Category: Gender and Sexuality

Survivors Need More Than Good Intentions: Why EMU’s attempt at reconciliation with me failed

My name is Megan Grove. It’s been over two years since I originally posted my story on Our Stories Untold as M.G. Two years this past April. The same month that I tried to take my own life at EMU ten years ago. And as these years roll by, bleeding one into the next, I wonder how many people had and continue to have experiences similar to mine. How many people – survivors of sexual assault and violence and people with mental health issues—feel unsupported, untrusted, disbelieved, unequipped, unsafe? How many people has EMU continued to harm due to its handling of sexual assault accusations? I end nearly every email and phone call with my Into Account advocate, Hilary Scarsella, with the words, “I am so grateful for you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” Where we left off Let me take a step back, to 2016 when I first wrote my post. While I used my initials in the post and recognized that readers may figure out my identity, I made it clear that if someone wanted to respond to my post they would need to do it through my advocate. I asked that no one attempt to communicate with […]
The post Survivors Need More Than Good Intentions: Why EMU’s attempt at reconciliation with me failed appeared first on Our Stories Untold.

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Interview: Michelle Morrow, LGBTQ Inclusion

Michelle Morrow joins the podcast to talk to Ryan about her own story coming to Anabaptism and her work now with supporting LGBTQ inclusion in the Church. Some questions covered include:

Michelle’s religious background growing up (0:36)
Finding her way to Anabaptism at Fresno Pacific University (1:27)
Transitioning from seeing her future in biblical studies to being in student services and working for LGBTQ inclusion (5:38)
What working for LGBTQ inclusion looks like for her (16:15)
How Anabaptism helps inform what Michelle is doing (21:45)
Whether a church can be loving toward LGBTQ people without being fully affirming (33:30)
Church Clarity and the push for being clear about what a church practices, whether affirming or not (43:19)
Practical tips for those wanting to better include LGBTQ people (52:44)

Links:

Michelle’s website: www.michellefmorrow.com
Anabaptist Collective Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MennoNerds
Church Clarity: https://www.churchclarity.org/

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Just Get It Together, Goshen College: In Support of Women’s Soccer Players Speaking Out

I was sexually assaulted within the first few weeks at Goshen College. I have always known I am not alone in that fact. That is the story for many college students, and many students at Goshen College. My trauma was exacerbated and compounded by the response of the administration. Since writing about how my Title IX complaint was taken on by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the OCR has finished its investigation. My claims of Title IX violations and retaliation were substantiated by the federal government, and Goshen College signed a Resolution Agreement. My healing was able to begin when Goshen College signed this agreement with the OCR that has nine requirements and deadlines. I was able to feel like I could rest from the three year struggle to feel valid and safe after this particular incident. This agreement was not just for my healing. My fight was not just for me. It was so that others would be safe, feel supported, and be heard. There is a battle going on between, on one hand, the former and current players of the Goshen College women’s soccer team, and on the other, the college’s administration. There has been financial, physical, verbal, racial, and […]
The post Just Get It Together, Goshen College: In Support of Women’s Soccer Players Speaking Out appeared first on Our Stories Untold.

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PTSD and the Designer Drug That Saves Me From Suicide

Torah Bontrager grew up in an Amish community in Ohio. As a child, she was sexually abused. The repercussions of the abuse threatened to take her life, but Torah has found ways to live and thrive through a combination of medication and activism. On a mission to make common cause with all survivors of sexual harm connected to Anabaptist communities of faith, Torah runs a podcast featuring Anabaptist assault survivors and invites any and all who would like to contribute to the podcast to be in touch with her. Torah’s fighting spirit and courage to tell it like it is has a thing or two to each all of us. We hope you will allow her voice to reach you. Flashbacks Summer 2015.  Out of nowhere, I found myself clutching my body and rocking back and forth on my bed. You’re okay.  This is a flashback.  You’re not in actual danger right now.    Five years earlier, I finally found a therapist who was actually skilled in handling sexual assault cases.  I was 29 years old, dealing with my childhood traumas for the first time. That is, after a failed first attempt with a Columbia University clinical psychologist who re-traumatized me when I went […]
The post PTSD and the Designer Drug That Saves Me From Suicide appeared first on Our Stories Untold.

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A Perfect Cocktail of Disgusting Lies!: Matthew Distefano’s “Heretic!”

Attending a Conservative Christian university while visiting about hundred urban churches and growing up in the conservative Midwest, I have been well acquainted with the dominant manifestations of North American Evangelical Christianity. I have found it wanting.
My relationship with it still exists, largely due to my introvert personality and general lack of verbally sharing what I truly believe with my conservative peers which make up a significant portion of my circle. One must pick their battles.
That said, Matthew Distefano’s newest book, Heretic! An LGBTQ-Affirming, Diving-Violence Denying, Christian Universalist’s Response to Some of Evangelical Christianity’s Most Pressing Concerns, resonates with me, as I believe it does an ever-increasing number of, for lack of better term, Post-Evangelicals. As the mouthful-of-a-title makes clear, it tackles some of the most heated topics among Evangelical Christians in the North American context with some tongue-in-cheek humor and signature Distefano wit to boot. Also, take the Parental Advisory warning seriously – Distefano uses some, ahem, colorful language.
Now, if you’re an Evangelical Christian, you may be thinking, “Universalism?? LGBTQ?? God as totally and wholistically nonviolent? Are you on pot? (A topic which Distefano has covered elsewhere) Of course he’s a heretic!” Except you’d be wrong, at least according to Christian tradition. Distefano still adheres to the Apostolic and Nicene Creeds (which were largely influenced by theologians who believe a variety of things that Distefano proposes in his book). The term heretic, historically, is less referring to what someone believes within the Christian tradition, and more about being divisive – someone who tears a community apart, often intentionally so.
For example, when an Evangelical church shuns a practicing homosexual – that congregation is being heretical, according to historical definition. When churches separate over minute doctrinal differences such as full or partial immersive baptism. Protestantism is about the most heretical manifestation of Christianity in the 2,000 year history of the religion – it just can’t agree on anything.
What Distefano shares with us in his new book, out April 1, is not heretical – it is, on the contrary, welcoming. Welcoming to those Evangelical Christianity has often shunned: those who refuse to believe that God as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ is an abusive father who wants to torment 99% of the human population forever, to those who don’t maintain heterosexual relations or feelings, to those who believe violence is a never-ending self-perpetuating cycle. It seeks to cultivate community, not divide it. As far as I can tell, Distefano is even inviting those whom disagree with him to participate – if they can do so without themselves being divisive.
If you’re interested, Distefano’s book officially releases April 1, 2018. For the entire month of April, the Kindle edition will be 99 cents and all proceeds will go to the Preemptive Love Coalition. Check it out!
Distefano was kind enough to send a signed copy of Heretic! to me himself. Of course, I gave a donation to him in return. Being a shunned theologian certainly does not pay the bills very well!
Visit Matthew Distefano’s website!

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Syndicated from Interdependently Independent

Podcast: Are the Prohibitions Against Homosexuality Culturally Relative?

Greg considers if homosexuality is culturally relative or not, and what to do about it.   
Send Questions To:
Dan: @thatdankent
Email: askgregboyd@gmail.com
Twitter: @reKnewOrg
http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0306.mp3
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Man, Christian, Survivor of Abuse: My Message to the Church

Charlie is a Methodist getting ready to graduate from an Anabaptist seminary. In addition to being a child abuse survivor himself, he is an activist for child abuse survivors, and we are thoroughly impressed by his commitment to resisting abuse and encouraging others to do the same. Preparing to be a minister himself, Charlie has hard-earned wisdom to offer the church. We are grateful he has chosen to share a bit of it here. “Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.”   Kyle Stephens I don’t recall when I realized what was happening to me was abusive. There was a time between the ages of five and seven that my grandmother picked me up to take me to school and asked me why I was crying. “Momma doesn’t love me,” she recalled in a conversation we would have in my teenage years. As she described the situation, I was wearing a jacket covered in snot. I had been crying so hard that my nose ran uncontrollably. “She beat you that morning for wetting the bed,” my grandmother continued as she took a puff of […]
The post Man, Christian, Survivor of Abuse: My Message to the Church appeared first on Our Stories Untold.

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Responding to Reports of Abuse: Who’s Getting it Right? And Where Does Theology Come In?

This post was originally published on the blog of Into Account, our parent organization. The other day, my colleagues and I were reflecting on the sense of angst we have when folks in communities of faith ask us for examples of people getting it right when it comes to responding to abuse. It’s a perfectly fantastic question. Who is not making a mess of sexual violence reports, and how can we hold up these instances of success as models for others to follow? The problem is, we don’t know of many success stories to tell. Partly, that’s because they’re shockingly uncommon. In my years of talking and hanging out and working with survivors of sexual violence, I can count on one hand the number who have been satisfied with the way their reports of violence were handled. Just kidding! I can count them on no hands, because zero is the number of sexual violence survivors who have ever said to me anything remotely close to that. Even so, one would think it has got to be true that some survivor somewhere has had a good experience reporting abuse to the appropriate religious institution. If such a person exists, it would be unlikely for their […]
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The Proverbs 31 Woman Revisited

The unnamed woman in Proverbs 31:10-31 appears to be the woman who has it all and who does it all. She has a supportive husband and grateful children. She is a capable household manager and a commercially successful buyer and seller of goods and property. She is generous, optimistic, wise, kind-hearted, and God-fearing. Her many … Continue reading The Proverbs 31 Woman Revisited
Syndicated from April Yamasaki

The Power of the Dark

Zeta (pseudonym) is a survivor of sexual abuse and rape both as a child and as an adult. She will be writing every now and then for Our Stories Untold, with a special focus on speaking to other survivors about everyday dynamics of struggle and peace that come with being a person who is living a life touched by sexualized violence trauma. Please join us in welcoming her as an intermittent and regular contributor.   On this solstice day, I feel like I will never be free of the repetitious shit trauma that ebbs and flows through my body, wrecking whatever it touches with no regard for how hard or long I’ve worked to knit myself a cloak of calm. Today, after years of counseling and self-care and mindfulness and all the book knowledge that exists in the world on rape and trauma and shame and self-blame, I am sure once again that I am the exception. I wasn’t raped. It was my fault. I made him do it and then tricked myself into believing that I was a victim, because I couldn’t handle the truth of my own depravity. I think: Maybe if I give in and go with this version of […]

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Shedding the Shame of Adolescent Peer Sexual Abuse: My Story

For years, it ate away at me inside. Disgusted in myself for not being more forceful, for not standing my ground. Ashamed, believing it was my fault because, well, I was part of it. I knew it was wrong for an adult to harm or exploit a child but never realized there could be perpetrators who were not adults. The internet was up and coming. I’d find myself up late at night, alone in my college dorm room, searching. Searching for answers, for validation, for something to help me understand and give me some kind of peace. The manner in which the abuse finally ended, no doubt for me, compounded my sense of self-loathing. Then one night, sans inhibition – compliments of alcohol – I verbalized an uncertain opinion to my stone cold sober roommate. Her posture changed. Her attention changed. The mindless chit chat she had been humoring me with up until then became a more serious interrogation. I became soberly aware of the skeleton I had just let out of the closet, and hesitantly answered her questions. She confidently challenged my attempts to interpret the abuse as possibly normal, not being a big deal, or maybe as my […]
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Interview: Rachel Halder, Sacred, Sexy, and Whole

Rachel Halder joins the podcast to discuss healthy sexuality in general and her book Sacred, Sexy, and Whole in particular. Some topics include:

Introducing Rachel and her history studying sexuality (0:54)
What purity culture means and some of its implications (6:30)
The extent to which purity culture comes out of a long history vs being a new construction (10:42)
Consequences of purity culture (13:45)
Advice for people who are dealing with the harm of purity culture, including the value of masturbation as a way to learn about yourself (18:10)
Resources to help people exploring these questions (22:01)
What’s in the book (25:07)
General responses to the book (28:53)
Trauma that results from purity culture and generational passing down of purity culture (31:42)
Rachel’s relationship with her Mennonite history (35:54)
Neuroscience and sexuality (39:22)
What’s next for Rachel and her work (41:45)
Vision for the Church (43:48)

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