No real Mercy (Mercy Multiplied’s Manual Part 3)

This piece by Mercy Survivor Anna was originally published on her blog “Perceptually True” and can be viewed here.

A review of Mercy Multiplied’s Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry.

The next pages in Mercy Multiplied’s manual are dedicated to the idea of vision.  There’s actually a lot in this section that I agree with — at least on the surface.  I do think that it’s important to know where you want to go with something, what your goals are, and how you intend to build the organization or business or ministry.  These are important things to consider regardless of what your endeavor is.

Mercy Multiplied says that in order to determine your ministry’s vision, you need to know your “target group” — who it is that God is asking you to serve.  They also suggest additional questions to ask that would be important while considering the question of vision.

To me though the interesting questions are the ones that aren’t being suggested.  There are questions about who the ministry will serve…criteria for acceptance…age group…etc., but there are also important questions that are missing.  How will we help the people we are “serving”?  Do we have the education, qualifications, and experience needed to accomplish this “vision”?  How will we know that we are helping and not harming the people we are “serving”?  How will we prevent the “vision” of the ministry from overshadowing the humanness of those we are claiming to “serve”?  How do we make sure that the idea or appearance of integrity doesn’t become more important than it’s actuality?

These are questions that are mysteriously missing from this section of “big questions”.  It’s not that I think that the questions suggested by Mercy Multiplied are unimportant — it’s just that there are some very important questions that they aren’t asking.  I’ll leave you to think about what other important questions they’re not bothering to ask.

There’s an interesting sentence that’s slipped in after the suggested questions.  “We strongly encourage you to seek legal counsel early on in the process regarding what licensing requirements will impact you in your location” (page 9).  Once again, it’s not so much what IS said that is of concern, but rather what is NOT said.  There’s nothing here about finding out what kind of licensing requirements will be beneficial to your ministry.  There’s no suggestion of consulting with professionals who are trained to deal with the issues your “target group” is facing to find out what best and most successful practices are.  The only professional that MM has yet suggested that someone wanting to establish their own residential counseling ministry contact is a lawyer.

See, here’s what I don’t really understand.  I agree that when you need legal advice you should consult…a lawyer.  After all, lawyers are people who have been educated by leaders in their field, trained for years in the subtle nuances of the law, have passed rigorous certification processes, and been mentored by experts in particular areas of legal matters.  This is why they are professionals — and when Mercy Multiplied says in this sentence to seek “legal counsel” it seems fair to assume that they are referring to finding a lawyer who is educated, trained, certified, and experienced.  You should remember this assumption because as foundational as it might seem, this is an assumption that Mercy Multiplied makes with regard to legal and financial matter, however, as you’ll see in future sections this is an assumption that they do NOT make with regard to other areas (i.e. psychological, medical).

Before moving into the mission section of this portion, Mercy Multiplied offers a few more suggestions to the end of “Mentoring Your Ministry”.  Two of these stood out from these bullet points:

  • There’s the recommendation that those in ministry or wanting to create a ministry should know their limits.  Now, if there’s one thing in this manual that I can heartily agree with it’s that those who are in ministry, particularly those who are interested in establishing a residential counseling ministry should KNOW THEIR LIMITS.  Too bad that Mercy Multiplied didn’t take their own advice on this one, they might have actually been able to help people.
  • Another recommendation tells would-be ministry leaders to be wary of straying from the ministry’s specific mission.  They offer an example of this from Mercy Multiplied’s personal experience, saying that since God directed Mercy Multiplied to minister to people who are “serious about working through their problems” and that if they were to “take in residents who are not sincere about changing their lives” they will decrease their “effectiveness with the residents who really want help…” (page 10).

Let’s take note though of who this puts in charge of deciding about residents’ sincerity…

Mercy Multiplied.

Think about it — this is a specific example from Mercy Multiplied’s program and highlights a foundational principle of their program that many former residents have spoken about.  Mercy Multiplied sets themselves up as all powerful in knowing and judging motives, sincerity, and willingness to change.  So what if I sincerely want to change but Mercy Multiplied thinks that I don’t?

Pretty much, too bad, because it’s Mercy Multiplied that has the final say on what’s going on in a resident’s heart.  If that seems rather judgy and condemning and un-Christ-like, that’s primarily because it is — there’s no way around it.  Many former residents from Mercy Multiplied have shared stories of Mercy Multiplied deciding that they didn’t want help or deciding that they didn’t want to “get better” even while staff was perpetuating the belief that only Mercy Multiplied had the ability to help them.  My own personal experience at Mercy Multiplied’s residential home in Nashville was tremendously impacted by the staff’s decisions about the motivations behind my actions.  But there was a big problem with that: they were wrong.  They were wrong, and they wouldn’t listen to me because they’d already decided for me.

It’s true that I’ve seen this in qualified treatment facilities as well, in my opinion negatively correlated with positive treatment outcomes, but one of the things that makes it so damaging at Mercy Multiplied is it’s not just the staff, counselors, or doctors that are declaring that a person does not want to get better (as at some treatment facilities), at Mercy Multiplied it’s “God” who is saying that.

I can’t think of a more hopeless situation to be in than to be told that you don’t want help (when you desperately do) and given no recourse to prove otherwise. I can’t think of a more hopeless situation to be in than to be told that you don’t want help (when you desperately do) and given no recourse to prove otherwise, because the last thing you need when you’re already hopeless and desperate is more hopelessness and despair handed to you by the people who are supposed to be helping you.

Guess what?  Nobody gets to decide if I want help.  Not Mercy Multiplied, not doctors, not psychiatrists, not therapists or counselors (regardless of their qualifications or lack thereof), not ANYONE except for me.  It is important for my actions to show this desire and that’s something any treatment center has to look at.  But when Mercy Multiplied narrowly defines what it means to “want help” as questioning nothing, being emotionless, and hiding struggles and has the power to tell you that you can’t be helped because you don’t “want it”, everyone gets hurt.  The people who are kicked out are hurt, the people who become convinced they don’t want help and give up are hurt, and the people who tow the party line and pretend to be better are hurt.  This is not healing…this is not transformation…this is not real mercy.

**All quotes are from Mercy Multiplied, Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry, Retrieved October 2015.  (I’d give you the link so you can buy it yourself, but as far as I can tell it’s no longer being offered for sale.  Not sure why, but don’t worry…you’ll still get my commentary on it.)

All you need is VISION…and this manual (Mercy Multiplied’s Guidelines Part 2)

This piece by Mercy Survivor Anna was originally published on her blog “Perceptually True” and can be viewed here.

3d7d0f901ec7ba1d4003fdc45b285fb1In the introduction of Mercy Multiplied’s “Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry“, Mercy Multiplied lays out what information they are going to be giving you.

They say that “Certain fundamental functions, processes and structures will provide a solid foundation to establish your ministry to serve your God-given vision for years to come.” (page 5)  And then tell us that Mercy Multiplied is sharing their “wealth of experience, knowledge, and information” that they have acquired.

I think it’s fair to assume that they are going to include what’s important, right, or at least what they think is important for this sort of ministry, or at least what they think is important for theirs.  So let’s take a look at the manual from this perspective…we’re getting a peek into what Mercy Multiplied considers foundational for accomplishing the same “success” they have with a similar method.

They also say that they’re not including specific details (not that that would even be possible in 41 pages).  They point out that the details are specifically serving THEIR vision and mission and that individuals establishing their own ministry need to work these out according to their ministry’s specific calling.  Keep this in mind as we’ll be coming back to these two points: Mercy Multiplied is sharing what they think is foundational and they are NOT sharing details.

Next comes the ever present, ever shared story of how Mercy Multiplied began.  Also known as the epithet to Nancy Alcorn, this tells how Nancy Alcorn worked in a correctional facility for youth and became disillusioned because the programs were not working.  She worked for Teen Challenge for a bit (who has their own sordid history and those who were harmed more than helped by the program) and then she starts Mercy, emphasizing that secular, governmental programs were tremendous failures when it came to helping these “troubled girls”.  Thus the birth of Mercy Ministries, now Mercy Multiplied and of course the three principles that are emphasized by the ministry:

  1. Don’t charge the girls to come;
  2. Tithe 10% (even though most people are donating the money to mercy as their 10% tithe); and
  3. Don’t accept state/government funding.

Next, we skip forward to the current Mercy Multiplied: Listing the locations of the homes in the US and the homes outside the US.  Funny though that Australia is no where to be seen in this “history”.  The other locations are heralded as the spreading of Mercy Multiplied beyond the US’ borders…not sure what they really thought the Australia homes were if not for that…apparently they were orphan ministries that had nothing to do with Mercy Multiplied (after they got shut down of course).  This makes me wonder, does Mercy Multiplied not learn from its own mistakes?  From my point of view they got themselves in trouble with associated homes in Australia, then backtracked to de-associate from them when those homes became the “black sheep” of the Mercy Multiplied family.  So now they’re publishing guidelines on how to replicate their ministry?

Just a warning to anyone who might use these guidelines (besides being prepared for a lawsuit), Mercy Multiplied will claim you as long as it looks good for them, but once you reflect badly on them, you will be cut off and disowned like an unsightly growth—or at least that’s what their history (the part that’s not told in this manual section) seems to show.

They go through the usual lines about who they are and what they do…and how well they do it, specifically pointing out that they often receive residents who “have been in various treatment facilities with unsuccessful long-term results”, to contrast this they claim that their approach to healing is a permanent solution that is unattainable in any other way. (page 6)

They also describe their program as “extremely successful in equipping young women with the tools they need to understand their self-worth” and share that they get daily communication from graduates “walking in freedom” (page 7).  Mercy Multiplied’s always had this thing with comparing themselves to other treatment facilities. You hear it again and again in Nancy Alcorn’s speech and even in the request of materials from graduates.

Walking in freedom is another huge buzzword for them – the implication of course is that if you are a Mercy Multiplied graduate who is still struggling, then it’s simply because you’re choosing not to “walk in freedom”.  There’s no possibility that maybe there are still things that need to be addressed, still education that needs to take place, still resources and support that need to be built up; and ultimately, there’s no possibility that Mercy Multiplied didn’t hold up their part of the bargain to get you permanently better.  It’s a syntax they emphasize that conveniently allows them to shirk all responsibility while still claiming that they are being accountable.

[All quotes from Mercy Multiplied, Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry, Retrieved October 2015]

Mercy Multiplied’s Guidelines Manual (Part 1)

This piece by Mercy Survivor Anna was originally published on her blog “Perceptually True” and can be viewed here.

Mercy Multiplied GuidelinesAs Mercy Multiplied has come out with their new name and (supposedly) expanded mission, one of the things they are selling (oops, I mean, giving away in exchange for a donation) is a PDF download called “Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Center”.  It seems that Mercy Multiplied has been so successful in their endeavors that other people are looking to them for information on how to do the same.  This seems to be part of the reasoning behind the “Mercy Multiplied” moniker.

Now, if you know anything about Mercy Multiplied, chances are the idea that they would be telling people how to “build their own Mercy”, strikes you as a REALLY BAD IDEA, to put it mildly.  Furthermore, if you are a mental health professional familiar with the needs of individuals in crisis with a mental illness, chances are you are horrified.

So I and some others at Mercy Survivors were pretty curious as to what magical guidelines Mercy Multiplied had managed to put into 41 pages.  I mean, 41 pages that would provide any random person the information they needed to up and start a residential counseling center?  That’s pretty impressive.  Did they leave a bunch of stuff out?  Did they write it in four point font?  Because from my position, people who do this sort of thing have gone to college for a four year degree in a related field (like psychology, counseling, or social work), then go to graduate school for another two-to-three years to receive specific training, participate in a minimum of six months of internship in a counseling position under the direct supervision of an experienced practitioner, pass rigorous written certification exams, fulfill hundreds of hours practicing as a “junior” practitioner again under the supervision of an experienced practitioner, and only then are they fully certified to be a therapist or mental health practitioner.  And that’s for an entry level counseling position, definitely not the experience required (or that should be required) to establish a mental health facility. 

Since I’m assuming Mercy Multiplied hasn’t managed to fit all of the relevant information into the “manual”, I’m guessing that they choose the information that they thought was most relevant and important for someone interested in making their own Mercy Multiplied.  Curious as to what they might see as the important principles of the process, I bought a copy of their manual.  I’m reading through it, discussing it with some other former residents, and will review it and offer my (often sarcastic) commentary on the contents.

Also, you should know as I share that I’m going to be giving Mercy Multiplied the benefit of the doubt.  I’m going to assume that the self-publication of this manual is motivated by a genuine desire to help people who are struggling with life-controlling issues (to use their words).  I’m going to assume that they actually believe that they are doing a good job ministering to their residents, but want more people to be reached and are thus passing their knowledge and experience on to others who have a heart and calling for this type of ministry.  I’ll leave you to speculate individually as to whether you think there are less-admirable motives involved. 

To start off, I’ll give you an idea of what it looks like.

Despite Mercy Multiplied’s reputation for glossy, well-marketed materials, this digital manual would not fall into that category.  Only the title page is in color and scrolling through the pages reveals no photography.  It’s got a no frills look to it that you’d be hard pressed to find in any of their promotional materials, but perhaps that’s to be expected.  After all, this is not meant to be used in garnering donations or making their organization known to individuals who are in need, this is a guidelines manual.  This is serious stuff!  Even Nancy Alcorn alludes to that in her opening letter.  She says the purpose of her sharing is to give the reader information that would be helpful in making the final decision about starting a “Mercy-like” ministry.  She urges individuals not to mistake the call of God to be a “helper” with that of being called to establish a ministry pointing out that “starting a residential counseling ministry for residents is not just something that one should ‘decide’ to do.” (Mercy Multiplied, Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry, Retrieved October 2015). 

I  like to begin discussions from a common and agreeable understanding, and this is something that hopefully we can all agree on.  Doing this sort of work, whether faith based or secularly, is not a decision to be made on a whim or simply because it seems like a fun thing to do.  It’s hard work and people need to be prepared for that hard work, but as you’ll see in the posts to come, Nancy Alcorn and I greatly disagree on the extent and nature of the preparation and requirements.

[If you’d like to purchase a copy of this “manual” you can buy from Mercy Multiplied for $50 here – although your money might be better used to create origami creatures like here.]

Who failed who? (Basics Part 2)

This piece by Mercy Survivor Anna was originally published on her blog “Perceptually True” and can be viewed here.

FailureSix months into the program, I went home to my family of origin for Christmas (at Mercy Multiplied’s insistence).  God magically healed me of everything just a few weeks prior to that Christmas break.  I didn’t struggle with any symptoms, I didn’t struggle with any feelings, and everyone said that I was like a different person after Jesus had healed me.  The same staff that were ready to kick me out of the program, were suddenly singing the program’s praises for its part in my amazing transformation.

I spent three months like that, and the only thing that I struggled with was a serious case of denial.  I actually really thought that everything was better (self-awareness has always been a slow battle for me).  It didn’t send up any red flags that everything was perfectly better because that’s what Mercy Multiplied expected.  There’s no need for relapse prevention work when your mental illness and trauma symptoms are just magically healed.  I pushed to graduate as soon as possible…and walked away with Mercy Multiplied’s full approval.  I didn’t realize that somewhere inside I had decided that it wasn’t safe to be there and continue to get hurt…maybe I thought that God healing me was the only way to get away from this place that continually denied my perceptions and internal experience.  Whatever the underlying reasoning, it worked.  I graduated.  And it lasted less than twenty-four hours.

See that’s the problem with a program whose core therapeutic method is (to put it bluntly) emotional abuse.  When you’re told over and over again that you’re wrong…that you’re not trying…that you must not want help…that your feelings are wrong…that your intuition is rebellion, you end up with a recovery that’s completely divorced from reality…because you are divorced from reality.  It worked while I was in the Mercy Multiplied bubble…where the Mercy Multiplied party line was the only acceptable reality.  Once I stepped outside, it was obvious that I hadn’t made progress whatsoever.

I was completely bewildered…I couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong that I couldn’t maintain my “healing”.  I thought that obviously God had held up his end of the deal and made me better, now it was on me and I was failing.  Mercy Multiplied had set me up perfectly for it to be all my fault and Mercy Multiplied’s attitude had taught me that if it was all my fault that I didn’t deserve help.  Maybe someone would have caught this and corrected this cognitive distortion if they had connected me with professionals so that I had a qualified support team, but they didn’t.  I had an “accountability partner”, a woman from my church who met with me and prayed with and for me.  This was good…but it wasn’t anywhere near what I needed.  I had no psychiatrist, no psychologist, no therapist, no nutritionist…I had no professional help.  And I needed professional help–why else would I have spent 9 months in a residential facility otherwise?

My views of Mercy have changed drastically over time from…

Mercy Multiplied is great – it was all good!


It was mostly good, but there were a few things that weren’t.


Okay, at least some of it was good.


They did a lot of harm, but at least their intentions were good.


They had no business doing what they did.

It took years to cycle through all of those, and it’s still a process now.  But the most important thing is that I know that I didn’t fail…Mercy Multiplied  failed to help me, and that’s a big deal.  So to any of you who are still carrying the burden of failure from Mercy Multiplied’s teachings and attitude, take a deep breath…maybe you didn’t fail…maybe Mercy Multiplied failed you too.

But it didn’t work… (Basics Part 1)

This piece by Mercy Survivor Anna was originally published on her blog “Perceptually True” and can be viewed here.

Since part of this blog is to share some pieces about my time at Mercy Ministries (aka Mercy Multiplied), I thought it might be helpful to lay out some of the facts of my time there.

I entered Mercy Multiplied’s residential home in Nashville, TN early summer 2005.  I was struggling with depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, eating disorders, and self-harm.  In clinical terms, I was a mess (see if you can find that in the DSM-V).  I was uninsured, thus my options for treatment were zilch, and since my Christian faith was the most important thing to me at the time, Mercy Multiplied seemed like (no pun intended) a gift from God.  Plus, there was the whole I needed to move at the beginning of the summer and didn’t have another place to live that was also chasing me down as the calendar days continued to pass.

I’d never been in residential treatment and had been in therapy with a qualified professional for less than a year.  I was the epitome of desperate and wanted help so much, it seemed like a miracle that I would get to go somewhere with people who could help me…who knew about the issues I struggled with…who would be available when I needed to talk to someone…who could offer me counseling and resources to support my recovery.

At least that’s what I thought it would be like.  No one told me that the Mercy Multiplied staff ratio on evenings and weekends was 40 residents to 2-3 staff.  No one told me that Mercy Multiplied expected me to get better by reading Joyce Meyer books and praying pre-prepared prayers.  No one told me that Mercy Multiplied didn’t have the qualifications necessary to care for any of the residents, much less all of them.  No one told me that Mercy Multiplied would interpret my trauma and dissociative symptoms as “not wanting to get better”.  No one told me that I wouldn’t have proper oversight of my psychiatric medications.  No one told me that my wellbeing and my recovery would always take second place to the program’s image.  No one told me that Mercy Multiplied would do more harm than good…all while saying they were helping.

I struggled in the program…not with obedience or submission, because I was good at that, but with following along in therapy and “getting better”.  In case you’re thinking that I must not have been “sold out to Christ” or whatever you want to call it, I would get up early to hide in the stairway and have quiet time talking with God and reading my Bible.  My Bible was so well-worn pages were falling out of it.  I read the God’s Creative Power booklet with all the Bible verses so many times that I memorized the first half of the booklet.  And I didn’t stop there…I wrote my own and went through them every day as well.  I would spend hours praying that my counseling session would be led by him and spent free time sneaking into the classroom to play worship songs on the keyboard.  I always ate what I was supposed to eat and would self-confess to staff if I had anything that I had used or wanted to use to self-harm.  I was the perfect “Mercy Girl”.  I did everything right—the only problem was that it didn’t work.

Mercy will never hold the golden ticket to healing

This piece by Mercy Survivor Alicia was originally published on her blog “Beyond Silence: My Mercy Story” and can be viewed here.

While Mercy Multiplied stated they were not a medical facility, they still need to be held responsible and accountable to other areas.  Mental health isn’t necessarily medical.  They promised this spiritual transformation and healing.  We all looked at it and said we want that…  We all made a choice to go there but none of us got what thought we would receive.  We got a lot of false promises and tales of how we would be healed at the end of Mercy Multiplied.

Some girls were there for months and got sent home, some of us chose to leave as we encountered red flags in our time there, and others found a way to survive Mercy Multiplied until graduation just to say we got through it.  When we look back, I ask myself was it worth the mental anguish I got from there?  Healing was what they promised but they couldn’t deliver.

We ask ourselves who is to blame since we didn’t get the healing they promised?  Some of us think we failed if we didn’t make it through the program and some us still feel like we failed even after the program was over when we found ourselves back in our old behaviors.  No program can heal anyone there’s the false advertisments that Mercy Multiplied puts out there to attract girls into their program.  Healing was like a golden ticket that everyone wanted.  They wanted to find that golden ticket so they could be on the other side of things.  Mercy Multiplied waved the word “healing” in front of us like a golden ticket.  The way they presented it to us it was like it was impossible to find.  It reminds me of this movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”…

 Charlie Bucket: [to Grandpa Joe, after opening the Wonka bar they think has the last Golden Ticket in it] “You know… I’ll bet those Golden Tickets make the chocolate taste terrible

We were presented with a challenge to find a golden ticket, a pathway to healing that by man’s standards was impossible.  Many people are angry at themselves for either not making it through Mercy Multiplied.  Many girls wanted that ring from graduation that screamed “transformation”.  It’s just a ring, it’s not where freedom lies.  Charlie Bucket spells it out that “the golden tickets made the chocolate taste terrible”.

Mercy Multiplied fed us this line of promised healing like Wonka promised those that found a golden ticket this amazing enterprise to see.  We must remember that man made principles will fall.

Is healing possible?

I believe that in order to heal a person must hear from God on their own accord.  We cannot even make change in our lives unless we simply come to a place where we are able to say we cannot do it on our own.

My journey with Mercy Multiplied was negative, but positive because I saw beyond the golden ticket and that’s what pissed them off.  I saw they were a man-made structure that I was not about to put above God in any way.  Mercy Multiplied wanted me to claim they gave me healing, but it was false.  I wasn’t going to deny God’s work in my life or give them any credit for my victory.  That’s where a lot of people don’t realize that Mercy Multiplied sought out people who were vulnerable that they knew would credit them for their healing or the change in their life.

I don’t believe my time at Mercy Multiplied was a mistake.  I believe that I went there to make connections with people, to know I wasn’t alone in my journey.  Yes there are things I hate about what happened there.  I cannot change the bad things that happen.  By sharing my story and my pursuit to hold them accountable for their actions speaks to my situation.  It says I’m not alone, I’m not a victim, and I’m not about to let some mass corporation destroy my life.

My time there made my relationship with God a challenge.  What I thought was failure to submit to authority was not a failure at all.  My failure to submit to authority showed my faithfulness to God.  People may argue the concept of submitting to authority.  While there are laws in our country we have to follow, there’s a subtle difference between following laws and being a good citizen than submitting to a place like Mercy Multiplied to be the authority over our lives.  I’m a child of God and my life is not rooted in Mercy Multiplied, my life is rooted in God.  I’m thankful for the ability to recognize this.  Having this knowledge, I can confidently say that Mercy Multiplied was one chapter of my life that happened for a purpose.  My overall story is a testimony of how I let my faith in God stomp all over the enemy’s plan to take my life.

I did have struggle in my life after Mercy Multiplied.  I’m sure any girl who went through the hell I went through there would have too.  By finding the boldness to stand up for myself and say “No more!” and choosing to go home was choosing life.  It was the best decision I could have made.  Courage takes time, but every time we chose to speak up and tell our story we find that we were not alone.  We are able to stand up for ourselves.  We also have the empowerment and hope that we can overcome.

True healing is should never be set within the limits of a man-made agenda.  No one can pick a date or time you get healed.  Sometimes we just have to wait on God.  It requires lots of patience and faith.  It’s okay to reach out to others for help.  Please don’t read too much into this but healing comes with complete surrender saying not my will but yours be done Lord.  It’s not about a ministry or one single person’s prophetic message.  The change that healing brings is like hearing your heart beat for the first time.  It’s knowing that the simple beat of your heart the pitter patter is the ultimate sign of life that gives purpose to my existence.

I know many people reading this might not believe in God.  I want you to know I’m not going to judge you.  We all have our own definition and view of what gives us strength or guidance in life.  The fact is we know something is guiding us and whether you claim it to be God or not you can’t deny something gave you strength to get this far in life.

We are all at a different place in our lives.  When I first got out of Mercy Multiplied, I struggled in my faith.  I questioned if I made the right decision to leave.  Why would God have let me go through all of that?  It’s been almost four years since I put my foot in the door in that ministry.  Yeah it felt like a mistake at first but I would not have made some of the friendships I have if I didn’t go there.  If anything good came from it I’d say the friendships and connections.  I don’t know why I went through the crap I went through.  The damage control costs me a lot as well.

I must say I’m so thankful that I can blog today having the insight I have about life.  Having the knowledge I have about that place makes me see how much determination I have had in life and I’m not a failure because I didn’t finish.  My rebellion had a hidden purpose.  It’s possible that my battle to fight their authority had a purpose who knows.  I must say I’m going to continue using my voice to help others because anyone who went through the crap there must realize in order to win back our lives we must stand together and unite and fight for those who had no voice and those who are yet to speak out because someone might hear our stories it might give them the courage to speak out too.

I know there’s more girls out there who been on this road with Mercy Multiplied but haven’t found courage to even share.  It took me a very long time to even be bold and say “No more!”  No girl wants to face her peers and say, “I gave up on Mercy Multiplied”.  I did it I had to come out of the hiding place and say, “I gave up on Mercy Multiplied”.  They didn’t even want to give me a chance, some of us thought they invested in us but most of us were left with chocolate that tasted terrible and disappointment that the golden ticket to healing didn’t happen there.  If we chose to keep on speaking and not let anyone silence us then we will see victory!

They told us not to share anything!

This piece by Mercy Survivor Alicia was originally published on her blog “Beyond Silence: My Mercy Story” and can be viewed here.

There’s so many questions in my brain on the way things were handled at Mercy Multiplied.  Every girl there had some reason behind her purpose there but yet we were told we couldn’t tell anyone in the house why we were there.  I thought at first it was so we wouldn’t trigger anyone else.  I think all the girls with eating disorders knew people knew why they were there.  It seemed that if you had an eating disorder people knew because we have “couch” time after each meal and all of us were on plate check.

I feel like “plate check” and “couch time” were methods to shame girls.  Some girls got off couch early on in their time there but then there were girls that were on it for months after a meal.  I remember having to recite my ABC’s or count backwards from 100 if I had to use the bathroom while I was still on couch time.  It was this preventative measure they put in place so girls wouldn’t act out in eating disorder behavior.  It could of been easier to not have us flush the toilet then make us count or sing.  I just felt so stupid.  I had this digestion problem so I was in the bathroom a lot.  I couldn’t help my reasons for needing a toilet right after my meal.  I was told to try hold it in but I had severe digestion issues that pushed me towards the bathroom.

I had a known food allergy to gluten so every time I ate I would get really sick to the point my stomach just ached and I would have diarrhea.  It was disgusting.  They didn’t believe me even though my doctor try tell them I was allergic to gluten.  They made me see one of their preferred outside doctors.

When I saw this doctor, I wasn’t allowed to be alone with her to talk.  The medical director wouldn’t let me have an edge word in anywhere.  I didn’t have a right to any privacy.  She changed my medications around.  She warned me she wasn’t qualified as a psychiatrist but she try to make it so I could stay awake during the day.  After that point, my meds were so screwed up I had to drink more coffee to stay awake in between the classes.  I was exhausted all the time.  My digestion issues got worse.

Here and there, Mercy Multiplied staff tried to give me gluten free meals but they were like you can’t prove you have celiac disease but in fact I was able to but it still didn’t resonate with them that I couldn’t eat gluten.

Then I finally got off “couch” but I still had to go to the bathroom after meals.  It felt awful barely even making it through a meal.  I often lost my appetite there because I was slipping.  They had cut my meal exchanges way down from my registered dietitian had prescribed.  I had rapid weight loss.  It wasn’t good enough.  Every meal I felt like I was never going to meet their expectations.  Towards the end of my time at Mercy Multiplied, I started eating my meals so slow that it run over into class time.  I had to sit in the lobby a couple times to finish my food.  Eating a meal was an emotional roller coaster for me.  To this day, I don’t know how I even got through my meals at Mercy Multiplied without crying my eyes out.

Having an eating disorder really made me stand out.  I’m sure it made other girls.  Some girls wondered why I had to take walks in between classes; do laps around  the parking lot.  Nothing I did was ever good enough for the staff at Mercy Multiplied.

Upon leaving Mercy Multiplied, I discovered I had so much hate inside me for myself.  They tried to make my BMI my worth.  Thankfully with time I was able to pin point the lies they try make me believe about myself and work at changing my mindset.  It has taken a lot of counseling to undo the damage that Mercy Multiplied staff caused me through my thinking, mental health issues, physical issues, and body image issues.

I eventually found a way to rise above all the pain and hurt at Mercy Multiplied.  From time to time I have to remind myself who I am in Christ.  I’m not everything that Mercy Multiplied tried to make of me.  I’m not my BMI.  I’m not my eating disorder.  I’m a child of God.  It makes me sad that a big powerhouse ministry offered me freedom but tried to steal my identity.  In that I must say they are not true to their word.  I wish they could be held accountable but I know that will come in time.

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