Episode 46: Purity Culture and the Church Too Movement with Brian Catton
Episode 46: Purity Culture and the Church Too Movement with Brian Catton
This week’s episode sheds light on the harm that is perpetuated by purity culture as well as the abuse that can take place within the church. This episode is by no means a denunciation of God or religion. Rather, Brian, who is both a survivor of abuse in the church and a follower of Jesus Christ, sits down with Alyssa to discuss some of the dangerous ways in which religion can be manipulated by humans.
Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
Hello. Hello, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Light After Trauma. I am your host Alyssa Scolari. We are here today to talk about a rather sensitive and difficult topic, I would say. We are here with Brian Catton. I do believe this is Brian’s first time on a podcast. I met Brian…
Brian Catton [00:47]:
In a while.
Alyssa Scolari [00:47]:
What did you say?
Brian Catton [00:49]:
In a while.
Alyssa Scolari [00:50]:
In a while. Oh, so you’ve been on a podcast before?
Brian Catton [00:52]:
Alyssa Scolari [00:54]:
Okay. Okay. This is the first time he’s been on in a while. I do believe that this is the first time you’re on talking about this subject.
Brian Catton [01:02]:
Yes, that’s correct.
Alyssa Scolari [01:05]:
Brian is a friend of mine and my husband’s. I met Brian through my husband.
Brian Catton [01:11]:
I miss you guys.
Alyssa Scolari [01:14]:
I know. I hate COVID. We miss you too.
Brian Catton [01:17]:
Alyssa Scolari [01:22]:
It sucks. It really sucks. Brian and I have kept in touch on the internet because he is honestly just social justice warrior. Brian does a lot of work and a lot of awareness on autism, which is not going to be the topic today, although I would love to have him back on to talk about autism because he does a fantastic job, just supporting and spreading awareness but I digress. The topic that we are here to talk about today is Purity Culture and the ChurchToo movement. We are here to spread some awareness and shed light on the sexual abuse that is happening in churches and not just sexual, but also psychological and emotional abuse that is happening in church. I just want to preface this conversation. We’ll come back to this a couple of times by saying that the goal of this episode is not to denounce any type of religion or Christianity. We are not here to say, “You should not believe in God because of the abuse that happens in churches.” We are here spreading awareness and taking shame, and talking about the idea that changes need to happen within the church, not that we need to turn away from the church. With that being said, hello, Brian. Happy Saturday.
Brian Catton [03:10]:
Happy Saturday to you too. I forget what national day it is today.
Alyssa Scolari [03:15]:
Every day’s national something.
Brian Catton [03:17]:
Alyssa Scolari [03:23]:
The first question I have for you is what is the ChurchToo movement and what is Purity Culture?
Brian Catton [03:30]:
Sure. Let me start with answering the purity culture thing to the best of my recollection. Let me also just give a little bit of background about my Christian journey, that I that came to Christ in 2004. This is right around the height of… Well, this is after the True Love Waits movements that took place in Purity Culture, and promoting and emphasizing sexual abstinence and promoting a high standard of sexual ethic. Nothing wrong with that. There is Biblical precedents that we must maintain a high sexual ethic. The issue with Purity Culture, is that it’s done in a very legalistic framework where that it’s done in specific doctrine of man ways that may present itself like you can’t hold hands when you do. You can’t kiss. You have to pursue Biblical courtship. You may know about Josh Harris’s books like with I Kissed Dating Goodbye. I mean, that’s one of the big examples with that and then Passion Impurity. There are some others that talked about denouncing dating in the sense that dating is just, “Hey, have that and it’s all fun and games.”
Brian Catton [05:01]:
While there is an appropriateness as far as saying, “Hey, let’s be intentional about dating,” the way how Purity Culture did it was that they set up barriers, not even guard rails, where basically, you can’t hold hands. You can’t kiss. You can’t hang out at night. You can’t watch Netflix together because your hormones are raging or whatever the excuse may be, and you need to guard each other’s hearts, and you hear that type of language. The thing is that with Purity Culture, that’s talked about it in such a way that the fine print with that is or else. For example, the or else may be or else you may get kicked out of the church, or else, you’re basically deflowering your girlfriend or your boyfriend, essentially translating it in a dehumanizing way of saying or else you’re beyond the reach of God’s grace and you’re pretty much worthless.
Alyssa Scolari [06:09]:
Even the word de flowering, it’s ichy, it makes me feel ichy.
Brian Catton [06:13]:
It is. Welcome to spring too. mean, the way how it set up is more than just the dating scene, as you may talk, like, with modesty, and especially with women talking about the idea of 1 Timothy 2 that you have to dress yourself in a certain way in order to make sure that your brother in Christ doesn’t stumble, when there’s no talk about, “Hey, even if that is true, shouldn’t we address the main issue, which is that for the guys, you need to watch yourselves too.” It’s shifting responsibility away from the guys over the girls in the sense of with modesty and with clothing. How it impacts itself is multi layered, as I’ve been figuring out. I mean, it could be dating. It could be how you dress. It could even be in the sense of with gender and sexual identity. If you even have an inkling of flirting with the idea of coming out, then forget it. You’re beyond help.
Alyssa Scolari [07:24]:
It takes all of the blame. It shifts it on to all of those reasons, the way you were dressed because…
Brian Catton [07:31]:
You can’t feel this way. You can process things this way. You must think about it in these black and white terms, that there’s no room for ambiguity, no room for grade, no room for doubt, no room for questions, no room for having meaningful dialogue, which then because it’s framed in that binary way of black and white, that basically if it’s the wrong answer, then forget it. Basically you could be shunned. You could be forced out of church. You’re basically silenced. That happens too many times. Now with the ChurchToo Movement, that formed shortly after MeToo Movement, which I applaud everyone who has come forward and said, “This happened to me and this is wrong. We need to change it.” I applaud them with that. ChurchToo is similar to that, except it’s taking on all of those sexual ethics within the church along with it. You hear cases of… There was one book I finished where it’s talk about how there was a woman who when she was in her teens, her abuser groomed her and then ended up raping her, and basically she was forced to forgive him, which is another thing. [inaudible 00:09:02]. Yeah, tell me that’s not fucked up.
Alyssa Scolari [09:08]:
Oh, it fucking kills me. It kills me.
Brian Catton [09:12]:
I know, which I mean, that’s…
Alyssa Scolari [09:14]:
Let’s forgive him.
Brian Catton [09:15]:
Exactly. It’s just no. basically with the ChurchToo Movement, it’s saying we’re done with victims having to be villainized and with the villains having to be victimized. I mean, we see it with church. We see it in politics, we see it within celebrities, but with ChurchToo, we’re confining it specifically within the context of evangelicals within the sexual ethics in the church. It’s important to make sure that reputation is upheld at any and all costs, even if it means that we have to bulldoze Over the trauma that victims have experienced. We have to maintain its prestige, no matter what.
Alyssa Scolari [10:09]:
That’s what it is. It’s so much about self-preservation.
Brian Catton [10:12]:
Alyssa Scolari [10:13]:
I love what you said about, we need to stop villainizing the victims and victimizing the villains, which we do in all of rape, sexual assault. We do that all the time. But when it comes to the church, we really lay it on thick because of that desire to have this self-preservation because we need everything to look hunky dory.
Brian Catton [10:43]:
We have to whitewash the walls double meeting implied by the way. I mean, there is the report that came out about how less than half of Americans are now identifying as regular church attendees, which I mean, I don’t want to celebrate that because what do you expect? I mean, it’s almost like this. Say, if you and David were to stay in your house, you had some people over and you’re watching your dogs do too, by the way… Sidebar, I miss them, too.
Alyssa Scolari [11:21]:
They’re so big.
Brian Catton [11:22]:
I mean, I’m seeing pictures on the socials but anyway…
Alyssa Scolari [11:27]:
It’s not the same.
Brian Catton [11:28]:
I know. Once COVID hits, we’re getting our backyard fixed.
Alyssa Scolari [11:34]:
Oh, good. Then we can see [crosstalk 00:11:36].
Brian Catton [11:36]:
Yes, you can see the little toddler. He’s getting so big and squishy too.
Alyssa Scolari [11:43]:
Oh, you’re baby is so cute. He’s so cute. Anyway, we digress.
Brian Catton [11:47]:
Yes, indeed. I mean, think about this, if you were to live in a house and you had someone inspect it and tell you that there was black mold, there was termites, there was water damage, wouldn’t the common sense solution be, we need to get everyone out of here, we need to make sure that this is fixed, and make sure that it’s habitable again? Once it is, then we can return and we can carry on. Nope.
Alyssa Scolari [12:17]:
That would make sense but not in church.
Brian Catton [12:21]:
Not in church. Nope. Outcomes the paint, we need to paint over that because if we find out about it, then no one’s going to want to stay with us. The irony of it all, is that if we use that house illustration, it’s almost like if you were to look at your neighbor’s house and say, “Well, wait a minute, the front door isn’t painted well or they’re siding is all messed up, or, well, their driveway is cracked or something like that. It’s basically oh, well, because something else is wrong with them, then that frees us from having to take any responsibility on our end to make sure that we maintain safety within our neighborhood.” No. Does that make sense?
Alyssa Scolari [13:08]:
Just to make sure I understand that correctly, what you’re saying is that we tend to shift blame when we see that there are cracks in the foundation in someone else’s life. That’s the scapegoat for churches to shift blame onto that person?
Brian Catton [13:23]:
Almost. I need foundation out because the foundation is Jesus Christ. first and foremost. No other foundation can be laid or [inaudible 00:13:34], which is Jesus Christ, which is why I’m focusing more on everything above the foundation, the water game, the black mold, the pesticides, termites.
Alyssa Scolari [13:46]:
Brian Catton [13:48]:
Any imperfection, as long as we can identify it outside of the church, and demonize, and dehumanize that, then that frees us from having to change anything on our end. No, it doesn’t.
Alyssa Scolari [14:02]:
Because it’s like, the church isn’t the problem. You’re the problem.
Brian Catton [14:05]:
Exactly. That’s pretty much what… I mean, with many church issues, but within Purity Culture, that’s the way how it is, that basically, it’s almost like everyone is on a sin house that basically, if there’s any imperfection with the way how you date or with how you dress, or with how you identify yourself from a gender standpoint or from a sexual standpoint, we are going to exploit that because then that makes us the moral Vanguards, and that makes us the faithful witnesses of what Christianity is like when in reality, no, it does.
Alyssa Scolari [14:45]:
In a way, and this is what you’re saying is really tying both Purity Culture and sexual abuse in the church together forming in my brain in a way, it’s like Purity Culture paves the way For churches to blame the other when sexual abuse happens or any abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse.
Brian Catton [15:13]:
It’s rape culture.
Alyssa Scolari [15:14]:
Yeah, yes. Yes, that’s exactly what I’m hearing. It’s like, oh, ichy, that’s the only word I have. I’m like [inaudible 00:15:24].
Brian Catton [15:24]:
Yes. Here’s the other thing that I found. Here’s the other thing I’m coming to realize. It’s very interesting with Purity culture and with sexual ethics, they have the sex talks about just making sure that you guard your heart and keep yourself pure. I mean, that’s fine and all, but there’s no counterbalance to it. There’s no discussion about what to do in cases of rape. There’s no talks about the other C word, consent.
Alyssa Scolari [15:51]:
Brian Catton [15:52]:
There’s none of that happening. In fact, one of the things I’ve been pushing my youth pastor to do is, “Hey, we need to talk about rape. We need to talk about consent,” not to say it’s acceptable. We hate it. But we need to basically say, “Rape is wrong. Consent is mandatory.” Anything short of a yes means no. No further questions. Hard stop. Remove any ambiguity in that response. Purity Culture doesn’t talk about rape or consent.
Alyssa Scolari [16:29]:
Not at all. They pretend like it doesn’t exist.
Brian Catton [16:32]:
Hence Purity Culture leads to a Church’s version of rape cult.
Alyssa Scolari [16:37]:
Yeah. Yeah. We know why Purity Culture is so damaging.
Brian Catton [16:43]:
Alyssa Scolari [16:49]:
I understand more about the ChurchToo Movement. How did you become so passionate about this? Because this is something you’re really, really, really passionate about.
Brian Catton [17:06]:
Alyssa Scolari [17:08]:
You also don’t have to answer that question if you don’t want to.
Brian Catton [17:11]:
No, no, I want to.
Alyssa Scolari [17:12]:
People don’t have to answer my questions.
Brian Catton [17:13]:
I want to because again, as far as raising awareness, if I don’t tell the truth about what happened to me, not to say that it’s all dependent upon me, but if I don’t tell the truth about what happened to me, that may not encourage others to come forward and share their stories as well, and [inaudible 00:17:40] sounds. The issue is with remaining silent about it. As far as my story goes, there was no sexual abuse that happens to me, per se, which is one of the reasons why I was initially hesitant upon it, but nevertheless, as you affirm and as I affirm abuse is still abuse, no matter what shape, size, color.
Alyssa Scolari [18:14]:
Yes, and you talking about this, even though it’s not sexual abuse is all the more important because you’re giving a voice to all of the other people who are in that ambiguity going, “Well, it wasn’t sexual abuse. Does it count?”
Brian Catton [18:28]:
Alyssa Scolari [18:28]:
You’re here being like, “Hell, yes, it counts.”
Brian Catton [18:32]:
Fuck, yeah, it counts. My story, again, I became a Christian 2004, started finding out more about the Josh Harris book, so I could stand by employments girl, back then at. But I mean, since 2019, Josh has come forward and says that he basically terminated all publishing deals on his books, so no more. His books are being published with advance to his teaching. He has taken ownership of that, but still, the damage has been done. That said, one of the books I picked up, talked about courtship, which I mean, I thought, “Well, okay I want to please my God. This seems to be the way to do it.” There are a little bit of legalism in that language. Yeah, you better believe it. Here’s the other thing that’s insightful about this too. You hear a little bit about prosperity Gospel, that if you do these things, if you court the right way, then God’s going to bless your marriage. You’re going to have the best sex life ever. Yeah, which is just wow, that type of language. But back then, I mean, I was still a fairly new Christian, as far as the conduct aspect is concerned. I thought, “Okay, yeah. Cool. I’m in. I’m buying this. Not be on the book.” I mean, I thought, “Okay, this is great.”
Brian Catton [20:03]:
There was a church I attended during my winter, fall, springs, summer breaks. There was a girl who I was attracted to and I found out that she was the admin assistant that had nothing to do with it. But I mean, I found her, well, I’ll just say very attractive. I found her conduct attractive. I found a lot of things attractive about her. I thought, “Okay, well, let me pray about it.” I think how I used to pray about it [inaudible 00:20:36]. But I mean, I did. I end up talking with the pastor about it. I ended up talking with her dad about it. Again, this is critical too that, basically, you have no free thoughts or very little then that things have to be done under the submission on the other password of pastors and friends because they’re there to protect you. You need accountability because we’re going to make sure that we protect you from sin. I ended up having a DTR talk, and things were great, except a few months later found out that her dad was [inaudible 00:21:18]. I mean, despite that, I still stayed with her because I mean, anything like that is finding out about your own parents being quiet in something that controversial is like, “Okay, let me bear with you with this. Let me guide you with this.”
Brian Catton [21:42]:
This is all before the days of Instagram, FaceTimes, and all that good stuff. Sticking with Facebook and emails and texting before unlimited texting. Verizon, I hate you with all my heart. But I mean, things progressed from there and then having some more talks with her mom because things had to be done under her watching, with her permission as well which okay, fine, whatever. I’ll do it because I want to please God. I wanted to protect her and everything like that. We didn’t even kiss then. What is it? This is in P2 year… I was in pharmacy school. P3 year, I came back for fall break, I told her I love her, and I meant it too. I mean, things started to blossom. But I mean, there is no physical… There is nothing controversially physical except for [inaudible 00:22:51] cuddle.
Alyssa Scolari [22:58]:
Brian Catton [23:00]:
But it’s just like, “Okay, come on. I’m able to think for myself and know, when it is too much, I’m able to advocate myself in that regard.” But also, one of her friends, he would come down through Winchester, Virginia, where I went to college, and he would talk about, “You need to be stable. You need to be a man. You need to be a source of stability for her.” I’m thinking, “Well, fuck. I can’t do that even if I tried.” I mean, forget the fact that I’m in pharmacy school. Forget the fact that I have autism. Forget the fact that I’m trying to do my best with everything. It’s just, man, if I can’t take care of myself, how much less? Can I take care of her? I mean, it was depressing. I mean, again, that’s where the toxic masculinity within Purity Culture takes place that, really? Do I have to? I want to but is it required of me? What’s the RLS part? But yeah, so things progressed along swimmingly well, and then I basically got chastised because I end up telling him that, “Well, I love her.” He’s like, “You what?” It’s just like, “Dude, it’s dating. Really? While on the fact that she couldn’t make a weekend trip to be my plus one at some weddings. Let alone the fact that she would seldom visit unless it’d be with one of her close friends.
Brian Catton [24:50]:
Hindsight, it was just “Okay, I’m doing all these things for you but I don’t feel like that there’s any reciprocation.” “Oh, well, you’re being selfish.” “Why? I mean, am I not allowed to say, “Hey, I would love it if you could come down here?” But her parents prohibited for whatever bullshit reason. January came along, and the pastor basically put the E break and he said, “Listen, you guys really need to slow the pace down. You’re…”
Alyssa Scolari [25:22]:
Brian Catton [25:26]:
Now I’m just thinking like, “Whoa…”
Alyssa Scolari [25:29]:
We’re already at a snail’s pace, buddy.
Brian Catton [25:32]:
Yeah, well, because like I said, I love her and the fact that emotions get entangled so much that it’s like you’re flying a kite. If a huge gust of wind blows, and then it plummets, and then the kite breaks, and there’s no hope of redemption beyond this. Really? Yeah, way to go teaching God’s sovereignty and that God does cause all things, including emotions, possibly running wild to happen for our good and learning from our mistakes. Anyways, things took well, opened the door for that nosedive because it was just this is really hard for me, because it’s P3 year of my spring semester, I took pharmacy law, gag. I was getting ready for my clinical rotations. I just felt like I wasn’t receiving reciprocated support. Well, on the fact that I couldn’t talk with other girls within my church, let alone within my own school. I mean, I did. Don’t tell anyone.
Alyssa Scolari [26:51]:
That will be a secret.
Brian Catton [26:53]:
Well, it’s too late. It’s already on the interwebs. But yeah, I ended up just sharing my frustrations with her mom and everything like that, and then she withdrew support for us, that basically that was her final straw. Then Easter Sunday night, I was driving back from visiting my parents because I was in Virginia, my parents were in New Jersey at the time, we met halfway. Then basically, my, well, then girlfriend told me that we really need to pray about this. I can tell from the tone of her voice that she’s shocked. She basically, “Well, my mom, just word vomited on me.” I pretty much went [inaudible 00:27:47] for less than 24 hours I would say. But it was just like, “Wait a minute, I’m not…” Also, by the way, I was having many doubt, which you cannot have any doubt whatsoever. No questions. It was tough maintaining that facade. I just said, “You know what? Fuck it.” I broke up with her. The funny thing is that after I told her and as I was walking back in and getting ready to study for one of my therapeutics classes, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I thought, “Well, great. That’s just…”
Alyssa Scolari [28:31]:
You broke free from that Purity Culture and the gas lighting.
Brian Catton [28:37]:
Yeah. In some sense, yes. I mean, that’s the biggest one that I broke free from. I mean, of course, with any breakup, it’s hard. I did check up with her. I did own up to some things that I did wrong. Then, basically, a week later, I checked in, “Hey, how are you doing?” Essentially, she just in a few short words, in a Biblical sense, she told me to fuck off. Then her pastor came in and said, “Well, actually, you need to write a letter of apology, outlining what you did wrong and how the relationship in a sense was successful and just like, just insert I can’t even…
Alyssa Scolari [29:31]:
That’s such an abuse of power.
Brian Catton [29:34]:
It’s just like, “Well, fine. I’ll do it.” The thing is that still to this day, there has been no mutually reciprocated apology from her to me. Her husband reached out and basically said, “I’m sorry, but you need to do better,” which, listen, buddy, my issue isn’t with you. It’s with your now wife.” This still remain sang for over a decade. Part of the reason why I became so passionate about it, it’s just that, Purity Culture and ChurchToo, it’s one of those, wow, it’s not just the sexual abuse. It certainly entails that but there’s so much more to it. It’s the gas lighting. It’s the mental abuse.
Alyssa Scolari [30:32]:
The psychological manipulation of parents coming into the relationship and telling you who you are is not good enough, and that that prayed on it, and that they have the message that you’re not good enough. That wears on you.
Brian Catton [30:48]:
It did. It was to the point where I mean, I wasn’t suicidal, thank God, but, it was almost like, I need professional help. That was being prevented. I felt shamed for admitting that I need professional help. “No, you don’t. You just need to pray even more.” Really?
Alyssa Scolari [31:07]:
Brian Catton [31:08]:
I mean, even in pharmacy school, ironically enough, here’s the irony of all of this within Purity Culture, I was anti antidepressants, I was anti psychiatric care and everything like that. Yeah. Now just realizing, one of the big things I learned in clinical rotations is to view the patient as a whole. Don’t view the part as the whole. I mean, some of the parts does make the whole but when it comes to with mental issues, I mean, that is a part of them, but it’s not the entirety of it, if it makes any sense. It’s just, people are just one thing. There’s multiple dimensions of who people are. With Purity Culture, it packages it in a nice, easy to understand and apply, and to respond.
Alyssa Scolari [32:16]:
Very black and white, when humans are anything but in the black and white area.
Brian Catton [32:24]:
Alyssa Scolari [32:26]:
Now, what would you recommend…? Your story is one of just intense and chronic psychological, manipulation, and abuse as a result of Purity Culture, which leaves you feeling just… It’s a mindfuck. I can’t think of any other way to put it. It’s an absolute mindfuck. What do you recommend to somebody who might be listening right now, who is feeling like, “Hey, I think I’m caught up in this” or is going, “Oh, I was caught up in this at one point in my life.” Maybe not what they can do as in how physically within their church but how do they hold on to the faith in Jesus, or whatever their religion may be while also acknowledging that bad things came as a result?
Brian Catton [33:24]:
First and foremost, I’m going to affirm this with all my heart on [inaudible 00:33:28], what habits you use. Absolutely not. [inaudible 00:33:31] You need to believe that with every single ounce, as hard as that is, what happened to you is not your fault. That’s what’s painful about it. It’s that, well, if I didn’t listen, it’s not your fault. Yeah, but if I did, and then… No, no, no, I get that.
Alyssa Scolari [33:55]:
It’s not your fault.
Brian Catton [33:57]:
I realized that there were situations that happen, but you’re not responsible for the way how they chose to prey on you. The shame isn’t yours. It’s theirs that they have to take. They’re the ones who have to take ownership of and if there even are a decent human being, let alone a Christian, they should be willing to apologize for that and leave the decision of extending forgiveness [inaudible 00:34:26]. That said, that applies for any human being, irrespective of any religion because like it or not, no matter… Yeah, you’ve seen my posts that no matter what your gender and/or sexual identity is, no matter what your race is, no matter what your religion is, all human beings are created in the image of God, and because of that every single human being has God bestowed dignity, honor, worth, value, and respect. For Christ’s sake, and I mean that with sincerity, for Christ’s sake, hold on to that, even if your strength is fleeting. Hold on to, that you are valuable because you bear God’s image. That is something that no matter what abuse that you experience, that is something that will never be taken away.
Brian Catton [35:30]:
Now, as far as the practical stuff goes, if you’re in imminent danger, report it to local law authorities right away. Actually, I would say report it to local law enforcement first, whether it was rape or not, whether you’re experiencing domestic abuse, whether you’re experiencing physical abuse. If you’re on a college campus, let the Help Center know. They have crisis centers. They should have crisis centers available and it’s been years but zooming, now, if someone you know, is a minor, there are states like Pennsylvania that mandates pastors and clergy as mandatory child abuse reporters.
Alyssa Scolari [36:18]:
New Jersey, yep, New Jersey too.
Brian Catton [36:21]:
Excellent. Thank You ACT 31 for PA. I don’t know what it is in New Jersey, but if it is, shout it out.
Alyssa Scolari [36:28]:
Brian Catton [36:29]:
Okay. That said, I say report it first and then report it to pastors. The thing is that also you must… I realize that what about to say is traumatic. Find someone who’s going to believe you. I realize that language, it does bring up the same language like with Brett Kavanaugh, Christie Boss report. I believe you friended. I believe he doesn’t mean that. I believe everything that you say 100% and throw any logic out of the way. No, if someone told you that your house is on fire, “I believe you. Let’s go back and let’s take a look and see if it really is on fire. If so, let’s make sure that we get the house extinguishment… Let’s make sure that everyone is safe. That’s all we’re trying to say.
Alyssa Scolari [37:24]:
Find somebody who will take it very seriously.
Brian Catton [37:26]:
Exactly. That’s what churches must do. Now, here’s the other thing that I mentioned PA in New Jersey being mandatory child abuse supporters. Now, here’s the other thing for the victim, that leaves the victim empowered because now that you reported it to the church, now the church is held responsible for having to report it. If they do not, then they are held liable. Now, I’m speaking only for Pennsylvania, I’m not sure what it is for New Jersey, but penalties for failing to report or to file a report ranges from a misdemeanor to felony both to the second degree. It could be anywhere either one to two years in prison and a fine about the 5,000 or five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Now, again, if what you’re experiencing is domestic abuse, here’s the telephone number for the National Domestic Violence. Let’s see if you can also slap it in the notes too.
Alyssa Scolari [38:30]:
Yep, I will.
Brian Catton [38:31]:
Yep, 1-800-799-safe. Again, that’s 1-800-799-safe. Here’s the other thing, if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it, there it is, also a chat function enabled. You can chat with someone right away. You also have the suicide hotline. The new three digit code for that is 988. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, call that number. Don’t question if you are. Here’s the thing, once you do escape, and I mentioned this in the beginning, give yourself space and grace to feel. I mean, any violation of trust fails [inaudible 00:39:14]. The interesting thing is that the people who you would expect to trust are the biggest fucking liars out there and the people you expect to who wouldn’t believe you are your biggest advocatess. It’s very counterintuitive.
Alyssa Scolari [39:33]:
Brian Catton [39:34]:
It is one of the most bitter sweet realities I’ve come to experience, that non-Christians do far better with dealing with the ramifications of abuse than Christians do, which should not [crosstalk 00:39:49].
Alyssa Scolari [39:49]:
It’s very sad.
Brian Catton [39:49]:
Alyssa Scolari [39:49]:
It’s very sad.
Brian Catton [39:52]:
Here’s the thing, if there were reputable data that had evidence upon evidence, upon evidence to the contrary, I will eat my words and own up to it, but I’ve yet to see it. I’m pretty sure… Yeah. Now, again, here’s the other thing. Once you do escape, be prepared to lose relationships. I mean, that’s part of the trauma too. You may have developed some strong friendships, I have, and having to leave that after coming forward because of self-preservation while the church is decaying and importing from within, it’s traumatic. It’s devastating. It’s depressing.
Alyssa Scolari [40:41]:
Yeah, it certainly is.
Brian Catton [40:43]:
In a sense, I say with caution, prepare to feel alone. Do what you must, get counseling, start on medication.
Alyssa Scolari [40:53]:
Know that ultimately, you will find people who stand by your side.
Brian Catton [40:57]:
Yes. Hard communities. Yes. That’s the other thing. S
Alyssa Scolari [41:01]:
Such great advice.
Brian Catton [41:03]:
It is. Take care of yourself. Thank you. If applicable, take care of others within your family who are abused, especially if the abuse happened to a minor within someone you know. Now, again, there’s no prescriptive way or any straightforward or linear way of saying, here’s how you handle… There’s no 12 step program. You will follow on this as well. There’s no clear cut way as to how to deal with trauma because every human being is different. Every human being processes trauma differently. Every human being feels trauma differently. There may be certain triggers that may happen. There may be some overlap. That’s up to you as far as how you want to move forward. Now, for the Christian, I also want to say and this is piggybacking off with Beth Moore’s advice after her defecting from the Southern Baptist Convention, sidebar, you go, girlfriend. Embrace your wilderness, wandering. Realize and rejoice with mangled tears, sorrow, angry, that you serve, and you are loved by the Son of God, who Himself became a man of sorrows and acquainted with truth. Yes, we do feel alone. I’m not trying to minimize what I say next.
Brian Catton [42:41]:
But the good news is that because of what Jesus did at the cross, we’ll never had to feel that alone ever again.
Alyssa Scolari [42:49]:
Yeah, that’s great advice.
Brian Catton [42:56]:
If I could just shake somebody up, check them in their nerds, do whatever it takes to make them believe it, I would. I realized that’s going to take time. Now, if you’re someone who’s advocating for someone, give them space as well. Don’t be like Job’s friends and offer trite Christian cliches. That may be while true and everything like that, but in the moment, trauma is still trauma. Give them space. Give them a place. Give them grace.
Alyssa Scolari [43:29]:
Brian Catton [43:31]:
Be very, very patient with them. Yes, I realize that you’re going to have to associate with someone who has experienced trauma. Yes, I’ve realized that there may be some, that you may be feeling a little bit outcast. Well, guess what? Get over it. Jesus did, and so can you. He can help you to be a faithful friend. We can help you to be a person who can be a sounding board. He can help you be a good friend to speak a faithful word at an appropriate time. He can also help you just to say, “Listen, I’m going to apply Galatians 6:2, not to get some brownie points with God, but because His love has set me free to bear your burdens.” I see your burdens as being heavy. I hear the choking up and fear and I’m going to do what I can to come alongside you no matter what it takes. If Christians within churches began to do that without having to address any bullshit neowans or anything like that, then maybe, perhaps we can reclaim some credibility that yes, we do stand for those who are marginalized and we do stand for justice in the sense that we will do whatever it takes to make sure that those who are truly victims do the same.
Alyssa Scolari [45:33]:
Thank you. Such incredible advice. Such an important story. I’m sure that that was not easy for you. Thank you so much for coming on the show and for just being vulnerable and for empowering others to take their healing into their own hands. I appreciate it.
Brian Catton [45:56]:
Yep. Thanks, Alyssa.
Alyssa Scolari [45:58]:
Thanks for listening, everyone. For more information, please head over to lightaftertrauma.com or you can also follow us on social media. On Instagram, we are at Light After Trauma and on Twitter, it is @lightafterpod. Lastly, please head over to patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. To support our show, we are asking for $5 a month, which is the equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Please head on over. Again, that’s patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. Thank you, and we appreciate your support.