A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

I’m Fine — a daughter’s poem

This poem was sent to us by the woman who set up the davidsslingshot site.

She has sent a complaint to one of the Presbyteries of the OPC regarding her former pastor and leadership.
The Presbytery appointed a special committee to investigate the pastor in October of 2017, and was granted a request for continuation in March of 2018.  So far, progress has been somewhat encouraging, yet she is unclear where things stand currently.

She has a requested the committee to come and meet with her children and hear their perspective about what happened and how they were all treated, compared to the support her ex husband continues to receive.  The committee has indicated they may do that in the next month.   … We will see.

Here is a poem which her daughter recently wrote, regarding how she feels about the way their former pastor and church has handled the situation.  This poem will be put on the davidsslingshot site as well.

I’m Fine
by “E” (20)
(by a young woman whose father is an abuser
and the church is still supporting him. 
The church is yet to seriously demonstrate that it
wants to support the abused wife and children.)

Can you hear me?
Can you read between the lines?
Can you hear the pain
Behind the words “I’m fine”

Are we friends?
Or am I blind?
Do you even care
When I say “I’m fine”

You are the church
Christ’s hands and eyes
You should notice when
I say “I’m fine”

You don’t listen
You leave me behind
You never even hear
Me say “I’m fine”

I’m watching you
As you take sides
With the one who caused
The ache behind “I’m fine”

You turn your back
While I slowly die
If you listen, you will hear
Me whisper “I’m fine”

“God is Good!”
You shout the line
Yes, God is Good
And I am fine

You sing so loud
Your faces shine
But you are deaf to hear
“I’m fine”

You don’t believe me
And I resign
From trying to tell you
I’m not fine.

You demand the proof
You want a sign
Why do you believe me
Now that I say “I’m fine”?

The gossip’s yours
The story’s mine
One day I’ll mean it when
I say “I’m fine”

The storm is passing
The sun will shine
But sometimes I’ll still say
“I’m fine”

23 Comments

  1. RenewedSpirit

    Wow.

  2. Saved By Grace

    “I’m fine”…..the standard and easy and expected answer to the question: “How are you?” I said this many Sundays to people I passed by on the way into or out of church. I truly felt that if I told them the truth the depth of my emotions, of my depression, they would not believe me, they would ignore me, they would walk away.

    I am NOT fine. I want to feel free to say how I really feel, to be believed, to be accepted, to be validated. That is why I come here. Thank you ACFJ.

  3. Moving Forward

    Yes, what do you say when asked how you are doing from people who don’t really want to know? Say anything other than, “I’m fine” and it is very awkward. Very poignant poem. We need to hear more from the children (I really appreciate David’s Slingshot site). They also need support and a place to connect and get help. With God, precious daughter, you will be more than fine some day. You will be wonderful!

  4. Finding Answers

    This poem needs to be seen by a much, much wider audience – I stand and bow my head in awe.

  5. Amy

    Beautiful. Sad but beautiful ❤

  6. Helovesme

    I almost started crying at reading her words.

    She pointed out something that I WISH the public would understand.

    Abusers “train” their victims to act like they’re fine, or say it out loud—-when in public. They know how to put on an act and try to appear normal, in order to survive the personal “hell” they are going through.

    In private, ti’s a whole different story for sure. They are anything BUT fine.

    So it’s easy to be shocked when it comes out: “I’m NOT fine.” The automatic reply is: “but you seemed so happy, so content, so joyful, so confident when I see you. Why should I believe you? Where’s the proof? You kept saying you were fine.”

    “Can you read between the lines” is what this amazing girl said in her poem! Right on, sweetie.

    You don’t listen, you don’t believe—and you take the abuser’s side. IMO, they ARE listening, and they ARE believing—-but not to her. They listen and believe the abuser instead.

    If they want “proof” of abuse, then how does the abuser prove otherwise? That he or she is NOT an abuser? That is never asked for or required. They simply believe the abuser, many times—even BEFORE the abuser has a chance to deny it.

    There is automatic doubt and disbelief when the abused tells their side, but in doing so, you have automatically believed the abuser. Before even hearing their narrative. Why is that?

    Speaking about the “ache” behind the scenes, and what she is going through on the inside (slowly dying)—-gosh, she grabbed my heart big time with her simple but powerful words.

    I never forget that it is the kids who suffer right along when a parent is being abused, or if they are being abused with their parent. But this was a good reminder, and a good poem to lock inside my heart, if I never do forget.

    I remember feeling this way lots of times. “I’m fine” when inside I am screaming. Broken, miserable, but trying to hard to hide it.

    I wasn’t trying to manipulate anyone, like abusers do. I was just trying to survive the pain, and repressing that pain was the only alternative. Trying to put on an act, trying to pretend, trying to stifle every temptation to spill my story.

    Don’t forget that when a victim is targeted, many people blame YOU for being “weak” and therefore being targeted. There must be something about you that made you a target, so you have no one to blame but yourself.

    That sounds horrible (and it is!) but that is much of the thought that is out there, even now.

    Praying for this precious girl, and her family. Maybe, just maybe if her church reads this—they will understand. They will get a glimpse of what abuse is like.

    • Legally Separated

      Fear holds us back; to think that if we did tell someone nothing would be done, or it may become worse.

    • anonymous

      You speak truth. The ‘happy’ act. I hated that but there would be even further hell to pay if I wasn’t convincing enough. Then comes the demands for proof because the ‘happy act’ was so convincing. People don’t see the violence, threats, intimidation, more threats, or the abuser’s total control of the victim. It isn’t like the victim is making any choices.

      Isn’t it telling how women get labeled ‘manipulative’, especially abused women. Like she had any options.

      Just because the abuser doesn’t have a gun held to the victims head at all times doesn’t mean the effect isn’t always there.

      Abusers are predators, terrorists, manipulative, deceptive, conniving children of the devil. Not many want to admit such truth, much less get involved and risk becoming a target, too, of the abuser’s wrath and wickedness.

      Thanking Barb for running this ministry/website as it is about the only safe place I know of where one can speak the awful truth of so many abused women’s lives.

      • Helovesme

        Anonymous amen and double amen!

        I resounded very much with your words for sure. Even when the abuser isn’t around, you feel their influence over you still. It can seem strange to others, how much power they have over you, but it’s very real and very terrifying.

        Even as a young Christian, I felt like I constantly had to be a “shiny, happy person.” Someone who was forgiven of their sins was supposed to be that way, right?

        Bear in mind, I DID have a lot to be joyful over. Being born again is nothing to thumb your nose at. I just had a lot of baggage trailing me, as I struggled with embracing my new life in Him.

        I also had to face a very unhappy family situation when I became a Christian. It was a very complicated, conflicted time in my life!

        Thank you so much for those words. YES, this site and all Barb does for us is one of the few places where I personally feel safe.

      • anonymous

        There’s such power in bearing witness and sharing truths. Fellowship among Christians. Just reading what you, Helovesme, write, as with others helps assure me and validate me in knowing it was/is not me, not just me, and it really was/is what I said is was/is. The last thing the abusers are going to do is own up to all the evildoing, damages inflicted, harm done, etc.

        I hear you about the felt pressure to constantly be a “shiny, happy person”. I have great contentment in knowing I am going home to glory, to be with God forever, having been purchased and redeemed with Christ’s Holy Blood. That being said, life is really, really difficult because of what the wicked do to their targets. Just like the Bible tells us the devil prowls about, the wicked are wreaking havoc and being cruel these days and it impacts me.

        Many blessings to you, Helovesme.

      • Helovesme

        Thank you so much for those kind words!!! And blessings to you too!

  7. Sarah

    When I expressed my concerns re my abusive situation, my OPC minister explained to me that nothing on earth had the power to hurt me. Jesus would care for me. An elder and his wife were assigned to make a home visit. At this time the elder instructed me to be submissive to my husband.

    The spouse (a church deacon) was supported by the church until he was found to be “living in sin”. I am not sure what happened after that….I ran for my life!

    • Hi Sarah, welcome to the blog and thanks for sharing! 🙂

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  8. Active Reader

    It’s one of my pet peeves (asking ‘How are you?’), because most of the time people who ask that question really don’t want to know! The phrase ought to be stricken from our language, except by those who are willing to listen to an honest answer!
    ‘E’ and family, I am hoping for healing and real friends for you…

    • Helovesme

      Oh goodness when I read your words I felt so sad, but also vindicated!

      It doesn’t give me ANY pleasure to know that others have felt what I felt, but on the flip side of the coin I feel blessed knowing that I’m not alone.

      Sometimes people don’t even bother to ask how I’m doing, and this includes people who know I’ve suffered. Omissions matter and I do notice them.

      Then there are people who DO ask how I’m doing, and I DO try to answer honestly! Call me crazy, but I take that question to mean they really want to know.

      Sometimes I leave a lot out in my answer. I have the right to share only what I am comfortable in sharing. And it depends on who is asking—how much I trust or really know them.

      My general experience is: I get no replies, which makes me question why they asked in the first place. The other common experience is I get an answer that obviously reflects that they really didn’t fully read or absorb what I wrote in the first place! Or, they didn’t give a lot of thought before answering, and said the first things they thought of without considering that that might not be helpful, or sensitive.

      Now I tend to just ignore such questions, but because I don’t like to be rude, I do try to answer as minimally as I can.

      I don’t have any medals for 100% sensitivity and tact, FYI. I’m a work in progress just like everyone else. But it’s good to treat the weak and vulnerable with kind, gentle and soft hands—just like His! If you don’t understand that, don’t bother to ask how a person is doing! You might not like the answers, or you might make things worse!

      • anonymous

        “I have the right to share only what I am comfortable in sharing.”

        Exactly! And this is a safety thing for us. Information is power (and vulnerability).

        I wish we wouldn’t be trained to death as children to obediently answer any/all questions because most people who ask questions are exactly the people who need not know anything because they are not looking out for your interest at all (actually the opposite).

  9. Amy

    Such a remarkable expression of truth. Its beautifully written and it is sadly true. Thank you for sharing. May our Lord place his divine love and action upon and in everyones life especially those who are in or are living in and among so much danger.

  10. God Hears

    I think the session & Pastor at my OPC church believe me and are compassionate now, though I think they didn’t really understand a few years ago. I have seen them grow a lot in their understanding of abuse since knowing of my situation but things are not yet resolved for me. (Can’t give specifics at this time.)

    I have appreciated that a couple of the men have read the Bancroft book and some of the wives have been really kind to me and our children, both in words and in many kind deeds. I am praying for the leadership and hope that I can remain there, as I love my church.

    I am still very concerned about how the denomination is handling abuse but am praying much and hope God gives me the chance some day to speak more freely or write about my situation and help educate the church.

  11. Legally Separated

    I find this story very intriguing as I also attended an OPC church during my separation and the way it was handled by the session was atrocious.

  12. Laurie

    Wow…succinct. ❤

  13. Maggie

    This poem is sad and true. A former church (under the guise of asking me not to speak in curses in spiritual warfare) really did not care if I was hurting. They do not want to hear anything negative in a group run as a social club that claims to be a hospital. I do not know where the line is, but there is a point a church has to show compassion on someone who is hurt whether the person is speaking curses or not. Some parachurch ministries do a better job of this than many churches.

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