abuse and New Tribes Mission

Kerry Lou’s Story of Abuse and New Tribes Mission

Rape, Incest and Sexual Abuse

This article is a prime example of a male-dominated religious environment. Whenever there is inequality of the sexes, rape, incest and sexual abuse are rampant. Religious denominations, no matter the sect, should not have autonomy from the law like this Mennonite community has. The law needs to intervene to protect the women and young girls from this abuse. Those that have been raped, have been denied counseling AND have not been protected from further abuse.

PERPETRATORS WERE CAUGHT, BUT THE CRIMES CONTINUE

By Jean Friedman-Rudovsky

Click the following link to read the original Article:

http://www.vice.com/read/the-ghost-rapes-of-bolivia-000300-v20n8?Contentpage=-1%3Futm_source%3Dvicefbus

mennonite

All photos by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky. Noah Friedman-Rudovsky also contributed reporting to this article.

For a while, the residents of Manitoba Colony thought demons were raping the town’s women. There was no other explanation. No way of explaining how a woman could wake up with blood and semen stains smeared across her sheets and no memory of the previous night. No way of explaining how another went to sleep clothed, only to wake up naked and covered by dirty fingerprints all over her body. No way to understand how another could dream of a man forcing himself onto her in a field—and then wake up the next morning with grass in her hair.

For Sara Guenter, the mystery was the rope. She would sometimes wake up in her bed with small pieces of it tied tightly to her wrists or ankles, the skin beneath an aching blue. Earlier this year, I visited Sara at her home, simple concrete painted to look like brick, in Manitoba Colony, Bolivia. Mennonites are similar to the Amish in their rejection of modernity and technology, and Manitoba Colony, like all ultraconservative Mennonite communities, is a collective attempt to retreat as far as possible from the nonbelieving world. A slight breeze of soy and sorghum came off the nearby fields as Sara told me how, in addition to the eerie rope, on those mornings after she’d been raped she would also wake to stained sheets, thunderous headaches, and paralyzing lethargy.

Her two daughters, 17 and 18 years old, squatted silently along a wall behind her and shot me fierce blue-eyed stares. The evil had penetrated the household, Sara said. Five years ago, her daughters also began waking up with dirty sheets and complaints of pain “down below.”

The family tried locking the door; some nights, Sara did everything she could to keep herself awake. On a few occasions, a loyal Bolivian worker from the neighboring city of Santa Cruz would stay the night to stand guard. But inevitably, when their one-story home—set back and isolated from the dirt road—was not being watched, the rapes continued. (Manitobans aren’t connected to the power grid, so at night the community is submerged in total darkness.) “It happened so many times, I lost count,” Sara said in her native Low German, the only language she speaks, like most women in the community.

mennonite2

Mennonite children attend school in Manitoba Colony, Bolivia.

In the beginning, the family had no idea that they weren’t the only ones being attacked, and so they kept it to themselves. Then Sara started telling her sisters. When rumors spread, “no one believed her,” said Peter Fehr, Sara’s neighbor at the time of the incidents. “We thought she was making it up to hide an affair.” The family’s pleas for help to the council of church ministers, the group of men who govern the 2,500-member colony, were fruitless—even as the tales multiplied. Throughout the community, people were waking to the same telltale morning signs: ripped pajamas, blood and semen on the bed, head-thumping stupor. Some women remembered brief moments of terror: for an instant they would wake to a man or men on top of them but couldn’t summon the strength to yell or fight back. Then, fade to black.

Some called it “wild female imagination.” Others said it was a plague from God. “We only knew that something strange was happening in the night,” Abraham Wall Enns, Manitoba Colony’s civic leader at the time, said. “But we didn’t know who was doing it, so how could we stop it?”

No one knew what to do, and so no one did anything at all. After a while, Sara just accepted those nights as a horrific fact of life. On the following mornings, her family would rise despite the head pain, strip the beds, and get on with their days.

Then, one night in June 2009, two men were caught trying to enter a neighbor’s home. The two ratted out a few friends and, falling like a house of cards, a group of nine Manitoba men, ages 19 to 43, eventually confessed that they had been raping Colony families since 2005. To incapacitate their victims and any possible witnesses, the men used a spray created by a veterinarian from a neighboring Mennonite community that he had adapted from a chemical used to anesthetize cows. According to their initial confessions (which they later recanted), the rapists admitted to—sometimes in groups, sometimes alone—hiding outside bedroom windows at night, spraying the substance through the screens to drug entire families, and then crawling inside.

But it wasn’t until their trial, which took place almost two years later, in 2011, that the full scope of their crimes came to light. The transcripts read like a horror movie script: Victims ranged in age from three to 65 (the youngest had a broken hymen, purportedly from finger penetration). The girls and women were married, single, residents, visitors, the mentally infirm. Though it’s never discussed and was not part of the legal case, residents privately told me that men and boys were raped, too.

In August 2011, the veterinarian who’d supplied the anesthetic spray was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and the rapists were each sentenced to 25 years (five years shy of Bolivia’s maximum penalty). Officially, there were 130 victims—at least one person from more than half of all Manitoba Colony households. But not all those raped were included in the legal case, and it’s believed the true number of victims is much, much higher.

In the wake of the crimes, women were not offered therapy or counseling. There was little attempt to dig deeper into the incidents beyond the confessions. And in the years since the men were nabbed, there has never been a colony-wide discussion about the events. Rather, a code of silence descended following the guilty verdict.

“That’s all behind us now,” Civic Leader Wall told me on my recent trip there. “We’d rather forget than have it be at the forefront of our minds.” Aside from interactions with the occasional visiting journalist, no one talks about it anymore.

But over the course of a nine-month investigation, including an 11-day stay in Manitoba, I discovered that the crimes are far from over. In addition to lingering psychological trauma, there’s evidence of widespread and ongoing sexual abuse, including rampant molestation and incest. There’s also evidence that—despite the fact that the initial perpetrators are in jail—the rapes by drugging continue to happen.

The demons, it turns out, are still out there.

Eight Mennonite men are serving sentences in prison for the rapes of more than 130 women in Manitoba Colony. One of the alleged rapists escaped and now resides in Paraguay.

Eight Mennonite men are serving sentences in prison for the rapes of more than 130 women in Manitoba Colony. One of the alleged rapists escaped and now resides in Paraguay.

At first glance, life for Manitoba’s residents seems an idyllic existence, enviable by new-age off-the-gridders: families live off the land, solar panels light homes, windmills power potable water wells. When one family suffers a death, the rest take turns cooking meals for the grieving. The richer families subsidize schoolhouse maintenance and teachers’ salaries. Mornings begin with homemade bread, marmalade, and milk still warm from the cows outside. At dusk, children play tag in the yard as their parents sway in rockers and watch the sunset.

Not all Mennonites live in sheltered worlds. There are 1.7 million of them in 83 different countries. From community to community, their relationships to the modern world vary considerably. Some eschew modernity entirely; others live in insular worlds but allow cars, TVs, cell phones, and varied dress. Many live among, and are virtually indistinguishable from, the rest of society.

The religion was formed as an offshoot of the Protestant Reformation in 1520s Europe, by a Catholic priest named Menno Simons. Church leaders lashed out against Simons’s encouragement of adult baptism, pacifism, and his belief that only by leading a simple life could one get to heaven. Threatened by the new doctrine, the Protestant and Catholic churches began persecuting his followers throughout Central and Western Europe. Most Mennonites—as Simons’s followers came to be known—refused to fight because of their vow of nonviolence, and so they fled to Russia where they were given settlements to live unbothered by the rest of society.

But by the 1870s, persecution began in Russia, too, so the group next sought refuge in Canada, welcomed by a government in need of pioneer settlers. On arrival, many Mennonites began adopting modern dress, language, and other aspects of contemporary life. A small group, however, continued to believe that they would only be allowed into heaven if they lived in the ways of their forefathers, and they were appalled to see their fellow followers so easily seduced by the new world. This group, known as the “Old Colonists,” abandoned Canada in the 1920s, in part because the government demanded school lessons be taught in English, and hinted at standardizing a country-wide curriculum. (Even today, Old Colony schooling is taught in German, is strictly Bible-based, and ends at 13 for boys and 12 for girls.)

The Old Colonists migrated to Paraguay and Mexico, where there was ample farmland, little technology, and most importantly, promises by the respective national governments to let them live as they wished. But in the 1960s, when Mexico introduced its own educational reform that threatened to limit Mennonite autonomy, another migration began. Old Colonies subsequently sprouted up in more remote parts of the Americas, with a heavy concentration in Bolivia and Belize.

Today, there are about 350,000 Old Colonists worldwide, and Bolivia is home to more than 60,000 of them. Manitoba Colony, which was formed in 1991, looks like a relic of the old world dropped in the middle of the new: a pale-skinned, blue-eyed island of order amid the sea of chaos that is South America’s most impoverished and indigenous country. The colony thrives economically off its members’ supreme work ethic, ample fertile fields, and collective milk factory.

Manitoba has emerged as the ultimate safe haven for Old Colony true believers. Other colonies in Bolivia have loosened their codes, but Manitobans fervently reject cars, and all of their tractors have steel tires, as owning any mechanized vehicle with rubber tires is seen as a cardinal sin because it enables easy contact with the outside world. Men are forbidden from growing facial hair and don denim overalls except in church, where they wear slacks. Girls and women wear identically tied intricate braids, and you’d be hard pressed to find a dress with a length or sleeve that varies more than a few millimeters from the preordained design. For Manitoba residents, these aren’t arbitrary rules: they form the one path to salvation and colonists obey because, they believe, their souls depend on it.

As all Old Colonists desire, Manitoba has been left to its own devices. Except in the case of murder, the Bolivian government does not obligate community leaders to report any crime. Police have virtually no jurisdiction inside the community, nor do state or municipal authorities. The colonists maintain law and order through a de facto government of nine ministers and a ruling bishop, all of whom are elected for life. Beyond being mandated by the Bolivian government to ensure that all residents have a state identity card, Manitoba functions almost as its own sovereign nation.

Abraham Wall Enns (center) with his family. Abraham was the chief civic leader of Manitoba Colony, Bolivia, during the time of the rapes.

Abraham Wall Enns (center) with his family. Abraham was the chief civic leader of Manitoba Colony, Bolivia, during the time of the rapes.

I covered the Manitoba rape trial in 2011 for Time. Haunted ever since my first visits to the Colony, I wanted to know how the victims were faring. I also wondered if the heinous crimes perpetrated on its residents were an anomaly, or if they had exposed deeper cracks in the community. Is it possible that the insular world of the Old Colonies, rather than fostering peaceful coexistence unmoored by the trappings of modern society, is perhaps fomenting its own demise? I was compelled to go back and find out.

I arrived late on a moonlit Friday night in January. I was greeted by the warm smiles of Abraham and Margarita Wall Enns who were standing on the porch of their small home, set back from the road by a manicured and tree-lined driveway. Though notoriously reclusive, Old Colonists are kind to outsiders who don’t seem to threaten their way of life, and that’s how I’d arrived there: I had met Abraham, a freckled, six-foot-tall leader in the community, in 2011, and he said that I should stay with him and his family if I ever came back. Now I was here, hoping to see Old Colony life up close while interviewing residents about the rapes and their aftermath.

Inside the spotless house, Margarita showed me to my bedroom, next to the two other rooms in which her nine children were already sleeping. “We had this installed for security,” she said, grabbing a three-inch-thick steel door at the bottom of the stairs. There had apparently been some robberies (blamed on Bolivians) recently. “Sleep well,” she told me before bolting shut the door that separated me and her family from the rest of the world.

The next morning, I rose before dawn with the rest of the household. On any given day, the two eldest daughters—Liz, 22, and Gertrude, 18—spend the majority of their time washing dishes and clothes, preparing meals, milking the cows, and keeping a spotless home. I did my best not to screw up as I helped with the chores. I was exhausted by lunchtime.

Housework is outside the domain of Abraham and the six Wall boys; it’s possible they’ll go through their entire lives without ever clearing their own plates. They work the fields, but since this was the farming off-season, the older ones assembled tractor equipment their father imports from China, while the youngest pair climbed the barn posts and played with pet parakeets. Abraham allows the boys to kick around a soccer ball and practice Spanish by reading the occasional newspaper delivered weekly from Santa Cruz; however, any other organized activity, be it competitive sport, dance, or music, could jeopardize their eternal salvation and is strictly forbidden.

The Walls told me that luckily no one within their family fell victim to the rapists, but like everyone else in the community they knew all about it. One day, Liz agreed to accompany me on my interviews with rape victims in the community. A curious and quick young woman who learned Spanish from the family’s Bolivian cook, she was happy for an excuse to get out of the house and socialize.

We set out in a horse-drawn buggy along dirt roads. During the ride, Liz told me about her memories during the time of the scandal. As far as she knows, the perpetrators never entered her home. When I asked her if she was ever scared, she said no. “I didn’t believe it,” she told me. “So I only got scared once they confessed. Then it became real.”

When I asked Liz whether she thought the rapes could have been stopped earlier if these women had been taken seriously, she just wrinkled her eyebrows. Hadn’t the Colony given the rapists liberty to attack for four years, in part, because people had blamed the crimes on “wild female imagination”? She didn’t reply, but seemed lost in thought as she steered us along the dirt road.

We pulled into the pebbled courtyard of a large house, and I went inside for an interview while Liz waited outside in the buggy. In a dark living room, I spoke with Helena Martens, a middle-aged mother of 11 children, and her husband. She sat on a couch and they kept the window shades drawn as we talked about what had happened to her nearly five years ago.

Sometime in 2008, Helena told me, she had heard a hissing sound as she settled into bed. She smelled a strange odor too, but after her husband made sure the gas canister in the kitchen wasn’t leaking, they fell asleep. She vividly recalls waking up in the middle of the night to “a man on top of me and others in the room, but I couldn’t raise my arms in defense.” She quickly slipped back into a dead sleep and then the next morning her head throbbed and her sheets were soiled.

The rapists attacked her several more times over the next few years. Helena suffered from various medical complications during this period, including an operation related to her uterus. (Sex and reproductive health is such a taboo for conservative Mennonites that most women are never taught the correct names for intimate body parts, which inhibited certain descriptions of what took place during the attacks and in their aftermath.) One morning she woke in such pain that “I thought I was going to die,” she said.

Helena, like the other rape victims in Manitoba, was never offered the chance to speak with a professional therapist, even though she said she would if given the opportunity. “Why would they need counseling if they weren’t even awake when it happened?” Manitoba Colony Bishop Johan Neurdorf, the community’s highest authority, had told a visitor back in 2009 after the perpetrators were caught.

Other victims I interviewed—those who awoke during the rapes, as well as those with no memory of the night—said that they would also have liked to speak with a therapist about their experiences but that doing so would be nearly impossible because there are no Low German-speaking sexual-trauma recovery experts in Bolivia.

All of the women I spoke with were unaware that the greater Mennonite world, particularly progressive groups in Canada and the US, had offered to send Low German counselors to Manitoba. Of course, this meant that they also had no clue that it was the men in the colony who had rejected these offers. After centuries of tension with their less-traditional brethren, Old Colonist leadership regularly block any attempts at direct contact with their members initiated by these groups. They saw the offer for psychological support from afar as yet another thinly veiled attempt to encourage the abandonment of their old ways.

The leadership’s refusal likely had other underlying reasons, too, such as not wanting these women’s emotional trauma to stir things up or draw too much attention to the community. I had already been told that a woman’s role in an Old Colony was to obey and submit to her husband’s command. A local minister explained to me that girls are schooled a year less than boys because females have no need to learn math or bookkeeping, which is taught during the extra boys-only term. Women can neither be ministers nor vote to elect them. They also can’t legally represent themselves, as the rape case made painfully apparent. Even the plaintiffs in the trial were five men—a selected group of victims’ husbands or fathers—rather than the women themselves.

But while it was tempting to accept the black-and-white gender roles in Manitoba, my visit also revealed shades of gray. I saw men and women share decision-making in their homes. At extended family gatherings on Sundays, the women-only kitchens felt full with big personalities and loud laughter, while men sat solemnly outside discussing the drought. And I spent long afternoons with confident and engaged young women such as Liz and her friends, who, like their peers anywhere, see each other when they can to vent about the annoying things their parents do and get updates on who broke whose heart last week.

When it came to the rapes, these times of strong female bonding—and the safe space provided by such a segregated daily routine—offered comfort. Victims told me they leaned on their sisters or cousins, especially as they tried to adjust back to regular life in the wake of the trial.

Those under the age of 18 named in the lawsuit were brought in for psychological assessment as mandated by Bolivian law, and court documents note that every one of these young girls showed signs of posttraumatic stress and was recommended for long-term counseling—but not one has received any form of therapy since their evaluations. Unlike adult women who found at least some solace with their sisters or cousins, many young girls may not have even had a chance to speak with anyone about their experiences after their government-mandated assessments.

In Helena’s living room, she told me how her daughter was also raped, but the two have never spoken about it, and the girl, now 18, doesn’t even know that her mom is also a rape survivor. In Old Colonies, rapes bring shame upon the victim; survivors are stained, and throughout the community other parents of the youngest victims told me that it was all better left unspoken.

“She was too young” to talk about it, the father of another victim, who was 11 when she was raped, told me. He and his wife never explained to the girl why she woke with pain one morning, bleeding so much she had to be taken to the hospital. She was whisked through subsequent medical visits with nurses who didn’t speak her language and was never once told that she had been raped. “It was better she just not know,” her father said.

All the victims I interviewed said the rapes crossed their minds almost daily. In addition to confiding in friends, they have coped by falling back on faith. Helena, for example—though her clutched arms and pained swaying seemed to belie it—told me she’d found peace and insisted, “I have forgiven the men who raped me.”

She wasn’t alone. I heard the same thing from victims, parents, sisters, brothers. Some even said that if the convicted rapists would only admit their crimes—as they did initially—and ask penance from God, the colony would request that the judge dismiss their sentences.

I was perplexed. How could there be unanimous acceptance of such flagrant and premeditated crimes?

It wasn’t until I spoke with Minister Juan Fehr, dressed as all ministers in the community do, entirely in black with high black boots, that I understood. “God chooses His people with tests of fire,” he told me. “In order to go to heaven you must forgive those who have wronged you.” The minister said that he trusts that most of the victims came to forgiveness on their own. But if one woman didn’t want to forgive, he said, she would have been visited by Bishop Neurdorf, Manitoba’s highest authority, and “he would have simply explained to her that if she didn’t forgive, then God wouldn’t forgive her.”

One of the youngest victims to speak with prosecutors was as young as 11 during the time of the rapes. Most of the victims have had almost no psychological counseling, and according to experts, are probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

One of the youngest victims to speak with prosecutors was as young as 11 during the time of the rapes. Most of the victims have had almost no psychological counseling, and according to experts, are probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Manitoba’s leaders encourage residents to forgive incest, too. It’s a lesson that Agnes Klassen learned in a painful way. On a muggy Tuesday, the mother of two met me outside her two-room house off a highway in eastern Bolivia, approximately 40 miles from her former home in Manitoba Colony that she left in 2009. She wore her hair in a ponytail and was sweating in jeans and a T-shirt.

I wasn’t there to talk with her about the rapes, but once inside her house, the subject inevitably came up. “One morning I woke up with headaches and there was dirt in our bed,” she said, referring to when she lived in Manitoba, as if remembering an item she had left off a shopping list. She had never thought much about that morning since and wasn’t included in the lawsuit because she saw no reason to come forward after the perpetrators were nabbed.

Instead, I had come to talk to Agnes about other painful parts of her past—namely incest—the origins of which aren’t even clear. “They kind of mesh together,” she said of her earliest childhood memories, which include being fondled by several of her eight older brothers. “I don’t know when [the incest] started.”

One of 15 children, growing up in the Old Colony of Riva Palacios (her family moved to neighboring Manitoba Colony when she was eight), Agnes said the abuse would happen in the barn, in the fields, or in the siblings’ shared bedroom. She didn’t realize it was inappropriate behavior until the age of ten, when she was given a stern beating after her father found her brother fondling her. “My mother could never find the words to tell me that I was being wronged or that it was not my fault,” she recalled.

After that, the molestation continued but Agnes was too scared to go to anyone for help. When she was 13 and one of her brothers tried to rape her, Agnes warily notified her mom. She wasn’t beaten this time, and for a while her mom did her best to keep the two apart. But the brother eventually found her alone and raped her.

The sibling assaults became increasingly commonplace, but there was nowhere for Agnes to turn. Old Colonies have no police force. Ministers deal with wrongdoing directly but because youth are not technically members of the church until they are baptized (often in their early 20s), bad behavior is handled inside the home.

Seeking help outside the colony would have never entered Agnes’s mind: from her first day on earth, she, like all Old Colony children, was taught that the outside world holds evil. And even if someone managed to reach out, there is virtually no way for a child or woman to contact or communicate with the surrounding non–Low German world.

“I just learned to live with it,” Agnes said haltingly. She apologized for her stops and starts, for her tears. It was the first time she had ever fully told her story. She said the incest stopped when boys began courting Agnes, and she filed it away in her mind as a thing of the past.

But when she got married, moved into her own house in Manitoba, and gave birth to two daughters, family members began molesting her children during visits. “It was starting to happen to them, too,” she told me, her eyes following the movements of her two young platinum-blond girls darting past the windows as they played outside. One day, her eldest daughter, not yet four at the time, told Agnes that the girls’ grandpa had asked her to put her hands down his pants. Agnes said that her father never molested her or her sisters, but that he allegedly routinely abused his grandchildren until Agnes fled Manitoba with her daughters (and still allegedly abuses her nieces, who remain in the Colony). Another day, she caught her nephew fondling her youngest daughter. “It happens all the time,” she said. “It’s not just my family.”

Indeed, for a long time now there has been a muffled yet heated discussion in the international Mennonite community about whether Old Colonies have a rampant incest problem. Some defend the Old Colonists, insisting that sexual abuse happens everywhere and that its occurrence in places like Manitoba only proves that any society, no matter how upright, is susceptible to social ills.

But others, like Erna Friessen, a Canadian-Mennonite woman who introduced me to Agnes, insist, “The scope of sexual violence within Old Colonies is really huge.” Erna and her husband helped found Casa Mariposa(Butterfly House), a shelter for abused Old Colony women and girls. Located near the town of Pailon in the heart of Bolivian Old Colony territory, they have a continuous influx of Low German-speaking missionaries ready to help, but the number of women who have made it there are few. Aside from the challenges of making women aware of this space and convincing them that it’s in their best interest to seek help, Erna told me that “coming to Casa Mariposa often means leaving their families and the only world they’ve ever known.”

While Erna admits that exact figures are impossible to calculate due to the insular nature of these communities, she is adamant that rates of sexual abuse are higher in the Old Colonies than in the US, for example, where one in four women will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Erna’s whole life has been among these groups—she was born on a Mennonite Colony in Paraguay, raised in Canada, and has spent the past eight years in Bolivia. Of all the Old Colony women she has met over the years, she says, “more have been victims of abuse than not.” She considers the Colonies “a breeding ground for sexual abuse,” in part because most Old Colony women grow up believing they must accept it. “The first step is always to get them to recognize that they have been wronged. It happened to them, it happened to their mom and their grandmother, so they’ve always been told [to] just deal with it.”

Others who work on the issue of abuse in the Old Colonies are hesitant to pinpoint incidence rates, but say that the way abuse is experienced within an Old Colony makes it a more acute problem than in other places in the world. “These girls or women have no way out,” said Eve Isaak, a mental health clinician and addictions and bereavement counselor who caters to Old Colony Mennonite communities in Canada, US, Bolivia, and Mexico. “In any other society, by elementary school a child knows that if they are being abused they can, at least in theory, go to the police or a teacher or some other authority. But who can these girls go to?”

Though it wasn’t by design, Old Colony churches have become the de facto state. “Old Colonists’ migration can be understood not just as a movement away from society’s ills, but also toward countries that allow the Colonists to live as they choose,” said Helmut Isaak, Eve’s husband who is a pastor and Anabaptist history and theology professor at CEMTA, a seminary in Asuncion, Paraguay. He explains that before Old Colonists migrate to a new country, they send delegations to negotiate terms with the governments to allow them virtual autonomy, particularly in the area of religious law enforcement.

In fact, the serial rapes stand as one of the only times that a Bolivian Old Colony has sought outside intervention regarding an internal matter. Manitoba residents told me that they handed the gang over to the cops in 2009 because victims’ husbands and fathers were so enraged, it’s likely the accused would have been lynched. (One man who was believed to be involved and caught on a neighboring colony, was lynched and later died from his wounds.)

The Old Colony leaders I spoke with denied that their communities have an ongoing sexual abuse problem and insisted that incidents are dealt with internally when they arise. “[Incest] almost never happens here,” Minister Jacob Fehr told me one evening as we chatted on his porch at dusk. He said that in his 19 years as a minister, Manitoba had only one case of incestuous rape (father to daughter). Another minister denied that even this episode had happened.

“They forgive a ton of gross stuff that happens in families all the time,” said Abraham Peters, father of the youngest convicted rapist, Abraham Peters Dyck, who is currently in Palmasola Prison, just outside Santa Cruz. “Brothers with sisters, fathers with daughters.” He told me that he believes his son and the entire gang were framed to cover up widespread incest in Manitoba Colony. Abraham senior still lives in Manitoba; he considered leaving in the period immediately following his son’s arrest because of hostility from the rest of the community. But uprooting his family of 12 proved too difficult, so he stayed put and says that over the years and despite his perspective on his son’s incarceration, he has been accepted back into the fold of Colony life.

Agnes thinks the two crimes are flipsides of the same coin. “The rapes, the abuse, it’s all intertwined,” she said. “What made the rapes different is that they didn’t come from within the family and that’s why the Ministers took the actions they did.”

Of course, leaders do attempt to correct bad behavior. Take the case of Agnes’s father: at some point, his fondling of his granddaughters was called out by church leaders. As procedure dictates, he went before the ministers and bishop, who asked him to confess. He did, and was “excommunicated,” or temporarily expelled from the church for a week, after which he was offered a chance to return based on a promise that he would never do it again.

“Of course it continued after that,” Agnes said of her father. “He just learned to hide it better.” She told me she doesn’t have faith “in anyone who after one week says they have turned their life around,” before adding, “I have no faith in a system that permits that.”

Younger perpetrators have it even easier; according to Agnes, the brother who raped her admitted his sins when he was baptized and was immediately expunged in the eyes of God. He now lives in the neighboring Old Colony, Riva Palacios, with young daughters of his own.

Once an abuser has been excommunicated and readmitted, church leadership assumes the matter has been put to rest. If an abuser flagrantly continues his behavior and refuses to repent, he is once again excommunicated and this time permanently shunned. Leaders instruct the rest of the colony to isolate the family; the general store will refuse to sell to anyone in the household, kids will be banned from school. Eventually the family has no choice but to leave. This, of course, also means that the victims leave with their abusers.

Yet it wasn’t sexual abuse that finally prompted Agnes and her family to abandon Manitoba, which they did in 2009. Instead, her husband had bought a motorcycle, after which he was excommunicated and the family shunned. When the couple’s toddler drowned to death in a cow trough, the community leaders wouldn’t even let her husband attend his own son’s funeral. That’s when they left Manitoba for good. In the end, driving a motorcycle was apparently a larger affront to the Colony’s leadership than anything Agnes, her daughters, or the rest of the women in the community had suffered.

Keeping a colony like Manitoba together is getting harder and harder in modern times. Agnes and her family aren’t the only ones who’ve fled. In fact, the nearby city of Santa Cruz is populated by Mennonite families who have become fed up with the Old Colony way of life—and the situation may be reaching a crisis point.

Johan Weiber, leaning on his pickup truck, is the de facto leader of a dissident group of Mennonites in Manitoba.

Johan Weiber, leaning on his pickup truck, is the de facto leader of a dissident group of Mennonites in Manitoba.

“We no longer want to be a part of this,” a young father named Johan Weiber told me one day when I visited him at his home in Manitoba. Johan and his family were one of 13 others still living in the colony but who had officially left the Old Colony’s church. For months, they’d been saying they wanted to leave—they even owned vehicles—but Manitoba Colony leaders refused to compensate them for the land they wanted to abandon. Now, instead, they’d decided to build their own dissident church inside Manitoba.

“We are [leaving the Old Colony church and starting our own] because we have read the truth,” Johan said. By “truth,” he meant the Bible. “They tell us not to read the Bible because if we do, we realize things like, in no place does it say a women’s hair has to be braided like that,” he told me, leaning on his white pickup truck as his ponytailed daughter played in the yard.

Curious about the specifics of religious instruction at Manitoba, one Sunday I attended a service at one of the colony’s three nondescript brick churches. I soon realized that the solemn 90-minute ceremony is not a priority. Heads of households might go two or three times a month, but many go even less frequently.

For children, the core school curriculum is based on selected Bible readings, but aside from a silent 20-second prayer before and after meals, there is no specified time or requirement for prayer or Bible studies in the adult Old Colony world.

“Many [people have] lost their biblical literacy,” said Helmut Isaak, the Mennonite historian. He explained that over time, as Mennonites stopped having to constantly defend their faith against persecutors, other more practical concerns took precedent. “In order to survive, they needed to spend their time working.”

This has created a crucial power disparity: the small cadre of church leaders have became the sole interpreters of the Bible on Old Colonies, and because the Bible is seen as the law, leaders use this control over the scripture to instill order and obedience.

Ministers deny this charge: “We encourage all our members to know what is written in the holy book,” Minister Jacob Fehr told me one evening. But residents admit in quiet that Bible-study classes are discouraged and Bibles are written in High German, a language that most adults barely remember after their limited schooling, while Low German versions are sometimes banned. On some Old Colonies, members face excommunication for delving too deeply into the scripture.

This is why Johan Weiber was such a threatening presence—he terrified the leadership and community at large. He also reminded them of the troubled past of the Old Colonies. “This is exactly what happened in Mexico and that’s why we came [to Bolivia],” said Peter Knelsen, a 60-year-old Manitoba resident who arrived from Mexico as a teenager with his parents. It wasn’t just the Mexican government that was threatening Old Colonies with reform, but also an evangelical movement from within that sought to “change our way of life,” said Peter, who explained that in his colony in Mexico dissenters tried to build their own church, too.

For more than 40 years, Bolivian Old Colonists had escaped such an internal rift. But with Johan Weiber’s attempt to build his own church—he also wanted land in Manitoba on which to farm and build his own independent school—Peter and others spoke of an impending “apocalypse.” Tensions nearly exploded in June, after my visit, when Johan’s group actually broke ground on their church. Soon after construction commenced, over 100 Manitoba men descended on the site and took it apart, piece-by-piece. “I think it’s going to be really hard to maintain the colony intact,” Peter told me.

If this rift continues to widen and the crisis comes to a head, Manitobans already know what to do. Centuries ago, the original Mennonites in Europe, faced with persecution, had a choice: fight or flight. Given their vow of pacifism, they fled—and they have been doing so ever since.

Manitoba leaders say they hope it doesn’t come to that. In part, this is probably because Bolivia is one of the last countries left that will let them live on their own terms. So for now, Minister Jacob Fehr says he prays. “We just want [Weiber’s group] to leave the colony,” he said. “We just want to be left alone.”

Heinrich Knelsen Kalssen, one of the rapists, is led out of the courtroom by police in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Heinrich Knelsen Kalssen, one of the rapists, is led out of the courtroom by police in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

On my last day in Manitoba, I got a shock.

“You know that it’s still happening, right?” a woman said to me, as we drank ice water alongside her home. There were no men around. I hoped something was lost in translation, but my Low German translator assured me it wasn’t. “The rapes with the spray—they are still going on,” she said.

I peppered her with questions: Had it happened to her? Did she know who was doing it? Did everyone know it was going on?

No, she said, they hadn’t returned to her house, but to a cousin’s—recently. She said she had a good guess about who was doing it but wouldn’t give me any names. And she believed that, yes, most people in Manitoba Colony knew that the imprisonment of the original rapists hadn’t put an end to the serial crimes.

As if in a strange time warp, after dozens of interviews with people telling me everything was fine now, I didn’t know if this was gossip, rumor, lies, or—worse—the truth. I spent the rest of the day frantically trying to get confirmation. I revisited many families who I had previously interviewed, and the majority admitted, a bit sheepishly, that yes, they had heard the rumors and that, yes, they assumed they were probably true.

“It’s definitely not as frequent,” said one young man later that day whose wife had been raped during the first series of incidents before 2009. “[The rapists] are being much more careful than before, but it still goes on.” He told me he had his suspicions about the perpetrators’ identities as well, but didn’t want to give any more details.

On a subsequent reporting trip by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky, the photographer for this article, five people went on record—including three Manitobans as well as a local prosecutor and a journalist—and confirmed that they had heard the rapes are continuing.

Those I spoke with said they have no way to stop the alleged attacks. There is still no police force in the area, and there never will be any proactive element or investigatory force that can look into accusations of crimes. Anyone is free in the colonies to report somebody else to the Ministers, but crimes are addressed on the honor system: if a perpetrator is not ready to admit his sins, the question is whether the victim or accuser will be believed… and women in Manitoba already know how that goes.

The only defense, residents told me, is to install better locks or bars on the windows, or big steel doors like the one I slept behind each night during my trip. “We can’t put in streetlights or video cameras,” the husband of a victim of the rapes told me—two technologies not allowed. For it to stop, they believe they must, as before, catch someone in the act. “So we will just have to wait,” he said.

That last day, before leaving Manitoba, I returned to visit Sara, the woman who woke up with rope around her wrists nearly five years ago. She said she’d also heard the rumors of ongoing rapes, and breathed a heavy sigh. She and her family had moved to a new house after the gang of nine was captured in 2009. The old house held too many demon-filled memories. She said she felt badly if others were now living her past horrors, but she didn’t know what could be done. After all, her time on earth, like that of all her fellow Mennonites, was meant for suffering. Before I left, she offered what she considered words of solace: “Maybe this is God’s plan.”

Editor’s Note: Abuse and rape victims’ names have been changed at their request.

The FRUIT of Male Leadership – A Shocking Reality

“In former chapters, we reviewed the worship and government of the Church, from the days of the apostles to the end of the second century. Enough has already been said to show that in the period now under consideration (from A.D. 200 to 337), there was no check to the growth of ritualistic observances, but the substitution of external forms in place of the primitive simplicity was still going on, and with constantly increasing force.

The worship of the Apostolic age was without altars, without temples, without images; but as sacerdotal ideas entered and prevailed, ancient simplicity disappeared. The common meal, in which the early Christians united to commemorate their Saviour’s love, became a sacrifice; the table at which they sat to partake of it became an altar; the community which Christ signed to be one body was divided into clergy and laity. When the liberty of prophesying was lost, and the spiritual gifts promised to the congregation were exercised by a restricted order of ministers alone, those ministers became priests; whilst the simple effusions of Gospel love, prompted by the Holy Spirit, and therefore powerful to break in pieces the stony heart and bind up the broken heart, were replaced by learned and eloquent discourses, which were even at times received with plaudits as in a theatre.

Lastly, the room or simple meeting house was exchanged for a stately temple, richly furnished with gold and silver vessels. Even the wise Dionysius of Alexandria so completely loses sight of the New Covenant idea, as to call the table at which the bread and wine were partaken of, the “Holy of Holies.” — Edward Backhouse, Early Church History to the Death of Constantine

male dominance picWhat we have learned from church history is that the corruptions that entered into the system of worship were many. Repeatedly on this blog and my Religion’s Cell facebook page, I have pointed out the corruptions; many of which, were aimed at keeping women in bondage to men.  Not only did man corrupt they simplicity of worship, but later, he corrupted the manuscripts from which the Bible is derived. Throughout history, one can clearly see a theme that shrouds the Gospel and the Lord’s people. This theme is Power, Control and Money. It is so very obvious.

As a result of this desire to be in control, men have written women out of places of honor, dignity and authority in scripture, thus pointing them into a position of servitude and abuse. Sadly, it has always been religious MEN that have brought the corruptions, not women. Think about this. What better way to control the world than to make sure the competition is confined by chains called “God said,” “the scriptures say” and “it is written.” Scripture, no matter the religious sect, is used to control women and children so that men can have their desires satiated. These chains of bondage and abuse were penned by the very hands of warm blooded men whose only desire is SEXUAL dominance and control. Under the guise of religion, millions of women are confined to situations of bondage and abuse that God never intended!

It doesn’t take rocket science to see the signs of this sexual dominance and control throughout the world today. Please notice the following:

  • Sexually enhancing drugs for men to help prolong the sexual act.
  • Pornography
  • Incest
  • Sex Trafficking
  • The rape of women worldwide without prosecution of the rapist.
  • The rape of women worldwide with the VICTIMS being prosecuted instead of the rapist.
  • The rape of children worldwide without the rapist being prosecuted.
  • Sexual mutilation of women and children.
  • Sexual abuse of women and children.
  • Torture of women and children.
  • Emotional and spiritual abuse of women and children.
  • Domestic abuse
  • Honor Killings
  • Child pornography
  • Child marriage
  • Physical abuse of women and children.
  • Polygamy
  • The removal of women from leadership positions in society.
  • The development of Date Rape drugs to enable men to rape women without the women having any recollection of what happened.
  • Secular Laws that allow for the killing of women and children without punishment to the murderer.
  • Higher wages for men even though women can do the same job, and even better.
  • The fight for the control of women’s bodies by men: i.e. no birth control and no abortion
  • The fight to keep women uneducated and dependent on men.
  • The ability of men to rape women, impregnate them and then leave them with the responsibility while they go off on their merry ways.

(Through various articles on my blog, you will find examples of all of these. Also see my Religion’s Cell Facebook page for news articles that encompass almost all of these areas of abuse.)

All of this wrapped up in the religious shroud of the chains of bondage listed above used to beat women and children into servitude to men’s desires and demands. It is time for the corruptions of the RELIGIOUS system to be exposed. It is time for men to be prosecuted for their crimes against women and children. It is time for women to be given their honor, dignity, equality and authority back. It is time for laws to be enacted to free women from the bondage and protect them from the abuses. It is time to put women in leadership to help in the protection of their children from these abuses.

History shows us the real fruit of men and their leadership. It is fraught with rape, murder, torture, incest, sexual mutilation, physical abuse and on and on. More women need to be in positions of power to help in bringing about change. Most women will not tolerate any of these atrocities and, will work diligently to stop them and wipe them out. Women will work to enact laws to protect women and children!  Leaving men in control has only proliferated the atrocities, allowing for these things to be the biggest plague on humanity the world has ever known.

Links to Related News Articles that prove the above points:

Norwegian Woman: I was raped in Dubai, now I face prison sentence.

Mom, Dad planned child sex abuse before kids were born

Scores arrested in child prostitution case

More rape in India as Delhi reports 4 year old assaulted

Newlywed Afghan beheaded for her refusal to become prostitute

Afghan women imprisoned for ‘moral’ crimes

Ohio: Muslim doctor who drugged, killed pregnant woman accosted others

Saudi preacher gets fine and short jail term for raping and killing 5 year old daughter

Honor Killing Index – new stories attached to each killing

Saudi cleric says ‘baby burkas’ would prevent child molestation

Female genital mutilation on the rise in the United States

Police Say Pastor Spanked Girl Who Claimed Abuse by Relative

Orphans ‘left to die’: state parliamentary inquiry into child abuse told

Egypt women angry after president’s advisor says harassment “exaggerated”

Hundreds arrested in US-led operation against sex predators

Ex-mega church pastor gets 12 years in sex scandal

Muslim gang-rapes across Europe under reported by Press

Teen Ends Life After Photo of Her Alleged Gang Rape Goes Viral

Eastbourne priest trial: Children as young as seven were assaulted in home, court hears

Ex-Liberty Lake pastor starts prison term for child porn

St Pius X Priest Facing Child Sex Abuse Allegations in California

Child abuse lawsuit filed against church

Taliban-style edict for women spreads alarm in Afghan district

$3 Billion Jehovah’s Witnesses Class Action Over Child Abuse

Sacrificing Our Daughters: On the Psychology of Islamic Rape-Gangs

Catholic Church Defends Pedophile Priests, Crusades Against New Sex Abuse Victims Protections

Local Missionary admitted to molestation, making child porn, officials say

Southern Baptists, like Catholic Church are protecting Pedophiles

‘Ex-Gay’ Pastor Ryan Muehlhauser Sentenced For Sexually Molesting Men

Carter Center Conference Mobilizes Faith Groups to Advance Women’s Rights

Documents show Milwaukee archdiocese shielded pedophile priests

Papua New Guinea woman burned alive for sorcery

Serial sex offender priest told 7-year-old victim he could get dead grandfather into heaven

Former president Jimmy Carter says religion is to blame for abuse of women globally

The True (and False) Persecution of the Church

Scots police smash two ‘large’ pedophile rings

Sir Patrick Steward calls on ‘1 million men’ to end violence against women

LaPorte Co. minister arrested for sex offender violation

Las Vegas Police: Dina and Markiece Palmer Beat 7 year old son to death for not reading Bible

Former Pastor gets 10 years

Southern Baptist Pastor, Matt Baker, Convicted of Murder

Pastor of the ROC accused of Sexual Misconduct

Toronto: Sharia swim times prevent Dad from watching own daughter’s swim class

Rape is Rape: How the Culture of Shaming, Stigma, and Victim-Blaming is Hurting Us

Baptist Churches More Vulnerable to Clergy Sex Abuse, Experts Say

Catholic Church in UK faces child sex abuse quiz

Christian School Teacher with Panty Fetish & Supervision of Kids Loses Lewd Acts Appeal

Former Church Employee Arrest for Child Molestation

Two Corruptions with Huge Consequences

corruption2The people, according to the example of the apostles, were chief in authority, (a regulation necessary at that time,) and had the power of electing their own rulers, and of rejecting any laws [or rules] proposed by them; they could also excommunicate or restore unworthy members. These privileges they had obtained in consequence of their general and public oblations.

A perfect equality [this includes an equality between male and female] and harmony reigned among the members of the church, as appears by their feasts of chanty, and by their mutual salutations of ” Brethren,” and ” Sisters.”

. . . All other churches chose their deacons in the same way ; and some chose also deaconesses, from among their devout widows and matrons.

— Mosheims Ecclesiastical History, 1822

The many articles on this blog continually point to the corruptions that have taken place in the church and in translation, that were done purposely by men of old to subjugate and control women. These changes went against scripture and were not the teachings or examples of God or his Christ, but man. Because the “fruit” of these corruptions and changes has been . . .

  • The sexual exploitation of women
  • The abuse of women – physical abuse, rape and incest
  • Subjugating women to men
  • Inequality of the sexes
  • Servitude of women to men
  • Emotional and spiritual abuse
  • Removal from authoritative positions in the world and in religion
  • Lack of protections from these abuses through civil laws

It is imperative that these corruptions be revealed for the sake of those women still suffering the bondage that these changes have brought into the world.  My books focus narrowly on several of the biggest lies ever propagated by men in order to control not only women, but the masses through fear. This blog focuses narrowly on even more corruptions not mentioned in my books.

Church history and the earliest manuscripts do not support many of the doctrines taught today in churches and religions across the globe; especially, regarding WOMEN. Therefore, these corruptions must be made known for the sake of equality, honor and dignity of women AND, to show the depravity, the pride, the arrogance and control-mongering to which men have resorted to gain sexual dominance.

Women had equality in the early church. They were leaders, deaconesses, had churches in their homes, and were apostles.

The members of the “assembly” of believers were in total control over every matter within their “assemblies.”

Corruption:  Women were removed from leadership positions in the church and relegated to servitude. As a result, they were denied autonomy, honor and dignity in religion and the world.

Corruption: There is one “man” as head of each assembly that has unquestionable authority in the lives of the believers and dictates “God’s” will in their lives [usurping the Holy Spirit’s position]. As a result, the masses blindly follow these “men of God” willingly doing what they are told to do….even to the point of murder and violence against those who disagree or believe differently.

The state of the church today is far from holy, pure and undefiled. The atrocities and abuses that lurk under the mantle, especially toward women and children, are criminal. These abuses thrive because of corruptions like these two that I mention and, the many others mentioned on this blog. It’s time to bring the corruptions out and set the truth before us; purging the filth that has permeated the church of God.

Kimberly Ann Howard’s Story – New Bethany Home for Girls, Arcadia La.

kimberlyhowardFrom the Administrator: This past year, I have had the extreme privilege and honor of helping numerous victims of sexual, emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse to tell their stories. Each one affected my heart in such a way that it ignited a passion in me to help expose this type of institutional abuse. I can think of no greater way to help than to make sure their voices are heard regarding such abuse. Women and children are the most vulnerable sect of human society. To take away their honor and dignity and self-worth and, replace it with shame, guilt and self-deprecation, is the worst possible crime one can commit on any human being. Utilizing religion to incite violence toward a woman or a vulnerable child is the greatest injustice. Using God and the Bible to inflict harm on one of God’s “little ones” deserves the strongest punishment available. There is no excuse for “bullies for God”.  These “bullies for God” stop at nothing to inflict their “will” on others at the cost of “destroying the victim”.

Kimberly’s story is one that I hear often. She was emotionally and psychologically and spiritually abused all in the “name of God”. God will not pardon those that carry his name in vain (See, The Third Commandment, What it Really Means.). Thankfully, this gives the victim a little hope since many perpetrators of abuse “in the name of God” have escaped justice. I am so GLAD that in the end, God will see that justice is served.  Here’s Kimberly’s Story:

Arc-06 – Kimberly Ann Howard

My name is Kimberly Ann Howard. I am a survivor of the New Bethany Home for Girls in Arcadia, La. I attended New Bethany from February, 1982 through April, 1983. I was sent there by my parents as a result of drug abuse and repeated runaway attempts.

Though not sexually abused myself, I was aware of some other girls who were. Teresa Trahan, a female staff member, sexually abused different girls at different periods during my stay there.  This was common knowledge and in some cases spoken of openly among the girls. Another girl, Kim Link, confided in me about sexual advances made by Bro. Jewell. This later was exposed and he, along with his family, left the home. He was never reported to the authorities.

One of my best friends had an ongoing relationship with Craig Clark.  It was very difficult to get her to see the reality of what was taking place. She later became a staff member, and then left. To this day, she still has some contact with him.

As for our living conditions, they were horrible. We were only allowed four sheets of toilet paper for urinating and eight for bowel movements. Doors were sometimes left open in the bathroom to ensure that we weren’t masturbating with a tampon (What teenager even thinks of those kinds of things?). Medicine was distributed by Miss Shipman as she saw fit. On a few occasions when I had a cold, Miss Shipman gave me antibiotics that were prescribed for someone else. Also, though there was a gym, we had no exercise. We were never allowed to run and jump.

For part of my stay there, we were allowed outside for one hour per week within the fenced barriers. At some point this stopped and we only had the three to four minutes it took to get from the house to the school or the house to the church.

Something else that I am confused about to this day is that many of us didn’t have our menstrual cycles for the first few months after we arrived, and some never at all. I myself was in the home 6 months before mine resumed. I can only assume that it was the constant stress that caused this.

I was paddled on numerous occasions with a heavy wooden board, or paddle. The “swats” or “licks” were between three and twenty or thirty, depending on what I had done, or not done. They were extremely painful and left bruises and marks. I very clearly remember Miss Nora paddling Michelle fifteen or twenty times and then the paddle broke. Miss Nora picked up a new paddle and continued to paddle her about twenty more times.

I also saw Doreen Spangler after Mack Ford beat her. She had a black eye and a swollen face. Though I was not there to witness it, staff member, Miss Gala, later told me that she was there trying to restrain Doreen and had witnessed the whole thing. I have witnessed Mack Ford whipping girls across the back, buttocks and legs with kindling wood from the wood pile. I have seen so much more, but it is too exhausting to go into and it would fill a book.

All this, I survived. The emotional and psychological abuse I suffered far outweighed the horrid living conditions.

Not one day passed when we were not told that we were whores, and drug addicts, sinners and devil’s spawn. The preachers would leap from the pulpit, on top of the pews, screaming and spitting in our faces, “Sinners! You are going to Hell!” Over and over! Every night, they degraded us, yelling, telling us the horror of who we were and how we’d suffer in hell. They told us our mother’s would burn in hell for wearing pants, or working outside the home. If our parents were divorced they’d burn in hell. We’d burn in hell for cutting our hair, or wearing eye make-up. If you looked at the boys, or men that were occasionally there at the home, you’d burn in hell –  We were told these types of things over and over, everyday.

I was 15 years old, and already had self-esteem issues. I became afraid. I was terrified to fall asleep at night in case I woke up in hell. If I had bad thoughts, I believed God could never love me. I felt like a trapped animal. I couldn’t tell my parents anything about what was happening. All mail coming and going, were intercepted and read. Phone calls were on a speaker phone with a staff member in attendance. If you told your parents, you’d get whipped and your parents were told you were lying and homesick. All parental rights were signed over to Mack Ford for you to stay at the home. And, you must remember that 90% of those at the home were “troubled” teens that would not be believed anyway. How could such abuse take place?

After I left, I ended up in a mental hospital for a month. I made bad choices with drugs and alcohol. I have been sober a number of years now, and I take responsibility for my choices.

Some of the long-term effects of New Bethany are still with me till this day. I still have nightmares, at least three or four times a year. When I was pregnant with my last child, I had dreams about Mack and Nora coming and taking my daughter from me. I hate church and have nothing to do with it as a result of what they did to me. I mistrust anyone who is a Christian. There were many times I’d think and get high to drive away the fear of hell in the past. I am still bitter and angry and, still have low self-esteem at times.

Many of my feelings have been pushed down inside of me all these years because I had no one to talk to about it. I cannot imagine the fires this abuse has fueled in my life.

Now, I am an adult and sober. I have a home and a wonderful family. I am going to an international, culinary college to become a chef. Here it is, 13 years later, and I finally feel I have the strength, emotionally, to go and tell someone about this.

My greatest concern is for the children still in Mack Ford’s homes. It is my belief that New Bethany home for Girls should be shut down and Mack Ford and his staff imprisoned for the abuse of hundreds of children, including myself.

I can only hope, after 13 years, someone will be able to help me and listen. What happened to me is past now. It only is alive in my mind and my heart. But, there are so many other children, suffering and scared, that are still trapped in that home. I hope my statements will help those children before it’s too late.

Kimberly Ann Howard – August 9, 1996.

When I wrote this many years ago, I never dreamed that I would be able to find a measure of healing of the many psychological and emotional wounds that I was carrying. Thankfully, about fifteen months ago, I came across a facebook group that literally saved me. It was a group of survivors that had also endured the abuse under Mack Ford and his staff. Amidst this group of survivors were other abuse survivors that came out of the same cult religion that Mack Ford was part of. Finally, I found people who understood my pain; that knew what I had gone through and what I was going through, even now. I also made some special friends in this group that helped me to find this measure of healing – Simone, Jo Anna, Theresa, Kim Tere and Rhonda – I truly believe that you ladies have made all the difference in my life. You have helped me beyond any means I ever thought possible. My life is better today because of you all.

–        Kimberly Ann Howard – March 24, 2013

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Other Documents from Survivors of New Bethany Home for Girls

Arc-04 Laura Blake          Arc-05 Lisa Blanchard

Other Survivor Stories from New Bethany Home for Girls

Simone’s Story          Kim Holt’s Story

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The New Bethany Survivors have put all there stories into a book that is FREE to everyone. It can be downloaded as a .pdf document. Please feel free to share it with everyone! Just click the link below.

header6The New Bethany book

Global Scope and Magnitude of Violence Against Women

This past year has been a wake-up call to me that violence against women has a global scope and VAWmagnitude that the media is turning a blind eye to. As women, we must ask ourselves what we can do to help put an end to this epidemic that spans across all societies across the world. The global scope and magnitude of the violence is a direct result of the religious and cultural “indoctrination” that takes place to proliferate this “inequality” of the sexes.

Male-dominated societies push through the “belief systems” that enable them to continue to oppress and suppress women from positions of authority and power throughout the world. Women in positions of authority that have the power and influence to affect changes in law, would absolutely stop much of the violence. Women do not tolerate abuse or, abuse on their children; men do. If men TRULY desired to end the violence, they absolutely could by using “thought or behavior reform” and, the same methods they have always used AGAINST women, to reverse behavior and attitudes that lead to abuse. They could also put permanent laws in place to protect women.  They could prosecute 100% of the perpetrators.

The magnitude of the abuse:

Chart1

Religious indoctrination plays a major role in the behaviors and attitudes of men toward women. The religious manuscripts in existence have been proven to have many thousands of changes; many of which, have eradicated women from the religious roles they once held in the days of the early church. Changes have been made in order to dishonor and degrade women. Interpretations of scripture are twisted to teach that men are “superior”.  Why would men do this? Why would men change “scripture” to eliminate women in leadership in any capacity within religious circles? This is not difficult to answer. It keeps women in a position of inequality and submission that leads to total control; that leads to sexual exploitation (see my articles on Sexual Exploitation of Women in Cults, How Submission is Obtained: The Cult Rationale and, How Submission is Obtained: Personal Abuse)

Thought reform (also known as behavior modification), has been a major tool used by men to keep women in a place of inequality and submission; thus, enabling the abuses talked about in the following study that I am about to give you.  This study reveals just how bad the war on women really is. Every woman must educate herself on the statistics, and the reality, of what is truly taking place in not only this country, but across the world. We must be exceedingly “aware” of the changes in law that affect our equality, freedoms and protections.  As a race of people, we must take steps to protect ourselves and our children from this abuse. We do not have to put ourselves at the mercy of abusive men in any situation. Unfortunately, oftentimes, we are “forced” into this abusive environment by men whose only real agenda is sexual control and power. Through “religious” laws (like Sharia) interwoven into civil laws, women are “forced” to endure the torture, sexual mutilation, physical abuse, incest, rape, humiliation and trauma that men perpetrate against them. As a result, of these religious laws, as a result of religious indoctrination, as a result of the forced submission and sexual inequality, women and children are left at the mercy of abusive and perverse men in all societies across the globe. MEN can STOP the VIOLENCE and bring EQUALITY – IF THEY WANTED TO!

Global magnitude of the violence against women.

chart2

What are some of the steps we can take to ensure our safety? Let’s put some thought to this and really figure out what is necessary to stop violence against us and our children.

  1. Women should be vying for positions of leadership all over America within Government. Women in Government protect themselves and children.
  2. Women should be ever alert to changes in law that take away their rights and protections. Many times men will enact “laws” using the “MORAL” excuse as a blanket to deprive women of sexual equality; thus, enslaving them to their agendas of “exploitation”, control and submission to THEM.
  3. Women that have been abused MUST speak out about that abuse! The STATISTICS are so badly understated that it gives the impression that it is not as bad as it really is!
  4. Women MUST be courageous in taking action against ALL perpetrators of abuse where there are laws in place to protect them from it.

IF we do NOT do this, these laws will fall away leaving us NO protection. Think about this! The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was not renewed last year because the religious “right” said it would cost too much money to help abused women. Do we really believe that they cared one wit about  money on this issue? Of course not! It’s about maintaining the power imbalance and control over women.

Here’s an excerpt from the Huffington Post online on February 14, 2012.

Protecting women from violence and abuse has been an issue of bipartisan cooperation since President Clinton signed the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994. It was reauthorized with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2000 and again in 2005. Not this year.

On Feb. 2, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation (S. 1925) reauthorizing VAWA. The bill was sponsored by Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) — who is not on the committee — and cosponsored by 34 senators from both parties. Nevertheless, the legislation attracted no GOP support among committee members and passed out of committee on a party-line vote of 10-8. It was, according to Leahy’s office, the first time VAWA legislation did not receive bipartisan backing out of committee.

“Helping victims of domestic violence shouldn’t be partisan,” said Leahy in an interview with The Huffington Post. “I remember when I was a prosecutor and I’d go to a crime scene at 2:00 in the morning where [there were] victims of domestic violence. … I never remember the police saying, ‘Well, we can only investigate this if it’s a Democrat or a Republican or whatever else. Their reaction was, ‘How do we find the person who did this?’ It’s outrageous to make this a partisan issue.” – Huffington Post, Feb. 14, 2012

“But VAWA is facing well-organized opposition, and as Jillian Rayfield reported, it’s coming almost entirely from the religious right movement [emphasis mine].

The socially conservative Family Research Council asked supporters to help it oppose the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act because, the group says, the “real abuse” is how much it will waste taxpayer dollars.” – MSNBC’s Madowblog.com, Feb. 7, 2013

However, President Obama signed it back into law this year to provide women protection from domestic abuse. What if he hadn’t done so? Why isn’t this law PERMANENT? Why is it TEMPORARY and must be “voted on” at the end of its term? Does that make any sense at all? Let’s protect women “temporarily” until such a time as we have a man in office that decides it’s not worth renewing because his “religious” beliefs degrade women anyway? What is wrong with people in government that this needs to be voted on? This is a moral and ethical issue here. This should be a PERMANENT law here in this country.

If women across the globe are going to EVER gain their honor and dignity back, their rights and equality, then we MUST speak out about ABUSE of all kinds. WE MUST REPORT IT. We MUST strive to get into government positions that will allow us to affect changes in law. Why does one think that all these women were shot down by the MEDIA in the last four years? Katheryn Lane, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Hilary Clinton. These women were viciously “discredited” and “attacked” by the media and, it was not because they were not qualified for the positions they were vying for. They were discredited because they were WOMEN that DARED to run for an office that would enable them the POWER to affect change for women all over this country; changes that would stop the power imbalances in government, changes that would stop the abuse and afford women the protections they have been denied oftentimes, changes that would give women the courage to report ALL abuses because they would not have to worry about men shaming and humiliating them and hurting them any longer. WOMEN do not tolerate abuse. Let’s let that sink in for a moment.

If we women are going to change America and bring equality of the sexes, protection of women and children and, equality of power, then we must stand together as a WHOLE and do our best to put women in these positions! We cannot let ourselves be divided by MEN’S agendas as the media “portrayes” them. We cannot let the MEDIA “LABEL” those that try to make a difference for women everywhere.

Labeling:

Here is what “labeling” does.  It attempts to dehumanize a person or race so that dismissing them or their opinions is much easier.  Choosing not to address someone individually who challenges the toxic faith places a blanket negative label on all who would agree with that person.  Those who disagree with what is taught are labeled as “detractors,” “malcontents” and “traitors”, who would destroy the ministry or organization.  These labels then become rallying points under which other followers can be moved to action to squelch a revolt.  Once the label is placed, it becomes more difficult to see the person as a human with real needs and the potential for good judgment.  This is exactly what religious leaders have done to women throughout history!   — Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse, C. McClaskey

These women showed the COURAGE to stand in the forefront and run for political offices. They were not only publicly shamed and humiliated (typical male tactic against us) by men, they were shamed and humiliated and mocked by other WOMEN!  They were “labeled” by the MEDIA and MEN. They were used to DIVIDE women everywhere across this country!  What is wrong with people? Only equality of POWER will stop abuse for us and give us the freedoms that we have been denied. If you don’t think we have been denied equality, then ask yourself why men are paid higher salaries than women?  Please, think about these things as you read this study that puts all of this into perspective. This is a WAR on WOMEN and always has been. This war is the result of “religious mindsets” delivered to people deceptively over time. It is time to wake up women of the world and realize that the time is NOW to do what we must do to change our positions in society and to protect us and our children. This will be the most important document you will every read to open your eyes to the global scope and magnitude of violence against women.

Violence Against Women Global Scope and Magnitude

Some “reality checks” for women:

What is the Texas Islamic Court?

Muslim Gang-rapes across Europe under-reported in press

Female genital mutilation on the rise in the United States

Saudi preacher gets fine and short jail term for raping and killing daughter

Court: Man raped 7-yr old inside Church, gave her Chlamydia

Why is rape in Syria being ignored by U.S.?

Rape is Rape: How the Culture of Shaming, Stigma, and Victim-blaming is Hurting us

Papua New Guinea woman burned alive for sorcery

The Magdalene Laundries: Forced Labor

When Violence Against Women is ‘Honorable’, ‘Religious’ and ‘Legal’

DHS Allowing Saudi’s to bypass passport and travel controls

Washington: Hamas-linked CAIR bullying middle school teacher, defending Hamas, Taliban

For the sake of the assault these bring on our conscience, I will stop here with the unlimited list of articles across the world that show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the abuses are real and need to be dealt with. They show the religious “attitude” toward women. They show the reality of the abuses. They show the “mindset” of most men due to religious “brainwashing”. There is so much more that it is mind-boggling. Violence against women caused by “religion” is the main reason I wrote my book, Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse. I expose the tactics and mindsets that religion has used to ENLSAVE a whole race of people – women.  Why aren’t mainstream MEDIA covering all of these stories? Why aren’t mainstream MEDIA telling the real story that is taking place against women? Makes one wonder, doesn’t it? Power imbalance and inequality have caused these atrocities. It’s time for women to unite and work together to elect women in places of leadership across this country before we are “forced” permanently into the abusive roles that we once fought so hard to get out of. The time is short. Only unity between us will make the difference.

Letter to the Victim of Jack Schaap and Her Family

nancyfamilySurvivor’s Letter From My Family to the Victim of Jack Schaap and Her Family

Dear One, and Family,

The pain that you all have suffered is at least familiar to me in that I had a 16 year old son whose Independent Fundamental Baptist teacher at Marantha Baptist Bible College groomed him for sex and engaged in several acts of sex with him from the campus, to cars and even a motel room. I saw the destruction this had on my son, and likewise, the pain and destruction spread to every member of our family. After the abuse, his younger brother withdrew even more into his own world. I was hospitalized a couple times for severe depression that reoccurred for years. My husband’s spirit was crushed and he lost much of his identity as well as the loss of his job as an IFB teacher in the Maranatha Baptist Bible college system at Calvary Baptist school. We, like you and many others, were told to leave the church and forget the abuse of our child. We were even told to move out of town; out of our home we had just purchased in Watertown WI.

Now, I do not know if this was the right thing to do or not, but after the official firing from our IFB teaching jobs and shunning, we decided to take root instead, and be a thorn in the IFB flesh. Well, they never even saw us right under their noses. We were the MBBC’s dirty little secret and the victims of a crime that they just wanted to disappear. We stayed in our home and tried to go on as a family. We tried to hold on to one another. I cannot tell you as a victim of IFB abuse what would help you through this family trauma except, I feel like I have learned from the destruction of our family that it may be human nature to blame ourselves or even to blame our partner because we were told we were bad parents; that we could not stop our son from acting on sexual urges like Joseph did running away from Pharaoh’s wife, leaving the robe in the woman’s hands.

Perhaps you have also been blamed by the IFB as being as guilty as the victims, parents and/or siblings. I want to tell you to ALWAYS REMEMBER THERE IS A BAD GUY and it is the abuser. For sure, 16 year olds are no match for the IFB leaders they have been groomed to follow. THE BAD GUYS are very POWERFUL and, in the case of our family, the power was so destructive and the more we tried to figure out what happened, the more confused we became. We ended up blaming each other as parents and finally, divorced. This is why the chair is empty in our family picture. I think I lost respect for my husband for not standing up to the IFB leaders who harmed the family. I was wrong to have fallen into that feeling. I know now that I should have supported my husband and to see the evil in the church cover-up. We talked about the abuser and her evil choice but, to hold the IFB church leader responsible was a journey. I think I felt I had to choose either the church I believed in, or my husband who I believed in, or my son who I believed in. The church did not protect the family!  We as parents did not protect our son. We divorced and could not choose each other in the midst of this trauma. We were all in shock as I am sure you are who have suffered similar abuse.

You are in shock. That is important to know and you need immediate support. But, your IFB church, friends, and pastors, have turned you away. Who would not be in shock. You send your children to an IFB school to be groomed for rape? No parent would do that if…if…if we had only been warned. If someone who had been abused in such a way in the IFB church before my family and yours were harmed, perhaps we would have heard the alarms. The shock of hearing your child has been raped is beyond words. I know you understand my words.

I became over whelmed with hurt and fear and could not function. When I finally got angry and out of the shock, it was too late for us. I got angry at my husband and myself and forgot to get angry at the abuser and the IFB church that further abused us. Well, this all makes me cry to feel a little bit of what you all are feeling. Watch your child for depression and use professional counselors as you can. Also remember, GOD did not do this. There was an evil person using their free will and God’s name to lure an innocent young one into a sexual web.

My heart is connected to your family and your child that has been victimized. Our children have been so brave. I applaud your child and my sons who have survived. I see the heroes…but not soon enough because my other son hid his IFB sexual abuse in the MBBC system from me for years and years because he saw all the suffering his brother’s abuse had caused. In a way, he sacrificed himself to protect his family but, caused his own trauma to fester and he rotted in silence and still carries that trauma today as he fights alcoholism and the memories of the abuse.

PRAISES to these young people who have suffered a pain we will never understand and yet they are still with us. My love and prayers to you and give your child a big hug from my son to your children who have suffered sexual abuse in the IFB church as these children are kindred spirits. Be proud, cry, laugh and keep the family together at all costs.

Love Nancy Bicknell – just another Mom who gets it.

Cathy’s Story – Kidnapping, Rape, Abuse and Cover-up – Part 2

girl2Cathy’s Story of Kidnapping, Rape, Abuse and Cover-up~Part II

Posted on June 14, 2011 by chucklestravels

This is the continues from Part 1 of Cathy’s Story.

I twice attended Bob Jones University (BJU), a fundamentalist Christian college in South Carolina. I went for the first time in the 1980′s. After leaving BJU the first time, I went to a community college and received my nursing degree.  For reasons I won’t go into here, I moved to South Carolina. I wanted to get my Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Unfortunately, many of my credits from BJU would not transfer to other colleges. However, if I went back to BJU as  a student, I was promised those credits would allow me to obtain my BSN relatively quickly.  However, I did not realize how intrusive BJU was in its student’s lives, even those  living off of the Greenville campus! During that time, I became severely depressed and experienced extreme PTSD symptoms associated with the depression. I did not understand what was happening to me. But my most severe emotional problems were magnified when I went to Jim Berg for counseling while still a student at BJU.

In Jim Berg’s view, as I soon found out, people who had problems such as depression and PTSD were “un-spiritual” (his word, not mine). In the IFB world, depression is a sin. Taking medication for depression only covered sin. I plummeted into a even deeper depression. In June of 1996, during my last counseling appointment with Berg, he told me,

“I can’t help you, no one can help you, not even God can help you,”

because I was not making fast enough progress and still “deep in the sin of depression.”

I will not begin to deny that I was having some serious issues.  Unfortunately, being discouraged from taking medications for these issues did not help. I am by no means proud of this, but I went home from this appointment and overdosed on medication. I realize that it was clearly a bad choice, and that was wrong. I was not thinking clearly, I was angry and in deep emotional pain. Of course, I was admitted to the hospital.

While I was in the hospital, I received a letter from Jim Berg stating,

“I hate to add more to your concerns, but this all comes from the consequences of your own actions, as a result you will not be allowed to continue as a student at BJU. I pray that God will break you of your sin of self-sufficiency and stubbornness and make you a usable vessel for Him.”

Fortunately, I received in the hospital the medical care and kind of counseling I needed from the beginning.  To add insult to injury, I was chastised by the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church affiliated with BJU (the same church Jim Berg attended at the time) because I was receiving counseling from a psychiatrist and licensed therapist.  In the view of the IFB church, secular therapy was wrong, and therefore sinful.  I was mortified to realize that Berg betrayed my confidential talks with him by “sharing” my situation with the pastoral staff, family members, and others in this church and at BJU as well.  In my opinion, Jim Berg made himself out to be “a great caring, godly, humble fellow” who tried at the best of his God-given ability to “lovingly” guide me to “trust God.” This betrayal of my confidence began a painful and difficult process of leaving the church and my circle of friends and family. When  I finally decided to leave my IBF Church, I was especially afraid to leave because of intimidation, pressure, and threats of Divine Judgment. I was harassed by well-meaning church and family members. I was also pursued by not so well-meaning church leaders. Eventually, as a former member, I was publicly chastised and humiliated before the church.  Unless it was to talk to me about the “errors of my ways,” members were discouraged from any association with me.  It seemed that all my friends and most of my support system went up as it were a poof of smoke when they were needed the most.

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For a long time,  I actually felt that I left God Himself when I left the church. It was one of the most depressing times in my life. Few of my former church friends associated with me other than to tell me I was in sin. I felt further isolation and abuse and was fearful of the world. A well known Christian leader questioned me personally, and to others that were still in the church, about my salvation. One tactic that was extremely difficult for me to deal with was the “shepherding” philosophy. Other IFB churches may refer to this as discipleship groups.  As practiced in many IFB churches, this philosophy requires every member to be personally accountable to another “more experienced” or more “spiritual” person. To this person, one must “be transparent”, revealing all personal thoughts, feelings, and future plans. I now understand that this personal information is not used to help the member, but to control the member.

A few years after leaving the IFB church that I had attended, I again became involved in a  Shepherding Group that, at first, seemed harmless. I still did not understand that a person must be very careful about churches that insist members be accountable to some leader for spiritual and personal growth, especially if the group leader begins to demand transparency and accountability of the member regarding personal and or spiritual issues and personal decisions. The most upsetting thing that happened as a result of my departure from that group, took place when my former shepherding group leader, his wife, and several others members of my former church became involved in my current group. This particular group was disbanded by the leaders almost a year before this time due to lack of interest and attendance of group members. Furthermore, two people in this meeting were never involved with me the whole time I was in the church.

One of my then- current church pastors asked me to meet him on a Sunday afternoon. He claimed he wanted to find out how the church could be of assistance to me because he had heard of my then recent surgery and beginning treatments for Clear Cell Chondrosarcoma a rare bone cancer. I had just returned to Greenville after being in another state for over two months for surgery and treatment.  I was still very weak and sick. When I went to the church that afternoon, I found my former Shepherding group leader and his wife there waiting for me. Soon the small conference room was filled with 8 other people. One of the pastoral staff was there, but quickly added he did not know me, “which is probably a good thing.” Only two others were ever directly involved with me. The others were people I did not know personally. I knew they were members of the church. None of these people, other than the Shepherding Group Leader and his wife, ever went to my Shepherding Group. I, in no way expected to experience this very painful “intervention”, or confrontation , by the leadership, which I now refer to as a “surprise party” or “gang-up.” I was lured to this meeting under false pretenses. I have heard from other former members that sometimes such meetings are in the home of an elder or other leader and sometimes in the home of the “problem member” himself. My “intervention” consisted of a hostile and accusatory “interrogation session” that lasted for 3 hours. The group’s objective was to persuade me to confess of the “error of my ways” and of my “need to submit myself to the discipline of the church.” They went on to question the reality of my medical condition. I was told to recant my “slanderous” charges against a “spiritual leader”, obviously referring to Jim Berg. I learned from previous encounters that if I became outwardly hostile during such a ‘process’ things would become worse.  I did, however, refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing on my part. I showed copies of my oncologist surgical report as well as the actual XRAY film which clearly showed the tumor that was recently removed.

Even after all of the evidence I provided, a man who sat directly across from me and who had glared at me the whole time finally said, “Tell me about your salvation experience.” I finally lost it a little and replied, “No matter what I say, no one here will believe that I am saved. You worry about your salvation. Let God and me worry about mine. You are not the Holy Spirit in my life!”

After that outburst, the pastoral staff member said, “Cathy, you go across the hall with the women and we (the pastor staff member, my ex-shepherding group leader and the man whom I did not know) will talk about what we are going to do to help you or how we are going to deal with you. If I had not been recovering from major cancer surgery, I would have certainly handled this differently.  Most likely my response would have been to leave right then and there. I was hurt and bewildered by what the assistant pastor said. However, I did go across the hall with the women. The Shepherding Group leader’s wife then asked me about a family member who was also recently diagnosed with cancer. I was exhausted, but angered by then. I said something to the effect of, “Why don’t you call and ask him yourself?” They talked at me, not to me, for a few minutes. The Shepherding Group leader’s wife closed by telling me, “We all love you, lady.” I did not make any friends when I said, “I can tell how much you love me by all the lies you have told and the knife that is sticking out of my back!” Then the ladies went around the room and prayed for me to “repent” and asked God to “convict me of my bitterness.”

I did not stay for the whole prayer session. I just got up and left the room. When I went out into the hallway, I saw through a small window in the door the men sitting and talking around a conference table. At this point, I was tearful and angry. I knew, at this point, there was nothing to lose. I opened the door and asked, “Are you all having a good gossip fest? Why is it if you were talking about me, I could not stay and defend myself?” The assistant pastor said, “You need to submit yourself to the discipline of the church.” I asked, “For what?” He said he would get in contact in a few days and waved his hand as if to dismiss me. I told him not to bother. As expected, I never heard from them but instead, soon found that my name had been removed from the membership rolls.

© 2011 Catherine Harris