This piece by Mercy Survivor Chelsea was originally published on her personal blog, The Pink Propaganda and can be viewed here. This is arguably the most powerful expose published to date on the exploitation of Mercy Ministries’ graduates.
Eugene Cho spoke at the Justice conference in 2013 about the cost of compassion.
I have always been pretty open about how I feel about Mercy Ministries’ using women’s testimonies the way that they do. Using women in the videos the way that they do. Using them in promotional materials like books, pamphlets, etc the way that they do. I feel like they are dehumanizing them and I could never quite explain it. But in Eugene’s speech he says this about people living in Africa and it can be equally exchanged with those whose stories that Mercy uses.
“Is it possible that you and I, we can be doing the work of justice and after awhile it becomes this nonprofit industrial complex, it becomes a project. When you cease to be committed to relationships, genuine human relationships. Where you teach and listen, where you learn what it is mutual and symbiotic, when you choose to be genuinely committed to relationships, people become projects. They become some sort of image that you put on your website and you actually dehumanize them.
I want to encourage you be careful that we don’t reduce the work of justice merely to projects, people into projects. Sometimes I get alarmed, concerned at how we frame the stories of others. There was once a study done with young children and in the study, a sociological study, they asked these questions, “what do you think of when we say Africa?” And it was stunning, but maybe not so stunning, that a fair majority of these students said, “poor”, “suffering”. If the only image for example are images of bloated stomachs and snot running down their noses and that’s what we constantly use to frame the story of an entire continent of many countries, of many diverse and beautiful cultures, that is sinful. When we’re putting up pictures of children on our T-shirts for our organizations. I am sorry if I am offending anyone, but I would never want you to put pictures of my children on your T shirts [or books].
If you dehumanize the poor you see no value in their redemption. When you dehumanize the poor you have no desire to build equal relationships with them. When you dehumanize the poor you build stereotypes. When you dehumanize the poor you make sweeping generalizations, even if you don’t think you are.”
Eugene Cho has hit the nail on the head in his sermon and I am tired of people feeling so sorry for young women with mental illnesses. Like we are weak and we are victims. But we are not. Like he says, you are making sweeping generalizations about an entire group of women.
Here is a still shot from a promotional video from 2010 of a zoomed in picture of a girl’s hacked apart arms as she talks about her first time being sold into sexual slavery and cutting herself to deal with the pain and drinking bleach and taking ecstasy as waves of sadness overtake her entire face, evoking pity.
The video can be viewed here. Just please be careful if you do suffer it does show some very graphic scenes of suicide, sexual abuse, self harm and eating disorders.
Give us some credit. We are strong and we have overcome and we are intelligent and we are capable. We should not have to pose our torn apart arms for book covers and give you sob stories about terrible times in our lives, so that you’ll feel sorry for us and donate.
We are stronger then that. Don’t underestimate us.
To view more of Chelsea’s Mercy Survivors content, please click here.