Year: 2012

Why My Stalkers’ Threat is Bogus: Going to my Priest is Well Within My Rights

What amazes me is the fury with which I was hit for musing, on one of my blog posts months before my blog stalkers ever found them, that if our churches were to merge, I would have to go to the priest of the merged church for help:

Richard’s church and mine are both very small and in financial trouble; the archdiocese has suggested they merge.  The two churches don’t want to merge, since they’re in different counties, and somebody would have to move.  But the option is still on the table.

If the churches merge, I will have to go to the priest with my concerns, and show him the proof that Richard is a convicted child abuser, to establish my credibility and prove that he is violent.

Because Tracy has bullied and verbally abused me as well, I will have to also show him an article I found on a contract one church drew up with a member who had been charged with molestation, a contract which was meant to help the member find redemption, but also consider the needs and fears of the victims.  We could modify it for our own needs.

For one thing, this was hypothetical and may never happen, because our two churches do not want to merge.  I posted that a year ago, and nobody has done anything to move toward a merge.

For another, when one person in a church has been abused by another person in that church, going to the priest/preacher for help and protection is perfectly valid and may be necessary to provide protection.  For example, see the article I linked about the contract one church drew up.

Disagreements between parishioners are one thing, but we’re talking actual abuse here, which caused me extensive spiritual damage as well.  It is my right–even in the Constitution–to go to my priest with concerns like this.

From what I could determine from Richard and Tracy’s vague and threatening e-mail (see Now I’m Being Stalked), this is the action which they warned me they would sue me for.

Also, asking for spiritual help and counseling from a priest, preacher or other qualified parishioner, to help with another, is not only perfectly valid, but commanded by Christ for handling disputes (Matthew 18:15-17), so that the body will not be divided.

So by threatening me, Richard and Tracy are fighting Christ.  A mediator would be absolutely necessary in a small church, in a situation as abusive and volatile as this.

[Update 9/6/14:] Not only that, but a police officer told me I had the right to do this and could not be sued for it.

Since my blog stalkers tried to use threats of lawsuits to keep me from handling this dispute properly within the church if our churches were to merge, I can only assume that it was because they know they’re in the wrong.  That they don’t want their abusive actions to see the light of day.

Keep this in mind as a red flag, because such threats are common from abusers, whether the victim has already told, or to prevent the victim from telling, those who could help.

Others have been through this, such as Julie Anne Smith, who have tried to have such a counseling session/meeting with their abusers, but the abusers have refused, choosing to sue instead.

(So far, Julie Anne Smith has won, all charges against her dismissed with the plaintiff paying her legal fees, while another blogger’s suit is just beginning.  But over and over again, I find plaintiffs losing such cases.)

Disfellowshipping from the church is only to be used for extreme cases, and I never intended for my blog stalkers to be disfellowshipped even if we did get that far.

The contract described above, is what I wanted, to stipulate that they keep their distance from me and not harass me, so I could feel safe at church without fearing for my emotional, spiritual or even physical well-being.

But the unwillingness of my blog stalkers to recognize their own part in things and apologize, even after we have spoken to my priest, and for them to react so harshly against the idea of counseling with the priest, leaves me free to disfellowship them from me.

But this page on resolving disputes between congregants, from a Protestant denomination, sums up quite well why this is so vital in a tiny church:

Many branches of the church of God are small in the number of members. Most of our individual congregations are quite small too. There were positive and negative aspects of the large congregations of our former fellowship.

Because of the much greater numbers of people in our old congregations, there were more opportunities for friends and companionship, but there were also more opportunities for offenses.

This fact also allowed the offenders and the offended to “resolve” their differences by merely ignoring one another and gravitating to another set of church friends. We do not have that luxury in our tiny congregations today!

We have very limited opportunities for friendship and fellowship within our tiny congregations on our little “church islands.”

Remember that our little church congregations are small islands of truth and righteousness, isolated and surrounded by the vast ocean of Satan’s world.

We need to stick together. We should not be giving offense to our beloved brethren, and neither should we be so touchy and sensitive that we are too easily offended.

Let us strive to get along together and to love one another with the godly love that is unique to the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

If our churches were cathedrals, or at least as large as my husband’s church (500), we could easily lose sight of each other in the crowd (and neither church would be in financial straits and talking mergers, either).

But no, our churches are so tiny that you can barely move without bumping into each other at some point.  A person can barely speak without everyone in the room being aware of it.

In mine you have the little sanctuary and a little office upstairs, and the basement downstairs, and that’s it: no classrooms, even.  Theirs is even smaller.

My priest is already aware of the situation, but because our churches have been reticent to merge, there has been no reason to ask for a formal contract as described above, or for formal counseling sessions involving my blog stalkers.  The best means has been to simply avoid each other (though stalking my blog hardly counts as “avoiding” me).

Most of the time they’re not at my church, so there is no problem with this, and I have felt no need to go further.  But my church is in the final stages of negotiating a salary for my priest; if he rejects it, I don’t know what will happen.

If the idea of merging is put on the table again because of our recent, sudden change in finances, then I’ll have to ask for formal help–or go to a church which is farther away, but free of this drama completely.  Or if they start coming to mine on a regular basis, I will have to ask for formal help, because I won’t uproot myself from my own church.

And they will not be able to sue me, will have no right to, because I have and will have broken no law–and because it would be a violation of my rights.

Neither option is appealing.  But if I have to ask for formal counseling, it is well within my rights as a parishioner and an abuse victim–and my blog stalkers would have absolutely no basis to sue me over it.

I would keep out opinions of motivations, etc. and stick to what happened and how it made me feel, not out of fear of a lawsuit, but because it would not be right or tactful to bring such things into counseling sessions with a priest.

It’s not his job to sort that stuff out, and I would be far better served by keeping things clear and to the point, no speculation.  I’ve noted that people involved in custody battles are advised this as well.

In other words, what works for venting to friends in cyberspace, is entirely different from what works for negotiations, and could actually work against the desired result.

Why this would so disturb my blog stalkers that they would call it a “threat” (when it wasn’t even directed at them, just musings written months before they found my blog), and threaten me with a lawsuit if I did this, I have no clue.

You can easily see that there was no hint of a “threatening” tone in the “offending” paragraph.  Unless, of course, they recognize what they did was wrong, and that this would force them to face that.

What I do know is that their threat is groundless, and because of our First Amendment, the courts would not even touch it.  How churches deal with contentious members, is entirely up to the churches.

I am 100% supportive of outing these fools by name. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t understand that outing them is a direct consequence and they should deal with it. They don’t.

Instead, they seek low-life attorneys willing to send cease and desist letters to scare us into thinking we’re committing a crime.

We’re not!! It’s called freedom of speech.

If they think we’re lying and hope to sue us for defamation, libel, or slander, they need to prove that in court. The burden in U.S. courts is on the complainant, not the defender. I believe it is opposite in some countries, including Canada and the UK. :) –Paula, Lance Armstrong’s Jailhouse Confession


Toxic Mix of Abusers and Introverts

In Introverts and emotional vampires–a toxic mix, just posted on Wednesday, Paula Carrasquillo writes,

Emotionally abusive people like the boy interpret an introvert’s desire to be alone as a personal insult to them.

Abusive people are VERY insecure and abuse others through asserting their control over them. They want to control what you do, who you know, who you talk to, and even what you think.

Because I like to be alone to refresh my brain, I was often accused of alienating him from my life and not loving him enough.

One of my activities that he especially disliked was me exercising on the elliptical machine for 20-30 minutes each evening after work. The boy HATED that I did this.

He interpreted it as me choosing some other activity in order to avoid him because I must not love him enough (or some such shit reason that he would pull from his pathetic ass).

She describes how giving in to her sociopathic ex’s demands for her to abandon her introverted ways, resulted in losing herself and being very stressed.

This matches my own experience with Richard and Tracy.  See here.

Washington Times Article on Abuse Blogs Just Like Mine

I am not the only abuse blogger by far.  There are many before me and will be many after me.

There are various categories, too: blogs about narcissists, blogs about sexual abusers, blogs about domestic violence or child abuse–and, quite often, speculations that the abusers are mentally ill or have personality disorders, such as narcissism or sociopathy.

Now there is an article about this phenomenon: Domestic violence victims are speaking out, handing out a dose of reality by Paula Carrasquillo.  Some quotes:

Once too ashamed or guilt-ridden to tell even their closest friends and family members about their abuse, more and more victims and survivors of domestic violence and intimate partner abuse are coming forward with their stories.

But not to law enforcement, lawyers, and judges as you may expect. Instead, survivors and current victims dedicate websites, blogs, message boards, and even self-published books to their experiences.

The possible reasons are countless and may never be measured or determined, but a movement is evident. Just do a Google blog search for emotional abuse, domestic violence, and verbal abuse, and you will be bombarded by more than 94,000 results collectively.

Herself a survivor of domestic violence who blogs and has self-published a book about it, Paula (I’ll use her first name because it’s easier to spell) notes that many people don’t understand why anyone would write such a blog.

But she says this is the only outlet many victims have to be heard.  They use it to find validation, support and a form of justice.  Paula blogs to purge her anger and confusion.

Interestingly, I recently read the following on a blog by Joseph Burgo, Ph.D: “Most of the clients I’ve seen who demonstrated features of Borderline Personality Disorder or presented with Bipolar Disorder symptoms also displayed features of narcissistic behavior, often involving outbursts of rage.”

Dr. Burgo goes on to explain that an episode of rage, whether by a person with Bipolar Disorder, Borderline, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, is an intense form of blaming, one of the primary defenses against shame….

If someone is raging on you, you need to find the strength and courage to walk away. If they have Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder, bless them and wish them the best.

How much more of your life and happiness are you willing to sacrifice for someone who refuses to face their own disordered mind? —Narcissists, Their Rages, and the Blame Game


Shawn Breaks Our Friendship and Departs; The Pump Blows Up; Learning Spanish–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–May 1993

The Pump Blows Up 

My pump poem, “5/7/93,” in one of the last Poetry packets, was written about something that actually happened that morning on campus.  You can read the basic details in the poem:

The pump blew up
Oh, shoot
Water’s off
At 8 A.M. to boot

Whole campus is out
Till the afternoon, we’re told
We hate it when this happens
Water becomes gold

Hope you took your shower
Before it all went off
If not, no one’ll notice–
Their own hair’s bad enough

Fix our pump for us
And on the lake’s sand
We’ll bow down and worship you
And the magic wrench in your hand

No, I don’t remember the exact time the water came back on.  I had taken my shower the night before, so I had good hair that morning.  Clarissa still had her bottled water for handwashing and brushing teeth.

Shawn Breaks Our Friendship and Departs 

Probably some time in May, when we all watched TV together in Krueger lounge, a news brief came on about a drug bust in Kenosha.  Pearl laughed in chagrin.  Apparently Kenosha was such a quiet town that such things were unheard-of.

My diary entry for 5/10 at 2:01am: “Something I just read in May 8th’s devotional [My Utmost for His Highest] made me realize, I don’t have to worry that I won’t ‘find someone.’  I just need to be patient and remember that the unforeseen often happens.”  And I was right about that.

On May 13, a speaker for InterVarsity, Pastor Don, brought his two college-age sons, cute Matt and cuter Dan.  I helped Pearl entertain them–a pleasant task.  A group of us spent a fun evening in the Pub, with the guys playing pool.

Eventually, Rush Limbaugh came on the Pub TV.  We sat there ripping on him, and Muskie Pat, who was working behind the bar, said, “If he says anything about femi-nazis, I’m gonna throw something at the screen.”

One of Don’s sons said, “The scary thing is, when you really listen to him, Rush is right.”  That didn’t mean he liked Rush or the terms he had for groups or people or any of that.

(Muskie Pat is what we called a cool guy who had been at Roanoke for years getting several degrees, and who worked in the Muskie all the years I knew him.  He made awesome burgers with toasted buns.)

Pastor Don spoke on relationships.  This clip from a letter I wrote to Shawn gives a sample of what he said, and how it affected me:

Sure I’d had some serious thoughts in the past few weeks of just giving it all up [the friendship] because of all the trouble I had dealing with you and I didn’t know if the relationship was healthy for me.

But I’d decided I just couldn’t: we’d been through so much together, confided so many things in each other.

And then the Thursday before, when the speaker came up from Racine to speak at the Bible study, he talked about relationships of all kinds.

Friends stay there for friends, he said, even when being around them is currently making you feel bad.

Whether the person’s depressed or depressing or just in a bad mood, a friend doesn’t go away, a friend stays right there with them.

I took that as an answer from God to my prayers for help in deciding.

Shawn came back maybe a week before the end of the semester, and said we could talk in a little while.  I expected a phone call at any time, and looked forward to it because, as a good friend, I was concerned about him and his brother.

I’d missed him; I wanted to spend time with him before he left, because I probably never would again, and I never liked saying good-bye to my best and closest friends.

But on Tuesday the 18th, Clarissa told me he didn’t want to associate with me.  That angered me, but I tried to keep it under control until I found out if it was all a misunderstanding on her part.

He came over once for a back massage (really? weren’t we giving that all up? we knew where they always led), but I just wasn’t up to it, because I had to find out why he was avoiding me when we were about to part company for good.  We sat at the picnic table beside the lake.

He told me that what Clarissa said was correct.  I felt sick at heart and totally puzzled.  He said we’d be going our separate ways, because of all the sexually intimate knowledge he now had of me.

So, after he had pushed so hard to get this knowledge, now I was to be punished because he had it?

He said he didn’t want me to think I had a boyfriend out there, and that he probably wouldn’t write back because of this, though I could write him.

My mind filled with all the things I could say, all at once, but the closest I could get to summing it all up was, “You can’t just let it go.”

I didn’t want to lose him as a friend, though I had accepted the loss of him as a lover.  So he said he would write back, but ultimately, he didn’t.

We talked about a lot of things that day, including the memories we now had of each other.  We walked around, sat in the cold and some rain, sat in the suite laundry room, went through the parking lot….

Our last conversation was much like our first on one of those first days of freshman orientation, when we also wandered from one place to another–like bookends of our relationship.

He said, “Let’s just put all that [physical stuff] behind us.  Do you regret what we did?”

I said yes, for most of it, though some I just didn’t regret.  But he seemed relieved.  I still had feelings for him, but I told him I just wanted friendship now, so we weren’t at odds over that.

On the 20th, Just before we all left for home for the summer, I called him, to say good-bye.

I asked why he felt it would be awkward to just stop over for a minute and say the one, last good-bye that meant so much to me, but he told me I shouldn’t be curious about it, that it’s his life.

I felt like, ask an innocent question and get accused of prying!  Didn’t I deserve some kind of explanation?

I didn’t know whether or not it had to do with me; I just wanted to say good-bye before he left Roanoke for good.  I was upset and bewildered.

I was about to say I didn’t want to say good-bye on a bad note, when I heard a click.  Clarissa was there as I hung up, I told her what was said, and sobbed my eyes out.

I had no idea that his brother had just died, because he didn’t tell me.  I would have understood.

In fact, I didn’t find out until Julie told me in a letter that I got close to July; they were both staying on campus.  Even then, I did not know when it happened.

I didn’t know he got the news right before I called, until December.  I never expected to see him again, since he was only at Roanoke for two years to take general studies courses before going to UW-Madison for engineering.  This was hardly the good-bye I had expected.

If only I had known, I would have understood.  Why didn’t he tell me?  Why would it take him 7 months to tell me?

I could have been there for him, given him a shoulder to cry on, been so good to him, comforted him.  I still loved him and would have wanted to be there through his suffering.

But he never gave me the chance.  Though I was told he seemed to be pushing everyone away.

Some things become clear after reviewing all the things that happened between Shawn and me:

He treated me like a prude for not wanting to watch sexy movies (which got my mind going on things I wasn’t supposed to do yet) or do the things he wanted to do. 

Then when, over time, I gave in and did the things he wanted, I turned into a “slut.”  Because I was now a “slut,” I was not worth even his friendship, because I put a wedge between him and God.

I was not supposed to have desires at all.  I was supposed to deflect his every move, be stronger than he was.  It was my fault.  I was shamed for having my own desires after all.

No wonder I was so frickin’ screwed up by the end of sophomore year.  I understand why people have trouble with Purity Culture.

I don’t think it’s the desire to save oneself for marriage that bothers critics.  I think it’s the shame we girls end up with, the feeling of being “ruined” if you “slip up,” the expectation that only sluts would want sex, that bothers critics.

Now, of course, it goes both ways.  If you are properly taught that purity applies to boys and not just girls, no double standard, then discovering your future husband is not a virgin, can be devastating.  We can forgive someone after they repent for stealing, but even if they look on past sexual experiences with the proper remorse and disgust, they’re still “sullied.”

It is the reason why I was so psychologically affected by things I did in college, why it was so hard to forgive myself, why I looked on past deeds with Shawn and Phil with horror for so long, why certain first names from my future husband’s past made me recoil for years just seeing them printed on a page.

I felt guilty just remembering these deeds with pleasure years later.  I felt guilty, like I was lying to myself, for deciding one day that what I did with Shawn, wasn’t so bad.  I was warned that past sexual experiences would haunt me when I married, but the memories weren’t so horrible after all.

…Back to 1993.  We went home on the 21st.

Learning Spanish 

My home church now had early morning services at 8:00 as well as the regular, 10:45 service.  My parents wanted to go to the early service, so I had to, as well.  After all, I didn’t have a car.

They thought these would be the most popular services, but they weren’t, and soon were dropped.  However, for the summer I had to endure them.

They were too early, and had too much singing.  It was weird to sing lyrics projected on a wall; I preferred to read them from a hymnbook.

Just before the end of the school year, the Campus Shop had sold used textbooks which were no longer going to be used for classes.  I took this opportunity to buy a Spanish textbook.  Now, I used the Spanish textbook to teach myself Spanish.

I used index cards and a pencil to make flash cards for the vocabulary words, and I think I would erase them and write new words on them.

I also used a slate and slate pencil which I had gotten at a South Bend museum when I was a child.  Just like the first ones I had bought, these were now broken.

When I got this slate, I also got another one, but it was now lost, so out of three slates and more than one slate pencil, I only had one of each left.

But they were useful for writing out the book’s exercises without using up a lot of paper.  We also had a computer disc with a Spanish drill program on it, and I used it sometimes.

The problem, however, was that I had no one to tell me how to pronounce the words properly, and had nothing but the textbook to guide me.

I don’t think the book even mentioned that the X was pronounced differently than in English, though I already knew Mexico was pronounced “MEH-ee-koh” (or a reasonable equivalent).

In general, I enjoyed my summer and its pleasant routines.  But every morning, at least after June, I agonized until the mail came.

I kept expecting a letter from Shawn: angry, apologetic, whatever, but something.  A letter never came, which made me even more upset.

In June I’d sent him a letter to try to resolve the issue of our last conversation and the lack of a proper good-bye, but nothing had happened to move it along.  I wanted closure, not this torture of waiting.

I wrote two letters to Shawn that summer.  I let each of them sit, waiting until I was sure it was the right thing to do and rightly worded.  The first one sat for a month before I mailed it in late June.  It said I was fighting for his friendship.  About the last one, sent on August 23, I wrote,

I wrote it late in the week, and for the next few days I kept hearing and reading things that said, Hurry, do it, send it, write it, do it now!

So I decided I’d send it by Monday, or else God might really be unhappy with me.

The messages were in songs, in my devotions [one devotional in My Utmost for His Highest even talked about sending that letter you want to send right away], and maybe other places.

So I thought, This can’t just be coincidence; this has got to be God talking to me!  I almost felt like my excuses for waiting were just excuses.

I wrote things like, “Please, I miss you.”  But I got no answer, and then Pearl told me (late in August) not to expect one because Shawn was just going to let things go.

I began to think about James again.  I wondered if I would go out with him junior year.  Getting back together with Peter was too uncertain to count on, and Shawn had now left RC as he had planned, so this was my one hope to find love again.  So I thought at the time.

I would listen to the downstairs stereo while washing dishes each afternoon.  I’d recently discovered Q101, a new alternative station from Chicago, and when the TV antenna was positioned just right, I could get it in quite well.

We had a powerful antenna with controls, to make up for losing cable, and it could be linked to the radio as well.

My mom now had an old trunk.  It had been passed down from mother to daughter for several generations, and now that Grandma C– had died, it had been passed to Mom.

It was full of mementos, pictures, trinkets, and tools from the past generations, including hat pins, straight razors, newspaper clippings, and a stereoscope with pictures.

I didn’t understand how to use the stereoscope, that you’re supposed to adjust it to get a three-dimensional image, but I did love slipping in and looking at the 1870s pictures of a relationship from courtship to marriage.

(I looked through this same trunk with Pearl and Sharon on the night before my wedding, finding amusing newspaper clippings, and my future husband, Cugan, would one day show me how to use the stereoscope.)

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

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