1. I've been holding this in for a long time without telling a soul in my church until now. I think I'm ready. How do I even start?

You’ve already taken the first important step, going outside the system to find this site. It’s unfortunate, but churches typically are deeply involved in DIM thinking, laced with much shame, on many issues. Anything involving sexual or domestic violence is probably at the top of most lists! If your perpetrator is, in any way, a part of the church system, you need to first build a new personal system for yourself. Let's just call it your "support system." It will be made up of individuals who are not heavily invested in protecting the institutional system. You may be able to find some supporters inside the institutional system of the church. Yet you may be in for big surprises--so many are too emotionally dependent on the church to be able to support you, as a survivor. Or they may have huge, unresolved issues themselves because of sexual or domestic violence--things they've never talked about, especially not to anyone in the church!

Eventually, your personal support system may be filled with people within the institutional system. I hope it does. However, you need to start by including outsiders because they are far less likely to be blinded to the truth. For a person who has spent a lifetime relying on people in the church, as I did, this may seem like climbing a mountain. It's worth the climb, though.

Chances are, you'll want to include a mental health professional and possibly a lawyer, both who can advise you of your choices, provided they have a good working knowledge of collusion. If not, they just need a willingness to learn. I trust that www.takecourage.org is a good place for them, too.

The next thing to obtain is information on how stories typically play out. Being prepared for what feels like personal rejection is essential to keep you from going into depression, deeper than you already are. Reading books like How Little We Knew and The Truth about Malarkey are good places to begin understanding some of the possible games that you may encounter in your own story. These books are intended to bring you out of some layers of denial that you may not realize are remaining in your own belief system, including your denial about the complex problem of collusion itself.

Dee Ann Miller is the author of Enlarging Boston's Spotlight: A Call for Courage, Integrity, and Institutional Transformation (2017) How Little We Knew: Collusion and Confusion with Sexual Misconduct (1993) and The Truth about Malarkey (2000)