My Shattered Life ~
My name is Jean (Trotter) Austin and I was born on January 28, 1952. My parents were Bob and Mary Trotter and they professed. I was their first child. My brother Stanley was born on January 3, 1955. We lived in College Park, Georgia, until I was three years old when we built a new home in Atlanta and moved into it, along with my Mother’s parents.
I can’t say that I ever felt loved as a child. I don’t ever remember being told by my parents, “I love you.” I wasn’t hugged or told that I was pretty. Every day before I went to school, Mother would say, “Remember who you are.” In other words, don’t ever forget that I was a child of professing parents, and please don’t shame us. She didn’t say, “I love you,” or “Have a good day.” I felt I had to be careful and make sure to “Measure Up.”
I don’t recall my parents ever teaching me anything about sex. Somewhere though I picked up the idea that all sex was bad. My parents never explained to me anything about sex; much less that before marriage it was a sin; and that after marriage, it was all right and permitted.
Because I didn’t feel loved as I was growing up, I was very vulnerable and needy and craved attention. A brother worker in his thirties was kind to me, and I just ate up the attention he gave me. I tried to impress him by playing the piano. I was just banging but it sounded good to me. He would play the piano and want me to sing with him. While he was playing, he would touch me. He would touch me at other times also. I thought I was finally loved.
This brother worker grew up in Tennessee and had three siblings who were all in the work at the same time. He began molesting me when I was 8 or 9 years old, in the third grade (1960-61) and it lasted until I was in high school and for as long as he was in the Atlanta area. I think he probably left Georgia around 1967 or 1968 when I was about 16.
While he was playing Scrabble with our family, he would put his hand up my skirt and play with my privates under the table. I don’t know why no one ever saw him doing this to me. He even did it when we were at the table eating. Sometimes he would take his shoe off and stick his toe up there. Then after Mother and Daddy would go to bed, he would molest me. He would make me sit on his lap and feel his penis. He would pull it out through the slit in his pajamas and put it in my hand and would go “Huhaaaaaaaa.” He had blue PJs with darker blue piping on them and they were nylon or something like that that was wrinkle-free. I don’t think he ever kissed me.
Then he would put his finger in me. His fingernails were square and long and he would scratch me and it would hurt so bad. I would beg him to stop, and he would just laugh with a low huffy, shaky breath. He stunk so bad. Lord have mercy! I had to hold my breath his body odor was so awful. When Mother would iron his shirts B.O. would come up in the steam like a bad cloud. Now, I cringe when I smell B.O. and I hate the soft hands of the men that don’t work–they feel like marshmallows. He would tell me not to tell anyone. He would tell me that he was showing me how to love and be a good wife. He wouldn’t even help with the dishes. It made me so mad.
Because I didn’t feel loved and was not hugged at home, I thought this was what love was. I was proud that I got the attention from someone like him, as the workers were regarded as “better” people. I would do anything he said because that was the way I was raised. We were taught to follow the workers’ example and to do whatever they told us to do. We were to always respect and obey them. If we didn’t, they would shake dust off their feet and leave. They were always to have the best, and we were to obey them without question.
Daddy caught the worker molesting me one time, and Daddy called me a dirt flirt and a streetwalker. I was crushed. I was just doing what the worker told me to do, which was what my parents had taught me to do. Why was Daddy calling me ugly names? Today, Daddy says this is just in my mind, and that he did not say these things. The worker told my parents that I had a crush on him. I ran to my Grandparent’s side of the house to keep from getting beaten by Daddy.
Another time Daddy caught me with the brother worker in my pajamas, and even though we weren’t doing anything, Daddy called me ugly names and slammed the door. It was always my fault. The worker let these incidents pass, allowed me to take the blame and continued to molest me. So I was molested for half my young life, and my Father knew about it and turned his head. If you ask your father for bread, would he give you a stone? Yes, mine would and has. If this is not a stone, WHAT IS? He didn’t rescue or protect me—and instead, he blamed and punished me, the victim. And later, Daddy even asked me over when this worker was in Atlanta, thinking I would like to see him.
We are to look at our fathers as we look at Christ. However, I have never felt loved by my Daddy, and I don’t feel loved by God. I know I shouldn’t feel that way about God, but I can’t seem to get beyond it. I was raised to fear God, and not that God loved me unconditionally. I still cannot fathom God loving someone like me. I cannot feel that. I have been made to feel so unworthy of his love and care.
Through therapy, I have come to see that what that worker did to me in my childhood is the root cause for much of my depression today and for my inability to get back on my feet emotionally. He basically ruined my whole life, not just my childhood, but my whole adult life. In essence, he caused my family to abandon me. The memory was always in my mind. I just hated myself for it because I was blamed for the whole thing.
At some point in time, the worker went to Mother and told her that he had touched me in an improper way and wanted forgiveness. Mother had heard Daddy call me the ugly names, so she must have known what was going on. One time she asked me, “Has he been touching your privates?” I said, “Who told you that?” She never said another word. I wish I knew what had prompted my Mother’s question to me. I was so mad at him because he had told ME not to ever tell anyone what he did to me; yet HE had talked to Mother about it.
My Father worked for Southern Railway as a car man for 30 years. He retired when my Mother became ill with her second bout of cancer. Most of the time, he worked the 3-11 p.m. shift, so we didn’t see him much when we were in school.
My father was brought up in the North Georgia Mountains, and while he rarely talked about his childhood, I knew they had a hard life. I don’t know exactly when his parents professed. Daddy had a lot of brothers and sisters. I think his father was married before and had children by his first wife. My Grandmother’s name was Frankie and Grandpa Trotter’s first name was Charlie. All my aunts and uncles that I knew professed except Uncle Lawrence and Aunt Leona. All are dead now except for Daddy and Uncle Oliver. Daddy is part Indian and ages very little. He didn’t finish school. He went into the Army in the World War II era, where he was a cook. In later years his parents lived on Uncle Tom’s farm, which was located at the end of the road where the Demorest, Georgia Convention Grounds are. They both died when I was small.
The workers who invited my Mother’s parents, George and MaRina Reese, to come to gospel meeting were Fred Kinglake and Murray Keene. Granny had a twin sister named MaRanda and we called her Aunt Randy. Their children were older when my grandparents professed. Stanley and I called my Mother’s parents “Granddaddy” and “Granny,” and they professed right up until they died. Mother had two brothers Paul and Gene, who both lived in Missouri, and one sister named Mae, and none are living today. Granddaddy fought in the Spanish American War. Granny was a housewife. Mother left home and she and another professing girl were roommates in Atlanta and worked in the hosiery mill. Mother had lots of friends. There are many pictures in her scrapbook of her with her many friends.
I have no idea where my parents met, but it may have been while Daddy was in the service. Daddy must have professed before he left home because he came to Atlanta to court my mother, Mary Reese. My parents were married in October 1949 and got along really well. Mother was a year older than Daddy. I never heard them fuss except about what to do with me. Daddy would sing love songs to Mother and make her laugh. (“Have I Told You Lately that I Love You” ) They shared ruling “the roost.”
My mother’s parents sold their farm in Lula, Georgia, and my parents built a new house in Atlanta for us which contained a suite for them to live in for the rest of their lives. That was in 1955. My Daddy and Stepmother still live there, and they still have meetings in their home. Daddy said he repaid my grandparents for the home.
It never seemed quite fair really, and I never knew why, but it fell our lot to take care of Granny and Granddaddy. Because of this arrangement, I felt I never really had a mother. I never got to go shopping and to do other things with her, because Stanley and I always had to stay home with Granny and Granddaddy, even when Daddy and Mother left the house just to buy groceries. I never had much time with my Mother because Granny and Granddaddy required so much of her time and attention. Granny had to be bathed and cleaned.
Granny lost her mind and suffered from dementia. Once she sat down on the plastic trash can because she thought it was the commode. She was fat and Stanley and I couldn’t get her up–that trash can was like an accordion. One time she fell in the garden and Daddy had to put her in a wheel barrel to get her back to the house. Granny thought Stanley was her son and she would cuddle and kiss on him, play ball, show him how to catch bees in flowers. She thought I was a nasty old girl and would lock me out of the house and I wouldn’t be able to get back in until someone unlocked the door. Everybody thought this was funny but deep down inside me, it hurt. It seemed I was always the bad one…….I was.
Granddaddy was blind and learned to read Braille through a Braille teacher who came to our home. Granny was jealous of the teacher and sometimes she would try to hit her with a broom. Neither Granddaddy nor the teacher could see, so we had to watch Granny real close! Granddaddy had a record player provided by the Library for the Blind. I would listen to it, even if it was playing the Bible, just to say I listened to a record player. I would sometimes borrow records and Granddaddy and I would listen to them and set the volume real low. I sometimes listened to music if no one was around.
Granddaddy was kind to Stanley and me. Almost every week, he would give us peppermint candy and a quarter. He was still alive when my mother was sick. I would try to do what I could to help. Granddaddy got to where he couldn’t sit up so I would sit back to back with him to hold him up and read the paper to him. He loved the news and poetry. He memorized a lot of poetry and would quote it to us. Our favorite was a poem about a brown-eyed maiden that was waiting. We would ask him to tell us that poem over and over.
When I was about 3, we were getting ready to go to Sunday morning meeting and Daddy was brushing his teeth. He went outside to spit and I went to watch him. He came back in and slammed the door in my face. I ran into the door and busted my head. I was confused–why didn’t Daddy care or see that I was there? I was nothing but trouble. I never felt like my Daddy really loved me. When I was born and my father was told that I was a girl, my mother apologized and said that was the best she could do.
I seem to embarrass my parents often. Once I took off my dress (stripped) in meeting when my mother was praying in meeting. I would dance when I heard music in the stores. Daddy said dancing was wrong.
My mother always loved animals and I do too. Animals loved me unconditionally and didn’t judge me. One time, Mother nursed an injured dog and saved its life. He became my best friend. Once I had to get rid of a little dog because he kept killing chickens that belonged to the grouchy man who lived across the street, and it broke my heart. Another time I found the sweetest dog and cat in the sewer. They were sick and the little dog died, but the cat lived a long time–until some bricks fell on her. Once I was jumping on the bed when I shouldn’t have been. My hamster had gotten out of its cage and a bed slat fell and smashed my hamster. I cried and cried. I believe that was the day that President Kennedy was killed because we were to have quiet time for him and I had quiet time for my hamster. We went to convention and left my little puppy with my Uncle Tom to take care of. The puppy ate rat poison and died. I was devastated. Daddy said it was only a dog, but it was a dog that I dearly loved. We also had a Collie named Bessie (after sister worker Bessie Hawkins).
I was forever having accidents. When I was about 4, I accidentally let the brakes off of Daddy’s old A-model and the car rolled into the uprights on the porch of the chicken house and the porch fell. I felt so bad and embarrassed. Daddy was so aggravated at me. Once I stuck a button up my nose and had to go to the emergency room to get it taken out. Daddy was really put out with me that time because it made him miss meeting. The Dr. tied me up real tight and left me there while he ate lunch; then he removed the button. Once Daddy was playing ball with Stanley and me, and I ran into a tree and busted my head open and had to have stitches. My fault for not looking up.
One time the basement was flooded and I was playing in the water. My cousin Steve threw a rock and busted my big toe. All my life, I have been ashamed of how my toenail grew back and I thought everybody noticed it when I went swimming or was barefooted. I would always hide that toe and cover it up with my other foot. Now I have an artificial nail put on that toe so I can wear sandals.
Most of the time it was Daddy who disciplined Stanley and me. Both parents hit us, but Daddy hit harder than Mother; and if she couldn’t do enough damage, she would let Daddy finish when he got home from work. They used a switch or a doubled-up black belt or the smooth side of a clothes brush on our back and legs. I heard them discussing that it would hurt worse on our back. It probably wasn’t, but it seemed like I was whipped about every other day. I would cry and beg for them not to hit Stanley. It just tore me up to hear him cry. Stanley was the baby. He was so cute when he was little and said little funny things. How could they hit him?
I don’t remember Stanley getting hit like I did, but he says he was. He said Mother spanked him when he was 15. However, Stanley was a pretty good kid and he didn’t do a whole lot wrong. Mother said they had learned on me. Once when I was late getting home, Daddy jerked me out of the car and started whipping me out in front of the house where everyone could see. Sometimes Daddy would spank us when the workers were at our house, and I would be so embarrassed that I wouldn’t come out of my room. When Daddy was whipping me, it hurt but the hatred and bitterness on his face hurt me far worse. It was so bad that I would beg him to just kill me. He remembers me saying that, too.
Some summers, Stanley stayed with our cousin Becky and they would take swimming lessons.
They would get so brown and his little head was so cute. Daddy kept his hair cut real short in the summertime. I was so glad to see him come back home. Daddy would call Stanley his “little man.” Stanley got to have company, but I didn’t get to. I took piano lessons and got pretty good, but my playing got on Daddy’s nerves, because I would learn something and play it over and over and over, so I had to quit. Stanley played the guitar and all his children play the piano very well. Mostly by ear too. Stanley learned to play the guitar on his own. I remember him putting band-aids on his fingers when they were blistered. He would get together with his professing friends and they would play and sing. Stanley and I would sing and we thought that we were much better than we were. We made a tape and mailed it somewhere, probably to Nashville.
I remember occasionally getting to stay with my Grandmother’s sister, Aunt Nell. She didn’t profess and I thought she was so neat and I felt comfortable with her. I wished I could have lived with her. Aunt Nell was very aware of the rules set for us: No watching TV, no listening to the radio. But Aunt Nell didn’t go by her rules. She would take me out to a restaurant to eat. She would cut the crust off the bread when she fixed me a sandwich. (That was a sin at our house because it was wasteful.) She had the little cokes in a bottle–they always tasted better. I got to watch her TV. My cousin lived in the apartment across the hall from her, and I got to listen to his Elvis Presley records and watch his TV. Aunt Nell would let me put on her jewelry and lipstick. I knew this was wrong and that it was a sin, but I dearly loved doing it. We were not supposed to visit in the homes of unbelievers. This was such a treat for me to get to go stay with Aunt Nell. When you are told not to do something, you just want to do it that much worse.
Mother had no end of rules. No sleeveless blouses, no metal watchbands, no carnivals, no Disneyland, no high heels, no cosmetics, don’t be friends with outsiders, etc., etc. Where she learned all these rules I don’t know–she wasn’t even raised in meetings! And she passed them on to me. I used to get up in a tree and preach. I told all my friends that God wanted us to wear long hair and long dresses and not pants. God didn’t want us to have a TV (but it was OK if I went to their house and watched their TV and listened to their radio.) While we didn’t believe in Christmas, Stanley and I would get a couple of gifts. We never had a tree or anything like that. I remember getting a Thumbelina doll. On my birthday, Mother put a tiny black puppy under the arm of my Thumbelina doll. I named it Charcoal and I loved that puppy so much.
When I was a child I would sleep on the floor and let my dolls and stuffed animals have my bed so they could keep warm. They almost seemed real to me. When Mother put one of my tore up dolls on a stack of quilts in my closet, I got her out and covered her up because it worried me that she was cold.
I was good at art, and I helped make a Santa Claus with chicken wire and paper mache, etc. at school. I worked harder than anyone on it and was quite proud of it. Then a reporter with The Atlanta Journal came and chose Missy Smith and Tommy Warren to be in the picture beside the Santa Claus–and they hadn’t even worked on it! Missy and Tommy were rich and nice-looking. I was sure the reason that I didn’t get to be in the picture was because of the way I looked. DORKY!
I thought I had to be extra special to be noticed. One Sunday I decided to make a record player. I took a square piece of wood and hammered a nail in the middle of the wood. Then I broke a tomato stake and put a little nail in it. I nailed the boards together and cut out the funnies in a circle and put them on the big nail in the middle. Then I put the stake with the little nail on the funnies and I just sang and talked like that record player was really working.
I had a boyfriend in Kindergarten. I used to ride him piggyback because he was smaller than me. He kissed me one time. He didn’t see how homely I was. There was this big girl named Marlene Harper. She would ride me piggyback. Everybody said she had both private parts. I never saw this though. I so much wanted to be worldly like my friends in school.
In 2nd grade, I was in love with Benny Robinson, but he had a girlfriend named Pat Mobley. Pat broke her leg and Benny would push her around in a wheelchair. I tried to jump off the porch and break my leg also so Benny could push me around. I would do anything for attention. I craved to be loved.
An old bicycle in the creek washed down after a bad storm. It was rusted and a lot of the parts were missing. Daddy put on new chains, tires and a new seat. Then a bunch of thugs came and claimed it was theirs after we had fixed it all up. Daddy made me give it to them because that’s the way God wanted us to live. I cried so hard. Then for my birthday, Granddaddy bought me a new bike! I rode it until the tires were slick. That bike was my horse, my car, my truck, my motorcycle, any and everything I could imagine. That was one of my best memories.
I remember getting a new sailor dress that I picked out. It wasn’t homemade and I loved that dress so much. It even had a crinoline attached under the skirt. A crinoline made your skirt stand out. The little girls in my class would wear so many crinolines that their dresses would curl up and you could see all that beautiful lace when they sat down. The workers frowned on those worldly crinolines, so Mother wouldn’t let me wear one because it was a sin. I BEGGED Mother not to cut the crinoline out of my new dress. I remember going to my closet during the night checking to see if the dress still had the crinoline. Mother said she would cut it out if I showed it. I proudly wore it to school the next day and let just a little of the single crinoline show. I wanted so much to look like the other popular and rich girls. I was always wanting to be like someone else and was never happy just being me.
We went to visit my Uncle Oliver who had a chicken farm, and while we were there, my brother threw a chicken with a broken neck at me. This chicken was still alive and its head was flopping around and it scared me so that I jumped a barb wire fence and tore my Sunday outfit. I had bad dreams of that chicken for weeks. Everybody thought it was funny, except Mother and Daddy, because I shouldn’t be jumping fences and they had spent precious money on that outfit. It seemed that I never could be good enough for Daddy; he always found something wrong with what I did. Uncle Oliver had pigs too, and his boys and Stanley and I rode the pigs. We would twist their tails and they would go under this piece of tin that was in their pen. We got in trouble for doing that because it made the pork tough and they were too good for the market.
We played all kinds of things when I was a kid. We hooked a washtub up to Daddy’s “come along” and would ride down a rope on it. This was Christopher Columbus’ ship, and we would discover America over and over. The ship was fun riding down the hill but when you had to pull it back up, we all got lazy. I was never pretty enough to be the queen so one of the little unprofessing friends always got to be the queen.
Sometimes Daddy would call me Aunt Deck. (This was Daddy’s sister – Aunt Viola) Aunt Deck was mental, crippled and lazy. Daddy would also tell me I was going to be an old maid. I still have nightmares about being an old maid, and how am I going to pay the rent? My brother would make fun of me, which is typical of a sibling, I know, but where it wouldn’t hurt most people–it killed me.
When I turned 12, the brother worker who repeatedly molested me thought it was time for me to profess; told my parents he thought it might calm me down some. So, shaking, I stood to my feet in his gospel meeting. I was just doing what I was told. It was August 8, 1965. I was baptized on September 18, 1965, in a stupid raincoat. All I felt was cold and wet. I did not know what it meant, and I was scared of the unknown. I didn’t want fish around my feet. I was afraid I would get tickled. I knew I had to do it. I was very self-conscious and hated all the people watching me. I didn’t feel I was good enough to be baptized. I was always in trouble. I thought the molestation was my fault and I was embarrassed. I felt dirty. As we were going home afterward, I talked to Mother and Daddy about being baptized. I only did it to please the worker, Mother and Daddy. I just wanted them to be proud of me. However, there was no response from the front seat—no praise, no explanations. They just acted like it was expected.
I felt like it was my responsibility to let everybody know about “the Truth” because I was one of the Chosen Few that knew about it. But I was constantly “falling short” myself. I remember wanting someone to talk to so bad. It seemed nobody understood. The verse “Him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not to him it is sin.” was often quoted to me.
I never got anything much out of the meetings. I wanted somebody to love me so bad. I tried so hard to be hot stuff. I would try to be beautiful and look older by stuffing my bra with toilet paper. One time after meeting was over, Daddy was ready to leave so he sent Mother back inside to get “her” flirty daughter, because I was talking to a boy. I was not flirting–I was just looking at his new car. He was as ugly as homemade soap. (I was doing better than him!) It embarrassed me no end.
This worker thought he could sing like an angel. Anytime two girls would sit down at the piano, he would sit in the middle of them and put his arms on the back of the stool on the outside of their hips. His guzzle (Adams Apple) would go up and down and he would throw that head back and sing. They would sing and flirt, and I would burn inside with jealousy. I remember one of the sister workers was sitting on the piano bench with him and when she got up she had sweated and made a butt mark on our piano stool. It showed the crack and everything. It was a big ole mark too. He must have got her hot.
The worker wanted me to come to convention preparations on Labor Day so I lied to Daddy and said I was out of school; that only the band had to go to school that day and that was why the bus came by. My friend told on me and I was beaten so bad when I got home. I remember hearing Mother tell Daddy to slow down. He had a clothes brush and a belt buckle hitting me. When I got home late, Daddy grabbed me out of the car and slung me and hit me. It was always my fault. (I tried to get home on time but I hit the railroad track and went airborne and popped the air out of all my tires. Stanley came and got me on the bicycle and Daddy blew the tires back up.)
Ever since I can remember, we had to set up the meeting room on Saturday night for the Sunday morning meeting. We had Special Meetings, Wednesday night and Sunday night meetings in our home. Stanley and I were the only kids at our meeting. There were three Sunday meetings in Atlanta. One at Charlie Wilson’s, until they died. One at our house, and one at the Mask’s (best I remember) Later on they added one at Vernon Taylor’s. There were about a dozen professing kids in Atlanta of various ages, but only two other girls besides me who were not close to my age.
When we had a lot of workers at our house, I had to give up my bedroom and let the workers use it. One night, I knew two brother workers were going to sleep in my bed. I wasn’t old enough to use deodorant but my mother used one called MUM. I thought it smelled so good. I put MUM deodorant on my pillowcases so they would think I smelled good and love me. I even wore MUM for perfume. (Perfume was sinful.) I guess that was why I liked it so much. That preacher needed some MUM!!!!! Maybe he thought deodorant was a sin; some men did back then.
I felt I was different than anybody else because I wasn’t strong enough to stand up for GOD and be happy to wear dorky clothes and disgusting hair-dos. I tried, but I thought, “I just can’t do this. I may as well go to hell all the way.” Everybody was always telling me what to do. I couldn’t make up my own mind and decide what I wanted because everybody else was running my life. I just couldn’t seem to measure up.
Granddaddy, who I trusted with all my heart, always told me “the truth” was God’s only way and I never questioned him. I never questioned Mother and Daddy when they said it had been going on since Christ. The only thing I knew was I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know what was right. I have heard so much all my life that I wasn’t sure. It’s what my family believes and they could do it, I could not. I think everybody should know that it didn’t start with Jesus and that a man started it in Ireland in 1897, so there would be a chance that others wouldn’t have to suffer in schools and could know that GOD loves us without looking like dorks.
I thought this brother worker loved me, that I was special to him. Then one time, I noticed him flirting with some sister workers at our house. I felt extremely jealous. When I found out I was not the only girl he was giving his attention to, I was devastated. It shattered me. After that, I felt like nobody in the world loved me. No one. Here I had been taking all the blame for his actions, and I wasn’t even special to Him. I felt like a piece of used junk, and I thought everybody else thought of me like that also. I would go to my room and cry and cry. I knew what I was doing was very, very ugly, and I thought this was why I had no friends. It seemed like everybody was so much more than I was. So much better. I was very ashamed of myself. I may have had a nervous breakdown at that time—I don’t really know.
When I was 13, I started crying all the time and couldn’t stop and I was uncontrollable. My Mother (bless her heart!) took me to see psychiatrist after psychiatrist and chiropractors for years to try and help me be normal. I couldn’t tell anybody I was going, since the friends and workers viewed it as a sin to see a psychiatrist because some of them had weird beliefs and could guide you wrong. Unfortunately, I never told the psychiatrist what the worker was doing to me. I never told any of them until I got sick with cancer, and the therapist really started to delve into my past. Then I finally broke down and told how I had been molested for years as a child.
I have continued to visit various therapists ever since Mother started taking me when I was 13, because I always felt I wasn’t normal. I so wanted to be happy but I never was, except maybe when I was with my friends, Lane, Tommy and Mike. I went once a month most of the time. Sometimes I would get better and they would see me every three months to refill my medications. Of course, I was medicated through the years with antidepressants and tranquilizers. I am now on Wellbutrin, Cymbalta, and Zanax. I started out with Prozac, I think. I can’t remember because I have been on all of them.
Even though I had no doubt that this brother worker was doing it to others, I continued to do whatever he wanted and I never mentioned it to anyone. However, I knew that he was also doing it to another professing girl under 18. I was looking for love. I became promiscuous. Some professing boys found this out and pretended to like me.
Vanity was a sin. I was told this over and over. Mother wanted me to look plain and fixed my hair in pigtails and I felt so ugly. I decided to make money by letting people take down my hair and brush it. I charged a nickel. We lived across the street from our elementary school. Sometimes, Mother would come and catch me and re-braid my hair. She was always watching and she scared me by saying that when she wasn’t looking, God was.
I felt I was ugly and I longed to be pretty, but vanity was a sin. I spent countless hours on my hair. One time, Daddy’s sister gave me some hair curlers. Mother caught me putting them in my hair and they got tossed out. (Curlers were sinful). When I was in high school, an old sister worker from Ireland named Georgia Morgan told my parents that my hair was too fancy and too high. My hair is naturally curly and it stuck up when it rained. Mother made me pull my hair back real tight to please the old biddy and twist it in a wad on the back of my head. I remember going to school crying because I was so ugly.
Like many other professing girls and women, I HATED my long hair with a passion. When I was in high school, I would let my hair down, put on mascara and roll up the waistband of my skirt to make it shorter while I was riding the bus to school. Then on the way home, I would change it all back. I remember running in track with my hair up and hairpins–would be shooting out everywhere from my bun. My P.E. suit was the only shorts I ever owned. If I wore pants, like when it snowed, they had to be worn UNDER my skirt.
I wanted to dress like the other girls did in my school, but no, I had to wear old long skirts. I was different and I was told over and over that being vain was a sin, so of course, my parents never told me I was pretty. Also, my cousin, Becky, was very pretty and I always wanted to look like her because she was so popular and cute. I always felt different because kids would make fun of us having meeting in our home and singing.
When I was in high school I was in the Beta Club, Honor Roll, etc, but I could never be in the band; never could go to a football game; couldn’t be a cheerleader and I wanted to so bad. I thought this was how people would like you. Of course, my parents would not let me date any outsiders. I couldn’t do anything while I lived at home. I wanted to leave so bad. I often thought about running away. I tried to please everybody and always have and still do and never ever succeed.
I was so embarrassed when I had to ask off from school for convention. I was so lonely when I was there. I never really had a professing friend my own age. Nobody even stopped to talk to me. All the kids were older than me. I didn’t have any friends at convention. I wanted to bunk with one girl I knew, but she moved my stuff. All the girls had friends they slept with and I slept with Mother. I just played with the babies and walked up and down the road. I would go in after hot chocolate and cry because nobody would talk to me. The last convention I was in, I heard mothers and daughters talking about me. Nobody wanted to be my friend.
All year long I would dream of getting a boyfriend at convention that year, but it never happened. Year after year I would go home disappointed. While there, sometimes I would meet a brother worker in the tool shed and make out, but I couldn’t tell anybody because they weren’t supposed to be doing that. I often got in trouble at convention. I remember singing with some of the girls in the barn where we slept and a sister worker came and said it was pretty, but that we needed to be quiet.
One of my cousins was in the Army and stationed in Atlanta. He bought an old Buick convertible that had a radio in it. I listened to that radio until the battery went dead! Daddy found out when it started to rain and the ragtop wouldn’t go up. I just loved music and still do. We weren’t supposed to listen to any music except the hymns; and, of course, dancing was taboo.
We didn’t go on very many vacations and when we did they were usually to Florida or to visit a worker. I guess we couldn’t afford them much. One time, we went to Florida to visit Ruby Smith and my cousin, Carol Castleberry (sister workers). Ruby went into the ocean at Daytona Beach wearing a raincoat and a girdle that held up her stockings. That raincoat moved above her head and that big old moose laid in the sand on her stomach letting the waves come up on her, and you could see everything. I couldn’t believe it! All my life I had heard how we should always be modest, and then look at what this sister worker was doing in front of my whole family! It was a sin to wear a bathing suit, but surely it would have been better for her to just wear a bathing suit!
When I was 16, I started working part-time for Southern Bell Telephone Company. Later, I went to work for them full time. When I was 19 we had a keying contest on a proof machine. I have very flexible finger dexterity and processed a 100 characters per minute without a mistake. I won. That felt so good. Everyone clapped for me. During the lunch hour when everybody was out of the office, I learned to key with my nose too.
Southern Bell paid for my college education and in 1976, I obtained a degree in Psychology from Kennesaw State College located in Kennesaw, Georgia. I also have diplomas for Interior Design, Fitness and Nutrition, Real Estate, Accounting and numerous other courses through Southern Bell in connection with my work.
I moved away from home when I was 18. I could not stand living at home anymore. I hated it. They were probably glad to be rid of me. Of course, I went hog wild. For the first time in my life, I could do what I wanted to do and make my own decisions. Problem was I really didn’t know how. I became promiscuous. I continued to go to meetings for a little while after I moved out, just to keep my parents off my back. I stopped when Mother told me not to come to meeting if I was sinning, and I certainly was.
I moved into an apartment with another professing girl named Pat. She eventually went in the work. After not too many years, she left the work and we’ve lost touch. While I was in college, I had a boyfriend named Wayne who had been to Vietnam and was divorced and had a little boy. He used and abused me for several years and stole from me, and after causing me to go bankrupt, I finally got rid of him. Before Pat left the work, she bought a house. When Wayne was beating me and stealing from me and threatening to kill me, she let me live in her house until I got back on my feet. Pat was good to me.
I reasoned that if I was going to hell anyway, I might as well go all the way and enjoy the trip there. I have never felt like a real person, and certainly not like a normal person, but rather a second-class citizen. I became afraid of everything and everybody except my boyfriends. I had nightmares. I hated myself and wished that I had never been born or that I would die. I never really tried to kill myself–I just wanted to. I did try to drown myself one time, but I couldn’t. I felt so worthless and guilty. I can’t really explain myself. But I felt like I didn’t have a friend in the world and I don’t guess I did. I never felt my father really loved me–not like most fathers love their children. I felt like people were staring at me all the time. I always felt that everybody was better than me. I fell in love all the time. I was in love with everybody, but nobody loved me.
After I moved to the apartment, I rarely dated. I was attracted to bad guys after I left the truth. Mean guys. I felt ugly and I tried so hard to be beautiful. My best friend (until she married my husband) cut my hair real short and Daddy got real mad and told me to tell her to leave my hair alone. I had been having my hair cut ever since I left home, but never so short that I couldn’t put it up. So I let it grow out long enough that I could still put it up.
My mother died on March 23, 1980. She was just 62 years old, and I was 28. Mother had arthritis and was treated with gold shots, which may have caused her breast cancer. Her breast cancer went to her liver and then stomach. She had two surgeries and cobalt treatments. I helped take care of Mother when she was dying because Stanley was married and living in South Georgia and it was a hard thing for him to face.
When Mother was in the hospital and was hurting so bad, I felt her pain acutely. I think Mother loved me for that. I cut my finger because I was cutting a piece of cake with the knife upside down. (Duh!) She said, “I am so sorry,” when I showed it to her. Those words were like an “I love you,” to a daughter who had never heard her mother say that to her. I was a terrible person when I was growing up. I would do anything for attention. I caused my parents a lot of grief and stress. I wish I could tell my mother how sorry I am. I know she worried so much.
Not long ago, I asked Daddy if Aunt Mae was still the executrix of his will, and he said that Stanley was the executor and had been for a long time. I didn’t say anything at the time, but that hurt me so bad. If Stanley is unable to be Executor, then Stanley’s oldest son Jason is next in line. I’m not a co-executor or even the successor executor. I didn’t even place. I feel utterly rejected. I was a Comptroller (accounting) for the telephone company for 20 years, but Daddy turned everything over to Stanley and Jason to handle. Bottom line is Daddy doesn’t trust me. I can’t begin to describe how this one action of his has hurt me.
After Mother died, Daddy dated Helen Lee for 20 years. She was a divorcee. They finally married in 1993, after Helen’s ex-husband died. If they had married before his death, they would be “living in adultery,” or sin, according to their preachers. So they waited 20 years for him to die.
I met my first husband, John Brown, (try checking in to a motel with that name!) at the telephone company where I worked. We were married in August 1979. I was so afraid that I would faint at my shower. I got so nervous when I was in the limelight. My mother-in-law had to have the very best and it was at the Swan House. I hate being in the spotlight. Our wedding was held in the home of my girlfriend, Lane. We paid for our wedding, and Lane’s parents helped as a wedding gift. All my friends were there, John’s family and friends and my Mother and Daddy. And no workers. I put my hair up for my wedding because Mother was in the hospital and got a shot just to come to the wedding. I knew she wasn’t going to live long and I didn’t want to disappoint her any more than I already had.
John and I had a good life. I remember the thrill of having my first Christmas tree and John giving me my first piece of jewelry (a necklace) at Christmas (except for my wedding ring.) He gave me a diamond engagement ring too, but I really didn’t want one, because I knew that Mother and Daddy would be so ashamed of me. Mother died soon after I married John.
John and I had been married for 14 years when we divorced in August of 1993. Daddy went to court with me. I do not recall my Daddy ever telling me he loved me, except when I got my divorce. And then Daddy did say that he loved me. I stayed with Daddy after he had back surgery.
At the time John and I divorced, we were both working for our drapery company, Marietta Drapery, Classic Windows. In the divorce, I lost everything, except the house and mortgage. John got the business, even though I had put $50,000 into it, which was my buyout when I retired from Southern Bell. I had worked for Southern Bell for 20 years and was promoted rather fast. Eventually, I became an Assistant Comptroller making over $50,000 a year and had 54 employees working under me; and then I retired. During the divesture, they offered management a buyout to retire if you had 20 years service, and I took the offer. After I retired, I sold real estate for three years and ran our drapery business for 18 years.
While I was married to John, I cheated on him but he didn’t know it. I should have loved John with all my heart. He was so good to me; he loved me in spite of how terrible I was. We made good money, had the good life and we had a lot of fun going on cruises, etc. For my birthday, he would surprise me and have a trip planned. We had a nice home, a swimming pool and Stanley’s kids and their friends would come over and stay with me and swim; but after the divorce, all that stopped.
We wanted children so bad, but I didn’t have any because my parents scared me with a lie they believed. They said both the children and I would go to hell if we had children and raised them outside “the Truth.” Now, I feel sad and lonely at Thanksgiving and Christmas because I don’t have any children. I didn’t give John enough attention and he fell in love and married my best friend. Before we were even officially divorced, she became pregnant and had twins right away.
Rick Dickerson was one of my dear friends. We met while I was working at the Telephone Company. I was very close to his parents also. Rick was very good to me. He was one of the funniest people I ever knew and kept me laughing all the time. Then he quit his job and went all over the states on a motorcycle. He was killed going to the Daytona 500 when the strap from his duffle bag got hung in the wheel and he hit the median and was killed instantly. Rick and I probably would have married if he hadn’t died. His memorial was held at a Catholic Church. That was the 4th time I ever set foot in a “false church.” We had to stand up and sit down stand up and sit down again. When we kneeled to pray, I got on the little stool backwards and my ex-husband had to straighten me out.
I met my current husband, Johnny Austin, through my ex-father-in-law. He was a 55-year-old bachelor and is 16 years older than me. Johnny worked for Cobb County as their Fleet Manager.
About a year after my divorce, on December 17, 1993, Johnny took me to Ringold, Georgia, and we were married there and went to Bush Gardens on our honeymoon. His mother called and we had to come home after a day. She ruled the roost!
Johnny’s brothers and sisters had been praying for someone to take care of their mother who had dementia. I was left with a big house and no way to pay the mortgage. I had to sell my house and had nowhere to go. So I went to work taking care of Johnny’s mother. This went on for 10 years. She died two years ago when she was 98 years old. I sold my car and fixed up their house and built a suite on the end of it. Johnny and his mother had lived there for 39 years and both were very set in their ways. It was hard for me to adjust to this new living arrangement. I became their maid. I lost all my friends because I had to take care of her 24/7, and could not go anywhere. I still get Christmas cards from my old friends, but that’s all I hear from them. I got a job part-time at the Church and even had to take her with me.
Johnny and Daddy helped pay my mortgage until my house sold. I loved that house–it was perfect, and selling it broke my heart. When it sold, Johnny’s family came in and just walked off with almost everything I had. I felt raped. Later, I had a yard sale and they got the rest of the nice stuff. I wanted it back but Johnny wouldn’t ask them to give stuff back, and he still won’t. His family has always been more important to him than I am.
Johnny is retired now. He got throat cancer 10 years ago. Johnny worked for Cobb County as Fleet Manager and had been there 15 years when he got throat cancer. Before that, he worked for what used to be the Fulton National Bank as an Officer with the National Guard–I’m not sure how long he was there, but it was quite a while.
I went to work at the City of Powder Springs as the Tax Commissioner so we could make ends meet. I would come home at lunch and feed Johnny through a tube. I took care of his mother and him for two years without his family ever helping me out. I feel like everyone hates me. I often feel down. I had a real bad wreck and I wondered if God was taking me away from Johnny because he hated me so.
I had helped care for my Mother and Granddaddy Reese who both died from cancer. I cared for my husband Johnny, who had cancer. My constant prayer for years was that I would never have cancer. So naturally, I was devastated to learn in March of 2003 that I had s 3 breast cancer.
The cancer had spread into my lymph nodes and one had spilled over. I had a radical mastectomy and reconstruction. Chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments made me fat, bald, very sick and depressed. I had a chemical imbalance, blood transfusions, etc. Going through chemo, I wore a wig, had no eyelashes, no eyebrows, and my face was so swollen that I could look down and see inside my eye sockets. I had to go alone to get my chemo and radiation treatments. I was embarrassed because everybody else had someone with them. I was so down. I would just sit there and crochet. I wondered if God punishing me for all my sins.
Even though I was sick and taking chemo, I still had to care for Johnny’s mother. Sometimes I was so weak that I had to crawl to the door to let the dogs out. I rarely ever had a good day. I was on steroids and chemotherapy. I was so swollen I even had water around my heart.
I will be on Chemo for the rest of my life. Not the aggressive type, but Chemo all the same. I have taken Chemo ever since I was first diagnosed with cancer, and this is why I am unable to work. I have no hormones. Now due to so many hospital bills and being on Social Security, everything is so limited. It’s so hard when I have been self-sufficient all my life.
Now, I spend my days going to the gym, when I have strength, and that’s getting better. I make draperies, upholster, decorate, embroidery (I have a machine). I do stain glass, I paint pictures. I study my Bible every day. I have audio, video, and workbooks on most of the books of the Bible. I do taxes for people, I keep books for people. I did all the finances for the Church until I left. I even mechanized their accounting system. I processed the tithes and offerings. Were we supposed to tithe in the Truth? I never heard of it until I went to a “false” church. I never gave a worker a dime. I felt too embarrassed to give them money. I used to tutor and keep children but I had to stop because of my resistance to the diseases that children carry. That broke my heart. I feel guilty charging anybody for anything I do for them.
My family is so disappointed in me because I don’t go to meeting anymore. Worse yet, I go to another church, which is a “false church” according to them. I told my Stepmother Helen how much I appreciated my Church Family, and she said they would send me to hell. Daddy told our preacher that he was only in it for the money, and that they didn’t pay their preachers. That’s bull. I’ve seen Daddy giving them money lots of times. They just don’t pay taxes. Daddy had heart surgery at the same time I had cancer surgery so most of my family was with him, what little I have. I was thankful for my Church Family being there for me.
Several times when my husband or I have been in the hospital, our preacher has come to pray for us. Daddy and Helen did not even bow their heads. I was so embarrassed. I hate “the Truth” church and what it stands for. Helen leads the singing in meeting. My mother also led the singing in meeting, and I used to worry that she would start leading the national anthem in PTA at school. She embarrassed me.
The first time I went to a real church was to be in the wedding of my (now ex) sister-in-law. It was the Methodist First Church in Marietta, Georgia and it was the church they had been raised in. It was the biggest wedding I had ever seen. I was Matron of Honor and I was so nervous I almost fainted. I get extremely nervous and uneasy in groups of people. I hate going out in public. Dinners held by the Telephone Co. that I was expected to attend were nightmares. I was so afraid my hands would jerk.
For a long time now, I have been attending Calvary Baptist in Austell, Georgia. I have always done anything I could to help at church, even when I was very sick. I worked in Children’s Church, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School (VBS). I taught children and young adults. I was Treasurer for a long time until I wasn’t able physically due to the chemo treatments and had to give it up.
Our preacher was the first preacher I have ever trusted. He was humble and never took a pay raise in 26 years. He was older when he came to Christ and he never judged or criticized anyone. I loved his preaching and he knew the Bible better than anyone I had ever known. I learned about Grace when I started going to Calvary Baptist when we studied it in Sunday School. At first, I just couldn’t relate to this much love. My pastor explained to me about once Saved always Saved and about Grace. It was hard to believe and take in. Now I understand that God can love someone like me and make a way for me to go to Heaven. In the church I was raised in, if you wore a short skirt, drank a beer or smoked a cigarette you were doomed. That is why I just gave up.
My former pastor and his wife came to visitation at the funeral home recently just for me. He was with me when I had surgery. He prayed and held my hand. He came over when I learned about my bad report. We were very close and I went to him a lot about problems I had at home. They were both so good to me. Now they are retired and just doing part-time stuff. They left the church two years ago. We now have a real young preacher that wants to make lots of changes, and I am looking for another church home. I have been praying to be guided to a new church, but I haven’t been led to one yet.
During my last bout with cancer, my oncologist sent me to a therapist at the cancer center because I had become so depressed. I sometimes wondered if maybe I deserved my cancer because God was mad at me because I wasn’t going to meeting. The therapist happened to be a minister’s wife and had a degree in theology. She started questioning me about my childhood, my life at home, my religion and other things. She seemed to understand my whole life just like she had been there.
She started asking about my first kiss and stuff like that. I busted open and told her about all these men in my past who had loved me. She asked me lots of questions. Don’t you think that if they loved you they would have wanted to take you to meet their mother? If they thought you were pretty they would want you on their arm, no matter what? If they were proud of you, wouldn’t they tell others about you? If they knew you would be quiet, they would just use you and get their thrills from you. She said that not one of these so-called workers had loved me at all. I was just their toy. I told her that some still write me and want to see me. She asked me: Do they want everybody to know that they are going to see you? Do they want your husband or family to know? Have they ever taken you to a nice restaurant? Have they ever told anybody how smart you were or how pretty you were and that they wanted you to be theirs and they were willing to leave what they were doing and become your husband?
All I could do was scream and cry. I told her almost everything. She was very kind. This was the breaking point. She sent me to another therapist to try to work this out because at this time I felt like a fool. I felt useless. I felt so alone. I felt like I was the only one in the world. I didn’t have one soul to talk to–no one except this lady. I really didn’t have a single friend. I had been used as a whore to the preachers in “the truth” practically my whole life. No one cared if I had cancer. Not one cared if I wasn’t loved. No one cared if they had broken my heart.
Through the therapy, I became aware that the sexual abuse I experienced as a child had caused me to be like I am and that it wasn’t my fault. I found out after all these years that I was a good person after all. I took care of children, old people and cared for animals and I had done many other good things as well. She told me she thought my Daddy loved me but he didn’t know how to show love.
My therapist told me that I needed to let go of some of the burdens of my past. She recommended that I (1) write a letter to my Abuser, Ira Hobbs, (2) talk to my Dad, and (3) talk to one of the workers. She said doing these things would bring me “closure.”
- I wrote a letter to the brother worker who molested me, Ira Hobbs, but was unable to mail it to him because nobody would give me his address or E-mail. I googled his name and found it mentioned on the Truth-Meetings Message Board. Not knowing anything about this board, I posted my letter to Ira there on September 17, 2006. I honestly didn’t know what I was writing to or on. My letter caused a huge stir on that board. The thread went on for several pages and eventually the Board Administrator quarantined it, so now the general public cannot see/read it. Even so, my letter somehow made its way to Ira.
(2) I wrote Daddy and told him that I was sorry I had been such a disappointment to him and I also told him about Ira. He told me I was a liar and had always been, but said that he would forgive me because I was so sick. I told him I was the way I was because I wanted him to like me because I felt like he hated me. And I sure wasn’t lying about Ira.
Later I read Ira’s confession to Daddy and he thought it was a nice letter. I told him what Ira had done to me, and that he should have stopped Ira when I was a little girl. Daddy said he didn’t know anything about Ira molesting me. But that’s not true for he called me all sorts of names when he caught us. Daddy has an extremely good memory. He remembers other things for over 40 years, but he has forgotten this atrocity committed by Ira on his daughter?? He remembers every lie I ever told. I told him if I had lied, it was probably because I was trying to be something I wasn’t–because he certainly didn’t love who I was and never had. I don’t remember lying except for when I was threatened, but I guess I did. He remembers things forever. Maybe he suppressed the memory. I don’t know. I just don’t get it.
Daddy was very hurt with me for talking like this and said he didn’t call me names. The next day I called and told him I was sorry I had hurt him, and he said that they knew I was very sick, and that this is why I say what I do. It’s so hard to get this matter reconciled when Daddy refuses to remember that it even happened. And then he blames me because he believes that the workers are never at fault. In their world, if a worker says jump, you jump, and you can never be wrong for doing what the worker told you do to.
I also talked to my brother, Stanley. He listened to what I had to say and then he wrote to one of the head workers on my behalf, but he didn’t want me to tell anyone. He said Jesus didn’t tell that Judas would betray Him (which is wrong because Jesus did let Peter and John know that Judas was the one who would betray him.) Stanley never would tell me how the worker responded.
I wanted my brother, Daddy and Helen to know and understand what happens when a child is molested, but they wanted the least amount of information possible. My Stepmother called me back about a month after I talked to my Daddy and asked, “Were you SEXUALLY molested?” I told her yes, I was. She said that was a long time ago and that my Dad can’t do anything about it now. That I was a grown woman, and if I wanted to stir up something, I was on my own.
My family has harshly judged me no end. They have told me that I just need to forgive and forget all that happened to me. And that I will go to hell if I die with an unforgiving spirit. Daddy is in his 80s and won’t be around too much longer. I feel bad that as things stand right now, he will go to his grave believing that everything was my fault; thinking that I am disgusting. Maybe someday, he’ll know the real truth…
(3) Talking to a worker was my last assignment. I poured out my heart to my cousin, Carol Castleberry (a worker). She is about 20 years older than me. Her mother was Aunt Mae and her little sister was Becky. Carol lived with us for a while when she worked in Atlanta. She was crazy about my Daddy, and he took a lot of time with her when she was young and in the big City of Atlanta. I felt bad because my Daddy rarely took 5 minutes with me. Actually, I felt that he never cared about me and was just disgusted with my actions.
So when Carol was in Atlanta on a visit from Italy where she now preaches, she came to visit me to find out what was the matter and why I didn’t want anything to do with the truth. I told Carol about Ira Hobbs molesting me. At first, she didn’t believe me. Then she said to me: (I was very sick) “Jean, don’t die with an unforgiving spirit. Don’t pray with an unforgiving spirit because God will not hear you. Just forgive them and go on and forget it.”*
We ate lunch and she left. I thought she would go to one of the head workers or talk to my Dad or at least do something. She wrote me back that she was glad we had our talk because now she knew how to pray for me. Now, I have absolutely no desire to talk to another worker.
A man who read my letter on the Truth-Meeting Message Board let workers in my area know about my letter. A Georgia worker said he would send some women workers to my home and I could rant and rave all I wanted to–like that was really going to help me! I declined.
A year went by after my letter was posted to the Messageboard, and nothing happened that I could tell, besides a lot of talk on the Message Board. Then on the anniversary date of the first time I posted my letter, a new thread was started on my behalf. My letter was reposted, along with Ira’s apology, with the following introduction:
“A Year ago today, September 17, 2006, Jean T. A. posted a letter on the Truth-Meeting Board regarding sexual molestation she endured at the hands of a worker when she was 8-9 years old in Georgia. This letter rocked the board participants, as well as many others. The heading of the thread was “Sexual Abuse Cover-ups.” Sad to say, to date, nothing has been done about this matter, except for the worker sending Jean an incomplete, self-centered apology. There were numerous posts to this thread right up until the T-M Board was removed from cyberspace. Many were sympathetic to Jean, while others reacted vehemently against her and attacked her unmercifully and unfairly.”
Two months after my letter was posted the first time. I received a letter of apology from Ira, and as far as I was concerned, it only made things worse. I don’t consider it much of an apology. His letter was all about him, was full of bull and contained lies. The letter was dated October 18, 2006, but I didn’t receive it until nearly two months later on December 9, 2006. However, he did admit that he was guilty, which showed that I have been telling the truth all along. Both my letter and his are reprinted at the end of this story.
He disdained me lightly as a mere “distraction” and referred to me as a “human interest;” while he minimized his gross behavior with the phrase “not ideal actions of a servant of God.” I THINK NOT! And the atrocity of the molestation itself was merely a “carelessness and casualness that developed.”
He wrote: “In the process of time, I recognized that in my association with you, there was too much human interest that diminished from my purpose of promoting spiritual growth. There were times that my behavior with you was not the ideal actions of a servant of God because of carelessness and casualness that developed.”
He also wrote: “It was then that I talked with your mother, confessing that there had been distraction, and that I was purposed to alter that completely, so that I could have the joy of totally seeking the welfare of the soul and not be overtaken with human interests. It was then that I felt release in my conscience as I purposed that all would be done in the proper manner.” Ira “confessed” that he told my mother and said he never did it again. That’s a lie. After he promised my mother that he was changed and found all this “joy,” he still continued to molest me. He certainly did not “completely alter” his behavior as he purposed. Far from it. In some or maybe all the states he was shuffled off to preach in, he continued to abuse young girls and ruin their lives. I was not the first or the last young girl he ever molested. There is no telling how many lives he has shattered over the course of his life.
Even after he promised my Mother he would not repeat the molestation, he did on times he came back to Georgia for visits. Once he took me with him to a friend’s house who had a new baby; and he molested me in the car all the way there and back, for at least an hour. He would say “C.O.D.” which meant “Come Over Darling.” He was really a piece of work. After I left home, he had the nerve to call my apartment and ask me why I wasn’t going to meetings! I refused to let him come over.
He wrote that: “I considered you and Stan like my sister and brother, and your dear parents were like my father and mother…” There is no way he felt like we were his brother and sister! He was thirty-something years old and my brother was 6 and I was 9. He could easily have been our father. And a normal healthy person or father doesn’t treat his “sister” like Ira treated me!
MY LIFE NOW:
I pray constantly that I could be a good person. I feel like I have wasted my life. I have no self-esteem. I hate myself and I don’t know who I really am. I work so hard for someone to be proud of me and often people just use me. I would like to just feel normal. I take abuse because I feel that I deserve it. For a while, I even felt that I deserved my cancer because God was mad at me because I wasn’t going to meetings. I don’t want to be around anybody. I can’t love anybody completely or truly let anybody into my heart because I know how much it hurts when they leave or trick me. I wish I didn’t worry constantly about whether I’ve hurt someone or whether I’m being used. I do not trust anyone.
I don’t have any friends anymore. I feel so lonely. I would like to have a friend, but I find it extremely difficult to trust. I would like happiness and want to be loved. I have been blamed for so much that now I think everything is my fault. I feel so responsible for the grief that I have caused my family that I can’t get on with life. I pray and pray. I cry every day. I get very depressed and it is hard to recover sometimes. I believe a lot of these miserable feelings I live with every day are the result of being molested by Ira Hobbs.
Nobody who has been sexually molested as a child will ever get well. They may get help but they won’t ever be completely healed. The things that you have done or do to get attention stay with you forever; memories of the people that you hurt stays with you forever. Your shame is always with you. You do things that you never would have done if the abuse never happened.
It changes who you are. It confuses you and you do things without knowing why you do them or knowing what the damage could be to other people. Smells, thoughts, songs, even touch may trigger a bad memory and all at once consume you and leave you paralyzed both mentally and physically. Sometimes to the point where you can’t leave the house for days. I don’t care what anybody says—-a sexually abused child is never completely healed. The regrets almost consume me at times. There is always a part of you who hates who you are and wished you had lived differently. The guilt plagues you and you try to compensate for it by overdoing for others, just to make them like you. It’s so hard to trust anyone.
I am financially broke from trying to get well—what Ira did to me has damaged me for life. And unfortunately, this is still happening to a lot of little kids in the truth where the workers are put on a pedestal and trusted without question. The reason I put my story on WINGS was because I really care about the children being hurt in the truth. People need to be aware of all that is going on. I hope my story will make a difference.https://wingsfortruth.info/
I have been paying for psychiatrist appointments for counseling and to prescribe my medications for most of my life. If I had not had this type of care I would have committed suicide a long time ago. I hated myself. I wanted to be outta here! The cost paid out for my therapy over my lifetime is in the neighborhood of $465,000.00**. I started going to the psychiatrist and therapist when I was 13. I am now 56. So I have basically gone for 43 years. AND this doesn’t include the cost of my medications.
Now my therapist is strongly encouraging me to enroll in a program called Partial Hospital Program (H. O. P. E.) Helping Our Patients Emotionally, which would cost between $17,000 and $20,000.** After that, there would be continued counseling at $100.00 per day for 1 time a week for an indefinite length of time. I don’t have the money, and my health insurance will not pay for it. I really don’t know what will become of me.
On top of that, because of the Chemo, I am losing all my teeth. The bones are crumbling. I spent $20,000.00 on my teeth and had them all crowned and now they are breaking off below the crowns. I am so embarrassed. There is nothing more my Dentist can do. I am just sick. The cost is astronomical! I feel like there is never a break. I just wish I knew what I was doing wrong. I would certainly straighten up. I can’t face much more.
Meanwhile, Ira Hobbs has been shuffled to various states in his career as a preacher. His highest place was as the head worker of Texas. Workers Lists show he has been in the states of Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota, Louisiana, Tennessee and maybe some others. In 2008, he is preaching in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area in Texas, using an address in Arlington. After the Overseer of Texas, William Lewis, died around 2000, he became the Overseer of Texas and New Mexico. However, in 2007, a year after my letter went public, a new Overseer was installed in Texas, Ray Hoffman, and the Texas Workers List for 2007-08 shows Ira to be his under-companion. So Ira has been demoted to being Just-a-Worker—he is no longer the head worker of a state. My question is: Why is Ira Hobbs allowed to be a worker in any field?
Are we a congregation of the dead? Prov. 21.16.
You may be wondering why I have made my tragic story public? My whole life has been affected by what this Perpetrator did to me. I have absolutely nothing to gain by lying, and I risk much to lose by telling the truth. I believe it is time for me to speak. “…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Eccles 3:7).
If your children, grandchildren or someone you truly loved and cared for came and told you they had been molested, would you find it hard to believe? It can and does happen…often because no one will break the silence…the conspiracy of silence. If telling my story will help to spare someone else from going through the miserable life that I have lived, then coming out with my story will be worth it. These lines written by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) express my feelings:
If I can stop one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed (Psalms 103:6)
By Jean (Trotter) Austin
P.S. When Cherie Kropp read my letter on the TM-Board, she and her mother remembered meeting my family years ago. In June 1964, both our families happened to be in Florida vacationing at the same time in the same places; Cherie was 15 and I was 12. For a change, someone believed my story and was interested in helping me, for which I am very grateful.
Cherie asked if I would write my story and said maybe it would help me to deal with this and maybe help others that had gone through this too. I hated bringing up memories that were buried away, and I just couldn’t keep my thoughts together to write a story. I did not want to do this. I would start writing and then I would quit. I would hear from Sandra telling me to write my story, and I would try again. This helped me to start a healing process that I needed but just couldn’t do alone. Cherie and Sandra both sent me books for healing, and both had many encouraging words for me. I will be forever grateful for all their help.
Someone gave me a gift book called The Secret Sect [now out of print]. I read it and I was really hurt because I had been lied to by everybody (unless they didn’t know it). I was always told that “the truth” was started during the Christ era, and only now in 2008 have I found out that it was just started in 1897 by a man named William Irvine. I feel so deceived and betrayed. I had grown up believing what I had been told – that “the truth” was the only right church and the workers were special because they were God’s only servants. Because of this – so many people kept the workers on a pedestal like I did. This made me even more vulnerable to the abuse at the hands of one of God’s only true “servants”.
It looks like my Granddaddy would have been aware of the history of “the truth,” and my worker cousin Carol Castleberry who preaches in Italy. I just can’t understand why someone who was aware of the real “beginnings” in Ireland could become attached to “the truth” and consider it to be “God’s only true way.” It’s just another man-made church along with many other man-made churches that exist in the world today. I think the current workers should be held responsible to tell the whole truth about the history of their church. The worker’s cover-up is simply unbelievable; I can hardly fathom it—in a group that calls itself “the truth” no less!
* Some quote the words of Jesus, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Some use this verse to apply to a molester or unfaithful spouse who continues in their wrongdoing and say that you must forgive him or God will not forgive you. Such an interpretation fails to reckon with the rest of the scriptural teaching on forgiveness. The Christian is instructed to forgive others in the same manner that God forgives us. How does God forgive us? The Bible says that if we confess our sins, God will forgive our sins. Nothing in the Old or New Testaments indicates that God forgives the sins of people who do not confess and repent of their sins. Jesus’ teaching is that we are to be willing to forgive as God is willing to forgive—those who repent.
** The cost paid out for my therapy over my lifetime is in the neighborhood of $464,400.00. I started going to the psychiatrist and therapist when I was 13. I am now 56. So I have basically gone for 43 years. The Psychiatrist charges $100.00 a month. 43 Years is 516 months at $100/mo is $51,600. The Therapist charges $100.00 per visit and I usually went twice a week. 43 years is 2,064 weeks at $200 a week or a total of $412,800. $412,800 + $51,600.00 = $464,400. AND this doesn’t include the cost my medications.
** My therapist is strongly encouraging me to enroll in a program called Partial Hospital Program (H. O. P. E.) Helping Our Patients Emotionally. The first program lasts for at least 4 weeks, 5 days a week and costs $12,000.00. After this, I would be in an Intensive OutPatient Program for 2 days a week at $588.00 per day. If I went for 4 weeks the cost for the 2nd session would be $4,704.00. This is a minimum total of $16,704.00. After that, there would be continued counseling at $100.00 per day for one time a week for an indefinite length of time. I cannot afford this.
“So I returned and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun:
and behold the tears of such as were oppressed,
and they had no comforter;
and on the side of their oppressors there was power;
but they had no comforter.” (Ecclesiastes 4:1)
KEY to TERMINOLOGY:
convention – large annual church retreat
worker – minister or preacher (both sisters and brothers)
friends – laypeople in church
professing = a member of their church.
“the truth” – nickname for the church Jean was raised in
JEAN’S LETTER TO IRA:
September 17, 2006
TO IRA HOBBS:
After more than 40 years I have suffered from you molesting me as a child. Because of this disgusting thing you did to me, my whole life has been ruined. This started when I was eight or nine. I was in the third grade anyway and lasted for as long as you were in the Atlanta area.
I have never had any self esteem. I have always felt dirty because you blamed this on me, even to my parents. Daddy said he didn’t know this but my mother sure did. They should have had you locked up then, but because you were an “esteemed preacher,” they kept giving you money, and you took it.
I thought this was the only way to love because I never was loved or hugged at home. I was seldom told that I was loved and I thought this was all there was.
Because of my reputation boys in the “truth” came to my apartment not because they wanted to be my boyfriend either.
Because of my feeling I deserve less than what was good, I lost my husband of 13 years. I wasn’t good enough for him. This made me feel so useless and ugly. I blamed this whole thing on me because you made me feel responsible for everything that was bad. I didn’t have what it took to even fight for what was mine and what I deserved.
I have had cancer and the suffering would have been unbearable for most people but I thought I deserved it. Because I had been so bad and worthless.
Now I can’t stand to be around a crowd. I have no real friends, no children because you made me feel unworthy to be a mother. I cry almost every day. I have had to go to a psychiatrist since I was a young girl. My mother even took me because I was so unhappy.
Maybe it made you feel less guilty because you blamed it on me. You told my parents I had a crush on you. I wasn’t even old enough. You know how you touched me and molested me and what a sick person you were and probably still are. I couldn’t play scrabble without your hand up my dress in my panties. You made me come to you at night and made me promise I would never tell anyone. You would have your pleasure and act so innocent. You are a piece of trash. Plus you stink. You must have never wash under your arms. It used to make me sick to my stomach. But I had to mind the preachers.
If anyone had cared for me during these days, you would be castrated. You should be in jail and labeled as a pedophile. Carol Castleberry told me I should forgive you and never die without not being forgiven. I hope this brings closure.
My whole life has been affected by what you have done to me and I think this should be public knowledge. I don’t know how many more children you molested but I know I am not the only one. I can’t even stand to shake hands with workers and I will never come near “the truth” because I am terrified to be around anyone and I have such a terrible reputation. The last convention I was in, I heard mothers and daughters talking about me. Nobody wanted to be my friend.
You are a piece of junk. You are no good. You always made people feel bad because you thought you were so wonderful. You are a slime ball. I think I will make this public so you can suffer too. Daddy even asked me over when you were in Atlanta, thinking I would like to see you. You dirty old man.
If you are so wonderful and deserve to come into other people’s houses and use their stuff, why didn’t you tell the truth? People like you befriend the parents of children so you can have your sick fun. How could you justify this and preach and tell others about their sins. I never want to be anywhere around the likes of you ever again. If you think you are an example of the way people should live to go to heaven, you are terribly mistaken. You don’t have to be around the likes of you to go to heaven.
Jean Trotter Austin
September 17, 2006
LETTER FROM IRA HOBBS TO JEAN
October 18, 2006
I was deeply grieved when I became aware of the perplexing cloud that has troubled your mind, after 40 years have passed, as you recall my association with you while we were in Atlanta. From that day, I have prayed that the Lord will be near to help you in this distress. Now I have opportunity to write to you, in hope that it will help to alleviate the burden that you bear.
I considered you and Stan like my sister and brother, and your dear parents were like my father and mother, and your home was a quiet refuge for us. In the process of time, I recognized that in my association with you, there was too much human interest that diminished from my purpose of promoting spiritual growth. There were times that my behavior with you was not the ideal actions of a servant of God because of carelessness and casualness that developed.
It was then that I talked with your mother, confessing that there had been distraction, and that I was purposed to alter that completely, so that I could have the joy of totally seeking the welfare of the soul and not be overtaken with human interests. It was then that I felt release in my conscience as I purposed that all would be done in the proper manner. And by the grace and mercy of God, I have maintained that standard these 40 years, and have found deep joy and peace in the power of God that is imparted to those who fear Him.
I am very sorry for being a disappointment to you in any manner, in conduct, in word, or in spirit. I hope you will forgive me for any and every way that I have in any wise not been discreet or careful and respectful of you. Had I realized that I had created such a cloud in your mind, I would have written to you long ago to clear the matter, and that you could have peace. For I am very anxious that you will find comfort and joy and peace of heart. I have heard that you have suffered with cancer, and I am saddened by that news. I hope that you find complete healing in that manner also.
The Lord is faithful, both in judgment and in mercy, and He will comfort and strengthen you as you cast your cares upon Him. And this is my hope and source of joy also. I’m glad that you have a strong father and brother that stand by you. They have learned well to trust in the Lord, and their stability in the faith of Christ will aid you also as you seek God.
With great respect and hope for you.
Your humble servant,
JEAN’s PROGRESS REPORT
RE: Molestation by Worker
COUNSELING: Since age 13, Jean has visited psychiatrists and therapists once a month most of her life, for which her parents and Jean have been paying out of their own pocket.
APOLOGY: Mr. Hobbs wrote an apology to Jean dated October 18, 2006, concerning his actions toward her. Lyle Schober, Overseer of Minnesota, wrote a letter to Jean dated February 13, 2008, apologizing for “others who have abused their position and subjected her to hurtful crimes.”
CONVICTIONS: Statue of Limitations is expired
REACTIONS: My Daddy said he didn’t know that Ira molested me. It’s hard to reconcile this matter with Daddy when he refuses to remember it. My Stepmother said it was a long time ago and my Dad can’t do anything about it now. My family tells me that I just need to forgive and forget it all; and that I will go to hell if I die with an unforgiving spirit. My worker cousin told me after we talked about it that now she knew how to pray for me.
VICTIM: “Through therapy, I have come to see that what he did to me in my childhood is the root cause for much of my depression today and for my inability to get back on my feet emotionally. He basically ruined my whole life, not just my childhood, but my whole adult life. In essence, he caused my family to abandon me.” One of my deepest regrets is not having children. I attend Calvary Baptist and I do not believe “the truth” is God’s only right way.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: He would tell me not to tell anyone; that he was showing me how to love and be a good wife.
OFFENDER: Ira Hobbs was shuffled to various states. Workers Lists show he has been in the states of Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Colorado, Texas, Minnesota and Louisiana. In October 2007, he was removed from his position as Overseer of Texas and put in regular worker status. The friends were not informed as to why he was removed from his overseer position, and he continued to have free access to friends’ homes where there were children. A little over 6 months later, on May 13, 2008, he left the work. He went to stay with a brother in an eastern state in the USA. Later he married a widow in the church and moved to Missouri. Please read on for further information.
PROGRESS MADE TO DATE:
1. Ira Hobbs wrote Jean an apology dated October 18, 2006
2. In October 2007, a year after Jean’s letter went public, a new Texas Overseer was installed named Ray Hoffman, and the Texas Workers List for 2007-08 shows Ira Hobbs to be Ray’s under-companion. Ira Hobbs has been demoted to the status of an ordinary worker—he no longer has the authority and place of the had worker of Texas.
3. Ira Hobbs left the work May 13, 2008, and went to live with family. Later he married Joan Wilson, an ex-sister worker.
4. On May 30, 2008, Ray Hoffman – overseer of Texas – distributed a letter to each of the friends in Texas stating that he wished to end the “speculation and rumours” as to why Mr. Hobbs was no longer in the work. He openly stated that Mr. Hobbs was under investigation for child sexual abuse issues and that several women had made complaints. The letter can be read here:
5. On July 7, 2008, Ray Hoffman accompanied by Charles Vaughn (Overseer of Georgia) met with Bob and Helen Trotter; and after that with Jean in their presence. Afterward, Ray called Jean’s brother who could not be at the meeting. Jean’s account of this meeting is below, which she also posted on the WINGS Forum.
6. Reportedly, Ira Hobbs has been asked not to attend convention this year (2008) in the state in which he is living. He has married a widow in the church.
Saturday, July 5, 2008: Ray Hoffman called and said he was coming to talk to my Dad because conventions would be starting soon. We talked pleasantly for about an hour.
Ray told me that he had been appointed to do the task of talking to my Dad. He said he would read my letter to Ira and Ira’s letter of apology (I guess). Ray wanted my brother to be there but Stanley had to work. He said he would call Stanley. I advised him that I had a bone scan scheduled for 9:00 am the morning that he wanted to see my family.
I told him how disappointed Daddy was with me and about the division it had caused between my brother and me. He completely believed me. He told me about one of my playmates who remembers me telling her what Ira was doing to me when I was a child. He also told of a worker that had been touched inappropriately who had come forward. He said I was the worst victim to come forward. I told him I wrote my letter because I didn’t want any more children to be “at risk.” He wrote the overseer in Virginia and advised him not to let Ira go to convention.
Ray told me that he was molested when he was 21, but was sure of his sexuality. He’s straight. He said he became more aware of gay people as a result, and that it didn’t have any lasting effect on him.
7-7-08 The Meeting. Attending: Ray Hoffman, Charles Vaughn (Overseer of Georgia), Daddy and Helen. Ray had explained everything to them before I got there. While I was in the hospital having tests made, Ray called me twice, wanting to know how much longer I would be. I asked him if I was in trouble, and he said no, that I would be a happy girl. I asked him if he wanted me to cancel (and I did cancel a lung test), but he said they would just wait. When I arrived, they had finished lunch and were eating dessert.
Daddy said that Ira apologized to him 40 years ago, but he didn’t know what Ira was talking about. Then two years ago when Ira was visiting, Daddy asked him if he had molested me and Ira told him no. So Ira lied and Daddy believed him. After that, Daddy told a long time friend of the family that I had lost my mind and wasn’t the same Jean anymore. I asked Daddy to call the friend and tell him that I hadn’t lost my mind, as he had indicated to him on the phone earlier. Daddy denied saying that to this friend, but I told him to call anyway.
In front of Helen and Daddy, Ray said that one reason the workers believed my story was because of my description of Ira’s private parts. It seems that someone else had described them the same way.
Ray told me it wasn’t my fault—that there were victims and survivors. He said that this was closure and that I was a survivor, and he could tell I was stronger already. I asked for Ira’s number and address, and Ray gave them to me. I have pictures that might bring his memory back—me as a little girl, etc. Ray said he had talked to Ira and Ira has blocked everything out.
He told me what peace Daddy had because he was a godly man. Ray said it would make my Daddy very happy if I professed again and one day I might. I was put on a spot and felt very embarrassed, and I didn’t know what to say. Ray said they weren’t all like Ira and that if there were more abusers, they would be put out; that they weren’t hiding these things anymore. Taylor has known about it for TWO years and hadn’t done anything about it. Helen wanted a particular sister worker to talk to me. I didn’t say anything, but I don’t want to talk to her or any other worker about coming back to meetings.
Both Daddy and Helen hugged me with tears in their eyes. They now believe that Ira abused me. I have waited a long time for them to believe this, and to realize that I didn’t make it up.
Ray said this visit would be closure for me and that I would go away and be well now. He said this was all he could do. He said I could talk to him anytime—he didn’t know what he could do, but he would talk to me.
I told Ray and Charles “thank you” and I left. I was there for about 20 minutes. They were at my parents house talking to them for about 2 hours.
July 8, 2008 Jean emailed Ray: I thanked him for talking to Daddy and Helen, and that it is a lot to get over in one day; and asked if he had talked to Stanley.
Ray Hoffman emailed Jean, July 8, 2008
I did talk to Stanley, and so did your Dad. Stanley is so sorry about all that has happened to you and is very sympathetic in his feelings toward you. He believes it all.
I am sure you could not get over all of this in one night, Jean. It will take time, but in the visit we had, being open, honest before your family concerning the abuse you suffered, will help open the door for your recovery. Because now they both acknowledge what you have said is the truth, and their sympathy and care is toward you in a very special way, because they know you were innocent. It was not your fault.
The Lord above all feels for you and loves you more than anyone ever could. He will take the part of one that has been abused like yourself. I know that it will take time to get your thought toward even Him to be what He desires. But He specializes in impossible things and can help when there seems no hope.
I am glad for your brother and father’s attitude in all of this, Jean. Hope you will try to be of good cheer. And that maybe you could see a little light at the end of the tunnel.
Our love and care,
July 16, 2008, Jean (as jta) posted the following message titled, “Thank You” on Truth-Meeting Board (TMB) at:
I would like to thank everyone who had a part in Ray Hoffman talking to my Dad and Brother. This has made such a change in my life. This took a lot of prayer, calls, meeting, and risks and you were willing to do this for me. At first I was kinda in shock and didn’t know how to express my feelings, but every day gets better. It has made an awesome difference in my family relationship. I’m not ashamed to be around my Dad and he is not ashamed of me. This morning he hugged me. This makes me cry for joy. My brother tells me he loves me. Ray and all those behind the scene –This is truly an answered prayer.