The Contents of My Story May Disturb You
Hi, my name is *Miya, and I am a survivor of Kent Peters. This is my story.
Before I begin, I want to give a content/trigger warning to readers. The following post will include the following topics:
- boundary crossing
- sexual abuse
- sexual harassment
- spiritual abuse/trauma
- emotional abuse/trauma
- psychological abuse/trauma
- mental abuse/trauma
These topics are heavy. I encourage all readers to do what they feel necessary to implement healthy self-care practices while reading my story. Take time to step away if you need a break. My story will still be here, it is not going away.
*Miya is a pseudonym.
The Counselor Who “Cared”
I met Kent Peters as a camper through Camp Mennoscah. I started attending Camp Mennoscah at the earliest age possible, in the 3rd grade. I attended camp every summer beginning in the 3rd grade until I was a senior in high school. Camp was a special place to me. I met many friends, grew my relationship with God, and formed many relationships with the counselors/summer staff. It was a safe place. Or so I thought.
I do not remember my first interaction with Kent, who was around 13 years older than me. He has just always kind of been there as a part of my story. At around 11-12, when I was in middle school, is when I remember getting to know him better. In his mid-twenties then, he counseled several weeks each summer for multiple ages so I got to know him during my middle school years.
I thought he was nice and fun to be around. He was ALWAYS around the girls, surrounded by them. Under the shelter, at the dinner table, in the pool, at campfire, riverplay, you name it. You would see other male counselors surrounded by girls at times too, but not as often as Kent. The other counselors would at least go hang out with male campers. Rarely did Kent hang out with the male campers unless we were doing a cabin-specific activity.
At such a young age, I didn’t know what grooming was. I knew that there were people in the world that would do terrible things to others but I never once gave a thought that it would be Kent Peters. Everyone loved him. Surely he wouldn’t do anything to hurt anyone. Right?
The Counselor Shifts Boundaries
By the time I was high school age, I had formed what I thought was a safe and healthy relationship with Kent. He’d hang out with my friend group at camp so I got to know him well, he’d play catch with another friend and I at camp, we’d have camp gatherings at our local coffee shop with camp friends, etc. When social media started to progress, we became friends on multiple platforms. It felt healthy, safe. Nothing felt wrong about it.
He would send direct messages every now and then, but nothing seemed weird at the time. I thought it was normal for a camp counselor and camper to talk on social media. I was ‘friends’ with other camp counselors, but I didn’t private message with them. Still, I never gave it much thought.
He invited a friend and me over to his house multiple times while we were in high school. At this point he would’ve been around 30 years old. We were either sophomores or juniors, 15 or 16. I remember thinking that it was a little weird but I also thought we were so cool for going over to a counselor’s house. Everybody loved him and we were the “chosen ones” to go see his house.
Is This Adult My Friend?
I remember walking into the house and seeing a couple of his roommates. He showed my friend and me around the house and then showed us his bedroom. I can still see the layout of the room in my head. I didn’t want to admit it back then, but it felt weird to see such a private space of someone who I looked up to. Some may say “it’s just a bedroom” but if you’re like me, a bedroom is much more than just a room. It’s a sacred place, a safe space, and a comfort zone. It was weird seeing where one of my adult camp counselors slept and lived, but like I said, the invitation made us feel cool.
We weren’t there for long. Less than half an hour and then we left. I felt weird about it but shoved it off because I thought he was just trying to be friendly. There a couple of other times we went over to his house. He invited us to jump on his trampoline or just hang out. I thought it was normal; I didn’t think much of it.
As I moved on from high school into college, I still stayed in touch with Kent. He came to my high school graduation party, I’d see him in public, and saw him at camp related events. He was never shy and always hugged me when I saw him. He hugged every single girl when he saw them. Again, we thought it was just friendliness but between my sophomore and junior year of college, I soon learned that there were other intentions behind it. I soon learned that this person I thought I could trust, was not a person that was safe to me or any other young women that I knew.
From Counselor to Targeting Vulnerability
I still spoke to Kent during my college years. It wasn’t very frequent, but he would message me here and there. After I graduated high school I grew apart from camp more than I thought I would, and he was one of the few connections I felt that I had left to camp. It felt nice to reminisce on memories or think back to the “good ole days of Camp Mennoscah.” when we’d message.
I had posted something on one of my social media stories in the summer of 2018 one day in which Kent replied to it. The story regarded drinking and alcohol, and he was poking fun at my drink of choice. We joked back and forth but something about it felt a little flirtatious. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it but convinced myself that I was reading into it too much. This conversation was a little uncomfortable but nothing had really happened. Yet.
Kent then began replying to my social media stories more often, specifically the stories in regards to drinking. He was not shy to jump right into the conversations. He invited me over to come drink with him at his house (a different house than the one I went to in high school). I initially thought, “That’s kind of weird if it was only us two but how fun would it be to have a camp reunion but for those who are 21 and over??” I began to get excited because I saw this as an opportunity to get together with other camp friends that I haven’t seen in awhile and to have some fun. Camp gone wild, right?
The Attempt at Isolation
He gave me his address and I told him of some people that we should also invite to hang out with us. He told me that he didn’t talk to those people much anymore so he wasn’t sure about asking them to come. I felt it in my gut at that moment that he was lying. The people that I had named, there was no way that he had just stopped talking to them. I didn’t believe it. I wasn’t sure how to go about the conversation and I gaslit myself into thinking I was being paranoid, so I continued to converse with him. I asked what days might work and I once again insisted that we should invite people. He named a date for me to come over and I said, “I’ll be there.”
But I was lying. I only said that to satisfy him and not make things awkward. I never had any intention of going over to his house.
The Camper’s Gut Check Saves the Day
When the said date arrived, he sent me multiple messages on different social media platforms with pictures of alcohol saying, “This bottle has your name on it.” He asked about our plans and such. I intentionally ignored the messages until late that night to pretend that I “forgot.” I was actually hanging out with some college friends and we were having a party of our own. I felt that it gave me a good excuse to pretend I forgot and that I was not in any condition to drive anywhere, so we would have to “reschedule.”
I remember him sending a picture message that same night saying, “It’s okay. I’m drunk in the bathtub.” I responded with, “Cool lol.” Hoping that he could pick up that I wasn’t interested in the conversation and would stop messaging me.
Of Course, The Unsolicited Pic
He then started talking about different things in his messages, which included talking about skinny dipping. I started to get really uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do. The message that was the last straw was a picture message of him in the bathtub, asking me about going skinny dipping with him and how I would probably like it since I’m a little bit of a ‘rebel.’
I can still see the candles he had sitting around the tub and the water spout. I could also see his legs but didn’t see anything else. I remember reading that message and then clicking out of it so quickly because I was shocked and didn’t want to see it any longer than I had to.
I felt appalled. I felt disgusted. I felt confused. I felt violated. I felt dirty.
I sent him a picture back of a black screen and said, “That’s weird. Stop.”
He continued to send a few more messages after than via picture message but I didn’t look to see what they said. I clicked on them to make it look like I had read them but I ignored them. I didn’t want to converse with him anymore. Why on God’s green earth would he think that I would ever want to do that with him? Why was a mid-thirties dude trying to get naked with a college kid who he’d been a camp counselor for since she was nine years old at a Christian camp?
I have never ever seen him that way and why would he think that I did? I didn’t understand. Did I bring this upon myself by posting things about drinking on a story on social media?
For years I have blamed myself for posting such dumb stuff on my story back then and thinking I was cool for posting about drinking. I was freshly 21, I was a young adult exploring my relationship with drinking, but I still blamed myself. I convinced myself that I brought it upon myself and I should know better. I told myself that I put the target right on my forehead and gave him the perfect opportunity to go for it. I blamed myself.
I spent a couple weeks thinking about it and I remember telling one of my good friends back then about it. They thought it was weird and gross too but I still didn’t know what to do.
After giving it much thought, I decided that I was going to reach out to someone I trusted to ask for help. He worked as a Human Resources director at Mennonite Mission Network, where Kent also worked. I figured that we could sit down as friends and that once he heard my call for help, he would answer it.
Little did I know, that would not be the case.
The Counselor’s Human Resources Director Already Knew
I reached out to Ken Regier in July of 2018. I sent him an email asking to talk with him about something uncomfortable that had taken place with someone he knows and works with, and asked him if he would be willing to meet.
He said yes, and before hearing any details, advised me to put up boundaries with this person. He told me, “A good thing to do is to use direct communication asap that says “This is inappropriate. Stop it.” Often times naming it as inappropriate will stop things. I would put some barriers up with that person.”
I remember thinking that those words he wrote had a little bit of ignorance and naivete in them but he was going to help me so I should just shut up.
Ken and I met at a local coffee shop on a hot summer July morning. It’s seared into my memory. I remember the time, what we were wearing, what we drank, what table we sat at.
Once we sat down, he asked me about what was going on. He started off by asking who I was referring to in my email. I had not told Kent’s name in our string of emails because I felt uncomfortable doing so. I told him that these uncomfortable interactions took place with Kent Peters and he nodded his head and said, “That’s who I figured you were talking about.”
Why Did the HR Director Already Know?
It surprised me. He had an assumption about who I was talking about and it made me curious. Why was Kent the first person he assumed? Thinking about everyone up in the MMN office, I guess it made sense because Kent was one of the younger ones. But that didn’t mean anything. I’ve never asked Ken why that was his first assumption but I do often wonder why Kent was the first person that popped into his head.
I told Ken everything. I told him about the conversations, I told him about how uncomfortable I felt, and I told him why I felt the need to speak up.
He sat and listened. He had a notebook and pen with him to take notes. He had asked me before I started talking if that would be okay and I said yes. I had been talking for only maybe five minutes and then he shut the notebook and laid the pen aside.
I kept talking, but I took the shutting of the notebook as ‘what you are saying isn’t important enough to write down. I’ll listen but that’s it.” Three years later and that moment holds so much significance in my brain. It was a swift action, and it was so careless. Even when I told him about the photo of Kent naked in the bathtub and asking me to skinny dip, he didn’t react.
I was surprised.
The HR Director/Friend Leaves Miya in the Lurch
I told Ken during our conversation that I was approaching him as a friend, rather than an MMN employee. I was so worried about getting Kent in trouble. I didn’t necessarily want anything to happen to him in the workplace. I didn’t want to be at fault for that. I just wanted someone to say to him, “Hey, I heard about these conversations. It’s inappropriate and you need to apologize to so-and so. It needs to stop.”
Ken asked me what I wanted him to do and I said, “I don’t know. Could you talk to him and tell him that it was inappropriate? Call him out on his actions?” He gave it some thought and then said, “I will think about it. I’ll let you know what I decide.”
We finished up our chat and then parted ways. Walking away from our conversation, I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that made me feel sick. I could tell that nothing was going to happen. I started to convince myself that I was overreacting to what had happened and it wasn’t a big deal.
You Know That Thing We Talked About? I’m Not Going to Do Anything.
About a month later I ran into Ken out in public. I helped him with something and then before he left he said, “You know that thing we talked about?” I nodded my head and said, “Yeah?’ He said, “I’m not going to do anything about it. I’m not going to talk to him.”
I felt so stunned that I didn’t know how to respond. Like, did he really just say that? I looked at him and said, “Okay.”
He then said, “If something else happens then I’ll talk to him. You’ll let me know if something else happens, right?”
Still stunned, I slowly said, “Yeah.” Then we parted ways once again.
A trusted friend was close by and witnessed this interaction. She asked what it was about and I vaguely told her about it. I remember her making a face and saying, “That’s not good.” I said, “No. But. Oh well.” And that was that. I once again convinced myself that I was being overdramatic and told myself to let it go.
Trying to Make Sense of a Man’s Bad Behavior
After the sexual innuendo, the unsolicited picture, and the clear boundary, Kent still messaged me. He would reply to even the most random things that I would put on my social media stories, just trying to make conversation. I replied with one or two words.
Even though I felt it in my gut that something was very wrong about his behavior, I convinced myself that he had just taken it a little too far, and now that he understood that, we could attempt an appropriate friendship. I still held some distance, but eventually I started responding to his messages with more than two words. I was trying to repair the casual chatting we had done before he sent those invasive messages.
As the years passed and I continued with college, Kent’s behavior still hung heavy on my mind. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that something was wrong about it. I couldn’t figure out why though. I couldn’t figure out what exactly about it felt off. I constantly battled back and forth with validating and invalidating myself.
A Presentation Brings Some Clarity
One Friday morning at Bethel College, where I attended at the time, staff held a presentation on Title IX for the students. For some reason, it was mostly just the president of the college, Jon Gering, talking. There’s nothing quite like a white, middle-class, middle-aged, heterosexual, privileged college president demonstrating his lack of knowledge about sexual assault to an auditorium full of students, many of them survivors.
I remember sitting there during the presentation beside one of my friends, becoming filled with rage. Rage for the survivors in the audience who had to listen to the stupidity that was coming from the mouth of this man about not knowing the difference between calling someone a ‘victim’ or ‘survivor.’ Rage because who the hell decided that it would be a good idea for him to lead it?
Rage because at one point, he actually said something that hit me in the heart of my story. Something along the lines of, “If someone tries to report to you about sexual assault/abuse/harrassment, you believe them. You help them. You don’t ignore them.” That was the only useful thing he said during this presentation. As I sat there and listened, I became so mad that my eyes welled up with tears. I was livid.
Where was Miya’s belief? Where was Miya’s support?
I tried to report. I tried to report something several months ago to a professional who knew better and he invalidated me. I tried to say something and he ignored me. I reported to someone I trusted and he didn’t believe me. I tried to report and an HR professional dismissed me.
After President Gering finished, there was an opportunity for students to speak and when I say the tension was high in that room, I am telling you it was extreme. People were calling the president out right and left for degrading survivors and for lacking knowledge. I became so mad at one point that I almost grabbed the microphone as well, but someone else got to it before me. It’s a good thing that happened because I was ready to let loose on so many things. It wouldn’t have been pretty.
I walked out of that presentation fuming. As was over half of the student body. We were all fuming for different reasons. I remember marching to my car so angry and throwing my backpack into the backseat. My friend asked if I was okay and I said, “No. I am furious. What the hell was that presentation? What bullshit is that?!” She could tell I needed my space and told me to text her if I needed anything. I got into my car, slammed the door shut, and drove off, yelling and cursing to myself.
You Know That Thing We Talked About? You Should Have Done Something.
How dare Ken dismiss me like he did. How dare he make me feel crazy for saying something. How dare he ignore my plea for help. How dare he stay silent!!
As I drove around, I had to stop myself from going to his workplace and confronting him. I wanted to yell at him. I wanted to tell him he was in the wrong for not saying something to Kent. I was so mad. But I held myself back from doing so. I told myself that I needed to cool off before doing anything rash.
I stayed angry for the next several weeks. I constantly battled wanting to go up to his office and calling him out vs. telling myself that once again, I was overreacting and because I was not physically harmed, I was being dramatic.
Throughout that month I prayed that I would not see Ken anywhere out in public. I was so angry on the inside and I knew that it would come out in an unpleasant way if I were to speak with him.
Luckily I never did run into him. He was spared from my anger. God saved him on that one.
I continued to hold this all on the inside. I never did end up confronting Ken or really telling anyone else. I did tell another friend of mine as we started to become closer, but I kept it vague. I don’t remember what brought it up but she also felt the uncomfortableness that I had felt. She is an outsider to the Mennonite community, so she had no idea who either of these individuals were. But being the empath she is, she picked up on the strong emotions that I felt and did what she could to support me.
The HR Director Seems Like He Might Do Something
Two years later, I received a text from Ken on March 25, 2021. He asked me to give him a phone call because he had something important and serious to ask me. I was at work but I told him that I would call him when I got off.
Between the timeline of when I was furious at Ken in 2019 to March 2021, I had convinced myself that what I had told him wasn’t that serious so I couldn’t be mad at him. He didn’t know better, I told myself. So I forced myself to forget any ill feelings I had, and forced myself to decide that everything was okay between us.
When in reality, it wasn’t. In ways that I didn’t even know yet, it wasn’t.
I gave Ken a call and asked him what was up. I thought he was going to ask me some sort of random question or favor. I had no idea what was going on.
“Kent Peters is being investigated.” These are the words that came out of his mouth.
I sat there, in the car, stunned. Shocked. Unsure if I heard him right. I said, “What?” He repeated it again and then explained why he was calling me.
He was wanting to know if I would be willing to speak with police about my experience with Kent. He said, “I know you told me of something a few years ago and I was wondering if I could pass along your information to talk with him about it?”
I hesitated a little bit, because talking to the police sounded intimidating but I told him it was okay to pass my information along.
The Police Are Unimpressive
I spoke with Chief Jordan on the phone for our initial conversation. He asked many questions about exactly what all took place. It was an odd experience. I felt like I was in trouble even though I wasn’t. He asked if I had any proof of these conversations and I said that most of them took place through Snapchat, so they’ve ‘disappeared.’ I never thought to screenshot back then.
I knew that there were some messages on other social media sites and I told Chief Jordan that. He advised me to screenshot them and look through them to see if anything might be helpful.
I spent that evening going through my messages and taking screenshots. I cringed reading the old messages. In the midst of taking screenshots, my big fingers pressed the wrong button and accidentally called Kent. I freaked out, hung up right away, and played it off as if I called the wrong number. There was no way that I was going to admit that I was trying to take screenshots of old conversations.
I went to dinner with my best friend the next day so we could talk about what was going on. Through another phone call with Ken earlier that day, I had found out information of another young woman who had put something on social media asking about if anyone experienced anything uncomfortable with Kent Peters as well. I messaged this girl and we vaguely talked about what was going on and she told me of a couple people she was working with, as they provided safety and advocacy for her.
The Counselor Tries to Erase the Past
I remember not knowing exactly what to do so I was hoping by talking with my friend at dinner, it could help provide some clarity.
As we were talking in the midst of dinner, I felt my smartwatch dinging like crazy. I said, “What in the heck is going on?” I looked at it and there were notifications from one of my social media sites saying, “user has unsent message.” There were at least 10 in a row. I knew immediately what was happening. Earlier that week I had gotten a notification from this social media platform that “Kent Peters has unsent a message.” and I thought it was weird. This was before I knew of the investigation and I didn’t think much of it. I thought that maybe he had sent me a message and then decided to not engage after all, so he deleted it.
I had no idea that he had already started erasing his tracks earlier that week.
Sure enough, Kent was going through and deleting messages between us to make it look like he never said anything about getting me to come over and drink or anything. I grabbed my phone and opened my app, and sure enough, when I looked, all the messages that he had sent between us before were gone. It made it look like it was me just constantly sending messages and him responding vaguely.
Miya Feels Reality Shift Under Her Feet
I felt scared. I didn’t know what to do. He clearly knew he was being looked into, so he was erasing things so it looked like I was the one who initiated contact and not him. He knew that what he had said was inappropriate. So he decided to erase it. He did this with multiple social media platforms. I took screenshot after screenshot.
He didn’t know it, but I had screenshots before he deleted the messages and after he deleted the messages. He could try to claim innocence with me but that would not work. I held evidence in my hands that screamed ‘GUILTY.’
As my friend and I got back into her car, I was shaking. I started to freak out and told her that I didn’t know what to do. I felt so scared. I then made the decision to reach out to one of these people that a fellow survivor had named to me as a safe person.
Best decision I have ever made.
I Believe You
A couple days later, I met up with this person. We sat in a local park area on a warm and beautiful Sunday afternoon. By this time I had organized all the screenshots and printed them all out. I held them in my hands as I walked from my car to our meeting place. Shaking, anxious, scared to reveal such a vulnerable part of myself.
We sat and talked for quite awhile. I told this person everything. From the very beginning to where things were at as of recently. They sat there, listened intensely, and I felt heard. As soon as I finished talking, the first words that came out of their mouth was, “I believe you.”
I had this feeling go through my body. A sense of warmth, comfort, and relief. I felt safe. There in that moment, in that space between us, I felt so safe. Someone believed me. Someone I knew I could trust and was going to help me this time and not dismiss me. There really aren’t words to describe that moment.
Help Navigating the Investigation
I cried, quite a bit. There were tears of frustration, sadness, relief, anxiousness, and so much more. I was able to start releasing what I had held in for three years.
I told this person that I wanted to take the screenshots down to the police station but I was scared. They offered to go with me. I felt so hesitant at first. I thought, “You’re an adult, you can do this by yourself.” But then I reminded myself that there’s no shame in reaching out for help at any age so I asked them to come with me later that week.
As we parted ways until later that week, they gave me a hug and told me, “Everything is going to be okay. I am here for you.”
Reassurance. Love. Care. Support. Exactly what I needed in that moment.
Later that week we went down to the police station. I was terrified. I was quiet as we walked towards the station and my support person turned to me and said, “You can do this. You are strong, you are capable, and you can do this.” I nodded my head, took a deep breath, and into the station we went.
Police Officer Asks, “Is it me?”
Being interviewed by a police officer is something that I never want to experience again. Although it felt emboldening to sit there and speak up, it was also degrading at times. How can a middle-aged, white, heterosexual, middle class, male law enforcement officer understand what a woman who has been sexually targeted feels?
The answer is simple: He can’t. He can’t understand. He has no idea what it is like to be a woman in today’s society. He has no idea what it’s like to feel unsafe in such a big world.
It showed. A lack of compassion and understanding. I know, I know. He is just doing his job. But the questions that he asked here and there, showed that in some weird way, he was making this about him and not me.
“Why don’t young women report? Is it me? Am I that scary of a guy that I scare women away?”
I remember looking at him in utter shock. Seriously dude, you’re going to ask me that? I had told him right before that, that I reported to someone three years ago but didn’t say who.
You want to know why women don’t report?
LOOK WHERE WE ARE AT. I TRIED. I TRIED THREE YEARS AGO AND I WASN’T BELIEVED. ASK ME THAT AGAIN, I SWEAR TO GOD.
Survivor Answers, “The system fails us.”
I was so mad. Something that was supposed to be about me, he had turned it around to being about him. His fragile and toxic masculine ego was hurt, and for what reason? My support person and I ended up having to comfort him with our words because he was just so offended that women don’t report to him immediately when things happen.
Oooh, I was furious. I don’t remember exactly what I said to answer but it fell along the lines of, “Women don’t report because the justice system continuously fails them over and over. There is rarely justice served.” I stopped talking because I knew words were going to fly out of my mouth and I was scared that if I hurt his ego even more, he might arrest me. So I stayed quiet.
When we left the interview, I felt a sense of relief but also a sense of dread. I didn’t know what was going to happen. Was I helpful? Even though I had provided evidence, the tricky thing is I was above the legal age of consent. In the criminal aspect of it, nothing could really be done with that. If anything it showed a pattern to Kent’s actions, as other young women also had similar evidence to provide.
He groomed us all from a young age, targeted us once we were no longer minors, and used the same patterns to try to get us to come over to his house.
I was disgusted.
My support person reassured me that I had done all that I could and told me to take care of myself. They would be in touch with me and I could always reach out to them. Once again, providing a space of safety and support.
I cried the hardest I had cried at that point, after leaving the police station. I was driving to the store and then I flew into a full panic attack. I cried so hard I started getting dizzy and I couldn’t stop sobbing. I ended up having to call one of my friends at work to get her to calm me down. I was scared. But I had done all that I could at that point. I needed to release my emotions and validate them.
It took me about an hour to calm down but I felt so numb. I didn’t know what to think or what to do. But I was proud of myself for being one of the first ones to speak up and for making a brave choice. I still had that feeling in the pit of my stomach that things were about to get crazy, but pushed it off. I figured it was just my anxiety.
Our bodies know things better than we think. My gut was trying to tell me to prepare for the worst because it was yet to come.
The Investigation Unfolds
I spent the next couple of weeks connecting with advocates and other people to start spreading the word about what was going on. Chief Jordan told me that although what he had was helpful, he needed more young women to come forward. So I spent time messaging different women asking them to talk with their friends and offering different resources other than just the police, as to who they could talk to.
I began talking with an advocacy organization, Into Account. I told one of the advocates my story. We started to discuss different options as to what we could do. Or if I didn’t want to do anything, that was okay too. They were going to meet me where I was at.
We discussed sending a message to MMN regarding my previous attempted report to an employee in 2018. I felt a little conflicted about it because of my own personal ties to Ken, but my gut was telling me that it was the right thing to do. So we started planning out how to approach it.
Before I could send it, on April 19th I received an email from MMN regarding my experience, attempted report, and asking if I would be willing to contribute to their internal investigation when they were ready to complete it. I was surprised to receive this email but felt glad that they were aware of things before I ended up being the one to have to tell them.
I agreed to tell my story for the investigation. It’s hard to remember the optimism I felt, the optimism that was ultimately pulled apart, piece by piece.
— Additional Mennonite Content Notice —
Dear reader, I once again urge you to implement healthy self-care practices while reading. Especially if you are someone who has been a big supporter of Mennonite Mission Network or other Mennonite organizations. It gets sticky, it gets messy, and I won’t doubt that there will be several that won’t believe what I am saying. I am not here to bash any organization, person, or community. I am simply here to tell the truth of my story and experience. I am here to set the truth free.
Mennonite Mission Network Investigates
Senior Executive of HR, Lyz Weaver contacted me on April 19th, 2021 regarding contributing to their internal investigation at MMN after finding out that an employee was reported to three years ago but failed to follow through.
I agreed. She told me that it would be a few months before they started their investigation, as they didn’t want to interfere with the police one. I felt at peace with the timeline, it would give me time to prepare myself for this next step. Although, I don’t think any amount of preparation could have prepared me for what I was about to face.
A few months actually turned into only being a few weeks. I spoke with Jane Frederickson, Executive Director of FaithTrust Institute, a few weeks after Lyz had made the initial contact. Jane asked to speak with me via phone call to discuss my experience. Jane was the one who was going to be doing the initial investigating and reporting.
The Investigation Makes Little Sense from the Beginning
I was so nervous during that first phone call with Jane. I questioned whether I was doing the right thing. Here I am, one sole person, speaking out against multiple people and a big Mennonite organization. It scared me. I felt intimidated.
One of the first things that Jane told me that threw me off is that MMN contacted her to do work regarding Ken violated a policy as a (then) current employee of MMN. She told me that she did not need to know the details of my story with Kent, only the details of my story with Ken.
I remember that I was surprised to hear this but figured that she knew best so I didn’t question it. Looking back now, I should have questioned it. It didn’t make sense to me then and it doesn’t make sense to me now. Why conduct an investigation if you’re not even going to investigate the abuser himself? Filing this one under “things I may never understand.”
Building a Tentative Trust
Making myself vulnerable was scary. Letting a complete stranger into one of the most vulnerable parts of my life was beyond terrifying. I had never (and still haven’t to this present day) met Jane or even seen her face. I only know her by her voice. Could I trust her? Would she do right by me? Would she judge me?
I don’t remember much of my first conversation with Jane. She told me that it would be a process. She would interview me, she would interview Ken, and as she gathered things, she would end up with an executive summary and eventually make recommendations to MMN on how to move forward.
I felt comforted. I felt safe. I felt heard. Jane told me that while she could not be my specific advocate, she would advocate on my behalf that MMN treat me right.
I believed her. I let her into one of the most vulnerable times of my life. I trusted her.
Throughout our various phone calls, Jane told me several times that “This never should’ve happened in the first place.” I worried that as I spoke with her, I would be the reason someone lost their job. She reassured me several times that no matter what happened, it was not on me to hold the responsibility. I was not responsible for how others reacted.
The Excruciating Heaviness of Process
The process of the investigation went on for 2.5 months. It felt so slow moving some days, I found myself getting very frustrated. I found myself suddenly being consumed by this life event. I thought about it all the time. I couldn’t even enjoy my summer vacation getaway as it just hung so heavy in my mind. Each time I talked to Jane, she kept telling me that she was just a couple weeks away from finishing her final report. A couple weeks turned into a couple months. I knew that things would take time but it was so hard to sit back and wait.
Then finally one day, I received word from Jane that she finished her final report. She had sent it to MMN and they were working on looking through it and she told me that they would send me an executive summary of their own. I felt a sense of relief. I was curious to see what they were going to say.
Mennonite Mission Network Hedges and Dodges
A couple weeks later I received a letter from Lyz Weaver, on behalf of MMN. I was at work when I received the email and I remember how jittery I felt. Curiosity ran through my bones as I tried to convince myself to wait to open it up, that way I could focus on my tasks at hand. I ended up deciding to open it, because I couldn’t wait.
When I opened up the email and letter attached, a feeling of sheer disappointment ran through my entire body. My first thought was, “This is it? This is what I’ve been waiting for? One page and that’s it?”
It was a nicely written letter, but I was extremely disappointed by how little it addressed. I had heard the acknowledgement from MMN several weeks before as to how this was a trauma-inducing life event. I was made aware that they were going to reimburse me for any therapy costs and provide funds for future therapy, long before they sent the apology letter. I figured that Ken would face some sort of accountability from MMN but didn’t know exactly what.
The letter was merely a repetition of what I had heard from them before. Lyz included nothing about Jane’s findings or how they are going to better themselves as an organization. I was disappointed but I didn’t know if I had a right to be.
I reached out to different advocates that I was working with and they were able to validate what I felt. I deserved more.
Miya Deserves More
A few days after I received the letter, I decided to give Jane a call. The disappointment still hung in my heart and I needed to voice it.
One of the first things I said to Jane was, “I have to be honest, Jane. I am really disappointed in the letter I received from MMN. It lacked a lot.” She responded, “You can never tell anyone that I said this, but I am too. I think they could have done better.”
It felt like a relief to hear that from her, but I questioned why she couldn’t give me her findings of the investigation and recommendations herself. It was her investigation, why was I not able to receive a copy of the report too? Jane encouraged me to seek and push for more answers from MMN, so that’s exactly what I did.
I responded to Lyz with an email that asked more specific questions regarding the investigation. She answered them but in such a vague way. She said the reason that she was not able to answer more was to protect Ken and his confidentiality. I understood, he does deserve privacy too. I kept thinking, “take his name out of the damn report and let me see the rest.”
As I kept trying to push for more answers and as different advocates that I was working with did too, MMN pushed back harder claiming confidentiality.
It was beyond frustrating. I gave them what they needed for this investigation and I wouldn’t even be able to see anything regarding it. How is that fair? I understood Ken needing confidentiality but it’s not like I didn’t know he was involved. How did I know that Jane properly summarized everything I told her? What if I was misquoted?
None of this seemed fair.
Mennonite Mission Network Makes “Structural Changes”
In the midst of all of this, MMN decided to change up the structure of their organization. They shifted around everything from departments, to job titles, to people. Ken had told me himself that he would no longer be employed by MMN, come August, due to part of the shift. He could apply to stay but otherwise he had the choice to leave.
The same also applied for Lyz. She was only going to be with MMN for a certain amount of time and then someone else would be taking over.
I questioned how any of that was fair. Ken had less than a month to go after the final report was finished. How would they hold him accountable?
If Lyz was leaving, then how did I know that I could trust anyone to help me seek more answers? This was another piece that I felt I had already lost, even though it hadn’t taken place in the timeline yet.
Confronting Betrayal Head-On
Throughout the next several weeks I remained in contact with different advocates, trying to determine what the next best steps forward should be. I felt lost, I felt alone, and I felt betrayed.
At the same time, I was battling my own personal relationship with Ken. I had spent a lot of time thinking about when and or if there would ever come an appropriate time to sit down with him to discuss the nature of our situation. I had set firm boundaries between the two of us back in March so I could have space to breathe as I could feel things were about to get sticky. I spent a lot of time in therapy processing things, but more so specifically, processing whether I felt ready to talk to Ken. I had a lot on my mind and I wanted to be heard.
After giving it quite some time, I decided in early August that I was ready to speak with him, face to face. I requested that we each have someone there for support, as this was going to be a heavy talk. This was a challenge. While I had a support person, he had a hard time choosing one. At first he requested a family member, I said absolutely not. This was not an appropriate conversation to bring family into. He then suggested someone with whom he worked with at MMN. They were close colleagues and he felt that she could provide the support that he needed.
Keeping Quiet to Keep the Peace
I battled with this. This was going to be such a personal and vulnerable conversation. I felt unsure about bringing someone else from MMN into our conversation, although neither of them would be there on behalf of MMN. But there was a feeling of uneasiness because this support person also had a prior relationship with Kent. I wanted to be mindful that all of his colleagues were having things to process too, and I didn’t know how she would react to hearing things from one of the survivors. It was such a battle for Ken to find someone, so I kept quiet. I told him that I was fine with who he chose, even though I wasn’t. I didn’t want to keep pushing off this conversation, so I kept quiet to keep the peace.
That will be one of my biggest regrets in this whole journey: keeping quiet to keep the peace.
About That Thing We Talked About: I Won’t Explain Why I Did Nothing
Ken, our support people, and I all met. I wrote a list of things I wanted to say. I spoke with confidence and clarity. I spoke with vulnerability. I spoke with pure, raw emotion.
But as I spoke, I felt a sense of judgment from his support person. I was careful about how I approached talking about Kent, but looking back I wish I didn’t have to do that. I tiptoed with my words to make sure I didn’t say anything that offended her. Because looking across the table at her, I could see it in her face that she was doubtful of what I was saying.
At the moment, I didn’t care. What mattered were the words that I was speaking to Ken. But after processing things, I had to admit that I felt judged the entire time. While I said most of what I needed to say, I still held a lot back.
The conversation was very one sided. It was my chance to speak what had been on my heart and mind, but it was hard feeling like I was the one doing most of the talking. There was a response here and there from Ken, but to this day, I wish he would’ve said more. There was a lot that was still left hanging between us afterwards. This is an important piece that I will address later in the story.
Putting the Truth on the Record
Between August and October, I worked heavily with different advocates to put together documentation of my experience with MMN and FaithTrust Institute. Emails, letters, you name it. We started to compile it for the report from Mennonite Abuse Prevention that was going to come out about Kent. It was important to collect this documentation to add to the report because it spoke volumes about how different Mennonite agencies were responding.
When I first heard from an advocate at MAP that a report about Kent would be possible, I nearly fainted. It was mid-summer and I remember exactly where I was when I read the email. My eyes welled up with tears, but for once, they were tears of relief. They were tears of feeling safe, heard, and validated. It would take time, and it would take talking with more survivors, but it was going to be possible.
I spent several months preparing for the day when the report would come out. As each week passed, we were getting closer and closer. Waiting was hard, but these advocates at MAP are pros at what they do, so I knew I could trust them.
Mennonite Mission Network Promises to Step Up
Just as things were getting very close to being a little more ‘final’ with the report, I received an email from Tonia Martin, Care Coordinator at MMN on October 20, 2021. The email subject line said, ‘recommendations and response.’ At this point I had given up hope that I would ever see the executive summary, so I was surprised when I read the email from Tonia.
After things shifted around with leadership at MMN, the new leaders in the HR department ‘recognized the gravity of what I [you] shared with Jane and [thought] that it might be helpful to hear the recommendations and how MMN is responding to those recommendations.’ (These are the words written in Tonia’s email).
Tonia let me know that she and another leader from MMN would be coming from the Elkhart, IN offices to Kansas in the coming weeks. They wanted to give me an opportunity to see the response and recommendations in person.
I became hopeful. MMN was FINALLY going to let me see the outcome of Jane’s findings. I spoke with the advocates that I had been working with to see their availability, as I did not want to go into this conversation alone. I wanted them to be there and I also wanted one of my support persons to be there as they provided a safe and warming presence to me.
The three people that I asked (two advocates and one support person) all agreed to be there. I emailed Tonia to let her know that I would like these people to be present with me and to make sure that she and the new leader at MMN were okay with it.
Mennonite Mission Network Exerts Power and Control
The response I received back spoke volumes. They were fine with me having someone there to support me, but I had to choose one. ONE. I remember reading the email and feeling taken aback. How in the world was I supposed to choose ONE?! I specifically requested these advocates to be there as they could ask technical questions that I might not think of and I asked for this support person to be there as they had sat in on all the big conversations with me and provided a safe presence that I needed. And she was telling me I had to choose one?? I was so mad. I felt cornered and I had no idea as to what I should do.
After giving it thought, I eventually emailed Tonia back and told her that I would choose one person to come. Things were set and the time was set up to meet.
But I lied. I wasn’t going to choose just one person to bring. I told her I would only bring one, but I knew that wasn’t the truth.
I decided to choose one advocate and bring my support person. Deciding between advocates was hard enough. I was NOT going to give up bringing my support person.
Miya Takes Back Her Own Power
So when the day came, the three of us met and walked to the MMN offices together.
Was I manipulative by not telling Tonia the truth before we met? Sure. But the reason I wasn’t fully honest was because I was genuinely terrified that if I told her I was bringing two people instead of one, that they would change their minds about letting me see the report. It had taken months to get to this point, I didn’t want to jeopardize it.
Also, I wasn’t willing to let them push me around because they were uncomfortable with having more than one person support me in the conversation. This was a conversation about me and my personal experience. I was going to do what I needed to do to feel supported in the conversation.
*** Time for another stretch break. Grab your snacks, drink water, take your eyes off the screen for a second. From here on out, it will only continue to get more heavy. Perhaps the heaviest part of my story. Read it in segments if you need. It’s a lot to take in.***
Mennonite Mission Network Continues A Game of Control
The three of us met with Tonia Martin and Martin Gunawan, Senior Executive of Operations, on October 29th. The experience was surreal. We sat in a big conference room at the MMN offices. A conference room I had been in many times before in prior years as a participant in an MMN program. It was all too familiar and hauntingly traumatizing.
We began our discussion and in his hands, Martin held copies of the recommendations from Jane and how they were responding.
In his hands, he held the executive summary.
In his hands, he held a piece of my story.
In his hands, he held an essential part of my journey.
He and Tonia laid out some ‘ground rules’ as to how they saw things going. We were not to take pictures of the report, record anything, or in any way document what we read. They had a couple of copies for us to read but I could not take one with me. I had to leave it with them at the end of our meeting.
I knew this going into it, as Tonia had stated this in a prior email. But hearing those words said out loud made me realize that this was going to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.
Mennonite Mission Network Holds its Secret Operation; Miya is Brave
Before they handed us a copy of the executive summary, I asked to share a little bit. I started by sharing my needs that needed to be met during the discussion that was about to take place. I asked that if they felt that they could not meet those needs, that they would vocalize it before we got any further.
I then shared a poem that I had heard earlier that week called ‘Brave Space.’ It resonated with me heavily and I felt called to share it. I asked that a brave space be provided for me while we were going amongst our discussion. A brave space for me to sit in and process things, a brave space for me to be vulnerable with, and a brave space for this conversation to take place. Martin and Tonia agreed, so we proceeded forward.
Martin began by handing a copy of the executive summary from FaithTrust Institute to me. He had brought along two copies but only gave us one to look at. I don’t know why but I thought this was interesting. I watched him as he put the second copy away.
The summary was a few pages long and they told me to take the time as I read it. But since there was only one copy that was handed to us and three of us, I felt pressured to read it in a short amount of time so the other two wouldn’t have to sit there awkwardly in silence.
Before the Investigation, MMN Hadn’t Had Any Code of Conduct in Place
It was a lot to take in. My brain couldn’t process it. I read through the pages and passed them along. I sat back trying to take it in and process what I read. As we finished reading the document, Martin handed us the recommendations from the executive summary and how MMN was responding to them. This time he handed us two copies so I didn’t feel as pressured to read everything as fast.
Again, it was a lot to take in. I wasn’t sure how to respond. I am not someone who can read something and process it right away. It takes me a little bit. Tonia asked what questions I had and my mind was blank. I felt pressure to ask questions, but how could I ask questions when I just took in a boatload of information and hadn’t had time to process?
We decided to go through the recommendations and responses one by one, and we would spend time discussing them. That felt like the best way to approach it, as it would maybe help things sink in a little bit more.
The conversation started out fairly light but soon became intense as we dove into deeper discussion. I posed questions about different recommendations and how they were responding.
I remember one of the recommendations was for MMN to create a Code of Conduct, as they did not have one in place. This surprised me, and it was concerning. I voiced that, and asked them why they did not have one in place. Tonia said she was unsure but it was something they were going to work on. Another recommendation regarded putting a Youth/Child Safety Policy into place, as MMN did not have that policy either. Again, this was very surprising and concerned me.
MMN Won’t Discuss Potential Past Abuses Stemming from Lack of Policy
As an organization that works heavily with youth volunteers, how do they not have a Youth/Child Safety Policy in place? Putting these two pieces together, I was extremely concerned. I was very vocal about this. I wasn’t afraid to share it.
We discussed accountability or lack thereof, by not having these two essential pieces in place for the organization. I remember saying, “You need to recognize that by not having these policies in place, you have put youth and children in harm’s way. MMN needs to recognize this and take ownership of their actions. You fail to hold employees/volunteers accountable by not implementing these policies, if/when something were to happen.”
I think they were a little taken aback as to how vocal I was about it. I remember Martin responding with, “Well, while we recognize that we should’ve had this in place a long time ago, we don’t want to look back at the past. We are looking towards the future.”
I responded with, “How can you look towards the future without looking at the past and acknowledging any harm that has been done? MMN needs to recognize this.” Once again, Martin said something about looking towards the future. I was stunned by the lack of willingness to hold accountability for themselves, I didn’t know what else to say.
How is it Possible MMN had no Policies in Place Previously?
I want to make a note here and say that yes, I do recognize that all the policies in the world will not stop sexual abuse/harassment/assault. But having a policy such as these in organizations is extremely important as it holds the employees accountable to providing a safe environment for everyone. If they are to violate that in some way, then there is something to refer back on and say, “You signed this document. You agreed to it, but you violated it. There will be consequences for your actions. You will be held accountable.”
As we continued on in our conversion, things only seemed to get more tense. My advocate and support person asked excellent questions that challenged Tonia and Martin to think about the way MMN is approaching things.
At some point the conversation switched over to why MMN is not wanting to release the executive summary and findings from Jane’s investigation. The advocate along with me made a point about how it is best practice to be transparent about these things. They made several great points. I spoke up about how I was told several times by Jane that I would receive the executive summary from MMN and the recommendations.
I started to tear up when I talked about how hard it was to realize that it was being kept from me even though this was MY story, MY experience. They would not have been able to conduct this investigation without me. I put myself in an extremely vulnerable place because my main priority is that no one else gets hurt. That no one else experiences the same thing that I have gone through.
What is MMN so Concerned About Protecting the Institution From?
Tonia nodded understandingly and said, “I understand. I am sorry that keeping it confidential was our initial response. That is why we changed our minds as to sharing it with you and why we are here now.” She made it sound like they were doing me the biggest favor in the world and that it would fix all those emotions from before. They were listening, but they were not hearing what I was saying.
Martin then stated, “We want to do right by you, *Miya. That is what we are doing by sharing this report with you. But we also have to protect our institution at the same time.”
I sat there, quiet and stunned. How was I supposed to respond to that?
I remember saying something like, “You have my permission to release this report to the public. This is me giving my permission. I will write it down and sign my name if that’s what you need. But you have my permission to release it.” Martin said that releasing the report was something that they would have to take back to their team in Elkhart and discuss it. He said, “we will consider it.” I asked to be kept updated on their decision. I did not want to be left hanging. I needed to know to help me move forward with my own healing.
My advocate mentioned something about practices that other institutions have done in similar situations, and that releasing the report would allow the survivors to do whatever they wanted to do with it. They could share it to the public and the organization would not be able to come after them for doing so. Martin once again stated, “We want to do right by you, *Miya, but we need to protect our institution.”
Why Does MMN Believe the Institution Could Be Harmed by Sharing the Truth?
Martin said that phrase more than five times during the duration of our discussion. He made it very clear that all they truly cared about was protecting MMN and not protecting me. He made it clear that they were meeting with me to benefit themselves. By doing this they could claim that they shared information with the survivor regarding the report and make it seem like all was okay.
But it was not. It is not. They might have shared the report with me, but they tied my hands back and bound them tightly to make sure I did exactly what they said. Looking back, the intentions about the meeting were not to practice transparency but to make their organization look good.
MMN Shares No Plans to Address Past Incidences of Abuse, Blames Survivor
At the end of our conversation, we discussed prior incidences with MMN ignoring past sexual abuse reports from former volunteers. I asked Martin and Tonia how MMN planned to address those incidents.
Martin stated, “Well, the survivor is not cooperating with us, so we are not able to investigate further.” I had kept my demeanor fairly calm the whole conversation but this infuriated me. I said very sternly, “No. It is not that the survivor will not cooperate, it is that they are so traumatized by how MMN treated and dismissed them, that they are scared to be re-traumatized all over again.”
Tears welled up in my eyes again because I was extremely furious with how Martin was so quick to blame the survivor for MMN’s inability to think outside the box, rather than to think about how they can address this issue. It still infuriates me to this day.
Soon thereafter we wrapped up the conversation and Martin agreed that he would keep me in the loop as to what decision they would make about releasing the report, or at the very least, giving me my own copy.
It was so hard to leave that conference room and not take the copies with me. I knew that I still hadn’t fully taken everything in yet and I wanted to be able to look back on things to help process the conversation. I considered taking the copies and dashing out of the building. But I am not a fast runner so I knew I wouldn’t get far, so I held myself back and left the MMN offices, empty handed and with a heavy heart.
Processing the Revelations and Secrecy
I didn’t understand then and still don’t understand now as to why I couldn’t have my own copy. I have copies of every single email and any documentation printed out and locked up somewhere safe so that some day, I can burn them to help with letting go.
There was a follow up string of emails that was started later that evening between all those in attendance, led by the advocate in attendance. There were clarifications given and more questions asked. I also sent a follow up email with a series of questions that were sitting in my brain after processing the conversation. The most important question being: Why do they feel the need to protect the organization? What are they protecting the organization from? From losing donors? From potentially being sued by other survivors that may come about? Why do they need to protect the organization?
Sharing Some Final Thoughts with MMN
I have included the last half of my email as it is essential to see the questions and clarifications that I posed:
Here’s some questions I encourage MMN to think about as you move forward:
The actions that we are choosing to abide by, are they helping survivors moving towards healing or causing more harm? Are our actions enabling the predator by not going public about this?
How can we as an institution commit ourselves to continously working to fight against the injustice of the system that fails survivors of sexual abuse/assault/ harrasment and grooming?
As MMN moves forward in creating policies and trainings surrounding this area, are we embodying an environment that is trauma informed and provides a ‘brave space’ for survivors?
Here are my final thoughts as I wrap this up:
Don’t do the work to ‘do right’ by just me, do the work to ‘do right’ by all survivors, even if it doesn’t pertain to this specific situation. You have a golden opportunity to be an example for institutions as several of them navigate these waters. Don’t let yourselves fall short because there is a feeling of needing to “protect the institution.” At the end of the day, it is just an institution. It is not a person. It will not love you back.
By allowing yourselves to be transparent in this situation, it shows that MMN has the ability to be vulnerable and admit that although there was some serious failure, you commit yourselves to the work that needs to be done to help you grow as an organization. It shows that there are people within the organization who truly do care and who are willing to commit to being a safe institution for all.
With those questions, words, and thoughts, I hope that MMN does make the decision to release the report. Or at the very least, allow myself to have a copy. I want to be able to look back on this one day. The evidence I have, the emails, the statements, everything, and remind myself that although it hurt like hell, I got through it. Having a copy of the executive summary and recommendations helps provide one more piece of healing for myself.
I put myself in a very vulnerable space when telling my story for this investigation, because I do not want anyone else to get hurt. I hope MMN can also allow itself to be put in a vulnerable space in order to prioritize the healing of all survivors involved.
MMN Washes Its Hands of the Process
That email was sent on October 29th, the evening after our meeting. I did not receive any response from Tonia or Martin until November 10th, in which there was no addressing of my questions or clarifications. There was no specification as to if they were going to release the report or not. It was a vague email wishing me well as I move forward with healing.
It was an email of little response but spoke volumes.
I was frustrated by the vagueness of the email and lack of response. I sent another email to Tonia and Martin on November 16th regarding an update on the release of the executive summary. I received a response 5 days later on the 21st. Once again using the realignment of MMN as the answer for a slow response, Martin eventually stated, “We have considered your request and have determined that we are not able to release a copy of the executive summary.”
I did not have high hopes but my heart sank when I read this. I felt foolish for thinking that my words would change their minds into releasing the report for transparency of the organization. I felt foolish for feeling hopeful that I would obtain my own copy. I felt foolish for trusting MMN in the slightest to put me, a survivor, first, above the organization.
I was not shy with holding back my disappointment in their response. I was frustrated, I was angry, and I was heartbroken.
Grappling with the Fallout of the Process
I gave it a few days and then I decided to write an email to Jane, expressing my frustrations about the situation that had just played out.
I was vocal about how wrong it was of her to tell me that I would receive a copy of the executive summary from MMN when she was done with her investigation. It gave me false hope. I vocalized that FaithTrust should include in their contract requirements about the release of investigation findings as a way for the organization to practice transparency. FaithTrust currently does not require this of institutions, and leaves it up to them to determine whether they are going to practice transparency or not. They are a training organization and encourage “best practices.”
I made it very clear that by going about their practices in the way that they are, FaithTrust is merely hurting survivors even more, even though they claim to be a survivor centered organization. By giving organizations the option as to whether they want to share the report publicly or not, it only enables sexual predators/abusers even more, as oftentimes institutions would rather choose to protect their organization than to be transparent about any failures they have faced. Therefore, this only causes further trauma to the survivors and silences them.
I encouraged Jane to seek better practices in their organization and to really think about whether their current practices are helping survivors, or enabling abusers.
The Tentative Trust is Broken
Jane responded by saying that her hands are tied but she continues to encourage MMN to release the report. Jane said she understood my frustration but in her job, she can only do so much. She was bound by a contract with MMN and once that contract was up after the investigation, she technically has no reason to be in contact with them anymore. She asked my permission to share our email exchange with MMN, but because MMN had already made it clear that they prioritized their institution over survivors, I declined.
It was at this point that I just fell completely apart. I felt so broken, distraught, angered, and betrayed. I felt so stupid for letting myself put so much trust in Jane. Although I had only talked with her via phone and email, there was such a comforting presence about her. She spoke with confidence, boldness, and in a way that told me that she was there to advocate on my behalf. I viewed her as one of the most safe and trusted people at this point in my story. In my prior experiences with MMN years earlier, I had not been treated right. I was scared to go through this investigation because I was scared of any gaslighting that might take place again. I was scared that I wasn’t going to be heard again.
Jane made everything feel okay. She made me feel like my voice was roaring through the mountains and valleys of this Earth, and that I was going to be heard this time. I put very vulnerable parts of myself out there to Jane, trusting completely that some justice would be sought in this part of my story. But that did not happen.
I was not heard. My vulnerability was devalued. I was once again silenced by MMN.
Next week: Part Two