How to create a monster (Mercy Multiplied’s Guidelines Manual Part 7)

This piece by Mercy Survivor Anna was originally published on her personal blog, External Mercy, and can be viewed here.

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

monsterI’ll have to admit that I was excited when I first came to the section in the manual that was titled Operations Fundamentals.  I naively expected this section to cover aspects of residents’  treatment that had been so sorely lacking in the content up until this point.  I was disappointed (but not surprised) to realize that the operations that they are referring to are not the operations of the residential counseling ministry, but rather the operations of the non-profit that runs it.  This section is over halfway through the manual, and readers haven’t heard anything about the residents that this entire manual is supposed to enable them to minister to.

I’ll also say right from the start that Mercy Multiplied specifically states that they are covering the concepts in this section on a “high level” stating the importance that readers “seek knowledgeable resources to address the specifics as they relate to your individual vision, mission, and actual legal requirements you will need to comply with.”  We see the foreshadowing of the disconnect between recommending professionals for aspects of the organization’s finances and legal decisions and the obvious eschewing of any professionalism with regard to the residents’ treatment or care.  Over and over again, the manual encourages legal counsel to be sought early and often and while they do encourage finding pro-bono or discounted services (because what Christian organization doesn’t feel entitled to having professionals do things for them for free), they don’t suggest that you get prayer ministers to do this work for them.  Even the pro-bono work is assumed to be coming from, professionals, i.e. lawyers and accountants.  In fact they not only recommend that these individuals be professionals (read: passed the certifications and requirements necessary to prove that they are knowledgeable and experienced in the areas they are advising in), but they even strongly encourage a “reputable attorney” with expertise in non-profits and a “reputable Certified Public Accountant”.  So not only do they expect their financial and legal information to come from experts trained and certified in their field, they’re even wanting to make sure that these individuals are especially good at what they do.

Now let’s just contrast this with Mercy Multiplied’s attitude concerning the expertise of their staff that are actually interacting with residents that have major mental illnesses and require round the clock 24/7 supervision.  This staff is not recommended to have any qualifications or certifications barring a general college degree.  This staff is not recommended to come with reputations of successfully treating individuals with specific struggles that are common to the residents.  It’s not even suggested that people consult with people who are qualified in psychology or mental illness.

What kind of priorities are reflected when an organization is requiring certified professionals for dealing with legal and financial issues to cover their rear legally, but has no requirements for individuals that will actually be caring for the individuals all of this is supposed to be about?  Better make sure you get someone experienced to deal with your organization’s operations because everyone knows how important that is, but anybody can care for the residents—what kind of a double standard is this?  What kind of message does this send to the residents about their worth?  Does Mercy Multiplied really think that recovery from illness with high fatalities is simpler than doing their taxes?  And the answer of course is, yes.  After all, taxes takes someone who knows what they’re doing…training, education, even experience, but recovery from mental illness is as simple as praying and memorizing Bible verses so why would you need anyone special to help residents with that?

Oh, and they even recommend having an independent auditor review financial practices yearly to provide accountability to donors.  And what kind of accountability checks are their for the treatment of residents?  (In case you’ve forgotten, the residents are the people that they are so keen on helping and ministering too…it’s hard to remember since most everything that is recommended has nothing to do with them and everything to do with the organizations’ image and potential donors).  So if you’re a donor, you get to make sure that your money is doing exactly what they said it would, but if you’re a resident you have no recourse if they fail to live up to the minimal expectations commonplace in treatment.  Think about it, what can residents do if they are abused by this organization?  There’s no professional ethics board when you don’t employ professionals to do your counseling.  There’s no certification to revoke when the complaints come pouring in when you don’t submit to any treatment guidelines or certifications.  There’s not even a way to show that their claims about “treatment” are even remotely true.  But that’s obviously not the important thing…because the important thing is that there’s accountability to the donors.  After all, they are the ones who are really running the organization, right?  They’re the ones that matter.

Along the lines of this same disconnect between how money is handled and how residents’ LIVES are handled, there’s plenty of encouragement to keep detailed and accurate records for the organization, but if you’ve seen any of the stories about residents attempting to get records from their time in the program, you’ll know that this sort of record keeping is not considered important.  Because, you can get in some serious trouble with the government for not keeping records on your organization’s tax-exemption, but who is there to get you in trouble if you’re not keeping treatment records?  In Mercy Multiplied’s set up there’s nobody, and for an organization that claims excellence in caring for these ‘poor souls gone astray’, there’s not really any evidence to back those claims up.  ‘Cause who would listen to a bunch of mentally ill young women anyways?  And what would it hurt the organization if those women aren’t satisfied with the treatment or care they get?  I mean, it’s not like they’re paying for it anyways…as long as the donors are happy the revenue stream is stable.  Nothing else matters…nothing…as long as the organization can maintain its public image and engender financial support, there’s not any way to hold the organization accountable for any of its actions with regard to the residents.  This is how Mercy Multiplied is set up.  This is how they recommend similar ministries to be set up.  The focus is not on the residents or the ministry as much as they want to make people think that it is, the ultimate priority is the organization, its leadership, and its financial backers.  And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how you establish a residential counseling ministry that abuses the very people they are claiming to help.  This is the secret of Mercy Multiplied’s success that they are so eager to share with other people.  This is Mercy Multiplied sharing how to create a monster that looks just like them.

**All quotes are from Mercy Multiplied, Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry, Retrieved October 2015.**

(More) fundraising… (Mercy Multiplied’s Guidelines Manual Part 6)

This piece by Mercy Survivor Anna was originally published on her blog, External Mercy, and can be viewed here.

Fundraising2A review of Mercy Multiplied’s Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry.

As much as I’d like to get off the subject of fundraising, Mercy Multiplied’s Guidelines Manual seems to have more about fundraising than any other topic.  Raise your hand if you’re surprised about this…yeah, didn’t think so.  We have three more things to look at from this section: organizational ties, newsletter advice, and volunteer use.  The warnings on organizational ties seems to allude to an area of Mercy Multiplied’s history that they failed to cover in their personal historical overview.

“…be careful not to officially associate or partner your ministry with any other ministries, organizations, or people who would otherwise contradict, endanger, or create roadblocks in furthering your ministry’s God-given vision and mission…the best way to manage these networks and links is to connect via a written policy and procedure that includes standards set by your Board.”

While on the surface this seems innocent enough and rather common sense, I wonder how much of this actually comes from the ‘wisdom’ gleaned from Mercy Multiplied’s relationship with Mercy Ministries Australia, Hillsong Church and other organizations that they were connected with that they disowned when the abuse of the Australian homes was discovered and those associated ministries were shut down by the Australian government.  Remember in their history lesson earlier in the manual, all the Mercy Ministries homes were proudly listed as being outgrowths of the US ministry, except Australia.  Mercy Multiplied’s desperate attempts to sever ties with Mercy Ministries Australia after former residents of the homes in Australia were courageous enough to share their stories of abuse and misuse, is a well-known part of Mercy Multiplied’s storyline.  Mercy Multiplied’s public image has been plagued by their association (or attempt not to be associated) with Mercy Ministries Australia and other organizations that were supportive of their (now unclaimed) work in that country.  With this historical context, it’s not hard to imagine that Mercy Multiplied would offer advice to others that would encourage very careful associations and partnerships.  After all, didn’t Mercy Multiplied specifically say that this was information that was gleaned from their vast experience?  The experience of having to disown Mercy Ministries Australia and to paint former associatives from there as “renegade” organizations not connected to Mercy Multiplied had to have been quite a learning experience.  They say that hindsight is 20/20…people learn to cover their asses based on theirs and others’ experiences.  This section could be read as a what we wish we’d done prior to Australia blowing up in our public faces advice, but maybe I’m reading too much into it.

They recommend a newsletter as a great fundraising tool…of course they recommend that you use pictures, resident testimonies, and success stories without any concern voiced for the residents’ privacy or consent as was discussed earlier.  They warn future fundraisers to have “direct oversight over the newsletter” in order to maintain control over the “voice” of the newsletter’s writing.  Again, this seems quite innocuous if you were to look at it outside the context of Mercy Multiplied’s history and behavior, but remember what information they are recommending be front and center in the newsletter:  residents’ stories.  Couple this with knowledge that Mercy Multiplied has a history of specifically telling residents what their stories should say, and you have to wonder if they’re really just advising control over the narratives that former residents share.  Mercy Multiplied has repeatedly targeted former residents who share stories that do not conform to their chosen narrative and are even known to take down a residents’ “success story” from their website if they discover that the resident is in any way questioning their Mercy Multiplied experience.  There’s a gray area obscuring the point where oversight and control becomes censorship and propaganda, but there is definite reason to think that Mercy Multiplied has reached past the common sense areas and into the extreme.

Lastly, they give advice for volunteer use.  Again, most of this is pretty benign, but it’s concerning that they seem to lump volunteers with access to residents and volunteers at fundraising and awareness events into the same category.  Now, they do offer this caution even though it’s not necessarily specific to volunteering with access to residents.  “Because of the times and the nature of residential counseling programs, we suggest you carefully screen all volunteer applicants.  Require applicants for volunteering to fill out an extensive application, write out their testimony, and give three letters of reference, perhaps including one from their pastor.”  They don’t suggest that maybe background checks be performed or at least the barring of individuals with sex offender histories.  Do they think that filling out an “extensive” application, writing out a “testimony”, and getting a reference letter from a pastor is guaranteed to weed any such individuals out?  Because you know, churches and pastors have never been known to cover up abuse or take the side of abusers…<sigh>.  They also encourage volunteers as a possible way to consider additional staffing needs in the future.  Since we already know that about the professional education or training of their staff it should come as no surprise that they recommend building a staff based not on industry-standard qualifications and requirements, but rather from getting to know a volunteers “heart from a deeper perspective.

**All quotes are from Mercy Multiplied, Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Counseling Ministry, Retrieved October 2015.**

Courage to speak + accountability + taking a stand

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

While I was on the waiting list for Mercy Multiplied I remember promising them I wouldn’t act out in my eating disorder or self injury.  The desperation to get into the program lead me to abstinence from my eating disorder and self injury but once I got there and they met me in person.  There were all these promises going into Mercy Multiplied that every girl including myself wanted.  I made a choice to go there but my choice was based on false promises things I thought the program would truly give me.

I wanted so desperately for God to heal me.  Everyone told me Mercy Multiplied was my last hope.  Looking back God gave me more chances even after Mercy Multiplied.  God showed me that a man-made program that isn’t aligned with everything He has for me isn’t going to heal me.  Only God can heal me.  I quickly found that Mercy Multiplied and people were put on pedestals.  They left out that God was one with the power to heal not Mercy Multiplied.  That’s why that any ministry that claims to heal is not going to heal if they look at themselves as the sole part of the healing.  God can use man-made things to help us but true healing comes from God.  Until a ministry realizes this, no one is going to have true healing.  If they claim healing it’s only going to be temporary.

It’s so sad on the flip side watching girls who graduate fall back into their addictions after telling their story saying Mercy Multiplied did X, Y, Z for them… Truly God is above Mercy Multiplied and yeah it was used to change perspective but their whole mindset did not change overnight.  God has to be the one we give glory to not a man-made program.

I went to Mercy Multiplied with this idea of all these false promises in my head.  There were situations that made me question is this really the place for me?  I found quickly if you could not submit to authority, Mercy Multiplied was not for you.  I found that my biggest struggle.  God is my authority but not man I couldn’t bring myself to bow to a ministry.  My heart belonged to God and not to their authority.

I wanted freedom but when I was at Mercy Multiplied I felt like I was chained down with no freedom.  I had to do many things other girls did not have to do.  I know my experience is part of my life journey but sometimes I think that certain things could have went a different way.

I find myself wondering why we had to hold ourselves to so much accountability before going to Mercy Multiplied but yet the ministry itself hasn’t held itself accountable to anyone.  There’s a lot of things that have happened beneath the surface of the stained glass windows, fundraising events, success stories we read.  There’s a lot of pain and a lot of girls that have gotten hurt in this program but its’ all gotten covered up.  I wonder when will they be held accountable.

I left Mercy Multiplied so broken and lost that I had a hard time even trusting God with my life.  I went to Mercy Multiplied with such a positive outlook hope to recover.  My hope was displaced in a man-made program and God quickly showed me my hope had to be in Him.  I was there trying to put my hope in him.  My counselor there often made me feel like I had to speak great of Mercy Multiplied.  Yet on the inside those people were not kind.  I spent most nights trying to hold back my tears.

I remember one morning before class, I was crying my eyes out.  I remember my counselor coming in my room and telling me I didn’t want to be in the program because I was crying my eyes out.  I felt like they were trying to silence me.  Everyone has feelings and emotions and they can’t be silenced.  I think about this moment and everyone after.  I had to meet with the nutrition/fitness person and my counselor for special meetings.  My crying episode lead to more consequences.  Sitting down with the fitness lady and my counselor, they determined I had set goals that I needed to meet to stay at Mercy Multiplied.  I had to shower two times a day.  I had to put stuff in my shoes, I couldn’t go in my room until my roommate was asleep, I had to walk outside laps around the parking lot between class and snack.  There were so many limitations on my life.

On the day I decided I had enough I wanted to go home.  I couldn’t go through anymore crap there.  They said to me you don’t have enough money you can’t leave.  I questioned where all my money was going since my prescriptions were supposed to be purchased and mailed to me.  They had been purchasing all my medications at an out of network pharmacy so I was paying $11 dollars a prescriptions which I didn’t really need to it was more they were shamed to use my insurance card at a local pharmacy so all my money went to medication.  So I had nothing when I went to leave.  I had to borrow money to go home.  It was the best choice I ever made.

Before I left they put a paper in front of me asking me to sign that I’d not speak about my experience at Mercy Multiplied.  I came home and I hid for months.  I didn’t want to go back to church or be around anyone.  I didn’t want people to know I failed at Mercy Multiplied.  Thing is, I didn’t fail.  Mercy Multiplied failed me because it’s a man-made program.  God didn’t fail me but I did see many lessons I could take from the program and apply to my life journey.

It wasn’t until 2014 that I got break through with the Mercy Multiplied stuff.  I had went to treatment for PTSD it was there that I discovered that Mercy Multiplied tried to silence me.  To make me think that if I didn’t make it there I wouldn’t make it anywhere.  They tried to make me think that if I spoke out against them bad things happen to me but that’s not true at all.

We must remember that no one can silence us.  God doesn’t want us to live in fear or live in shame.  We are his children he’s given us a voice.  We can’t let some powerhouse non-profit that claims to heal people bring us down.  They need accountability too!  By sharing our stories we put a big red Stop sign and say No More!  We have to find ways to keep on sharing and Stop them from falsifying claims to heal.  Man-made programs can fail you, even those $30,000-a-month treatment centers can fail us.  True healing comes from God alone.  Yes He uses programs to provide us tools but the healing comes when we make a decision to give it to God.

For anyone that doesn’t believe in God.  It’s your choice but please remember you can’t let them win.  You have to speak out and tell your story.  It may take a few months of blogging to get it out there.  Living in silence just says they win and they are not winners in my book.  We must stand up and fight and hold them accountable for the injustices we have faced in life because of many who had errors in judgement and we must do what is right for those who have lost the battle or who are afraid to speak up.

Courage is action filled with hard work but it makes a difference.

Mercy Ministries changes name to Mercy Multiplied

Did you hear Mercy’s big news?

MM announcement 1

 

On 22 September 2015, Mercy Ministries officially announced their name change on social media…

Mercy Multiplied 1

The first thing you will notice is that Mercy Ministries (now Mercy Multiplied) has updated their logo, changing the colour scheme to a white-on-blue, and changed the font and style their trademark “M”…

Pink bucket plus poop     =     Blue bucket plus poop

Oops, that was an artistic interpretation of their actual new logo…

MM old logo     =     Mercy Multiplied new logo

Much restore.  So transform.

In addition, it seems they may have lawyered up since their last website overhaul.

LWYRUP

Here’s a link to their policies page that outlines their position on fun things like copyright and privacy.  We wanted to make mention of this to help avoid further (ahem) misunderstandings over use of their material and more false copyright infringements being lodged on social media.  We therefore wish to state, for the record once again, that any links to Mercy Ministries or Mercy Multiplied domains, any quotes, material, or use of Mercy Ministries’/Mercy Multiplied’s images or logos on our website or other channels, fall within the category of “fair use”.

Why the name change?

The new Mercy Multiplied website states the reason for the name change as being:

to better reflect our expanded outreach initiatives and our commitment to “multiplying” Mercy – helping those outside of our residential homes find freedom from life-controlling issues.”

Why would Mercy have ditched the brand, logo and identity it poured so much money, time and PR effort into sanitising over the past eight years?

This question led to the first of many speculations I had, which was that all this was still unable to untarnish their image from the abuse scandals that rocked them in 2008 and ever since.

Even in 2015, page 1 of a Mercy Ministries Google search yielded the Mercy Ministries website at the top (with a little help of their PR overdrive in 2012 after they slipped to 3rd place), followed by Wikipedia, a Sydney Morning Herald article on the closure of the Australian homes, the Mercy Survivors website (with the help of a very basic SEO package that comes with our hosting), an article on RH Reality, another Aussie article, and other not-so-favourable links.

Both Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied and ourselves would know that this has had a huge influence on the public’s perception on Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied.  In the age of information, the public will google before taking a chance on a treatment program they may know little about.  (Mercy Ministries’/Mercy Multiplied’s ever-evolving FAQ page would support this hypothesis, which I will expand on in a moment).

Over time, we have received many comments, messages and emails from those considering Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied as an option for themselves or a loved one.  They have written to us after finding concerning information about Mercy on the internet and wanted to know more.  I would also be so bold as to assert that Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied has, in kind, received much correspondence along the same lines, which we have noticed has flavoured some of their web content and particularly their FAQ section over time, gearing it to address some of the more common concerns raised about their program such as their denials of performing exorcisms, practicing recovered memory therapy, employing unqualified staff, or that pesky elephant in the room at the very bottom,”What about Australia?

Going back to Mercy, they give another clue as to the reasons for their name change.  You can find it in their social media announcement of 22 September 2015, posted here once again for convenience:

Mercy Multiplied 1

Being a survivor of Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied, the part that jumps out at me here is their reference to “a transformed mission“.

  1. It could be a reference to the shifting focus of Mercy Ministries’/Mercy Multiplied’s mission from in-house residential services to outreach.  (More on this in a moment).
  2. It could also be taken as a hint that Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied have finally reviewed their mission and made improvements.

If the latter is true, is this  then some form of passive admission on Mercy Ministries’/Mercy Multiplied’s part that there needed to be improvements?

As much as I would like that to be true, I am more convinced it is the former.  Here’s why…

Without wishing to speak for individuals, the dealings that many in our network have had with Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied (and as evident in many blog pieces from former residents) have brought out a certain attitude – one that tells the resident that Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied does not need to change “because it works“.  (Check out the comments of former Mercy Ministries Australia director Peter Irvine for example).  When it doesn’t work, it’s the resident’s fault, and is not something that causes Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied to reflect on the limitations or flaws in their program, because (duh) their program works, right?  When an applicant enters into the application process with Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied, they are required to be “willing to change“, yet this privilege is not reciprocated.  So this is why I remain doubtful of any sincere reflection on the part of Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied.

The first time in Mercy Ministries’ 32 year history…

There was another announcement in the lead up to THE announcement that said…

MM announcement 32 years

On their new website, mercymultiplied.com, they also made reference to the name change:

MM FAQ reason for name change

But here’s the thing… it’s actually NOT the first time in Mercy Ministries’/Mercy Multiplied’s history.  Mercy Multiplied was not called Mercy Ministries for 32 years.  For a number of Mercy’s early years, Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied was known as Covenant Ministries, and later Covenant House Ministries.  At the time, their program operated from a property in West Monroe.  This was a different facility to the one currently known as Mercy Ministries’/Mercy Multiplied’s Monroe home, with the original home being an hour and a half from Shrevport.  A little of this info is available online.  More is publicly available if you know where to look.  But we initially became aware via members of our own network who lived to tell the story of Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied in the 80s and early 90s.

We are not trying to be petty, but given Mercy Ministries’/Mercy Multiplied’s habit of rewriting their own history as if if never happened, this would be consistent with other attempts by Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied to distance themselves from their own past.

Mercy’s “transformed mission”

At a glance, it seems Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied will:

The final point above is extremely concerning to us – concerning in that an organisation that many of us have found detrimental and even dangerous, that has drawn media criticism internationally over several years of its existence, an organisation that has been the subject of many blogs, an organisation that has its own international survivors network – is training others on how to successfully operate residential programs for troubled young women.  These individuals – qualified or not – armed with Mercy Ministries’/Mercy Multiplied’s one day crash course and a copy of their “Guidelines for Establishing a Residential Facility“, will then go out and open homes under various other names (unless they become one of Mercy Ministries/Mercy Multiplied’s so called “affiliates”) and will carry on Mercy’s disastrous legacy to desperate young women who need actual professional help in a safe healthy environment.

Intentionally or unintentially, Mercy Ministries’ counselling is implanting false memories

This piece by Mercy Survivor Christan was originally published on her personal blog, Pretty Pink Koolaid, and can be viewed here.

Read about it in Scientific Journals or “Psychology Today”, listen about it at the “Committee of Scientific Inquiry” Conference, or overhear a friend talking about an article in the Huffington Post.  The implantation of false memories is something that, intentionally or unintentionally, has and is occurring in therapy.

Scientific studies, like the one conducted at the University of California in Irvine, that involved hundreds of experiments involving thousands of subjects…has proven that it’s relatively easy to change people’s memory.

This, folks….scares the shit out of me.

This scares me because I attended an inpatient “treatment program” in 2002 that advertised qualified counseling staff, medical assistance, and boasted of a 95% success rate.  In retrospect, the counseling staff was not qualified (not even a Bachelors in Psychology, rather they were “called by God” to counsel young women), no medical assistance was provided to me (though I was on medication with a Bipolar diagnosis), and their success rate was the result of bogus “studies.”

At this Nashville, TN based facility called Mercy Ministries, the retired school-teacher who was “called by God” to cure me of mental angst, eating disorder behaviors, and substance abuse, implanted a memory that I had been sexually abused as a child.

For those of you who think that I just sat down on her couch one afternoon and walked out with a memory of sexual abuse an hour later – it’s not so easy.

The entire environment in which Mercy Ministries program is/was based centers very heavily on stories of sexual abuse.  I started off my time at Mercy Ministries by being required to listen to Joyce Meyer’s detailed encounter of sexual abuse by her father, and how God/the Bible “cured her” from that.

I was told repeatedly while in the program that most of the girls who encompass the “95% success rate” as quoted by Mercy Ministries, had been sexually abused and healed from that abuse the same way Joyce Meyer was…though God and the Bible.

I was required while in the program to read books about Nancy Alcorn (President and Founder of Mercy Ministries) and how she worked in a juvenile prison – then went on to act as a social worker, seeing young children who were horrifically abused and taking them from their homes.  Nancy Alcorn writes about the connection in her mind of the young children who were sexually abused, then many ending up in the juvenile prison.

Now let me make something clear before I proceed:  The terrifying fact is that there are many young men and women who have been, and are being, sexually abused.  There is, indeed, a connection between children who are abused (sexually or otherwise) and teens who end up in juvenile prison or struggling with additions, etc.  I understand that this is very real and very frightening.

The examples I am using, are to provide a basis of why my mind (and the minds of other young women in the program) were repeatedly on the issue of sexual abuse.  It was a topic that we read about, talked about, listened to “sermons” about…and in an underlying way, it was stressed to the young women at Mercy Ministries that abuse (in particular sexual abuse) was quite possibly a problem that we had in the past or were hiding “deep down.”

The underlying potential issue of past sexual abuse was exacerbated by a few more things while I was there:  First of all, upon graduating the program, the vast majority of girls said that they realized while at Mercy Ministries that they had been sexually abused – and that was at the root of their addictions, eating disorders, homosexuality, etc.  So at each graduation, I listened to girls who struggled with issues like mine, and had been cured by Mercy Ministries by recognizing they were sexually abused, and then by forgiving their abuser.  Since we could have as many as 4 girls graduating each month, this was a lot of “sexual abuse information.”

The second thing that exacerbated the underlying potential issue of past sexual abuse was the method of therapy.  The “meat and potatoes” of Mercy Ministries counseling criteria was based on “Soul/Spirit Hurts” (from “Restoring the Foundations” counseling criteria).  Here is how Soul/Spirit hurts worked:

Soul Spirit Hurts (SSHs)

The soul/spirit hurt session is usually the most memorable part of the ministry.  Within this session Jesus communicates with us in a unique, and radical way; often revealing painful and even blocked memories.  Our participation in this session begins by asking the Holy Spirit to bring us to a memory that He wants to heal.  Often times, we re-experience the memory and identify our negative emotions.  We then invite Jesus to come and take us through the memory, with Him in charge.  Incredible things happen during this time, helping us to forgive and release the negative emotions to Jesus.  No two sessions are alike.  Once Jesus is finished in the memory, we will be able to go back to the memory without pain, and with new revelation that Jesus brings.

So when the day came that I sat in my counselor’s office and was “letting the Holy Spirit speak to me” about my past and an image popped into my mind – my counselor was more than happy to confirm that the image was symbolic of being sexually abused.  My counselor didn’t stop at that bold statement, she went on to tell me that “no one does the amount of drugs that you did” without there being severe sexual abuse in my past.

The rational from her uneducated brain was that:  No one with a normal, happy upbringing would ever abuse their body the way you abused yours.

Now, I won’t go into the psychology and scientific reasoning’s of why her statement was so ignorant (as I didn’t realize it until almost a decade later), but let’s just say that education is power.

After that counseling session, where I believed that I must have been abused, and then prayed to forgive my abuser…I was treated by the other staff members as “healed and whole.”  After all, I had finally found the answer to all of my problems.  I had been an addict because I had been sexually abused.  I had struggled with anorexia because I had been sexually abused.  I had been “acting Bipolar” because I had been sexually abused.  And now that I recognized it (through revelation of the Holy Spirit), Jesus had cured me…from everything.

For more information on why I believed by counselor so readily, please refer to the postings: 

http://prettypinkkoolaid.com/post/64677349482/questioning-mercy-ministries-staff-questioning-god

Brainwashing (Mercy Ministries term: “Renewing our minds”)

No questioning of Mercy Ministries staff allowed

Now that I had completed my “revelation” of sexual abuse…I could now forgive, pray, and never struggle with anything ever, ever again (unless I sinned and invited the devil back inside of me, that is).

The part I struggled with, and vocalized, was that I never had any memory of the sexual abuse.  On top of that, even though I prayed to forgive my abuser…I wasn’t angry at him.  When I asked my counselor why I had no memory of the abuse and why I wasn’t angry – she answered my questions in two parts.

  1. I didn’t have memory of the abuse because it was so traumatic my brain was protecting me from itself.  Luckily for me, God had brought me to a “safe place” in Mercy Ministries (where the devil couldn’t enter), and therefore the Holy Spirit was able to speak truth to me.  The Holy Spirit, the counselor said, reveals things to us that we don’t remember – and that is the power of God.
  2. I wasn’t angry because I had prayed to forgive my abuser.  When I chose to forgive my abuser through prayer, God honored me in taking away my anger.

Unfortunately for me, and for multiple other young women whom I have spoken with, I went on after graduating Mercy Ministries to confront my alleged abuser.  This caused years of dissention with my family, severe heartache, and suicidal tendencies on my end from the mental torment of thinking the abuse happened but not having memory of it.  The fortunate part is that after almost three years of no contact with my family (the alleged abuser I had accused was my father), I started doubting myself and desired to sincerely find truth.  I got back on medication for my mental disorder, saw a qualified therapist, and distanced myself from the religious Pentecostal teachings I had clung to since my time at Mercy Ministries.  My family, especially my father, welcomed me back with open arms.

My friend Vicki (name changed to protect her privacy), who also was in the Mercy Ministries program the same time that I was – wasn’t as fortunate as I.  Vikki also came out of Mercy Ministries falsely accusing her father of sexual abuse.  Many years later when she came back brokenhearted letting him know she finally realized the abuse never occurred – he wasn’t as gracious as my father.  While my family has slowly been able to reconcile and heal over the years, her father refuses any contact with her at all.  To this day, ten years after graduating Mercy Ministries – she does not have a relationship with her father due to the false sexual abuse claims put into her mind through Mercy Ministries’ counseling.

Intentionally or Unintentionally – Mercy Ministries “Counseling” is Implanting False Memories.

The painful part for Mercy Ministries graduates is that once the memory is recognized as false…Mercy Ministries, and in particular Nancy Alcorn (President and Founder) – seemingly DROP any and all contact.

When I told Nancy Alcorn (who treated me like a daughter and called me her “favorite Mercy girl” for years) that I realized the abuse claim against my father was false…she stop returning my emails.  She stopped returning my calls – she stopped acknowledging I existed.  Not only did I not hear from Nancy, but my emails, phone calls, and mail correspondence with all Mercy Ministries staff went unanswered for a solid year.  I went from being a “Mercy Ministries Hero”, being featured in their magazines and speaking at Girls of Grace Conferences, to being a nobody.

Eventually, Nancy did return a few emails, though it was a year or more later, very generic and void of warmth.  She still has never acknowledged the pain and agony I went through from the false abuse claims.  I begged her in writing to reconsider the counseling tools used by Mercy Ministries staff, and there was no response.  I also, in desperation to find out what happened in the 8+ months I was inpatient at Mercy Ministries, requested my medical and counseling records.

To my dismay, after 5+ years of fax requests, email requests, USPS requests, and phone call requests for my personal records (I started requesting my records in 2008) – I finally received one sheet of paper stating the dates I was at Mercy Ministries, and that I graduated.  (You can read more on my journey for Mercy Ministries records here).

I don’t think I am ever going to get answers from Mercy Ministries.  Nancy Alcorn and her staff seem hell-bent on protecting their multi-million dollar Kingdom and completely uninterested in taking responsibility – or even looking into – their unqualified staff and dangerous counseling methods.

Intentionally or Unintentionally – Mercy Ministries “Counseling” is Implanting False Memories.  It happened to me and it has happened to multiple other graduates and residents who spent time within the four walls of Mercy Ministries.

When will it stop?

 

Mercy Ministries counseling leads girls to believe they were abused, then uses their stories to make money

This piece by Mercy Survivor Christan tells it like it is, and updates us on her quest for access to her own records (previously covered here, here and here).  This piece was originally published on her personal blog and can be viewed at Pretty Pink Koolaid.

Let’s get RAW.

I have been requesting my personal records from the 9 months I spent Mercy Ministries since 2008.  Yes, you counted right…that’s five years of requests that have gone unanswered.  If you follow my blog, you will note that I requested my personal records again last week…this time emailing Nancy Alcorn (which I’ve done in the past) AND cc’ing every Mercy Ministries staff member I could obtain an email on.  I just received my “records” from Mercy Ministries for the first time today via Certified Mail.

I kept the envelope in my purse for a few hours – I just wasn’t sure I was ready to see what was in there.  You see, here is the reason I requested my records in the first place:  (note: this is the very, very condensed version)

While in a counseling at Mercy Ministries of America, during a regression memory therapy type of session that Mercy calls “Soul/Spirit Hurts” – it was “revealed” to me by the Holy Spirit through my counselor that I had been abused.  Not just abused by anyone, mind you…but abused at the hands of a close family member.

Now, I didn’t have any memory of this abuse, but since the Mercy Ministries staff knew “by the Holy Spirit” that it was true, I thought it must be also. (See previous posts about how I got to the place where I believed everything Mercy Ministries Staff had to say)

Many months after graduating Mercy, I was encouraged to address these abuse allegations with that family member, which I did.  It was agonizing because I didn’t want to damage my relationship with my family, but I was told by the church pastor (whose “authority” Mercy Ministries and Nancy Alcorn, specifically, told me to be under) and Mercy that without addressing the abuse and cutting ties with my family….God wouldn’t be able to use me fully.

Continue reading “Mercy Ministries counseling leads girls to believe they were abused, then uses their stories to make money”

Update on records request

This piece by Mercy Survivor Christan follows up on her requests for her Mercy Ministries client records (published here and here).  This piece was originally posted on her personal blog and can be viewed at Pretty Pink Koolaid.

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Good News…Mercy Ministries responded to my request for records.  All it took was 5 years of requesting my records, 4 faxes, 5 phone calls, emailing every key Mercy Ministries Staff Member and threatening to get a lawyer.

Below is the correspondence:

Continue reading “Update on records request”

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