Courage begets courage in Memphis: another survivor of sex abuse at Immanuel Baptist Church tells her story

Watch Keep

Karen’s Story

I was manipulated and controlled by my abuser for nearly 2 years. I just recently realized that I’ve continued to allow him to manipulate me by keeping quiet since then. That’s one reason I must get the truth out. He can control me no longer. Last week I filed an official police report, and now I tell my story.

My family helped found Immanuel Baptist Church in Germantown when I was in 8th grade. Near the end of my freshman year, Jim, a volunteer youth worker who was married, began to endear himself to me as a friend/mentor/encourager/confidante. Over the following months, he fostered a sense that he was the only one I could really trust. It was during this time that he began to also turn the “friendship” into more of a “relationship.” His physical/sexual pursuit followed quickly. This also continued to escalate, and Jim forcibly raped me. I was falsely burdened with guilt and shame but felt I had nowhere to turn. The “relationship” continued off and on for about another year and a half. He would say things to me like, “If you tell anyone, I’ll deny it all.” and, “No one will believe you, or they’ll say you wanted it.” Jim was super skilled at knowing how to keep me under his thumb. After many attempts of trying to escape and him reeling me back in, I finally was able to make a permanent break from him. I told no one during the entire 2 years.

Fast forward about 3 years to my sophomore year of college when I began to make really bad relationship choices and got pregnant. {Let me pause right there. At this point, I seemed to choose guys I knew I couldn’t trust, because I knew exactly what to expect from them.} When I told my parents that I was pregnant, the events from when I was 15 & 16 came out too. My dad spoke with police, and it was determined that the statute of limitations had passed on my case. He then spoke with Scott Payne, pastor of the church, and I met with him to give more details about what had happened. Payne set up a meeting with Jim and two men in leadership at the church to confront him. He denied it all. All 3 of those confronting Jim told my dad that they couldn’t tell if Jim was telling the truth or not. He agreed to leave the church and nothing else was done.

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