There’s a sense of freedom I’ve not felt before

By Anonymous

May 15, 2019

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Editor’s note: After MAP updated the James Dunn post (April 23, 2019) to include substantial church documentation, the victim submitted the following statement.

Going back over all that happened has been painful, but now I see things more clearly. I entered the counseling relationship with little to no self-esteem, confusion about why I was such a bad person and a need to be unseen by those around me. I left the sexually abusive relationship feeling even worse about myself but falsely believing someone had accepted me for exactly who I was. For a time he had been my safe place. I was grateful.

When I first became aware of the abusive nature of his interest in me, I consulted an attorney. The attorney couldn’t help me because of the statute of limitations. So I contacted the church. The process of reporting Jim was embarrassing and totally humiliating. I could tell they were taking me seriously, but as time went on, I grew so angry at Jim’s betrayal, and then everyone’s assessment of his repentance and fitness for ministry, that I had to step back and allow my advocates to represent me. It felt like Jim, the church, and the public all blamed me and supported him. I hated him, myself, and almost everyone else. I felt like I was drowning.

Over the years since, I’ve been stuck in the past. I’ve been surrounded by a black cloud. But recently this has begun to change as several events have come together:

First, I accidentally came across MAP and reached out to them. Immediately I was accepted and supported and continue to be. Then I started with a therapist who just happened to have strong ties to the Mennonite church. She understands in a way that has made it easier to open up. My doctor has finally found a combination of meds that actually help. I also watched the Dr. Ford/Kavanaugh hearings, Surviving R. Kelly, Leaving Neverland and Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland. For the first time I saw others with similar experiences as mine. More and more pieces of the puzzle were coming together.

After going through the church documentation with MAP, I now realize there was more support than I thought. Strangers and a few friends reached out in amazing ways. Church officials were caught in a difficult spot. The situation was a first for all of us in some ways, but they were expected to lead at the same time they were learning.

While I still don’t agree with some of their decisions, I no longer question their sincerity.

My head and heart together now believe the abuse was not my fault. The difficulty walking away and the contradictory feelings I have had are not unusual in abuse victims. I’ve finally forgiven myself and am starting to think maybe I’m not so bad after all.

I wish this understanding had happened much earlier in my life. But I have hope now and I’m glad I didn’t give up. Working with the MAP team has helped me work through and let go of so many things weighing me down. There’s a sense of freedom I’ve not felt before.

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