Stranger-Rape and Worse
I was very involved in the Assembly and tried to be a faithful sister and came out to all the meetings. I worked full time and went to college in the evenings when there was no Bible study or prayer meeting.
One night as I walked to my car after class, I was approached by two guys. They raped me. There are a lot of homeless in that neighborhood and I cannot even begin to describe how frightened I was. I was so weak I couldn't even walk for a few minutes. Finally I got to a gas station and used the restroom to kind of clean up. I had bruises all over my body and I was shaking. My purse, my phone and everything had been stolen. I asked a guy at the gas station if I could use a phone. I think he only let me because of the way I looked. I called a sister in fellowship to pick me up. At that point I was in shock and I didn't even think about calling the police.
The sister picked me up and I just laid on her shoulder and start crying. She couldn't get a word out of me for about twenty minutes. I was just so relieved to be alive and safe at that point. After I calmed down, I told her what had happened. She immediately called the wife of a Leading Brother. He and his wife met us at the hospital. I was checked out, given medication, and filled out a police report for the rape and stolen belongings. I was sent home and told to see a counselor.
Immediately the brother told me that I could not see any counselors and that his wife and another Leading Brother's wife would counsel me through this. I stayed home for several days and just didn't wanted to get out of my house. I constantly called one of the wives and talk to her. It made me feel better.
A few days later she called me to say that she was not going to support me anymore in this and that she would not talk to me at all anymore. About an hour later her husband called me and told me that all the Leading Brothers and their wives would like to meet with me the next evening. I said okay.
There were several other people there when we met the next night. I was young, only a college student, and I had all these people around me! I was exited at first, thinking that they were all there to support me. But it actually turned out to be the hardest night of my life. This was the night when I regretted ever meeting these people.
All of them just sat there and asked me questions about the guys who raped me. They started off by saying, "How do you know them?" I told them I didn't know them, they were complete strangers. But they accused me of having a relationship with these guys and wanting to have intimate relations with them. I was the one who brought this upon my self and I was just making up a story.
I can't even describe how rejected I felt at that point. One of the brothers, a single guy, said, "Even if it is true that they raped you, why didn't you fight back? You just wanted to have sex with them." I said, "That is why I have bruises, because I was fighting back!" I just started crying. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
They told me I needed to humble myself and follow their direction. They said I could not partake of the Lord's supper any longer, I could not come out to any Assembly fellowships, but I was to come to all the meetings and sit in the back. Well, what was I supposed to say? I agreed. I cried the whole way home, and I actually thought about suicide.
For many months I sat in the back of the meetings. It would be difficult for anyone to understand what I was going through during those months. I could not see a counselor that the emergency room prescribed for me. I could not meet with the Leading Brothers' wives. They completely turned away from me. They wouldn't even say hello after the meetings. I was devastated, I was depressed, I was lonely. I didn't have any other close friends in the Assembly.
Finally, I approached one of the Leading Brother's and asked if I could partake again. He told me to write an essay about what happened to me and this time to be truthful that I did want sex with these guys. He said it just like that. Just hearing that made me feel like throwing up. I was like, "How am I going to do this?".
I did write an essay, but I wrote the truth of what happened to me. I had pictures to prove my bruises and I had a police report for the rape and theft. I turned it in to the Leading Brother. The next time he saw me he told me it was not acceptable. What I wrote was not true, and I must still sit back for lying again.
Oh, my gosh, I remember driving home that night thinking I would never be good enough and no-one would ever believe me. I just wanted to die. I remember driving and approaching a bridge, and I had a thought to drive myself off the bridge. I almost did. But a car in front of me honked a sudden, very loud honk and it just kind of brought me out of that strange state of mind - SNAP! I was like, wow! I believe it was of God. In fact sometimes now I even think that maybe the car never honked, and it was just God.
I ended up leaving the Assembly a few months later. I got involved with a great Christian church right away, and God has been doing nothing but miracles in my life since then. I thank God every day for bringing the truth about George Geftakys to light. I pray that his new beginning will not succeed.
This horrific account shows very clearly several of Robert Lifton’s eight criteria for thought reform operating in this Assembly. The first is the demand for purity. In my opinion, the rape was turned into a huge issue because of the Assembly’s view of itself as a “lampstand of pure gold”. Lifton observes that thought reform includes a demand for purity which produces a guilt and shame milieu by holding up standards of perfection that no human being can accomplish.
The second is the cult of confession. The thought reform environment demands that personal boundaries are destroyed and that every thought, feeling, or action that does not conform with the group's rules be confessed. In this case, the Assembly leadership carried it even further, in the same way communist regimes do, demanding this girl confess to something she did not do.
Lifton describes this kind of thing in great detail in his analysis of Chinese thought reform techniques in the 1950's. It is astounding to me, although it shouldn't be by now, that the Assembly sank to such depths.
The third is dispensing of existence. By “fencing” her from the Lord’s table, the Assembly leadership was in effect saying she was cut off from God’s grace and was under condemnation – an extremely perilous spiritual condition, in the Assembly view. Within the confines of the group, the Leading Brothers had the power to dispense with her existence.
May 3, 2008, Mark Campbell: Dear Anonymous, I think the response of those who would doubt your story tells us more about the condition of the doubters then it does about the validity of your story. Who could possibly doubt your story and what would motivate them to do so?
Some of the Assembly leadership were involved in the violations of personal boundaries that have been called spiritual abuse. Now, an exact comparison to a physical rape can't be made because the spiritual abuse is achieved via subtle psychological pressure while rape is a violent physical attack.
The similarity is found in the fact that both forms of abuse damage the psyche, and both are perpetrated by those who get something out of having power over a weaker person. In other words, both kinds of abusers seek to control and dominate another soul for their own personal gratification. (Rape is not about sexual lust.)
Even the most hardened evil abuser has to deal with some vestiges of a conscience, and finds some way to blame the victim for what they do. This means they have to discover a way to blame the victim for their own evil actions. Judy G. was told by Betty G. that David beat her up because Judy "had a sharp tongue." Now, Betty didn't physically abuse Judy, but because Betty had the mindset of an abuser, her thinking always found a way to excuse the abuser and blame the victim.
Betty told Moonflower (see her comments) that her mom's short skirt was to blame for an attempted rape. So, it is not surprising that Assembly leaders who doubted your story might seek to indict you, the victim, vs. the clearly obvious persons of blame---- the rapists!
This conclusion I arrived at above isn't so much psychology as it is just plain common sense. God loves the vulnerable and needy, but abusive religious leaders seek instead to manipulate, use, and control them. The abuser gets his feeling of strength from dominating the meek, versus God's desire to give strength to those victimized.
This religious domination, as I mentioned above, is subtle, but can be very devastating to a soul. By claiming to be God's representative and having "God's mind" they gain a power over those in the group. When not submitting to their control could mean the loss of heaven, eternal life, and God himself, the leader has his place of mastery over you via the terrible fear created.
There were leaders caught up in the GG-inspired evil drive for the thrill that having power over others brought. God knows what they were doing and why they did it and he also knows the victims of that abuse and cares deeply for them.
Telling your story not only has been good for you, but for many others who are still burdened with the fact that some doubt their stories of being abused in the Assembly. God bless you for having the courage to speak out and may his joy and peace fill your life!
May 2, 2008, Anonymous: "Wow….this is a real shocker, huh? 'Godly' leadership taking a poor injured soul and making a criminal out of them. Let us all say a word of thanks that we escaped. As for me, I’m hoping that George and Betty live in poverty the rest of their lives. Manipulative, greedy people.
May 1, 2008, Author of this account: "I have been noticing how much people are commenting on my story. Very interesting. Looks like some of them don't want to believe, in a way. Oh, well. Honestly, I've been feeling so much better after posting my story here. It's like a big rock fell off. It's like I'm more free now. It's like I moved on, but I still had something holding me back, but now I feel like I can totally move on after letting the whole world know what happened."
April 23, 2008, anonymous: I have read the comments and want to validate anonymously the story of this young girl who has come forward with her story. Dear ones who are writing in need to realize that it can be painful to read that her story may need validation or cannot be proven due to anonymity. There are many reasons as to why she needs to remain anonymous. Coming forward with rape is hard enough. A woman has to face scrutiny from her family, friends, and co-Workers. She also has to face the strangers who do not know her, and can easily condemn her even though they may not consciously want to do so. No man is above sin.
The Assembly has committed many heart-wrenching awful acts against both men and women in the name of Christ. I guess history has a way of repeating itself. How is this behavior any different than the Crusades and Christian persecution in China, USSR, etc.? These leading brothers were men with very definite opinions on women.
In the future I will share what I went through, and the many things I was told which will make your hair stand up. Rape is demeaning no matter how it happens. A woman does not asked to be raped. In the Assembly a woman was asked to not even have her thighs showing because a brother would stumble. We could not wear tight jeans, high-heels, loud clothing, low-necks, tight-fitting, short-skirts, short-dresses, dark make-up, etc. I can go on and on, but the reality is that women, at least in our fellowship, and when I went to LA, were always told how to act and be at all times, lest they tempt a man.
We could not even put our head-covering on before the brothers started praying lest it be considered leading. We could not hug lest the brother thought we wanted something else. If a sister spent too much time talking to a brother she was entreated. In our fellowship, at one point, brothers could not come over to the sister's home unless there was a couple there. How far can you go, and how tight can you hold on to prevent sin? We could not call the brothers, and we could not be alone unless they were spending time with us in regards to marriage.
The girl who has risked everything to put her story up on this site needs encouragement, and an applause for coming forward. Her only proof is to God. He is the only one that knows exact details and no matter what, He would never throw stones at His child, but embrace her in love and say she is still His daughter. I may seem emotional and strong in what I say, but since I know this child of God, and what she has gone through, I stand with her in her battle to find healing. Healing starts with talking, facing what happened, forgiving, and moving on knowing it was not her fault.
April 21, 2008, Brian Tucker: This is powerful. i admire your courage in putting this out there. i can't imagine what you've been through. you have more authority on this topic than any of us, because you've been through it. we're on the outside, blundering towards understanding.
i've heard other rape and abuse stories from the assembly that will never be told. this rape story is entirely plausible. i believe her.
i agree with what jem said about situations varying from leader to leader and assembly to assembly. the problem is in the system itself - a system that allows leaders, however well intentioned, to hold such absolute power over people's lives. in that situation, they will eventually make the wrong decision on a horrific situation such as this with devastating results.
not all leaders were ignorant, heartless or oblivious. some of them were, and the assembly system still allowed them this unbridled power over individual's lives. that will always result in abuse, eventually. the general conformism that permeated the leadership ensured that the most ambitious got their way, and ambition is strongly correlated with corruption.
and at the top we have george, a man with a proven history of surrounding himself with the most ambitious yes-men he can. he is a textbook narcissist whose top priority in life will always be to fill his life with people who build up his ego, buying into his grandiose self-delusion. that is more important to him than anyone's feelings, or justice, or truth - as he has repeatedly demonstrated. to think of him as a righteous man is laughable.
its heartbreaking to read how this woman was so excited to meet with the leadership, sure that they were about to step up and protect her, only to have them crush her with the worst sort of condemnation.
and sexual abuse is one of the most under-reported and unprosecuted crimes in the country for exactly these reasons. when the unfortunate soul that has been deeply traumatized finally gets up the courage to open up to someone about it, they all too often get an ignorant response. they are doubted, or even condemned. this drives the trauma much deeper, and the psychological fallout can last for years, or even a lifetime.
the victim may never have the courage to talk to another person about it. this is why its so important to get professional help. a professional may not be perfect, but they won't make these kinds of glaringly ignorant mistakes. for reference, see this discussion on myths about rape.
April 21, 2008, Flora: Folks, pardon me, but I am baffled and very confused about some points made here. 'Just me', you stated in your posting that you were told: "That there needs to be 2 or 3 witnesses to the actual act in order for there to be an accusation."
So, they are saying that they will not believe a victim unless two or three other people witnessed the sinful act. How utterly bizarre! If one interpreted scripture this way then an elder could do almost anything as long as there was no more than one witness. He could shoplift, commit murder, commit adultery, commit physical and/or sexual assault or any other crime and get away scot free. This is completely ludicrous! This is obviously another example of George and his supporters twisting scripture to cover up sin.
April 20, 2008, Tom Maddux: I suspect that Betty needed and wanted to believe that George was the victim of being allured by other women's advances. That way, she could blame others and not have to cause problems in her own marriage. George, in effect, was the victim.
April 20, 2008, "Vandyke": The two to three witnesses argument works great for anyone who abuses others in private. How can people use that as a criteria? I think this is one of those verses used to protect the guilty.
April 19, 2008, "Moonflower": I can vouch for a reported rape of a sister who had been attending the Chicago assembly in the early years. I had been told that the victim had been on a date with the rapist. Two sisters had told me about it. The response that the rape victim had received from the Chicago sister was, "What were you doing there?" I was shocked.
Later, during a time when I regularly talked to Betty, I mentioned what the rape victim had been told. Betty agreed with what the victim had been told: "what were you doing there." I told Betty that I disagreed with that response; that there is never an excuse for someone being raped, and you are placing the guilt on the victim who is already going to have problems dealing with guilt.
I then brought up an example of when my mother, working as a nurse, had avoided being raped by a patient by making as much noise as she could, by knocking wastebaskets around, etc., in the patient's hospital room. Betty's response: "What was she wearing? Was she wearing a short skirt?" My reply was that she was wearing her nursing dress, and, pressed for more details by Betty, I mentioned that it was just above her knees, to which Betty replied, "Uh huh!" I was really shocked at Betty's attitude.
Who knows how this assembly rape victim had been treated by the brothers............but, as far as I know, she had left before I started attending assembly meetings. Smart woman.......I felt I had to add this information because there are still disbelievers in what victims of this aberrant Assembly behavior have experienced.
April 19, 2008, "Just Me": I recently spoke to a brother still in fellowship in the Pasadena assembly. He told me that the brethren still consider the testimony of the women that were abused by George as lies. That it is his word against theirs. That there was no proof. That these women were as guilty as he was before the Lord. That things were not handled spiritually. That there needs to be 2 or 3 witnesses to the actual act in order for there to be an accusation. They likened it to the false accusations brought against priests in the Catholic church!
These, Vandyke, are direct quotes. The men in the assemblies are spiritual and faultless. When they confront sin and failure they have to spiritualize and condemn it, or they are condemned. They are true Pharisees who have no fault.
I am not surprised by the rape story, although horrified and shocked. After all, none supported my story of abuse by George. And they still call me a liar. They claim it was my fault because I could have walked before the Lord and remained pure! They claim that I had no proof. It is all a story of perfection and spirituality that does not consider human-ness, feeling, emotion and sinfulness. I was told by a sister in fellowship, "But we all are accountable before the Lord," as if we could control all of our outward circumstances and remain pure.
There are no victims in the assembly. Everyone who fails is an outcast and the rest puff themselves saying, "Thankfully that is not me." Shocking but true. And the continuing assemblies still will not consider my story of victimization and study their own personal responses to my telling the story. They all rallied to George and "the brethren" rather than rally to me and other women.
April 19, 2008, Mark Campbell: I can believe this rape story as I, as a leader in a local Assm., was involved in a situation where we had to make a choice between doing not only the compassionate thing, but what was just. A former member of our group contacted me with the report that one of our current members had molested his daughter when they were still members in the group.
This current member (to his credit) admitted it (and has since made things right with those he wronged) and we "leaders" were left with the decision of what to do. The compassionate and just thing to do was to hold the bro. responsible and require him to take ownership for his actions (and all that this required).
However, this bro. was of value to "the work" and the damaged family was now out of the Assembly. The message from Fullerton. was that we were to accept his private reconciliation with God and that there were to be no other responsibilities or consequences connected with this bro.'s failure.
I was told by the "Worker" leading bro. that, "after all, anyone of us could have done the same thing", thus indicating that it was no big deal to molest children! Talk about a lack of compassion! So, what did I do? I tried to argue against this course of action, but ultimately I did "conform", though in my heart I knew this was very wrong. I was aware that this decision not only would not help the one molested it would also be bad for the bro. who needed serious help in being recovered!
Was I a better person because I only "conformed" vs. advocating the direct unjust and hard hearted Full. line of reasoning? In the end, passivity in the face of evil is just as unloving as those actively promoting the evil and both attitudes need to be admitted to and repented of. I fear many former members excuse their own culpability as former members based on their belief that their roles were more conformity vs. active evil.
I'm not saying that each attitude is equal as to the degree of wrong it involves, but the two parts (active and passive) had to be in place for the Assm. to function as an abusive organization. Both parts worked toward the end of wounding precious souls for whom Christ died and this needs to be recognized and repented of.
April 19, 2008, "Jem": I would like to think that the anonymous nature of the rape story was to protect the victim and perhaps even leaders who have since repented. Things got much weirder after you left fellowhip. In the assembly I was in I could see one leading brother doing this kind of thing, but not the others. And I could see this kind of thing happening in some assemblies more than others. But it got so bizarre I have no problem with the veractiy of this claim.
April 19, 2008, "Vandyke": When I first met the saints at Fullerton college I was 19 years old, attending Calvary Chapel with my fiance. After we were married we started attending the Assembly. By the next summer I was desperately aware that my marriage had problems. I dealt with it by becoming a more and more committed Christian in the Assembly. This only made things worse for my marriage. I came home from work one night to find that she had committed adultery and left me. I was devastated. I needed help, support, understanding. Of course I went to the saints. They said, 'You need to talk to leadership!'
Not long after this Steve Irons said he would like to have breakfast with me. I thought, "He is going to be consoling to me, he is going to give me the words I need to get through this situation." After we sat down he started asking questions, "How long were you together,...." Then he started in on me, "Are you cheating on your wife?" "Who is this girl you are cheating on your wife with?" Dude it was exactly like the Rape story!
I left our meeting devastated. "This guy thinks its all my fault!" And this is how I lived with my divorce from then on. "Its my fault!" So when I read the story on the Rape, I could see it happening just as it was written. Today I hold no grudge against Steve. Why? I saw what he went through after leaving the Assembly. (He definitely regrets some of the things he did.) Today he is a humble man.
I would also like to think that this is all George's doing. I can't believe that the people in the existing Assembles would continue on with this sort of thing, "Blame the victim," but I could be wrong.
April 19, 2008, Flora: If you read my story on this site, you will find that the leadership was quite heartless. As a sister, who was not a Worker, I had no idea what was transpiring between the local leadership and those in higher positions of authority - George, Betty, Mike Zach, and the other itinerant brothers. I only know what I experienced.
This brave woman came forward to tell a horrific story, in order to enlighten others regarding the true nature of this organization. That took an incredible amount of guts and courage!! As a student, she probably had no idea what was transpiring between the local leadership and those in higher positions of authority. She probably only knew what she had experienced. We can be very grateful that she had the courage to relate her experience to us.
Concern was expressed that since no names are mentioned, it is hard to corroborate her story. I agree and initially this also caused me concern. However, since it was posted on the Assembly Reflections website, I came to the conclusion that Margaret Irons knows the identity of the woman, and the Assembly in which it took place.
Also, no rape victim wants to revisit those memories. Since she courageously came forward to tell her story, I want to go on the record as saying: "I believe her entire story." I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit I once respected these people.
There is another reason why I believe her story. A similar experience happened to a sister in one of the Assemblies in Canada. The leadership refused to believe that she had been raped and insisted that she sit at the back of the meeting and not partake of the breaking of bread. She left fellowship within a month of the incident. A number of months later, she phoned me and told me her story. For me, this was the straw that broke the camels back. I left fellowship shortly after I learned her story.
To the woman who has just courageously come forward with her story, I want to say: Thank you for the insight to the collective heartlessness that you experienced. Their attitudes and behaviour reveal that they are false ambassadors of our Saviour's love and grace. May the Lord's everlasting arms continue to support, strengthen and comfort you. May the Lord richly bless you for being willing to tell your story.
April 17, 2008, "Vandyke" from the Assembly bulletin board: I am really upset about how the "saints" handled the rape that is posted on the website. I shudder to think that I supported this group. I suspect it had everything to do with George..."
April 16, 2008, Anonymous: This story is a horrific example of the moral bankruptcy of the Assemblies. The Assemblies truly are misogynistic (hateful of women) good old boys clubs. Our society understands the need to protect women, evidenced by restraining orders, women’s shelters, marriage counseling, domestic violence counselors etc. In the Assembly, however, the natural compassion for a vulnerable set of people is replaced by the need to dominate and subjugate for the purpose of power, control and the repression of emotion.
This is why someone like David Geftakys was promoted in leadership while his wife was counseled to submit and repent of her rebellion. This is why someone like George could carry on his affairs while Betty and others blamed the women for corrupting him. This is why men in leadership could talk about wife training and child training in similar terms to dog training. This is why women could be kept at home raising numerous children, cooking all meals from scratch, sewing, home schooling etc. while the men were able to sit idle in “important” meetings, meet at coffee shops and restaurants, have free Mondays etc. while in the “work of the Lord”, and have no stewardships at home.
Men who are leaders in the Assemblies are never culpable. They set the standards by "seeking the mind of the Lord” and that can never be contested, even when anyone with a conscience (Christian or not) can see right from wrong more clearly than they.
I certainly hope that these kinds of stories continue to influence individuals who try to see the worth of the “purity” of the Assembly system. I also hope that the men who were represented in this story are not still in leadership somewhere. If these are the men who are still continuing in leadership in West LA , Pasadena, San Francisco, Sacramento or elsewhere, could someone please raise the alarm and warn the women that are listening to them that they are unsafe!
April 11, 2008, Anonymous: I know the beautiful girl that went through this nightmare and it is infuriating to see how deceived mankind can become--from Christ-like behavior to pharisaical. "Crucify Him!", they shouted, and that is what they did to this child of God.
I know George is an avid reader of The Reign of the Servant Kings [J. Dillow] from which he derived many of the thoughts and explanations at his seminars. A wonderful anonymous scholar reviewed George's books and my notes, in addition to attending one of the meetings. He found many plagiarisms from a man who claimed to have revelation from God.
How disappointing to think of the years I personally spent teaching the four anchors, birthing legalism and seeing so many beautiful souls being deceived. I often ponder on the work I saw begin on many of the campuses and the ones I directly assisted in starting. I pray that God frees these ones who are seeking so desperately to draw nearer to God, and instead are deceived into a life of works.
I remember what that life was like. I lived in fear and despair of making even the slightest mistake. If you did, you were "entreated". People who knew me saw the light die in me and a shadow fall over me during the years I was in the Assembly.
To this daring soul who wrote about her rape I say, your are beautiful and always have been and in the sight of God. I have watched you grow into a woman of strength and honor. You are blessed. Forgive me if I have ever influenced you otherwise through the teaching of the anchors in the Assembly. I am thankful to God every day to see God's hand in your life.