Response to Lauren Shifflett’s story of sexual trauma by church leader

I came across the following post through a Wordpress plugin which brings up supposedly similar blog posts to link to in your own posts:

Now We Are Free by Lauren Shifflett

She writes of her sexual abuse and harassment by a youth leader in her church, but prefaces this with how she was bullied as a kid.  I saw similarities with my own experiences, but her comments are turned off (probably because people get mean), so I’m writing this blog response instead.

She, like me, was rejected as a girlfriend, but was a target of sexual harassment by her male peers.  This put all sorts of negative opinions of herself into her head.  She

couldn’t understand why ninety percent of boys found me repulsive and the remaining ten percent felt this strange need to expose themselves to me in some sexual way.

Same thing with me.  My first memory of sexual harassment was from Kindergarten.  I loved to wear dresses.  Every day I wore a dress, preferred them to pants.  Then one day on the way home from school, a couple of boys, smaller than I was, cornered me and kept lifting up my skirt and laughing.

My mother never understood why, all of a sudden, I insisted on wearing pants instead of dresses, because I never told her.

There was the guy who pulled up next to me as I walked to school, and opened the passenger door for me to get in, but I was too smart for him and walked on.

There was the middle-aged man who kept wanting to hug me at church.  It may have been perfectly innocent, but I didn’t know him and it made me feel weird, so I didn’t like him.  I didn’t trust him at all.  I don’t recall him doing this to other girls, just me.

In elementary and junior high, I got a lot of bullying in general because I was different from the other kids.  I couldn’t figure out what it was about me that set them off, because to myself I seemed normal.

No matter what I did in public, I began to feel very awkward about it.  For example, I preferred to always carry something or have my hands in my pockets as I walked, because just walking made me self-conscious.

In junior high, once some kid put a sign on my back during a fire drill.  I never knew what it said because I finally knocked it off, having felt it go on.  But everyone around me was laughing–even my teacher!

The teacher, who struck me as being a classic stereotypical nerd complete with pocket protector, should have known better, but he laughed anyway.

My freshman year in high school, I was also sexually harassed by three guys, two of them together.

One of them kept making sexual comments to me at lunch, and once even put his penis on the table next to me.  I refused to look, but know he did it, because of the reactions of the guys around him.

I couldn’t stand the school’s chicken sandwiches after that because that’s what I was eating at the time, so it reminded me of it.

Now I know that I could’ve switched tables to get away from them, but at the time I felt trapped into sitting at that one table because that’s where I sat at the beginning of the year.  I didn’t realize that I could sit at a different table with other kids.

I’m not sure why I felt that I had to sit at that table, but it could have been an NVLD thing: “You can’t change the pattern you’ve already set!”

After lunch we would all stand by the door and wait for the bell; I can remember this guy doing or saying something while we stood in line, so much that I crouched down as if to protect myself.  But I just don’t remember what exactly he was doing.

The two other guys, who sat at the table behind mine in Biology class second semester, would spend the class period making sexual comments to me.  Once, one spoke so loudly to me during the lecture that the teacher stopped and scolded them.

I don’t know why I didn’t tell the teachers what was happening; a friend told me to do so about the lunch period bully, but something kept me quiet.  In fact, in general I was a passive recipient of bullying.  I just didn’t fight back.

Meanwhile, my Photography teacher made at least one such comment as well.  (I don’t know why all this happened the same year.)

All first semester he’d been harassing me for being a Christian and having conservative values, even though I don’t recall saying a whole lot about them in class or much of anything, really, unless spoken to.

Other kids in Photography class joined in on the religious harassment, including a witch who told me her coven killed my cat (all I said was he went missing on Halloween and never came back), and one day started yelling at me that maybe God is the liar and the Devil is telling the truth–until a Jewish girl told her to quit it and leave me alone.

Then one day, during a work period, the teacher was sitting on a stool at a large table when I had to get around an obstruction of some type.  I don’t remember the details now, what the obstruction was, or anything.  But I didn’t want to go behind him to get around, because there wasn’t enough room and I’d run into his butt.

Rather than leave me alone like any decent man would do, he ridiculed me and told me to go behind him.

I don’t know why on earth I did this like an idiot–probably because I had grown up with the mindset that you do whatever a teacher tells you–but I started going the other way to go behind him, like an obedient student.

He started humming or moaning, and a girl said to me with wide eyes, “Better not do that.”

The following semester, I ditched that class and switched to a class on life skills.  He was a major reason why, both from this and from his religious harassment.

(We learned about such things as teen pregnancy, whether you should marry the teen father, domestic abuse, and watched movies about tough lives like one about teen runaways and The Burning Bed.)

That year or the next, a letter to the editor of the school newspaper complained about an unnamed teacher who would sexually harass students.  I always wondered if the girl who “rescued” me was the writer and if she meant my Photography teacher.  (I must have forgotten her name already.)

All these things happened freshman year, and that year I began to get an ulcer from the stress.  After every lunch period, my stomach was in a lot of pain.

My junior year, I developed headaches from TMJ in my jaw, another stress-related condition, even though the freshman year bullies had either graduated or were no longer in my classes.

Meanwhile, freshman year I had a couple of guys want to date me, but my mom wouldn’t let me until I turned 16.  After that, nobody seemed interested.  I now know that one guy was in love with me senior year, but never worked up the courage to say so, so I had no clue.  Even when I thought for sure a guy liked me, he’d insist that he didn’t.  Or date another girl.  But I was a target for harassment.

In college, a similar problem arose.  Outright sexual harassment didn’t happen so much, but once again, few guys wanted to date me, but even Christian ones preferred to use my body.  One claimed to love me, but turned out to be an abusive narcissist who sexually abused and kept trying to assault me because I did not want to do anal or oral sex.

The one who used me, ripped me apart constantly, then criticized me for being too “negative” and reserved.  How could I feel more confident and open when he kept essentially telling me I was unloveable?

And yes, you internalize this.  I felt much as Lauren did.  I didn’t have a boyfriend at 15 like she did, so there was no sexual activity back then, but I do know how this makes you feel like you’re just a weirdo who no one will actually love, and ugly.  My mom got upset with me for not thinking I was pretty, but how could I think so when this is how I got treated?  I felt ugly.

This is part of the reason why Richard found me so malleable, when he started paying all sorts of attention to me, calling me constantly right before he moved into my house, and then, while here, spending all his time with me.

He basically groomed me, through all this love-bombing and slowly but steadily making me think that his in-secret physical affection was appropriate for friends.  (None of it sexual, but it was way too much.)  When I got concerned about what he was doing, thought we had started an affair, and felt like absolute sh** over it, he said, no, no, no, this was all perfectly innocent FRIENDly behavior.

Then a few of his friends sexually harassed me in an IRC chatroom.  Just yet more of what I’d experienced in high school, only now online.  The whole story is here, too long for this post.  They began making comments about my genitals, totally unprovoked by me, and while Richard saw it all.  His wife even came online and talked about inviting these guys to their house!

But later on, when I asked Richard to not talk about the harassers around me because I was still traumatized by what they did, he said I was being “ridiculous” and that he thought I realized that online “isn’t real.”

I thought he was safe.  He planned to become an Orthodox priest, and had actually been a Foursquare preacher in his youth.  He manipulated my emotions and tore me apart, over a period of a few years.  He eventually even admitted to having hypnotized me without my knowing it.  He said it was to make me open up to him; I have often wondered if it was also to make me more open to his grooming.

Because he was convicted of choking one of his children, he can no longer become a priest, but I fear him still becoming a psychologist.  I hope the conviction will prevent that as well.  Todd says that Richard used his supposed superior knowledge of psychology to bully him; Richard did a similar thing to me.

I believe that Richard is a narcissist who zeroed in quickly on my vulnerability.  I had been married for years, so the lack of a boyfriend was a long-gone problem.  But I still felt the insecurities of those growing-up years, and was incredibly lonely for friendship.

(This is one major reason why I don’t want this man in my church or anywhere even touching my life.  I fear my own vulnerability, along with knowing that he is also capable of physical violence, having served probation for choking his kid.  He was once a mob thug, and has even threatened violence to my husband.  He is able to con people into thinking he’s a pious man with a big heart, so they end up doing his dirty work, as I did some of his when he screwed over his friend Todd.  I also don’t want his wife in my church, because she’s just as bad: She can pretend to be a decent person, but is extremely abusive, emotionally, verbally and physically–and when you recognize it, she smears you, as she did to Todd.  Both she and Richard have also mocked and tried to intimidate me, and have demonstrated stalker tendencies.)

Richard zeroed in, just as the youth leader, Luke, zeroed in on Lauren’s vulnerability.  Luke began an affair with Lauren, and when she tried to end it, began stalking her.  Then she suffered because of the lax response of her church, some apparently taking his side over hers, as her sister describes here.  She does not feel safe at that church anymore.

Just as I feel not at all safe when I think of Richard and his wife just casually showing up at my church again, as they’ve done from time to time, or even becoming part of it now that their church has merged with mine.

Church needs to be a safe place.

 

3 Reblogs on narcissist traits

All three of these posts, which I recently read, have been helpful because they explain some things that my most recent bullies did, which puzzled me:

First, two blogs just posted on Grace for My Heart by David Orrison:

Territoriality:

One of the most common ways for the narcissist to control the world is to be protective about his/her stuff.  I use the word “stuff” to describe just about anything you want to put in its place.  Whatever the narcissist decides belongs to him.  His house, his workspace, his chair, his car, his sports equipment, his seat at church, his parking spot, his computer, his camera, and on and on and on.  You recognize this territoriality when he makes it clear that no one should ever touch his stuff.

I saw this in both of my recent bullies: Richard, yelling and screaming at my husband and me for things like trying to move stuff off the table so we can start a game, or wiping a little honey off the table before setting my books down on it.  Yet he and his wife kept that place in such horrific conditions that it was not just dirty, but unsanitary, the kind of place that makes you ill.  So they didn’t keep it up, but nobody else was allowed to touch it, either–not even to clean a little honey off the table.

Then there was also Tracy, who was so territorial about her husband that she made everybody–male AND female–follow strict, extremely controlling rules if they wanted to be friends with him.

It fits, yet another piece of the narcissist puzzle.

The second blog by Grace, posted yesterday:

Personal Space:

At the same time, most of these narcissists (not all) are very generous with their own touching. They will put their hands on someone’s shoulders to give a phony back rub. They will put their arms around someone’s shoulders. They will shake hands and hold on too long. They will hug people of the opposite gender when it might seem unnecessary. Some are even willing to risk harassment charges with their touch.

…And we can also see why the narcissist would want to touch others. If touch is a way of controlling, breaking through personal barriers or boundaries, then the narcissist must at least try. Putting his arm around the young lady is a way to see if she will be receptive to his influence. Putting his hands on a co-worker’s shoulders is a way of exerting his superiority. Stepping in or sitting too close might be a way of threatening. Whenever others are uncomfortable, the narcissist sees an opportunity.

This explains Richard: breaking through my reserved boundaries, getting me used to the idea of opposite-sex friends being affectionate, not sexually but still in a manner I was not used to.  This post explains that this is about control, seeing how much influence a narc can have over a person.  And yeah, he did manipulate me quite a bit.  Nowadays, I know people who are affectionate like him, but IN FRONT of significant others, not secretly.  And everybody laughs and knows it’s harmless.  Not like Richard did it.  I get upset with myself at times, remembering how gullible I was with him.

Then this one by Lucky Otter:

5 weird things you may see a narcissist do:

In fact, their personal hygiene and grooming is sometimes downright disgusting. It’s almost as if they think they’re too smart to be bothered with trying to look decent….But some cerebral narcissists live in squalor, wallowing in their filthy surroundings like a pig wallowing in mud.

So that’s what that was: yet another aspect of narcissism. 😛

My abusive ex was this way as well, refusing to shower for weeks on end, rarely brushing his teeth.

These posts explain a lot, that no, it’s not unique to my experiences, but common.  All are worth checking out.

 

Okay, maybe not finished with 1st draft yet: Getting into narc’s head

Regarding an earlier post, Finished with the first draft of my novel about obsession: I guess it’s nowhere near finished after all.

After doing some more research, more ideas have popped into my head of what to do with the book.  The ideas keep going back and forth, and I had to rewrite an entire section because research declared it totally implausible.

And because I had to rewrite that, I have to include more scenes developing a relationship between two characters which now has been altered, so they haven’t spent as much time together as they did before.

But now I’m also adding a second Point Of View character: the narc himself.  The thought of getting into his head is exhilarating, but I need to do much more research into his social class and how it related to the rise/fall of Naziism.  I have a book sitting beside my laptop which promises to explain it all.

There’s another thing: While writing the story, I found myself falling for him, just as the protagonist does.  Which is what you want, an appealing villain who captures the imagination of readers.  But he’s become less of a villain and more someone convinced he’s doing the right thing, even as he manipulates the protagonist.  Because my reading into narcissism shows a spectrum of narcissism, not just the malignant ones who enjoy screwing with you, but the ones who do it because they think they’re in the right.

And then over time, he starts to repent, because he’s not so far gone that he can’t.  The repentant villain seems to be a popular theme lately, at least in Once Upon a Time, and pops up occasionally in fiction, so I can go that route.  The repentant vampire comes up a lot, for example.  Remember how intriguing Spike became when he tried to do better without having a soul forcing the issue, unlike Angel?

I’ve noted that it seems to provide for more interesting villains, especially if they waver now and then.  Such as, for example, Gold/Rumpel, who keeps going back and forth between good and evil, first deceiving Belle, but now coming right out and laying it all on the table for her to know what kind of man he really is.  And well, Hubby and I LOVE his character.

And just the thought of needing to delve into my characters more, and write new sections of the book, fills me with glee.  Because I love this book and it constantly runs through my head.  🙂

 

Tracy Sighting….

Hubby came home today and told me he saw Tracy at the store.  They said nothing to each other.

He’s certain that after all this time, they’re not going to come to my church.  I don’t know about that, since they did check the service schedule on Christmas Eve.  (I run the website.  I didn’t go to the Christmas service.)  But then again, that was months ago, and the merger with their old church is common knowledge by now.

So maybe things will be fine.  In any case, I have friends who can rally around me if necessary.  They care and know my character, in case of attacks.  But maybe it won’t be a thing.  Or maybe R/T won’t come often enough to cause trouble.

What amazes me, though, is that anyone can go so many years knowing they’ve hurt another person, see that person or her husband around town on occasion, and never, ever once say, “I’m sorry.”  Or “I’m sorry I hurt your wife.  Please tell her so.”  Or “I’m sorry for causing drama in your life.”

Never once.  Ever.

And, in fact, defend their nastiness and refuse to admit they ever did anything wrong.

Which explains why they have a string of lost friendships.  I’m hardly the first, and there probably have been others after me.

Heck, I tried apologizing to her for hurting her when this all happened, even though I was the victim of her abuse.

Even my abusive or narcissistic exes have apologized to me.  Even people who bullied me in school have apologized to and/or made peace with me.

I don’t understand this.  I also don’t understand people treating others like this in the first place, the way she and her husband treated me.

People are making a big deal in the news lately about “Wisconsin Nice.”  Well, I can tell you that R/T aren’t from around here, or even the Midwest, for that matter.  Not that Wisconsin people can’t be rats: Even Canadians have some bad apples.  Narcissists, abusers and plain ol’ nasty people are everywhere.  But yeah, don’t let this crap I got from these people, make you think badly of Wisconsin people.  😛  Most people I know, don’t act like this.

But prayers/good wishes, please, for my continued healing and growing strength.

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: