Unexpectedly (but thankfully), I’ve just been able to call a Senior, interested Justice Officer. With what’s hoped to use strategic expertise, with cases of Phil Noy & (Anthony) Kim Buchanan we have 2 publicly-notable, past employees of BBC. Numerous other instances are becoming revealed both publicly & privately (I.e. NDA & Settlements). From the recommendations of the 2013-17 CARC & resulting NRS, much more work in Journalism is required to provide these Justice updates (QandA 22 Sep 19). Justice should always be a law of the land, that oversee any Institution.
Straight talk about body parts and a no-secrets policy can protect young kids without scaring them
We can arm kids with knowledge that might save them from being victimized.
Sexual abuse is any form of sexual violence, including rape, child molestation, incest, and similar forms of non-consensual sexual contact. Most sexual abuse experts agree sexual abuse is never only about sex. Instead, it is often an attempt to gain power over others.
TYPES OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE
SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN THE MILITARY
MALE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE
SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE IN THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY
RACE/ETHNICITY AND SEXUAL ASSAULT
CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE
WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES RESULTING FROM SEXUAL ASSAULT
COUNSELING AFTER SEXUAL ASSAULT AND ABUSE
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Nick Lloyd’s Supreme Court Trial brought with it some great attention. Although the Trial had been disbanded, many Old Boys (past BBC Students) have had their emotions effected. It’s typical for any of this such news to rekindle angst, that had remained hidden for decades. As families should understand what effects may be had, it’s suitable that Counselling is arranged.
If you need immediate support, 24-hour telephone assistance is available through: (from NationalRedress.gov.au)
beyondblue: 1300 224 636
1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
In what is becoming all- too-often a common thread, here’s Jehovah’s Witness (hidden) darkside:
DOUGLAS QUENQUA PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEXEY SWALL
A former Jehovah’s Witness is using stolen documents to expose allegations that the religion has kept hidden for decades.
In March 1997, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the nonprofit organization that oversees the Jehovah’s Witnesses, sent a letter to each of its 10,883 U.S. congregations, and to many more congregations worldwide. The organization was concerned about the legal risk posed by possible child molesters within its ranks. The letter laid out instructions on how to deal with a known predator: Write a detailed report answering 12 questions—Was this a onetime occurrence, or did the accused have a history of child molestation? How is the accused viewed within the community? Does anyone else know about the abuse?—and mail it to Watchtower’s headquarters in a special blue envelope. Keep a copy of the report in your congregation’s confidential file, the instructions continued, and do not share it with anyone.
Thus did the Jehovah’s Witnesses build what might be the world’s largest database of undocumented child molesters: at least two decades’ worth of names and addresses—likely numbering in the tens of thousands—and detailed acts of alleged abuse, most of which have never been shared with law enforcement, all scanned and searchable in a Microsoft SharePoint file. In recent decades, much of the world’s attention to allegations of abuse has focused on the Catholic Church and other religious groups. Less notice has been paid to the abuse among the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Christian sect with more than 8.5 million members. Yet all this time, Watchtower has refused to comply with multiple court orders to release the information contained in its database and has paid millions of dollars over the years to keep it secret, even from the survivors whose stories are contained within.
That effort has been remarkably successful—until recently.
A white Priority Mail box filled with manila envelopes sits on the floor of Mark O’Donnell’s wood-paneled home office, on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland. Mark, 51, is the owner of an exercise-equipment repair business and a longtime Jehovah’s Witness who quietly left the religion in late 2013. Soon after, he became known to ex–Jehovah’s Witnesses as John Redwood, an activist and a blogger who reports on the various controversies, including cases of child abuse, surrounding Watchtower. (Recently, he has begun using his own name.)
When I first met Mark, in May of last year, he appeared at the front door of his modest home in the same outfit he nearly always wears: khaki cargo shorts, a short-sleeved shirt, white sneakers, and sweat socks pulled up over his calves. He invited me into his densely furnished office, where a fan barely dispelled the wafting smell of cat food. He pulled an envelope from the Priority Mail box and passed me its contents, a mixture of typed and handwritten letters discussing various sins allegedly committed by members of a Jehovah’s Witness congregation in Massachusetts. All the letters in the box had been stolen by an anonymous source inside the religion and shared with Mark. The sins described in the letters ranged from the mundane—smoking pot, marital infidelity, drunkenness—to the horrifying. Slowly, over the past couple of years, Mark has been leaking the most damning contents of the box, much of which is still secret.
Mark’s eyebrows are permanently arched, and when he makes an important point, he peers out above his rimless glasses, eyes widened, which lends him a conspiratorial air.
“Start with these,” he said.
Among the papers Mark showed me that day was a series of letters about a man from Springfield, Massachusetts, who had been disfellowshipped—a form of excommunication—three times. When the man was once again reinstated, in 2008, someone working in a division of Watchtower wrote to his congregation, noting that in 1989 he was said to have “allowed his 11-year-old stepdaughter to touch his penis … on at least two occasions.”
I was struck by the oddness of the language. It insinuated that the man had agreed to, rather than initiated, the sexual contact with his stepdaughter.
After I left Mark’s house, I tracked down the stepdaughter, now 40. In fact, she told me, she had been only 8 when her stepfather had molested her. “He was the adult and I was the kid, so I thought I didn’t have any choice,” she said. She was terrified, she told me. “It took me two years to go to my mom about it.”
Her mother immediately went to the congregation’s elders, who later called the girl and her stepfather in to pray with them. She remembers it as a humiliating experience.
Her stepfather was eventually disfellowshipped for instances that involved “fornication,” “drunkenness,” and “lying,” according to the letters. But according to the stepdaughter, his alleged molestation of her resulted only in his being “privately reproved,” a closed-door reprimand that is usually accompanied by a temporary loss of privileges, such as not being allowed to offer comments during Bible study or lead a prayer. The letters make no reference to police being notified; the stepdaughter said her mother was encouraged to keep the matter private, and no attempt was made to keep the stepfather away from other children. (Calls to the congregation’s Kingdom Hall—the Witness version of a church—for comment went unanswered.)
By the time the letters were written, the man was attending a different congregation and had married another woman with children; he is still part of that family today. Near the end of the final letter in Mark’s possession is a question: “Is there any responsibility on the part of either body of elders … to inform his current wife of his past history of child molestation?”
Mark O’Donnell’s childhood was an isolated one. His parents, Jerry and Susan, had started attending Jehovah’s Witness meetings in the mid-1960s. Another couple from Baltimore had told them of Watchtower’s prediction that the world would end in 1975, bringing death to all non-Witnesses and transforming Earth into a paradise for the faithful. In 1968, just after Mark was born, Jerry and Susan were group-baptized in a swimming pool in Washington, D.C. Mark was an only child, and he inherited his father’s peculiar love of record-keeping. Mark would show up to meetings at the Kingdom Hall with a briefcase full of religious texts.
As in any religion, there’s some variation among Jehovah’s Witnesses in how strictly they interpret the teachings that govern their faith; Mark’s upbringing seems to have been especially stringent. As a child, he attended at least five meetings a week, plus several hours of private Bible study. On Saturday mornings, he joined his parents in “field service,” knocking on doors in search of converts. He was taught that most people outside the organization were corrupted by Satan and, given the chance, would try to steal from him, drug him, or rape him. Mainstream books and magazines were considered the work of Satan. If he broke any of the religion’s main rules, he could be disfellowshipped, meaning even his own family would have to shun him.
Throughout Mark’s childhood, he heard elders cite Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever holds back his rod hates his son.” Mark’s parents took the lesson to heart and beat him frequently. The religion forbids celebrating birthdays, voting, serving in the military, and accepting blood transfusions, even in life-and-death situations. Witnesses were encouraged to devote themselves to bringing more converts into the religion before the end of the world arrived. “Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property” to spend their last days proselytizing, said a Watchtower publication in 1974. “Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world’s end.” Some Witnesses stopped going to the doctor, quit their jobs, or ran up debt.
But piety, Mark noticed, did not always translate to morality. When he was 12, Mark became suspicious of a local Witness named Louis Ongsingco, a flight attendant who would bring home Toblerone bars for the local Witness kids and invite them to his apartment to act out religious plays. Mark noticed Ongsingco touching young girls in a way that made him uncomfortable. He told an elder about his concerns. But rather than take action against Ongsingco, the elder told him what Mark had said. Days later, Ongsingco pulled Mark aside and scolded him.
Mark’s instincts seem to have been right. In 2001, one of Mark’s childhood friends, Erin Michelle Shifflett, along with four other women, sued Ongsingco for sexual assault. The cases were settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Ongsingco died in 2016.
To Mark, the lesson was that for all the emphasis the elders placed on moral purity, there was no greater sin than speaking out against other Witnesses.
By the time Mark was in high school, in the early 1980s, 1975 had come and gone, but Watchtower had a new prediction for the apocalypse. It said that the world would end before the passing of the generation that was alive in 1914. At the time, the youngest members of that generation were 70, so the new prediction created a sense of urgency.
“My parents basically told me, ‘You’re not even going to live to graduate from college,’” Mark said. At 17, despite having a year of college credit and a guidance counselor imploring him to apply, he decided to settle for a high-school diploma. He was baptized and later started his exercise-equipment repair company. The business provided enough flexibility for him to perform 50 hours of field service for the Witnesses a month, which qualified him for the rank of auxiliary pioneer.
Though many Witnesses left the religion after 1975, membership was on the upswing by the 1990s, and the organization was building new Kingdom Halls. Mark was installing a sound system in a new hall in Baltimore in the fall of 1997 when a young woman named Kimmy Weber asked to borrow his ladder.
At 20, Kimmy was putting in more than 90 hours of field service a month, making her a full-fledged pioneer. She had completed a two-year program at a community college on a scholarship, and would later get permission from the local elders to get her bachelor’s degree. Mark was drawn to her drive and intensity. He tracked down her email address; they flirted over AOL Instant Messenger and were married within eight months. They wanted to start a family, but decided to wait until after the arrival of paradise on Earth, when they, and their children, would be perfect. In the meantime, Kimmy began opening their home to abused and abandoned cats.
As Mark’s business grew, he brought on employees, mostly other Witnesses. When he and Kimmy had saved enough money to buy the house across the street as a rental property, they filled its three units with other Witnesses. There were ski vacations, softball games, dinner parties, and game nights—always with friends who shared their faith.
But as much as Mark enjoyed his friends’ company, he started to chafe at the insularity of their social life. It felt less like intimacy and more like a self-imposed bubble. These frustrations eventually grew into suspicions about Watchtower itself. He’d heard rumors that the organization was covering up cases of pedophilia and child abuse. But Watchtower always dismissed such criticism as “apostate-driven lies.”
A few years after he and Kimmy married, he saw a protester outside a Witness convention holding a sign that read a jw elder molested me. “I looked at that sign,” Mark told me, “and I locked it in my brain. I’ll never forget it. I said to myself, There’s no way he’s lying. Nobody would stand out there and hold a sign that says an elder molested me unless it really happened. No way. He’s telling the truth.”
Watchtower adjusted its estimates for the apocalypse several more times. In 2010, it introduced the Overlapping Generations theory, which claims that the end will come before the death of everyone who was alive at the same time as anyone who was alive in 1914. Mark found these revised predictions difficult to accept.
In late 2013, Mark had an extreme reaction to an antibiotic and was confined to his couch for several weeks, away from the meetings and Bible studies. Left alone with his thoughts, he began to admit to himself that he no longer believed Armageddon was imminent. The Jehovah’s Witnesses he knew were no more deserving of God’s mercy than the nonbelievers he’d met. And here he was, 45 years old and facing a health crisis. How much more of his life was he willing to waste inside the bubble?
That November, as he and Kimmy were preparing to spend the weekend at a friend’s house, Mark suddenly stopped packing and told Kimmy he couldn’t maintain the facade anymore. He never attended another meeting.
/ . . . Continued . . . /
With the anticipation, similar to days before birth of a first child, another form of publication will soon be released. From our smaller presence in earlier days of the 5 yr Child Abuse Royal Commission (CARC), the need to ‘join the dots’ began to call out. Hopefully, with the increased-global visitors of our RCbbc Blog, we’re now able to Share another media: Newsletters! eNews are becoming a greater extension of the 247 work-cycle, allowing wider varieties of audio, visual, text & combinations of media to be exchanged. A business plan is still being developed, yet many feel that these swapping of ideas is helpful.
Psychotherapy, Counselling and Personal Development in Glasgow, Scotland
Still Like A House
Fractured? No, curiously I feel fractured but I see myself in the mirror and I’m whole, standing still like a house. The mirror may be fractured, but my eyes still swivel like windows in this head, guided by a nose that acts as a weather vane. I open and close my mouth like a door and my ears sit like unoiled hinges. But I don’t feel like a house. I feel like a room: a room divided against itself.
Whole Not Hole
If I am whole, how come there are holes in my experience? Not holes; they just feel like holes. They’re no more holes than my forgetting what I had for breakfast last Tuesday is a hole. If I decide, out of my indecision comes a need to follow a trail of breadcrumbs, walking backwards in flip-flop sandals: Shameday, Shatterday, Frightday, Thugsday, Whensday, Chewsday: vegetarian bacon that tasted like cardboard soaked in lapsang souchong.
Broken. Like a wine glass washed in a lapse of concentration, snapped stem in the sink? No, I just feel broken. I’m no more broken than my daydream in the bubbles is a symptom of a broken mind. I just went travelling for a second and broke a glass, not my hip.
A Name for Now
No fractures, no holes. Not broken, nor split. I am a house of rooms, not a room divided. The room I’m in is ordered, organised, geometric wallpaper, square like Kant; catalogued like a library run by a nunnery. My lamp has a name and a function. My telephone first rang in ’76. My sofa has a history, and I remember my happiness the day I bought it; how angry I was when I spilled wine on it; how annoyed at the bit of chocolate that fell between the cushions. I feel my weight on it. Feel the cold in my fingers. I am here. It is now. I am here and I am now.
The hall. A place for uninvited guests. I ran down it when I was 5, I’m-alive, scurried into the cupboard and was never seen again. The hall connects me to the rest of the house I have forgotten, but more importantly to the front door, which leads out into the garden; into the world. I never know if it’s locked. Instead of checking, I forget that it’s a hall, save the ticking of an old clock that I forget to hear whilst listening to the fizz of my ginger beer, age 7, pray to heaven. Instead I convince myself that the livingroom I’m in is all there is. Then, by switching off the light and locking the door, forget myself and my convincing. Until I need to pee, or eat. And then I find myself sock-sliding down the hall like a uterine ghost, so focussed on my empty belly or full bladder I forget to remember that I opened the door; forgetting which room I was in, until I am in the other room, floorboards creaking with the slightest shift in weight.
Another room, another name, another door, another age. Age 6, pick up sticks. Other shadow, other feeling. Cooling, cooler, cold and colder. The familiar unfamiliar. No lightbulb in, no switch to fumble for. In this room I forget to remember and remember to forget. Boxes stacked on boxes, dust and cobwebs. I pick a box in disarray and ginger ale my way in beneath the lifting lid. It contains hundreds of fizzing photographs, sepia toned, disorganised, random, full of Leica moments hastily shuffled away, forgetting to remember; each snap the snap of a twig in a dark damp wood; the snap of a little finger; the snap, crackle and pop of a nice crisp morning in December, and then a dread-filled evening; and all with felt feelings, felt, falling. The sea swell of a gut without words; the electric surge of anxious malady rising in my spine. Shapes without outlines. Tone without form. Colour without texture. Chaos without order. Things that happened before I had words to describe them.
I find myself in a drawer inside a mood inside a box inside a room. Another lapse. Like driving from the house to the store and realising I wasn’t conscious of driving at all. At all. At all. New room, new mood, new name, new world. A ball of string, a roll of tape, some false teeth, a paperclip, an old birthday card from a forgotten friend, a rubber band and some tic-tacs. There are reasons I don’t come in here. It’s a mess: deformed, unfinished. I’ve no energy for this: to clean it out, tidy it up, organise it. Too many memories. One day. Some day. Just not now.
The Unseen Tree
Hallway. Like the drive to the store I didn’t notice, or the tree I ignored on the street I’ve walked for a decade and suddenly appears out of nowhere one day, when the light hits its leaves and I awaken to its colours and the breeze, warm like Frankincense whispering through its branches, and my feet in my soft shoes, so soft I forget my feet. I want to say sorry to that tree. Sorry to my feet and to my shoes. Sorry I neglected you. A three hundred year old tree growing through twelve hundred seasons, existing for everyone else but me.
My hallway stays forgotten; conduit to my wholeness; pipeline to the world. Invisible as I close my eyes. It connects my rooms, my fears: it is the forgotten centre of my house: the house I forget to remember to forget. I prefer the known knowing of organised places to the unknown knawing of my silent spaces. Sunlight comes in through the south window, hot coffee in a comforting cup five inches from the table’s edge, precarious, but no spinning head. Here, I know my name, I have words for things and things for words, and syntax and paragraphs. I know my here and now, I know my differentiated place, I know my own familiar face. It is the face of a house of rooms, and rooms of boxes. Some are ordered, stacked and indexed, comprehendible by their stories, hand-written and clear as etched metal. Some are filled with a confusion of shadows, wordlessness, uncertainty, memories, darkness and a child’s trembling. Still the trembling, still the heart.
I am still like a house. But I feel like a room.
Photo credit: wikimedia commons
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