Victims of abuse and violence are often reluctant to report the crimes. Fewer people still will give voice to their experiences. That’s where Elmira’s Trudy Metzger comes in.After founding a local ministry that aids the victims of sexual abuse, she and husband Tim Metzger are taking a cultural approach to the difficult topics they are committed to bringing into the light.
An upcoming conference will focus on abuse and violence as it relates to the Mennonite culture. Trudy Metzger was born into a Mennonite family in Mexico and often shares the story of abuse and violence from her own childhood.
“I recognize that it’s not a cultural problem alone, that it’s everywhere else too. But it has been very closed within the Mennonite cultures. We’re targeting them specifically to kind of give them a voice and hoping to partner with them to create awareness and safety,” Metzger said.
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The Elmira resident is used to mentioning her background during speeches at similar events but this time will be a decidedly different experience.
“Even though that’s my background in previous conferences I would say that I’m Mennonite but I wouldn’t speak to the Mennonite culture. This time I’m identifying very personally. It will be a slightly different conference in that I will focus more on my personal experience in the Mennonite culture.”
Metzger and her husband founded the ministry in 2010 to reach out to abused women, but Faith Girls Unleashed, as the organization was called then, soon gave way to Generations Unleashed, the name under which the couple has operated since January 2012 after realizing that they needed to broaden their scope.
“Very quickly [we] discovered that it seemed as bad with men; there’s almost as many if not more male abuse and sexual abuse victims. We broadened our horizons a little bit and in 2011 began developing Generations Unleashed to reach out to men, women and teenagers,” she said.
Metzger is not a counsellor. Rather, she’s a coach and mentor for the people she tries to help. She is a certified team coach, trainer and speaker, working with victims of abuse by walking them through their experiences and offering emotional support. Her goal, she said, is to “get them healed mentally emotionally and spiritually. I want to set people free from the weight of their pain.”
At the conference set for April 19 and 20 in Elmira, Metzger will share her story with the audience, taking care, she said, to be respectful of the more conservative tone of this particular event in all aspects of the material presented. Two conservative Mennonite women will also share their experiences with abuse.
Also speaking will be Pastor Dale Ingraham of Campbell, New York.
“He will be acknowledging the pain of victims but his overall message, his purpose is that the walls have to come down in churches. We have to address a problem that quite frankly secular society is ahead of us on,” Metzger said.
She adds, the two day event gives her an opportunity to connect with her roots and help those in the Mennonite community.
“I’m actually able to develop a relationship with the Mennonite culture. … It’s not intended as an attack on the culture for sure; it’s to give them open doors.”
Shattering the Silence is a two-day event at Woodside Bible Fellowship at 200 Barnswallow Dr. starting at 6 p.m. on April 19 and 9 a.m. on April 20. For more information and registration call (519) 590-4907.