June 11, 2018

Can You Recognize Predatory Behavior?

This week, David Pittman returns and shares how GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) is training members and leaders of faith communities to identify predators and protect children.


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Last week, I asked if we are people of Faith or Fraud.

I asked the question and gave only a brief response as to what I was doing about it personally. Today, I want to give more detail how we, those who call ourselves people of faith, can do something in our own faith communities to keep our children safer and better recognize predatory behavior.

Anyone who follows the news or hasn’t been living under a rock, knows the names of infamous child sexual abusers Larry Nassar at Michigan State and Jerry Sandusky at Penn State. What many don’t know is they were both heavily involved in their church. Child sexual abusers are common in all institutions with children, and churches are no exception. We want to believe churches are different yet sadly this is not the case.

All these predators sexually abused children. All did so under the seemingly safe environments of a church or school. All were reported to people within their respective church or schools. And all of the organizations who are responsible for the protection of these children failed them. We must learn from these failures and bring substantive reform to these institutions of faith.

As I mentioned last week, in addition to my duties for Together We Heal, I started working with GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). GRACE does independent investigations of sexual abuse within faith-based organizations. In the last few years they developed a Child Safeguarding Certification for churches.

As a survivor of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, this is especially important to me. I have been grateful and honored to be a part of this program with GRACE since its inception, roll out of the pilot program, and implementation in churches across the USA.

While there are a few "child safe/ministry safe" online programs offered by several companies, usually at the behest of each church’s insurance company, they are most often done, not with child safety in mind, but to "cover their asses" if a lawsuit were brought against them. It allows a church to say in court, "See, we were doing all that was required to keep children safe."

The VAST MAJORITY of these online program have NO TEETH.

They are simple, multiple-choice tests that any primate with a keyboard could pass. As can any sexual predator within your church. And since it’s done online, there’s no way to actually prove who really took the test. Is that truly the "best" your church can do?

The difference in what we do at GRACE is this:

We have a ½-day leadership session in-person/on-site and a ½-day session open to the entire membership, also in-person/on-site. Before either of these we help the church develop its own child safeguarding policy that’s tailored specifically to the needs of each church. Many hours of reading materials and videos to watch take place even before that.

It's detailed, faith-based, and comprehensive. And as a survivor, I can say with complete confidence, that it actually gives a church the material needed to TRULY keep children safer. (Don’t let anyone fool you into believing there’s such a thing as a totally safe place). It’s what I wished my family and church had known 40 years ago. It arms parents and leaders with REAL, ACTIONABLE material to proactively, better protect children.

During these sessions, we give parents and leaders the opportunity to ask ANY question they want. They can ask the tough questions and we give honest, frank answers. There’s no candy-coating or white-washing.

We teach about sexual abuse, the impact of abuse, offenders within the church, and how to minimize opportunities for abuse. We instruct the proper way for a church to respond to abuse, both legally and morally. We give churches the materials to teach safety awareness for children and youth. We do a property walk-through to explain the places a predator can use. We help them establish community resources.

My colleague and friend, Boz Tchividjian, gave me this incredibly insightful example that I now use every time I speak:

Since approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused as children, this means that our churches are filled with abuse survivors. For example, a church of 200 members (100 women and 100 men) will have at least 41 child sexual abuse survivors...20.5%! 

Yet, sexual abuse is still too seldom talked about inside our churches.

How would your church respond if?

20.5% of the congregation had cancer; or
20.5% of the congregation had lost a child; or
20.5% of the congregation lost their homes in a natural disaster?

Is it safe to predict that addressing this issue would become a primary focus of the church ministry? Is it safe to predict that pastors would preach sermons addressing the spiritual issues associated with trauma? Is it safe to predict that church members would expend themselves in love and service to those experiencing such deep hurt? Is it safe to predict that the church would not respond to this criminal offense in silence?

As a faith community, we must learn to approach the horror of child sexual abuse no differently. Perhaps these statistics can help drive our faith communities to become places of refuge and healing for abuse survivors who are silently suffering all around us.

When it’s all said and done, it’s up to you. You can choose to use the resources of GRACE or an organization like them, or you can choose to keep things the same believing that this doesn’t happen where you live. As someone once said, "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice."

Your children, grandchildren, those you know and anyone within your social circle will either reap the benefit of knowledge or suffer the consequences.

So, I’ll ask the question again…

Are you a person of faith or fraud?

What are you prepared to do?



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David is the Executive Director of Together We Heal. Its purpose is to provide guidance for those who suffer from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. It works to educate through public speaking, collaborates with other groups to raise awareness and expose sexual predators and their methods.

In 2015, David was asked by Boz Tchividjian, founder of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to become part of their Child Safeguarding Certification team. The mission of GRACE is to empower the Christian community through education and training to recognize, prevent, and respond to child abuse.

David represents TWH & GRACE all across the country as a public speaker and instructor, teaching churches, schools and families how to talk with their kids about sexual abuse, how to better identify predatory behavior and sexual predators grooming methods.



For more information on GRACE Child Safeguarding Certification please email certification@netgrace.org

Or you may email me at dpittman@together-we-heal.org if you’d feel more comfortable.

June 5, 2018

Is Your Faith Community Safe from Predators?


I am so excited to have David Pittman, CEO and Founder of Together We Heal, on this month as a guest blogger. David and I are long time friends and colleagues, and I love how he is always willing to ask some of the tough questions. I know you will gain so much from this series!

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From the time I was 12 until I was 15, the youth minister of the church I grew up in sexually molested and raped me. And I wasn’t the only one.

When I finally had the courage to speak up and told the church there was a man using this place as a hunting ground for children, this was their response:

"We’re sorry, there’s nothing we can do. But we’d like to pray for you."

Needless to say, this didn’t go over well with me.

Tragically my story is not unique. It’s much too common. The most recent research tells us that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18. And far too many of those occur within the confines of what is supposed to be one of the safest places on earth.

It’s not just a Catholic problem. It’s not just a Baptist problem. It’s a pervasive, human problem that disgustingly finds protection within the walls of churches, mosques and synagogues everywhere.

Our faith communities draw sexual predators to them because people of faith want to believe in the good in others and because faith typically has to do with redemption, no matter what the sin.


Sexual predators use this as a weakness they exploit for their own evil desires. And instead of protecting the children under their care, faith communities find themselves most often hindering prosecution, victim blaming and doing more harm than good.

Which leads me to ask you this question:

Are you a person of faith or fraud?

Are you really doing all you can to protect the children within your faith community?

Many who are victimized by a member of the clergy or someone associated to it, have a hard time reconciling their faith with what has happened to them. I was one of those people.

I struggled for years with the questions: Did God mean for this to happen? Did God cause this to happen? Does God even love me?

Is there a God?

It wasn’t until many years later did my childlike mind still stuck in that time, realize that my God had nothing to do with it. It was 1 person and a multitude of enablers who have allowed this man to continue to harm countless little boys at numerous churches. And as far as we know, still does to this very day.

The biggest enabler is the church itself.

Thankfully, I have had the good fortune to establish relationships with some amazing coaches, counselors and therapists. People like Rachel Grant, who have helped me piece my life back together.

And as I did, I began to wonder how, when or IF things would ever change in "The Church". It was around this time in my healing journey that I was approached by a man who would help restore my faith.

They were already involved in investigating sexual abuse within faith-based organizations like Bob Jones University and they wanted to do more. They wanted to start at the heart of the issue.

He spoke of wanting to teach and train churches how to better protect children, how to better identify predatory behavior and how to properly respond to those who have been sexually abused. To instruct them how to establish of Child Safeguarding Policy and ACTUALLY live by it.

One that did not have any other concern, except to help those in need. One that did not care about institutions, appearances or clergy reputations. One that valued the life and soul of the child FIRST, not the perpetrator or those that protect them.

This was EXACTLY what I had been running over in my mind! This was the very thing that I had wanted to see created and implemented in each and every church. To give every victim a voice and each child the true understanding that if something happened to them, they would be believed, not silenced.

It turns out there IS such an organization and for the last 3 years I have had the privilege of working with them to help create this Child Safeguarding Policy Certification, and to begin implementing it in churches of all denominations across the country.

GRACE – Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment. www.netgrace.org

Let me ask you some more questions.

Does your church/synagogue/mosque have a child safeguarding policy?

If so, do you know what your policy says?

If not, why?

Don’t try to put it on the leadership. We are the adults in the room. We are the parents and grandparents in the pews. We must be the ones to initiate such a policy and not wait for "someone else" to handle it. If your clergy won’t lead in this way, then why would you want to stay there or keep them as your leader? 

Aren’t your children worth it?

Are you a person of faith or fraud?

It’s a question only you can answer. And it will only be answered with your actions. On paper its easy to say you’d do anything to protect a child. I sure wish an adult would’ve done something to protect us. 

What are you prepared to do?



Read Part 2: Can You Recognize Predatory Behavior?



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David is the Executive Director of Together We Heal. Its purpose is to provide guidance for those who suffer from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. It works to educate through public speaking, collaborates with other groups to raise awareness and expose sexual predators and their methods.

In 2015, David was asked by Boz Tchividjian, founder of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to become part of their Child Safeguarding Certification team. The mission of GRACE is to empower the Christian community through education and training to recognize, prevent, and respond to child abuse.


David represents TWH & GRACE all across the country as a public speaker and instructor, teaching churches, schools and families how to talk with their kids about sexual abuse, how to better identify predatory behavior and sexual predators grooming methods.

http://together-we-heal.org

May 29, 2018

One Man's Journey to Healing Shame - Part 4

This week, Dolan concludes his series by talking about emotional healing, learning to transform shame by finding the truth, and a special bonus tip.

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Emotional healing is a lot like spinning plates. First you have to get plate A going. You get plate A up and spinning on the stick. Then you start plate B. As you start plate B, plate A starts to wobble. So you give a quick push to plate A to keep it going. Then back to plate B. You get plate B going, then give a quick push to plate A to keep it going. One quick push to plate B before starting plate C. You get plate C up and going then have to give a quick push to plate A and B again before starting D. 

The point is that emotional healing isn’t always linear. The journey isn’t always ABC in an upward fashion. Sometimes the journey is AB, CA, BC, DABC. Sometimes you have to get a couple of things going at the same time.

In my experience emotional healing needs two components. 

Demonstrating to your heart you know how it feels and finding the meaning in your suffering. We’ve already talked about the second part, finding the meaning in your suffering. In this case the suffering is feeling shame.

The first part, demonstrating to your heart you know how it feels, is important. Why? What does that do? Demonstrating to your heart you know how it feels is all about feeling your feelings. When you feel your feelings, you are showing your heart you are willing to go there. You are willing to feel what it feels. You are showing your heart it is valuable, loved and precious. You and your heart are worthy of being understood. You want to understand exactly how your heart feels. You want to know what is going on deep inside you. You are even willing to suffer and feel the hurt, so you can understand your heart.


When you are willing to feel what your heart feels, something surprising happens. You feel understood. Someone has taken the time and effort to really understand how you feel deep down. Even though the person who took the time was you, you feel understood. Now you understand yourself. Your heart can relax and stop constantly ringing the alarm because someone finally understands. You, in turn, experience relief. This is one of the healing benefits of feeling your feelings. It’s powerful.

Feeling your feelings can be painful. Imagine the spinning plates again. After you get the first plate of feeling your feelings going, it’s time to learn how to comfort yourself through healing dialogue. That is the next plate to get going. Speak words of healing, comfort and validation to your heart, as you allow yourself to feel. Say the words your heart needs to hear, but never did. Say the words your heart needs to hear in a way that it can feel. Speak with love, kindness and patience. Your tone of voice is important. If you say loving things to your heart, but your toned is rushed and annoyed, your heart will pick up on it and your words will not go in.

If you find that speaking to your heart with love and kindness is difficult, please be compassionate with yourself. Perhaps speaking with love, kindness and acceptance was never modeled for you. Not to worry, speaking with love and acceptance is a learned behavior. And as with any learned behavior, the more you do it the better you’ll become.

Feeling understood and communicating value to your heart brings comfort and relief. Feelings your feelings also does something else. When you are willing to feel your feelings honestly, you put yourself in a place to understand the context of the feeling, and discover your truth. If you feel unworthy, and allow yourself to feel the depth of your feeling while you comfort yourself with a healing dialogue, what you find is underneath the feeling of unworthy is that you didn’t know the truth. You didn’t know you are lovable (or whatever your appropriate truth is). You never knew you were lovable, so of course you never felt lovable. 

By being willing to feel unworthy, and comfort yourself along the way, you discovered that in fact, "I am lovable." You just proved it to yourself. You found the meaning in your suffering. You've been suffering all this time, enduring pain, because you needed to know "I am lovable."

This two part process of demonstrating to your heart you know how it feels, then finding the meaning in your suffering, is how the emotional healing sets in. 

By being willing to feel, you discover your truth. The truth is the missing piece that fills a hole in your heart, which in turn makes you a little more whole.
I hope you found this series on shame useful. The material I covered in this blog series was a conceptual introduction. If you’re interested in learning how to resolve shame and feel understood, all the details and steps are covered in my book Shame Hack. If you want to find out if shame is sabotaging your relationship, success, or happiness, there’s a free shame assessment available on my website www.shamehack.com


I wish you the best of luck at resolving shame and healing your heart. Each time shame pops up it’s a chance for you to discover what’s in your heart and know yourself more. Self-discovery is a wonderful process. Shame is not a life sentence. You are worth it.



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Dolan Maydeda is an author, coach, and chiropractic kinesiologist. He enjoys swimming, cooking, and his family tradition of making mochi. He lives and practices in San Diego, CA. 


May 22, 2018

One Man's Journey of Healing Shame - Part 3

This week, Dolan continues his series and explores how we can make shame our friend.


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What? Dolan are you crazy? Why would I make shame my friend? Shame is so painful. It doesn’t have anything constructive to say. I hear you. But hang on, hear me out on this. Yes shame is painful. It hurts. But shame has more to offer you than just pain.

Shame has the ability to direct you to where your heart needs healing. The trick is to move past what shame is telling you and look to what’s driving it. Often times what’s driving shame is a truth that you don’t know about yourself.

For example, you go on a first date with someone who is really attractive. In fact, this person is without a doubt the best looking person you’ve ever dated. He’s a real head turner. On top of this, he’s so kind, smart and successful. After a delightful first date, you text and don’t hear back. When a person is shame based the immediate reaction is to take the silence personally. Shame gets triggered, and in this case, feelings of unworthiness spring up. You feel unworthy.

You feel shame and you make it mean you’re unworthy. While intellectually you may realize you are worthy, you just don’t feel that way deep down. Now you have a chance to discover what feeling unworthy is all about. What is driving the shame? What lies beneath feeling unworthy? What don’t you know about yourself deep down?

In my experience, I never had a lot of success with affirmations. I could tell myself I am worthy ten times a day for 2 weeks and I still would feel unworthy. I also spent time in therapy both individual and group. I’ve meditated and journaled. All of these modalities were helpful. But my shame continued.


What finally worked for me is discovering a personal truth. When you discover a personal truth that resonates with your heart, you fill that hole in your heart. This is how you find the meaning in your shame. This is why the truth works. You feel it. You feel it in your heart. Your truth isn’t something that you’re trying to talk yourself into. Feeling the truth is what lets you know for sure.

Let’s go back to the example of feeling unworthy. You feel shame and you make it mean you’re unworthy. You’ve already begun the process of transforming shame. You’re feeling your feelings, but now let’s add a twist.

Here’s an example: 

Think, what don’t you know about yourself that’s driving you to feel unworthy? Allow yourself to feel. Then ask yourself do I need to know I am loved? Then feel. Does loved resonate? Yes or no, is that what you need to know? If no, then go on to another word. I feel all this shame and unworthiness because I need to know I am precious? Then feel. Does precious resonate? Is that what you need to know? If yes, then that is what you need to know. You need to know "I am precious." This is your truth. 

You’ve been feeling unworthy and acting accordingly because deep down you didn’t know you were precious. And now you do. Now you know the truth. I am precious. You can feel it, when you never could feel it before. Allow the truth to settle in and grow inside you. Allow the truth to fill a hole in your heart.

When you learn how to resolve and transform shame, shame can become your friend. You can use shame to learn about places in your heart that hurt. You still may not love shame. Shame may never be your BFF. But shame can serve as that friend that is honest with you. It can be the friend that tells you the truth. Shame is the kind of friend that tells you your breath smells bad. Information you might not want to hear, but it’s good to know. We can all use a friend that’s plainly honest with us. 



Read Part 4


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Dolan Maydeda is an author, coach, and chiropractic kinesiologist. He enjoys swimming, cooking, and his family tradition of making mochi. He lives and practices in San Diego, CA. 


May 15, 2018

One Man's Journey of Healing Shame - Part 2

This week, Dolan continues his series and explores how we can transform shame by connecting to it's meaning or purpose in our lives.


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When I first heard my therapist gently tell me, "Dolan, you are shamed to the core," I didn’t know how to react. What does that mean? It felt so disturbing. I didn’t like how it sounded, but it felt true.

What does shamed to the core mean? It means that shame goes all the way deep down to your core. Shame influences your core beliefs about yourself. It may mean you think, feel and believe you’re unlovable. Or it may mean you think, feel and believe you’re unworthy. Of course neither one of these are true. It just feels that way when you are shamed to the core.

I was shamed to the core. I thought very little of myself. This had many ripple effects. Shamed to the core could cross the line to self-loathing which was not good. But strangely, in this weird sort of way, self-loathing seemed right. A perverted sense of justice. Since I was unworthy, I didn’t deserve love. I deserved contempt. Shamed to the core made self-compassion and self-love difficult to give to myself.

One of the common themes in my therapy was to feel my feelings. When I started ,I didn’t even know what that meant. But I eventually learned. I trusted my therapist; I was willing to feel my feelings. She encouraged me to feel my pain and shame. That’s not really what I wanted to do. What I wanted was my pain and shame to stop. But after over 30 plus years of trying it my way without success, I decided to try her way.

Learning to feel my feelings had benefits. I learned I didn’t have to fear my feelings like I once did. I learned how to identify my feelings, which was helpful. But feeling my feelings never made my shame go away.

I had this idea in my mind, that if I could just get to the root of my shame, if I could just feel it deeply enough, I could get rid of it once and for all. So I kept feeling my shame, again and again, always trying to go deeper. 

One inspired day while reading some metaphysics, the author said that even single celled organisms had some form of consciousness. That inspired a thought. I wondered if I could feel shame all the way down in my cells.

I closed the windows and drew the blinds. I laid down on my bed and quieted my mind. I closed my eyes and became still. I was trying to feel as deeply as I could, all the way down to my cells I was feeling deeper and deeper. Bam! There it was. I felt shame in my cells. This disturbed me. WTF? My first thought was, I’m screwed. I’m never going to escape shame. What does that mean? Then I took a few breaths and collected myself. My next thought was I wonder if shame goes even further. I wonder if there is shame in my cell’s nucleus.

Again, I calmed my mind and lay still, feeling as deeply as I could. Slowly, slowly feeling. Slowing my heart rate and my breathing. Then boom! There it was. Shame was in my DNA. I couldn’t believe it. But this time I didn’t feel disturbed. I was curious. Shame in my DNA, hmm. What does that mean? I pondered the idea. Well, if shame is in my DNA, then it means it’s not my fault. It’s not my fault I feel shame. I have no control over it. Just like I have no control over my eye color, skin color, or height. It’s in my DNA. It’s not my fault. I’m normal. Whew, what a relief!

Shame is a normal human emotion. Everyone feels shame. But people just don’t go around talking about it. This is what makes shame tricky. There are so few models on how to deal with it successfully.

Realizing that shame was in my DNA, I began to change how I thought about shame. Getting to the bottom of it and being done with it once and for all wasn’t an option. I needed to learn how to resolve the shame.

It wasn’t till I read the book, Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl that I found the missing piece. This book tells Frankl’s story about surviving multiple Nazi death camps. In his book Frankl writes, "Suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds meaning."

This was the key. This was the missing piece. I considered feeling shame to be suffering. So I needed to find the meaning in my shame if I wanted it to stop. 

As soon as I learned to find the meaning in feeling shame, the shame stopped. It was surreal and surprising. It is not only possible for shame to stop, it is a shock and an immense relief when it does.



Read Part 3


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Dolan Mayeda is an author, coach, and chiropractic kinesiologist. He enjoys swimming, cooking, and his family tradition of making mochi. He lives and practices in San Diego, CA. 


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