from Lauren - Sunday, January 16, 2005
accessed 8442 times
There’s something that I’m genuinely confused about.
In the Family leadership’s and media representatives’ comments to both their own members and to the media, I keep hearing about “apologies” and “attempted reconciliation.”
An example of this is from Claire Borowik to the media following the tragic deaths of Ricky Rodriguez and Angela Smith:
“In 1994, The Family initiated a concerted reconciliation process to attempt to resolve differences with any and all former members who held grievances either from their time in The Family or from the lack of communication with Family
members after they departed. In 1994 and 1995, in open letters to former members, Family leadership officially addressed concerns in regard to any questionable past actions of individuals regarding discipline, education, or sexual misconduct that any may have undergone from 1978 to 1985 before clear guidelines were articulated. These apologies were published and have been reiterated in official Family publications over the years.”
Now, I could be mistaken, but I’ve always assumed that the word “reconciliation” meant something along the lines of: A: to restore to harmony and/or B : to bring to resolution.
And then I realized: Well, maybe that’s where the confusion is. Family leadership isn’t intentionally lying. Maybe we just see the term “reconciliation” differently.
Family leadership has certainly focused a large amount of time and energy on the second generation ex-member community. In the past couple of years, they have:
Called us apostates:
Claimed we were (and are) possessed by blood dripping demons:
Lied about us to our brothers, sisters and friends still in the group:
Lied about us to our parents still in the group:
Rewarded our abusers:
“Queen” Maria (aka Karen Elva Zerby/ Katherine Rianna Smith)
“King” Peter (aka Steven Douglas Kelly/Chris Smith)
John PI (aka Samuel Charles Perfilio /Kevin Anthony Brown)
Marc (Lonnie Davis)
Claire (aka Claire Borowik)
Sara Davidito (aka Prisca Kelley)
Francis Peruvian (aka Victor Landivar)
Mary Malasian (aka Mary Thatcher/ Mary Richard)
Gary (aka Grant Cameron Montgomery, head of FCF)
This is a very incomplete list of names of people still believed to be within the Family who are either guilty of direct abuse against minors themselves, or accessory to the abuse and who have been named elsewhere on the movingon.org website. Not only has the Family leadership refused to turn these members over to the authorities, they have chosen to ignore the facts and have, in most instances, rewarded many of these members with plum positions within the organization.
Refused to believe us:
An example of this would be Claire Borowik’s statement to the media regarding the suicides amongst their ex-member children.
“In response to questions, the Family strongly insisted in an e-mail message from Ms. Borowik that the former members were intentionally inflating the count by including accidents, overdoses and people who are alive.” http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/15/national/15cult.html
They have called us liars, vindictive ex-members, apostates, demon possessed and exaggerators. But they have not paused from their consistent attempts at image-polishing and conscience-stroking to actually hear the pain, the despair, the frustration and the rage suffered by their former children.
How many more must fall before they finally listen?
Refused to accept that the abuse was wrong in God’s eyes:
In fact, quite the opposite: Family leadership has gone to great lengths in order to justify the abuse and to defend
that it is right in God’s eyes:
“129. I’m sorry that we couldn’t come out a little more forthrightly in the Child Abuse Statement, bringing out the point that all sex between adults & minors is not bad, sinful, harmful or abusive. However, the problem was that we didn’t
know how much we could say without putting the Family at legal risk. We wouldn’t have been afraid to admit more if we had known we could do it legally, but we had to be careful & try to protect the Family, & since at that time we
were unable to get any expert advice on that subject, we had to do the best we could.
131. I’m really concerned about this subject, not only how to present it to the public, but also because our JETTs [pre-teens] and Teens seem to be overwhelmingly getting the idea that all of our sexual freedoms have been wrong.
Many of them already have that idea, that the Letters must have been wrong and Dad must have been wrong all this time. Their attitudes & what they’re saying now are indicating this—that all the sexual experiences that they’ve had
in the past have been wrong. We’re hearing it from all quarters, & if we can’t put something in print about it, I don’t know how we’re going to dispel these wrong ideas.
133. However, that does not mean that loving affection between two people, regardless of age, provided it’s not hurtful & both parties like it & want it, is wrong in God’s eyes. But in the present moral climate of the World today it is wrong for us as it hurts the Work of God. …
134. I feel we need to somehow explain to our JETTs [pre-teens] and Teens that love and loving affection is not wrong. As it says in the Letters, if it’s not hurtful, if it’s loving, then it’s okay. Of course, having actual
intercourse with a child wouldn’t be okay as it wouldn’t be loving, but a little fondling & sweet affection is not wrong in the eyes of God, & if they have experienced the same in the past they weren’t “abused”. We need to somehow
help them understand that these things aren’t wrong & the Letters about them are not wrong, it’s just that because of the System’s very strong restrictions on such things & the severe punishment that they hand out for it, it is no
longer fitting & proper for us to do it.
Full text can be found at:
As far as I am aware, to this day, the victims of sexual abuse from within the Family have never been offered counseling or therapy nor has any attempt at restitution been made. The victims have instead been insulted for not
“forgiving and forgetting” and simply moving on with their lives and in some cases have been told by those they reported to that they had been asking for it, liked it, or were being self-righteous for complaining about it. The Family’s
official reply to these accusations has been along the lines of, “well, we don’t do that anymore”.
It’s important to note that although much (though not all) of the child sexual abuse was curtailed in 1986,
the physical abuse of the victor camps followed right on its heels and the Family not only fails to mention this in their statements, they have done nothing to apologize for it or make restitution for it. Physical abuse included (but was not limited to): Severe beatings, medical neglect, food deprivation, sleep deprivation, silence restriction, isolation and hard labor; this for children sometimes as young as 8 & 9 years old.
Rather than apologize for the appalling lack of education most of us received from our childhoods into our teens, and attempt to arrange remedial schooling, Family leadership has instead proclaimed the merits of their educational standards:
The Family leadership has never accepted as legitimate the claims amongst the second generation ex-member community that from as early as 10 years on we were used as child labor within the movement. While our counterparts in society were sitting at desks learning their letters and numbers, we were taking care of younger children, performing most community chores and quite often were on the streets raising money for the movement.
Family leadership has chosen to portray this as part of the “wonderful training” we received from them.
Emotional and Psychological trauma:
To this day, as far as I am aware, Family leadership continues to deny the reality of the emotional and psychological trauma so many of us went through, choosing to instead, brush our issues under the rug with convenient labels such as “bitter” “vindictive” “wanting to do us harm”.
If the above is what Family leadership means when they say “attempts at reconciliation”, then yes, by all means Family leadership has gone all out in attempting to reconcile.
I find it hard to believe that Family leadership can, with a clear conscience, claim to have apologized and attempted reconciliation in light of the facts presented above.
In regards to this so-called “reconciliation” and any “apologies” that have been made, I think there are two critical points worth bearing in mind:
1) The “reconciliation ministry” referred to by Borowik in her statement to the press occurred when, (and I believe I’m being overly generous on the Family’s behalf) at least 90% of their now-ex second generation members were still inside the group. Their “reconciliation ministry” has focused on the criticisms of ex-members from the first generation, whilst they have completely ignored the cries of their children.
2) I personally, have never received an apology from Family leadership for any of the abuses I suffered under the auspices of the programs they instigated. I would be interested to know if anyone has.
In all fairness, about 4 or 5 years ago I did receive a personal email from one of my former home shepherdesses confessing to me that she knew what she was doing when she deliberately made my life a living hell for a year and a half. I still despise the woman, but at least she had the guts to admit she was wrong and to sincerely apologize, which
is more than I can say for Family leadership.
As far as reconciliation or apologies go, there have been one or two open letters to ex-members but, again, written a decade or so ago when most of the second generation were still in the group and which don’t even begin to touch on the abuses we endured at their hands.
In more recent years, “Queen Maria” (Zerby aka Smith) and “King Peter” (Kelly aka Smith) have repeatedly said that they have apologized (I don’t have the time to hunt down the many references littered throughout the GNs). However, as far as I am aware, these more recent “apologies” have been printed in their internal publications, which are distributed solely to their inner membership. Providing these internal documents to ex-members is an excommunicable offence within the group.
That Family leadership would publish such a “be ye warmed and fed” “we’re sorry” in their own publications and then have the gall to proclaim that they have attempted to reconcile is beyond my level of understanding. Especially so as there are so many former second generation members who don’t even frequent ex-member websites where the news is often unofficially spread.
I would very much appreciate a comprehensive list from Family leadership on what specifically they have done to
reconcile with their ex-member children. It could just be that I’m in the wrong part of the world or don’t have enough contact within the ex-member community to be aware of what positive actions Family leadership has taken.
Along these same lines, I feel very strongly that after so many of us have suffered first hand abuse in the group because of their writings and in many cases direct influence, and then been consistently demonized to our own loved ones and to the press, that it’s quite disingenuous of them to assume that if they were to print a new “open letter to ex-members” that it would even begin to touch on what real reconciliation is all about.
PS: If there is, as the Family spokespeople claim, a small circle of “former members who are "virulent vitriolic apostates,” can you in this group please let me know what it takes to qualify and how I can become one of you? I am self-declared “bitter”. Is that good enough? http://www.movingon.org/article.asp?sID=1&Cat=9&ID=1667 -- or perhaps this article will do it. Please let me know.