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Anne Miller's Trauma Fund

$16,751 of $28,000 goal

Raised by 153 people in 2 months
Since brevity is not my gift, if you prefer the "just the facts, ma'am, here they are. The full story is below the bullet list.

To sum this request up:

• One of the stories I've shared through my years in writing and speaking was of my sexual abuse when I was sixteen. The man who abused me was a 25-year-old youth pastor.

• I learned that this man was not appropriately reported to law enforcement by the organization who investigated him internally (in 2007) and found him to have abused me. This man was also given a chance to resign instead of being terminated (which I was led to believe).

• Within days of me learning he was not reported and he resigned, I reported him to both CPS and law enforcement. I have been working with them over the last six weeks as they conduct this man's criminal investigation.

• This amount of "re-hashing" what happened in my interviews with law enforcement has caused the trauma to resurface in my life, hitting my mental health very hard. In the last few months, I have been extremely anxious, depressed, and at times, wishing I was not alive.

• I need very specific help that my general counseling and psychiatry appointments cannot provide.

• My family and mentors and treatment team (including me) have determined Onsite's Milestones Trauma Program is the best place for me to get this help. I start treatment on Tuesday 5/15.

• This help costs $28,000, of which we have $2,000 (we just put a downpayment on a house before this happened which exhausted most of our savings).

• I cannot make the SBC or its ancillary organizations or the criminal who molested me for six months pay for this.

• I am afraid that if I do not receive this treatment, I will not be healed or be able to serve others in any capacity that is meaningful. I honestly fight to find the energy to leave my bed most days and it is getting worse and worse.

****

The Full Story:

If you read any of my books or my blog, you know that I was sexually abused in 1996, when I was just 16 years old. The man who did this was a 25-year-old seminary student and youth pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention. You also did know I did not recognize it as abuse until I was his age in 2005.

I graduated high school a year early and assumed I was more mature than I was. I saw it as a relationship gone bad since I was compliant in it (consent does not apply as I was too young). But when I was 25 and I saw a 25-year-old coworker working with 16 year old students, I had a stunning and horrific revelation.

Almost immediately after I recognized it as abuse, I went to a church counselor within my SBC church where I worked who told me to work on my forgiveness and that to do anything about it would do more harm than good to the body of Christ, the church. I followed that counsel and that is what I did. 

A year later, in 2006, at the suggestion of my counselor, I wrote my abuser a email letter saying I forgave him for what happened. He never responded. I felt somewhat free but constantly haunted by flashbacks of the experience triggered by things that reminded me of him. 

I began writing more about the experience of forgiving him for my local church newsletter and as a result, I had a friend come to me with her own story in 2007. Since we both were in the same denomination, I told my friend where my abuser worked–in a position of leadership within one of the many autonomous organizations in the SBC. I did not know her father worked with the same organization. She told her father who in turn told the organization.

That organization confronted my abuser with this and he denied it. They conducted an investigation that lasted months. I had to tell them every detail of what happened. I did not know then, but what I experienced was revictimization. At one point, my body went into shock during the investigation. 

The internal investigation within the SBC concluded that this man DID sexually assault me, a child, when he was 25 and I was 16 years old.

From their report that both he and I received:

• [Criminal's name] engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with Anne [Maiden Name] in 1996-1997.

• Anne [Maiden Name] has suffered as a result of the sexual relationship with [Criminal's name] and continues to struggle with shame and guilt.

• [Criminal's name] was not truthful with the Assessment Team and [Organization Name] personnel about the full extent of the relationship he had with Anne [Maiden Name].

I was told a few days later that the man was no longer working with this autonomous organization. I was under the impression he was terminated from the position for obvious reasons.

When I asked this organization directly, I learned he was not terminated and was given a chance to resign. I then asked the legal counsel for this investigation if they reported it to law enforcement, as is mandatory in Texas. They did not because they did not believe that is what I wanted. What I wanted doesn’t matter.

It is and was required by law for them to report it. The law says this is a felony. Yet they did not report it.

This man presently serves in a position of leadership with more stature and responsibility than before. [Update: As of June 17, 2018, this man is no longer employed by this organization.] 

When, over the course of the last decade since the internal investigation, I asked how it was possible, I was told to “let it go” because to dwell on it or to desire what the SBC termed “reconciliation” (what the law and what I consider is justice) would cause me more harm than good.

In 2010, I was diagnosed with PTSD because of this abuse and was hospitalized at a trauma-specific psychiatric hospital for a month to work on healing from this and other issues that stemmed from it. This treatment was incredibly effective and allowed me to write and speak and engage as you know me. It allowed me to find healing and to find me again. It allowed me to share that hope and healing with others during my tenure as a religious writer and speaker.



When I learned this crime was not reported, I reported it.

On both occasions, within 24 hours, the authorities followed up with me and are pursuing this man for a criminal investigation. They said they don’t care if it happened 22 seconds, 22 months, or 22 years ago. It’s a felony and justice needs to be served. I have been working diligently with the crimes against children (CAC) unit task force of this police department over the last six weeks. I had no idea the trauma would resurface as it has. I even joked with some of the detectives about how much counseling I had; I thought I would be okay.

I have never been so wrong in my life.

This experience has shaken me to my core. I am eternally grateful for the CAC unit, the DA, and others involved and am grateful for all they have done and continue to do. However, in working with them, I have had to re-live many moments of my abuse. I knew this was a risk but one that I am willing to take. I’ve also suffered from the shame and guilt for NOT reporting this sooner because I realize there are likely other victims that I could have saved if I would have gone to the authorities first and not the church.

The courage it took to come forward to law enforcement may be admirable, but I now understand why more victims do not come forward. My anxiety has rendered me a shell of who I was. There have been many days in the last month where I cannot leave my bed, where I am medicated to the max just so I don’t return to the level of shock and dissociation I have previously experienced. I went to a short-term psychiatric hospital. I explored a partial hospitalization program locally. I have been faithfully seeing a psychiatrist since even before I went to the police. I thought I was prepared to handle this, but my level of re-experience trauma is beyond stable.

It breaks my heart beyond words to hear our 21-month old daughter playing in our living room with her dad or her grandma while I stay in our bedroom unable to move. Every time I hear “Mama?” and the response, “Mama’s sleeping” makes me not want to continue living. Please know I am safe. I am not suicidal although I have had suicidal ideations and that is why I am seeking this help urgently. I am afraid if I do not get the help I need soon, I will never get me back again. My daughter will never have her whole mama and my husband will never have the woman he married back.

After talking at length with counselors, my family, my spiritual family and law enforcement, we have concluded that I need to be stabilized in an inpatient trauma facility. Instead of going to the hospital I went to in 2010, we have decided that Onsite’s Residential 30-day Trauma Program in Tennessee is the right place for me to find this healing my heart and mind so desperately need. I will start treatment on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.

Before this all happened, Tim and I were saving to buy a house so that we can give our daughter a safe neighborhood to live and learn and love in as the Dallas housing market is exploding. We had just paid our down payment on our house which now only leaves us with a little bit of savings when all of this happened. We will be using what money we have to help pay for treatment, but the total cost for the 30 days is $28,000. They are willing to work with me on this cost, and I want to let them know I am fully invested in my treatment and they deserve to be paid for the necessary and exceptional work they do.

I am asking for help. For any support you can provide.  That doesn't necessarily mean money, but money is needed.

I think the SBC and the organizations for which this man worked, and the man personally should be held responsible for paying for this treatment and any other treatment I need for the rest of my life. However, the statute of limitations for the civil part of my abuse is long gone. I can not sue them for treatment costs.

I have pushed Tim, my best friends, and my advocacy group so far back against asking for help publicly. It seems opportunistic and wrong to me, but I have been assured this is the right thing to do and so I trust those that are thinking with a clearer mind than mine.

We can contribute $2,000 to this out of our own money. I need to raise $26,000 to cover the cost of the treatment. The cost of transportation, the cost of childcare, the cost of my husband having to take off from work, the cost of me losing work...these are all costs we can absorb, although they are a sacrifice.

You all have given so much of yourselves to me and my family through the years and I pray this does not feel as if I am taking advantage of you.

Thank you for reading this, and for your prayers, and if you can, your donation.

With love,

Anne Marie Miller

Author of Mad Church Disease (by Anne Jackson), Permission to Speak Freely (by Anne Jackson), Lean on Me, and 5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Their Kids and Sex

Former Blogger at FlowerDust.net, AnneMarieMiller.com
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In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to ask a couple of questions since this whole thing didn’t turn out as planned!

If you would like a statement of what I’m paying where, please email me at anne@annemariemiller.com.

Because my stay was not 30 days, I wanted to gather your collective thoughts on some of these funds that may be extra to aid in paying for the accident. Some of these expenses will be copays or coinsurance for 3 days of Trauma Level 2 stabilization, two surgeries, ambulance, five days of hospitalization, payment for boarding in Nashville until I am able to return home, any additional travel costs (Tim has to fly here to drive my car home as I’m not able to drive yet).

Some of these fees haven’t been charged yet, but before I distributed any of this money, I wanted to ask if it would be okay to reallocate some of your donations to cover these unexpected expenses that were incurred at my time at Milestones.

I welcome any and all feedback.

Thank you for your prayers and support at this time. 33 days until my second surgery where hopefully they’ll be able to remove all the screws and hardware and the bone graft will still be healing so they can begin to design an implant to replace the tooth that was lost.

It’s still a little surreal. I can’t believe I’m typing these words.

Lots of love,
Anne
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Finding True Justice and True Grace in a #MeToo #ChurchToo Culture: As we enter into this new climate of finding freedom from abuse that happened to us, let us not use this freedom as an opportunity to cause harm to others in the name of seeking justice.
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Several times over the last ten years, I found myself in the city where the man who sexually abused me as a child lived. Most of the time I was terrified to accidentally run into him. Sometimes I became full of rage and fantasized seeing him at a gas station and attacking him. And other times I would get caught off guard by my grief and sit in my car weeping outside the hotel where I was staying.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, the myriad of emotions I experienced changed as naturally as the Texas sky in springtime. Sometimes I'd feel guilty about the complexity. Other times I wouldn't.

I learned that each emotion had its place.

In March of this year, when I found out the man who abused me was never reported to law enforcement, a strong desire for justice gave me the extra courage I needed to walk forward. I felt validated knowing the criminal justice system would handle what the Southern Baptist Convention would not–and could not–handle. I felt a sweeping loss as my mental health suffered. I burned with indignation as this man, who already has taken so much of my life by his actions, consumed more: I lost sleep, I lost time with my daughter and my husband, and lost the easy joy I generally danced in.

There were parts of me that wanted to destroy him. There were parts of me that wanted to destroy myself.

And again, each emotion had its place.

As I worked with law enforcement, my detective encouraged me to not share the name of the man who abused me publicly until they had everything in order for the criminal case they're working on. They understood this man's current role and his access to vulnerable people, including children. Yet the benefits of not coming out with his name publicly outweighed the risks in regard to the integrity of the criminal investigation. I respected their wishes then and I respect them now.

Somehow this felt right and good and okay. Even though the only thing that remained between me exposing the man who did this to me was a "publish" button, I never had a total peace about sharing my story in such a public way. I'm glad I had a little extra space to reconsider going public because, for me, it was not the right choice to make.

Since I've been offline for most of the last two years, I guess I forgot how ruthless the voices on social media are...myself included. In the last month, since I shared my story online (without identifying my abuser), I've clicked on enough hashtags and read enough fodder to lose a little bit of faith in the world (and in myself).

Don't mishear: there are some pretty awful people who have done some pretty awful things. Many well-respected men and women, especially within the SBC, have had their skeletons come out and be displayed for all the world to see.

In the court of public opinion, most are starting to pay a hefty price for their sins and for their crimes. I want to reiterate that the people who commit these horrid acts–and the ones who cover them up–are ultimately responsible for whatever consequences come their way.

But in all of this, there is something I just can't get my spirit to shake off:

This court of public opinion–social media, newspapers, blogs–is not and should not be the final destination of justice. However, it seems as if most of us treat it as the highest court of all, damning those who have lied, cheated, stolen, raped, abused, and covered up to a man-made hell of Twitter firestorms, petty insults, unnecessary commentary, and misplaced desires to have the final word.

I understand, as survivors of abuse we feel like we have no voice and now we can say whatever we want, when we want, to whomever we want. There is power in rediscovering our voice.

We cannot neglect our responsibility to be like Christ and we cannot evade the call to exercise wisdom with how we discuss these things, especially in public forums.

Justice and grace are not mutually exclusive.

Does the man who abused me, who stole so much of my life from me as a sixteen-year-old and over the last 22 years deserve the justice coming his way? Yes.

Does he deserve grace? No.

But here's the thing: I don't deserve that grace either.

I don't write this in a self-deprecating manner.

I don't intend to minimize what has happened to me or to the countless number of women and men, boys and girls, who have been abused in the worst possible ways, and in the name of Jesus.

The humbling reality we are faced with in this and in every part of our life is the very basic tenet of the Gospel: God so loved the world that He gave his only son to die for my sins, for your sins, and for the sins of the man who abused me.

This includes his sin of abusing me.

It is a grace none of us deserve but all of us can freely receive.

I'm afraid that the beauty of this grace is being buried alive by the permission we now have to speak freely. Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and in our attempt to bring the light into darkness, we are inadvertently suffocating out the Life the world needs to survive.

As we enter into this new climate of finding freedom from abuse that happened to us, let us not use this freedom as an opportunity to cause harm to others in the name of seeking justice.

Let us recognize the same God who sought us out and asked us, "Where are you?" seeks out all of us, even the criminals hanging on the cross.

When reconciliation plays out here on earth, may we remember the love of God that has reconciled us is also available to those who have hurt us.

May we give thanks that all of our brokenness is healed through the same holy man on the same holy cross. This man is near to us when we are brokenhearted and he is near to those who have hurt us when they are brokenhearted. He grieves for us when we are far from Him and he grieves for the world when they are far from him.

As justice begins to shine like the noon-day sun, may our hearts also shine with hope and grace and gratitude for ourselves, for others, and for the world to come.

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

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A funny thing happened...

Yesterday, Memorial Day, the clients at Milestones we’re spending a couple of hours celebrating with summery games. An impromptu match of water balloon wiffle ball started up and as someone took a swing, the bat flew out of his hand and landed square on the left side of my face.

I lost a front tooth and had four bones in the left side of my face break. Tomorrow (5/30) I will be having surgery to reconstruct that side of my face, followed by having my jaws wired shut for 6 weeks and three months of recovery before I can get that tooth replaced. I always wanted straight teeth. I think braces would have been a better idea.

Most likely, given this, my time at Milestones will be ending, and I wanted to let you guys know. However, in the two weeks I’ve been there, God has moved in ways I didn’t even know was possible. I’ve been loved well, guided well, and my medication adjustments have brought me back up to a level of functioning and hope I wasn’t expecting. I have made deep friendships that will last a lifetime and coping skills to help when things get rough.

I’m still working with Milestones on the details of payment and will let you guys know as soon as I hear what’s going on so that you know your generosity is invested with all integrity and gratitude.

Here is a fun 3D X-ray of my face and some pretty gnarly selfies!

Love, love, so much love,
Anne
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Hi, everyone. I got a pass from my therapist to go online for a few minutes and I wanted to check in. I've been here a week now and it is remarkable. It's also truly scary to look into past traumatic events such as this sexual trauma and try to make peace with the past, so to speak. I have learned that the man who abused me is likely on administrative leave or will be soon. That's good, but it also means that there is still denial as what happened. If you're the praying sort, would you please pray that he can find healing too? I'm reminded about praying for our enemies and in no means do I consider him my enemy, but a hurt person who hurt me. Thank you all for your donations and sharing this. We still have a ways to go but I know what needs to happen will happen, and I believe this about everything in regard to this situation.

With so much love and gratitude,
Anne Miller
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