Tell Me the Story of Trauma

INTRODUCTION:

The statistics are grim. RAIN reports:

  • Every 73 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.
  • 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed, 2.8% attempted).
  • About 3% of American men—or 1 in 33—have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.[1]

But rather than only nameless, faceless statistics, the #MeToo movement has assisted in bringing to light stories of sexual assault. These types of stories have appeared in all sectors of life from Hollywood to the Olympics; from politics to religion; from universities to seminaries; and among pentecostals. It is a part of pentecostal history as in the public story of Recy Taylor, a young black woman who was walking home from a pentecostal church service when she was kidnapped by seven white teenagers and raped by six of the seven in 1944.[2] More recently, many stories were heard at the first gathering of #pentecostalsisterstoo at the 2018 meeting of Society for Pentecostal Studies as many women and young men indicated that they, too, had been sexually violated. Some women indicated that such violations continue in actions and innuendos as well as through the lack of respect from their male counterparts. These stories may be called “countertestimonies,” as described by Stephen Torr. According to Torr, these are laments that are aided by the Holy Spirit.[3] It is necessary to lift up these voices in our cultures and churches for we as a culture and a church remain incomplete without them. For too long, survivors of sexual violence have been silenced, their voices marginalized as the perpetrators continued to remain in power. Today these voices are beginning to be heard.

With that being said, it is now time for stories that speak of the courage to heal from sexual violent acts. In an interview, Tarana Burke, the founder of the Me Too movement, states she wants to move beyond the stories of trauma to stories of healing.[4] It is here that I believe pentecostal theology may be helpful. It goes without saying that pentecostals are known for their theology of healing, and they are also known to be people of stories. This is evident as some pentecostals have begun to relate their stories of healing (whether these stories be miraculous or ongoing) from sexual violence.

  • Amy, a Classical Pentecostal missionary, was brutally raped in her home in Senegal in 2014. After spending time in daily counseling for eight months, she now continues to serve on another field. She stated, “I’m not the person I was before the attack, even through all the grief and pain. I like much better who I am now. My love for the Father is so much deeper, my love for people is so much greater, and my faith is so much stronger.”[5]
  • Another pentecostal, Jeanette Salguero, who is an associate senior pastor and chief operation officer at Calvario City Church in Orlando, speaks of ongoing healing: “As a Pentecostal pastor, I know about the laying on of hands and the sprinkling and the handkerchiefs and all that good stuff. But it’s a lot more than that . . . We cannot link hands and say, ‘Woman you are healed go.’ ‘Man you are healed, go on your merry way.’ This is a process.” About her own healing process she said, “I’m not denying the power of the Holy Spirit, but I do know, as a thriving victim, that therapy is a must.” [6]
  • For others, there is healing that includes a divine intervention as I presented in Who Is Present in Absence?: A Pentecostal Theological Praxis of Suffering and Healing. One of the participants of my study experienced theophastic prayer, receiving a powerful experience of healing as he envisioned Jesus Christ being present during the abuse that he experienced as a child.[7]

It is in the spirit [Spirit] of this type of healing, that I am seeking out stories (testimonies, if you will) of healing from sexual violence, be it an ongoing process and/or a supernatural divine intervention. If you are reading this, I am requesting your help.

WHAT:

Seeking personal stories of pentecostals/Charismatics who have experienced/are experiencing healing from sexual violence. That is, they may be on a journey of ongoing healing and/or they may have experienced a miraculous encounter of healing.

WHY:

  • Recently, the MeToo Movement has assisted in bringing to light a silent epidemic of sexual violence that permeates our country, and this movement is now spread internationally.
  • In response, other groups have been started, such as #MeTooChurch #PentecostalSistersToo.
  • The MeToo Movement also is calling us to hear stories of healing as Tarana Burke, the founder of MeToo Movement, stated in an interview, published in the New York Times, that she wants to move beyond the stories of trauma to stories of healing.
  • For pentecostals/Charismatics, such a call for healing stories beckons for us to inquire, “In what manner is healing demonstrated in the lives of pentecostals who have experienced sexual violence?” and “How may we participate in Christ’s healing ministry to those who have been sexually assaulted?”
  • These stories may include experiences of healing that are ongoing OR those that are the result of an instantaneous divine intervention.

WHO MAY PARTICIPATE:

  • A male or female adult over the age of 21. Please note that this research is not limited to those in the West.
  • Those who currently classify themselves as Pentecostal/Charismatic
  • Those who have experienced sexual violence (such as rape, sexual childhood abuse, etc.)
  • Those who have started their healing journey

HOW: 

If you meet the above criteria and if you are interested in participating in this research/writing project, there are two ways you may participate:

1) Tell your story of healing via 90-minute interview on a video call.

Those interested in participating via this method would begin by contacting me at: healing101.research@gmail.com

at which point they will be asked to engage in a screening process that includes a questionnaire, which is followed up with a short phone conversation. If you are selected as a participant, you will be invited to tell your story in an extended interview via a video call (such as Zoom, FaceTime, etc.). Participants will be given the main questions in advance to assist in providing a sense of safety and security. You are telling your story during the interview, so you may say as much or as little as you desire or refuse to answer a question if you so choose. You may also stop the interview at any time. The focus is on your healing journey. Any information that is obtained in connection with this process, which can be identified as you will remain confidential and will not be disclosed. This includes the use of pseudonyms for such information as names, dates, and locations.

2) Tell your story of healing by taking a survey that contains open-ended questions.

This method invites pentecostal/Charismatic survivors of sexual violence to tell their healing stories via a survey. The survey begins with several questions to determine if you are eligible to participate in this research project. If you meet the criteria, you will be invited to continue with the survey by answering open-ended questions about your healing journey. If need be, a participant may pause the survey and return to it at a later time. I will not know the specific identities of the participants in this survey unless participants choose to inform me.

This survey is only available for a limited amount of time—it will close on July 30, 2021. Click on the following link to begin the survey:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/healing101

WHAT IF I’M NOT A PENTECOSTAL/CHARISMATIC AND/OR HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED SEXUAL VIOLENCE:

You can:

  • Pray
  • Spread the word

As a matter of integrity and due to the sensitive nature of this study, I will not be approaching individuals and personally asking them to participate. Instead, I am making a general announcement about this research project, hoping that people will volunteer. This also means that I am relying on the assistance of others to help spread the word about this research/writing project; therefore, I request that you share this post on social media or with other friends and family members so that a wider audience may learn of this research.

If you have any questions, please contact me at: healing101.research@gmail.com

WHO AM I:

My name is Pam F. Engelbert, PhD, and I am ordained with the Assemblies of the God and am currently a pastoral caregiver/teacher/researcher/author. I previously interviewed Classical Pentecostals who had experienced extended suffering while hoping/expecting/praying for a divine intervention that did not come to pass and published their stories in a book Who Is Present in Absence?: A Pentecostal Theological Praxis of Suffering and Healing.

Regardless of your interest in being a part of this study, I appreciate the attention that you give to this request. I look forward to hearing from you.

#metoo #pentecostalsisterstoo


[1] “Scope of the Problem: Statistics,” RAIN, https://www.rainn.org/statistics/scope-problem (accessed March 18, 2021).

[2] Sewell Chan, “Recy Taylor, Who Fought for Justice after a 1944 Rape, Dies at 97,” The New York Times December 29, 2017, accessed April 5, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/obituaries/recy-taylor-alabama-rape-victim-dead.html?fbclid=IwAR27MauSvas3wKCpuPK2BN4hsHyx_t3r3e4cFDfgtfU5CU34d0z9Kyipyyo.

[3] Stephen C. Torr, Dramatic Pentecostal/Charismatic Anti-Theodicy: Improvising on a Divine Performance of Lament (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2013).

[4] Aisha Harris, “She Founded Me Too. Now She Wants to Move Past the Trauma,” The New York Times, October 15, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/15/arts/tarana-burke-metoo-anniversary.html (accessed May 27, 2019).

[5] John W. Kennedy, “Back from a Traumatic Experience,” News, Assemblies of God (August 1, 2019) https://news.ag.org/News/Back-from-a-Traumatic-Experience, (accessed August 16, 2019).

[6] Morgan Lee, “ Max Lucado Reveals Past Sexual Abuse at Evangelical #MeToo Summit,” Christianity Today (December 13, 2018) https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/december/metoo-evangelicals-abuse-beth-moore-caine-lucado-gc2-summit.html (accessed August 16, 2019.

[7] Pamela F. Engelbert, Who Is Present in Absence?: A Pentecostal Theological Praxis of Suffering and Healing (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2019), 112-113.