“There is no agony like having an untold story inside you.” - Zora Neale Hurston
Archiving a culture of silence

Archiving a culture of silence

This is the second post in OSU’s current blog series on SNAP Mennonite’s MAP List (Mennonite Abuse Prevention List) and the broader issue of naming church workers (lay or ordained) who are credibly accused* of perpetrating sexualized violence. Check out my introduction to the series or Barbra’s post from last week to get a better grasp on what the...
Why We Name Names

Why We Name Names

This is post 1 in OSU’s first blog series. Its theme is SNAP Mennonite’s MAP List (Mennonite Abuse Prevention List) and the broader issue of naming church workers (lay or ordained) who are credibly accused* (our definition below) of perpetrating sexualized violence. Check out the introduction to the series  to get a better grasp on...
We're trying a new thing! Blog series on OSU

We’re trying a new thing! Blog series on OSU

Today, we are trying a new thing! It is day one of a 3-4 week blog series focused on SNAP Mennonite’s MAP List (Mennonite Abuse Prevention List) and the broader issue of publicly naming credibly accused perpetrators of sexualized abuse. In a separate post, Barbra Graber starts off the series by...
The Panel is Walking Away, and So Am I

The Panel is Walking Away, and So Am I

Hello, my friends, It is time for me to speak after a prolonged silence. I’ve been trying to find my voice again through this complicated process. My advocate Barbra Graber, my sister Marissa Buck, and my dear friends at Our Stories Untold and SNAP Mennonite have walked along at my...
The Perception of the Problem

The Perception of the Problem

Teach and model mutuality between men and women and challenge the ongoing legacy of patriarchy in the church. – From “What we will do…As church institutions,” in “Churchwide Statement on Sexual Abuse.” Passed by Mennonite Church USA Delegate Assembly, Kansas City, July 2015. Institutions are crowded. In noticing the crowds,...
Do Not Let Your Heart Beat Hope

Do Not Let Your Heart Beat Hope

“I’m going to destroy you, and I know exactly how.” That’s the sentence that started a two-year run for me, one from which I’m still recovering, of a feral, terrified, and isolated existence. That’s the sentence that launched my former lover, partner, friend – the most trusted person in my...
Mennonite Bodies, Sexual Ethics: Women Challenge John Howard Yoder

Mennonite Bodies, Sexual Ethics: Women Challenge John Howard Yoder

Many readers of Our Stories Untold are likely familiar with aspects of the long, troubling history — dating to the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s — of theologian John Howard Yoder’s sexual abuse of women, and of myriad failures among Mennonite institutions to adequately address it.  Here, Rachel Waltner Goossen, professor...
Save the apology, we need accountability: spoken word by M.G.

Save the apology, we need accountability: spoken word by M.G.

On Monday of this week, M.G. shared her experience of the rape and abuse she survived while a student at Eastern Mennonite University, as well as the university’s response when she reported the violence. If you read the story, you know that M.G’s courage and wisdom is pretty hard to miss. Today, you get to see...
We Can Do Better: how my report of rape at a Christian school made things worse

We Can Do Better: how my report of rape at a Christian school made things worse

This post has been a long time coming, not that I haven’t written about it or spoken about it before, but I’ve never written about it or spoken about it in this depth, to this wide of an audience. As more comes to light about Eastern Mennonite University’s response to...
Virginia Mennonites file complaint against pastor Duane Yoder

Virginia Mennonites file complaint against pastor Duane Yoder

  Eight members of Virginia Mennonite Conference have filed an official complaint with the conference asking that pastor Duane Yoder’s credentials be put under review for breaches of trust. A letter distributed to the Lindale Mennonite Congregation in March of 2016 revealed that Duane Yoder withheld from his congregation for more than...
Dr. Dwight Krehbiel's Letter to Patty Shelly: a response to our Call to Action

Dr. Dwight Krehbiel’s Letter to Patty Shelly: a response to our Call to Action

In my role with Our Stories Untold, I have the privilege of knowing that in response to our Call to Action there are people all over the continent who are voicing their concern to those in positions of Mennonite authority about the way Mennonite institutions are responding to Luke Hartman’s abuse...
Call to Action Update...

Call to Action Update…

(…or what we didn’t say in an attempt to keep it short, and are now saying anyway because not saying it is being used to discredit our concern) Wow. Here’s a big, hearty thank you! to all of you who responded to our call to action. Your words and energy and...
OSU Call to Action! We need 15 minutes of your time!

OSU Call to Action! We need 15 minutes of your time!

Dear friends and supporters, On June 14, 2016 Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Education Agency published their joint plan for pursuing outside investigation into “the Hartman situation.” On first glance, it might read as a reasonable and unremarkable update, but Our Stories Untold cannot stress enough that this plan, as...
Introducing Hilary and new directions for Our Stories Untold

Introducing Hilary and new directions for Our Stories Untold

Dear EVERYONE, I’m truly sad to say goodbye to Rachel in her OSU role even as I trust she is making a decision that is right and good and full of grace. Rachel has been a powerhouse blessing when it comes to addressing sexualized violence in the Mennonite church, and...
Embodied, embedded knowing: A farewell to Our Stories Untold

Embodied, embedded knowing: A farewell to Our Stories Untold

After launching this blog on June 5, 2012 and spending nearly 4 years working for awareness and healing around the topic of sexualized violence in the Mennonite Church, it is time for me (Rachel Halder) to step down from this blog so I can step up to other projects that...
Fallen to Freedom

Fallen to Freedom

In 2006, I approached my Pastor and shared with him that I felt that there was something missing between God and I and I wasn’t sure what it was. I asked if we could meet. He answered, “Sure, no problem.” And we had set up a date and a time....
The Case for Suspending Credentials: Lindale, Virginia Conference, and Definitions of Accountability

The Case for Suspending Credentials: Lindale, Virginia Conference, and Definitions of Accountability

We are grateful to Hillary Watson for posting this piece on her own blog, Gathering the Stones, on May 9th, and for crossposting it now on OSU. It is a helpful contribution to the continuing conversation around what accountability ought to look like for Mennonite church leaders when it comes to...
Good Intentions Aren't Enough: How church authorities slid my sister's sexual abuse under the rug

Good Intentions Aren’t Enough: How church authorities slid my sister’s sexual abuse under the rug

  Lauren Shifflett, recently shared the story of the sexual trauma she experienced in her life including how Luke Hartman coerced her into a sexual relationship, then stalked and threatened her when she tried to end it. If you have a moment, please read it with caution and kindness. It’s long,...
Now We Are Free

Now We Are Free

This may be an unfair assumption, but many people are probably only reading this post to hear about my experiences with Luke Hartman. My story is so much bigger than him though, and writing this post has involved revisiting some of the hardest moments of my life. Please don’t cheapen...
Latest entries
An Open Letter from OurStoriesUntold to Eastern Mennonite University

An Open Letter from OurStoriesUntold to Eastern Mennonite University

Last week, in an email to faculty, staff and students, Eastern Mennonite University acknowledged and responded to Lauren Shifflitt’s testimony to the stalking and abuse she experienced from former EMU Vice President of Enrollment, Luke Hartman. The EMU statement has been shared widely through social media. EMU’s public response to Lauren Shifflett’s testimony impacts Lauren, survivors...
Why queer youth cannot be “kittens that we rescue": An interview with Yvonne Zimmerman (Part 3)

Why queer youth cannot be “kittens that we rescue”: An interview with Yvonne Zimmerman (Part 3)

This is the third part to a 3 part interview series between Stephanie Krehbiel and Yvonne Zimmerman on the narrative of sex-trafficking. Zimmerman is a veteran of the sex trafficking debates. Her book, Other Dreams of Freedom: Religion, Sex, and Human Trafficking, examines the influence of conservative Protestant theology on U.S. anti-trafficking policy. Today’s piece discusses...
Prostitution, sex-trafficking, and agency: An interview with Yvonne Zimmerman (Part 2)

Prostitution, sex-trafficking, and agency: An interview with Yvonne Zimmerman (Part 2)

Yesterday we posted part 1 of a 3 part interview series between Stephanie Krehbiel and Yvonne Zimmerman on the narrative of sex-trafficking. Zimmerman is a veteran of the sex trafficking debates. Her book, Other Dreams of Freedom: Religion, Sex, and Human Trafficking, examines the influence of conservative Protestant theology on U.S. anti-trafficking policy. In part one,...
The victim narrative on sex-trafficking: An interview with Yvonne Zimmerman (Part 1)

The victim narrative on sex-trafficking: An interview with Yvonne Zimmerman (Part 1)

What is sex trafficking? Is it different from prostitution? Is it slavery? Who is involved in sex trafficking? Why does it exist? What does it mean for survivor communities to talk about sex trafficking? While sex trafficking constitutes a relatively small percentage of total estimated human trafficking activity, our collective American preoccupation with sex trafficking...
How storytelling helped me heal | Healing from Sexual Abuse Vlog, Ep. 5

How storytelling helped me heal | Healing from Sexual Abuse Vlog, Ep. 5

<—– This is a photo of the trees and me being supermodel Awesome. Down below is a video (vlog post) of the trees and me being not supermodel but superhero AWESOME. Seriously. One year ago there was NO WAY you would have found me talking this openly about my story of sexual abuse and/or sexual identity....
Coming home to our bodies: trauma and justice

Coming home to our bodies: trauma and justice

This piece is a cross-post, originally published on January 29, 2016, on the Brethren Mennonite Council website. My senior year of high school, I was talking to a school counselor about an experience I had earlier that year with another classmate. As I finished my explanation, he told me that what I had experienced was emotional...
Self-Care: Indulgence or Preservation? | Healing from Sexual Abuse Vlog, Ep. 4

Self-Care: Indulgence or Preservation? | Healing from Sexual Abuse Vlog, Ep. 4

Have you heard the term self-care mentioned a time or two? How does it make you feel? Do you shrug your shoulders and say, “Self-care? Who on earth has time for that?!” Many people in the Christian and activist world lack a self-care discipline. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard people speak...
What is compassion, anyway? | Healing from Sexual Abuse Vlog, Ep. 3

What is compassion, anyway? | Healing from Sexual Abuse Vlog, Ep. 3

Have you ever thought about compassion? I mean, reallllly thought about it? Have you considered the line Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and rather than use it to justify how we treat others, look at it as a reflection of how we treat ourselves? Most of us, especially Christians that I know, live life...
Exploring Identity: Who Am I? | Healing from Sexual Abuse Vlog, Ep. 2

Exploring Identity: Who Am I? | Healing from Sexual Abuse Vlog, Ep. 2

Thank you everyone for your support, kind words, and thoughts that were shared yesterday. I felt so loved and held by this amazing community. If you didn’t see yesterday’s vlog on vulnerability, it’s not too late to check it out here. As I mention at the beginning of today’s vlog, these videos are for everyone, not...
Video Vulnerability | Healing from Sexual Abuse, Ep.1

Video Vulnerability | Healing from Sexual Abuse, Ep.1

I’ve been debating whether or not to post this for the past 24+ hours. To say that it is embarrassing is an understatement. I showed my closest friend the video below, asking their honest opinion on whether or not I should launch a vlogging (video blog) series for Our Stories Untold, and proceeded to hide...
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