As a Teen, Emily Joy Was Abused by a Church Youth Leader. Now She’s Leading a Movement to Change Evangelical America.

Mother Jones

May 25, 2018

By Becca Andrews

#ChurchToo has opened the floodgates.

The #MeToo stories that were flooding Emily Joy’s social feeds for weeks had been nagging at her. Last November, as her own story played on a loop in her mind, she finally texted a group of close friends: “Do I out my high school abuser? Probably, huh?”

Joy’s story is familiar in all the ways we’ve become intimately acquainted with over the last six-plus months. But while the accused was a man in a position of power over his victim, her story also had a key difference: Joy’s abuser was a trusted member of her evangelical church. After talking it over with her friends, the 27-year-old poet decided to post to Twitter her story about Ty Sïlzer, the then-thirtysomething man in her mega-church in Peoria, Illinois, who she says manipulated her into a romantic relationship when she was still a teenager.

“When you’re 16, sometimes you fancy yourself an adult,” Joy tells Mother Jones. “It took me a long time and therapy even to understand, ‘Oh, that’s because I didn’t have an understanding of consent—my church community didn’t have an understanding of consent.’”

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