A plea for the silent lambs

by mikepence 31 Replies latest jw friends

  • mikepence

    In early March of this year, in the echoes of uncertainty left after the horror of 9-11, just one year after I had nearly died myself from a massive, still unexplained, seizure, I determined that I wanted to be a writer. There were so many things I wanted to write about, my head swirled with possibilities. One topic kept coming front and center, unavoidably. My knowledge of the pain and suffering in the world of the silent lambs would not permit me to write about anything else until I had made a difference for the victims of child sexual abuse among Jehovahs Witnesses. I had to write about that first.

    Imagine my excitement when I managed to rouse the interest of Salon.com, widely considered the best of the web magazines by none less than Time magazine. I started working with an editor there, and researching the topic in depth and in earnest. My hope had been that at some point in my career I might manage to get published in this erudite journal, I had never imagined the opportunity would arise so quickly.

    Open discussion of the topic of sexual abuse among JWs in my house went on for days. Our children, Ryan, 12, and Becca, 10, are exceptionally intelligent and mature for their years. They were active participants in our discussions and brainstorming. As the sun was setting one particular evening in mid-March, my wife Denise spoke these fateful words to me: Mike, the kids have something they need to tell you.

    My children proceeded to unravel a horrific tale of being sexually assaulted by the man who is now Presiding Overseer of our former suburban Philadelphia congregation. They finished each others sentences, as they recalled, in bits and pieces, what the room looked like, what was said, how my son cried out for help, and how my daughter, so young then, struggled to help him, only to be kicked to the floor.

    The file folders full of stories of other peoples pain printed from Silentlambs.org seemed, suddenly, very far away.

    In the months since, I have published several articles on this topic on web sites like morons.org and kuro5hin.org, widely respected sites. My article for Salon now includes an exclusive interview with J. R. Brown, and details of who in the governing body knew there was a serious problem with sexual abuse in the group as far back as the early 90s. It will be ready for publication at the end of this week.

    There have been many tearful days and nights in my house since. It has been a bewildering and difficult time for all of us. For me, helping the cause of Silentlambs and researching the topic at arms length has allowed me to look, indirectly, at a wall of pain in my heart that I know I have not begun to breach. A long, difficult road lies ahead.

    We now live in Arizona. Our hope is that we can go to Philadelphia and file charges against the elder who committed this horrible crime, since Pennsylvania law requires us to go there to file these charges in person. This man was our friend. We have reason to believe that his abuse continues to this day.

    We would like to fly to Philadelphia, celebrate our nephews first birthday with my wifes brother, who just left the group in the last year, and file charges against this horrible man which we must be physically present to do. Then we will go to the Silentlambs march, and in front of 24 Columbia Heights and the national media, name this man for the entire world to hear. We have a unique chance to do something, to provide the beginnings of some sort of closure for our children, to raise awareness and protect current and future victims of sexual abuse.

    In these difficult economic times, we dont have the funds to do this. It will cost us about $1000 dollars just to fly to and from the Northeast. So, I am asking for your help. Please contribute whatever you can to Silentlambs at http://www.silentlambs.org/contribution_page.htm so that the money can be there to fund families like mine who want the world to see that victims of child sex abuse among Jehovahs Witnesses are real, and so is their pain. This is a once in a lifetime chance for former Jehovahs Witnesses and current Jehovahs Witnesses to make a difference.

    You may also go to http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/pay/T3VSKZI0KMUOOK/103-2337257-7466225 if you would like to help us in our personal quest.

    Join us and support us at the march. Contribute whatever you can. Our children and so many other children have been, and are being hurt. Please help. Please sponsor a silent lamb.

    Edited by - mikepence on 13 August 2002 17:38:49

  • SYN

    That's TERRIBLE, MikePence...is your family doing OK? Your article is looking really good...I'm on your mailing list, and it gets right down to the quick!

  • mikepence

    Frankly, we are getting by day by day. Denise has some serious health problems right now, and the kids are doing remarkably well. Imagine having been shunned by your grandparents and recalling your own sexual abuse by the age of 12. It is amazing they are doing as well as they are.

    Denise and I have been through our share of therapy, which has helped us to work with the kids. But, we still have to get them into some regular therapy and move to stop this man. It outrages them to know that he still holds children on his lap during the meetings, even though the elders at his hall know of the charges against him.

    Mike Pence

    Edited by - mikepence on 13 August 2002 17:40:34

  • Dogpatch

    What a shocker, Mike.

    I'm glad that you are a writer so that much more can be related on this in the future. Keep us posted!

    As for J. R. Brown.... gag me.

    Randy Watters

    Net Soup!


  • Mimilly

    ((((((((((((((((((((mikepence and family)))))))))))))))))))))

    I have been on both sides of the coin, having been abused and then helping my step-son deal with the abuse he suffered at the hands of his former step-mother. We did take him for therapy, and I educated my girls on what to do if (horror) this happened to them. It took me years of therapy, and I know my step-son may still need it to some degree.

    My email is open Mike. I'm short on funds, but every bit helps right? Your wife is more than welcome to email me. I deal with serious health issues from all the abuse I went through, and a severe case of mono.

    I'm proud of you for your writing on this heartbreaking subject. I would love to read your articles. I have started a book, but right now it's too hard to return to it.

    Please tell your children how proud we are of them and how strong they are for telling. I hope that bastard gets everything he deserves. If there's one thing I've learned from an early age - it's that if someone gets away with abuse - they will not stop.

    lotsa hugs and sunbeams being sent your way,


  • mikepence

    I have setup a way for people to donate through Amazon.com.

    Even if you can only donate $1, there are certainly enough of us to make it happen.

    Bill Bowen and silentlambs will be conducting a related fundraising effort very soon. Any money given to my family will reduce the amount needed to be raised by silentlambs.

    Mike Pence

  • silentlambs

    I support Mike in his efforts to be at the silentlambs march. If anyone can assist I am sure it will mean much to them for all they have sacrificed.


  • Tanalyst

    NBC10.com perhaps would like to know your plans. God Bless your family.

  • LDH

    That is just plain sick.

    Forget file charges, I'd catch the bastard in an alley.

    I think Spirit Airlines is offering free flights on Sept 11th, that would at least get you there....although I'm a little unclear on the date of the march.

    Tell me what major city/airport you are near, I may be able to help.


  • badwillie

    Lisa -

    Mike will need roundtrip tickets for 2 adults and 2 children from Phoenix-Philadelphia.

    He will need to be in Philly by the 22nd at the latest (my son's 2nd B'day - I'm Mike's brother in law)

    Hope you can find something. Thanks so much for the help!

    - BadWillie

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