I have done my best to share my understanding of the predatory playbook, to give coherent statements, and dance around a non disclosure agreement.
I confess I am feel near the edge of panic watching people who have literally no idea what they are talking about, fashion sound bites and ten point sermons. Having a platform does not make you an expert in sexual abuse, predation, and victimology. This is a time when you should be listening not talking unless you definitively know what you are doing. This is a time to mourn; to ask hard questions of yourselves and others; a time to acknowledge your complicity; a time to seek wise counsel and time to look forensically.
After the debacle that was 2017, I left my career to do a Masters in Child Advocacy and Policy. I had a deep need to know what had happened to bring me to this point and how to map a safe and stable path forward. You are where I was in 2017 — you were blind but now you see. I like that phrase, but I also loath it. We think somehow sight is this incredible gift to be received with joy. To be sure it is that, but it is also more. Sight where you have been blind comes with blurred vision at first, splitting headaches, bewilderment at the world as it really is, versus how you imagined it. Sight strains delicate eye muscles that bend the lens of your eye to sharpen the image. Sight brings clarity and it can also bring confusion.
If you think a ten point sermon is going to fix your vision in a hot minute — I have NEWS for you. This will be a catastrophic cataract surgery, or else it will be nothing at all. If you really want to completely comprehend and are committed to this NEVER happening again then you are in for a long road through a swampland of shame.
Many will circumvent this road and that will be to someone’s peril. Few will do the hard work that sight requires and we will be doing this again until we get it right. It bears repeating that people are perishing for lack of knowledge. If you wish to go on this trip here are some resources for the road.
Statements directly from me, LAT:
I have written over 247 blog posts at https://loriannethompson.com Some of them at good, some bad, some long, some short, some from experience, some from evidence — but all were born of the agony of abuse. Most anything I am willing/able to say publicly is posted there. I have collected a few for you specific to RZ situation in chronological order:
In time I hope to be part of the wider conversation, but now is simply not that time. Having said that, I would like share the resources that have been most helpful to me.
I became aquatinted with Dr. Langberg’s work in December of 2016. I own three of her books, listened to many of her videos, and I have seen a trauma therapist from her office since 2017. In the early days, Diane’s voice, her piercing combination of psychology, theology, and trauma informed expertise, was one of the few lights that shone bright enough for this perilously and pathologically dark path. I trusted her then — I trust her more now. She has over forty years experience with traumatized individuals AND she is nobody’s fool. I urge you to learn from her. Her work IS the plumb line for this treacherous trench. Bright is her light, sharp is her sword, deep is her courage, and penetrating is the truth she speaks. You will need all she says and more.
Dr. Freyd is the pioneer of betrayal trauma theory. She and her colleague Pamela Birrell wrote an incredible book (which I have dogeared) entitled, Blind to Betrayal. Dr. Freyd’s work has helped me to understand what happened to me and what may be happening to you.
You are all experiencing the betrayal trauma that I and others have had for years. You trusted him. I did too. You believed in him. I did too. The difference is, he didn’t consume you. Therefore, most of you are experienced secondary victimization and your pain is legitimate.
Ravi Zacharias held a position of public and private trust. He engendered trust. It was easy for anyone to attachment to him. The higher degree of attachment, the less likely you are to see or to question the source of attachment. This is called betrayal blindness.
“I trusted him,” says you. Well, good — that was very human of you. “It means that your human attachment system was intact” (Freyd, 2021). He betrayed that trust and that leaves you bewildered and shaken. This is called a betrayal trauma. It may have even shaken your faith. This is called a spiritual wound.
Betrayal trauma occurs when your trust is violated in a high trust relationship. This betrayal hurts and it hurts deeply. Why? Trust once broken is not easily restored; in some cases, it is never is.
Betrayal trauma is on a continuum. The higher degree of attachment and trust you had to Ravi Zacharias/RZIM the greater the trauma to your person and faith. The Brief Betrayal Trauma survey may help you to frame your feelings — you can take this survey at your leisure in the link provided.
Institutional betrayal occurs when a whole organizations responds abysmally to reports of abuse. RZIM is rightly under the spotlight for how they handled abuse allegations and may be poised to become institutionally courageous.
Dr. Freyd and her impeccable colleagues at The Center for Institutional Courage are committed to calling our institutions to courageous responses for sexual violence committed in their midst. “Institutions very often fail the very people they should to protect.” Their indomitable call for courage and parameters therein can be found at https://www.institutionalcourage.org
What can I even begin to say about Boz? He has believed me since I reached out to him. He has believed for us when we were drowning in unbelief. He has advocated for our best and our highest, while we were at our lowest. Not enough good could ever be said about the person of Boz Tchvidjian. You you need an attorney with a chest — call him. Incidentally he is the former founder of GRACE which comes up next. He can be contacted at Landis Graham & French, in FL.
GRACE’s who mission is encapsulated in “empowering Christian communities to recognize, prevent, and respond to abuse.” The provide the three fold service of investigation, education, and training. Boz has passed the mantel to Peter Singer and the incredible team of staff at GRACE. I trust them implicitly. They are professionals. We need them desperately.
She may need no introduction to you, but Rachael an advocate, author, attorney. She is also someone whom I personally trust with not only experience but education to adjudicate abuse situations. She is actively involved in the process of supporting survivors of RZ and well as consulting with staff (current and former) from RZIM who have needs. She can be contacted completely confidentially and directly here: firstname.lastname@example.org
I encountered Dr. Wade Mullen before he finished his PhD, wrote his book, Something’s Not Right: Decoding the hidden tactics of abuse – and freeing yourself from its power and became one of the foremost expositors on the elucidation of abuse and its respective cover up. His work has given me language to press the stop on the spin cycle of abusive tactics. Dr. Mullen brings clarity to confusion and fresh air to falsehood.
I met Victor Veith at an American Academy on Violence and Abuse Conference in 2019 when I was still in grad school. Victor Vieth is a GIANT in the arena of abuse. He is literally in a class of his own. This is not an overstatement. He has been a conduit of expertise, insight, and experience. I commend him and the Zero Abuse Project to you.
I met Steven in 2017 when he was finishing his masters in clergy sexual abuse of adults. He now has his doctorate, is an Australian, and has become a dear brother. He was also one of the first academics I corresponded with. Stephen knows just exactly what it is like to be abused by a religious authority and is now one of the foremost authorities on the subject. A wealth of resources, is this gentle, humble, and knowledgeable man. Dr. De Weger is a gift to our world. He was even proofread some of my own masters papers. His 2020 thesis on Clergy Sexual Misconduct is a valuable resource in this time.
I don’t even know how to describe the work of Dr. Anna Salter without crying. I have never met the woman, but to her a debt I owe. She has spent her lifetime making the world a safer place at a massive cost to herself. Dr. Salter has conducted countless interviews with the people you and I would never willingly sit in a room with — sexual predators. Her extensive work can be found at her website and in her harrowing book, Predators, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders.
Dr. Judith Herman’s seminal work on trauma and recovery outlines the commonalities of all trauma survivors in clear and compelling language. (I highlighted every page.) She also maps the recovery process in a way that is sensical and clear, which is necessary, because the the recovery process is anything but. Millions of survivors have been helped by her work and millions of professionals have referenced it. On a deeply personal level it was one of my go to books for “what next.” If you are not a reader, there are some videos online of Dr. Herman that you can access.