Category Archives: Articles by Nancy Bicknell

The Casting – By Nancy Bicknell

the CastingIt is fall on the small religious campus in Wisconsin. The leaves have turned and the frost is steaming up from the ground changing the season to winter. The auditorium is filled with people who do not know why they are assembled since it is not Sunday services or Wednesday prayer meeting but, there they are, waiting.

Like feathers floating from the skies little pieces of paper fall from the sky through the ceilings. Each person picks up the note paper closest to them that has a caption entitled “The Casting.” There is a word written on the parers. Some were cast as Orchestra, Church Leaders, Preacher Boys, Inner Circle, Bystanders, Victim or Abuser. It seems that a play is going to be produced this very day and everyone has a role.

One bewildered young Preacher Boy steps forward after he realizes his paper says ‘Director.’ Taking his role, he starts to divide the people into their parts. “Bystanders are to all take a seat in the audience,” he announces. To his surprise, all but a handful of people took seats in the audience. He directed the others to go onto the stage. He sent the Orchestra to the Pit. Once the cast was before him he asked each one to read their role out loud.

The Church Leaders proudly stepped forward followed by the Inner Circle. Looking at the cast of players, the Director notices two players still in the back of the stage. He asks them to step forward. ” Who are you he asks?” The man opened his paper and looking surprised, as though he had not seen his role before, stated, “Well, I guess I am the Abuser.” He fades back into the darkness of the stage hiding behind the Inner Circle. The director then calls on the young teen girl. “Who are you?” he asks. She announces that she must have picked up the wrong piece of paper because she was the Victim and did not want that part. She did nothing wrong and was sure the part was a mistake. The Director said he was not in charge of the casting; and, that it appeared that every role was connected to each other and the play was happening as a spontaneous event based on the reactions and free will of all the players.

The director asked some Bystanders to run the lights and control the curtains. Suddenly, there was a scream.

The Victim ran out on stage having blood on her heart saying, “See, I am not supposed to have this role. I am innocent.”

“Who did this to you?” the Director asked, followed by the church leaders questions.

She said, “It was the Abuser. He hurt me in the dark when the curtain was closed.”

The director asked the Abuser to step forward. He did not. Noticing a stir in the audience, the director sees the Abuser.

“Sir,” he says, “Did you hurt this girl?”

The Abuser says, “No, I was was here in the audience all the time.”

The young girl cries, standing on center stage.

The director again asks her saying, ” He says he did not hurt you.”

The Abuser yells out from behind the church leaders now. “She walked into my sword and then she fell in front of me.”

The girl continues to cry.

The director wanting to get on with the play, sends everyone to the costume room to be fitted with their robes. The make-up is completed and the hair is groomed. The curtain opens and all begin to play their roles.

A Bystanders calls out from the audience, “The Victim is still crying and I can not hear the Church Leaders! Can you ask her to stop?”

She tries to stop as she hears the complaints. The music begins from the orchestra pit but, the sobs of the girl interrupt the symphony.

The victim calls out, ” I need help here, I am hurt.”

The Church Leader says, “I don’t see blood anymore. So you are fine. You just need to trust Jesus, go to church and leave the stage. You are interrupting the work of God here.”

The audience responds with praises and an Amen.

The girl attempts to leave the stage but is too weak to walk now. The Inner Circle tells the Church Leaders to call upon the Director to remove her from the stage. The director says, “I am not writing the script here. So you do as you will.”

The Church Leaders walk up to the Victim and tell her that Jesus has dried her tears. She moans in pain. The Church Leaders tell her to “Let it Go” since the Abuser is innocent and she must forgive him. She faints before them. The Church leaders are fearful she will not get well and ask the Director to let them off the stage.

The Director says, “This is your play.”

The Abuser encourages the Church Leaders from stage right saying,”She obviously has sinned and you must hold her accountable for ruining the play.” The Church Leaders decide to leave the stage followed by the Inner Circle.

Standing on stage left in sheep’s clothing is the Abuser who slips off the stage into the night following the Church Leaders and the Inner Circle. The lights are lowered to center stage and the girl is too weak to stand. The Bystanders tell her to get off the stage, but she cannot.

The Bystanders notice the Director has also left. No one is left but the Bystanders and the victim. Some yell out, “Forgive and get over it and you will be well.” Others cry out to her, “Stop telling us your sob story,” and still others, say nothing at all.

It seems the girl is bleeding now onto the stage’s wood floor, but no one moves from the audience. Only the Bystanders are left. The majority of the cast are Bystanders and they do not seem to know what to do. Silence.

A bright spot light from above shines down and, there before the Bystanders, is a new actor on stage. It is Jesus. He looks at the girl and swoops her up in His arms. He turns to carry her away but stands still for a moment to turn and look at the Bystanders. His eyes are glaring in anger.  They all hang their heads in shame, realizing they could have picked up the child themselves.

Jesus’ eyes pierce their hearts and He turns with the child in His arms and disappears. The Bystanders sit alone as the lights go off and the curtain closes.

Blinders – By Nancy Bicknell

blindersTAKE YOUR BLINDERS OFF I.F.B. PARENTS

A messaged for children who were abused in the I.F.B. (Independent Fundamental Baptist) church whose parents will NEVER stand up for them:

This is what I would like to say to you as a mom who is trying to stand up for her kids.

I am sorry for the abuse you endured. I am unhappy that your parents cannot stand up for you. Many parents are too indoctrinated in the I.F.B. beliefs to leave the church to protect their children. Yes, I said LEAVE the church  because, if parents stand up for their abused children in the I.F.B. church, they know they will be shamed, shunned and pushed out. My husband and I have finally stood up for our two boys. But, it took them being sexually abused in the I.F.B. church before I stood up. And even then, I was so fearful of the I.F.B. and their tactics, that I had to have a lot of support to stand. I did this by telling my boys it was time for them to tell their stories of abuse since they were adults now and only needed my permission to tell it all. However, the victim has to be strong enough to go through the I.F.B. secondary abuse that will be thrown at them. If they are not emotionally strong then they are not ready to tell their story.

As a Mom, I wanted my boys to talk about their abuse and I would come in as Mom and defend them, protect them from the IFB darts and, validate that I was there and everything they told in their stories was true as I experienced it with them as their Mom. So, I say this to those who’s parents may never see the light: You can find that loving support (the love you wanted from your parents but didn’t get) in others who have seen the light. I guess if you are ready to reach out, then others who understand, will reach back. No one can do this alone. The abuse in the I.F.B. church surpasses that of the Catholics according to G.R.A.C.E. We try to band together and help each other, but yes, in the end, you alone will stand on the stage of the public forum and tell your story if you choose. Many never will and they also have that choice. When all we have left is our story because the statutes of limitations is up, we know we stand together, and yet, alone. There will be no police help for us.

Perhaps some are gifted and can help change the laws. But in the mean time, find a good substitute Mom and Dad that will emotionally support you.  Lean on other abuse survivors. There are those who can write articles and play songs to bring attention to the I.F.B. abuse. I shout out to and for my boys that they are HEROES and stand behind them in the wings of the stage when they tell their stories; and I cry because I was too late and am doing too little. Yet, as they tell their stories, I see other victims standing in the audience and giving them a standing ovation; and their parents look at their children in amazement as they attempt to tell them “Sit down” Sit Down. We haven’t sat down yet…we are standing…keep standing.

Blinders
by Linda Mary Schaap

Look the other way!
Hide the shame, the tears, the ruin, the fear…
Gloss the truth, squash the ‘lie’ –
So no one will interfere…
Blinders.
Deeply festered is a wound so raw
Yet hidden beneath the acceptable.
Pain not erased even by law
For it wallows in a life susceptible…
Blinders.
Looking only straight ahead
Missing the clues of deception,
While atrocious actions multiply
And hearts are broken without detection…
Blinders.
Tear them off! Reveal the truth!
Shed the light on a tragedy!
See what’s right beside you
A soul in need of majesty…
Finders.
Diminish the hurt by reaching out
Avoid the shock, the awe, the no!
Listening, unfolding each awful truth
Of a story that just couldn’t be so…
Finders.
Please, don’t look the other way
And cover the deeds of darkness.
Nor silence an innocent voice
Who cries of confusion, shame, and brokenness…
Finders.

When Alarm Alerts Yell Fire! Fire! – By Nancy Bicknell

denial picA couple years ago I asked my son, Doug, to go to an addiction program at the IFB church where he was sexually abused to get some help for his drinking. Now, I know that was like taking a burn victim back to the building where they were scarred for life from their severe burns! But not then. It did not occur to me that this would harm him and not help him. After all, I was taking him to God’s church to find healing.

I had been going back into the abusive IFB church for a few months and I had developed a tolerance for the smells, sights and sounds of that church. Well, Doug walked into the church with me and said “OH God! I feel sick!” And ran for the mens bathroom to throw up. I had forgotten about the first time I walked into that abusive church after being out for years. I too, was physically sick. Unfortunately, I kept going into that church where my boys were abused until I could walk through the halls without throwing up. I was forcing myself to develop a threshold of tolerance for the emotional alarms going off in my head warning me to RUN….RUN. Like many others who try to go back to an abusive IFB church, I was taking my son into a burning church to heal his burn scars. That is what we call spiritual denial.

Our mind and body remember the abuse and, if we subject ourselves to the same triggers over and over, eventually the triggers will get less so we can stay in an abusive church. Doug was sick for a reason. That should have been the time to walk out of the church again rather than try to tolerate the puking. I know that now.

To cope with overwhelming experiences of distress, the brain will send out an alarm message like saying, “FIRE! FIRE!” The brain of a child who is raped may react by reducing the connectivity of the Alarm Alert regions in the brain that were hurt in order to survive if they are not removed from that church environment. Doug was helpless to remove himself from the abusive IFB church/school, because his parent taught in the IFB system. Doug’s child brain, in order to survive, went through a decrease in his emotional Alarm Alert as a self-protective response. He developed a tolerance to being in that abusive church as a child but, now as an adult, all the messages of Alarm Alert came flooding back and he vomited.

Sexual abuse of children can leave its victims prone to depression, moodiness and extreme or dulled emotional responsiveness, PTSD and addictions. This tolerance to emotional pain can ultimately prove harmful because it interferes with subsequent healthy Alarm Alert messages . Therefore my idea of taking a burn victim back into a burning building, turned out as one might predict –  very badly and, caused us all more burns.

The brain can change dramatically and begin to heal when provided with the right type of support and emotional nourishment. In our case, that would not be the IFB church where my boys were sexually abused. Understanding what goes wrong during and after abuse will help  IFB abuse survivors figure out how to make it right. Our long-term hope is to heal mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Those who have suffered abuse in the IFB will be more sensitive to disrespect of their pain and any empowering by others for the IFB pastors or IFB churches where they were abused. Their Alarm Alerts will begin working again in time. Getting away from that abusive IFB church environment is good thing. So if you feel like throwing up when you go into your old church environment….perhaps you should puke and walk out.

Building a Fence Around Victims – By Nancy Bicknell

Building a Fence around Victims in the IFB Church to Keep Out Predators

By Nancy Bicknell

  wolf
What comes first? Caring for the Predator Preachers or, Caring for the People they harmed? Big People Taking Care of Little People is something that sticks with me as a good formula for who needs to be helped. I always want to help the Little People who have been harmed by the Big People. When the wolf got in our chicken coop, I helped the chickens and my dad put up a fence so it would not happen again. When church members praise the Predator Preacher they are putting new victims at risk by opening the door, which says “More Predator Preachers WELCOMED, rather than building a fence around the people that were harmed and those who may be harmed in the future by other Predatory Preachers.
Can these sex offenders be cured or cared for? Theories of using confrontational treatment of sex offenders ordered for child sexual abuse perpetrators is the most common approach. They use group therapy that relies heavily upon punitive and hostile confrontation and a non-systemic blend of psychoanalytic concepts and traditional talking therapy. There is often little or no effort to provide a theoretical base for the program. These procedures are often moralistic and reflect the judgmental emotional response of society rather than an empirically-based healing technique. As you can see there is not anything that we know of for sure that works with pedophilia. However, in dealing with pedophilia, the focus is not on CURING the pedophile; as no one really knows how to do that. The focus is then on CARING for children, to keep them safe in the future by building a fence around the vulnerable among us, by locking up the pedophile and not allowing the continuation of their abuse. Our society currently is set up to keep the weakest, the littlest among us safe. Big People take care of Little People.

How much more so should that statement be true in our churches. Did the IFB church in your life protect the Little Ones or their Pastors who protected the abuser who abused the Little Ones? Shame on those who did not condemn the Pastors who abused or, protected the abuser, and continue to PRAISE them by allowing them to sit in the IFB PEWS and have not cared for the LITTLE ONES who sat in those same pews while being abused! SHAME on those who enable the Predatory Pastors message to continue through their praise, presence or silence.

Those who enable Predatory Preachers by praising them endanger the vulnerable. So the problem in my view is not those who are confronting the Predatory Pastor or Praisers but, what are we doing to keep the message of the pedophile from being praised or promoted and attracting more Predator Pastors? The blood of the child victims in the IFB church, like the blood of the chickens killed, will bring more wolfs to the chicken coop.

Many in the IFB churches are still in some denial believing they can cure the pedophiles by using a loving message and accepting those who praise the rapist —  like Jack Schaap, for example. This Praise of the Predatory Pastor should make us angry and motivate us to action. I would be equally angry at a group that praises Charles Manson and talks against those people who are trying to protect future children. If your family has been victimized by such a killer as Manson, who actually never killed a victim himself that we know of – yet his followers did – what side of the fence would you be on? If there is not a fence that your IFB church has put up, you would be determined by the blood you or yours have sacrificed because of the wolfs killing spree, to quickly put your energy into building a fence.

There is no easy answer. However, I don’t understand why those who are in denial about the danger of Pastor Predator Praising groups or churches have not left those communities to go build fences around the vulnerable. We build those fences by pointing a finger at the danger of praising the perp-pastor groups and churches. I support all of you advocates, survivors and those who support you with efforts that use your personality style to expose the dangers for those vulnerable ones still in the IFB churches like First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, and their former pastor, Jack Schaap. As leaders in this movement, we must build fences resilient enough to resist future Predator Preachers from getting to our children! I am your cheer leader. You are who you are and that leadership has been helpful to many who see your strong word on that subject. You are a leader and leaders show strength. That is a good thing. I have never seen a predator react to a feather.

Be strong all of you who are building the fences in your life time. Some of you are good yellers, so yell! Others are good writers, so write! Some of you are great listeners, so listen! Some of you draw pictures, so draw pictures! Together we can build a fence, but alone, well. . . alone we are just alone and the IFB will see us as a feather and blow us away.  So get your post hole digger out and help build the fence the best way you know how because God can use your talents to protect His Little Ones if you own your talents and prioritize fence building over caring for the Predatory Pastors.

The IFB tried to teach us as members that the real wolf was our government trying to take away our rights; and so many of us spent so much time looking out for the government as the wolf ready to devoured us that we missed the Wolfs among us in the IFB. As a result, many people got hurt and many, many children were harmed. What a paradox we found ourselves in when we finally saw the IFB wolfs in sheep’s clothing and it was too late. We were hoodwinked. I pray I will see the real wolfs in the future and point the IFB wolfs out to others. Keep up the good fight and I will cheer you on and, draw a picture now again.

The Elephant on the Teeter-Totter – By Nancy Bicknell

From the Author:

Nancy’s story echoes the truth of what many abuse victims deal with in any denomination where abuse occurs. As people that represent God, it is morally and ethically imperative that we not allow these abusers to get away with their abuses. Nancy’s sons have not received vindication nor restitution for their abuse. The abusers are still walking free – free to molest other children because of the power and positions they hold. If you know of abuse in your church, or, you are a victim of abuse, please find the courage to speak out. Your story is welcome on this blog so that your voice can be heard and you can be an encouragement to the countless thousands who have been silenced by their abusers and the churches they are a part of. There is no longer a need to be silenced while your abusers move on to their next victim. Think about it, and add your weight to the Teeter Totter. Which side will you choose?

Independent Fundamental Baptist Teeter-Totter

Independent Fundamental Baptist Teeter-Totter

Sexual Abuse is not about sex. It is about POWER and CONTROL. The I.F.B. abusers already have more POWER and CONTROL than the Independent Fundamental Baptist victim by grooming their prey. It is our job to sit on the other end of the teeter-totter and equalize and bring balance to the victim. The I.F.B. abusers know full well how to stand up for themselves and invite others to sit on their side of the teeter-totter so they can continue to have the POWER and gain even more POWER ….POWER…POWER. I decided, finally, that I had to sit on one side or the other, but I cannot sit on both while there are still victims in pain.

Making a choice which side you want to add your weight to is an individual choice. When I was drawing the White Elephant on a Teeter-Totter, I wanted to cry because I know what it feels like to have an entire I.F.B. church side with the abusers and blame the victims (my sons) as liars and bad people. I have chosen to find the POWER with GOD. I choose to seek power to heal my family and others who were hurt in the I.F.B. church.

I had a lot of therapy after the I.F.B. abuse and, the comment I remember the Doctor saying every time I would say, “I think I will go back to Calvary Baptist Church” was this:  ” Well Nancy, you know what that soup tastes like.” Each time I went back and sat by the elephants in the pew, I grew sicker. Then, I was put in a position as I entered the I.F..B church on Mother’s Day, of all days, to have to shake my son’s abuser’s hand because he was the I.F.B. church greeter and was giving flowers to the Moms.

I took my little red rose from him and walked away after doing my little plastic smile. It felt like GOD HAD STABBED my heart as I walked to my Sunday School class thinking, “Did you just smile and take a flower from your son’s rapist on MOTHER’S DAY?” I argued with my thoughts saying, “but I told the I.F.B. church leaders and they still put the RAPIST as a GREETER on Mother’s Day.” I knew what God had to say to me and what I had to say to myself. “You know better…so do better.”

With fear in my heart, a rose in my hand, and God at my side, I walked out of the church’s back door and again walked in the front door to be received by the Greeter. He looked at me as if to say, “Didn’t we just do this?” I held my breath…deep breath, as though I was taking in the Power of God, and I told him that my son had told me about a spanking and the terrible thing he had done to him during the spanking. He looked at me and said, “I don’t remember ever spanking Doug.” He continued to inform me how many boys had told him how much they appreciated their “spankings” and he finished his statement saying with tears in his eyes that “He loved those boys.” He had tears in his eyes and so did I as I stood inches from him and our eyes were locked. The tears frozen in time on our cheeks.

As a therapist, I knew his words were that of a pedophile feeling justified saying “I was only loving those boys.”. As an I.F.B., I heard him say “I loved those boys and you must love me.” But as a mother, I heard him say ” Yep, I loved him. I do not believe that he is harmed, and you can not prove I hurt him because I am in a position of authority; and well, you are just a Mom.”

I made a choice that day as a therapist. I understood his tears. As a Christian, I reached out and hugged him among the tears. But as a MOM, my primary responsibility, I walked away knowing I would have to leave the I.F.B. church if they did not support me. They did not support me, and I was walked out of the church as I walked willing out in my heart.

A mother has to choose her child when the church does not. I have tried from that day forward, to sit on the I.F.B. victim’s side. I will never add my weight to the I.F.B. abuser by sitting in the pew by I.F.B. abusers, or with them, and those who cover for the abuser, saying they are protecting the IMAGE of GOD. My sons and the other I.F.B. victims are heroes — beautiful and innocent little boys and girls who deserve our support. SO, sit with the victims! They need you!

The I.F.B. abusers have hundreds of supporters in the I.F.B. church as well as its leaders. Are you smiling and taking a red rose from a child’s abusers? Are you taking a rose to your seat in the I.F.B. church of Pastors who support the abusers instead of the I.F.B. victims? Are you sitting in an I.F.B. pew thinking you can hold on to your rose and hold the hand of an I.F.B. victim? Sit up IFBers who are not speaking up against abuse and SMELL THE ROSES.

When a Branch Falls – The tactic of “Shunning” used against Victims of Abuse

Author’s Note:

One of the main tactics used by the Religious System against those who speak out about their abuse is “ostracizing” or “shunning” of the victim and his or her family. Throughout the years, it has become a weapon of choice amongst clergy and Christians. It is used to SILENCE victims. By using this tactic, the church leadership enables perpetrators to move on to their next victim and the trauma inflicted on the victims and their families, is huge! For some, the risk of losing all the friends that they have ever known, their “church family”, is enough to keep them silent. Relationships in the Church all hinge on the premise that we must “keep the unity” of the church family intact. When there are hidden abuses that come to the surface, however, it brings conflict into the church as other members take sides and are pitted against each other. Many churches have been split over this type of conflict arising in the church.

When the abuser is the pastor or a person in a position of leadership in the church, the trauma to the victim and their families is ten-fold. I speak about this in my book, Religion’s Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse. “This type of behavior leaves its victims in a state of shock at first. Then the shock turns into a deep and hurtful wound of the spirit. Some will walk away from the faith as a result of this tactic, while others may walk away from the church. And yet there are some that will stay and take the abuse because they have been brainwashed into believing there is no other place to go that preaches and teaches the truth. In all instances, the wound eventually becomes covered over without ever being dealt with properly. This type of wound is dangerous and can manifest itself later on by being duplicated by the victim against someone else, or it can manifest itself in adverse behaviors and vices that will be hidden from the view of the church body.” (Religion’s Cell, pg. 23)

Attached to “shunning” is shame and guilt. The abuser wants to put on the back of the victim the guilt that it was “the victim’s fault.” This mindset is also propagated throughout the congregation against the victim. Many church leaders have made victims stand in front of their congregations and “confess” to their “sin” of __________. (You can fill in the blank.) I have seen children standing before my own “church family” and having to admit that they were the guilty one simply because that is what leadership told them they needed to do! CHILDREN! When a girl is molested or raped in the church setting, the mentality is that it is the girl’s fault. When a young boy is molested or raped in the church setting, it is the boy’s fault. This guilt that these CHILDREN carry with them has destructive tentacles that poison every aspect of their lives. The tentacles are far reaching and, the destruction attached to these tentacles, can even carry over into their children’s lives when they get married and have families of their own. This path of destruction has no end UNTIL the abusers have been dealt with and these victims are FREED from the shame and guilt and pain and suffering that they have been carrying. I tell victims of abuse often, that God made a provision in scripture to protect victims of abuse and crime. It involves RESTITUTION to the victim. However, today’s clergy have by-passed this provision and teach a “forgive and forget” mentality that perpetrates more abuse in the church.

Nancy’s story is not an isolated one! I too, have been on the receiving end of shunning. It is painful and hard to deal with. Nancy’s story is a tragic one. The “family” that she so desperately needed to support her and her sexually abused boys, left her alone to fight in the darkness of anguish and despair; all the while, hoping that their tactic would silence her lips from going to the authorities about the abuses. What a sad state the church has fallen in to! Here’s Nancy’s Story:

When a Branch Falls
By Nancy Bicknell

One of my favorite drawings I was drawn to as a young teen artist was from the poem, The Last Leaf. I suffered from childhood depression and was eventually admitted to an intensive impatient program after some observant professional in my life picked up on the cues I was sending out in my drawings. I would draw this gnarly tree that had all but one of its branches cut off and, on that branch, was one leaf hanging on as the wind whipped it back and forth. That drawing actually saved my life when a teacher, seeing the signs of depression and assessing my self-harming behaviors, reached out to get me help. Unlike many of the Independent Fundamental Baptist survivors put in unregulated homes where Ungodly Discipline was used, I was in a state run Mental Hospital in Madison , Wisconsin, and I did very well.

I got up this morning and that drawing came to my mind…no, not because I am thinking of harming myself, but because I am remembering when a branch fell out of a tree and took out the back window on my car. That was a couple of years ago when I was still in the IFB cult and my husband was suddenly struck with a severe mental illness leaving me as the main branch to hold things together. I was not much stronger than my husband, at that time, who was hospitalized with Depression with Psychosis and catatonia. (This was quite weird because, that is what had happened to me as a teenager.)

I was determined to be the ‘Strong Branch’ and, to lean on God again and have the Independent Fundamental Baptist church hold me up, as I knew my own history and did not want my mental health issues to be triggered. So, I did what an artist does, and that is to begin to draw pictures to sell and keep my home together. I had been shunned from the Independent Fundamental Baptist church some years ago after my son, Scott’s IFB teacher, had sex with him and we were fired as teachers. The family branches were broken from the IFB abuse and we separated. I remarried many years later to my current husband who continues to suffer today, being bedridden as well.

During this time, an IFB Professor and his wife who had been my friends for years, saw my suffering and reached out to me to encourage me to come back to the IFB fold and connect my disconnected branch back into the IFB tree trunk. I felt alone and desperate for family at this time, and remembered this professor and his wife’s love for me over the past years in the IFB. The professor had always supported my art work. He had me paint a life portrait of his children when I was his student. When he had a house fire, he risked life and limb to save the portrait from the fire. Later, my house burned, and he and his wife sat with me every day as we sorted through my burned up paintings I had in my personal collection in my home. Our spirits were melted together by the fires and we became family.

So, I again connected my broken branch to the support of the IFB Tree Trunk. When another tree branch fell on my car, the professor seeing I was driving with a plastic window, offered to pay for a new one. When he saw a need in my family, like with the fire, he and his wife came to the rescue. The professor’s wife, who was now my best friend, also became ill, so we both had spouses who needed our care. We understood each other; I thought we were all like family.

Then, another BRANCH FELL. My other son, Doug, who had become isolated and seemingly depressed, spilled the beans about his violent sexual abuse during a spanking at the same Independent Fundamental Baptist School! Immediately, I saw The Last Leaf drawing in my head, for him. I was stunned, and unable to respond for weeks, until one day, I finally reached out to my professor friend. I thought he would know what to do, but, as it turned out, he was friends with the abuser. My beloved professor friend, a deacon at the church, now saw that my family had once again become a branch that need to be severed. We now had become a liability to the IFB church and the only way he would continue to be our friend was if we never talked about the abuse outside of the church walls.

Well, not talking about the abuse was going to cause my son’s Last Leaf to fall, and I was not sure of my own mental health, so, we as a family, including my other son, Scott, reached out for help on the IFB cult Support groups on Facebook. Because of this, my professor friend said that he would not talk to me ever again and, if I tried to come to his Sunday school class he would not acknowledge me. Shunned again, and cut asunder, we went through another fire. Even though we both had chronically ill spouses, the exposing of my other son’s abuse, became the “last straw” that severed our relationship not only with the Professor and his wife, but the church, for the final time. We left the church and, once again, experienced loss of friendships, hurt and ostracizing from those who “professed to love us.”

Well, a Branch Fell on my heart last night. “I heard that my best friend, the professor’s wife, who I have not seen or talked to for 2 years now, has died. I asked my very ill husband who fights depression and went through the trauma with me regarding our boys’ sexual abuse, If we should attend the funeral. His response was, “No, you can’t.” So, here I am, once again, cut off. My heart is broken for the loss of my friend whom I loved so dearly. I am crying as I write this, but realize that the day will come when I can talk to her in Heaven. There won’t be any shunning in Heaven. God has not cut me asunder like the IFB church and its people have; and last night, it seemed like I saw her peaking though a cloud saying in her lovely impish way. “Hi, there friend, heaven is just as we thought it would be, and I will talk at ya’ later.”

From the Author: Stories like this drive home the reality of the pain and suffering that those who are shunned feel. Even after the severing of the ties, the emotional bonds never die. Victims struggle from day to day trying to figure out how they can suddenly “not be loved” anymore; especially when they desperately NEED the support of friends and family in order to overcome the abuse and trauma. They feel betrayed and, struggle with this betrayal. Sadly, victims of abuse in today’s churches have a long way to go in affecting any changes in the religious system and the use of these types of abusive tactics. However, do to the advent of the internet, victims now have a medium that gives them a voice and, that voice is ever growing in VOLUME. The voices of the abused now encompass every area of the world and allows these victims to come together as one to shout to the world what they have suffered at the hands of clergy. It is enabling them to finally seek the RESTITUTION they have been denied by the church. My hope is that these voices will be heard by those who can affect change in order to protect victims of clergy abuse.