I’m Dani Ward,

and I do lots of things.

Tag Archive for Abuse

The Process of Being.

This Saturday, April 22, I will turn 30 years old. (Want to help me celebrate?)

Frankly, this terrifies me.

All my life, I never envisioned myself living past the age of 28. I figured that either the rapture would have occurred, or I would have killed myself. So you’d think 29 would have been my all-out panic year, but I spent 29 dealing with a lot of other things.

Now, with 30 at my doorstep, I’m caught in its headlights, awaiting its impact with an ever-increasing sense of dread.

As dumpster fires go.

I’ve been sitting here for a good 10 minutes, just staring at the screen. Occasionally typing a sentence or two, then deleting. The words I want to say aren’t words I feel I can say yet, and so I choose to be silent. Much like I have most of this year, if you’ve noticed. On January 18, I left my…

Cognitive distortion and taking up space.

My brain is spinning with thoughts and conversations over the past weeks, the culmination of almost a year’s worth of introspection and mourning. “I looked through the journal section of your blog and noticed you haven’t really written lately,” a friend noted. No. I haven’t. I’ve been afraid, frankly. With some good reason and probably with some over-reaction. But sharing…

Of masculinity & abusive breeding grounds.

Of Masculinity & Abusive Breeding Grounds

This post originally appeared on Plymouth Brethren Dropout on May 26, 2014. An updated version appears below. It’s been just over a year since the tragedy at Isla Vista that prompted the original penning of this post. So many things have happened since then that illustrate the points made herein, including but not limited to: the largely “secular” ongoing hissy-fit that is GamerGate…

No more faith: the whys and why nots of my deconversion.

It’s really rather rare for people to ask me why I deconverted from Christianity. Like, really rare. It’s far more common for them to assume they already know, whether they’re talking to me while they’re expressing this assumption or not. However, in a single week, I’ve had two separate unaffiliated people ask me a variation of the same question about the role fundamentalism had in my deconversion. Of course, I’ve been trying to figure this out for myself on a less-specific scale for the better part of two years, though much of it has been in my own head. Perhaps it’s time for me to work out of my thoughts here with you.

Without GRACE: Secular vs. Spiritual Authority and An Incomplete, Discrepant History.

Last time, I gave some rather brief introductory thoughts to the GRACE report and explained what my intentions are for doing such a thorough and critical review. This time, since I’ve covered the first few pages, I’m jumping in just past the beginning of the introductory chapter and providing commentary through the end of the introduction. I’ll give an overview of the sections I’m addressing, along with direct quotes, observations, and thoughts. You can read the pdf file of the report along with me if you like. As always, your input and observations are welcome.

Without GRACE: Introductory Thoughts

Bob Jones University, self-identified as The World’s Most Unusual University and the Fortress of Faith, has a very public history of many atrocious things. Racism and homophobia have topped the list thusfar, but now, thanks to the 300 page report from the Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) that is gaining national attention, mistreating victims of sexual abuse is another claim BJU can make to fame.

Forgive my cynicism. As both a survivor of sexual abuse and a former BJU student who got expelled for consensual sex, I think it’s pretty well earned at this point.

Frankly, I’m thrilled that the report has been released. I’m pleased with how thorough it is, and I’m even more thrilled with the press it’s getting. Please don’t mistake my joy that the voices of my brothers and sisters and me are finally publicly vindicated as rejoicing in BJU’s public censure. I wish more than anything that they would take to heart the criticism they’re receiving, offer a sincere apology, and make their campus and staff safe places for victims of abuse. However, I’m simply not hopeful to that end.

While I’ve skimmed through two thirds of the report already, I’m currently undertaking the task of reading through every page and footnote. Clearly, I’m personally invested. I actually gave GRACE a written statement, though I’m not sure that it was used in this final report or not. (More on that later). I just need to read it myself, think through it and analyze it myself. And I’m going to provide my exhaustive notes and analysis here, starting today.

These thoughts are my own. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my perspective, but I think it’s valuable to share my thoughts as a survivor, former student, participant in the investigation, and skeptic. Every quote that I reference will have the page number (and footnote number, if applicable) relevant to the report.

And so I begin.

BJU’s lack of grace and what it means to survivors.

The GRACE report of their findings from their investigation into Bob Jones University’s handling of sexual abuse victims comes out tomorrow. I don’t have the spoons to explain the background of this investigation and what it means to all sexual abuse survivors in any way connected to BJU. GRACE’s page on the investigation has a pretty comprehensive list of the…

I belong to me: learning agency & consent outside Christianity.

By and large, Christianity as a system in the Western world teaches people to run rip-shod over the boundaries of those within and without their camps under the guise of love.25 The consent of its members and non-members alike isn’t required, as clearly demonstrated by the past almost 28 years of my existence. And that’s a massive problem, enabling (and at times commanding) the manipulation, mistreatment, and abuse of countless people.

In fact, I’d say one of the defining characteristics of Christianity today is that it has a consent problem.

Lessons learned at the Fortress of Faith: An Introduction.

The sign on front campus of Bob Jones University.

I thought that the hardest thing about being at BJU was going to be just learning how to follow an amazingly ridiculous set of rules — and frankly, I thought I had that covered. I grew up in a conservative Christian school where BJU groups visited for recruitment purposes. I was usually one of the good kids, so I thought BJU was going to be a college-version of my high school. No big deal.

Boy, was I wrong.