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