The “Gauntlet” – By Samuel Bain

From the Author: This story of abuse is perpetrated by the same abusers that are mentioned in my previous post titled, Sam’s Story. That these men are still working with children is shocking to say the least. I sincerely hope that this story is spread far and wide and that the right authorities get their hands on it!

“The Gauntlet”
by Samuel Bain on Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 5:24pm

So I was asked by a friend of mine several months back to transcribe this account from his diary…I haven’t taken the time to do so until now. It is a brutal insight to the lasting effects trauma like this causes even in a secondary way. (I have not censored it and please don’t be judgmental of his choice of words. I believe he is working out some of these issues via his writing.)

G. writes: – “I write this now with the hope that they stay. No matter how hard I try, I can never forget. No matter how hard I wish, it never changes. Some things always stay with you, no matter the passage of time, or distance from the source.

Part 1: They all smell the same. Every gymnasium that I have ever set foot in, smells of wax, sweat, and I am pretty sure, fear. To this day that smell triggers images of violence, so vivid, it’s as if I was there reliving them again.

I step into a gym at a church in North Carolina. There are two rows of guys lined up in the middle of the gym. In my mind’s eye I see myself standing in a line facing the opposite line of my peers and classmates. I see myself take off my belt and hold it limply in my hand. My face is yellow with fear, and my forehead slick with perspiration. In this night mare of a memory, I am about to partake in my first “gauntlet”.

I remember standing there thinking, “this really can’t be happening, I’m going to wake up any second now!” Unfortunately, I’m not dreaming and cannot awake from this living night mare. My classmate and friend, Seth Grant, was going to get the living hell beat out of him.

Seth, at the time was a small blonde seventh grader who had pissed off the almighty Steve Damron, who was our youth pastor at the time. What was his crime? You may ask… He had been horsing around with a couple of his classmates, as kids his age are prone to do. In the process he ended up knocking a girl’s hat off her head. I know what you are thinking, Seth committed a heinous crime, and he got off easy, having to run a gauntlet of fifty guys, ready to beat him with their belts. I know he got off easy this time, but those were easier times.

So, Steve Damron, Don Whitecar, and Eric Ramos, the three youth pastors started their speech. They told us that Seth needed punished for being immature, and that he needed a wake up call and so on and so forth. By the end of their righteous speeches, we were so worked up, that we couldn’t wait to punish this wicked sinner. They made us believe that we would be helping him be a better person and Christian by doing this. It was as if he had violated some horrible law of God and needed to be corrected. So he was made to run between the two lines of fifty guys. Many of us had been incited into such a rage, that we flipped our belts over and beat him with the buckles. Seth managed to make it down and back, and to this day, I don’t know how he did it. At the time he weighed no more than 130 pounds soaking wet, and he was only wearing pants and t-shirt. The fifty of us were composed of guys from seventh through twelfth grades. The largest of us weighed in at around 230 pounds, and we each got at least two chances to swing at him as he went by. I was mid way down the line, and I could see Seth running towards me, as fast as he could, while absorbing blow after blow, without mercy. By the time that he reached where I stood, he had slowed down considerably. I swung my belt high over my head and then down across my body, with every ounce of strength, that I had in me. As soon as my belt connected with his body, I knew this was a moment in my life that I would never forget. On his way back again through the gauntlet, I swung half heartedly, with little effort. I was afraid of what might happen to me, If I did not at least put on the appearance of following the direction of beating the poor boy senseless. When Seth finally reached the end of the gauntlet a second time, he collapsed on the floor and curled into the fetal position, shaking and sobbing.

As I stood there staring at the quivering mass crying on the floor, I hated! I hated myself, and I hated the F***ing Fundamental Baptist pastors who had incited a mob of teens whom they were responsible for, into beating this kid senseless. He laid on the floor for hours shivering, and shaking, and sobbing. To this day when I walk into a gym that image is the first thing that races into my mind.

Years later I remembered talking with a former classmate about the whole thing. He recalled being sorry that he was wearing sweatpants that night and wasn’t able to participate in the mob beat down. Now he can’t believe that thought would have ever crossed his mind, but such was the power of persuasion and fear that these Pastors held over us.

I was fifteen years old when this all happened, and I was twenty before I ever told any one about it. To tell you the God honest truth, I didn’t really remember it until then. I’m pretty sure that memory had been subconsciously blocked out with scores of others. Seth was my classmate. We sat in the same classes in our small school. We played on the same basketball court, and soccer fields. I talked and joked with him every day for many years. Why would I have turned towards violence on someone that I considered a friend? They knew we were young and impressionable, and coupled our fear with our respect for our religion. We questioned nothing and allowed ourselves to become tools in their hands.

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