Speaking OUT to end clergy sexual misconduct.

Archive for May, 2014

Teresa Pecinovsky and #YesAllWomen

The massacre at Santa Barbara triggered a twitter campaign, #YesAllWomen. (This triggered another campaign, #NotAllMen; you can read this excellent response by Presbyterian pastor-in-training Chris Chatelaine-Samsen on the Sojourners website.) Riding the #YesAllWomen wave, blogger Rachel Held Evans published a guest post by Vanderbilt divinity student and clergy sexual abuse survivor Teresa K. Pecinovsky. Teresa tells a story of abuse of power, first by her minister/professor/mentor, and then by the university that employed him. When her offender began sending personal emails, she thought she was safe because he was a minister. (“He wouldn’t do anything to hurt me, right?”) When he sent a sexually explicit email, Teresa cut off the relationship, but the trauma continued to haunt her. Her institution offered therapy to both her and her offender — but they paid for his PhD, while they turned her away from their seminary.

You can read Teresa’s account here. She writes beautifully, and there’s not a physically graphic word in the story — but I’m still going to offer a trigger warning. If, like me, you were the victim of a skillful emotional seduction and an institutional silencing, Teresa’s story may bring up painful memories. But since she was brave enough to write it, I can be brave enough to read it and share it.

I salute you, Teresa K. Pecinovsky, for the courage you showed in stopping the abuse, reclaiming your life, and sharing your story to encourage other survivors.

Journals of Trauma

journals

In these journals, I spent three years trying to understand my relationship with my offender. I covered nearly 1200 pages with ink, but I didn’t gain any clarity until after I left my church. With near-daily encounters at the church office, and within a congregation that worshipped him, it was impossible to think clearly.

After I stopped journaling in 2010, I kept these records thinking one day I might write the whole story. But in four years, I’ve never been able to bring myself to read them again. I didn’t even like walking past the shelf where they sat. Just looking at that stack made me feel tense and sad — but I didn’t dare get rid of them. What if those journals held insights that might help me or others?

Last Saturday I finally got clarity. Those books hold nothing but confusion and pain.

That afternoon, I destroyed them.

Since then, I have felt positively buoyant.

One more step in healing.

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