I’m only two months into my 2018 #yearofcourage, and tonight I took one of the most terrifying, vulnerable, and yet courageous leaps I’ve ever made in the public eye. I have been fighting a secret battle for several years now and finally decided today was my day to come forward by releasing following announcement:
*This is the most vulnerable I have ever been on FB. On November 23rd 2015 I anonymously joined a sexual abuse lawsuit with five other women against former Christian leader Bill Gothard and his cult, the IBLP. During our 2 1/2 year fight we grew to 18 strong. With heavy hearts, today, February 26th 2018, a Voluntary Motion to Dismiss filed by the plaintiffs was granted by Judge Popejoy. This is my own public statement regarding the dismissal.*
I am Jane Doe III.
I’ve waited for a long time to say those words.
For over two years I’ve lived in the shadows. I’ve lived in fear of others. Fear of backlash, rejection, and hate. Fear of the men I was standing against and of their supporters.
Why, do you ask, am I coming out now that the lawsuit is over? Because in these two-and one-half years of fighting the biggest battle of my life, I became a new person. I am no longer that scared little girl wanting to hide under the guise of a pseudonym. I am ready to come out of those shadows. I’m ready to share my story, and this time with my name.
I had so many hopes for this lawsuit. I was going to expose Bill Gothard for who I believe he really is. I was going to make sure he never hurt another innocent young girl or woman in the same way he hurt me. I was going to hold the IBLP accountable for protecting themselves and choosing to ignore years of alleged abuse. I was going to take back my power!
In a way, I believe we did ultimately fulfill some of those goals with the lawsuit. We did the right thing morally, ethically, and legally. We came out with our stories and warned others. Bill may think he walked away free, but the truth is, the world now knows who he really is. As far as power against Bill, this ultimately does not come by testifying on a witness stand. It comes from living a free life covered by GRACE!
Still, I never dreamt that the end would come this way.
When the decision was made to voluntarily dismiss the suit, I felt my whole world collapse around me. This wasn’t at all how it was supposed to end. What about justice? What about facing these men in court and forcing them to look into my eyes as I gave my account of their actions?
Yes, it still hurts. A LOT. We want justice on this earth. It’s sickening to think of such evil prevailing. We fought a good fight and it ended far too soon. That’s the bad news. But here’s the good news:
1. The case has been transferred to a higher court now. And the righteous Judge of that court always brings justice. I believe Bill and the IBLP will one day be forced to give an account of their actions and there will be no ability to lie, no way to defend themselves.
2. I am finally free. Free to speak out. Free to share my story. Free to live loved and to have fun with dating and build a new life and career for myself without an enormous secret burdening my shoulders and eating away at my emotional energy. The world is open before me.
However, just because I am free doesn’t mean I know how to live free.
While the lawsuit didn’t become my identity, it did become a part of me, and I don’t quite know how to function or live life “normally” now. It is said that an animal who has been tethered by a 10-foot chain for years still won’t move beyond that 10-foot radius after they are freed. That is me. The cage door is open, the shackles are off, and I don’t know how to live in freedom. Yet.
Right now, instead of living free, I’m severely bruised. In the three weeks, since dismissing the lawsuit, I’ve been to hell and back. I lived in a combat zone for years, and suddenly the war is over. The adrenaline I’ve lived off for so long has finally run out, and my body has been flooded with a rush of mixed hormones and extreme emotions. I’ve fought through multiple panic attacks and sleepless nights, and my counselor has officially diagnosed me with PTSD. But this isn’t the end of my story. Bill hasn’t won. My story has just begun.
Every January I pick a new word for the year. For 2018 my word was “Courage”. I picked this because I believed 2018 was the year I would need immense courage to fight in this lawsuit. However, I’m now realizing I will need courage not to fight, but to learn how to LIVE beyond the fight.
And so, let the living begin!
~ Emily Jaeger
You can read the official press releases from the Christian Blog “Spiritual Sounding Board” below: