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Moving On

Posted by on December 12, 2002 at 00:14:17

Against my own better judgement and the advice of my friends I wanted to clarify my position on the issue of accountability. It is a constant struggle for me to separate my emotional reactions from what I objectively and rationally believe to be true and right. Obviously sometimes my anger and hurt gets the better of me.

Just for the record, I believe that Ray is a good man. Apart from the fact that he is (very) religious, I have never heard anything bad about him from any young person. Many young people have told me that he has been a father figure to them at times when they desperately needed it. Since leaving he has been a parent, which is the highest praise I have, for his children, and his son often speaks highly of him to me. He has done a great deal personally for SGs, and I do not have any personal animosity towards him.

I do also understand the psychological issues in the Family. I was there too. I believed in God and Jesus and “Maria” and “Grandpa” and would have given anything they asked of me. I understand the issue of suppressing any questions or “doubts”. At times I thought I was going crazy because of the internal conflict. I was responsible for children, preteens and teenagers as well, and I am not proud of some of the things that I did because I thought it was right. I had two nervous breakdowns in my late teens in the Family just trying to do the right thing and at the same time obey what I thought was God’s will for me. It was never black or white or simple.

Obviously amongst the SGs the opinions vary about as much as they seem to on this site, and I only speak for myself, but the issue here for me is one of facing the facts. When I first left and began to realise the depth of the perversity that I had believed and committed to, I felt like I was free falling. I didn’t know if there was a bottom and I couldn’t tell where reality began and where the lies ended. It was terrifying. What I realised is that what had kept me in the group for as long as I was in was that I was afraid to ask the questions that were always there. The only way I would ever know for sure what was real would be to question everything, no matter what the cost. I had believed a lie for so long and I had to know the truth, at least what was true for me.

I think what hurts so much is that for me at least, my parents (who are still sort of in) are not willing to take that step. I actually do have some close friends that are first generation exers and they often talk about how if they asked themselves why they did nothing when they knew what was happening to children (and everyone did), they would want to go jump off a bridge. I rationally understand that my parents think they can’t deal with it and still function in their life, so they don’t. But emotionally it feels like they are still choosing the group over their own children.

My sister, (who never reads this site, so I hope I am safe in saying this) called me the other day about nightmares that she is having on a regular basis. She is grown, married and with children of her own. She seems happy and successful and secure. She is dreaming that she is in trouble and calling out to our mom and dad. They are there and see her and then just walk away and leave her. She is dreaming this over and over and it brings back the feeling of being 11 or 12 and having our parents send us away to be “adults”. They rarely call her, and have no idea how much she wants them to be part of her life. It looks like it all turned out okay, and they have no idea how much she is still hurting.

When I tell my parents about things that happened to me in the Family as a little girl and there is no reaction, it is still devastating. Just to think that they still send money every month to an organization that they entrusted us to and hurt us so badly is really difficult for me. Again I rationally understand that they believe it’s the Lord’s work they are supporting and I understand how difficult it is to make the break. Emotionally though it feels like they are saying “We don’t care. We will support the Family no matter what it did to you.”

Again, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I think that a lot of the FG/SG issue is this one. To really heal we need to know that the people we love, and will always love, care about what happened, even if it means metaphorically jumping off that cliff of the unknown themselves, not knowing if there is a bottom. We need to hear that they take responsibility for what they did, (even if it was just by turning a blind eye, or not speaking out when things got bad) without the disclaimers of “the Family made me do it” and will now support us and the young people and children still in and do what they can to make up for what they allowed to happen.

I have said this before, but for us the first generation were all parental figures. That was the socialization we grew up with, and I guess “One Wife” worked in that regards. I think that’s why there is the deep rage towards you all as a group, and again I rationally understand that it might seem unfair. On the other hand when people do take responsibility for their part as legal adults in the Family for the perpetuation of the horrendous things that occurred it goes a long way towards healing for many people.

I don’t think anyone wants to see any more harm done, whether FGs or SGs, and beating people up or allowing people to beat themselves up is not the issue here. I can only speak for me, but I need to know there is outrage over what occurred. There was another SG suicide over thanksgiving, and perhaps that was one reason why I was so upset. There have been so many. Almost everyone I know has had someone die or someone try to take their own life, and the pain, despair and feeling of abandonment is so deep. That is the hardest thing for me emotionally to handle. A young man wrote an article on the Moving On site about his brother who took his own life, and ended with the line “sometimes the demons win”. It was the most painful thing I had ever read. I still can’t read it without crying. I just can’t accept that sometimes it is too late.

Also for the record I personally have no desire to see the Family dismantled. Some people were honestly trying to serve God in the way that they thought was best, and I believe they have a right to their own beliefs and religion. However some people in the Family were sadistic and perverted and have done horrific damage to the innocent and vulnerable children in their care. I have said this many times, but again for the record, I do believe that every adult in the group has a measure of responsibility after reading the publications about sexual contact with children, physical violence to children and psychological torture of children and doing nothing about it. The Family can only exist because of the duplicity of its’ members. Many of the same abusers are still there. The ones who were excommunicated were never reported to authorities. The Family can never come clean and move on unless it makes a clean break with their horrific past. I guess it’s the same issue really. There needs to be outrage and these things must be addressed. The fact that there can be amiable discussion over the issue of “well we were deceived, but TTL we all have learned”, for me is very upsetting.

One last thing for the record is that I don’t personally know of any SGs who are in contact with Sam. He acts on his own volition. We have our own cause and our own stance. I can say that our issue is with the individual people who specifically hurt children (and yes that is in or out). Regarding Robert Fernandez, well, the Family has specifically been told in the Vandari GN and other places to “preach the Family” in the face of “persecution” so if he denies it or doesn’t do that, well, the cock is crowing. If he is confident in the Family and that being the best place for him to serve God, then stand up and be a man, if he is not okay, IMO, he needs to look at why not. The SGs in Thailand do honestly say that they are part of the Family, and that comes up in every interview they have done. I do know that most Christians (at least in the US) need no further information than the name of the Family or the Children of God. They already know what that entails. If they willingly choose to partner with them, then that is their choice. Deception however is wrong I think, and no organization with any morality or ethics denies who they are. If their members believe and endorse their own doctrines they should proclaim it.

I don’t personally endorse harassment of Family members or Family projects. Some people are, I believe, trying to do good in their own way. However, there is a lot of baggage attached, and until everyone who had a part in it faces the facts of what happened, and denounces the people who are responsible, the shame will continue be a millstone around their necks. I continue to hope that one day my family will be a family and we will be free from the legacy of the group. It shaped our past but it if we can really move on, it will not control our future.